Sunday, January 1, 2012

Recapturing Zen - And Christmas Highlights

I am a messy cook.

Nothing can make you realize this more than spending a day in the kitchen with your mother.  Years of experiences, collecting of gadgets and making a kitchen her own are some of the many reasons I am put to shame in my mother's kitchen.  I spent a day in the kitchen with my mother, my first real jump back into cooking in quite some time, fixing my Christmas Eve Sweet Potato Casserole (Recipe Here) realizing I have a lot to learn.  But while I may still be a slob, the compliments I got on my dish were enough to inspire me back in the kitchen again.
I took a long Christmas break - came to learn the good and bad of indulgence - and returned home Friday actually fond of the quietness that fills my apartment.  While I have yet to leap back into work, I have found I have a new recaptured Zen in the kitchen, inspired by my time in my mother's kitchen and a desire to return back to a wholesome routine.
As a result of Christmas break I am now obsessed with using Panko in almost every dish I make (followed by some form of sugar of course).  My mother made these amazing Panko/Parmesean coated pork steaks and I was sooo in love with the way it tasted like a wholesome "fried" crispy, juicy piece of meat that I am dead set on finding a perfection in my own kitchen.

My mother's amazing panko pork - I have a refueled energy for cooking now

Yesterday I tried it on some thawed frozen shrimp - delicately coating it, sauteing them and sticking them in the oven with my garlic honey coated cauliflower.  It was very tasty - although for those shrimp that did not touch any of the oil in the pan it didn't quite stick and retain that moist crispness.
Tonight I tried it with tofu.  Still not the same - but I'm definitely onto something.

Coated Tofu sauteing over olive oil spray
The flip side - toasty

Finished product - a nice step back into real cooked food in the kitchen again
I topped them on my salad with a side of almond butter parsnip baked fries.  Not too bad for an easy meal in minutes.

I could write several very long entries about Christmas break - indeed it was filled with much to tell.  Overall it was exhausting but fun and I feel a renewed energy from seeing so many close friends and family - finally realizing the personal strength I have but seem to only find when I'm in my element.  I plan on carrying this through to a life back home that is far less stressful and haphazard than it was before I left on vacation.

Christmas 2011 - The Highlights in Pictures
I flew through Cincinnati and couldn't resist starting Christmas off with an old classic from childhood!  You don't see TCBY anymore, so when I do..just gotta have me some white chocolate mousse

First night back with Dad we visited a mexican restaurant we used to go to when we were very little.  I probably won't be returning...but the cheese dip brought back some flashbacks!
My idea of a good hangover cure back home
Fueling up for the nights festivities - chocolate covered espresso beans and coffee

A French Appertif from my sister
Soon to be Sweet Potato Fries

Making Cilantro Quinoa burgers

You will become Kale Chips
I dare you to find an absent nutrient!
The mess from the beginning came together in the end

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