What We Ate: So Far This Summer

FBF72E5D-19DE-4A9D-B227-B9FEE0F2CF3FLook, they’re not all from Smitten Kitchen!

Pork chops with citrus dressing
These chops were nice and moist with great flavor. I served them with couscous on the side, which soaked up all of that delicious juice and dressing.

Chimichurri chicken (pictured)
Fine Cooking calls for oven-roasting these chicken legs, but I used chicken quarters and put them on the grill. The flavor was amazing, and I don’t know why I don’t make chimichurri more often.

Tomato and bread salad (also pictured)
I served the chimichurri chicken with Basic Tomato and Bread Salad, also from Fine Cooking. It was the perfect accompaniment and I even drizzled some chimichurri on my salad, too. Yum.

Smashed potatoes and peas with lemon and dill
I served this side with more pork chops and some green vegetables. I got fresh peas from the market, which were so sweet and delicious, but I don’t find frozen peas really taste much different than fresh. My babies love peas, so this was a hit.

Quick cherry crunch
And for our favorite summer dessert: a sour cherry crisp. The recipe is originally from The Joy of Cooking, and I grew up making it in my mom’s kitchen often. The recipe linked calls for canned cherries, which probably wouldn’t taste half as good. I used fresh-picked sour cherries, which I also froze to use for this dessert. When they’re fresh, or thawed, you can squeeze plenty of juice out of them to make the tapioca mixture. I like lots of crumb on my crisp, so I usually do one and a half the recipe of the crumble. Serve this with homemade vanilla ice cream, and it is summer in a bowl. I could eat this every day.

What We Ate April

Processed with VSCO with a7 presetSo, if you want to skip this post and just head to Smitten Kitchen, you would probably save some time. But I have collected a few recipes that aren’t Smitten Kitchen to make this a decently legitimate post.

Ramp, asparagus, and bacon hash
I was inspired by this hash which is amazingly delicious, but sadly I can’t seem to justify purchasing pancetta on a regular basis. So I made my own version and added some beautiful ramps, a delightful little-known spring vegetable. All of this topped with a beautiful, runny fried egg is just perfect.

Piri Piri Chicken
This was the best dinner I have had in weeks, truly: Smitten Kitchen’s Piri Piri Chicken. The grill perfectly chars the marinade on the skin, and I made the sides that she included in the recipe. Everything was just perfect. A note on the red chile: I didn’t have time to search for one and just used chile flakes instead. Next time I’ll probably just add a little more of the bell pepper.

Creamy One Pot Chicken Marsala Pasta
Here is one of the few meals that didn’t come from Smitten Kitchen, and I will definitely make it again. This pasta is delicious and full of wonderful flavor. I bought some especially nice shiitake mushrooms from the farmers’ market and it was worth it.

Warm Lentil and Potato Salad
I am always looking for good, nutritious lunches that I actually want to eat, and this salad is just my sort of lunch. The cornichons and capers add a great kick to the dressing. I prepared all of the elements ahead of time and can eat this for at least a few days after.

Classic French Toast
And to finish with our favorite breakfast: French toast. This is a pretty simple, classic recipe but I think the key is the bread. Challah. It makes the best French toast.

What We Ate January, II

Processed with VSCO with a9 preset
Saturday pizza.

Between the meals of Prego sauce and spaghetti or pancakes and eggs, I managed to make a few more favorites this month.

Chicken tikka
First was this amazing sheet pan chicken tikka that we all loved. Anything that is one pan full of goodness, popped in the oven is a win these days and this will definitely be a staple for the Lacy family. I marinated the chicken overnight and it is worth buying all of the spices to get the fullest flavor. Edith and I both looooved the pickled red onions on top, so much so that I’m now obsessed with them and always looking for new ways to use them. Avocado toast with pickled red onions? Yes please.

Buttermilk Roast Chicken
I was so happy about this one-pan thing that I made her buttermilk roast chicken the next week. Anything with buttermilk is my kind of food.

Chocolate Cake
Speaking of buttermilk (and Smitten Kitchen…), I recently made her everyday chocolate cake, which is kind of  like a cake in the form of a quick bread. My chocolate and cake-loving husband was a bit skeptical about its lack of icing, but pronounced it excellent, as I was pretty certain he would. Because buttermilk. And Smitten Kitchen.

