Cooking Wrap Up
I scraped by my January challenge by the skin of my teeth. That’s a saying, right? Skin of my teeth? Weird.
I wanted to address some questions that Mariah asked about my challenge so I thought I would just make it a post. She first asked me what dish did I make that I used for the main photo of my last cooking post. It is just a homemade pizza with onions, mushrooms and zucchini. I love zucchini on pizza – I know it sounds kind of weird, but it is delish. Does delish make anyone else think of Austin Power: The Spy Who Shagged Me?
“Dr Evil, several years ago, we invested in a small Seattle-based coffee company. Today, Starbucks offers premium quality coffee at affordable prices. Delish. Dr Evil, if we shift our resources away from evil empires and towards Starbucks we can increase our profits five-fold.”
“Number Two, I make the decisions here. I demand a little respect. Silence!”
- Have you set parameters for what counts as cooking? For example, does everything have to be from scratch? Or does one item need to be from scratch? I might serve some veggie chicken nuggets with kale chips, for example, and I would count that as cooking because I turned the oven on.
My parameters for this challenge were pretty loose. I would also count the nuggets and kale chips as cooking. I felt like if I went to the effort to buy and prep food for a meal, then it counted. For example, I made us grilled chicken salads one night. I didn’t use the oven, but I did prepare a meal-worthy salad that was loaded with goodies, plus a homemade dressing. So, that counted. However, in my opinion, popping a frozen pizza in the oven for our dinner would not count. I did make Mariah’s kale chips as part of our last meal of January. They turned out terrific and so easy! Adam and I ate them directly from the pan while waiting for our lemon chicken to finish baking. Yum. If you haven’t tried kale, you should, it is a superfood! Here is another kale recipe on Mariah’s food blog that I would love to try.
- What do you eat when you don’t cook? Is it mostly out to eat or leftovers?
Yes, when I don’t cook it is usually because we have leftovers to finish. Adam abhors the thought of being wasteful and throwing out food. He will eat leftovers that I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, I have rules on how long food can be in the fridge before I will just flat out refuse to eat it. His are (at least) double my rules and in some cases triple. He was once known to eat turkey leftovers he found in our fridge one month after Thanksgiving. Umm, no. That is disgusting and for the record he got a little sick – I don’t recommend it. Where was I? Oh, yes, so leftovers are eaten frequently in our house. If there aren’t leftovers and we don’t want to cook we almost always get takeout (Thai, of course) or pizza. I also almost always keep the fridge stocked with salad fixings and will often make myself a large salad for dinner while Adam polishes off our questionable leftovers.
- How do you plan your meals? Is it for the week? Or the weekend?
I wish I planned my meals better. I think it could be much less time-consuming and cheaper that way. Actually, while I was pregnant Adam bought me the book, Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month. We looked through it and picked two meals to try, bought the ingredients and spent an afternoon putting them together. We put them into several sized containers so we could thaw individual sized portions, enough for two or larger servings for guests. It really turned out pretty great and I wish I would put the effort into doing that more often or even trying one of their plans and actually do it for a full month. One of these days I will. Right? Right.
The way I planned my meals during the challenge was just haphazard – I was all over the place. I use All Recipes A LOT and have found some really good recipes there that I use again and again. I also have the all recipes app on my phone so if I have a recipe saved in my recipe box then I can just pull it up while at the grocery store to make sure I cover all the ingredients. I think doing it this way is not at all economical though. I find myself buying ingredients that we already have because I don’t know for sure and I don’t want to make another trip to the store. Especially spices. I mean how many things of ground nutmeg can a person have or use? Apparently we need at least 3 containers at all times. Which is good because I use the ingredient maybe twice a year.
So those are some of the specifics of my January cooking challenge. If a person wanted to try something like this for their own challenge they could, of course, come up with whatever parameters they wanted. How about you? Do you plan your weekly meals? Have you ever spent a day cooking up a bunch of food to freeze for future use? What is your favorite take-out food?
My goal was 16 meals, I finished with 17. Huzzah! My husband, Adam, spent his January challenge not eating sugar. If you knew Adam you would know that he is not very fun to be around when he is off sugar. Especially around 8pm when he would have his nightly ice cream. So for my 17th meal, on January 31st, I put together his absolute favorite coffee cake to surprise him with Wednesday morning, February 1st. He was a happy boy.
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 tsp baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp flour
4 tbsp melted butter
4 tsp cinnamon
1. Combine the butter and sugar. Add the eggs.
2. Combine all dry ingredients separately and add to the batter alternating with the milk. Add vanilla.
3. For the streusel mixture: combine all ingredients, set aside.
4. Grease a 9×13 pan. Spread a big half of the dough mixture in the pan; add the filling; spread remaining dough on top.
5. Bake at 375° for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpic comes out clean.