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June Round-Up

So, there was not a lot of cooking going on in the month of June.  However, I have a plan for the month of July that I hope will work better than the one for June.

I’ve come up with a total of 8 recipes: 4 baking and 4 cooking.  I have the intention of baking one thing and cooking one thing each week.

Here’s what I’m cooking:

  • Shells with Fresh Tomato-Tarragon Sauce, from the July/August issue of Everyday With Rachael Ray magazine
  • Farro Spaghetti, from the July/August issue of Everyday With Rachael Ray magazine
  • Sausage with Garlic Lentils, from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book
  • Cold Chicken Satay Noodles, from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book

And here are my baking plans:

  • Simple Vanilla Cupcakes, from the Joy The Baker Cookbook
  • Peanut Butter Birthday Cake, from the Joy The Baker Cookbook
  • Browned Butter Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats, from the Joy The Baker Cookbook
  • Cookie Cheesecake Bars, from The Better Crocker Baking Magazine

Clearly, I’m inspired by Joy the Baker and Rachael Ray this month, but that’s okay with me.

Now, onto something important.  I’ve been thinking about the twice-a-week posting schedule.  I like it, and since I’ll be making a couple things a week, I’m going to stick with that.  However, posts may be on the Monday/Friday schedule, but they might not be.  I’ll be blogging twice a week, I just don’t know which days.  The Monday/Friday thing isn’t working too well for me, so I want to see how a much more flexible posting schedule works out.  I’ll actually have 3 posts this week: this one, plus two others, so I’ll be back with something yummy to share!

Lazy Tacos

I’m a fan of tacos, and it’s pretty much one of my essential food groups.

So, my general taco recipe is super lazy.  Brown Morningstar Farms “beef” crumbles or “chicken” strips, add taco seasoning packet and water, and cook until thickened.  Spoon onto warmed tortillas, add sour cream, shredded cheese and some salsa, and I’m good to go.

It’s sad that I tend to rely on the pre-packaged seasoning packets, which I didn’t really think of until the other night when I was making the tacos.  I have a spice cabinet full of spices, so why am I relying on those dang packets?  And furthermore, why am I just throwing everything together instead of actually looking for something interesting?  Seriously, I need to put more effort into my tacos every once in a while.  I am considering adding tacos to the menu for next month, but we’ll see.

Plans for the next couple weeks include getting all the ingredients I need to actually bake, then do some of the baking, and work on July required cooking.  Note to self: make sure that all necessary ingredients are on hand when you want to bake.  Anyway, that’s the plan, so I’ll be busy!

Required Cooking: Flop Or Not?

So.  Required cooking.

It was a success, in that I have made a couple of the things I said I would.  But looking over all of the baking I wanted to do, I felt overwhelmed.  With a week left, there’s no way I could get through everything.  And even if I did, I’d spend most of my free time baking.  I love baking and all, but it’s too huge of a task.  I’ll make what I can, of course, but I definitely need to rethink how I want to do my required cooking.  Maybe cook and bake 1 thing a week?  That seems much more manageable than just listing random stuff and seeing what sticks.  `

I don’t have to know which things I’m making which week, but 2 columns and picking them every Sunday or something, could work.  Maybe I just need to try different things and see what works best.

I haven’t really looked through Super Natural Cooking a lot, but that is a project for the weekend.  And trying to find millet.  I really need to do that too. My other weekend cooking plans?  Make what I can over the next week, and just save what I don’t get to for next month.  Hey, that sounds like a plan!  Only time will tell if I actually stick to it, but I am determined to bake something!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Food For Thought

Here’s something that popped into my mind the other day: why is it so much easier to eat fast food/processed food than actually cooking something and using fresh ingredients?

There is the convenience, you know?  It’s easier to heat up a cup of noodles or a t.v. dinner than it is to make something.  Right now, it is a little bit strange to be cooking during the week, mostly because I just want to relax.  And on the weekend?  I get a little bit lazy- but I’m hoping my required cooking will help me out with that.

But back to today’s topic.  It feels like it’s cheaper to eat all the processed stuff.  I don’t mind it every once in a while, but do I really need a candy bar and a bag of chips everyday?  Of course not.

