Fathers Day Dinner 2014, and the root of why I love cooking.

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For Fathers Day, my mom and I made dinner for my dad. It’s a running tradition, as my dad loves food and, although he also loves cooking, probably enjoys having someone else do that (and the dishes!) for him.

There’s an excellent butcher in the next town over from them, so they picked up some beautiful veal chops. Dad wanted something with mushrooms and gorgonzola (which I can never pronounce correctly, because Colin like to call it gorGONZOla, because he is a goober).

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Leftover steak pizza.

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Since I have yet to master the whole cooking for one or two people thing (as opposed to cooking for an entire freaking army thing), I often find myself with leftovers. Like anyone with at least a few brain cells and semblance of a soul, I loathe wasting food, but I also admit that eating the same exact thing two or three days in a row is monotonous. So, I’m always looking for ways to turn my leftovers into something new! different! fancy!

Enter this pizza.

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Slow cooker Guinness short ribs.

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So, did everyone else at least have a lovely St. Paddy’s Day? I hope so, because I most certainly did not. Mine was just one of “those days” where it snowed all through my morning commute, the design program I use at work crashed on me 12 times in the span of an hour (I mean literally 12, no exaggeration), the yoga class I wanted to take was cancelled because the instructor was sick (probably drinking green beer instead), and my fridge and freezer stopped working. Thankfully, I had some new episodes of Sherlock to comfort me – seriously, if you need to cure a bad day, just watch the scenes where Sherlock and Watson get drunk during a stag night. Aside from these short ribs, it’s my favorite thing this week.

I love short ribs. Love, love, love. I think it was the Pioneer Woman who described them as little pot roasts, and she’s right. I usually make short ribs by braising them in some combination of beef broth, red wine, vegetables and herbs, but I found this recipe, which calls for using Guinness, so I got myself in the St. Paddy’s Day spirit and made a batch for myself and my friend Jess.

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Spaghetti bolognese

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So in case you needed any further proof that I’m slightly off my rocker, I’m here to let you know that, on a work night – a Tuesday night, to be exact – I decided to make a bolognese sauce. Why? Why would I make a sauce that requires three to four hours of cooking time if I wasn’t going to start cooking until 7:30 p.m.?

Well, for one thing, I was cranky. And cooking usually helps me deal with my crankiness. Also, what else was I going to do? Take a ride to the laundromat? Clean the apartment? Go to the gym? Psh. We all know that, if I hadn’t spent the evening cooking, I probably would have binge-watched Netflix and played Candy Crush until I passed out at, like, 10. At least making bolognese sauce was productive.

I actually called my mother on my way home from work and asked her if she thought I was crazy.

Me: “Would it be insane if I went home and made bolognese sauce?”
Mom: “Why would it be insane?”
Me: “Because it takes, like, three hours.”
Mom: “Oh. Well, do you have three hours?”
Me: “I guess?”
Mom: “Well then. It’s not crazy.”

That was really all the assurance I needed.

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Veal chops with caramelized shallots.

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When it comes to weeknight cooking, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut. Especially when you haven’t gone grocery shopping for awhile and most of your favorite stuff has already been eaten, or you realize that even though you have four boxes of pasta, you don’t have any tomato sauce or parmesan cheese, and the thought of eating pasta without either of those things just makes you want to die. Or you look in your freezer and realize pretty much everything you have would require ample defrosting time, and even more ample cooking time. It’s like, sorry, self; I’m not going to start making short ribs at 7:30 in the evening.

And sometimes, I’ll admit, I get very ‘first-world-problems-y,’ when I look in my well-stocked pantry/fridge/freezer and think, “I don’t feel like making any of this.” I try to buy a variety of foods, try new things, eat leftovers, etc. etc. etc., but sometimes I just turn into a total brat and simply don’t want to eat chicken again because I just ate it for dinner last night and lunch today, or don’t waaaannaaaaaa make turkey burgers if I don’t have rolls or burger buns, even when there’s a perfectly good loaf of bread in the fridge. (It’s not weird that I keep my bread in the fridge, right?)

