As of Sunday, all of my belongings are either in a PODS storage unit or at my parents home. It was incredibly disheartening to see the apartment at which I have lived almost 5 years completely barren. My last night there was spent watching a movie with my parents on my computer, sitting on the floor of the living room while eating the last of my ice cream, followed by a luxurious slumber in a sleeping bag.
Since I wasn’t quite prepared to leave Memphis yet, I am still residing here for a few extra days with my friend Maggie. I haven’t decided exactly when I will leave and have a feeling it may need to be a “rip off the band-aid” situation where I leave without warning. I don’t do goodbyes very well especially in times like this where I know I will turn into a sobbing idiot. Just a heads up to my Memphis friends – catch me while you can!
Anyway, yes I still have recipes for you this week because I am a psycho and made all of these before I packed up my apartment. Dedication or insanity? Either way you cannot complain. My godmother made this Mexican version of stuffed shells over the holidays and I immediately asked her for the recipe. For some reason I normally shy away from combining pasta and Mexican food but this was so incredibly good I had to make it again for myself.
One year ago: Brussels Sprouts with Honey Vinaigrette
After sharing my dad’s cookie recipe yesterday, I figured I should go ahead and share another one of his recipes. Over the years, this skillet lasagna was a popular request for when I came home for the holidays (followed by a request for his apple harvest oatmeal or applesauce pancakes in the morning). The entire recipe is cooked in one large skillet and takes under 30 minutes making it an easy decision for a weeknight meal.
In packing news, I’ve already gone through two rolls of packing tape! I knew I should’ve purchased the bulk package. I ran out of the second roll while packing up my root beer collection. Which by the way, taking that down and the shelving, aside from being a pain in the butt, left that wall feeling very barren and sad. Packing is super lame.
I’m at it again, mixing Greek yogurt into places where it doesn’t belong. Or maybe I’m just uncovering places where it does belong? This time I made gnocchi and they turned out great! It didn’t hurt that I tossed them in my homemade pesto with crushed red pepper (I have a serious weakness for fresh pesto). But whatever sauce of choice you use, these gnocchi will happily join the party.
In other news, I have submitted my second first author paper to be published! Hopefully this one will go through easier than the first one (which was conditionally accepted with the final revision is to be submitted soon). You cannot PubMed me just yet but I will let you know as promised. Once one of these babies goes to print, it will definitely strengthen my CV for this whole job hunt thing.
Two years ago: Cajun Chicken Alfredo Pizza
Every day that goes by is a day closer to my last day living in Memphis. 6.5 years ago I couldn’t wait for this day but now, nothing could have possibly prepared me for the emotional roller coaster created by this reality. I have even added Tennessee to my job searches, despite my desire to be relieved of the infernal summers here. As far as packing goes, I still only have two boxes packed because I find the idea of living in a packed up apartment depressing. Just seeing those two boxes and the three empty shelves that correspond to their contents makes me sad. I am not sure what would be better: pack and move earlier to rip off the band-aid, or continue slowly to get used to it? I’ll stick to the latter for now.
If you’re still with me and reading this after that whiny rant, then reward yourself with a homemade version of hamburger helper. It will comfort your worries away, if only for dinnertime. And I will try to be less of a Debbie Downer.
One year ago: Pumpkin Pie with Brown Sugar-Walnut Topping
Two years ago: Berry Detox Smoothie
It’s official, my cold-resistant Northern-raised skin has grown weak and I am already tired of temperature below 40. It doesn’t help that our office at lab is below 70 every day. I actually put my gloves on (winter gloves, not lab gloves) to work at my desk yesterday. Yet on the other end of the spectrum I still cannot handle high humidity and heat, resulting in a narrower range of tolerable temperatures. Southern California weather is looking mighty appealing.
If the temperatures refuse to keep me warm, them I will just warm myself up from the inside with yummy food. Stephanie and I recently cooked two meals together so that we could have two different kinds of leftovers to eat for lunches or dinners. She made a meatballs with a great pork sausage marinara sauce and I made stuffed shells. Remember the Chicken Pesto Lasagna Rolls? These stuffed shells reminded me of those lasagna rolls stuffed into a different pasta shape, being just as flavorful and comforting.
