Posts in Culinary
Dinner Tricks with a Side of Corn

Finding a groove with two munchkins in the house was (and is) not easy. One of the things that I noticed pretty quickly was that if I don't have a plan for dinner, we end up eating terribly. Too many attempts to "wing it" means too many days of pizza and Chinese take-out. Don't get me wrong, pizza and Hong Kong Garden have their time and place, but at one point I realized we were eating takeout or some variation of meat + pasta + cheese way too often. Unfortunately I had this realization because I started to just not feel good. I wasn't being mindful of our day-to-day. I've always put a high value on eating well, including eating fresh, balanced meals, and I paid the price when I lost track. Fortunately, I was able to turn the situation around pretty quickly with a few tricks.

1. Meal planning is a must. Ever get so frazzled trying to figure out what to cook for dinner that you end up just ordering pizza? Having a game plan for the week helps keep that from happening and removes the stress of trying to make magic at the last minute. Fun Fact: My meal plan includes a 'gimme' for takeout if we have a real hankering one night.

2. Stock the fridge. I get hungry. Really hungry. Like, grab-anything-in-sight to feed the beast levels of hungry. This goes hand-in-hand with being a breastfeeding mom. Nobody tells you that you should expect to be absolutely starving all the time if you chose to breastfeed. Great. It helps to have healthy options readily available so the "anything" I grab doesn't end up being the ice cream Bernie stashes in the freezer. Stocking the fridge with healthy options means I'm grabbing carrots and hummus, or throwing quinoa into a quick salad instead of sticking a spoon into a Ben & Jerry's container.

3. Another trick I have up my sleeve is that I piece together dinner throughout the day. Maybe I start the chicken marinating in the morning, or throw together the salad sans dressing during naps, so when dinner comes around all I have to do is throw the chicken on the grill and the dressing on the salad. This is way easier (and less stressful) than trying to pull everything together at once. For moms who work a 9-5, a lot of this prep could also be done in the morning or even days in advance.

4. Keep it simple. These days I have become the queen of easy recipes that pack a punch, and I'm looking forward to sharing those here, starting with...

Mexican-Style Street Corn

5 Ears of Corn, halved
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1 Lime, cut into wedges
1/3 cup Cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp Ancho Chile Powder
1/4 cup Cojita Cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Brush the corn with olive oil and cook over high heat on a grill, turning every 3-5 minutes until the corn is cooked.

2. Lightly brush the ears of corn with mayonnaise.

3. Top with salt, pepper, chile powder, cilantro and cojita cheese. 

4. Serve with lime wedges.

Street corn takes a whole ten minutes to throw together, chopping included, and never fails to impress adults and children alike. Even my 2-year-old goes to town.

Cassie's Pork Fried Rice

Last year, I made a huge pot of pork fried rice and we ate that for dinner. And then I ate it for lunch the next day, and also dinner, and also for lunch and dinner the day after that. I put a fried egg on top of it and had it for “brunch”. I stuffed a zucchini with it… you get the idea. I ate that pork fried rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for five days straight. Bernie mused that we’d been together for five years and I rarely made Chinese food for him, let alone multiple dishes over the course of a week. About a week later I took a pregnancy test, and the rest is history.

You can read the story and get the recipe over on my "everything else" blog, The Damn Yankee.