Monday, November 21, 2011

Because Cheetos Aren't Dinner

Tomorrow I will be sixteen weeks pregnant, and so far I haven't fully emerged from some of the more unpleasant first trimester symptoms. I still get nauseous in the evenings, and I still need naps most days due to the fatigue. These symptoms are annoying enough, but what is most distressing to me is that they have caused me to completely lose my cooking mojo.

I made a lasagna a few weeks ago, and some pork chops about a week later. And, that's pretty much it for the last three months. I've either been too tired to even fathom chopping and mixing, sauteing and baking, or I've been so nauseous, I can't face the smell of the food I need to prepare. Additionally, I have that stereotypical pregnant woman's relationship to junk food. Maybe it's all in my head, but more often than not, I have to choke down my vegetables in order to earn a spicy chicken sandwich or a metric ton of pork.

This is all a far cry from where I was a year ago. I spent my Saturdays poring over cookbooks, looking up recipes on the internet, hunting down unfamiliar ingredients at Whole Foods, and trying a new recipe at least once a week. Admittedly, my enthusiasm had tapered off a bit by this past summer, right before I got pregnant, but I was chugging along, continuing to provide nutritious meals for my family and still taking pleasure in trying out the occasional new recipe.

I am making a lot of excuses, but truth be told, I could be cooking a lot more than I do. I'm still adjusting to living with my in-laws and trying to figure out how to shop and cook in a two-family home, but I can't blame that learning curve forever. My energy level is not great, but it is a vast improvement over how I was feeling a month ago. And, my nausea and food aversions, while not gone, have abated enough that I can be around most food without gagging.

So, what's my problem? This might sound silly, or even crazy, but it's like I've completely forgotten how to cook. I used to be able to make up a dish based on the sundry ingredients I had lying around the house. Or, I had an idea of what I wanted to make, so I found a recipe. Or, I had the motivation to scour recipes until I found one I wanted to try. But, now? I got nuthin'. I wander around the grocery store aimlessly, buy some yogurt for Charlotte, then go home with nothing that will help me make a meal. I have damaged or misplaced the part of my brain that tells me what the hell to do with rosemary or a shallot.

Here's where you come in. A year ago, maybe? I told you all what ingredients I had in my kitchen and asked for recipes. It was a roaring success. For me, that is. You got nothing out of it, I expect. But, if you would be so kind as to give me some of your favorite recipes, or even just dishes (I can hunt down a recipe)you will be saving my family a lot of money in meals eaten out and sparing my husband from taking a can of soup to work with him for his dinner. I'd like to start out sort of easy, since I've regressed so much, and recipes for things that feed a whole family, like casseroles and stews would be great for our current situation. I also love anything I can throw in a crock pot in the morning and forget about for a few hours.

So, ready? Set? Go!

I promise to return the favor if necessary, just as soon as I get my kitchen legs back.


  1. I can share my super-easy Weight Watchers cookbook. I mean, Jim is cooking out of it, so can you.

  2. We have a bunch of easy go to recipes. They all require meat, so you know if you have aversions to that then you're out of luck, but they can all be scaled up or down for size.

    Roasted chicken legs w/roasted veggies. (Put chicken legs on roasting pan, 350 for an hour or so-ish. Toss veggies w/olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic. Throw veggies on another pan, roast for 20-30 minutes. Boom).

    The (now internet famous) pepperoncini beef. Take jar of pepperoncini's, pour over a hunk of beef in crock pot. Cook all day. Is super yummy on a variety of things, including rolls with provolone, nachos and in between tortillas w/cheese.

