my _Mad Hungry_ week!

I did it, folks! I cooked the whole week from one cookbook: Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys. Well, ALMOST a week. Friday was beach day and yes, a pizza did find it’s way into the house. And let me tell you, it was yummy! You need a day off, right??!!

And before I even really get started, no, i did not do pictures. Again. I don’t know why not. So you’ll have to just imagine some beautiful dishes and instead see some cute pics of sweet baby Gabriela.

IMG_8151

lunching with her buddies

All in all I was very pleased with all the recipes. None were too time consuming (other than the (braised beef short ribs) . These guys need to be marinated overnight (or at least 6 hours) so really get the taste to go throughout the ribs. Unfortunately, I could only find the long skinny type of ribs here on the island. If you can, I totally recommend that you try to find the thick, shorter versions of the ribs. Braising really takes a bite out of the overall amount of meat you start with (so I also suggest over-shooting the amount you need/the recipe calls for. Left-overs are always a bonus). Because mine were on the thin and long side some didn’t start off with very much meat so by the time 3 hours go by the only thing you’re left with is just a bone. Bummer. But that flavor does enhance the sauce. So moral of the story: get extra meat! The sauce was very rich and it was pretty good mixed with the mashed potatoes.

I grilled (in the rain) LSQ’s flat roast chicken. If you’ve never spatchcocked a chicken (or turkey for that matter) I highly suggest you give it a try. AND get a brick or two, wrap them in aluminum foil and put them on top of the chicken to help press it down and to get a really good even sear. It’s a little daunting at first but once ou get confident in breaking down your chicken you’ll want to do it instead of buying an already cut up chicken, which can cost a little more.

I also rubbed some butter mixed with extra herbs under the skin of the breast to boost the flavor and to make sure it didn’t dry out. It really does make a difference. 

We love shrimp around here so I of course had to do her Shrimp scampi. This is very simple and straightforward. I like this version because it really does make the shrimp the star, enhanced by the sauce. I may have put in more bitter than what was called for but I can neither confirm or deny that. Seriously, for a quick weeknight dinner that just feels fancy, give this a try! 

I had mixed reviews on the Pork chops with apples and onions. Mixed being it was just my dad and me trying them out and not anything bad, just a difference of opinion on combining savory and sweet all together on one plate. I’m saving this debate for my ‘I wonder wednesday’ post so be sure to check back. 🙂 My father cleaned his plate so I’m sure it wasn’t THAT bad. 

I’m a sucker for a good soup and I seem to always have lots left over so my freezer stash consists of chicken and dumplings, beef barley, and now a very hearty Lentil soup. The cookbook version is vegetarian (you can either add chicken or vegetable broth) but my guys like meat so I added ground beef. I cooked off the beef in the same pot while I was sautéing the onions, carrots, and celery. I don’t normally season too much at this point because I drain the fat and you don’t want to lose much flavor. I also added frozen spinach for some extra nutrients. Loved. It! I served it along with a grilled cheese. What could be any better? 

 

So there you have it: my week in review. There’s still plenty more recipes I want to try so I’ll be keeping this cookbook in the mix. It’s a shame her show is no longer on air. It was always neat seeing her cook with her three boys, mother, siblings, husband…anyone. Food really does bring people together. 

I’ll be doing dishes from Ree Drummonds new cookbook Dinnertime. This is my first book of hers and I love it because it’s like reading her blog, but in a book. Great photos and her personality sure does shine through! 

Oh—- GARDEN UPDATE!!!! So my veggie garden was pretty much destroyed over the summer because of our drought. Being somewhat lazy I left two tomato plants hanging out because they were still producing fruit here and there but nothing substantial. I figured they’d feed some birds. Fast forward a few months, after pulling everything out, turning the soil, fertilizing, and dropping in more soul, we started seeing little tomato seedlings  popping up. Everywhere. Apparently the dropped fruits started to seed and I had (at least) 20-30 new plants growing. Without any intervention from me! I thinned them out, replanted some throughout our yard, gave to friends and now we’re left with 16 tomato plants (I couldn’t bear the thought of killing them off. Yep, I’m odd.)

multiple plants starting from a cherry tomato

one square filled with seedlings. another square was just as filled as well as seedlings scattered all around.


Along with the crazy tomatoes, I was able to get lots of seeds into the ground and within weeks our garden has exploded! 