I seem to go through this really random periods where I do my best to eat healthy (but still enjoy things like chocolate) but then I’ll just go through this period where I don’t care at all.

It’s something I struggle with, and I definitely want to find a good balance between cooking and eating well, and yet still enjoy junk food.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other for me, and I do think it’s possible to do both.

Honestly, I can’t think of anything else for now, but with only a couple weeks to go, I really need to get started on that required cooking!

Candyfreak And More Required Cooking

I finished Candyfreak this week, and it was interesting.  It’s written by Steve Almond, and it follows his journey through regional candy factories.  It’s definitely an interesting look at candy, and how the smaller companies are getting edged out by the bigger companies.

You have Nestle, Hershey’s and Mars (the big 3) and then you have everyone else.  I hadn’t even heard of most of the treats mentioned in the book, and it was a little sad to see that the smaller companies are slowly disappearing.  There wasn’t as much history as I thought, because the book focused more on Almond’s stories and experiences with candy.  It was still interesting though.

As for required cooking, I flipped through Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson, and found a couple things that looked really good.  There’s this risotto-style barley that looks really good.  And the fried rice millet look really good.  Unfortunately, the millet wasn’t at the grocery store, so I’ll have to look at the local health food store to see if they have it.

I really like how it’s organized.  While it’s not set up in the really cool table format like the other cookbook I looked at, it’s still easy to understand.  Each chapter focuses on a different ingredient, and I can’t wait to look through it some more.

That’s all for today, so have a great weekend!

June: Required Cooking

A lot of people do required reading, so I thought I’d do my take on that, with required cooking.  Or menu planning, if you will.  I like the idea of required cooking.

Here’s what I plan on making this month:

  • Cheesy Beefy Mac, from Never Enough Enough Thyme
  • Browned Butter Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats, from the Joy The Baker cookbook
  • Peanut Butter Birthday Cake (because I never made one for myself last month), from the Joy The Baker Cookbook
  • Simple Vanilla Cupcakes, from the Joy The Baker cookbook
  • Cookie Cheesecake Bars, from Betty Crocker’s Best Baking Recipes magazine
  • Coconut Swirl Brownies, from Betty Crocker’s Best Baking Recipes magazine
  • Chocolate-Glazed Pecan Pie Bars, from Betty Crocker’s Best Baking Recipes magazine

So, right now, it’s focused on baking, because I’m still waiting to pick up Supernatural Cooking by Heidi Swanson from the library, so I’ll be cooking from that cookbook this month.

Speaking of required reading, though, I’m almost finished with Candyfreak, which is an interesting read.  I’ll either post a link to my review or talk about it here when I finish it.  Maybe even both.  I think it’s time to make to sure I have all the ingredients I’ll need, so I’ll have to make a list and head to the store.  It’ll be fun deciding what I should make first.

Random Thoughts On Food

I made beef stew yesterday.  I even wrote out the recipe, and then realized that I already posted the same recipe.  It wasn’t exactly the same, but it was close enough.  On the plus side, I decided to check to see what, if any, beef stew recipes I previously posted.

Here’s the thing with beef stew: I love making it because every time I do, it’s slightly different.  Oh, I have some peas I need to use?  Great, I’ll toss some in.  Not in the mood for some herbs?  I’ll just use salt and pepper instead.

Random thought: I need to make more things that use up stuff sitting in my kitchen.  I don’t do it enough.

I’ve been thinking, lately, about being vegetarian.  I like it and all, but I while I’ve mentioned it, I don’t think I’ve dedicated an entire post to it.  I think I’ll have to work on that, because it is something that’s a part of my life.

So, I was at Target earlier this week, and while I was waiting in line, I spied a baking magazine.  I, of course, have to look at it.  Because it’s a baking magazine, and I love baking.  And after flipping through it, I made a decision.  I needed to buy it, because there are delightful things contained in the pages of this magazine.  Alm0nd-Mocha Muffins?  They look good and you can’t go wrong with coffee.  Chocolate-Cherry Bread?  Yummy!  Chocolate and cherry go so well together.  Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake?  I think I may need to make this over the weekend, or even for my birthday next week.  Chocolate and peanut is the best food combination ever.

That is all for today, and I NEED to have a baking-filled weekend, because it’s been a while.