How to Make a Perfect Hard Boiled Egg Every Time

I love hard boiled eggs.  Sliced with a pinch of salt, deviled, in or on a salad.  It’s pretty much always been this way, but there was a time when I bought my hard boiled eggs pre-packaged.  The blasphemy of it.  Think about it, though.  I remember there often being hard boiled eggs around at my parents’ house, in droves at Easter and not infrequently year round.  Did you have a separate hard boiled egg holder in your home refrigerator growing up?  Well, we did, and it was very technically labeled.  Or not labeled at all, so you better have been listening when you opened the refrigerator door and Mom nonchalantly announced “the carton/bowl on the left are hard boiled.”

Eggs in carton

Flash forward to two days later and 14-year-old me is whipping up a batch of fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth, Toll House recipe chocolate chip cookies (I miss gluten?).  You know what happens—or what doesn’t happen.  A fresh egg plopping out of its shell doesn’t happen because it’s been boiled.  Ughhhhh.  Much preferable, however, to the reverse scenario when going in for the aforementioned egg snack, and instead of hitting on the cooked egg, I smash it against the counter and raw egg guts run everywhere, including off the counter and onto my socks.  “I told you the ones on the left are hard boiled.”  Well someone’s done gone and switched the cartons, now, haven’t they?

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Gluten-Free Dinner for Two | Creamy Poached Shrimp Tacos

Weeknight cooking disasters are the worst.  You’re on a tight schedule and just want to eat (and feed the other members of your household) as soon as possible.  The first time I made this dinner was actually a total disaster.  I was apparently without my brain that night.  I made a last minute decision to have creamy shrimp quesadillas instead of tacos.  I could have just scooped the filling nicely into a warm corn tortilla, but noooo, I had to try to go the extra mile and whip out the cast iron grill pan.  Had I thought about the cleaning of the grill pan that would follow, maybe I would have been saved.  In my head, I envisioned perfect grill-marked little shrimp quesadillas, so after lightly oiling the tortilla and topping it with cheese, shrimp filling, more cheese, and another oiled tortilla, I laid that baby on the piping hot grill pan and watched the cheese start to melt, bubble, and ooze yummily.

Cooked shrimp

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Gluten-Free Dinner for Two | White Bean and Feta Mash

No other component of this dinner is as attention-worthy as the smooth, bright, cheesy bean puree.  Calling it a puree is, in fact, almost demeaning, and I think it stands up in every way to a creamy mashed potato or thick, rich soup.  However, I wanted to make it known up front that the bean deliciousness is not the only thing on the menu.  Depending on your dietary choices, it’s accompanied by roasted broccoli slabs, crumbled fried sausage or tempeh, and a simple tomato salad.  Perfect summer intro dinner.

Italian beans and broc w sausage

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Gluten-Free Dinner for Two | Asian Bean Salad

Here we go!  First dinner of the new format menu planning posts.  This is night one of Dinner for a Week #5, all about gluten free cooking for two.  I’ll try to keep the “fluff” of the post short and useful, because you’re probably looking to get dinner on the table.

About the meal:  Warm mung bean salad over jasmine rice, accompanied by roasted Asian veggies

The bean salad is a variation of Mark Bittman’s “Essential Bean Salad”.  Mixing still-warm beans with a basic oil and vinegar dressing allows them to soak up the dressing’s flavors.  If you can’t find mung beans (they look like olive green “mini” beans), Bittman suggests dried soybeans.  Really, any bean would work (you could even try lentils), but larger legumes will require pre-soaking and/or much longer cooking times.

Mung beans size

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Dinner for a Week (#5)

Gluten-Free Cooking for Two

 

Time to try something new.  I hope that my weekly menus have helped or inspired you to tackle planning for and making dinner at home most nights.  If they haven’t, or you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, check them out here.

 

I’d like to state, for the record, my prediction that weekly dinner menu planning will be the next explosion in internet food resources.  If you’d like to place bets on the subject, please contact me via email.  In all seriousness, though, there’s a plethora of recipes to choose from on any given evening (or morning or afternoon).  Everyone is posting this recipe or that recipe for Funfetti Oreo pie cookies or buffalo chicken pizza burgers.  There are cookbooks, foodie websites, the Food Network, cooking apps, and magazines.  And you know without my having to say it, but…Pinterest.  What happened to the good ol’ days where Mom trying a new recipe was a momentous occasion? When we [happily] subsisted on a rotation of tacos, spaghetti, grilled cheese and tomato soup, barbeque chicken, Italian dunkers (are those only a thing in the Midwest?), or ground beef in myriad forms?  You could say that the internet and cooking television have seriously complicated our meal planning tactics.

Italian Dunkers (adult style)

Italian Dunkers (adult style)

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Farmer’s Market Friday | Pickled Baby Radishes

Why is this so hard?  These are all terrible.  I hate this tripod.  Who decided to make food photography a thing?  I just need one shot.  Seriously, who decided that we need a flawless photo of every morsel we cook or eat??

