New Recipes

Sometimes when things get busy, I cook more. It seems counterintuitive that when I have too much to do I would wile away time in the kitchen, but that's often how it works.

It's not that I'm procrastinating. It's just that cooking is my escape. It's an enjoyable activity that allows me to take a break from whatever else is going on in life. And it provides a very real, very necessary product: tasty (at least most of the time!), healthy homemade food. This ensures that I eat well and eat enough when, otherwise, I'd be so distracted by what I have on my to-do list that I'd end up eating junk or sometimes not eating at all.

That's why, last week, even though I was juggling schoolwork, house projects, a big proofreading project, an article deadline, and promoting and writing for Illinois Adventures, I tried out quite a few new recipes. (Quick and easy recipes, by the way. I never said I tackle souffles when time-crunched!)

That's the other thing about cooking for me: I rarely try the same thing twice, unless it's a childhood favorite or a dish that really wows. Instead, I tear recipe ideas out of magazines and bookmark them on websites like a fiend, and then gleefully tackle them whenever I can. Sometimes they're terrific. Other times just so-so (it's a good thing Conservative Boy is such a sport). Either way, we end up with a home-cooked meal on the table.

This past week, I tried the recipes you see here. The first: Linguine in fresh tomato sauce with garlic and basil toast from Better Homes & Gardens July 2009. You can view the recipe here. It should come as no surprise that I made this while C.B. was off golfing.

Next up: roast chicken with vegetables from Sunset April 2009.

This photo was snapped halfway through the process—the chicken and potatoes had been cooked on the stove, and now it was time to put them (along with the broccoli) in the oven. One faux pas with this (come on, you know there's always at least one): I couldn't find chicken thighs with bones and skin so instead I purchased chicken breasts. And they were HUGE. So it threw off the cooking time of everything. I only mentioned that to be of service to you, dear reader: you may want to pick out smaller portions of meat than I did for recipe success. Speaking of recipes, that one's here.

While you're there, look closely at the photo of the chicken. Do you really believe the skin looks that crunchy after only roasting? I'm cynical. I think the food stylist got out the fryer. But maybe I'm wrong. I have been wrong before, you know. Once.

Next up: open-face pesto-turkey burgers, again from BHG July 2009 (here's the recipe).

This was a tasty one. The recipe called for chicken or turkey; I went with turkey. But the important detail of this recipe is: I grilled it myself. And the corn we had with it too. And somehow, as crazy as it sounds, I have never grilled before. Conservative Boy usually takes care of grilling, but he had a manly spa afternoon (not kidding), so I grilled myself. Perhaps the burgers would have been a bit less charred had he been there to play grillmaster, but nonetheless they were good. And I grilled them.

(Conservative Boy, of course, wasn't impressed with my pretty presentation. So this is what he did with his. He'd like to remind you that's he's ready to start his EXTREME cooking show anytime. And EXTREME must be written in all caps so it's much more EXTREME.)

Last (but not really, because I'm saving a couple for a different post), we have avocado fries. This time we're back again to the April 2009 issue of Sunset (see the recipe here). (Can you tell I was catching up on a bit of magazine reading recently?)

These were tasty, tasty—crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside—and a great way to use avocado other than in a messy hair mask or guacamole. I actually made these twice recently—first, to hold C.B. over while that roast chicken roasted slowly, and again last night. Yum yum yum.

So, like I said, I have a few more recipes to come from the past week. But you'll just have to wait on those. These should be enough to tide you over for a day or two anyway, right?

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