One Simple Change: Fresh Ingredient Recipes

Last Month’s Review: May

Goal: READ A BOOK

Fail/Success? Fail… At least in terms of finishing a book. It seems pathetic that I couldn’t finish one measly book in a 31-day month. After not being able to find You Before Me at any libraries (The movie was released today, so I wasn’t too surprised all copies were checked out the month leading up to today.), I decided to take on one of the books I’ve had on my shelf for years: Apron Anxiety by Alyssa Shelasky. I didn’t realize it was a memoir when beginning and, for whatever reason, I was a little disappointed it wasn’t straight fiction and almost traded it out for something else after the first five pages. I am so glad I didn’t though…

Holly Jo & Rita (@beautyitbluegrass) • Instagram photos and videos 2016-06-03 09-25-06.jpg

What I got out of it: I am actually SO glad I chose this book. It’s the personal journey of the author and how she came to love cooking and food as a part of her own journey in overcoming the struggles of her personal life. I could so easily relate to the author as someone who was appreciates good and healthy (and tasty not-so-healthy) food, but having some hesitations and lack of comfort in the kitchen. I don’t care to cook, but I’ve never allowed myself the time to explore and make mistakes and try new things much. (Given, Mingus’s food allergies limit me even more on experimentation.) Many of her aversions to the kitchen are my own and the things she disliked about cooking, are my own, but her journey–which includes fails–was so real, inspiring me to cook more.

Each chapter features a few recipes at the end. I was so motivated I made a meal out of a few of them halfway through the month and, I kid you not, I think it’s the best thing I have ever made in my life! I called and told Hubs before he got home, and then realized maybe it was my pregnancy brain talking… Turns out, no! He loved it too. I think the major difference was the use of fresh seasoning ingredients, as well as actually prepping foods properly and not rushing.

Moving Forward: will finish this book. I am 70% done and thoroughly like the book and it’s easy reading. And then I have several more books on my shelf that have been around awhile I would like to move on to. I still have lots of summer left where I hope pool and creek days will bring ideal reading time. )Not to mention a long road trip for August vacay!) 

New Challenge: June

Goal: Get creative and cook fresh from the garden

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Motivation behind the challenge: Last month’s book is a BIG reasons behind this challenge. I so thoroughly enjoyed trying something new and having it work out so splendidly! Additionally, as our family grows, so does our grocery bill! With the plentiful garden months upon us, it’s a great time to not only enjoy its fresh produce, but also cut back on my grocery spending and opt for making things with what our garden produces. I want to try using less meat in our meals as well. We obviously eat from our garden every year, but I want to attempt some new things with what it gives us. Squash will be ready soon and I know there are plenty of things that can be done. We’ve also been adding more herbs to our big garden as well as the front porch beds. The fresh herbs I used last month made all the difference.

If you have garden fresh recipes you love, please share! I’m anxious for this challenge to share some of my recipes with you.

Recipes from Apron Anxiety by Alyssa Shelasky

HERB-CRUSTED CHICKEN
(For Hungry and Important People) 
Serves 6

Ingredients:
6 Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
6 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Cup plain dry bread crumbs
6 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp pepper
2 Lemons, cut into wedges for garnish

1. Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap to 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness.
2. Arrange the chicken in a 15″ × 10″ × 2″ glass baking dish. Pour the lemon juice over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for one hour.
3. Remove the chicken from the dish and pat it dry with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
4. Melt the butter with the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Set aside to let cool slightly. Then mix the bread crumbs, basil, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
5. Brush the chicken breasts on both sides with the melted-butter-and-oil mixture. Then coat the breasts on both sides with the bread-crumb mixture. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and bake until the bread crumbs are golden and chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
6. Transfer to plates or serve family-style on a single platter. Garnish with the lemon wedges and serve.

I also tried “Jennifer’s Warm Potatoes with Mustard” and “Ma’s Salad Dressing“. Additionally, I just discovered the chicken salad recipe is sans-mayo! I had not paid attention, assuming it would not be Mingus-friendly (as most chicken salads are not), so I am eager to try “Unbridled Chicken Salad”.

UNBRIDLED CHICKEN SALAD
Serves 4 as main, 6 as side

1/4 cup thinly slicked red onion
Salt
4 cups cubed roasted chicekn (homemade or store-bought)
3 Tbsp roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained thoroughly
1/4 cup roughly chipped smoked almonds
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard, plus more to taste
1Tbsp sherry vinegar
2 Tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 Tbsp), or to taste

1. In a medium bowl, sprinkle the onion with salt and toss to coat. Let sit for 15 minutes, then gently pat it down with a paper towel to drain any liquid. In large bowl toss together the onion, chicken, peppers, artichoke hearts, and almonds.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and vinegar, and add the thyme. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and fold to incorporate. Add lemon juice to taste, starting with half the juice and adding more if desired. Let sit for 15 minutes.
4. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if needed. Serve.

Be sure to check out HJ’s One Simple Change update on the vlog. Last month she made special efforts to do sweet things for her husband and this month she will do random acts of kindness for strangers. 

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