What is better than creamy comfort food? Mac and cheese, chocolate, soup or buttery treats like scones or warm cereal like grits? Not much. Creamy food hits the spot. I say, treat yo self, Dear Readers. Give yourself what you need when you’ve had a tiring or stressful day. What’s wrong with a little treat now and then anyway? Nothing. Life is fleeting and part of enjoying comfort food to the fullest is not stirring judging into the mix. I say, “Hell to the YUM!”
The school year is coming to a close and that means one thing, potluck parties. Potluck after potluck like a bad parade. In order to be ever-ready for the unending potluck parade, I like to have things on hand to mix up or bake off at the last minute for ‘I forgot I was supposed to send something in to school’ days. (Not that I ever do this of course! No judging!) Anyway, today was NOT one of those of days, course I didn’t forget to send my child into school with snacks and treats to share. I’m hurt you think it was, Dear Reader. I thought we were friends? It was an, ‘of course I remembered to bake cookies for the potluck, I just wanted them to freshly baked so I dropped them off’ kind of days.
Now, if you’re like me and you never, ever, ever forget a potluck is happening, you don’t these tips, but, and I mean but, you know someone who occasionally is a human being and forgets about the potluck because they have a life-type of person, then the following tips might help them get through the potluck parade season.
Tips and tricks for surviving the potluck parade season:
1. Make and portion cookie dough ;then, freeze it for whenever you need a last minute treat.
2. Have things like dip mixes ready like taco seasoning and soup mix on hand so you can mix them with sour cream for quick snack.
3. Have cream cheese on hand to top with salsa or spread onto cucumbers, radishes or crackers. Top it with a fresh spring of herbs and Bob’s your uncle.
4. Have munchies like corn chips and other gluten-free snacks available because everyone seems to be intolerant of the demon gluten these days and goodness forbid someone feels excluded.
5. Have your “can do” attitude locked and loaded.
To all the lovely mommas, Happy Mother’s Day! May your day be filled with delights and deliciousness!
Mother’s Day is tomorrow, Dear Readers. You know what that means? It means millions of people will be out skittering and scuttling about looking for (what they think is) the perfect gift for Mom. What they don’t know is that they already have the guide to the perfect gift, love. Love can and will guide all the skitter-ers and scuttle-ers to explore their hearts and let that exploration be their guide. In other words, let love guide the way to the perfect for Mom on Mother’s Day.
Okay. Okay. I will offer some ideas too!
1. Make her her favorite breakfast and serve it to her. Oh yeah, clean up. (Our tradition)
2. Get her some lovely plants and/or seeds and gardening equipment.
3. Weed (without being asked)
4. Clean (without being asked)
5. Make her a basket of retro treats, like Cracker Jacks and transport her to a time when she was a carefree 7-year-old.
6. Learn about something new together, like birdwatching.
7. Read to her.
8. Brush her hair.
9. Watch a movie she likes, without complaining.
10. Draw her a picture.
I’m always dreaming up ways to get a delicious yet easy meal on the table during the week. I want to make something enticing and interesting yet not too time consuming; especially if I plan to share what I dreamed up and created here, with you, Dear Reader. On that note, last night I served Garlic Squash and Crispy Chicken. The zucchini was sweet and almost nutty and the chicken came out crunchy and tender. The meal was on the table in less than one hour. Enjoy!
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow squash
6-7 small/medium garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large frying pan over medium high-heat.
Slice the squash in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices. Peel and slice the garlic into 1/8-inch slices. When the pan is hot, add the oil and zucchini. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss and allow squash to sit in the pan, undisturbed about 1 minute. Toss again and add the garlic about 1 minute before the squash is done, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside off heat.
2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons grainy mustard
3 tablespoons fresh chive, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2-2 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the first four ingredients in a small bowl. Place the butter in a microwave-proof glass measuring cup and nuke until melted. Stir in the oil and set aside. Place the breadcrumbs on a sheet of waxed paper or shallow container.
Coat the chicken on both sides with the mayonnaise mixture and then with breadcrumbs. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all the remaining chicken. Sprinkle the tops of each piece of chicken with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of butter mixture. Bake 20-25 minutes. Serve with Garlic Squash.
