Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nov 16 - Nov 21

Here is my planned menu for this week:

- Shrimp w/ ginger herb butter p.347
- Saffron Couscous w/ peas & chives p.228
- Sweet cream biscuits p.547

- Grilled pizza w/ tomato, mozzarella & basil p.194
- Crunchy onion rings p.467
- Cinnamon swirl coffee cake p.541

- Mexican style chicken sandwiches p.153
- Guacamole
- Buttermilk cornbread w/ montery jack cheese p.543

- Farfalle w/ bitter greens & sausage p.207

- Salmon w/ pistachio-basil butter p.312
- Rice
- Cabbage

- Oatmeal-buttermilk pancakes p.495
- Warm back bean & veg wrap p.156
- Outrageous peanut butter cookies p.604

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Tonight I will be blogging!!! I am so sorry for my absence. Things have been crazy with starting a new job and Emma starting school. I can say however that I have continued cooking and tonight I will post some pictures to prove it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

100 Recipes Completed!!!

Last Saturday I celebrated the HUGE accomplishment of completing my 100th recipe!

A few weeks ago it was decided that there was only one way to bring in that 100th recipe in style and that was to throw a party. This party pushed me to continue cooking so that I would actually be able to meet the milestone and it was a good way to complete 19 recipes!!! I will post the menu from the party tonight so that all can see what was served and I will also be sure to post a few photos of dishes which led up to the party.

After hitting this important milestone of 100 recipes in UNDER two months I decided to take a break from cooking for two days. Last night Matt and I decided to participate in DC’s Restaurant Week and he took me to Zola Everything was delicious and it was nice to eat food prepared by someone else.

I will start cooking again tonight and bellow is the menu for the week. Next weekend is a bit ambitious but I want to have my parents over for a really nice dinner on Saturday as a thank you for all of their help with the party and I am thinking about having two couples over for Sunday brunch.

Tuesday, August 25
One Step Lasagna w/ Sausage and Basil p.222
3 Cheese Garlic Bread p.550
Arugula, Blood Orange & Blue Cheese Salad p.124
Wednesday, August 26
No Cooking--- 1st Kickball game!!!
Thursday, August 27
Oven Fried Deviled Drumsticks p.274
Iceberg Wedges w/ Warm Bacon & Blue Cheese Dressing p.132
Mexican Corn & Zucchini p.472
Friday, August 28
Moroccan Shrimp & Red Onion Salsa p.349
Saturday, August 29
Cardamom & Orange Panettone Toast p.494
Salad Bar Cobb p.116
Curried Egg Salad Sandwiches p.159
Banana Nut Macadamia Nut Muffins p.535
Popovers w/ Gruyere p.539
Broccoli & Rapini w/ Lemon & Shallots p.484
Filet Mignon w/ Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce p.379
Asparagus Soup w/ Lemon Cream Fraiche p.88
Brown Sugar-Bourbon Peaches p.581
Sunday, August 30
Herbed Cheese Scrambled Eggs on Asparagus p.508
Rosemary & Mustard Breakfast Sausage p.523
Quick Sticky Buns p.546
Rigatoni w/ Cheese & Italian Sausage p.205
Zucchini & Two-cheese Flatbread p.551
Raspberry Pecan Blondies p.610

Only 400 to go!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Banana Cake and Stir-Fry

Yesterday was a successful cooking day!

After picking up Emma from the pool and driving home I started working on things in the kitchen. Looking at the banana pudding recipe I decided that it looked like TOO much effort and decided instead to make a Banana Cake w/ Sour Cream Frosting (p.629). I mashed up my bananas and mixed up the cake only to discover, while it was baking, that I didn’t have enough cream cheese for the frosting. I decided to use some Betty Crocker Whipped Chocolate frosting for the top of the cake. I actually think that this made the cake even yummier. It was perfection!!!

For dinner we had Chicken, Asparagus & Broccoli Stir-Fry (p.281). This was also a great recipe that I will be making in the future! Matt and I both agreed that we would prefer it over take out. I think that the next time I make the dish I will try to add in a few additional veggies and maybe substitute shrimp or beef for the original chicken… just to try something new.
I am planning for a super busy night after I get off from work! I am planning on picking up Emma and heading to Homegoods to do a return and look for a clock or picture to cover a fan in our kitchen. Once we get home Matt and I will be completing some finishing touches in the spare bedroom. We need to hang curtains, a shelf, a mirror, and some pictures. I will post a photo once we complete the room. I am also planning on painting in the upstairs bathroom on Wednesday or Thursday so I want Matt to remove all of the fixtures so that we can tackle the painting this week… BUSY BUSY

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekend Pics and Info

Matt, Emma and I had a BUSY weekend not only with cooking but also with some home improvement projects!

