Thursday was way too hot and humid (above 90) for Cate and I to do any outdoor exploring and when Friday ended up being hot and then stormy, we decided that a culinary adventure in our kitchen was in order. Those of you that know me, know that I can cook- it's just a matter of wanting to cook. Usually Eric does most of our cooking as he enjoys figuring out what random things go together and creating his own dishes. Lately though, I've been more inspired to try some new things. One of the things I appreciated growing up was that my family always sat down to dinner together- even when we got older and one of us might be missing because of work or practice or something- dinner was always put on the table and we always sat down to eat.
Eric and I have pretty much been in this habit for awhile, only occasionally trading in our sit-down dinners to quick and easy things we eat while we watch TV in the living room. Now that Cate is here, we're incorporating her into the routine, even though she doesn't eat at the table yet (she just sits in her Bumbo or her Papasan seat and joins us while we eat). I guess my sort-of goal for the summer is to figure out some new things I can make and that are fairly simple, but yummy, so that we have a variety of things to choose from when we shop each week for dinner. Earlier this week I followed my Aunt Lisa's recipe for meatloaf and then used a recipe out of "Kiwi" magazine for Caulitato mash (it's essentially potatoes and cauliflower mashed together. Yum! It all turned out great, and the meatloaf made for yummy sandwiches the next day.
Anyway...yesterday while Eric was gone, Cate and I made strawberry lemonade (simple, but wonderful for summer- though I'm not giving up my sweet iced tea):
I read a lot of random blogs- people I don't even know- and this particular idea came from the blog Flip Flops and Applesauce (linked at right). We're hoping to head to Findlay Market later this morning to get some more fresh strawberries since Eric and I have already downed about half of the pitcher. It's really easy to make- one can of frozen lemonade, 4 cans of cold water, and as many strawberry slices as you can fit in your pitcher. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so to soak in that strawberry flavor, and there you have it.
We (and I use this loosely since Cate's role consisted of jabbering away in either her exersaucer or bouncy seat while I cooked) also made banana bread with some over-ripe bananas we had sitting on the counter:
It turned out great and is super moist! Perfect for breakfast (or anytime really).
Finally, we spent all day making black bean soup. It really wasn't hard and is probably the healthiest thing I've ever made. Black beans are really high in fiber and if you're a Weight Watchers person, most black bean soups are only 1 or 2 points or serving because of all the fiber. I found a recipe online that essentially cooked everything in a crockpot (versus 5+ hours on a stove). This works out way better when you have a 4 month old who also wants attention and needs feeding, etc. It was a lot of chopping (but I'm a little OCD when it comes to how I chop veggies, usually avoid recipes with a lot of chopping, and know that this will go quicker as I continue to hone my chopping skills). Besides the black beans, there are tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, green peppers, carrots, brown rice and various spices in the soup. Serve it with sour cream and a garnish of green onions and it's delicious.
The soup also made enough to have it 4 more times, so we loaded it up in freezer bags to enjoy later on. :-)
If you're interested in the recipes for anything, let me know and I'll send them your way. And I'll try to post them on Emily's "For the Love of Cooking" Facebook group later this weekend.
I have to say, our culinary adventure was a success!