food, NaBloPoMo

10 foods I could eat forever.

I love to eat.

In fact, most of my decisions and plans revolve around food. I have been known to plan an entire vacation around how many restaurants we could eat at during our stay.

I always have food on the brain. When I worked in Boston many moons ago, we would all start talking about lunch around 10am. What should we have? Where would we go? Sebastian’s for salads? Big Al’s for chicken salad sandwiches? Chacarero for those flat sandwiches that were so good? And then halfway through the afternoon, I’d start thinking about what I was going to cook for dinner.

Fast forward a bunch of years, and not much has changed. I still think about what my next meal is going to be, or try and schedule my days around meal times. There is nothing worse than being trapped somewhere during lunchtime without having any access to food. I do my best to avoid hairy situations like this.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 10.02.52 PM

Thanks, someecards for capturing it so well.

It goes without saying that the main reason I work out is so that I can still eat and drink whatever I want. (Though that is starting to feel like a losing battle, but I’m trying!) I don’t like to diet, because I hate the thought of giving up things I enjoy eating. (And I’m sorry, spaghetti squash, but you’re just NOT a substitute for real spaghetti. No matter how much parmesan I use.)

Because there are simply some things that I will never stop eating. Even if the doctor suggests I stay away from my favorites, I may try and bargain with him.

10 foods I could eat for the rest of my life.

I tried to list out singular foods – not meals – that I could not live without.

  1. Pimento cheese. If you’ve never had pimento cheese, I suggest you wiggle your way out from under the rock you’ve been living and join the party. Because pimento cheese is the most amazing creation since almost everything. And it’s versatile! While I enjoy eating it cold and straight up on crackers (pita chips, specifically), it’s also delicious warm on baguette slices, spread on a chicken cutlet sandwich, and as a topping on a burger.
  2. Cheese. (I’m noticing a theme here). If I had to pick one specific kind, I’d have to say super sharp aged cheddar. Or the creamy cow’s milk deliciousness of Fromager d’Affinois. Third runner up: Manchego.
  3. Avocados (and, in turn, guacamole). If you put guacamole in front of me, I will eat entire bowl, unapologetically. Bonus points for blue tortilla chips.
  4. Chicken salad. There are many chicken salads out there that should be ashamed of themselves (cranberries do not belong in chicken salad. Neither do grapes). Chicken, mayonnaise, spices and maybe a little celery if you’re feeling frisky, and you have the perfect chicken salad. Pair it with Carr’s water crackers and it’s a meal.
  5. Onion dip (and Ruffles potato chips). Can’t. Stop. Won’t. Stop.
  6. Half sour pickles. Pickles make everything better.
  7. Red wine. Wine is a food group, right? As much as I love beer, there’s something about having a glass of plum-colored greatness after a long day, or on a cold evening, or with an Italian meal.
  8. Ice cream. It just makes everything better. I could never eat a cookie, cake or pastry again and I’d be ok with it. As long as I could have a bowl of ice cream. Peanut butter or Oreo, please.
  9. Steak. A thick-cut rib eye, crispy on the outside, medium rare on the inside. Blue cheese butter on top? Well, if you insist.
  10. Roasted potatoes. They need to be made exactly like my grandmother’s – crispy outside and warm and soft inside. Tossed with olive oil, garlic salt, regular salt and pepper. They’re so good they don’t need ketchup.

If you thought there’d be fruit or something healthy on the list, forget it! The whole point of the favorite foods list is that the items are SO GOOD you can’t imagine living without ever enjoying one of them again.

Now, if we’re talking meals that I could eat for the rest of my life, that’s a whole different story. Then we’re talking about the kk special pizza, tacos, penne vodka…

cooking, NaBloPoMo, recipe

Recipe: quick & easy Midnight Pasta

It’s Thanksgiving week, which means the madness has begun. Weekends will be filled to the brim with activities and shopping, cookie baking and present wrapping. Which means time during the week after work is precious, and I need to make the most of it.

This is the time of year, when meal prep becomes ‘whatever’s easiest’. That may be thawing a container of beef stew (like we’re doing tonight) or making simple meals with foods you can find in your pantry (like last night).

Yesterday was a big push to blow all the leaves in the yard for Mr. KK (despite half the yard having snow on it) and starting the holiday shopping and entertaining Little Mister for me. Knowing I’d be doing a VERY LARGE grocery store trip early in the week for Thanksgiving, I needed to get creative with what I had in the house.

Enter: Midnight Pasta.

This pasta dish is easy to make with pantry staples, and originated as the dish Italians would make as a midnight snack.

midnight pasta ingredients
I know I said ‘pantry staples’ and no one has parsley in their pantries. For some reason, our parsley plant is hanging on outside, even after the first snow of the season. If you don’t have fresh parsley, you can use dried or skip altogether.