We started the day with some great Crispy Corn Meal Bacon Waffles (p.500). This recipe was a great way to mix our favorite meat item, BACON, with a breakfast staple. Matt gave me a waffle maker for my birthday and this was the first time that I have put it to use... I am happy to say that I managed to make less of a mess than Matt typically makes. Of course he would point out that a few of mine had some holes which to me that is worth having less to clean up.
After breakfast we got busy around the house. Matt trimmed the trees and the yard and I straitened some things up around the house, re configured the spare bedroom, put together a Barbie apartment building for Emma, and went to the pool. After our busy day I caved and we just ordered Chinese for dinner.

After my day of slacking off (in the cooking department) I decided that I would have to have special motivation to cook on Sunday.
Once my parents brought Emma back from Sunday School I invited them to have lunch with us. I made Barbecued Chicken Thighs w/ Brown Sugar-Hickory Sauce (p.248) and Spicy Black Beans w/ Onion & Bacon (p.449). We ate outside in the HEAT!! The chicken thighs were perfect, super juicy and the homemade BBQ sauce was perfect. I was a little worried because I ended up not having the chili sauce that it called for (2 cups) but I simply decided to omit that part and the recipe turned out great. In the future I would make it exactly the same way! The Black beans were also great and a little more like a stew as they were also juicy.
After dinner my parents were nice enough to take Emma to the pool while Matt and I tackled IKEA. They were super busy but Matt and I had a mission in mind and so we didn't waist a lot of time messing around with things. We bought a GREAT new kitchen island with a butcher block top and a shelf that I put some great galvanized baskets on for potatoes, onions, etc... Matt also picked out two tall leather stools for the bar area between our kitchen and dinning room.
After we got back home Matt started to assemble our purchases and I ran to Safeway to get the groceries for the week. While I was out I decided the invite my parents for dinner when they brought Emma home from the pool. So we ended up having all of our Sunday meals with them :-)
For dinner we had Castellane Pasta w/ Sausage, Peppers, cherry Tomatoes, & Morjoram (p.206), Shallot Bruschetta (p.554) and Warm Doughnuts a la mode w/ Bananas & Spiced Caramel Sauce (p.206). EVERYTHING was great and I would make it all again! I think that the dessert stole the show however!

Menu 8/10 - 8/16

The weekend was full of yummy dishes which I will write about tonight because I want to include some photos!

Bellow is my menu for this week:

Monday, 8/10
Chicken Asparagus & Broccoli Stir Fry p.281
Banana Pudding p.648
Tuesday, 8/11
Salmon w/ Chili-Mango Salsa p.304
Soft Ginger Cookies p.601
Wednesday, 8/12
Asian Pork Chops w. Bok Choy p.398
Thursday, 8/13
Fettuccine w/ Mussels & Cream p.202
Olive Oil Bruschetta p.554
Friday, 8/14
Grilled Steak w/Fresh Garden Herbs p.370
Potato Leek & Fennel Soup p.84
Rosemary Broiled Tomatoes p.474
Ice Cream w/ Sauteed Pineapple & Bourbon p.582
Saturday, 8/15
Chard Cheddar Omelet p.501
Roasted Red Pepper Soup w/ Orange Cream p.89
Pan Roasted Sizzling Shrimp p.349
Bittersweet Molten Chocolate Cakes w/ Coffee Ice Cream p.626
Sunday, 8/16
Banana Pancakes w/ Caramel Banana Syrup p.497
Mexican Style Chicken Sandwiches p.153
Avocado & Mango Salad w/ Passion Fruit Vinaigrette p.126
Sweet & Spicy Chipotle Glazed Ribs p.412
Sweet & Smoky BBQ Beans p.452
Classic Shaken Margarita p.684
Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The big 50

Two days ago I hit 50 recipes!!! I think that this was a huge accomplishment considering that I have been doing this project for just over a month and that I went a whole week without cooking.

So to celebrate hitting the big 50 I took yesterday off from cooking and let Matt take over! We had mac and cheese with the left over ground chicken from our Chinese Style Chicken in Lettuce cups (made on Tuesday). The Chicken mac and cheese was great and I was thankful for the night off… there are just some days I don’t feel like cooking and last night was one of those days.

Tonight I will make the Roast Pork Chops w/ bacon & Wilted Greens (p.407) and Roasted Balsamic Sweet Potatoes (p.442) YUMMY!!! I will be sure to post a photo tonight after dinner.

450 to go...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

From onion ring to diamond ring...

Now for a bit of honesty… This blog first started as a way to “land my man.” You always hear that the way to a man is through his stomach and I figured that I might as well try this method as I have nothing to lose. Matt and I have been together for over two years and he first won me over by surprising me with a gourmet meal of stuffed chicken and potatoes so maybe I can win him over by cooking for him ;-) Bellow are a few blog names that the creative Tory Maguire came up with (she is amazing)!!!

