What’s Been Cookin’ in our Kitchen

As I wrote recently, I’ve been getting a ton of recipes from Pinterest. Most come from people’s blogs, so before I give one a try I always look through the comments carefully. You usually have to skip the first bunch because they are always, “This looks great!” “Mmmmm! Can’t wait to make it!” Instead, keep scrolling and look for ones that say it was good or indicate what tweaks were necessary to make it better.

Here are a few I’ve been happy with recently (with my adjustments, of course):

Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Parmesan Spaghetti – I’ve made this twice and I love that it can be put together in under a half hour. My suggestions: I like crisper prosciutto and I HATE cutting it raw (slimy, clingy, yuck). Lay out the pieces on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes (depending on the meat’s thickness), then you can just break it up when it’s nice and crispy over the finished dish. I also found that the cream sauce thickened much faster than the recipe indicated so watch for that. If it gets too thick it’s very difficult to mix with the pasta. Last one, I omitted the mushrooms because we’re not big fans over here.

Man-Pleasing Chicken – I’m a little put off by the title but this took about 60 seconds to assemble. Although the sauce the chicken cooks in is primarily Dijon mustard, it actually doesn’t taste like mustard when it’s done. Seriously, I don’t even like mustard. My suggestions: Don’t worry if you don’t have rice wine vinegar. Most other types are fine (maybe not balsamic!). I used Champagne vinegar.

Caesar Salad – Ok, this one isn’t from Pinterest, it’s Barefoot Contessa, but I served it with the Man-Pleasing Chicken so I figured I would include it. While this recipe isn’t difficult, it is a bit involved. Thankfully, everything can be done ahead of time. My suggestion: I halved the dressing recipe and it still made plenty. I considered halving it again but it’s difficult to do things in small batches in a food processor. Again, I wouldn’t bother with the tedious chopping of the pancetta. I would buy it in slices and roast it for a few minutes until it’s crispy, then break it up over the salad. Finally, don’t even think about omitting the anchovies. I know they look gross (I gagged a little), but they are what make Caesar dressing taste the way it does.

Green Monster Smoothie – This smoothie is healthy and filling and although it looks weird (it’s green and filled with raw spinach), it tastes like delicious peanut butter, banana, tangy goodness.

Enough is More Than Enough

As I mentioned in my last post, I have become quite the little pinner on Pinterest. If you’re new to Pinterest, it’s basically a set of online bulletin boards you create to save (pin) ideas and images you see on the internet. When you click the image, it takes you to the site from which it was pinned. I have a board for recipes I want to try, ideas for stuff to do with Nolan, pictures of kitchens I like for when I win the lottery or become famous, etc.

I spend most of my pinning time on food and house stuff, so I am frequently directed to blogs.  I’ve been amazed at how accomplished people seem to be! Professional-looking photographs, elaborately themed birthday parties, Halloween costume creating extravaganzas – you name it, people are doing it and they are kicking ass at it. Sometimes I wonder, why am I having so much trouble? If I can cook a meal, bathe Nolan and watch one show on my DVR, I consider that an unusual success worth celebrating with a glass of wine. Sure, many of these women don’t work outside the home, but neither did I for nine months.

Some examples…

Doesn’t everyone use electrical tape to create avant-garde art?

Forget about just growing herbs, you should build the container too!

Ok, this one I actually want to do. But I know I’ll never get around to it. So now I feel bad again.

Then the essay “Your Children Want YOU!” started floating around and I felt a whole lot better. Read it. Right now. Hurry! The title might turn off readers without kids, but I really believe the sentiment applies to everyone. It’s not just about people’s relationships with their children, it’s about  people’s relationships with everyone important to them. Your kids (friends, loved ones, coworkers) won’t like you more for hand-crafting their favorite flowers in fondant icing. They like you because you because you’re thoughtful and loving. (If you’re not thoughtful and loving, well, they probably don’t like you as much.)  That’s not to say that completing a project or creating something beautiful isn’t satisfying and wonderful – it is! But we should use sites like Pinterest and Facebook for ideas and inspiration, not to make us feel inferior and useless.

So go forth and multiply your pins! Just don’t get down on yourself if you never make that rainbow layer birthday cake.