    I'm planning on blogging this soon, but my green chili chicken enchiladas are easy and feed a ton of people. You need cooked/shredded chicken (make a few extra legs when you do that roasted dish up there and you'll be done, or you can do breasts, whatever floats your boat), a giant can of green chili sauce (this is the one we use Las Palmas Enchilada Sauce Green Chile Medium 28 oz ), corn tortillas, cheese, and sour cream/plain greek yogurt. Oven at 350-400. Heat up the tortillas so they're pliable (I pop em in the microwave w/a damp towel) and then fill w/ a little chicken, a little cheese, roll, repeat. Fill the bottom of the baking dish with as many rolls as you can, dump the can of sauce, cover in cheese, put a dollop of sour cream/greek yogurt (optional), cover w/foil. Cook for 30 minutes covered, then remove the foil and cook another 15 minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly. Let it cool about 10 minutes before serving though, or it just oozes everywhere. You can also do this w/flat tortillas instead of rolling, just like lasagna. (another option, depending on heat preferences, add a small can of diced green chili before you add the final layer of cheese. SUPER yum) I serve w/some cold sour cream.

    I clearly never said these were healthy.

  3. I'm hopeless mostly in the kitchen but I do lerve some tuna a la king which in my recipe is just egg noodles with cream of mushroom soup, mix the tuna, soup and some sweet peas, cook the noodles BAM

  4. Wordpress ate my comment, but that's probably a good thing, since I went into great detail about pulling pork, and, ew. You're pregnant, and pulling pork is kind of gross.

    So, curry! The crock pot is the best invention ever. I throw together one can of coconut milk, a tablespoon of curry powder, and then a bunch of veggies chopped into large pieces (carrot, potato, sweet potato, etc.). You can add meat if you want, or avoid it if you don't. Cook the whole mess all day on low or four hours on high, and serve over rice.

    P.S. I want Ginger's enchiladas.

  5. Cheddar Cheese Potato Soup (you will want to double this if you are serving four plus Charlotte plus yer belly)

    * 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, but butter is best
    * 1 onion chopped
    * 2 cloves garlic, chopped small or pressed if you have a press. Garlic presses are fun!
    * 3 medium-sized potatoes diced
    * 1.5 cups chicken stock*
    * 1 tsp thyme
    * 1.5 cups milk
    * 1.5 cups cheddar grated. use as much as you like. I like about twice this much. Okay, three times.
    * salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne or whatever spices you like. It's your soup!

    Melt butter in large pot. Add onions & garlic. Cook till tender but not screaming tender. Not quite brown.
    Add potatoes, chicken stock, thyme and bring to a boil.
    Reduce heat & cover. Cook for 25 minutes or so, until the potatoes are cooked.
    Remove half the soup and puree it. Reunite the puree with the rest of the soup. Yay! Together again!
    Add the milk.
    Bring just to a boil, stirring and stirring.
    Add cheese!!
    Add spices!!
    Add more cheese!!
    Eat it!!
    -- with sourdough bread.
    -- or you can make croutons SO EASILY by cutting or ripping up bread, tossing it on a cookie sheet, dousing it in olive oil, salt and pepper, then baking for a few minutes until they are crispy.

    And also, pork chops sate by James Barber

    - 2 tbsp oil, very hot
    - fry 2 pork chops till golden (1 min each side)
    push to side of pan & fry one onion sliced thin and one quartered tomato -- stir around a lot
    - add 1 tbsp curry powder, 1/2 cup water, juice of half a lemon & 2 tbsp peanut butter
    - stir a lot to mix, then cook 5 min medium heat, 15 minute simmer

    (serve with rice.
    leftover sauce good on toast
    I usually add ginger & garlic to the onion at the beginning)

  6. @Mom- Oooh, burn! I will check it out, thanks.

  7. @Ginger- I'm totally making the enchiladas tonight. And, I bet you didn't even know that I've been craving green chiles like a mofo, lately. So, I'm loving all your suggestions. Thanks!

  8. @Doria- I'm avoiding canned tuna while I'm pregnant, but that does sound like some yummy comfort food!

  9. Perpetua- OMG, I love curry! And how have I never thought of sweet potato before? This will be happening very soon. :)

  10. @Clara- I am drooling over this soup. And, I think I will get one of those giant blocks of Tilamook cheddar from Costco, and put the whole damn thing in there. It's cheese season, after all. :)