 

just planted seeds

   
 

zuchinni, squash, beans, and cucumbers

  

little seedlings popping up


 

bananas from our tree

  

our first zuchinni: easter egg. so fresh tasting. and white globe radishes.


 

See you soon, friends! 
  

What’s cooking *update*

Can you believe Christmas is a week from Friday?!? What?? I swear the older I get the faster time is going by and I can’t tell you how much I want it to slow down because my sweet darling baby Gabriela is growing up way too fast! I know, clichèd, but it’s true. And damn Timehop doesn’t help when I see how itty bitty she was a year ago…

 

sweet girl was 3 days old. (July 13, 2014)

  

future soccer star in the making (taken Dec. 13, 2015)


Sigh…

So what’s cooking this week? If you remember my previous post (from LAST WEEK – eeeck – I’m trying to get better, I promise), I’m going to be doing recipes from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s _Mad Hungry: feeding men and boys. So yesterday (actually Sunday, being it’s Tuesday at 3.30am right now) I sat down and went through her whole cookbook, page by page. And I just gotta say: I really love going through a cookbook like that and I don’t really do it very often. Sure when I just get a new one I’ll flip through it quickly but normally I use them as a quick reference for a recipe. To really take the time to read the ingredients list, check out out the prep, and gaze upon the wonderfully styled photos is pretty darn enjoyable…. Or maybe it’s just me??

Here is what will be cooking this week. (Note: there’s one more but I can’t think of it for the life of me while laying in bed so check back later this morning when I can get to my list and update. Thanks!) 

Spatchcocked chicken

Pork chops with apples and onions

Lentil soup

Shrimp scampi

* what I forgot….beef short ribs….yum!

I’m really really hoping to stick to this plan but life with baby, sleepless nights (on my end), and the husband working nights, life may just hand us a pizza for dinner. I’m going to try to track down the recipes I use online but that can be hit or miss. If there’s a dish you’d like to try but I can’t post the recipe shoot me a message and I’ll do my best to get it to you. 

So far we’ve done her spatchcocked chicken, which I grilled yesterday. In the rain. And Monday we had pork chops with onions and apples. I’ll talk more of these later this week. Oh! And Hasselback potatoes—- have you ever had/made them? I first attempted it Sunday with the chicken but they came out a bit undercook. Tried again with the pork and turned out much better but a bit too crispy for me (but my father loved them). I’m trying to find that happy medium. Any suggestions??

Hopefully now I can drift off to sleep. Thankfully Gabriela loves to sleep in (8am wake-ups lately. Score!) so I’ve got a few hours for some zzzzzzz’s. 

*update #2- I jinxed myself…she was wide ass awake at 6am. Ugh. 😉

 

freezer stash of _Mad Hungry_ beef empanadas i made the other weekend. goes straight from the freezer to the oven.

 
 

On feeding men…

Hey gang! Hope all is going well as we are getting closer to the holiday season. Living on an island where the temps hover around 82 degrees daily really doesn’t help get one into feeling very festive. Or at least I don’t feel too festive. But my little town sure knows how to do it up right with decorations! (I’ll have to get pics of our town square). 

So I have the special privilege of cooking and feeding two men in my household: my husband and father (as well as my good – at times- little eater, Gabriela). But man, do they eat! My dad is a meat and potato kinda guy who graciously humors me when I spend 5 hours making a Julia recipe and my husband, who will eat ANYTHING, has turned into a little foodie by giving me very detailed descriptions of how my food tastes. I guess being married to a former restaurant reviewer for a magazine rubbed off on him. Score!

So my dinners have to be hearty and substantial for my crew. And I can’t lie, I love me a big plate of food. This is why I run!

I started watching Lucinda Scala Quinn‘s _Mad Hungry_ a few years ago before it was discontinued. She was a pretty big deal working with Martha Stewart and I just loved her presence and pretty much everything that she cooked. She, too, had a household of all men and she penned a cookbook directed to just that: Feeding Men and Boys. And she has a few more out there, too. 

 

This book rocks! It’s got everything from breakfast to dessert and even includes salads. We are salad kinda people. I haven’t done very many recipes since I’ve had the cookbook so I’m thinking next week I’ll exclusively cook from it. And then move on to another book so I can get use out of the 15 or so that I have!

I did make her empanadas the other day, though, with some modifications of course. I just can’t do a recipe as is. They are in the freezer ready for those days of a needed quick bite. 

