At the end of 2004, I was getting ready to leave BYU and spend some time at home. I’d had some health problems and I’d gotten far behind in school – I was overwhelmed and needed a break, and thankfully my parents were understanding when I said I wanted to move back for a while. Before the semester ended, I wanted to go see The Nutcracker with friends, and I planned a nice steak dinner.
The dinner didn’t go as planned, but I made a side called “creamy potluck potatoes.” (Side note: I wrote down the recipe with the title “Egypt potatoes.” I’d made a cake for a ward auction shortly before this dinner, and the person who bought it asked if I was from Egypt. Aside from my name sounding not-white, I’m pretty much white as white gets. But I wanted to pay tribute to the ridiculousness of Mika-the-Egyptian somehow.) As Jarom was on his mission at the time, I invited another guy to be my date. He described the potatoes as “luscious” (and his comment was immortalized in my recipe book). I wanted them recently, but I also wanted funeral potatoes*. So yesterday I tried combining the recipes. They’re essentially similar – tons of cheese, a cream-of-something soup, potatoes in a casserole dish. The Egypt potatoes go so far as to have sour cream, cream cheese, AND butter (plus a few other things). I thought I could just toss some cornflakes on top and call it good.
Yesterday, I was almost ready to put the potatoes in the oven when the power went out. It had started snowing Monday night and didn’t let up until late last night, but thankfully the power was only out for 40 minutes or so, during which I fantasizes about the potatoes. Are you surprised that when I eventually made them, they weren’t that great? Apart from needing more salt, they just didn’t have much flavor. (There was seasoning in the recipe – but not nearly enough, I think.)
So now I’m on the hunt for the best cheesy, creamy potato recipe. Have one?
* Funeral potatoes are commonly brought to funeral luncheons, brunches, and family meals in Utah and Idaho. I’m sure they exist in other areas with a different name. Everyone seems to have their own version – some use shredded hash browns, others potato chunks; some have onions or green onions; most have cornflakes on top. Always baked in a casserole dish and almost always delicious.
I’ve found that the Romgi and I are likely to eat fast food, expensive (but delicious) take-out, or cereal for dinner unless we plan a dinner menu at least a week in advance. But there’s always the question of what dishes to put on the menu. A while ago, I sat down and made a list of all the meals I could think of that we like, and I used that for a while. Then I sorted the meals by main component (like chicken, beef, pork, seafood) and tried to get a good variety every week.
Recently I took things a step further. You know how much I love spreadsheets, right? I created a spreadsheet with a tab for each component – now chicken, pork, vegetarian, beef, seafood, and miscellaneous – with the dishes and links to recipes. We have a rotation now where each of those 6 components shows up once per week on our menu, with Sunday being a chance to toss in an old favorite meal. Then I used my handy Google calendar to plan out weekly menus through November. Yes, I’m like that.
I had to do a lot of hunting to find more recipes to fill up the calendar. We’ve tried a few new tasty meals recently, and I thought I’d share.
What are some of your favorites? How do you plan your dinners? This week I’m looking forward to chicken-tomatillo chili, barbacoa pork burritos (a Cafe Rio knockoff), steakhouse shepherd’s pie, and blackened catfish. The Romgi caught a couple catfish not too long ago and we have a great seasoning for them. Incidentally, the seasoning is usually used for “blackened red snapper” or “blackened red fish,” which I always heard as “black and red fish.” So when we made a batch of the seasoning early in our marriage, I labeled the jar “Black & Red Spice.” Much hilarity ensued. I may have been embarrassed, but let’s just say that we all thought it was hilarious.
I ate lima beans tonight.
I had this great goal of eating more healthy food and less junk food this year. The healthy food I’m doing ok on. We’ve enjoyed trying some new dishes (among the successes: this Moroccan-style tilapia), and attempting to be better about having fruits and vegetables with our meals. Unfortunately, eating less junk food has not gone so well.
January was ok. My biggest challenge is having all but one class in the same classroom, right next to the vending machine. And most of my classes are over two hours long. I never manage to bring a snack, so I start craving something from the machine. Not good. Then February was our big date to the ballet, and we had delicious cake afterwards at my aunt’s house; the next week was the Bwun’s birthday, so there were a lot of cupcakes. Then we had his party after that…with a giant donut cake. (Yes, I’ll post pictures. Soon.)
My other biggest challenge is that I gave the Romgi an ice cream maker for Christmas, and he makes such good flavors. We always have homemade ice cream in our freezer. After a long day with the kids and school and homework, it’s really nice to sit down and talk with the Romgi while we eat some ice cream. I imagine a dessert made with cream AND half-and-half is probably not very healthy. Oh yeah, and now it’s Girl Scout cookie season. How can you say no to that?
So I decided to limit myself to dessert on the weekends. I decided it on Friday, which was great because it meant I had all weekend to indulge. But today is Monday! That’s not the weekend! I don’t know why the first day of any self-discipline is so tricky.
It might work out if my favorite chocolate company, Amano Artisan Chocolates, didn’t start selling brownies today. They’re up in Orem and I might say today is part of a three-day weekend…?
So much for self-discipline!
I don’t crave sweet things very much anymore. Except at bedtime. And in the morning. And while I’m at class.
Please take that as a warning, and don’t hold me responsible for any weight you gain after this post.
Row 1: Nutella-filled bombolini / Lavendar-honey dark chocolate tart / Chocolate brioche
Row 2: Persian love cake / Lemon chocolate tart / Polka dot cheesecake
Row 3: Rose cake / Chocolate caramel shortbread bars / Grapefruit cupcakes
I’ve heard that part of growing up is learning to tell the difference between wants and needs.
Help me out here, guys. I’m really not sure on this one.
Yeah. It’s a neon donut sign. THAT YOU CAN BUY.
(Just a disclaimer, because I don’t want to be lectured, I wouldn’t ever actually spend that much money on something that frivolous. Unless I had a ton of money. Maybe.)