Cooking for Love
For the Love of Cooking
Cooking My Way into His Heart
A Cooking Guide to Getting Engaged
Feed Him like a King to Get the Ring
A cooking lesson to get him to ask the question
From the shopping cart to his heart
A cooking guide to getting hitched
From onion ring to diamond ring
Chow to make him go wow
Food, Laughter and Happily Ever After
Cook, Love and Be Married
A pan to land a man, a pot to tie the knot

As you already know I have gone with Food, Laughter and Happily Ever After so that I can continue the blog after my year long cooking project and after hopefully landing my man :-) I hope that you all get as much of a laugh out of the blog titles as I did when I asked Tory for help!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Menu for Week

Monday, August 3
- Pork w/ Gorgonzola Sauce p.403
- Mashed Potatoes w/ Green Onions & Parmesan p. 437
Tuesday, August 4
- Chinese Style Chicken in Lettuce Cups p.288
Wednesday, August 5
- Mahi-Mahi w/ Blood Orange, avocado & Red Onion salsa p. 333
- Couscous
Thursday, August 6
- Roast Pork Chops w/ Bacon & Wilted Greens p.407
- Roasted Balsamic Sweet Potatoes p.442
Friday, August 7
- Castellane Pasta w/ Sausage, Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, & Morjoram p.206
Saturday, August 8
- Easy Crepes p.499
- Warm Berry Preserves p.527
- Barbecued Chicken Thighs w/ Brown Sugar-Hickory Sauce p.248
- Spicy Black Beans w/ Onion & Bacon p.449
- Banana Pudding p.648

Busy weekend

We had a busy weekend in the Fleming-Park household! I am happy to say that as of last night I have completed 47 recipes. There is still a long way to go on this “cooking journey” but so far it has been exciting and I have had an opportunity to grow in my cooking.

On Friday Matt got together with his co-workers after work for some “team building” so Emma and I relaxed at home and had a girls only movie night. One thing about this cooking project is that I get a little bent out of shape when life happens. I tend to focus on the recipes that I’m not cooking and the missed opportunity to add to my recipe count. I think that I need to just let life happen… so what if I miss a night cooking.

I cooked 10 recipes on Saturday and Sunday alone!

Croissant French Toast p.494— This was a great breakfast and a good way to eat some left over croissants. I am HORRIBLE at making pancakes so I will always turn to a good French toast recipe first. We ate this with some thick-cut bacon, fresh cut strawberries and of course powdered sugar overtop.
Old Fashioned Blueberry Muffins p.537— After breakfast Emma helped me whip up these easy blueberry muffins. She did a great job counting all of the blueberries that we added and it was a fun activity for us to do together. She is having fun throwing on her apron and cooking along with mommy! The muffins were delicious and we ate the leftovers for breakfast on Sunday.
Beef w/ Gorgonzola burgers p.173— These burgers were massive and so good that they belong on the menu of a 5 star restaurant!!! The basic burger recipe was so simple, make 4 patties put gorgonzola cheese in the middle of two and top with the other two patties. Close up the edges and grill! Along with the burger basics like arugula, fresh tomatoes, and red onion I also added some avocado (surprise surprise).
Bistro Oven Fries p.441—These fries were a great complement for the burgers! After baking they were tossed with garlic, sea salt & fresh chopped parsley.
Chilled Avocado & Mint Soup p. 92—I thought that I would fall in love with this soup at first bite but I am sad to say that was not the case. If I make this recipe again it would be as a dressing, marinade, or sauce to go with something like a Mexican chicken or steak dish.
Enlightened Tuna Sandwiches p.157— I HATE tuna salads usually but for lunch on Sunday I figured that I would fill up on my avocado soup and that Matt would enjoy these tuna sandwiches. The opposite turned out to be true… I LOVED these sandwiches. With only cucumber, bell pepper and red onion, mayo, pain yogurt, and white tuna this sandwich was light and refreshing! I even served the left over mixture with crackers when my parents came over for dinner. This is a recipe which is guaranteed to be made again.
Grilled Ribeye Steak w/ Parsley and Garlic Butter p.370— Since the steak that we has was so large we decided to invite my parents over for dinner. The parsley and garlic butter was the highlight of this easy to make dish.
Potato Gratin w/ Cream & Fresh Herbs p.439—This side was AMAZING and super easy!!! I bought a new manoline slicer at HomeGoods on Sunday and it made this recipe so easy!!! If you do not have one I would recommend investing in one immediately. Mine only cost $12.99 and folds up into a plastic case for easy storage. Back to the food though… In this recipe all ingredients were brought to a boil in a large saucepan and pored into casserole dish. I didn’t have to worry about layering all of the ingredients as everything fell right into place. After we started eating my parents asked what cheese was used in the recipe and they were shocked to find out that there was NONE. The result of the ingredients were so rich and creamy that I even second guessed the contents after the first bite.
Broccoli w/ Garlic & Parmesan Cheese p.484—Quick, Easy, Fresh… this recipe lived up to the claim in the cook book title!
Sugar Cookies p.598—On Sunday afternoon Emma put her bunny apron back on and helped me make the dough for sugar cookies. The original plan was to roll out the dough after and hour in the refrigerator and make shapes however time got away from me and I ended up just rolling the dough into balls and made regular cookies. I am planning on making Halloween cookies in late August or October using this recipe.

