Seared lamb and couscous

Have you ever had a year that just wont quit?
Not in the good way like “that girl’s got a booty that won’t quit”
But in the literal “this year needs to stop” way.

I have.

One thing you should know about me is I’m impatient. As I get older I realize that I may be two years away from yelling about children being on my lawn (that is, if I had a lawn to yell about) so I need to practice the art of…well, waiting without being anxious. Becoming a fully patient person is probably not in the cards for me, but I figure I can compromise. Cooking doesn’t have to be some insanely time-consuming task, I am fully capable of making a quick yet satisfying meal for myself. Not just ramen or something like that, but real food with real ingredients.

All extremely personal issues aside I’ve been waiting for so many new things to happen lately that in my constant state of anticipation I forgot the most important rule of life “nothing changes unless you do”. So, I buckled down, went grocery shopping and have been cooking food for myself at least once a day for the past two weeks. With summer school and work it’s so easy to get caught in eating fast food all the time. I’m trying to save money, I’d like to rent a house when my lease is up, and after looking at my bank account I realize how much money I was literally throwing away daily and how easily that would change if I’d just get off my ass and buy groceries.

And to be honest, I just haven’t felt much like cook cooking these days. It’s strange the connection i have to food. In the middle of the most stressful times of my life I have been able to find serenity in the kitchen. For that, I will always be grateful.

Determined to not waste any of my money by letting food go bad in the fridge I decided to make some lamb shoulders tonight for dinner. I couldn’t think of what to eat with it (trust me, I’m not above just eating a plate full of red meat) but I realized I had some couscous in the pantry. Then things started to come together.

seared lamb and couscous

Seared lamb shoulder and Lemon Goat Cheese Couscous

I wish I could give a concise recipe, but measuring has never really been my thing unless I was baking. For this I used one lamb shoulder, covered it with sea salt, pepper, and cumin and let it sit at room temperature while I started the couscous. To make the couscous I diced some red onion and sautéed it in a pan with a bit of oil, added a healthy amount of garlic, and threw in the dried couscous for about a minute then added water and salt and brought the whole party to a boil. Once the water was at a boil, I put a lid on it, reduced the heat to a slow simmer and began my meat cooking.

 Turning the pan on high, I put some vegetable oil in and let it all get nice and hot. Sear the lamb for about 4 minutes on both sides and then cook to your desired temperature and let rest on a cutting board. By this time your couscous should be done. Before plating I added a bit of lemon juice and goat cheese to the couscous, mixed it up, and topped it with cilantro.

Super simple & filling meal that may just be enough to kick myself into gear and start making the changes in my life that I want.

The “I want something sweet but I don’t want to wait hours for dessert” dessert

There’s an accomplishment in baking. You spend so much time carefully sifting, measuring, folding, and letting rest, that once the product is done there is no other option but to boast about your new creation. However, there is also something to be said for family tradition.  My mother never was a big baker, I think it has something to do with following directions which to this day she refuses, but she always came up with things to keep my sister and I happy weather it be getting to eat some of the frozen cookie dough before putting them on the sheet pan, or mixing Jiffy muffins in the morning and letting us swipe our fingers around the bowl.

I don’t have what you’d necessarily call a sweet tooth. It takes me more than a month to eat a pint of ice cream, I don’t have candy bars or cookies in the cupboard (much to my roommates dismay). I put honey on yogurt to satisfy the necessity for something sweet. Yes, here, I’ll say it: I’m not much of a dessert person.

 

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When I was younger I remember my mom buying small shortcake rounds, strawberries, and aerosol whipped cream. Such a simple and fun dessert for a single mom and her two daughters. Unlike my mother, I’m no stranger to pastry arts (sorry mom!), but I just like her I lack patience. So unless it’s for a holiday or special occasion, baking is usually not an option. But still, every now and then a girl needs a little sugar.

Why not make strawberry shortcakes? Well, mostly because blackberries and raspberries were more appealing at the store. So, yes, I took a tip from my mom and purchased pre-made shortcake rounds, two cartons of berries and some heavy cream.

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See, I made my own whipped cream! It’s summer and I think that means it’s all about relaxing and if you can save yourself some time and enjoy the fruits of your semi-labor, then you should do so. What’s your simple go-to treat?

Heirloom tomatoes, or: How I decided to stop being lazy and cook some food.

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Am I the only one who walks through the grocery store on an empty stomach just waiting for the food to talk to you? I’m terrible at making grocery lists. I know it’s a thing I should do, being a semi-adult and all (what does that even mean: adult? I had yogurt with chia seeds for breakfast and lunch today.), but trying to narrow down what exactly I need to buy for x amount of weeks is a daunting task. How am I supposed to know what I’m going crave three days from now? It’s not fair.

In this Texas heat the only thing my mind thinks about when getting out of my car is what building will have the coldest air conditioning. In the midst of my backsweat, and the glory of central air I stopped to remember that one good thing about summer is the amazing produce sprouting up. Passing through the aisles of squash and cucumbers I saw these beautiful heirloom tomatoes and knew right away that I needed to make fried green tomatoes. Not only did I need to make fried green tomatoes, but I needed to make a complete meal with them. Aren’t they gorgeous?

I’ve been trying to eat healthier, more fulfilling meals. It’s always so hard working full time and feeling like the only option is to stop by a drive through and get your protein, veggie, and starch all wrapped up in a tortilla, but I know my body isn’t built for that. So instead I’m going to challenge myself to at least cook two full home cooked meals a week (I cook more often than that, I promise, but it’s not always something notable.)

I’m not going to lie, I had nothing at home to pair with these tomatoes. I knew in my freezer I had perogies, and some peppered bacon in the fridge (don’t judge me), but that’s about all. I had a veggie- or a fruit I suppose, but for nutrition purposes we’re going to call it a veggie, so all I needed was protein and starch. In the bulk grain section of the store I found some quinoa. Heading back over to the fruits and vegetable section I stumbled upon avocados bigger than my hand. Even if I wasn’t going to use them in my lunch, you can never have enough avocados. Into the basket they went. Now…protein. I wanted something decadent. Having the time to make lunch is a treat for myself, so why not go big?

Duck breast. I could taste the crispy skin as soon as the thought arose in my head. Duck breast, avocado lime quinoa and fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and a white truffle balsamic glaze drizzled around. The meal itself cost less than $15 so I’d say that was a win.

Long story short yesterday I gave myself the best lunch I’ve had in a while and hopefully this will get me back into doing what I love. Cooking and blogging about it.

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