Category Archives: Cooking With Love

Purple is Better, Anyway

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Well, I much prefer purple kitchen towels to plain ol’ white ones, anyway. Which is good, because I kinda stained my white towel cleaning up the mess from canning blueberries. Quick tip: when canning, pay attention to the headspace or the liquid will leak all over and you won’t get a proper seal. So these vanilla and lavendar infused blueberries will be stored in the fridge just in case, and used up much sooner than anticipated. I think a jar or 2 may make their way into Mom’s hands so she can add them to a blueberry pie for Dad.

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Filling Empty

I have 6 half-gallon Ball Canning Jars. When I asked my parents if they would sell me these jars they had sitting around, Mom asked what I was planning to do with them. I told her I planned to fill them. And that is exactly what I plan to do. I have 3 of them in use now, but I’m not going to tell you what I’m using them for, just yet. First, I want you to tell me what you would use them for if they were in your home, and/or tell me what you think I am going to/should use them for. I expect to fill the remaining 3 jars by this weekend and will share with you what kind of fun and/or practical uses I have found.

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Healthy Snacks

Fresh and Healthy Snacks for the week. What are you snacking on between meals?

I was going to write a big, long post about how important healthy snacking and healthy meals are. Complete with a confession that I gained 5 pounds while at a work conference, and upon my return, I ate more taffy in 3 days than any person should eat in a lifetime…

But I’ll spare you all that (oops, too late) and just say I am back on the wagon again and have my fresh snacks ready for the week.

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Fabulous Friday

Today is not just Good Friday, it is Fabulous Friday! The perfect ending to a perfect week. It was like shipment central around my place all week, with packages arriving from all kinds of places, including one I have been waiting on for many years. Ok, so not the package itself, but the item. I finally purchased something I have been wanting for many, many years. It’s a French Butter Dish (you may have heard it called a Butter Bell). The husband of one of my friends makes handmade pottery and he does an amazing job. I was so happy to get my much-anticipated new piece of pottery for my kitchen, and getting to support a friend’s business just sweetened the deal!

So, what else makes this a Fabulous Friday? Well, it’s FRIDAY! Need I say more? And I got to run the bar at work today, steaming milk to a perfectly creamy, frothy texture with all it’s sweetness, pouring it over caramelly shots of espresso, chatting with customers and wishing them a Fabulous Friday…what’s not amazing about bringing a smile to everyone’s face?

And in case I hadn’t been given enough reasons to smile throughout the week, I did get some good news via email several times this week. Some relating to my kids and school, an email from an old friend I hadn’t heard from in awhile, and then an email from someone who is planning to make my Garlicky Buttery Shrimp Pasta for some family. I am excited to hear how everyone enjoyed it!

Now I get to enjoy the day tomorrow with my favorite kiddos… picking up our produce basket from Bountiful Baskets, dying Easter Eggs, eating candy, and probably planning more menus!

Excitement abounds. New beginnings emerge. What kind of amazingness are you up to this weekend?

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Finding Dinner Menu Planning

Your menu planning and grocery shopping worries are about to come to an end! Introducing That Cook Girl’s Finding Dinner Menu Planning! Each week, you will be greeted in your email inbox with a new menu plan and grocery list. Stop wasting time and money wandering the aisles at the grocery, deciding what to make for dinner. I’ve got it all planned out for you.

The details are HERE and you can get started with your kitchen basics list HERE to get an idea of how simple your meal time can become.

So, are you ready? Subscribe now and don’t miss a thing!

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Garlicky Buttery Shrimp Pasta

  

Simple Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Tonight was the closing shift at my new job. But that wasn’t going to stop me from cooking up the shrimp that was waiting for me in the fridge!

Of course, you know me, and I was telling my co-workers how excited I was to get home and cook my dinner. Marc (with a c), who I have not worked with before tonight, seemed really excited about my dinner. I think he was a little jealous. He said he was trying to memorize what I told him about how I was going to cook the shrimp and what I would serve it with. Well, he seems like a nice guy, and he served 5 years in the Marines (Semper Fi!), so I decided to do a picture tutorial on this very simple dinner. It will be the perfect thing for him to make for a date to impress her. (All you other guys reading this need to pay attention, too! It’s easy! You can do it!)