If you don’t like anchovies, you’re out of luck on this one. But I promise they create a deliciously salty pasta, you’d have no idea you were eating them.

Recipe for Midnight Pasta (aka: Pasta with Anchovies)

IMG_2562
Delicious midnight pasta with anchovies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  •  Salt (for the cooking water)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small can of anchovies, mostly drained
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, optional
  •  Parmesan for grating, optional (for me: lots of parmesan)
  • 4 slices of bread, pulsed into bread crumbs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. butter

Directions:

Put spaghetti in well-salted pan of boiling water. Cook according to package directions until al dente.

Melts 2 Tbsp butter in small sauté pan over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and stir to coat. Toast breadcrumbs, stirring to keep them evenly browned. Sprinkle zest of lemon into breadcrumbs. Remove from heat when toasty.

IMG_2561.jpeg

While the pasta is cooking, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, without letting it brown. Add the anchovies, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. As they cook, they will start to melt. When anchovies are mostly melted, add capers and red pepper and cook for a half-minute more.

Reserve a 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and add it to the skillet with the anchovy sauce. Toss spaghetti to coat it with the anchovy sauce. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water to loosen up the sauce if necessary. Remove from heat.

Plate spaghetti and top with lemony breadcrumbs and parmesan.

Enjoy!

 

 

NaBloPoMo

When a foodie needs to feed a toddler.

He enjoys twirling his ‘noodles’ like a true Italian.

Tonight, right before I put our dinner on the table, my Little Mister said to me, “Mommy, you make the BEST dinners!”

This warmed my heart, and I happily accepted this compliment, even though I had just plated the most typical four-year-old’s meal: chicken nuggets and steamed carrots (not really a dinner I was going to win any awards for).

I love food. I love cooking and I love eating out. I love trying new recipes at home, and tasting restaurant’s signature dishes. I’m a self-proclaimed (non snobby) foodie. I just enjoy good food.

So when the Little Mister came along, I couldn’t wait to bestow my knowledge and love of good food on my impressionable son.

One of my favorite parts of babyhood was when it was time for Little Mister to start trying solid foods. Each weekend I would steam and purée new foods, package and freeze them in single servings. Apples! Carrots! Sweet potatoes!

And the Little Mister loved every bite. In fact, the only food I couldn’t get him to like – despite weeks of trying – was avocado (how is that possible??)

Then we moved onto combination foods: puréed chicken soup, beef stew and veggies and chick peas.

As someone who loves food, and loves cooking, Little Mister’s love of food made me want to cry tears of joy. We were doing something right! Our child liked to eat different foods!

We progressed from there. Shrimp. Zucchini. Meatloaf. There was nothing he wouldn’t eat (except avocado, still).

But as time went on, and we entered ‘toddlerhood’ (cue maniacal laugh), my good little eater was nowhere to be found.

Suddenly, foods that he used to love, were met with a loud, “Blecch!” (even before a morsel was tasted).

Right before my very eyes, my wide-eyed little foodie lost his sophisticated palette, and almost over night we entered the dreaded chicken nugget phase.

There are about a dozen meals we can rotate for dinners, including:

  • Chicken soup (if it’s homemade only, and doesn’t have any “green things” in it)
  • Chicken nuggets (we prefer dino nuggets, and don’t even think about trying to pass off a genuine chicken cutlet in small shapes off to him, it will be met with, “Mom, what IS this?”
  • Hot dogs
  • Meatloaf (most of the time, as long as there’s lots of ketchup)
  • Scrabled eggs
  • Pancakes
  • Grilled cheese (it’s hit or miss with the grilled cheese, which we are sometimes told is “only a lunch food”)
  • Spaghetti with butter and cheese
  • Pasta with sauce (depends on the shape of the pasta, how soft the pasta is (he prefers al dente) and whether or not there is visible basil or oregano “green stuff” in the sauce
  • Meatballs
  • Mac and cheese (He prefers blue box, I prefer Annie’s)
  • Salmon (every third time I make it, as long as it’s drowning in lemon and there’s a promise of dessert if he finished)

We are lucky in that he does eat some vegetables: carrots, broccoli, string beans (sometimes) and peas.

When I think back to my childhood, I distinctly remember eating a cheese and mustard sandwich every day for lunch for 3 years straight in junior high. I’m pretty sure we had the same dinners each week on rotation. And I’m the first person who wants to order octopus at a restauarnt, or enjoy a big bowl of midnight pasta (made with anchovies).

So, there is hope for my Little Mister after all. And for me to keep my ‘best dinner-maker’ award.