I have skills. One of them is the uncanny ability to break off large portions of my teeth at the precise moment that my dentist office closes for the weekend AND when travel of town. 🤦🏻♀️ This has happened to me on more than one occasion and although I had the option of calling the dental emergency number when it happened to me again last month, I deemed my broken molar a non-emergency situation and powered through until I could get an appointment to see the dentist. 🤣
I have come up with my own coping techniques for when these unfortunate dental situations pop up. Even though I can't eat normally, I discovered relatively quickly that room temperature red wine and melted chocolate is the most gentle (and delicious) sustenance for my sensitive tooth with exposed nerves. 🍷🍫 And a weekend of chocolate and wine proved to be the pretty great. I wasn't mad about it. 🤣 #wineandchocolatetherapy
As far as I was concerned, there was only one flaw with my wine and chocolate plan - neither one appealed to me before noon.😅 Warm, soft, homemade cinnamon rolls to the rescue. Problem solved. Wine, chocolate and cinnamon rolls. Despite my broken tooth - all in all, not a bad weekend. 🦷 😂
Turns out, a full set of functioning teeth is not actually a requirement to fully enjoy homemade cinnamon rolls with creamy, cream cheese frosting. I've never appreciated a soft, warm, cinnamony muffin more in my life but it wasn't just me. There were a lot of oohs and ahhs from my family as well.
Cinnamon Roll Muffins
3/4 cup warm milk
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
4 Tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 ounces cream cheese (softened)
2 Tablespoons butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Bake 15-18 minutes at 375.
Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan.
Spread the frosting over the warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy.
In case you were curious - I am now the proud owner have a shiny new crown on my broken molar and you'll be pleased to know that I am back to consuming are more healthy diet again.
I'm a terrible poker player.🃏 I'm just not very good at hiding my feelings and even though I might not always say everything that I'm thinking - my face always tells the truth. 😬 Those that know me tease me about the fact that I have absolutely zero poker face.😅 It's not necessarily a bad personality trait but it's gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion.
I'm not a wine snob or a wine connoisseur in any sense of the word. I enjoy a glass of wine when we go out to dinner and I generally stick to something in the cabernet family. One night I decided to stretch outside of my relatively small wine comfort zone and order something different. The server recommended 2 different wines with so much vigor and conviction that I ordered a sample of each. 🍷
What I did NOT expect was that our most gracious server would stand at the table and watch me sample her suggested wines.😬 This is where my face gets me into trouble because I just knew that my expression was giving away all the thoughts that were swirling around my head while I sipped. I wanted so badly to tell her that I agreed with her recommendations and I loved them both, but after one sip, there was no denying the fact that I wasn't a fan of either wine. 🥴
So, I did what every socially awkward person would do in that situation. I attempted to avoid the condemning stares from the server and sidestep the conversation by asking for a sample tasting of third type of wine. 🤦🏻♀️ I'm honestly not sure whether the 3d glass of wine was really exceptional but I didn't make a weird face when I drank it, so I'm took that as a good sign and I ordered a glass. 😅
I'm not the only person in my family that has a hard time maintaining a poker face when I eat something that doesn't meet my expectations though. 😑 I've learned to read my family's faces when they take that first bite of something, pretty well. It also helps that they're not shy about sharing their feedback after a meal. 😅
Eggplant Lasagna is always a good choice if I want to get truly authentic facial feedback. It's impossible to eat this cheese and marinara smothered veggie layered in between delicate sheets of pasta, without making a face. You have to either smile because you enjoy it or make the face of someone who is trying to swallow a bite that they wished they hadn't ever put into their mouth. 😋🥴 I'm happy to report that there were lots of smiles at the table when I served this eggplant lasagna. We all agreed that it was delicious and we ate every bite - no poker faces required.
3 large eggplants
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, spray olive oil or ghee
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
6 ounces baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
16-ounce tub of whole milk ricotta
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
24-ounce jar marinara sauce, about 3 cups
8 no-boil lasagna noodles
1– 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
1/4– 1/3 cup pecorino
1/4–1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes at 375. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer.
It's completely up to you as to whether or not you want to disclose the fact that it's a vegetable based lasagna, ahead of time. As for me, I'll never stop trying to sneak vegetables into soups and tacos. It's just how I roll. 🤣 Enjoy the recipe!
Does anyone else have a spouse who eats as if someone is standing behind them waiting to snatch a french fry from their plate the minute they look away? I'm not trying to throw him under the bus, but my husband eats with such gusto that it's not uncommon for him to not look up from his plate until it's empty. There's so little time between bites that any discussion outside of "pass the ketchup" is usually out of the question at mealtime. 🤣
I've tried to get to the root of his accelerated eating and I have absolutely no answers. He's had this style of eating for as long as I can remember - and I've known this man since he was 10! He's never lived in an environment where food was limited or been in a situation where he was required to eat quickly but he eats every meal as though it is his last. 🤷🏻♀️
I give my poor husband grief about being a speed eater but I would not categorize myself as a slow eater, by any means. My competitive spirit keeps me engaged in the race to keep pace with my husbands accelerated eating. 😅 I do have to remind myself to put my fork down between bites, to take time to enjoy and appreciate every forkful and to relax and enjoy the mealtime experience.
I feel like the time that I devote to preparing a meal is directly proportional to the appreciation that I have for it. I can devour a turkey sandwich that I slap together for lunch in under 2 minutes. But if I spend several days, preparing, kneading, rising and shaping a bread dough - you better believe that I am going to appreciate every single bite. 🥖
I realize that the thought of making a bread over the course of two days is daunting for most people. But I promise you that this Overnight Focaccia is easier than you think. Other than a minimal amount of hands on time prepping and kneading the dough, most of time is spend rising and proofing which doesn't involve any work from you. And if you've got a Kitchen mixer or a food processor that can do the kneading for you - it's even more hands off.
