The other day I was staring fondly at my bookshelf that was covered in cookbooks. I have a pretty awesome collection of titles — Cooking Light, America’s Test Kitchen, Julia Child, Joy of Cooking, New York Times, Dorie Greenspan, Better Homes and Garden, and many, many more.
“Gah,” I thought. “I used to read all of you before bed or when I had downtime at night and make up lists of new and intriguing menus and recipes for the week. What happened??”
Life, I replied to myself. Life happened! I do love and always will love thumbing through cookbooks. Whether they have pictures or not, many of them are calming to read. Anything that has to do with cooking usually calms me down :)
But I quite honestly have not submersed myself into any new recipes lately. Usually selecting a new recipe takes me a while. I have to decide several things: a.) Is it healthy? b.) Do I think it will taste good? c.) Does it take less than an hour to make? d.) Will Chris like it, too, so I’m not the only one eating it? e.) Are the ingredients affordable? It’s a lot of criteria, and a lot of hemming and hawing, and then if it’s an unusual ingredient I need to get, I don’t like to have to hunt for it. The Shaw’s down the street basically needs to have it in stock, because that’s as far as I’ll travel for fresh flavors.
And lately I haven’t had the time to do new recipe research! Part of it is pure laziness….part of it is the opposite of lazy where I’m going out for walks at night after work. I only get to enjoy these summer months for a short while, and before I know it, they’ll be gone. It’s a waste of my time to spend my nights in a hot kitchen with no windows!
So what I’ve been doing is turning to my trusty archives. I’ve been making a lot of the same things over again, but I don’t mind. By the time I get sick of it, the days will be shorter and colder and I’ll be looking for reasons to stay inside.
So this works out pretty well :)
Here’s what’s been on my menu lately:
Skillet Lasagna My mom introduced me to this recipe a while ago, and I freaking love it. All the tastes of lasagna without all the annoying hassle of assembling it. It’s ready in about 30 minutes.
Crockpot Freezer Meal: Chicken Cacciatore Every few weeks I’ll buy the ingredients for this freezer meal, dump them in a bag, and then cook it when I’m fresh out of dinner ideas. Bonus points for not making the apartment hot at all during summer months.
Vegetarian Split Pea Soup I have a small obsession with this soup. Mainly because it’s delicious, but ALSO because it’s the cheapest thing you’ll ever make for dinner. Peas, potatoes, carrots, celery, and broth. It’s a great budget meal and keeps you full for hours. Top it with sour cream to make it extra delectable.
Quesadillas O.m.g. Quesadillas are a lifesaver dinner option when you are exhausted after work and don’t feel like doing anything. You stuff two tortillas with delicious ingredients — leftover chili, avocados, mushrooms, veggies, and most of all, CHEESE. Then you grill it and dip it in bbq sauce and sour cream and life is pure bliss.
Crockpot Freezer Meal: Beef Stew Another freezer meal fave. I’ll admit it’s not the healthiest, but the crockpot is essential in the summer and when I’m in a I-don’t-like-meal-planning phase of life. Make ahead. Don’t even have to think about it.
Creamy Parmesan Orzo I found this recipe the first year we moved in, and have gone back to it time and time again. It’s a great side dish. It’s also a great main dish — make it as the recipe states, or add in veggies or chopped chicken. I think it’s quite honestly one of my favorite recipes on this entire blog.
Quiche I make quiche at least once every other week. I do something different with it every time. Sometimes it’s layered with sweet potatoes. Sometimes it’s a fritatta (crustless). Sometimes I put amazing goat cheese in it. Sometimes I put spinach, sometimes I don’t. I have lots of quiche recipes on the blog that you can refer to for inspiration, but after about 5, I sort of stopped making new entries for them because I figured you guys got the hint: Quiche is amazing. Make it.
Oatmeal Bars I make oatmeal squares a lot. They’re healthier than the packaged granola bars, and taste better, too. Lately, all I do is take 3 mashed bananas and mix them with 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats. Then I mix in some vanilla and some peanut butter and some chocolate chips, bake them for 20 minutes, and I have my snacks for the week.
Pita Chips Once in a while I’ll go overboard and buy a ton of flatbread or pita pockets for wraps and sandwiches. And then a week and a half later, I’ll still have a ton leftover that are either going stale and/or I’m afraid will turn moldy. So I cut them up, toss them in some salt, pepper, and olive oil, and bake them in the oven. Ta da! Chips!
Chilis Like quiche, I have made so many kinds of chilis on this blog, that I eventually just stopped documenting the new recipes I come up with. Now, when I make a chili, I usually follow a base — ground beef, beans, onion, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chilies, cumin, chili powder — then add in different kinds of veggies and/or beer if desired. It’s another cheap meal that can be either thrown in the crock pot, simmered on the stove all day, or made in a half hour. Very good for leftover lunches, too.
Spaghetti Squash Ahhhh I loooove spaghetti squash. I bake the whole thing in the oven for an hour, then scoop out the insides and saute it in butter and garlic along with whatever veggies I have on hand. Sometimes I add sausage. And it’s so incredibly tasty and delightful.
Chicken Fingers Instead of baking the frozen chicken nuggets from the store, I prefer to bread chicken breasts in Panko crumbs and other delicious spices and bake them — then serve them with a healthy veggie on the side. Dipping them in a blend of honey and dijon mustard is the best. Try it.
So there you have it, folks. Yet another one of my roundup posts. Sorry there isn’t anything new! But like me, I hope you’re enjoying the CW archives. I hope you all have some favorites you’ve found on this blog that you make over and over again. I have about 4 years of recipes on this blog, and I figure, hey, I should make them over again if I loved them so much the first time!
Hope you’re all enjoying the warmer weather and the long days of sunshine :)
‘Til next time — !