A note about cooking the shrimp. There is only one person who has ever intimidated me in the kitchen with his knowledge. And I really learned a lot from him the few times we cooked together. One thing I learned from him is that cooking the shrimp with the shells still on gives them more flavor. The shells are where the flavor is. (Duh! I can hardly believe I hadn’t known it before. But I’m glad I got to cook with David a few times and add to my food knowledge. 🙂 ) So, it’s up to you, but I would recommend leaving the shells on for more flavor. For a date, perhaps you want to remove the shells before serving so she doesn’t have to fumble with trying to be polite and proper when she really just wants to rip the shell off with her fingers and not care how messy she gets. Just sayin’. 😉 And now, on to the recipe (such as it is…you know I rarely follow a recipe!), complete with pictures.

First thing's first, gather up your ingredients. For tonight's dinner, I grabbed just a small amount of angel hair pasta, the shrimp (I had 6 large ones), 3 tablespoons butter, 2 cloves garlic, 1 small tomato, 1 green onion, Parmesan cheese (Please note the time-- 9:55pm)

Right after snapping this picture, I added water to the pot and turned the burner on high to get it boiling for the pasta. At the same time, I put the pan with butter on a medium-high heat to melt while I peeled and sliced the garlic cloves.

Add the sliced garlic to the butter and cook until just before the garlic turns brown. (This will take about a minute or so)

Remove the garlic from the butter, leaving the butter in the pan. The garlic will continue to cook a little more and will end up lightly browned after it is removed from the pan. You can eat this, use it to top the pasta, or throw it away. Totally up to you.

By this point, your pasta water should be boiling. Angel hair pasta takes only 4 minutes to cook to al dente, which really helps to pull this meal together in no time at all. Get the pasta into the water and set your timer for 4 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the pasta so it doesn’t stick together.

Add the shrimp to the butter in the pan and let those little guys bubble away getting all that garlicky, buttery goodness cooked right into them! Is your mouth watering yet? Each side will cook for 1-2 minutes.

While the pasta is boiling and the shrimp are sizzling in the butter, you have time to run your knife through the tomato and green onion. Just cube the tomato into bite-size chunks and slice the green onion. (I use just the dark green parts for this recipe, and reserve the white and light green parts for another use.)

Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and put it into a pasta bowl or onto a plate with a rim that will hold the juices in. Then remove the shrimp from the butter (leave the butter in the pan, you’re not done with it just yet!) and place on top of the pasta.

Add the tomatoes and green onion to the butter in the pan. Toss gently, just enough to warm the tomatoes a bit (this should only take about 30 seconds), and then pour the entire contents of the pan, butter and all, right over the top of the pasta and shrimp.

”]Welcome to my little piece of heaven, straight out of my own kitchen. Enjoy!

 

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Excitement!

I owe you all so many posts. I had fun trying new foods with my kids in February, but was having so much fun and there were so many new and exciting things happening in our lives that computer time was limited at best. That’s a good thing, right? 🙂 I still want to share with you some food fun we had, and I will try to back-track and do that soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you some exciting news: I am changing jobs and career path! I realized I need to work directly with people and start working towards some larger life goals, so I have gone to work where I get to learn about coffee, talk to people, and smile all day long (and they pay me for this?!) This is going to free up a lot of time for me to get into college, learning about nutrition and so much more. It’s an exciting time!

And here’s some more excitement: My best friend talked me into offering my weekly menu planning and shopping lists to subscribers to make a little extra money. I wasn’t sure how that would work, but found a lot of people interested, and so I’m giving it a shot and I’m excited to launch my first email subscription with an aim to launch by April 1st (eek! That’s only a week away, isn’t it?! I better get back to my menu writing!)

So… for more information about joining my “Finding Dinner” menu subscription, check out the Finding Dinner tab and keep watching for details on how to confirm your subscription and find more time and money in your budget.

