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i’ve finally found it — that sweet spot. for most of this blog’s lifespan, i was cooking way too much food (and wasting it, most of the time). then, in the last few months, i stopped cooking altogether for awhile. and now, after about two weeks worth of wobbling on the fence (some nice consonance there! unintended, natch), i believe i have found the sweet spot. in celebration, i cleaned out my virtual recipe box. any recipes with more than (approximately) six ingredients, deleted. any recipes that called for ingredients not within the budget, deleted. any recipes that looked too elaborate, deleted. what a great feeling!

i tested the theory out this weekend. i looked for the simplest recipes i could find. turns out, we love eating them more than things that took me over an hour (whether because of lack of proper kitchen tools or whatever) to make. plus these recipes are so tasty you just can’t not love them:

Pasta with Mushrooms & Goat Cheese
Roasted Asparagus & Mushrooms
Egg Noodles With Peas & Mushrooms
Easy Egg Salad

yes, we are on a mushroom kick. but they taste completely different in each of these recipes. and i used three different kinds — white mushrooms for the pasta with goat cheese, portobellos for the asparagus, and cremini with the egg noodles. yummmm.

kristen has a new ice cream maker. my jealousy would know no bounds, except that … drumroll … i have a new foreman! well, not a foreman. and not a new one. but still! i have been coveting one for a long time now, so it doesn’t matter that it only cost me $3.99 at savers (which is the new love of my life — after H of course — and my budget).foreman & friends

so now a george foreman grill joins my array of second-hand appliances. it certainly won’t win any beauty contests any time soon — it’s got some adhesive-stain spots, and the grill itself is a bit banged up (who uses metal to scrape off a foreman grill? apparently whoever owned this before me), but it is totally functional! i tested in the store, so i know.

i haven’t actually made anything yet, but H and i are both having visions. mine tend more towards grilled cheese, marinated portobello steaks, and things of that nature, while his apparently include lots of salmon & steak. the beauty of that is, i don’t have to worry about cooking meat anymore! he can do it all on his own now.

so, kristen, for the time being you are spared waves of jealousy emanating from my direction. i expect that in the summer time it will be harder for me to keep that under wraps. but i will be asking buddha for a cuisinart ice cream maker to appear at savers before then — we’ll see if he delivers!

and now for something completely different — why do people make kitchen appliances white? it looks like i’ve attempted to coordinate my kitchen to match H’s iBook. i swear to you, it’s not true! is it so that we can all feel bad about how dirty things get, in order to keep our house-keeping self-esteem at it’s bare minimum? or do they actually think that stains don’t show up IMMEDIATELY and to stay if everything is pure white? i don’t know, but to whomever decided that all things kitchen should be white, i scoff at you and firmly believe that you have never stepped foot into an actual kitchen. thank buddha for marbled kitchen counters!

st. pattyas i mentioned before, i may only be 25% irish but it’s a proud 25%. however, my irish pride tends not to manifest itself in green clothing, green beer, or overdosing on guinness. don’t get me wrong — i love me some guinness, i just don’t think there’s a particular day it’s better to drink it than others. it’s actually similar to my feelings on valentine’s day, when i think about it. but today i actually manifested some of that classic st. patty’s day greenery, in a completely random way.

you see, ever since we got naked, ahem, i mean ever since our juice fast (sorry, couldn’t resist) H & i have really been rethinking our eating habits. neither of us had any trouble physically with the juice fast — we did have dreams about solid food, but that was all mental craving related. i don’t think i was hungry once that weekend. so that started us thinking.

and this past week, we’ve noticed other things about our eating habits. like, how if we eat more later in the day, we have more trouble getting to sleep at night and more trouble digesting in general. and how most of our snacky cravings come between the hours of noon and 3pm. so our resolution was to try and change it up a bit.

for breakfast, if H doesn’t feel like making any, we have the Naked Protein juice — and wow. a small glass of that really does the trick. and ever since, well, today, we’ve resolved to try and eat a big meal in the early afternoon, and only small stuff later in the day.