I’m excited to meal plan over the weekend and I’ll try to post the recipes that I’ll be working from on the very unused recipes tab on the blog, as well as do some very needed updates here and there. 

Have a great rest of the week and we’ll chat soon! 

   

Mustard spanked chicken

yea, I was hoping the title caught your attention. And I figure with my being MIA I owe you, my fabulous followers, a fun post and recap!

For those who are new around here, this recipe was taken from _the 50 shades of chicken_ cookbook that my lovely husband got me years ago. My mother in law was visiting for the holiday and why not a roast chicken??!! This was pretty good: you mix Dijon mustard with fresh chopped basil, garlic (lots), olive oil and a splash of white wine and you smear (or spank) it all over your bird. I’ve started separating the skin from the breast and thighs/legs and putting the seasoning there to add extra flavor and to keep things nice and juicy. I think next time I’ll up the herbs and marinate either earlier in the morning or overnight because the flavore really didn’t penetrate all the way through. 

 

visiting with oma is thumbs up!

 
Which brings me to thanksgiving (and of course no pics. I suck.). I swear, the day before AND the day ocbmj f thanksgiving are my favorite days of the year. I look forward to making a menus, chopping, prepping, sautéing my way through recipes. It’s so calming for me that I can’t understand how people freak out about it! Planning helps a lot! 

So I normally start the day before to knock out some dishes so I’m not spending all day in the kitchen on Thursday. Last year we went to the beach, came home, started the turkey and all was awesome. 

  
Here was our turkey day line-up. I’ve been in a bit of a Pioneer Woman kick so I used a few of her recipes. Here we go!

– Turkey brine via Alton brown. I will ONLY do my turkey this way and if you invite me to your house I’ll insist on doing the turkey. Just sayin. 

– Spinach artichoke dip for a pre-dinner snack. 

– Cranberry sauce. I added more sugar because my orange was quite tart. 

– Green bean casserole. Uhm, YUM!

– Dressing. I used this as a base and added mushrooms and omitted the clove and nutmeg. So earthy and flavorful!

– Spice infused sangria. Because you need a good libation. And the fruit is oh so delicious!

– the gravy I just improvised using the turkey drippings, mixing in flour to form a roux, rosemary and thyme from the garden, and butterrrrrr. Mmmmmmm. 

I was planning on mashed potatoes but my crew were napping late and I lost motivation. Lol. But there was more than enough of oh so yummy goodness! 

It was a great day and a great week with oma!

 

mojitos!

  

gabriela’s furst virgin pina colada.


Hope everyone had a fabulous turkey day and I’m glad to be back! ❤️

 

I wonder Wednesday series

hey gang! Our amazing friends headed back to Phoenix on Sunday and all I can say is WOW! What an amazing time time we had and it was so good to see them after over a year and half. They loved beautiful Puerto Rico and especially loved hanging with sweet Gabriela. I secretly think they came all this way just for her and that’s alright by me. Lots of loving from so many people can’t be a bad thing!

 

Beautiful overlooking jobos beach

 
So we’re slowly getting back into our routine (and I mean slooooowly) and I got to wondering how it is that certain people come into your life. I mean, if you really think about it there are MILLIONS of people walking around and how is that you end up meeting that best friend, that friend who becomes like family, your wife/husband. One different decision, one left turn instead of right, and things could be a whole lot different. Just think about that. 

We were very lucky to have Judie, Michelle, Kristy, and Gene as neighbors who truly were a blessing before and after my mother’s passing. Their friendship with my father after I moved away helped him through that period of grief and I can never repay them for that. 

And I can say that about a lot of the people in my life who somehow miraculously found their way into my little <crazy> world. I appreciate and send them love everyday. 

 

‘grandma’ Judie and Gabi

  

Michelke sipping on a coco friiiiiiiiio!

  

the ladies enjoying the ocean water

 

Halloween 2015

Hi friends! We have some amazing friends visiting us this week from Arizona so I’ve been MIA but I just wanted to share some quick pics from our Puerto Rican Halloween. We didn’t have any trick or treaters and didn’t look like our neighbors were too into it but Gabi had a blast dressing up and showing off to our neighbors across the street. Next year we’ll definitely head someplace where she’ll be able to get the full experience. It was so fun checking out everyone’s lil trick or treaters on Facebook. Hope everyone had a great time!

