March 08, 2010

THE COOKING SLUMP






Oh, the cooking slump.


It seems I make the same 10 dinners and rotate them throughout the weeks. I’m so bored these days, I don’t eat my cooking any more.


After two weeks of “cereal nights”, I have tried to encourage myself to pick up a spatula.


I must cook something, but it’s harder than you think when you are trying to tune out calls from the pancake mix sitting in the pantry.


It’s an easy temptation. Throw in some water, grab a whisk, toss in a handful of chocolate chips—VOILA. Chocolate chip pancakes. Easy. Done in 5 minutes.


However - Support groups for pancake & cereal nights are not until Wednesday, so I am left with no choice but to grab my spatula and try something different. The plastic handle isn’t even showing wear yet. How old is it now…?


No matter. I can rub the handle against the cookie sheet to make it look used—since all I really like to make are cookies anyway. {It’s the only time my spatula and I do any sort of bonding.}


So, I begin the hunt.


I turn to cyberspace and search for something new to try. Does anyone else get overwhelmed by the many recipes out there like I do?


I did find some interesting recipes that I am eager to try.





AVACADO TACOS








Ingredients


3 avocados - peeled, pitted, and mashed
1/4 cup onions, diced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
12 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
jalapeno pepper sauce, to taste




Directions



1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).


2. In a medium bowl, mix avocados, onions, and garlic salt.

3. Arrange corn tortillas in a single layer on a large baking sheet, and place in the preheated oven 2 to 5 minutes, until heated through.

4. Spread tortillas with the avocado mixture. Garnish with cilantro and sprinkle with jalapeno pepper sauce.







RETURN TO SPEGHETTI NIGHT











Ingredients


1 pound uncooked spaghetti
1 cup broccoli florets
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
1 cup sliced carrots
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
Hamburger (opt.)
Pinch of oregano


Directions


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add spaghetti and return water to a boil. Cook until spaghetti is al dente; drain well.


2. Combine broccoli, corn, mushrooms, carrots and tomato sauce in large sauce pot. Cook on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally to keep sauce from sticking. Serve sauce over spaghetti.




*Should you choose to add hamburger, brown it till well done and add it to the pot of vegetable and sauce mixture the last few minutes.






Tunisian Vegetable Couscous








Ingredients



1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 yellow squash, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sliced baby portabella mushrooms
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 (16 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
2 cups dry couscous
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted almonds (optional)



Directions


1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-low heat. Place onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and carrot in pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften and turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the red and yellow peppers and mushrooms; cook another 3 minutes. Vegetables should still be firm.




2. Pour in the vegetable stock and season with paprika, cardamom, salt, and cilantro. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to low. Stir in chickpeas and tomatoes. Slowly pour in the couscous; stir. Cover pot immediately and remove from the heat. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. The couscous should have absorbed about half the cooking liquid.


3. Serve at slightly warmer than room temperature. Garnish with orange zest and the grated cheese, paprika, and almonds.



If you haven’t tried couscous—you need to! {pronounced: Koos Koos}

My SIL introduced it to us and it is something my kids beg for. {rare}
Did I mention it is way healthy too?



It seems everywhere I turn, people are on a Quinoa kick too—and Quinoa is yummy as well. {Pronunciation: Keen-wah}



You can use quinoa as a rice or pasta substitute. Or add it to soups, enchiladas, salads, etc.
Just be sure to wash it first. Did I mention this is also super, super healthy for you? And it tastes good!


My mom made this salad using Quinoa. I have to say, I was skeptical, but it turned out really tasty! Even my picky kids ate it.







QUINOA SALAD









Cook 1 cup quinoa using 2 C water. {Salt the water.}
Cool. Add to cooled quinoa:

1 diced apple
1 C blueberries [fresh or frozen]
1 container fat free vanilla yogurt
Finely chopped walnuts



How about you? Do you loathe the dreaded dinner time ritual like I do?
Have you found any recipes that have been a hit with your family?


5 comments:

Lali Johnson said...

Oh man, dinner time. Probably my least favorite time ever. I'm SO sick this pregnancy that pretty much whatever is easiest is what I make :)

So, I don't know if you have ever tried cooking with bisquick, but it is actually pretty freaking amazing! If you're interested, I can send you their recipe (not on the box) for IMPOSSIBLY EASY CHEESEBURGER PIE. It's basically a cheeseburger casserole and it is pretty yummy! I've even taken it to families with new babies cuz it's SO universal. And then their is the chicken strips recipe on the box. I alter it a little, and I'm not gonna lie, my two year old eats it and my husband pretty much begs me to make it :)

Anyways, good luck! The Cooking Slump SUCKS!!!

MommyMert said...

We have had B4D for the past week. I am not exaggerating. Finally made meatloaf (cringe to you... I know about you and your non-meatness) and mashed potatoes. I am craving CRAVING corned beef and cabbage. I went to buy some at Maceys and they said if I wait until Wed the price will drop for 4 bucks to 1.50 a pound. Yeah... I waited. Guess it will be cold cereal again for dinner. :) HOpe you have thought about us getting together...

Emmy said...

Yes, dinner it just something that I get so sick of.
Sounds like you found some good recipes!

The dread of dinner, is why my MIL and SIL's and I started the cooking club. I will be posting the reviews for last months recipes tomorrow, so I make at least 4 new things a month thanks to the club :)

Heather said...

I don't cook, it's a well known fact in my family. My husband dispises cleaning dishes, I dispise cooking (and cleaning, and laundry....) I have NO domestic-ated skills, although not from lack of trying on my mothers and husband (and even my 14 year old has tried to get the domestic bug in me) BUT!!! WAIT!!!!! HOLD ON TO YOUR SEATS!!!!!!

I COOK!!!!!! yes, and I cook well enough for even my kids to eat it! It's a shock I know my husband found this website it's www.cookingforengineers.com Don't let the title fool you, it should be called dummies guide to cooking. It has step by step WITH pictures!!! So even I can't mess up (much) I love this cooking website!

Loralee and the gang... said...

OK those are yummy looking recipes - I will have to try them. And I have a favorite cooking blog to share with you. It's mykitchencafe.blogspot.com
She has the best recipes, and lots of meatless choices if that's what you're looking for. And I especially love how she interjects her own personal comments and observations into the directions. That has saved me quite a few times!