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Down for whatever marinade.

(Originally posted last year)

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I am terrible at waking up in the morning. I always have been.

This is not to say that I’m a grunting, wild-haired, coffee-mug-chucking neanderthal before noon. On the contrary, I’m generally quiet and mild-mannered, although admittedly more high-functioning once I’ve had a mug of half-caff. I don’t hate mornings. I actually kind of like them, especially when I get up to walk Sam and the streets are still relatively quiet and uninhabited. What I hate is untangling myself from my pillows and comforters, shedding my cozy pajamas and putting on something work-appropriate and infinitely less comfortable than fuzzy socks and flannel pants. (Yes. I sleep in socks. I know that pretty much everyone thinks it’s weird to sleep in socks. You know what’s weirder than sleeping in socks? Voluntarily sleeping with cold feet. Game, set, match. I win.) And then I have to go to work, instead of playing with Sam, or reading on a beach, or running around outside on one of the final 80-degree days of the year.

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Carnitas

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I’m not sure what it is about summer – the sun-soaked time of year that lends itself to bathing suits and other figure-exposing attire – that makes me want to eat heaps and heaps of meat. It’s grillin’ season, and what goes better on a grill than juicy sausages, saucy ribs or cheese-covered burgers? I mean, yeah, vegetable skewers are great and all, but the stars of summer seem to be food that is no friend to a bikini. And it’s not limited to meats – the often mayo-laden cole slaw and potato salads are barbecue staples, and what hot summer night could possibly be complete without some rapidly-melting ice cream? And cold beers?

Now, I know that summer is also the season for great produce – tomatoes and zucchini especially are at their best, especially ’round these parts, and they both are conducive to light, beach-body-friendly meals. Meals which I’ll be making. Eventually.

Comfort food powers, activate!

Originally posted October 2012.

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Guys, I had to turn my heat on yesterday.

I had to wear a hoodie AND a coat when I took Sam for a walk.

It’s dark at, like, seven.

These kinds of things do not make for a happy Lauren. However, in my defense, I coped with yesterday’s sudden drop in temperature very well. I didn’t sulk (much), busted out some of my favorite cold-weather music (check out Craig Cardiff; the live version of “County Road Christmastime” on Bombshelter Living Room is one of my all-time favorite songs), and cooked up what is a contender for the king of lazy Sunday comfort foods: pot roast.

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You know I like my chicken fried…steak.

Originally posted June 2012.

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Colin always half-jokes about how I’m going to clog his arteries and give him diabetes and make his heart explode because of my cooking. Never mind that I use olive oil and make vegetables with every meal, because he is convinced I am going to be the death of him.

Then he asks me to make chicken fried steak and I tell him that if his heart explodes it’s partially his fault because he ALWAYS asks me to make this — seriously, every time we have cube steak in the freezer — and he says that because it’s only a sometimes food it’s still all my fault.

I guess if I plan on ever having kids, I should get used to everything being my fault.

He’s right, though. Chicken fried steak really, REALLY should only be a sometimes food. Like, maybe a couple of times a year food. Because it’s double (or triple) battered and breaded, fried in oil that does not come from olives, then slathered in a creamy white gravy made of grease, flour, whole milk and salt. And usually served with creamy, buttery mashed potatoes. And vegetables. Because I care about my boyfriend’s arteries, and my own.

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All you need is love. And steak.

Originally posted May 2012.

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And puppy kisses. Although I think that probably falls under the “love” category.

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Colin and I adopted this adorable, floppy bundle of fuzz, love and needle-sharp teeth a couple of weeks ago, and needless to say, I am completely smitten. Nothing beats coming home to a wiggly little furball so excited to see you they can’t stop jumping up to shower your face with kisses. NOTHING.

His name is Samwise Gump, by the way. Named for the two best people ever created. He wants to be friends with just about everyone. Even you! Aren’t you excited? I bet Sam just made your day.

Besides puppy kisses, you know what else can’t be beat? Steak.

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