I will post photos of the above recipes tonight!

453 recipes to go…

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Back!!!

So I am a slacker and I have failed to post on here recently!! Last week Matt was in Michigan and I was in Savannah with my family so no cooking was done from “the book.” Since it has been so long…as a recap I have now completed 34 recipes. I had hoped that this number could be higher but I will be working hard this week to make up for lost time.

This week I will be cooking…

Tuesday 7/28
- Rosemary Chicken & Summer Squash Brochettes (p.244)
- Fresh Corn Sauté w/ Tomatoes, Squash & Fried Okra (p.471)
Wednesday 7/29
- Grilled Salmon Steak w/ Lime Pepper Butter (p.305)
- Grilled Zucchini (p.473)
- Glazed Lemon Bread (p.541)
Thursday 7/30
- Grilled Rib-eye Steaks w/ Parsley-Garlic Butter (p.370)
- Potato Gratin w/ Cream & Fresh Herbs (p.439)
- Broccoli w/ Garlic & Parmesan Cheese (p.484)
Friday 7/31
- Pork w/ Gorgonzola Sauce (403)
- Mashed Potatoes w/ Green Onions & Parmesan (p.437)
- Old Fashioned Blueberry Muffins (p.537)
Saturday 8/1
- Croissant French Toast (p.494)
- Beef & Gorgonzola Burgers (p.173)
- Bistro Oven Fries w/ Parsley and Garlic (p.441)
- Sugar Cookies (p. 598)

Dinner last night was very refreshing. It was nice to be back in my own kitchen and cooking again. In the recipes I used fresh okra and squash from a family friend’s farm in GA.

Tonight I am looking forward to preparing the salmon steaks!! As you can see from the above menu I have my work cut out for me this week!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday Recap/Week Menu

Yesterday was a busy cooking day! I started off the day with a Blueberry & Orange Smoothie (p.699) which was a little tart but it was still a very refreshing drink. With drink in hand I got to cooking. I made some Buttermilk Biscuits (p.549). I have never made biscuits from scratch so this was a very new experience for me. I think that next time I would use a larger biscuit cutter and I wouldn’t flatten the dough as much as I did. The dough was touch and go for the first few minutes after mixing due to the lack of flour on the counter and my hands. But after I added additional flour and cleaned the sticky dough off my hands I was able to forge ahead.

For lunch yesterday I FINALLY made the Best BLTs (p.149). I had planned to make this sandwich a few other times but had never gotten around to it. I love BLTs in their original form but after this making this “Best BLT” I’m not sure that I can go back the traditional sandwich. The sandwich consisted of toasted country bread, fresh made basil mayonnaise w/butter, tomato, thinly cut red onions, fresh avocado, lettuce, and bacon. The result was great!

After lunch and putting Emma down for her nap (we had a little issue with this) I hit the grocery store for my weekly shopping. After over an hour in the grocery store I made my way home and took Emma to the pool. We have been struggling at the pool this summer but I finally think that Emma is starting to let go of her fears a little. She is now willing to go under the water a little and loves to be thrown… as long as she is holding onto a noodle.

After the pool we came home and I started cooking. My parents came over and I made Cilantro-lime Crab Salad in Avocado Halves (p.109) and Cayenne Spiked Crab Cakes (p.365). The crab salad in the avocado was so good and it would be the perfect light entrée for a lunch! I hadn’t originally planned to have my parents over for dinner but when the recipes served 4 I thought that dinner together would be a perfect end to the weekend. It was nice to sit outside with my family and enjoying our new table, dinner, and some white wine.

Bellow is the menu for this week. Matt and I will be going out to dinner on Thursday since next week he will be up in Michigan without me : - ( I wish that Emma and could go with him but his family reunions coincided with our annual trip to Tybee Island. I have not been able to go to Savannah for the past two years due to work commitments so I am exited to go this year!!! I am also excited about the opportunity to try out some recipes on my family and friends down there.

On Friday and Saturday I will be busy with Heather and Scott’s wedding. Heather and Scott are old co-workers from the RNC and I cannot wait to assist them on their big day!

Monday 7/13
- Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies p.597
- Shrimp w/ Shallot Tarragon Sauce on Wilted Spinach p.350
Tuesday 7/14
- Artichokes w/ Lemon Garlic Butter p.466
- Porterhouse Steaks w/ Tapenade & Balsamic Vinegar p.381
Wednesday 7/15
- Spicy Black Beans w/ Onion & Bacon p.449
- BBQ Chicken Thighs w/ Brown Sugar-Hickory Sauce p.248

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Outdoor Fun

What a beautiful weekend! On Friday Matt and I met up at Home Depot and found a great patio table for our dinky little brick patio. I really enjoy eating outside and I am happy that we now have a proper place to do so!

