Monday, July 23, 2012

My triumphal kitchen re-entry!

Ohmigosh I missed cooking and eating healthy food!!!!! I've been cooking up a storm lately trying to compensate for all the horrible fast food I ate first trimester.

For example, check this simple, go-to stir-fry of mine:

This one is simple: I add a little vegetable oil to a wok and brown some minced garlic. Then I toss in some mushrooms for a few minutes with some butter. Add soy sauce and ginger (I go light) to taste and then toss in the broccoli. Once the mushrooms and broccoli are tender, I add some chopped green onions for another minute or so. Meanwhile, in a separate pan I cook some chicken strips that I've marinated for at least a half hour in olive oil with a dash of McCormick Steak seasoning. Chop the cooked chicken into cubes and add to the mushroom-broccoli mixture. Serve over brown rice. You can modify this basic recipe to make it your own based on what you have in the house.

In addition to cooking more, I've been branching out in the culinary department. I finally committed to using my Southern Living cookbook, and I haven't regretted a recipe! If you've never tried SL's beef stroganoff, you should! It was a crowd pleaser and I was excited that it called for sherry (you know you're not a real cook until you've cooked with sherry...or am I the only one who grew up thinking that??).

I'm glad to be eating healthier, but we also decided to commit to a meal plan for another important reason. Jonathan and I have implemented and been trying to follow a budget. We decided that with Nora's pending arrival, we needed to be a family with a financial plan. We're saving so much money by meal planning and cooking rather than dining out. And most days we have leftovers that we can take to work for lunch. As a bonus, I take tremendous comfort knowing exactly what I'm feeding my family.

I've even been experimenting with some delicious mocktails (for the uninitiated, that's a cocktail minus the alcohol). Hey, you gotta make effort to keep life interesting when you're living on a budget (I call it my reward system, and I always leave room in the budget for treats!). Just recently I made a faux mint julep with a simple syrup I concocted using mint from my garden splashed into lemonade poured over crushed ice. Don't forget to garnish with more mint. It was pretty and delish — a refreshing summer beverage.

How do you keep things interesting in the kitchen? I'd love some tips!

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