 

Pure. Joy.

  
   

  

  

  

Oh the power of food

happy Friday my friends! I hope everyone is gearing up for this Halloween weekend! Gabi was only 16 weeks last year so we really didn’t do much but this year she has a quasi costume and we’ll walk our little neighborhood of 10 houses for some candy and then call it a day. The husband and I have a symphony date night at the new Lufthansa hangar and big papa (aka as my father) will have babysitting duties. But more on that later. I promise! 

Gabi has been fighting a cold this week so her sleep over the last few days have ranged from freaking awesome to Seriously. Go. To. Sleep. Last night was not a good one as she insisted in 1. Being cuddled in our bed (the husband is on nights do it was just her and me) and 2. Staying wide ass awake from 1am to 2.30am. So I got lots of facebook article reading done. And one of those was this fascinating article from the NY Times about this amazing lady who has been chronicling food, recipes, kitchen tools…anything from the medieval times to now. Mind you, this is still a work in progress and not very accessible to the masses (I don’t think) but it just sounds amazing! 

Basically the premise is to show why certain foods/recipes were created at that particular moment in history and what it says about that time. Which got me to wondering (and we can so piggy back this to the ‘ I wonder Wednesday’ that I missed) how so right on this brilliant woman is because food is such a huge part of our everyday lives. There’s a reason why we cook what we cook and why we don’t. And to chronicle it over a multitude of centuries, I think, sheds light on how we’ve evolved (or in some instances devolved. Is that a word?)

 

homemade pizza with buffalo mozzarela, fontina, proscuitto, oven roasted tomatoes, and green peppers

 
I know food is a huge part of my life and I’d like to think that certain dishes tell a story of where I came from, how I started, and where I want to go. I remember arroz con pollo and scrambled eggs with tuna growing up in my parents house; one of the best steaks I’ve ever had at a midnight dinner in St. Louis; pot luck dinners with my amazing friends in St. Louis and Phoenix; amazing steamed clams in Key West when the husband and I went for our honeymoon; fresh caught spiny lobsters from the depths of Puerto Rico grilled to perfection. These experiences are marked just as importantly as to WHAT we ate as to WHO we at them with and WHERE we ate them. 

 

our lil Linger Longer in the big blue waters of the Keys


 

spiny lobster. you’re not a cook until you’ve dispatched one, or a few of these. im just sayin. 😉

  
Food united people. Food is that universal language. Food feeds the soul. 

 

steamed clams with butter and bacon and raw oysters on the half shell. finally they’ve come to Puerto Rico!

 
So I’ll be back focusing on food and the joy it brings to our little world. 

  

Have a wonderful weekend!

Race weekend recap 

wow! Try saying that fast! There’s a torrential downpour happening right now and I’m hanging in our living room (the hammock spot is currently getting soaked) enjoying the most amazing breeze I’ve felt in a long long time. It’s almost on the verge of a chilly breeze, which never happens on this beautiful island. I figure it’s a perfect time to catch you all up on my past race weekend (about 2 weeks ago) EEECK! Guess better late than sorry, eh?

The weekend of October 9-12 I participated in the Mujer Brava event. It was a three day event that consisted of one activity per day: swim, bike, and run, respectively. This is perfect for someone who may want to try out the triathlon events but maybe hasn’t quite worked up to doing all three at the same race or someone who would just want to do one or two events. I used to triathlons back in my formative years (read: before motherhood) and while I’m eager to get back to it, I knew that there’s no way I could do the swim portion. It was almost 1 Mile long and the longest I’ve ever done was 3/4 of a mile, with training. So I opted for the bike and the run. Hers a bit of flashback from past races. 

   

yea, thats me over there in the orange cap 🙂


   
I unfortunately had a bad bad start to the bike: the night before I had a flat. After much patching it looked like things were looking up. No such luck. We were able to find a mechanic at the starting area who changed the tube and we kept out fingers crossed all was to go well. Again, no such luck. Around mile 7 of 25 I had another flat. Turns out I had a staple in my TIRE that was repeatedly puncturing my tube. After all that was taken care of, all was good. 

This bike event was probably one of the best moments I’ve experienced. There must’ve been over 300 women participating in the 4 different distances: 25, 45, 60, 80 miles. Each group went off at different times and then we all rendezvoused to bike the last 5 miles in together in a giant peloton. I got chills looking around me and seeing all these women together in our shirts taking over the streets of Old San Juan. There were people cheering for us on the sidewalks and outside on balconies and patios. The views alone of the city were breathtaking and then the comraderie was excellent. 

