flip it, change it … rearrange it.

I caved. I put up all of my Halloween decorations. Plus fall decorations (minus a few Turkey’s; one holiday at a time THANK YOU).  The last Halloween I decorated for was 3 years ago, in 2012 we had our wedding and then moved, again in 2013 we were packing to move into our new house… so yeah. With that being said some of the items have seen better days, candles melted, things were beyond squished, and I couldn’t figure out a few other things, lol! So I guess when things are looking a little sad it’s time to find new decorations to replace them.  It’s good to update what you already own, kind of like food…

Look at what you’re eating and see if there’s a way to revamp it; cut out food that doesn’t look fresh, bring in colorful veggies, or buy 1 beginner cookbook and make a promise to try a few new recipes. Trying something new for the first time can be scary but the outcome becomes better and better each time, you have to start somewhere.

That was my experiment for the last few days, I took known favorites and did something new with them.

IMG_7807 IMG_7853

We often have fish and pork chops so those were at the top of my list to have a make over.  For the fish I used a lemon vinaigrette recipe but changed one of the sides by using cabbage instead of radicchio. I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out but it was sooooo good! The sauce was so flavorful; it made the cabbage/bean side edible (we know those 2 items have ZERO flavor). The fish was lightly coated in flour and quickly pan cooked to create a slight crust then I finished it in the oven at a low temp. for maybe 15 minutes. We needed a starch and I had a bag of baby red potatoes, whipped up an easy version of rusty mashed potatoes. I quartered the potatoes, placed them in a bowl filled with water (covering the potatoes), and microwaved them for 15 minutes while the fish baked.  I then gave them a rough mash, added garlic powder and cheese, done! Oh, also milk and sour cream to help with the mashing.

On to the pork chops where I used a Trisha Yearwood recipe. The cut of chops were awful and made it quite difficult to make them pretty. I didn’t have thick chops but usually with the thin cut I can put “stuffing” in the middle and wrap the meat around, securing with a tooth pick.  This meat was paper thin and tearing from every way possible.  I made it work somehow and it turned out okay. I didn’t have any sides in mind so I scanned my pantry and grabbed hese tomato-basil noodles, given to us from a friend (the house we watched over), then over to my fridge which had leftover veggies.

Classic ingredients made over; it was rough trying something new but in the end I’m glad that I did because next time I know what to do and not to do – you learn each time you cook!

I made a special breakfast on Sunday … my husband surprised me with breakfast last weekend at a yummy cafe so I surprised him this past weekend. I’ve made a frittata once before and we loved it so here’s another one! I used the foundation of one that the Pioneer Woman cooked, changing some ingredients.  Really though, you can use whatever you want in one of these! I used: canned/pre diced potatoes (this is a Sunday morning we’re talking about, ain’t no one got time for dicing!), canned mushrooms (read previous statement about dicing), onions (I cut those myself, thank you), and red peppers (from a jar too). I added cheese, LOTS OF CHEESE – parm & cheddar. I had to up the cooking time to 45 minutes, the eggs were not setting like I had hoped, no biggie though.

IMG_7843 IMG_7846IMG_7845

IMG_7857

I guess this could be one of our favorite dishes too, spaghetti and meatballs. I took my world famous meatball recipe (as in, famous in this house) and added shredded parm cheese … soooo good.  Just remember that with parm cheese you don’t have to add a lot of salty, it’s a very salty cheese.

 IMG_7878IMG_7870

THESE WERE FUN! Spaghetti squash burrito bowls. AWESOME-SAUCE!  The blog post where I got the recipe from was lacking some instructions but I figured it all out.  Bake the squash ‘meat’ side down on a lined baking sheet – 425 for 45 minutes, the ‘meat’ will scoop right out, no effort needed. Use whatever veggies you might order at say, Chipotle or Freebirds, and boom, done! I used canned corn, canned black beans, 2 green bell peppers, 1 red bell pepper, 1/2 red onion diced, cilantro, fajita seasoning, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.  Layer everything like a lasagna in the squash shell: cheese, veggies, squash, cheese, veggies, squash, more cheese, salsa & sour cream. We each went back for 2 helpings – it didn’t leave us feeling gross but we were definitely full. I’d suggest 1 squash per person, you serve the burrito bowl in one of the halves. This recipe is staying in rotation. LOVE!

Go find “old” recipes and brainstorm how you can make them over. Add a new sauce or try to make a meat dish into a vegetarian dish (swap a steak for shrimp), even if it’s 1 ingredient that you change (I added parm cheese to my meatballs, they tasted new to us!) it can make a big difference. Don’t be afraid to change up your routine.

Advertisements

Brinner!

It’s not a term that IHOP made up for their newest commercial… It’s a term clearly made up by college students that when the cafeteria didn’t have anything tempting for dinner, you went directly to the cereal bar. How can you go wrong with cereal? It’s seriously a life saving creation and clearly needs its own triangle on the food pyramid. So you get aquatinted with ‘brinner’ but after 22 y.o. it seems unacceptable to eat only cereal for dinner (my husband will tell you I’m full of lies) … Introduce the frittata. It’s like the rich uncle to a scrambled egg. You can add whatever you want, I picked (actually, Martha) ham, fontina cheese, green beans, and chives.

It’s like a quiche but minus a crust. It’s like an omelette but minus the flipping and folding. It’s way better than scrambled eggs, and it just makes for a hearty meal. Whip up home fries and voila! Brinner is served.

Martha will instruct you to cook using a cast iron skillet but I haven’t made that purchase yet. It’s not necessary so no excuses to not make this… I sautéed everything on the stove and while that was going on, I popped a casserole dish in the oven to heat up. Throw the cooked mixture into the casserole dish, pour in eggs/cheese and it will turn out perfect. Promise*

20140216-130303.jpg

20140216-130250.jpg

It’s pretty funny to see the difference in Josh’s plate vs my plate. That boy eats so much food! His doctor reminded him that he needs to keep up his carb intake because diabetics need that for their brain. Carbs = brain food, in moderation of course. That’s why I chose regular potatoes and made a huge amount of the home fries (more leftovers while I’m out of town). I got on this shopping habit of ‘no carbs’ but that’s what doctors are for, to keep you in check.

As usual dinner didn’t happen on Thursday (hopefully the ingredients are still good for Tuesday!) … We ordered pizza, which I felt bad about since my husband’s friend was over again. Although we didn’t just call Papa John’s, we kept it classy with BJ’s and got 2 yummy pizzas. One they messed up (ordered the 5 meat and asked for jalapeños to be added to 1/2… Yeah well only half got meat and the other only jalapeños. Really?!) we also got a buffalo chicken pizza and it was definitely spicy. It was no Frank’s Red Hot but it was still good.

I’m in Vegas for one more night, I return tomorrow… Back to the daily grind and figuring out my weekly menus. I’d have to say that I’ve enjoyed having a few days off from cooking but I sure do miss it. We all need vacations and while you may think it’s for one reason, it can easily inspire you for another.

Disclaimer
* if you can’t even boil water than this guarantee is void.

20140216-130244.jpg

20140216-130235.jpg