One year ago: Sugar Cookie Spoons for Hot Cocoa
Ohio State lost to Michigan State last night in the Big Ten Conference Championship, and therefore lost the chance to go to the National Championship. To add insult to injury, it’s been miserably cold all over the country, including here, with sleet, freezing rain, and below freezing temperatures. Campus was closed on Friday and the St. Jude Marathon was cancelled Saturday as were the group fitness classes at my gym. I lost power on Friday but thankfully only for an hour. All day Saturday I kept expecting it to go out because my lights flickered constantly. As a result I didn’t dare prepare anything that took more than a couple minutes to cook. Which meant it was time for some microwave cooking!
Baking cakes in a mug with the microwave has been a huge trend and has expanded beyond baked goods to meals. Microwave mac and cheese isn’t a new concept, as it can be purchased at your local grocery store, but this is a homemade version using white cheddar for this much needed comfort food. With a cook time of 6 minutes and 30 seconds it was perfect to sneak in before the power finally decided to fail.
Two years ago: Toffee Apple Dip
With my dissertation behind me and only 21 days until I graduate and get hooded for my Ph.D. you’d think I would be care-free and excited. Not so much, more like the same old stress and anxious. I am still working on a couple last experiments per reviewers comments on my paper, job hunting, and worrying about what I am going to do if I don’t have a job lined up by the end of January when my lease runs out. With any luck that last item won’t become a reality, but in the meantime it’s a good time for some comfort food.
Stuffed shells are great comfort food. Those big shells hug in their cheesy goodness of a filling while being wrapped up in a warm blanket of sauce. Sounds like the life, doesn’t it? This sauce happens to be extra special because it is a pumpkin alfredo sauce with sage. Now wait, don’t get discouraged thinking you have to make your own alfredo sauce (but you can if you want). This recipe uses a premade jar of alfredo mixed up with pumpkin puree and a couple other flavor additions to create a great fall pasta dish.
One year ago: Individual Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
Two years ago: Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup
Last week we had our first frost in Memphis. I even remembered to take my basil plant inside so that it wouldn’t die. Then yesterday I had to turn my A/C on for a couple hours because I cooked up a storm and didn’t anticipate the high of 77 degrees that day. Not that I am complaining about it being warm again, but fall here never ceases to confuse me. The temperatures drop from 70/60s to 30/40s without giving you any time to acclimate with moderate temperatures in between.
Regardless of the warm sunny atmosphere, I am powering through and continuing to make fall recipes because I just can’t get enough. It’s funny that I resisted Halloween for so long and now that it has passed I am pumped for the next two holidays, especially since Halloween used to be one of my favorite holidays. I guess not dressing up this year kind of put a damper on the excitement. Anyway, feast your eyes upon this delicious butternut squash recipe with a goat cheese sauce, which was my favorite part. So much so that I think I may use twice as much goat cheese in the future.
Two years ago: Baked Apple Cider Doughnut Minis
The other day I was looking through my disseration to double-check on some information and I found a silly typo. There is a “he” where it should have been “the”. Oh well too late now, it was sent off for printing two weeks ago! I have a feeling I will find more than just one minor typo in there as time progresses. It’s difficult to find every little thing when you are staring at 187 pages of glorious information. Blinded by the light!
While we are on the subject of errors, I specifically bought scallions to garnish this dish and totally forgot. Apparently I was so hungry while taking photos that I didn’t stop to notice or care because all I wanted to to was devour it! With its beautiful colors, creaminess and crunchy topping staring at me, you could hardly blame me. There was also plenty of kick. Mild-taste buds beware: you may way to omit the chipotle and use a mild salsa.
One year ago: Applesauce-Sweet Potato Pancakes
Two years ago: Crème Brulee
Choosing from the recipes this month proved to be just as difficult as usual for Pass the Cook Book Club. I almost made the Loaded Puff Pastry Sticky Buns but when push came to shove an entrée was more in demand than a breakfast pastry. I had already made ribs for a previous month so I went with the Spicy Macaroni and Cheese.
After Kita mentioned that she thought there was an uneven proportion of cheese to pasta, I decided to double the pasta instead of reducing the cheese. Because when is there ever too much mac and cheese? Also, the recipe originally called for cayenne pepper and sour cream but I did not have cayenne (apparently forgot to add it to my grocery list after finishing it off), so I used chipotle chile pepper and you all know how much I love substituting things like sour cream with Greek yogurt.
In the end, it was much better than the spicy mac and cheese I’ve made before but it wasn’t quite as creamy as some others. However, the flavors definitely outweighed the slightly less creamy nature. I especially enjoyed the textural addition of croutons on top. I will definitely reheat the leftovers in my toaster-oven to ensure those crunch-factors don’t get chewy!
One year ago: Chicken in Basil Cream Sauce