I do not need a chef's coat. I am not applying for Top Chef anytime soon. But I have to say: This Mama is learning to cook! I have pleasantly surprised myself this past month and made over 15 new recipes, most of them falling into the success column. There are several things I am learning in my new cooking endeavor:
1. No fear. Like I've said in the past, cooking used to be scary for me! Any recipe that seemed more complicated than Rice-a-Roni made me nervous. But I've learned to not be fearful of the mistakes I might make, or an ingredient that I'm unfamiliar with. Just go for it! Worst case scenario: there's always takeout.
2. Dinner time is anytime. Cooking with Eli could be a little challenging. I never know if I'll be able to cook and eat a whole meal without my little guy needing my full attention. So I've started a little routine. If my recipe has a lot of prep work I start early, around 3pm. I put all the ingredients in little bowls that are easy to refrigerate in case Eli needs me to take a little break. This makes it easy to start back up again when I'm ready. When Eli is particularly joyful and tolerates his swing for the duration of the cooking time I end up eating at 4 pm. I've done this several times and you know what? My meal taste just as good a couple of hours before "dinner time".
3. Make it special, even if it's just for you. I decided that since I'm spending all this time cooking I should respect my meal and put it on a real plate. Not a paper plate and not just thrown together. I make it a point to take my time while plating. I make it pretty, even if I'm the only one who sees it.
4. Clean with a smile. I hate cleaning the kitchen! Ugh. It is my least favorite household chore and probably the one that needs to be done the most often. Now that I'm cooking using more than one pot a daily cleaning is necessary. And no, I do not have a new found love of cleaning, but I do have a love of cooking in a clean and organized kitchen. Also, if I'm having trouble getting motivated, a dirty kitchen will usually stop me in my tracks. So everyday, when I'm done cooking, I clean the kitchen to make shiny and new for the next meal. I'm trying to hate it less.
The last week and a half was especially delicious, if I do say so myself. Here's what I cooked.
- Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies
- Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad
- Linguine with Garlicky Bread Crumbs
All delicious, but here are some pictures of my favorites. (Clockwise)
- Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon
- Cilantro Lime Shrimp
- Boy-Approved Spiked Pasta
- Shrimp Martini Appetizer
** In the center: My favorite Sous Chef, Eli.