I love my slow cooker and I use it every chance I get, but when I have a little more time to mess around in the kitchen and I don’t need to prepare dinner 8 hours in advance, I often turn to braising when I want that slow cooked taste. When you braise meat or veggies, you’re essentially turning a pot on the stove or the pot in your oven into a slow cooker. Braising involves browning the meat quickly with some oil, adding some liquid and then simmering the mixture over low heat. Braising can turn more economical, tough cuts of meat into tender, luscious morsels and the slow cook time helps flavor the meat through and through.
I’ve mentioned before that I have an almost embarrassing number of cookbooks in my house. I firmly believe that one of the reasons I have so many is because I truly love to cook, but I’m not very good at creating my own recipes.
I do tweak recipes quite often, though. As long as I have a framework, then I can comfortably alter a recipe to my heart’s content and nine times out of ten, I’m glad I did. This is one of my favorite quick and easy appetizers because it’s easy to change up. I’ve made it countless times and have changed up what tops the melted, gooey, cheesy base almost every time.
It’s no secret that I love good food. Good food doesn’t have to mean fancy, though. I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that nothing makes me happier than a really good sandwich. I remember watching Friends years ago, and while everyone was laughing over Joey’s devotion to his favorite sandwich, I felt his pain. I understood. A perfect sandwich is a terrible thing to waste.
I don’t know if I’d go this far, but I’m pretty close!
One of my husband’s favorite cookies is just an old-fashioned Snickerdoodle. There’s nothing particularly mind-blowing about a Snickerdoodle, but they are really tasty. That said, I’ve never been able to bake up a Snickerdoodle recipe that lived up to my expectations of what one should be. I want a moist, chewy cookie. Nothing cakey, nothing dry. Nothing I’d need to dunk in my milk (or coffee). My sister-in-law, Kelly, makes excellent Snickerdoodles. They are perfect every time! I’ve tried her recipe, drilling her for information and baking secrets beforehand, and still can’t get them to work. Every Snickerdoodle I’ve ever baked just didn’t come out quite right. To be honest, I’d given up hope. I’d told my husband that when we’re able to spend time with his family, he’d get his Snickerdoodles, but until then he was out of luck.
It’s Mardi Gras time in The Big Easy! This may not mean much to you, but it’s a sweetly sentimental time for us. The day after Aaron and I got married, almost 15 years ago, we didn’t head off on some amazing, romantic, tropical honeymoon. Instead, we moved from our safe haven in the Midwest to an unknown world called “New Orleans”. Aaron had already been in school down there for a year, but I’d never lived south of Indianapolis. This was a whole new world for me in so many ways. Not only was I jumping into the adventure of marriage, I was moving someplace that was so incredibly different from anywhere I’d ever lived before. It was scary, I’m not going to lie. I was terrified. I was fresh out of college, had a new husband on my arm, a new apartment, no friends, and no job. The first time I opened a cabinet in my new kitchen, a giant cockroach (or, Palmetto Bug as they prefer to be called down there) skittered across the floor, right in front of me. I screamed. A roach was my new Welcome Wagon lady.
I love a good roast chicken. There’s just something homey and warm about a good, old-fashioned chicken dinner. I have made countless roasted chicken recipes over the years. I’ve fed my family some wonderfully flavorful, delicious chickens and some other chickens that we’d prefer not to remember. I’m always on the lookout for another good roast chicken recipe and I was thrilled when I ran across this one in Fine Cooking magazine last week.
Before you say, “Christine, I just read the name of this recipe and it sounds disgusting”, just hear me out. I know that when most of us think of kale, we think of the green stuff that’s occasionally floating around in a pot of soup or, most often, the curly stuff that’s used as a garnish when we go out to eat. After years of sitting on the sidelines, kale is finally being recognized as the super-good-for-you-food that it is! Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat and one you should really try to “force” upon your children. For more on that, click here. Thankfully, because of this recipe, I don’t have to force mine anymore!
I’ve loved to bake for a long time, and I’ve baked a lot over the years. There’s not too much that intimidates me when it comes to baking. Sure, I have yet to try baking my own croissants (that didn’t come from the freezer section) and I haven’t attempted to make macarons, despite the bag of almond flour I ran out to buy after sampling some amazing specimens at a French bakery last summer. Those are intimidating baked goods though! The other item on my Baking Bucket List, up until just this week, was an old-fashioned cake roll. I know, I know, it sounds kind of lame in comparison, but the thought of rolling up a cake has made me so nervous that I’d never tried to do it.
Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year. I don’t know about you, but Tuesday nights aren’t exactly the best time for my husband and I to go out on a date. So this year, we’ll be dining at the not-so-exclusive Family Kitchen Table on Valentine’s Day. Staying at home with the kids doesn’t mean you have to settle for chicken nuggets and tater tots. This pasta dish is perfect for a low-key Valentine’s Day. It’s not your everyday sauce, but not so out of the norm that the kids won’t touch it. In fact, my girls love this dish, which seems appropriate given the holiday I’m suggesting it for!
Love is in the air! Although, it’s really hard for me to believe that it’s almost Valentine’s Day. I think my holiday radar is a little bit off lately. I’m going to blame my holiday ineptness on the stores around me feeling the need to fill up with Valentine goodies on December 26th! The stuff has been in the stores for so long that I’ve grown to ignore it, and now, here we are…almost to the actual occasion! I’m fully prepared for them to roll out the 4th of July paraphernalia on February 15th.