On Saturday morning I made one of the best breakfasts, Fried Eggs on Toast w/ Pepper Jack & Avocado (p.517). I used regular pepper jack as opposed to spicy so that Emma would also be able to eat the same food.

On Saturday I also made the Best Ever Banana Bread (p.540). This recipe lived up to the title and I even found myself buying a few more bananas in the store today so that I could make it again.

Saturday night I also made Fafalle w/ Sausage, Tomatoes & Cream (p.207) I was originally going to make this on Friday night but because we bought the table and had to put it together we ran out of time and well to be honest I was just too tired. The recipe was great and made SOOO much food. I used spicy sausage by accident and I would recommend using the sweet that is called for.

Friday, July 10, 2009

For the love of Avocados

Last night I made Baked Halibut w/ Orzo, Spinach & Cherry Tomatoes (p.319). From start to finish this dish literally took only 15 minutes!

As Matt suggested next time I would brown the Halibut on the stove first so that it would add a little texture and crispiness to the bottom of the fish. I will admit that this was my first time cooking halibut and I think that it was a success. I added some avocado to the top to give the dish some visual appeal and because I simply love avocado and would eat it every day!

Early on in our relationship Matt and I were watching TV and on the show a husband planted his wife an avocado tree in their backyard because of the girls love for avocados. Matt said that one day he would plant me an avocado tree in our back yard and I stated that I didn’t like avocados but that he could still plant me the tree to show that he cared…. Oh how things change in the course of two years. I now LOVE avocados and I even found Matt looking up how to plant a tree one night. I am confident that if you come and visit us years from now you will find an avocado tree in our back yard (or at least the attempts of one). Due to the climate in the Northern Virginia area I by no means think that our tree will thrive but it is still something that I would love to try one day. I plan to hold him to the avocado tree promise!

I am so excited that it is FRIDAY!!! I admit that I am a total loser that finds great comfort in planning and organizing. I would even say that I thrive off of planning. After dinner is done, Emma is in bed and the dishes are started I will to sit down at my dining room table and with THE cookbook and determine which dishes I will be cooking next week. I will create a massive grocery list (our grocery expenses have gone up since starting the project) and I will spend an hour with the grocery store circulars and my coupons determining which store I will purchase various items at in order to get the best deals. Yes I have turned into that person… the one you see with the full cart and a mound of coupons who goes up and down each isle or visits 2-3 grocery stores a week. I know that these actions make me a huge dork but I typically save over $50 a week with my savvy shopping style.

479 to go!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dinner with the Rents

I met up with my mom at the Army Navy Country Club after work to pick up Emma. She had a pool play date with another little girl who went to her preschool last year. While I was talking to my mom she mentioned that she didn't know what to do for dinner and since I had four pork chops defrosted and waiting for me at home I decided to invite my parents over for dinner!

I feel so lucky to live only 5 minutes away from my mom and dad! They are a wonderful support system, a HUGE help with Emma, and as I am getting older I am learning to appreciate them more. I truly do enjoy spending time with them. On average we have at least one meal a week together.

Tonight I made Pork Chops w/ Cranberry Port & Rosemary (p.401) and Broccoli in Brown Butter (p.485) From start to finish the total cook and prep time was about 30 minutes and the outcome was delicious! The outside of the pork was perfectly browned and the sauce overtop truly made the dish unique. My only variation on the recipe was that I used Marsala in the sauce as opposed to the tawny Port that it called for.

Yesterday I made pizza and it was a complete failure! Complete with a slight (Matt might say major) mental breakdown. To start... I thought that I would save time and buy the pizza dough from the store so that my only step would be to unroll it from the canister. When I opened the package I discovered that the Pillsbury Doughboy had failed me and that the dough was breaking apart and that I was unable to unroll it. I will admit, at this point I was super irritated. My shortcut had turned into an obstacle. Matt walked into the kitchen and found me cussing at the dough and angrily trying to get it to do what I wanted. He thought that he would be helpful and suggested that I might want to try another method and that is when "shit hit the fan." Looking back I can say that he was being helpful but in that moment I took all of my anger from the dough out at him. I proceeded to throw the dough and yell that he should do it if he thought that he could do it better. He is a WONDERFUL boyfriend and he took that same dough and proved that he could in fact do it better.

After the pizza was cooked or "seemed" cooked I took it out of the oven and after it had cooled Emma, Matt and I gave it a try... It was not good at all the top was borderline overdone and the dough was soggy and soft. I do not know what happened. Maybe it was that I was lazy and used the wrong dough or maybe the tomato mixture was too soggy. The night ended with a call to the Chinese restaurant...

480 to go...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

17 down…

Public Service announcement to all of my girls...

If you see $150 Christian Louboutin shoes on-line (especially if they are on the Perez Hilton blog) do NOT buy them. The saying that "if something seems too good to be true it usually is" applies in this case...

