From my kitchen to yours

Dear sisters,

Pre-baby I had so much time to cook, bake, plan out meals for the week and grocery shop. Now that I’m working more and have a baby I find it harder to plan the meals I want to make (Cue me feeling silly for having “less” time when I’m the only sister working part time). I still meal plan, but I have to take into consideration prep time and whether the leftovers will be easy to eat at work on my pumping breaks. I work afternoons Tuesday and Thursday, Wednesday until 8 and all day Friday, so, whenever possible I make dinner before work to be reheated or assemble the ingredients so I can whip it up quickly. One of my peculiar cooking quirks is that I like to work FAST. Once I get going I don’t like to stop and I like to see if I can get good food made in as little time as possible. One of my first meltdowns post baby was when Calvin woke up from a nap in the middle of me making bread dough. I JUST WANTED TO FINISH KNEADING MY BREAD DOUGH. Can’t you understand that baby?

Yummy homemade salsa: roast tomatoes, jalapeno, onion and garlic cloves (tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper) under the broiler until well charred and soft. Roast a red pepper or other veggies if you want (or fruit!) Blend, add salt, pepper and lime juice.
Yummy homemade salsa: roast tomatoes, jalapeno, onion and garlic cloves (tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper) under the broiler until well charred and soft. Roast a red pepper or other veggies if you want (or fruit!) Blend, add salt, pepper and lime juice.

Kevin often watches a bit confusedly as I cook. I kind of look like an Iron Chef, running around the kitchen grabbing ingredients, trying to do a million things at once. I definitely don’t look happy, but I feel good. I feel productive in the kitchen. A few weeks ago Kevin asked if he could start cleaning up while I was in the middle of a kitchen extravaganza. Just a year ago I would have happily let him clean up, but for some reason I now enjoy cooking our meals and cleaning up the dishes from my cooking prep and wiping the counters down. Seeing a meal through from execution to clean up makes me feel powerful, I told him. Now, whenever Kevin sees a messy kitchen he tells me “Jewel, there’s a lot of power in there.” It’s a cheeky but nice way for him to acknowledge my desire to see a task all the way through. I can then step up to clean up or let him take some of my power (isn’t that some feminist manifesto? DON’T TAKE MY POWER). Anyways.

Bittman’s easy broiled chicken breasts. Put olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper and spice in an oven proof skillet. Coat both sides of nicely flattened chicken in mixture and let sit for about an hour. Turn on broiler and broil (about 4 inches or so away from broiler) for 3-4 minutes on each side. It’s like grilling inside for those of us who don’t have a grill.

I want to share some of my favorite meals from the past few weeks that are usually in my bimonthly rotation. I love variety in my meals, so I tend to ignore a meal for awhile and then wrack my brains for ideas and remember, “HEY! I LOVE LASAGNA!” Apparently
my inner voice only speaks in a loud shouts. I tend to plan our meals a week in advance so I can grocery shop and food prep a bit. *nerd alert* I write Untitledall of the meals on Kevin and my shared google calendar. Bonus points to the person who saw that Kevin went in and changed my Swiss Chard and Sausage Soup to Butt Chard. He likes to make his views known very subtly. Also, Tuna Noodle Casserole should not be considered one of my recipes. That is the kind name for the strange mixture Kevin makes himself for dinner every Wednesday night while I work late. It’s a box of Kraft mac and cheese and a packet of sweet and spicy tuna. He likes it because (as he puts it) he knows exactly how long it takes to make, it only uses 4 dishes, and it’s extremely salty and spicy. Mmm mmm good.

Anyways, onto some of my favorite recipes.

  1. Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches: These are such a simple and delicious meal. I buy (usually pretzel) rolls from Festival, cook up a pepper, onion and some chicken in olive oil. Drizzle a little bit of Frank’s Buffalo Sauce and a bit of ranch over it. Shove it inside a roll with some cheddar/mozzarella cheese, wrap it in foil and pop it in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes. The most recent time I made it I added in a yellow squash, it was delish. I also thought about making a ranch coleslaw with cabbage and shredded carrots and celery (I just thought about it though, no time to make it). Not especially healthy, but not horrible for you (let me live with my ignorance of healthy vs. unhealthy foods).
  2. Pioneer Woman’s Fiesta Beans (made with black beans): This recipe is a mainstay. I make a huge pot on a morning off and freeze it in 2 cup servings. I use it for black bean tacos, we eat it with PW’s lime-garlic rice in a burrito or rice bowl with cheese and cabbage, I throw it into my favorite chili recipe (note about chili recipe, I usually use a bit less chili powder, use more beans and just one pound of beef, and work my way up to taste on the apple cider vinegar). Point being, these beans are so versatile and it’s amazing to have some in the freezer.
  3. Spaghetti Carbonara: This is a favorite of ours. I’ve got it memorized now. It’s written in the new Buckwalter Family Cookbook cousin Cheryl put together for our wedding. I like to throw in lots of peas and sometimes spinach to try to make it somewhat more healthy.
  4. Breakfast Sandwiches: I could eat these all of the time. I like to saute veggies, throw some eggs over them with cheese and put it between a bagel or english muffin. YUM.
  5. Crockpot meals are a bit rarer. I like making veggies and a roast chicken in the crockpot so the veggies have been cooking in chicken fat all day and the chicken is so moist and falling apart tender. I did Simply Recipe’s Mexican Pulled  Pork when Janna was here and it was SO GOOD.

Hopefully my list inspires you a bit. I’m curious what meals make it into your monthly rotation?

Love, this crazy chef.
Love, this crazy chef.

5 thoughts on “From my kitchen to yours

  1. Cringing at the memory that I used to eat something similar to Kevin’s tuna concoction. Sweet and spicy tuna with canned Italian style diced tomatoes over egg noodles. My eating/cooking habits have improved immensely since taking on the responsibility of feeding little people! This summer I’m obsessed with pickled snap peas, which I think you sisters would appreciate!

  2. Yum! I totally understand cooking in a whirlwind of energy. It’s the mom brain, wanting to get things done quickly. I really love being able to complete a task, start to finish, and it’s so hard with a baby around! All your food sounds delicious. We are eating much differently than we used to–we have no time to cook and broken kitchen appliances and it’s difficult. Someday we’ll get back to eating real meals at home every night again.

  3. You are a meal planning inspiration, Jewel!! Kevin’s butt chard change made me laugh out loud. I do two pounds of black beans in the slow cooker every so often and store them in the freezer as well – we eat tacos once a week as it is a family hit and we love the leftovers. We also use our slow cooker to make homemade chicken stock (leftover roast chicken carcasses/chicken bones, carrots, celery, onions, and herbs, covered in water, cooked on low all night) that we freeze in 2 cup containers. Our standby meals are definitely curries, tacos, pizza nights, and soup with bread.

    1. I used to do the chicken broth thing over night too, but our room doesn’t have a door and since it’s on the second floor all the kitchen smells go straight up there. Waking up to the smell of chicken broth made me sick during pregnancy and now I do it for a few hours during the day on high. I would make more soups, but I always have to convince Kevin to eat them! He likes chili and really chunky stews, but if I call them soup he automatically dislikes them.

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