st. patrick’s day lunch so, to help us get in the habit, i made us lunch today — something i almost never do. sure, i cook weekends, but i tend to make everything so that we can eat it later on, not immediately. upon raiding the fridge for my lunch ingredients, i decided to get creative — even though that tends to backfire more often than not. today, i was feeling optimistic. maybe it was the beer (something i firmly believe in for all weekend afternoons, ethnic holiday or otherwise)…

but, st. patrick was with me! not only were fully half of my ingredients green, but it came out splendidly. i am so proud of this dish, in fact, that i am going to turn it into an official recipe. i just can’t decide what to call it — maybe you all can help me out with that?

so here it is!

st. patrick’s day mealSuzy’s St. Patrick’s Day Lunch
note: the tricky thing about the amounts down there are that i used mostly left-over hunks and bits of stuff. so these are all approximate. if something seems like too much or too little, you’re probably right!
1/3 head broccol-flower (or however you spell that), cut into little florets & bits
1/4 c edamame
peanut oil
1/3 c half and half
1/2 c grated or chopped cheese (i used mostly manchego with a bit of gouda, because it’s what i had, but i think the important part is to use one soft and one hard cheese so that they blend well)
red pepper flakes
1 1/2 c potato wedges

- heat potato wedges in a skillet or pot with a top over medium heat,  coated with just a little bit of oil so that they don’t stick
– sautee edamame until just starting to brown
– add broccol-flower florets and continue sauteeing until florets are heated through
– add edamame & florets to potatoes, cover & reduce heat to low, and continue heating until sauce is done
– sauce: add the half and half to the sautee pan you just used, then add the cheese. stir continuously over medium-low heat until all the cheese is melted
– season with red pepper flakes to taste
– add sauce to potato-veggie mixture. the sauce should be just enough to coat the mixture without much excess
– serve with garlic bread & beer! yummm.

i was having trouble with recipes this weekend. nothing was inspiring me — probably all the stress from the last few weeks kicking in. so i turned to my new cookbook, since we’ve had WAY too many leftovers from the past few cooking bouts and i haven’t tried most of them yet.

solo suppers

so, from left to right we have salmon & sauteed mushroom quiche which i invented (recipe after the jump), oven-roasted potatoes with red pepper flakes based on nigella’s garlic potatoes, and the fritatta recipe from solo suppers (which i promise to post when i get a minute)! plus, as you can see above, some store-bought breads and rolls to flesh things out a bit. oh, and i also made a boboli pizza with herbed gouda, fresh mozzerella, and pepperoni for snacking and lunch. and so far, we’re good to go! i have two more quick recipes waiting in the wings though, just in case a night comes when we don’t feel like any of this. but i feel pretty good about it — we’re not big eaters, i’ve come to realize, we’re big snackers. so a few dishes for dinner go a long way, as long as there are diversions when it comes to lunch and snacks!

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after succumbing for half of yesterday to an mtv marathon of america’s next top model cycle 6, to my eternal shame, i managed to summon up my motivation to cook (he’s flying in monday afternoon) and get back on track.

i started small — the first thing i made is a recipe for lemon cheesecake bars i’ve been hanging on to for a while, ever since i first saw it posted. cheesecake is the one sweet thing that H likes, and since my first one was so successful i’ve been yearning to try another one. i just now took them out of the fridge to check on them — for check on them, read eat some (to those who say cheesecake is not breakfast, i say, get thee behind me!) — and they turned out mmmm mmm good. this recipe is basically suzy-proof; the only trouble i had comes from using a food processor, since it has trouble getting the bottom layer of cream cheese to blend with everything else. but i persevered, and did a lot of pulse-and-scrape, and it worked out just fine!

then i did some potato wedges, since those seem to be very handy to have around (the last batch i made got thrown in with every other meal every other day) — this time i used olive oil (2 tbs), 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (my newest spice acquisition!), salt and pepper, and am very pleased with the results. they have a nice kick to them, but aren’t spicy enough to overwhelm that yummy roast potato flavor. mmmm, potatoes.

today it’s spring rolls, easy green pasta, and cream of asparagus soup. i’ll let you know how it goes.

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