Eat Up

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I titled this post "Eat Up" with a dual meaning in mind. We eat up in the sense that we consume food, yes, but I've also found a renewed consciousness when it comes to what goes in to the food we eat. Read: quality + quantity. 

We've been eating up but also eating up.

With moving comes a period of adjustment. There was the obvious consumption of restaurant food as we drove across America, but even once the plates were unpacked and we were mostly settled we continued to eat out more than necessary. And eventually, more than made me comfortable. 

Is it nice having someone cook your food then whisk away the dirties? Sure. But with it comes the inevitable burnout. And, for me, puffiness and a grouchy belly. (Not to mention it's a giant budget buster.)

I think I let the whole eating out phase last just a couple days too long, which had the fortunate result of a long, lingering desire to cook my own food. To monitor the ingredients. To get my hands dirty.

To sit around the table, our table, and talk shop with the two men in my life.

Our last house had a funky floor plan: we could opt for an eat-in kitchen and feel cramped for space, or combine our living and dining room. We chose the latter. After a while our table became a Jack of all trades: homework table, often covered in Kiddo's school stuff (and mine), crafting table, and landing spot for junk mail.

The one thing it seldom did was the one thing it was intended for: a place to eat dinner. The coffee table, just a few feet away, issued its siren call: Eat here! I'm easier! I'm television adjacent!

Looking back, I regret that. But instead of dwelling, I'm changing the way we do things. Our television is on the second floor and our table is where it should be: next to the kitchen.

These days we sit down to dinner, without distraction, and talk. Bond. Behave like the tight-knit clan we truly are.

This reignited love of home cooking, of food made with whole foods, has led to a steady stream of new recipes to add to my repertoire. I'm trying different things and daring the boys to do the same.

(No more separate meals for Kiddo... it's time to try new things Mr. Picky!)

Oh, and the food has been awesome.

// Cauliflower Fried Rice // I subbed teriyaki-marinated chicken thighs for pork. Also, I got all twitterpated over the brightly colored cauliflower at the market and bought yellow, green and purple instead of traditional white. It tasted delicious, but my dreams of tri-colored fried rice never came to fruition. It all turns brown in the end. Still, no regrets. This was a huge hit, with Kiddo going back for seconds. (When I say "Kiddo had seconds", trust me that it is a testimony to its deliciousness. Historically, he has not been too easy to please when it comes to food.)

// Thai Sweet Rice // After discovering this dessert at our favorite Thai restaurant many years ago, I set about making it at home. Back in the day I followed a recipe (like this one), but found that I could make it equally delicious with less work and fewer ingredients. I simply cook brown rice according to package directions, substituting coconut milk for water. (Note: Use slow cooking rice, not the "instant" or "minute" varieties.) Once the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed, I stir in coconut cream until the desired sweetness is achieved. Divide into bowls and top with fruit.

// Garlic Soba and Zucchini Noodles // We have a hit on our hands! Bonus: I got in some quality time with Husband while we chopped and listened to Sam Smith. Which is why I'll probably always have a soft spot for this recipe. Good vibes are permanently attached. Bonus bonus: I got to dust off the spiral cutter!

// Greek Orzo Salad // I have a Trader Joe's endcap to thank for inspiring me to make this beauty. There was no real recipe, just feta dressing + orzo + chopped fresh spinach + pitted greek olives + crumbled feta. I cooked the orzo according to package instructions then tossed in the rest. Mario and I ate it for lunch over the next couple days. It lends itself nicely to improvisation; next time I may throw in some artichoke hearts.

// Curry Roasted Vegetable and Avocade Naan-wich // Easy peasy and super tasty. Mario and Jared aren't huge fans of chickpeas, so I substituted black beans instead. Kiddo ate two servings.

// Spinach soba bowl with peanut sauce // I can eat pretty much anything if it is covered in peanut sauce. This was no exception.

// Thai Chicken Salad // I have Bridget to thank for introducing me to this salad. And the cookbook it came from, which now resides on my kitchen counter with a dozen dogeared pages. And because she introduced me to this salad, I owe her a debt of gratitude for introducing me to the first dinner salad Kiddo has ever eaten. Sure, there were a couple side salads here and there, but never salad as a meal. Yum.

// California Roll Nachos // I mentioned these nachos the other day, and obviously felt compelled to make them. Mario had a few moments to have lunch with me, so I whipped these up and we ate them straight off the baking sheet. I couldn't find "kewpie mayo" (?!), so I substituted sriracha mayo, found in the Asian section of the local grocery store, instead. It gave them some spice without being too spicy. I partake in cheese-containing foods very rarely, so it better be good. Duuude. It was.

Any new recipes you're digging? Food blogs? Share! Share!

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