Monday, August 2, 2010

Lazy Sunday Cooking

I love lazy Sunday afternoons. Our whole weekend was pretty much a lazy Sunday afternoon. It was cooler and overcast this weekend, perfect napping weather. And that was pretty much all Charlie did - sleep. He slept late both mornings and took 4 hour naps both days. It was incredible. I actually didn't know what to do with myself part of the time. My life is so pointless when not running interference between Charlie and the most dangerous things in the room!

When Charlie naps in the afternoon, I love to hole up in the kitchen and cook. This is especially enjoyable in the fall and winter when it's cooler out - just feels so cozy to be inside cooking. Our kitchen looks out over the backyard, which is wooded and very peaceful. The backyard actually talked me into buying this house when the banged up floors, brass fixtures and Pink Everywhere were screaming at me to move on. I saw the view out the back and thought, OK this is doable.

I love to cook but typically don't have much free time or energy to devote to it anymore. However, I've been making time because we've been trying to eat at home more and at restaurants less, both from a calorie and cost perspective. I've got to have quick things to make, though, so lately I've been on the hunt for those 30 minutes or less type recipes. Feels kind of lame, as I used to love a nice long recipe where I could learn something new, but I have found a few winners and recipes worth repeating out of the quick recipes.

I found a copy of the cookbook version of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine at Homegoods and have been using that a lot. It's broken up by season, which I love, because I've been trying to focus on cooking in-season food. Martha also has a handy iPhone app, which sends out a daily recipe and has a search function for her other recipes, including the ones in the book. Nice for when you get to the store and can't remember what to get.

I've also been using a site called No Takeout, which has sent out some really yummy recipes. There's a daily email subscription and an online archive of previous recipes available. All recipes take 30 minutes or less of prep time and even suggest a wine to pair with the dinner. I mean, you don't have to tell me twice to pair wine with dinner. They also follow the "Meatless Mondays" approach to eating, where you skip meat one day a week. I like that.

Cooking Light and Real Simple magazines also send out free daily emails focused on quick, simple dinners. As my friend Cookie once said, the Cooking Light recipes are awesome if you just add a little bit more butter and cheese. So true! I find the recipes from both these sites to be on the bland side, but every once in a while they have a good one. Just have your salt, butter, cheese, red pepper, etc. ready to kick them up.

For a while I was trying to find toddler-friendly recipe web sites and books but found that, for the most part, they are barely modified versions of normal recipes. The reviews on Amazon were pretty harsh for just about all of the books I found. I've since ditched that approach and just feed Charlie what we're having, making it plain or less spicy for him since his developing palate seems more delicate. He's loved Martha's turkey meatballs with pasta and turkey sloppy joes so far.

If any of you have any other cookbook/web site suggestions for quick cooking, I'd love to hear about them. Always looking for new ideas!

Another problem I'd love to find a solution for: I find summer cooking to be very boring. I love all the produce out there, but it's too hot out to have the stove or oven on and we grill a lot, which gets boring. During the week when Brad is gone I eat things that don't require cooking. It's very unexciting to me. What to do?

The cooler weather this weekend - and by cool I mean 80! - got me daydreaming of cool, crisp fall weather and my favorite things to cook: bean soup, ham biscuits, apple crisp, beef stew, chili, ginger cookies, pumpkin everything. Ahhhh summer, go away.


Katie Harvey said... has some fun kid recipes!

The Balog Family said...

You love cooking like I love cooking!! I love that!! I have to admit..I love the Cooking Light and the Bon Appetit magazines...Bobby Flay's Grill It show has lots of yumminess for the summer grill, and Rachel Ray is queen of 30 min! I too have had to scale back the "time" of cooking but it's nice when you can get those Sunday's to "splurge"!!