Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cooking in a New Kitchen

Folks, we've hit a big milestone in our new houseWe can cook again! As soon as the last box was unpacked, I couldn't wait to start making a meal plan. After almost 2 solid months of primarily take-out and restaurant meals, it's such a treat to eat real food again. And to spend time together in the kitchen again, cooking with a favorite Pandora station playing in the background. Here's what was on the menu:

Our inaugural meal was quick and simple, light and flavorful -- a great way to ease back into cooking.  Especially since we're still a bit awkward in the new kitchen as we try to remember where things are now stored, simple is good. We're not a well-oiled machine yet like we were in our old, familiar kitchen, but we'll get there again!
It seemed almost obligatory to include beef in our first meal plan in Texas! While the recipe calls for slowly cooking traditional cornmeal polenta, we opted for quick cook grits instead. We also added a bit more lemon juice to the pan sauce and a splash of Saint Arnold's Brown Ale to the pan.
Back to lighter fare, we whipped up a batch of this pasta minus the obscure and pricey Bottarga.  Especially when continuing to unpack a house, a one pot meal is a very beautiful thing. Who has the energy for dishes?
This week, we finally replaced our propane tanks that we had to leave behind in Massachusetts, so my husband dusted off his grill, and we're back to our summer routine of grilling as much as possible. I look forward to continuing to share our cooking adventures with you as we get more settled!
For anyone else dealing with moving this summer, I will leave you with some tips for that have helped us back onto the cooking wagon in our new home. They're definitely not earth-shattering, but they worked for us:
1) Tackle your kitchen boxes first (ok, and get your bed set up too). For us, the kitchen was the largest percentage of our boxes, so getting through them was a hugely satisfying accomplishment. Also, having a working kitchen really helps a house feel more like a home.
2) Pick meals that are quick and simple. You're exhausted, so it's highly preferable to shy away from time intensive recipes. If you have a quick recipe to look forward to, you're much more likely to get into the kitchen and cook when dinner time rolls around rather than succumbing to the temptation of take-out!
3) Pick recipes that don't require many specialty ingredients since you're still working on restocking your pantry and refrigerator. That way you can gradually restock which is easier on your wallet and makes for a quicker first trip to the store.
4) One pot meals are a great way to go. When your back is tired from unpacking, the less dishes you have to do, the better.
5) If you've relocated to a new state or region, try purchasing a few new ingredients that you couldn't find in your old home.  For me, it's exciting and helps inspire me to get back into the kitchen. Here in Texas, we're stocking up on things like local beers, local stone fruit, okra, and Ranch Style Beans.

If you need some more inspiration, here are a few more fairly simple recipes that I really like:

Kale Salad with Pecorino and Pecans
Chicken Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese
Grilled Pizza
Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Salad
Lemony Pesto Pasta with Edamame and Almonds (Time Saving Option: use jarred pesto)
Udon Soup with Swiss Chard and Mushrooms
Chili, Lemon, Basil Shrimp over Israeli Couscous
Beef with Snow Peas (Time Saving Option: serve over Minute Rice)
Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

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