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Fruity Tastes

Cherimoya, Kumquats, Star Fruit

Last week I asked if you could name these fruits. I posed the question here at ThatCookGirl.com and again on facebook. Everyone seemed to know what the kumquats and star fruit were, but most seemed stumped by the 3rd fruit I had pictured. An odd looking greenish-brown fruit that my kiddos and I chose because we had never seen or heard of the cherimoya before.

 
It’s fun to try new foods, and I found it even more enjoyable to share it with my kiddos and talk about what we liked and didn’t like. We all agreed that the smooth texture and sweet flavor of the cherimoya was our favorite of the three. It would make a great addition to a smoothie, or alongside a cup of fresh yogurt. Both of the kiddos said they did not enjoy the kumquats. They were a little bitter, maybe they weren’t quite ripe? I was the only one who said “eh, I could take it or leave it” to the star fruit. It was good, but not something that made me think “where have you been all my life?” But again, I think it was not fully ripe, so I will have to try it again at some point. Maybe alongside the dragon fruit that was suggested by my sister. It is, afterall, the Year of the Dragon, which is MY year!
 
Speaking of MY year! It is still my Birthday Month, too! And I’m still trying new foods. Tonight: Veal!

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Simply Perfect

Saturday night. What’s a single girl to do, with her kids away for the weekend? Quite obviously, that girl should cook herself an amazing dinner, right? Afterall, if you don’t treat yourself well, who else will?

On Friday afternoon I ventured into town to check out Shawn’s Quality Meats & Smokehouse. I had heard good things about them from fellow good food lovers. I happily ordered a lamb chop from the friendly guys there, letting them know it was my first time having/cooking lamb. They were all-too-happy to give me some tips, including to not overcook it because that’s where you get the gamey flavor.

Simple Perfection

Saturday night rolled around and I had purchased all the ingredients to make a fancy dinner. I was going to make this fabulous-sounding pomegranate marinade and relish for the lamb, and risotto, and then I was going to fancy up the asparagus (generously given to me from Baby Sis’s produce co-op baskets). I stood there, staring at all the ingredients, and promptly decided that in this case, simple would be best. So I pared down my menu to include only the ingredients you see in the picture. That’s right. A lamb chop [seasoned lighly with cracked black pepper and a tiny bit of coarsely ground salt and cooked in my grill pan until medium-rare], asparagus [steamed], and a red potato [wedged, tossed with garlic-infused olive oil, and baked until brown]. Simply Perfect. And I think I enjoyed this simple preparation much more than I would have the more labor-intensive meal I originally planned. I got to really taste the flavor of the lamb, unmasked by fancy sauces. And I must say, I give it a 10!

Some foods are best enjoyed with the simplest preparation. I believe that a good quality cut of meat does not need to be fancied up, and I was pleased to find that to be true with this lamb chop from Shawn’s. I will surely return to their shop. Thanks, guys!

 

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Birth-Month Challenge

I posted a few weeks ago about my Food Trials. At that time, in my own mind, I issued myself a challenge to post more frequently. I had plans for daily post themes. After a few days and no posts, I decided I would just make it weekly posts…and then a few more weeks passed by. So I am issuing my Birth-Month Challenge to the public because it’s harder to back out of a public challenge, right? (I hope! Because I really want to do this!)

It was a few years ago, during a particularly tough time in my life, that I decided I would celebrate my Birthday for the entire month. It’s February. It’s a short month. Humor me, people. I deserve to be spoiled, even if I am spoiling myself. So, what better month to issue myself a new challenge than this very special month. I won’t bore you with all my daily spoilings (or maybe I will. I guess I haven’t decided yet.), but I will share my challenge with you.

My challenge (which goes well with my Food Trials!): I will try one food I have never tried every week this month. I will cook one thing I have never tried to cook or never had success cooking at least twice this month.

Oooohhhh….double challenge! Can I do it? Of course I can! The question is: What do I cook?

First up: Lamb! I have never (that I can remember) had lamb. I find myself with the opportunity to have a weekend alone at home. So I will shop some local markets and get some lamb and make myself a great dinner. I will report back on my results.

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