So I have made 17 recipes so far which I feel is darn good for only being 8 days into this year long project! YAY for me ;-)

Last night I took a break from my cooking and Matt took Emma and me out to dinner. We went to one of my favorite restaurants, Silverado. Silverado is a part of the Great American Restaurants chain and specializes in Tex Mex food. I have to admit that I felt super guilty pushing back my menus to accommodate a night out but at the same time it was nice to have a break.

Bellow is the menu that I am planning on following for the remainder of this week. Like last week I will probably add a few additional sides so stay tuned…

Tuesday 7/7
- Fast Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza p. 181
- Best Ever Banana Bread p.540
Wednesday 7/8
- Pork Chops w/ Cranberry Port & Rosemary p. 401
- Broccoli in Brown Butter p. 485
Thursday 7/9
- Baked Halibut w/ Orzo, Spinach & Cherry Tomatoes p. 319
Friday 7/10
- Farfalle w/ Sausage, Tomatoes & Cream p.207
Saturday 7/11
- Fried eggs on toast w/ Pepper Jack & Avocado p.517
- Best BLTs p.149

There will be no dinner on Saturday because we will be at a meet the baby party!! Some friends have been blessed with being able to adopt a beautiful and healthy baby girl and I cannot wait to meet her!

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th Picnic

This weekend was a busy one full of cooking and time with family and friends. On the 4th we decided to take in the fireworks at the Pentagon. After the pool and a visit to the grocery store I started cooking! We decided to pack a picnic and get there early for some good seats. Bellow are the things that I prepared for the picnic

- No Fail Chocolate Chippers (p.597)-- These cookies truly are no fail and just the right mixture of chocolate, walnuts and oats. My only issue is that I am unable bake cookies that do not turn into bricks the next day. We had these cookies last night with some ice cream and they were so hard but still yummy!
- Open Faced Lobster Salad Sandwiches (p.156)-- These sandwiches were so good and super easy to make. The recipe called for me to boil the lobsters myself but I found it easier to have the Giant seafood counter steam them with some Old Bay while I did the rest of my grocery shopping. I allotted one lobster tail per sandwich which I felt would be better then the one tail shared between two. Another change to the recipe is that I did not keep them open faced. Since we were talking them to eat at the Pentagon I bought some fresh sub rolls and placed the lobster salad on those.
- Guacamole (homemade but not from cookbook)
- Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade (p.701)-- Matt Helped me out with this one and I have to say that I felt awful because as much as I have been boasting about what a quick and easy cookbook we are using… this drink was NOT quick and NOT easy. If you want some sparkling lemonade just but some at the store and add raspberries and some sparkling water. One hour to make lemonade is not worth it.
- Raspberry Sour Cream Tart (p. 613)—Not sure where to begin on this one… After we got home from the pool I realized that I needed 4 hours to make this tart (which of course I didn’t have) so I ran to the store and got home with two hours to cook. I immediately mixed up all the ingredients for my tart and in the process broke a lot of recipe rules…
1. I didn’t let the crust cool before adding filling. Causing the filling to have some of the gram cracker crust mixed in.
2. I didn’t have time to refrigerate the dessert for 4 hours. From the recommendation of my super smart (and cute) boyfriend I placed it into the freezer for the time I did have left
3. Instead of enjoying the dessert it fell out of the refrigerator (I had moved it there after the filling hardened) when I opened the door. So we did not get to enjoy the tart. I had tried a little when I made sure that the filling was correct but I am sad that it was not enjoyed by all. This will be a desert that I will try again.

That was my interesting afternoon of cooking. When it is all said and done though we had a great evening and it was worth every bit of the time and effort. It was wonderful to spend time with good friends and to see Emma’s excitement.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th

This morning we had Cinnamon French Toast (p.493). I thought that this would be a good way to start the 4th of July celebration and that it would give us the energy for a fun day! After much complaining by Emma she finally tried it and LOVED IT! This is a breakfast that we will make again for sure. It was super easy and fast! I used braided Challah bead which absorbs the egg mixture perfectly. I also used an electric griddle which made clean up a snap. Now it is off to the pool and fireworks this afternoon.

I will post tomorrow about the picnic that I am making for the fireworks tonight.

Friday Dinner...

I was so excited to have Friday off!!! My parents came over and we had Mango & Red Onion Salsa (p.30), Grilled corn w/Smoked Paprika (p.469), Bourbon-Molasses Drumsticks (p.249), and an avocado and tomato salad with balsamic over the top (Not in cookbook). I think that the star of the dinner was the Smoked Paprika butter that I made for the corn!

My mom is on a diet right now and brought over her own food to eat. I am so proud of her for sticking to the diet which was a hard thing to do with so much yummy food around. Everything was GREAT and I am already planning on cooking this meal again when we are at Tybee later this summer!