DSC_1714

A few of the thoughts that went through my head as I tried to photograph the pickling of baby radishes.  Not overly complicated.  Until I noticed steam coming off the jar after I added the liquid and panicked trying to trap it until I could set up a shot to capture that lovely, wafting steam, in the process knocking a hot saucepan nearly off the stove.  Awesome, almost getting third degree burns for a photo.  Then I realized, I’ve never captured steam in a photo before, so maybe a spontaneous, rushed shot wouldn’t be the best time to start?  Correct.  So steam-less it is.  Of course, in my disappointment absolutely nothing seemed acceptable compared to the steam photos that only existed in my head, there was glare on the jar, and the tripod was completely off kilter when the levels said otherwise.  And on goes the list.

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Loaded Sweet Potato Risotto

It’s tough to comprehend all that goes into outstanding, inspiring, and absolutely yummy food photography until you pick up a real camera and try it yourself.  We’ve all got our favorite food blogs or Pinterest recipes and think, “How hard can it be if so many people are doing it?”  I mean, really, it’s a serious question.  Or maybe I’m just a naïve, overachieving perfectionist who mistakenly thinks I can be as good at everything as I was in middle school.  Which, by the way, is not difficult when you’re homeschooled and the only kid in your class.  Or maybe photography is not an innate talent for me and it’s going to be a whole lotta work to get better.

It's happening.

It’s happening.

Time to get vulnerable:  It really frustrates me when I set about learning a new skill and am not instantly good at it.  And then, in my quest to learn as quickly as possible, almost forcing results, I lose any chance of a creative spark working its way out of my system in the form of an intriguing photo.  Creativity might come from the brain, but it sure a he….ck doesn’t come from thinking.

Loaded sweet potato risotto

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Date Night: Mix It Up!

 

If you’re in a romantic relationship, you already know that the way to your significant other’s heart can definitely be through their stomach.  If you’re not, don’t move on to the next blog just yet!  A home cooked meal is one of the most heartfelt ways to show family, friends, or your love that you care, and the ideas that follow could be successfully applied to any audience!

DateDinnerSwirlyBatter

Steve and I, like many couples, practice a weekly date night.  My biggest love language (which we discovered earlier this year) is quality time, so it’s really important for me that we have a time set aside each week for meaningful conversation and a fun activity or delicious dining experience, even if we do share a dwelling and see each other most nights.  It’s just how I roll.

BrownieCakeBrownieCrust

Butttt it’s easy for either of us to lose the “heart” in date night every once in a while, since we’re so used to going through the motions of dinner and drinks.  We sometimes forget that we’re doing it to have quality conversation, gaze deeply into each other’s eyes, and get relief from a long week behind us (and sometimes energize for an equally busy weekend).  Not collapse into a coma on the couch immediately after dinner because we’re so exhausted from the week.

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Vegan Before Tuesday

So I ate like absolute crap last weekend.  Tasty, homemade, craveable crap, but crap as in my body revolted in the form of a huge migraine Sunday evening.  And I do not get migraines.  Even if the migraine was because of allergies, and I’m just being dramatic, I really did feel like a lethargic piece.

 

Let me first taunt you with what I consumed that turned me into a lethargic pile.  Among other things–red wine sangria, mashed potatoes (restaurant version, aka loads of butter), lobster-stuffed shrimpies, approximately one bottle of white wine, peanut butter chocolate cheesecake, Papa John’s in all its garlic sauce glory, breaded boneless buffalo chicken “wings”, Tostitos, champagne and more champagne, frosted homemade cinnamon rolls, goat cheese tart, and BACON.

Bacon Strip

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Dinner for a Week (#4)

Variety Made Simple

 

I’ve been demanding a lot of diversity in my menus lately.  Maybe I can’t call it demanding, seeing as I’m the one doing all the work, but regardless, my taste for new produce and  different flavors from around the world is insatiable.  I think the more I cook (and eat), the more adventurous my palate gets, realizing with each new dish how much flavor is out there that I haven’t tasted yet.  I’m also discovering how much you can vary a gluten free and often vegetarian diet.  I used to think I was destined to either a life of the grain-green-been one-dish meal or spending hours preparing a 63 ingredient faux buffalo chicken pizza (or “cheating”), but through lots of new blogs (see my blog roll for additions, or the links below) and my imagination, I’m tasting that so much diverse, delicious, simple food is gluten free and vegetarian without even trying.

 

For once, this week’s dishes are all relatively simple to prepare, and not super time consuming.  So, if you’ve been a little, shall we say…annoyed, with the complexity of the prior weeks’ menus, please hop on the dinner planning wagon starting now!  Because, really, I’ve done almost all the work for you.

 Balancing Active Week 4 Dinner Menu

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