Black Bean Soup
And finally, lunch is the constantly-dreaded meal in this house. Edith has made it a bit more bearable by finally deciding that peanut butter and jelly is worth her time (thanks in large part to homemade jelly from Grandma, I am sure!) so now it’s just me that has to work to find something worth the effort for lunch. Enter black bean soup. My mother would whip this up regularly for lunch on many a school day, so inspired by her, I made it last week while Edith ate breakfast and enjoyed it for a few days. I also had leftover homemade chicken broth in the refrigerator, and I am certain that adds an excellent flavor. When there isn’t sherry around, a splash of red wine vinegar is a decent substitution plus all the lime juice. This soup makes lunch easy, and makes me not resent lunch for its necessity, so I will definitely be making it again.

What we ate January, I

Processed with VSCO with a9 presetMeals hold memories, and I want to remember these especially.

Pork loin + orzo
This brown sugar-rubbed pork loin was a huge hit, and the sauce was amazing. Instead of the orzo with the recipe, I made brown butter parmesan orzo and then served it with green beans in brown butter, as well. (We love butter in this house!) The entire meal was a hit with every single person in this house, and I will definitely be making it again.

Fried rice
With the leftover pork loin, we had this delicious pork fried rice. I discovered at the end that I didn’t actually have soy sauce, so I used Worcestershire sauce so I can’t wait to make it again with soy sauce. Soy sauce or no, the rice was also a favorite of all my buddies and I am inspired to try many different takes on fried rice—it is so quick and easy and a great way to use leftovers!

Chicken “pot pie”
David Lebovitz’s chicken pot parmentier, a French sort of chicken pot pie, is probably my favorite thing I have eaten in a long time. I think homemade stock makes a huge difference, as well as a good chicken. I poached a chicken from our local farmer’s market to cook it and then have stock and used my favorite biscuit recipe on top. This dish has so many layers of flavor from the vegetables to the wine to the fresh herbs.

Baked French Toast
The oat crumble topping on this baked French toast grabbed my attention so I made it when our best friends came to town for a few days. And it was yum. I had to add more liquid, as it seemed like it might be a bit dry as I was putting it in the dish, but I wasn’t too careful when it came to measuring the bread.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
And, of course, the always-popular best chocolate chip cookie I have ever tasted. Make them big, put lots of salt on top, and refrigerate the dough. Then, only make as many as you need for each time you want to eat them so that every night when—in our case—you sit down to watch Duke basketball or The Office, they are warm and fresh and perfect.

Things my husband likes, part IV

_SMO3236 copy

We love our new city and all of the amazing fresh produce, meat, and dairy it has to offer. Durham is a foodie town, and this foodie feels right at home.

A few nights ago, I made this Asian dish, and it was a big hit. Travis thinks he would prefer it served hot—serving it cold seemed so summery to me, and I loved it. But I think next time I will try it hot and see how it goes.

_SMO3264 copyOn Saturday at the farmer’s market, I bought whatever vegetables looked especially lovely and decided I would figure out how to use them later.

Tonight I made a kale and sweet potato hash and served it with a soft fried egg on top. It was delicious with the perfect amount of flavor. I seasoned the potatoes with garlic, cumin, paprika, thyme, and some red pepper flakes and then added the kale right at the end. Travis pronounced it a great dinner. Success.

And to end with a little humor from watching The Fellowship of the Ring the other night—

Saruman: “Do you know how the orcs came into existence?”
Travis: “They were dogs once, but they were fed radioactive biscuits.”

Baking a cake

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday, and thanks to my mother’s tips, I realized I needed to make the cake tonight to give it adequate time to cool. Here’s how you would have found me at nine o’clock tonight:

2014-04-14Travis took this and was, I think, impressed by my appearance of competency.

In all reality, the purple Nike socks, the pile of grocery bags on the floor behind me and the shavings of chocolate all over the floor suggest something other than competency.

Sometimes I glorify time in the kitchen and imagine myself as Julia Child with large copper pots hanging from the ceiling. Tonight, however, I just wanted to get a cake in the oven.

The recipe is famous among my family. Passed down from my grandmother, this is how I will always remember the cake:

DSC_2059

I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if mine turns out looking more like this:

Leaning-cake_1

At least we can fall asleep tonight to the smell of chocolate.