Bellow is the failed shrimp meal from the other day... We will try the shrimp again now that the gill is working.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grill = Fail

So I will just admit it yesterday was a failure! I will give myself a 50% for even cooking the meal but that is still in the failing range.

After work yesterday I met up with my mom and Emma at the Army Navy Country Club to watch Emma’s swim class. She did a great job and I am hoping that within the next few weeks she will no longer hold on to the purple noodle as a crutch. When she is in the pool she hangs on to that thing like I would hang on to a pair of Christian Louboutins. She even clings for her dear life when she is in the shallow end and can touch!!!

After her class, we loaded into the car to run to the grocery store. At this point I was still motivated to cook and talking to Emma about what I would be making for dinner. After about 10 minutes in the car I turned around to say something to Emma and that was when I lost all motivation… SHE WAS ASLEEP. As other parents might sympathize there are times when you will do anything to keep your child awake in the car. I was singing kids bop songs, dancing funny and even bribing her with things like chocolate and gushers. As I pulled into Harris Teeter I could not help but to look fondly at the Chinese place next door. At that moment all I wanted to do was get a take out order and go home to put Emma to bed. I pulled myself together, picked my sleeping child, and juggled her and my shopping basket throughout the store to get my last minute ingredients. Once we got to the candy aisle I bribed her again to wake up and this time it worked. We paid and made our way home to cook.

After getting home my motivation continued to decrease but I pushed through and started my prep. I was excited about the grilled pineapple salsa which would accompany the shrimp and my first step while the shrimp were marinating was to cut and throw the pineapple on the grill. In between putting the pineapple on the grill and removing it to cook the shrimp we ran out of propane… We threw the shrimp skewers in the oven and got everything else together and on the table.

I liked the Tangy-Avocado and Orange Salad (p.126) but Matt was not a huge fan since he does not like balsamic vinaigrette on his salads… In regards to the main course I was not a fan at all! I would try to cook the shrimp again using the grill just to see if it held the flavor of the marinade better but I would not make the pineapple salsa again. To quote Matt “it is what it is” and all I thought was that it was BAD. The jalapeño and cilantro took over the dish and that if you did a salad like the one that we started with you wouldn’t need another side or salsa.

For the three day weekend… I’m planning on spending time at the pool with Emma and seeing the fireworks on Saturday. I am looking forward to an opportunity to cook a few breakfasts and deserts from this cookbook. Bellow is the menu for tonight and the weekend as I’m not sure how often I will post.

Thursday 7/2
- Ginger-Soy Grilled Steak p.375 ** Need to get trade in the propane tank**
- Garlic & Olive Oil Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes p.434

Friday 7/3
- Mango & Red Onion Salsa p.30
- Bourbon-Molasses Chicken p.249
- Grilled Corn w/ smoked paprika p.469

Saturday 7/4
- Cinnamon French Toast p.493
- No Fail Chocolate Chippers (cookies) p.597

Sunday 7/5
- Crispy Cornmeal-Bacon Waffles p.500
- Quick Tomato and Basil Soup p.88
- The Best BLT p.149
- Spicy Grilled Chicken & Green Onions p. 244

495 Recipes to go!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Magnificent Mexican

I really like this blog thing and I will tell you why… after working all day, going to the wedding venue walk through, picking up a rotisserie chicken, and getting Emma from my parents I pulled up to my house and THE LAWN WAS MOWED! Thank you Matt!

Once I got home I started dinner immediately. The Layered Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa (p.264) was the perfect dish for a busy night. The fact that the recipe utilized the rotisserie chicken really cut down on cook time and effort. Prep time was about 10 minutes to layer flour tortillas (recipe called for corn but I like flour better) shredded chicken, Mexican/mozzarella cheese, and an enchilada sauce. The enchilada sauce was made out of salsa, green onions, and cilantro thrown into a food processer and took no time at all. After only 20 minutes in the oven we were ready to eat!

The 20 minutes cook time gave me a chance to read to Emma and whip up some fresh guacamole. As an FYI… we are totally a guacamole family and Emma and I even eat avocadoes plain as a snack. This is thanks to a fateful lunch with my Mem-Rel girls at Rosa Mexicano where I fell in love with their tableside guacamole. Also thanks to the same girls I’m no longer able to stomach guacamole and margaritas together… but that is a different story.

So, only 30 minutes after I walked in the door we were sitting down to eat a great/easy mexican meal. The Layered Chicken Enchiladas were so good that Matt even made the comment that “it looked like it took a lot of effort.” It makes me happy to say that it do not take any! What truly makes the dinner a success however was that Emma also loved the dish!

Needless to say we will be making this one again and I would recommend it to anyone!

