Honey Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

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I don’t know how people can wake up 30 minutes before work starts and still get there on time. My summer mornings involve coffee, a shower, makeup, emptying and filling the dishwasher, watering the garden, walking the dog, and cleaning up whatever mess is on the counter so I’m not thinking about it at work all day. And this is just me — I really don’t know how people with children do it.

Lately, though, something has been making my life a little easier: chia pudding. I first discovered this recipe when I was Paleo, because chia seeds soaked in coconut milk form this tapioca-like substance that is about as close as you can get to yogurt on a strict Paleo diet. However, when you’re going through three or four $3 cans of coconut milk every week just for breakfast, the cost soon becomes prohibitive.

Luckily, I’m not Paleo anymore. Continue reading

Easy Bolognese

20160617_190950The weather has not been very summer-like this week, rainy, windy and 65 degrees. This is hardly a surprise, as almost exactly two years ago, just a few short days before our wedding, my then-fiance and I woke up to a gentle dusting of snow in our backyard (and promptly freaked out).

So, we’ve found ourselves back in hibernation mode, craving things with tons of meat and carbs and basically anything not involving vegetables or a salad. There was boxed macaroni and cheese the other night. I know.  Continue reading

Weeknight Caesar Salad

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All credit for this recipe must go to my co-worker Amy, who casually whipped together a Caesar salad for my husband and I when we were at her house for dinner one night. It was so good, and I was so impressed, gushing over the dressing. I also discovered that my husband has an incredible love for Caesar salad that I’d previously not known about.

While this salad is impressive, it’s far from difficult, as Amy showed me. You can, of course, buy caesar salad dressing in the store, sometimes even packaged with croutons and pre-cut romaine lettuce. But why do that, when you could have fresh dressing within a matter of moments, with ingredients you (probably, mostly) already have in your pantry? Continue reading

Easy Pad Thai

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First, an apology — I have not been updating this blog, and when I have, it hasn’t been with anything remotely like what I normally eat. Cheese enchiladas? We eat those maybe once every three months. Maybe. I also haven’t been eating as much bacon, so the kil’t kale is out, as well as any number of other things on this blog. 

The fact is – and I feel like I say this a lot — I’ve been struggling with what to cook. We’re on a tighter budget than ever before, which is good overall, but bad when it comes to making dinner. On a budget, I stick with tried and true favorites, things I know won’t go to waste and are relatively inexpensive. And when this constraint is combined with a picky eater, you can see how I might get frustrated.

But I couldn’t resist posting this pad thai recipe. It is, quite simply, the best version of this dish I’ve ever made. The base is a recipe from Eating Well, but I feel like since I end up doubling the sauce, it might not be as healthy as they claim. The nice thing, though, is that you end up using more bean sprouts than rice noodles, keeping the dish from becoming too heavy. Continue reading

Texas Cheese Enchiladas

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A few months ago, I totally lost faith in cooking. Completely. Nothing I made was turning out, and I lost interest in even trying. Making dinner was an exercise in frustration, every single night. There were tears multiple nights, followed by concern from a confused husband and, inevitably, ice cream. Because I am a child who can be soothed by sugar. 

I finally got back to basics. When the weather cooled down, I started making all of my childhood favorites. I made chicken and stuffing, one of my mom’s specialties (recipe forthcoming). I instituted Wutz-Varner Mac and Cheese Night, inspired by my best friend’s family, who had mac and cheese every Thursday when I was growing up.

And then I buckled down and made cheese enchiladas. Lisa Fain of Homesick Texan, whom I view as a sort of virtual mentor in the field of Tex-Mex cooking, posted a recipe in 2007 that promised to be the real freaking deal.

Continue reading

Sausage, chard and lentil soup

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Sometimes, I think I should rename this blog, “Things I tried to feed my husband.” It’s a long list, and each item on it has been received with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Kil’t kale, for example, was immediately embraced and adapted to work with the metric crap-ton of chard I grew in our garden this summer. The white bean, ham and leek soup has been in regular rotation since the first time I made it, because it’s so easy, inexpensive, and hard not to like.

But a lot of other things I’ve made over the past few months since posting have utterly failed. I made a zucchini rice gratin from Smitten Kitchen that was delicious, but immediately rejected. I bought some amazing kielbasa at a farmer’s market only to realize that apparently the man I married has no Polish blood in his veins. None. (Who is this man?!)

All this is by way of halfway explaining why I haven’t been posting, because I have been assuming that if my husband doesn’t like something, you won’t, either. But you know what? I don’t think that’s true. Mostly because I fell in love with this soup, while he pretty much refused to eat it. Lentils, apparently, not being an acceptable source of protein.    Continue reading

Kil’t Kale

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I don’t want to suggest that the only way to eat kale is when it’s smothered in bacon grease and bourbon. But I think it probably is the best way.

This is a recipe originally available from Garden and Gun (online here), passed on to me by a coworker who, like me, was sick of kale salad after kale salad. Again, not that there is really anything wrong with kale salad, but every once in a while, you want something a little more tender, more meaty, something easier to convince your loved ones to eat.

The foundation of the dish is something called “bacon jam,” a concoction of bourbon, bacon, bacon grease, vinegar, and a little bit of sugar. Once you’ve got that mixture, you toss in your chopped kale and wait for it to wilt. It practically melts into the bacon jam, leaving you with an amazing sweet/sour/bitter combination. Remember how I said that all flavor is a combination of fat, salt and acid? This is a perfect example of a good balance among the three. Continue reading