It’s been a little bit nuts around here. A thrilling combination of crunch time at work, a few too many personal commitments, and many of my previous daylight-hours devoted to recipes that didn’t turn out to be blog-worthy has created a bit of a lull here in 30 Pounds land. It’s amazing how days can slither into weeks when you’re busy.
In times like this, I work really hard to avoid the temptation of picking up take-out on the way home from work every night. I make a plan for every meal I want to cook that week and buy all the groceries required. Many of these meals are combinations that have never made the site: a simply cooked pork chop, wild rice, and sauteed vegetables, for instance. But to really defeat the take-out temptation, I’ve been resorting lately to my FAVORITES.
Since starting this blog, I’ve discovered some truly magical meals that taste, every time, just as miraculous as the first bite. Here are a few of the meals I come back to, again and again, because I know them well enough to whip them up without a fuss and I know they will trump the take-out.
Penne alla Vodka. Chopping shallots, garlic, and parsley is the only labor intensive element to this delightful meal. It’s been one of our favorites for years, a dish that I not only make during busy moments like this but also as a centerpiece at dinner parties and group meals. There are few pastas that I enjoy so much as this one.
Read on »
Brad and I sometimes grapple a bit when it comes to ordering pizza. Brad likes lots of toppings: meats, mushrooms, onions, veggies, goat cheese, herbs… and I actually like those, too. But if I ever have a choice, if I’m ever ordering pizza just for me, I get cheese. Beautiful, glorious, unadulterated cheese pizza.
But the shocking truth is that until last week, I’ve never made a cheese pizza at home. I know. I know. I can’t explain myself. I’ve been making pizza regularly now for a couple of years, but I’ve always dressed it up. It was high time I build my own perfect cheese pizza from scratch.
This pizza started with my go-to pizza crust recipe. I have another crust that I really love, but I only make it when I have excess whey from a batch of homemade mozzarella. This recipe, on the other hand, is super-easy to whip up when you need dinner in less than an hour. It’s a no-fuss crust that requires little resting time and rolls out easily.
Read on »
I don’t have a rice cooker. I also don’t let that stop me from making fluffy mounds of rice. And since I appear to be in the mood for cooking dishes that work nicely with this versatile grain, I thought I’d tell you how I go about making a batch of rice quickly, easily, and without anything you don’t already have.
Rice, as you know, starts as solid grains with the potential to develop into light, airy morsels of goodness when cooked well. The internet seems to be full of horror stories about rice cooking that turn these grains into batches of starchy paste or edible kernels still solid in the middle and decidedly un-fluffy, and rice cookers are offered as the suggestion for remedying these problems. I learned to cook rice, from my mom, with nothing more than a pot and a lid, and I’ve always been pleased with the result. Plus, the method is really easy: in fact, the hardest part is leaving it alone so the rice can do its job.
Here’s what to do:
Read on »
The food-focused internet is positively abuzz with recipes for Chinese dumplings, stir fries, and noodles to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It doesn’t seem to matter what I’ve packed to eat for the day: just a few minutes skimming my Google Reader has me craving Chinese food well before lunchtime.
Aside from vegetable-packed stir fries (and an occasional, unbelievably tasty batch of potstickers), I don’t cook a lot of Chinese food at home. Most recipes tend to call for ingredients that I don’t usually have on hand, and it’s soooooo easy to order takeout. But I was recently invited by a fellow blogger, Diana of Appetite for China, to participate in a “Virtual Potluck” to celebrate the New Year and the release of her new cookbook, The Chinese Takeout Cookbook. She posted six sneak-peek recipes from the book on her site. And my only task? Make one, adapted it to my own needs, and post! How could I resist?
Read on »
I can’t really express in words how much I love pizza. The enormous quantities of free pizza I ate at college events (and, let’s be honest, continue to eat at college events) has never quelled my craving for crispy pizza crust topped with any manner of sauces, cheeses, meats, pineapple, spinach… gaaaah. I really love pizza.
And I really love that I can make it at home. No, I don’t have a 900°F pizza oven. And yes, I do have a pizza stone. But! I didn’t until only a couple years ago, and though I really love my pizza stone, I’m here to tell you that you can cook beautiful, crispy-bottomed, bubbly-topped pizza at home TONIGHT with no pizza stone.
Read on »
I have a really bad habit of planning my weekends too much. I always make a list full of more than I can possibly do, gradually shifting things to later in the week as the impossibility of my plans becomes clear.
But every once in a while, one of the items on those lists turns into a relaxing, inspiring, reflective endeavor with delicious results. As with this frittata.
My initial impulse to make this crowd-worthy breakfast came from a delightful alliance of ingredients currently in season. “Egg season” (yes, there is one) has begun here in the Carolinas, and every week I see more and more vendors with teetering piles of egg crates on the corners of their tables.
Read on »
Every once in a while, I come across a recipe for a homemade version of a dish that I’ve previously classified as “will-never-be-made-as-well-at-home” that blows my mind. It’s the culinary equivalent of an explorer uncovering an ancient temple, a researcher finding stunning results, an eager learner having their first philosophical epiphany. I’ve felt this on a number of things I’ve shared with you here: yogurt, fresh mozzarella, handmade pasta, beef jerky… all products that, a few years ago, I never would have considered being possible.
Such was my opinion with french fries. I always heard other people talk about making them, but I was firmly convinced that they couldn’t possibly be as good as fries I could get from my local burger joint. I’d learned that the best fries are cooked twice: once to actually cook the potato so the inside of the fry is light and smooth, and again to give that light-and-smoothness a crisp outer shell. There was no way I could be bothered to hand-cut my own fries, purchase large quantities of oil, possibly a deep-frier, and then cook TWICE a side dish that I could have exactly perfect in 10 minutes from a dozen restaurants near by.
Folks, I have never been so wrong.
This method, which I’ve repeated already and plan to again, is SO easy and SO satisfying. No special equipment is required beyond what I’ll wager you already have in your kitchen. The ingredients are simple and few. And let me repeat: it is breathtakingly easy.
Read on »
Butternut Squash is a rather new ingredient in my culinary arsenal. Having really discovered its magic last fall when I cooked up a giant bath of Butternut Squash Soup, I’ve since been quite fascinated it. Harvested in mid- to late-fall, these squash can store unrefrigerated for months, which makes them an ideal winter staple.
I’ve seen this squash for sale in the produce section, pre-peeled and cubed. Like most pre-cut fruits and vegetables, it is wildly more expensive to buy it that way than to buy the squash whole. Plus, it requires refrigeration and will quickly go bad if not used. But it doesn’t take long to go from a whole squash to a beautiful mound of orange cubes ready for cooking, and without much special equipment. You can totally do this.
Here’s how it’s done:
Read on »