It goes without saying that Overnight Focaccia is the perfect accompaniment to almost any Italian meal. 🍝 But you might not have thought about serving focaccia as an appetizer. It's goes great with cheeses and olives. It also makes great sandwiches. And if you've never had a warm focaccia sandwich with turkey, Swiss and avocado - you're missing out.
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons yeast
2 cups water
Press fingers straight down into dough to dimple.
Transfer to a preheated 425 oven immediately and bake 25 minutes.
Lift out of pan with a spatula.
Slice into squares.
If you want to fill your kitchen with the smell of fresh-baked bread but you're nervous about shaping and working with a starter, focaccia is the best place to begin. This homemade focaccia requires minimal baking skills but still provides ample opportunity amaze yourself by the wonders of yeast. Letting the dough do its first rise in the fridge produces the most deliciously, bubbly bread. This focaccia is worth a try for sure.
Does anyone mind if we just turn this blog into a recipe, stories and book club post for the day? 📕 2020 has been the year of the audio book for me. I'm averaging 3 audio books a week and now I'm wondering why it took me so long to jump on the audio download game. I work from home and I spend a great deal of time doing somewhat menial tasks in my kitchen. So why not listen to someone read me a book while I chop vegetables?
Thanks to COVID, I've learned to use Libby as my source for my audio downloads. I love it. Some of my most favorite books lately have been Dream Big (Bob Goff), Present over Perfect (Shauna Niequist), That Sounds Fun (Annie F. Downs), Eat a Peach (David Chang), Forgiving What You Can't Forget (Lysa TerKurst), Dial A for Auntie (Jesse Q. Sutanto) and Death By Chocolate Milkshake (Sarah Graves). 🤣 (I can't resist a good culinary mystery.😅) I enjoy reading memoires and I really like inspirational and Christian non-fiction books. This is where the book club part of this post comes in - I need you to send me your book suggestions. What have you read lately that you just couldn't put down?
I'm naturally drawn to books about food. My family considers it a form of torture when we're on a long car trip and I turn on an audio book at describes food and the experience of eating in great detail. 🤣 You know the books that I'm talking about. The books that have ridiculously lengthy descriptions about a particular food or the process of preparation. The ones that have recipes at the end of each chapter. I LOVE those books but my less food-focused family members believe that listening to those books has a negative effect on them - it makes them far too hungry. And to their credit, maybe being trapped in a car for long periods of time, with pretzels as our only snack, isn't the best scenario for a good culinary mystery book. 🚙 🤣
I've been inspired by books to cook all sorts of different recipes. I made homemade Ramen after I listened to David Chang's memoir. And Banana Cream Pie Murder and Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder had obvious consequences. 🤣 After I listened to Fanny Singer's memoire, Always Home, I was inspired to make Fisherman's Pie. Her chronicles of travel, food and family that she experienced growing up gave me all the comfort food vibes. So here is my Springtime comfort meal - Fisherman's Pie.
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 Tablespoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
12 ounces jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut in half crosswise
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, sliced thin
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 Tablespoons flour
16 ounces clam juice
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound skinless cod fillets, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup fresh parsley
Place pie under broiler and cook until golden and crusty.
Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
I can't help but wonder what other kinds of fish I could add to this Fisherman's Pie now. I'm thinking that scallops might be a nice addition. I'll keep you posted on that trial. 😅
He can't handle the heat! 🌶 😂 I like spicy chicken tacos, seafood fra diavola and spicy black bean burgers - anything with just a hint of spice. Plot twist - my better half doesn't share my affection for "well seasoned" dishes. 😂 I've actually sat across the table from him and witnessed as his nose started to run and beads of sweat formed on his forehead while he consumed an overly "peppery" slice of pizza. 🥵
Arguably, one of the most important skills that I've acquired over the last 30 years as the wife of a heat-sensitive eater is how to "de-spice" any dish. 😅 I don't want to toot my own horn but I'm pretty much an expert at removing every last spicy rib and seed from a jalapeno in an attempt to render them more mild. 🌶🤣 I've also mastered the art of pepper replacement. FYI: Cubanelles, poblanos and bell peppers make great substitutes for cayenne and habaneros.
Some like it hot... but some do not. 😬 The great thing about making meals at home is that you can customize them to your own level of spiciness. Turn up the heat on these Chicken Enchiladas with extra peppers or a dash of hot sauce or make them more mellow by substituting bell pepper for the jalapeño or leaving out the peppers completely.
As for me - I like my enchiladas somewhere in the middle of fiery and bland. Poblanos and serranos are my favorite for a nice kick but not so much that I feel like my tongue is on fire. 🔥 Pick your level of heat and make some of these Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chili Sauce for yourself.
Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chili Sauce
Sauce and Filling
1 1/2 Tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 Tablespoons chili powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4" wide strips
16 ounces tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño, diced (or bell pepper)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Tortillas and Toppings
10 (6 inch) corn tortillas
3/4 cup cheddar cheese shredded
3/4 cup sour cream
1 avocado, cut into 1/2" pieces
5 romaine lettuce leaves
Sprinkle cheese over enchiladas. Cover pan with foil. Bake 20-25 minutes at 400.
Uncover and top with sour cream, avocado, lettuce and lime wedges.
I'm an Italian girl from Ohio and for a long time, I really didn't feel qualified to cook Latin or Asian or even Southern cuisine. It's taken me some time (and a whole lot of practice) to build up enough confidence to tackle meals like curry or enchiladas. I'm not sure if these are traditional Mexican enchiladas but I think they're pretty great.
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