   

future mujer brava

    
 
Then the run on Monday. I originally planned on the 10k but I just wasn’t feeling it so I opted for the 5k. I wanted to have fun and I knew trying for the 10 I’d hate it so I was pretty ok missing that goal. And it was one of the best runs I’ve done! The route took us along the waterfront of Old San Juan and we even took in the sunrise. How magical it was to see the whole waterfront light up with an amazing display of golden colors. It was breathtaking. 

 

pre-race smiles

  

post race smiles and a medal!

 
Being it was the first year that they added the run they didn’t do placing a for each group but if they had, I would’ve placed 3rd! Yea! But I of course had to take advantage of the 1st place podium pic! 

Overall the two days were amazing, despite a few setbacks. It’s all a learning experience and I can’t wait till next year when I’ll do all three events. I think the biggest thing for me was that this was my first ‘race’ since moving to PR. And I’ve missed it. So I’m going to try extra hard to find more local races to participate in. Not only do I feel good because I am helping out good causes and charities but I also get a sense of achievement that you don’t get with just practice runs or bikes. I really do miss it. 

So on November 8 I have my half marathon and I’m sorry to report that I seem to have a strained hip flexor so the half is up in the air. I’ll be resting a few days and stretching and we’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed the pain will subside and I’ll be staring down 13.1 miles in 13 days! 

Sorry for the photo blast but I like to document. 

Have a great day and here’s a few more 😉

 

yep, goes waaaay back there

  

she could live in the water

  

mi familia there to support me

 

I wonder wednesday…

Hey gang! Sorry for being MIA the last couple of weeks. Motivation level was low and tiredness was high. I think we are just getting into a routine with the husband working nights, especially with my father back from Georgia. But my anxiety has been running high (hence no sleep) because we’re moving baby/big girl Gabriela into her own room this week. It only took 15.5 months! But more on that later this week AND I’ll be doing a recap of my two day Mujer Brava race from the other weekend. Lots to catch up on. But first….

I wonder Wednesday: Celebrities. 

This whole wondering occurred the other night at around 2am, laying in bed, wide ass awake, and thinking about a dream I just had about  Geoffrey Zakarian, celebrity chef (and who, I have to admit, I think is quite sexy in a weird kinda way. Could it be the silver hair; the glasses; his authority he exudes when cooking;his dapper wardrobe…who knows…but still sexy.) Oh- back to the dream! From what I can put together I was in his school and I failed miserably at something and he was so sweet about it. Subconscious kicking in? Perhaps. 😉

So it got me to wondering: how do people, let’s just use chefs for this example, become CELEBRITIES? I know with the age of technology, television, blogging/vlogging, youtube, Instagram, etc etc there’s a lot of people out there showcasing their talents. And believe me, I’d be in utter awe if I met GZ, Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, ~swoon~ Tyler Florence…but in the grand scheme of things, these folks are just cooks/chefs. How did they get so big and grandiose?

I guess it just goes to show you that a star can be born at anytime. So keep on cooking, crafting, singing, acting, getting yourself out there because you never know when someone might be wondering and in awe of your stardom!

And a HUGE thank you for those still following me and for our NEW followers! Welcome and I hope you enjoy! 

chillin. star in the making.

I wonder Wednesday 

Pancackes. 

Fluffy little circles of yummy goodness bathed in melting butter and sweet maple syrup that makes lazy Sunday breakfast’s perfect. Sigh….

Unless you’re me and you can’t bloody make pretty pancakes. Which probably explains why I don’t make them. Ever. I really never thought about it until the other day I saw a post on Instagram that pretty much echoed my disdain for those little orbits. To make, not to eat, mind you. 

Don’t get me wrong. I CAN make them but they’re usually more dense than light and airy and a perfect circle? I’m lucky if there aren’t any angles. And then flipping them? C’mon! Trying to figure out when it’s the right time to flip? So many factors!! And then add-ins? I don’t think so. 

So I wonder…how is it that I can do so much in the kitchen but I utterly fail at simple pancakes! I think it’s rather comical really. Maybe I’ll start practicing. 

How about you guys…is there anything that you just can’t get the hang of? 

Happy Wednesday! 

  

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