Tripping Hard on the Nostalgia (and this week’s menu)


Twice in the last week or so I’ve told a story about somebody that I used to know, only to have them pop back into my life a few days later. Does that ever happen to you?!

I used to say that if I had a dream about someone, it was a signal to reach out to that person (because I seldom dream about people I know who I interact with all the time, it doesn’t happen that much). Just my brain’s way of helping me keep up with people. Of course, with Facebook that’s a lot easier, and we can lurk in peoples lives without actually having to talk to them. Or something like that.

If friend #3 (who I dreamed about this weekend) pops back up from wherever in this far-flung world he may be, then I’m definitely buying a lottery ticket or something!

Whether this is a cause or effect of the nostalgia trip I seem to be on is anyone’s guess (along with my sudden and unquenchable need to listen to My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade multiple times), but it definitely feels like old times cooking from the pages of Cooking Light this week.

(Do you see what I did there? Moving along…)

Here’s what the week looked like on our table.


Monday: Creamy Carrot & Herb Linguine + Salad

Lemon-Dill Quinoa Chicken Soup w/Ricotta Sweet Pea Toasts (link & link)

Tuesday: Lemon-Dill Quinoa Chicken Soup w/Ricotta Sweet Pea Toasts

Roasted Pork Chops with Beets and Kale (link)

Wednesday: Roasted Pork Chops with Beets and Kale (via Southern Living)

Upside-Down Shepherd's Pie (link)

Friday: Upside-Down Shepherd’s Pie

Sunday: Sweet Potato Home Fries with Eggs + tangerines (link)

Sunday: Sweet Potato Home Fries with Eggs + tangerines

We had a coupe of no-cook nights: Thursday we had a leftover night because they were stacking up in the fridge and it was getting a tad bit ridiculous. On Saturday we spent a good part of the day celebrating Duncan’s bark-day and I predicted we’d be a bit tired after going to the dog park, two pet stores, and a froyo stop, too (and I was right) so we headed to a local Chinese buffet in honor of the Lunar New Year (a far cry from last year’s homemade feast, but I was not up to a repeat of that this year).

Not much to say about any of the recipes themselves (the Cooking Light ones aren’t available on their website, yet, hence the lack of links), just a good solid week of menus. I’m happy to turn the reins over to Todd for the coming week–I’ve got to get caught up on my video editing (again)!


Hello, Old Friendly Meals


A familiar meal is like a warm blanket or a hug from a good friend.


As I was looking through a binder of recipes for a different project, I came across a printout of a Cooking Light recipe I first made way back in 1995 or ’96: Spanish Fork Chicken Stew. If I recall correctly, it was originally displayed served in a bread bowl, but I think I’ve only done that once over all the years I’ve made this stew. Even without a bread bow it’s an amazing, hearty soup that I somehow had never made for Todd. So on Monday night, while it was still a bit chilly in Southern Georgia, I made a big pot of this soup and it was as glorious as I remembered.


The next night’s supper was not quiet as successful. It was still supper, of course, and fairly tasty, but my potato-cheese ratio was a bit off and the Bacon-Wrapped Potato Volcanoes were not anywhere near molten, gooey goodness. That said, I stand by my opinion that Boursin and Chevre are superior substitutes for cream cheese in most savory recipes. The excess potato mixture made a nice bed for the smoked sausages that we baked alongside the potatoes, and baking is still an excellent way to prepare okra (far less “slimy” in the end).

Wednesday we had a bit of a mix-up regarding Duncan and his dog door, so the open night on the menu shifted from Saturday night to Wednesday. Instead of cooking, we opted to visit George and Louies, a place we had not been in a while (more’s the pity) and had some amazing seafood. The scallops were like butter, the fish fillet sweet and tender, and the oysters bursting with flavor. We really need to go there more often, though it’s probably just as well we don’t–the indulgence factor is high on this one.


It did mean we had fish two nights in a row, with Thursday night bringing the Wrapped Salmon with Spinach and Feta I’d originally planned for Wednesday. Probably the simplest aplpication of phyllo dough I’ve seen, using cooking spray instead of brushing with melted butter, but the resulting packets were nice and light. I can see us revisiting this recipe in the spring. Then again, it was feeling more spring than winter by Thursday, so it was fitting!


Friday night I returned to a Cooking Light recipe, this one from the current issue, with the Sausage Ragu over Polenta. (After finding a $5 subscription on Amazon around Black Friday I resubscribed and am already loving that decision!) I have nothing against polenta per se, but I much prefer slow-cooked southern grits, so that’s what I made instead. we get ours stone ground from a little country store and cook it low and slow for 45 minutes or so. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth noting again, that Todd hated grits when I first met him, but only because he’d only ever had the gritty instant or quick kinds. If you’ve found yourself in the same position, give the long version a try.


Thank goodness for freezer meals as I wasn’t feeling very well Saturday, and the fact that all I had to do was add rice and water to the rice cooker and then, 10 minutes later, dump the bag of Chicken Curry with Peppers and Cabbage into a saute pan… well, that made the difference between making dinner and not. Something I’ve noticed with the freezer meals, though, is that they frequently need more seasoning. I’m not sure if it’s scientifically correct, but it seems like between the last time I made this freezer meal and the current one, the flavor broke down even more. Just something to keep in mind, along with being sure to rotate your freezer meal stores regularly (this one had been in the deep freeze since March).


Finally, Sunday night I made Taco Bowls. It was inspired by the pin from Damn Delicious but I deviated quite a bit. First of all, I added some shredded cabbage for crunch. Second, I cooked the corn (the pretty picture shows blistered corn cut straight from the cob, the recipe calls for drained canned corn–I compromised with frozen corn sauteed with garlic oil, salt, and pepper). Third, I added cheese and a bit of avocado queso. I mean, really, what is a taco (bowl) without cheese of some sort?!

So that was our week, what’s on the menu in your house this week?