Tonight I will be running by Giant to pick up some shrimp, taking Emma to the pool, and making dinner once Matt is on his way home. The menu for tonight is:

- Tangy Avocado-Orange Salad p. 126
- Grilled Shrimp w/ Pineapple Salsa p. 343

497 recipes to go!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My First Test

After a long day at work I made my way home with two goals in mind. The first was to finish mowing our yard which is no easy task because we live on a corner lot and have a hill in our front yard. My second goal was to complete two recipes from The Bon Appétit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook.

The yard was a failure as I mowed only a small section and left the mower out overnight (which I’m sure that I will hear about from Matt when I get home today). After trying to become motivated, for the last week, to complete the lawn I have decided that we need to hire someone else to do the mowing. To me it would be worth paying a neighborhood kid or even a landscaper. The rain this spring and summer make it impossible for us to stay on top of it ourselves. I would much rather spend an afternoon at the pool with Emma!

When it came to my dinner goal I was 75% successful. On the menu for last night was Crab & Corn Chowder with Bacon (p. 71) and Spaghetti alla Carbonara de Zucchini (p. 212). Both items surprisingly lived up to the “Fast Easy Fresh” promise in the cookbook title and I found myself with time to spare before Matt came home from work. I had Matt call when he was five minutes away so that I could start to boil the spaghetti and by the time he was home dinner was ready and on the table.

The chowder was great! I discovered a little too late that I did not have as much clam juice on hand as the recipe called for but it was no big loss. The taste was still delicious and when made again I would include just 1 cup, as I did yesterday. The Spaghetti alla Carbonara de Zucchini was just okay to me. The fresh Zucchini from the farmers market was great but I do not think that I am a fan of Carbonara sauce in general. There is just something that does not seem right to me about tossing raw egg, parmesan cheese, and hot spaghetti together to make a sauce. The idea is that the heat from the pasta cooks the egg but I’m just not feeling that method of cooking…

I have a busy schedule tonight… starting with a walk through of a wedding space (Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C.) with an old co-worker/friend. I will be acting as her “day of” coordinator for her upcoming July wedding! Wedding/Event planning is where my heart is so I am excited and honored to help out. After viewing the space I will pick up Emma from her swimming lessons and get home to cook. Tonight we will have Layered Chicken Enchiladas w/ Salsa (p. 264). This recipe allows you to use a store bought rotisserie chicken which should cut down on cooking time and make it perfect for a busy evening like this one!

2 recipes down 498 to go… wow that seems like a scary number

Monday, June 29, 2009

Let the Cooking Begin...

So as obvious by the fact that you have made your way here… I have decided to start a blog. A few weeks ago I received a gift card to one of my favorite stores (HOMEGOODS) as a birthday present. As I began filling my cart with things I didn’t need I came across a cookbook.

If you ask anyone who truly knows me, cookbooks are my weakness! If I see a cookbook or even a cooking magazine in a store I HAVE to buy it. After the cookbook or magazine has been purchased I typically can be found camped out on the sofa or bed with paper and a pen flipping through each page, looking at all the pictures, and creating weekly menus that I plan on one day cooking for Matt and Emma. As Matt will tell you though I have too many cookbooks to ever cook all of my planned menus.

However, this cookbook was different. As my mom exclaimed “There are no pictures!” only 750 pages filled with “1,100 quick dishes for everynight cooking” as the cover proudly displays. I sat on my bed for hours writing down the names and page numbers of all of the recipes that I would want to try out. As I was finishing up my third or forth page I exclaimed to Matt that all of the recipes sounded so good that I should just try to cook everything and he suggested that I could write a blog about it. I have to admit that the blog idea was not truly an idea that we came up with on our own. Just the day before, at the movies for my birthday, we had seen a preview for an upcoming movie Julie & Julia where a young wife cooks her way through Julia Child’s legendary mastering the Art of French Cooking while writing a blog.

While the idea for my blog can be partially due to the preview for the upcoming movie mostly it is inspired a cookbook unlike one that I have ever purchased. As a former co-worker would say it is an “aggressive” cookbook and while I will not be cooking “Filets de Poisson Bercy aux Champignons and Poulet Roti” like the Julie in the movie cooks I am now vowing to cook 500 recipes within a year from The Bon Appétit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook.

This blog will not only reflect on the dishes prepared but also my everyday life acting as a mother to a beautiful 5 year old little girl, Emma, and girlfriend of 2 ½ years to an amazing guy, Matt.

So here it is... my Menu for the first week! It is still a work in progress as I will be adding a few sides, breakfasts and July 4th plans are still up in the air. I will update the menu as things are finalized.

Monday 6/29:
- Crab & Corn Chowder with bacon p. 71
- Spaghetti all Carbonara de Zucchini p. 212

Tuesday 6/30:
- Layered Chicken Enchiladas w/ Salsa p. 264
- Guacamole

Wednesday 7/1:
- Grilled Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa p. 343

Thursday 7/2:
- Ginger-Soy Grilled Steak p. 375

Friday 7/3:
- Bourbon-Molasses Chicken Drumsticks p. 249
- Grilled Corn with Smoked Paprika p. 469