Cooking Our Way “Home” – The Breakfast Edition

In an effort to continue to make our new apartment feel more like “home,” I joined The Kitchn’s Cooking Curenothing says home like some home-cooked meals!

I learned two things from my weeks of analysis and experimentation.  First, I’m just too busy (and my commute is too long) to cook at home all of the time.  Second, even cooking at home on the evenings and weekends (vs. heating leftovers or making something packaged) makes a difference.  Putting our time and energy into our kitchen and our meal creates such a cozy and relaxing environment.

So this weekend, before we sat down to watch a full day of college basketball, JP and I made a spin on one of our favorite new recipes – Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs (original recipe from The Kitchn).

3 small sweet potatoes, washed and chopped (not peeled!)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Teaspoon Herbes de Provance

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 spicy Italian chicken sausages, sliced

4 eggs

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pan (I prefer one with high sides because it will get full).  Add the sweet potatoes and cook on medium heat until the potatoes are slightly soft.  Season with the salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provance.

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Add in the onion, garlic, and chicken sausage.  Continue to cook until there is a slight char on the potatoes and sausage.

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Transfer the hash to a separate, lidded serving dish.  In the same pan, fry the eggs in the leftover hash grease.  Feel free to add a little extra oil or butter if your pan is too dry.  Serve the eggs over the hash.

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Spicy, sweet, comfort foodie goodness.  Oh yeah, and the sweet potatoes make the house smell homey and lived in.  Enjoy!

 

 

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Comfort Food

Saturday evening, Kansas City got hit with an ice storm.  The weathermen had been predicting it all week, so most of us were prepared to stay inside.  JP and I decided to make a last minute dash out to Buffalo Wild Wings to grab some take-out before the evening college basketball games started.  We made it home right as the ice started freezing on my windshield.

All night long, we could hear the ice blowing against our windows.  By Sunday morning, the ice-fall had turned to snowfall which, as any Midwesterner will tell you, is an extremely dangerous combo – snow on top of ice.  So JP and I searched through our end-of-the-month refrigerator contents for anything we could turn into a meal.  With a little help from Pinterest, we ended up with Brussels sprout turkey bacon mac and cheese.  There is nothing quite like sitting on the couch, catching up on every crime drama under the sun, while indulging in a (large) bowl of melted cheese and pasta.

Brussels Sprout, Turkey Bacon, Gruyere Mac and Cheese (original recipe by love & olive oil)

8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/4 cups heavy cream
1 3/4 cups almond milk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices reduced fat turkey bacon, chopped
8 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish (about 11×7 inches in size) and set aside.

Cook macaroni according to package directions until just al-dente. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When butter is completely melted, add flour and whisk until sauce is smooth and begins to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly pour in cream and almond milk, whisking vigorously, until all the cream/milk is incorporated and mixture is smooth.

Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking regularly, until sauce bubbles and has thickened slightly. Lower temperature to low and whisk in cayenne, paprika, and salt and pepper. Slowly add cheese, a handful at a time, whisking until melted before adding more. Stir in macaroni, turkey bacon, and sliced Brussels sprouts until evenly coated.

Pour into the prepared dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Cooking Our Way “Home”

When we first moved into our new apartment in Kansas City, the space didn’t feel like “ours.”  Our things weren’t all unpacked and organized.  It didn’t have our little family’s smell.  The noises in the building were unfamiliar, and our dogs were barking at the door for the first time since we owned them.  The space didn’t feel like ours until we cooked our first meal in our new kitchen.

Then it started to feel a little more homey.  And each time we make a meal in that kitchen, our apartment and this city feels a bit more like our home.  This week, we tried to bring a little of our old home in Austin to our new home in Kansas City by making fish tacos.  Accompanied with a bottle of Corona with a lime, and the Kansas Jayhawks b-ball game on TV…and yeah, we were home 🙂

Blackened Fish Tacos (modified from Gluten Free Blondie)

1 tb paprika
1 tb brown sugar
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp cumin
.5 tsp cayenne (red pepper)
Three 6 to 7 ounce tilapia filets
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pat the tilapia filets dry on both sides with paper towels. Liberally sprinkle on the blackening spice mix. Pat it into the fish with your hands. Flip the filets over, and repeat so that both sides are well coated with the spice mix.
Heat a large skillets over medium-high heat. Coat with the olive oil. Place 2 filets in each pan. Cook for 3 minutes, then carefully flip. Cook for 2 minutes on the second side, until fish is cooked through and easily flakes apart. Transfer to a serving dish.
Serve in a flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato, and avocado.  Top with a squeeze of lime.  Voila!

The Mantel Project

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The Before

We need a new sofa.  And by need I mean two adults can only fit on our studio-sized sofa (read: glorified loveseat) sitting straight up with feet on the floor like some 19th century child’s punishment.  A new sofa, however, is not quite in the budget for the month of April and I didn’t think our living room mantel project was in the April budget either.

I was just going to add mantel decor to the long “when we have spare cash” list, but then I came across this link on Pinterest – Spray Bottles DIY Project. Spray painting glass bottles, eh? This blogger was onto something…

20130410-113615.jpgOver the years, my parents have sent us several vases full of flowers. The flowers are long gone, but we still have a growing collection of glass vases. And JP and I know our way around a can of spray paint. Heck, we refinished an entire Steelcase desk with spray paint and I still use that desk to this day. So this weekend, armed with two cans of white spray paint (primer and gloss), we transformed one vase and two candlesticks (from the bottom of the sale rack at Target) into mantel-worthy home decor.

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The After

We may not have a new sofa, but now we have something pretty to look at when confined to our existing sofa seating 🙂

The Splurge

Image found on quotes-lover.com

Image found on quotes-lover.com

So remember how I talked about the importance of budgeting last week? Well, I took my own advice this week…the very small piece of advice to occasionally splurge.

If you haven’t guessed already from the whole attorney thing, I’m a bit of a type-A, “loves to think I’m in control” kind of person. This weekend, my life was definitely not within my control and my budget…well, that was just one more thing that was driven by forces outside of me, namely our fixed income.

So JP and I decided to break out the credit card (literally, from the locked box where we hide it…from ourselves) and go on an IKEA run. We drove all the way out to Round Rock with every intention of buying one of the larger items on our list – a new sofa, patio furniture, or maybe even that bed frame we’d been drooling over for some time. But after making the drive and battling the IKEA crowds, we ended up with three picture frames and a potted plant.

One small stop to Target, and our “splurge” came to a grand total of around $40.00. Last of the big time spenders, eh?

But the trip did what we needed it to do – it released some tension, made us feel like we were back in control of some part of our lives, and (with some swapping of other items from around the house) gave us a happy “new” bathroom 🙂

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