A couple of years ago, I made a one pan meal for the cooking segments called Easy Eats on WFMZ TV’s 4 o’clock News Hour. I have had many requests for the recipe, so I thought I would post a blog to share it here with all of you Dear Readers. It's a sweet take on pork using grapes and wine called Pork Medallions with Grapes, Apricots and Marsala Wine Sauce. Plate the dish with freshly picked, pesticide-free edible flowers such as violets or violas to brighten the dish and make mom feel loved. Remember, it’s always a wonderful thing to make mom feel loved on Mother’s Day and any day. Moms aren’t picky!
Mary’s Kitchen Pork Medallions with Grapes and Apricots in Marsala Wine Sauce
Yield: 4 servings
Our daughter is home sick with strep throat and she is miserable for a variety of reasons. First, dah, she’s sick. Second, she is missing school. (Yep, she LOVES school.) Third, she is missing important review lessons for her advanced placement (AP) exams next week. Fourth, she is missing rehearsal for a band position she really wants. Fifth and foremost, she is missing sharing the announcements of the Freddy Awards with her fellow high school cast mates of “Anything Goes.” (The Freddy Awards are to high school what the Tony Awards are to Broadway.)
To cheer her, I indulge her junk food whims and cravings and have allowed her to have birthday cake ice cream, soft, store bought iced cookies and as many Shirley Temples as she finds soothing to her sore throat. On that note, here is how I have been making them:
Momma’s Shirley Temple
Combine 1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice or grenadine with 1 small can of lemon-lime soda in a tall glass. Add 4 ice cubes and present to your sick child. Serve with a peck on the forehead and an “I love you.”
Last night, our family watched two innings of local baseball and in that time my husband ate a second dinner of a dog and a beer and our daughter, Mia, managed to eat 2,000 dots of ice cream during the rain delay. We had twice as many bottles of water confiscated than usual and stood twice as long. We also still enjoyed the time at the ballpark even though is was too wet twice over.
It wasn’t my fault! The carrots wouldn’t cook! I kept making small adjustments to the heat and then finally a large adjustment and then it happened, stink smoke, burning, swearing. As it turns out, the small adjustments I had making making to the heat were to the wrong burner. You see, it was the carrots I had turned off and rice I had turned up. Walking away and doing other things was involved a little also, I admit. Thankfully, I had set a timer which I mostly paid attention to, mostly. Oh well, make no apologies in the kitchen right? No judging here at Mary’s Kitchen, right? That’s right! Except... Honestly? A little apologizing for smoke, stinking up the house and rice that tastes like an ashtray is never a bad thing. I’m just saying. The take away of my story? Yep, check the burner you’re adjusting. Again, I’m just saying.
When our daughters were little, we lived in Arizona where, as most anyone knows, it can get a little warm, especially during summer. During the times of day when it was too sunny over our pool to swim and to avoid sunburn, we went hunting for fun inside. Fun like arts and crafts, reading, acting out movies or scavenger hunts. I loved those times and had just as much fun as the girls.
I had tons of art supplies and the girls would make story books from the homemade drawing and writing journals I would create with construction paper, blank paper and ribbons. I still have some of those books, and they are a way to look back and observe each daughters phases of childhood. I could see in the pictures and stories the things they liked or dreamed about by the colors they used. I could learn about their fantasies or stresses. Have you ever made a drawing or writing journal for your child, Dear Reader? Try it.
I used to love to act out movies with the girls and I played many rolls. I was Dorothy or a wicked witch. I became a dancing chimney sweep or Mary Poppins. Gosh we would laugh and have such times! One of our favorite indoor activities were scavenger hunts. We had a big home so I had lots of space and rooms for them to search. I used to draw maps and set up play tents with games they got to play, tea parties they got serve, or songs they got sing before they followed the next clue. There were stories to read and treats to eat or pictures and crafts to make. It used to take me ages to make a scavenger hunt and minutes for them to finish. They always wanted another hunt too and I can still hear them giggling.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor