01 May 2011


I had a fantastic few days this past week. One day, I was the happiest that I have been in years and I could literally feel my happiness ready to explode inside of me. Paul was not home for these three days, but don't think anything of that.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to cook, bake and eat. This past week I had the opportunity to focus nearly all of my energy on food and the results were amazing. I even thought about turning this into a food blog and sharing recipes that either I created or used successfully.

It started Tuesday night before Paul left for a three-day trip to Kuala Lumpur, followed by a single-day trip to Bali. I happened to catch an episode of the Rachael Ray show featuring some Deadliest Catch cast members in a cook off. I was watching my namesake make a Meat Lovers' Burger and it made me think about all of her great recipes. My cook books are all on the boat (which is now in Singapore, but we'll get to that later), so I needed some inspiration via Rachael Ray's website. I began looking at the Weekly Roundup, catching one or two recipes that struck my fancy, and then proceeded to dinner recipes. I flipped through 10 pages before shutting down for bed.

Wednesday morning, I woke up and had an easy, lazy morning after Paul left. I got back on Rachael's website and started looking at lunches, since it was getting to be that time. My thought process, now and in the past, starts with restaurant food. I really enjoy restaurant food because it always seems better than homemade - the presentation is better, the quality is better, you never think you can replicate this masterpiece in front of you. I used to think that if I could make restaurant-quality food at home, I would make a little extra for lunch the next day and then I would not want to spend any money eating out. That never seemed to work. I was always eating out. My team can tell you where I would be on Thursdays, I was that bad.

With Paul and me home more than usual, I know that I will be cooking a lot more. When Paul was gone and I would work crazy hours, I would typically come home around 7 or 8 and sometimes heat up a frozen pizza or make something easy so that I could just eat it and go to bed. Now I am cooking for the both of us so I feel like there is a little added dinner expectation. Only once in my two years of marriage has Paul ever said, "Wow. This is really good. I mean, really good. I could be eating this in a restaurant." That was a good feeling. I want that more often.

So I started thinking again about making restaurant-quality food. I was browsing recipes on Rachael Ray's website, Food Network's website and a couple others. I quickly became inspired by the recipes in front of me and my brain starting zooming in other directions. I may not have liked some of the ingredients, but the basic idea made me come up with something new. I started saving the web pages for the recipes I liked and started building a list of meals that I would like to prepare on my laptab's desktop (I have a Dell Convertible that is a laptop/tablet combination, so I call it my laptab). For instance, I saw a recipe for a tuna melt. I had made some tuna salad a day or so prior and had simply been toasting bread in the oven (toaster's on the boat) and placing some cheese and lettuce on the cold tuna salad. I was fine with it. But while browsing recipes, I realized that I could make a tuna melt - all I had to do was toast my bread in butter like a grilled cheese sandwich and then put the tuna and the cheese on the bread in the broiler, adding the lettuce last. My sandwich was so much better.

I continued to flag recipes for a couple hours. I started thinking of my favorite restaurant foods and something happened - I realized that I could make those things quite easily! So I made a list of all that I would need and I went shopping. Oh boy, I went grocery shopping. I even got a bottle of wine because I was feeling that good. I came home and made two types of stromboli - yes, I made the dough - one garlic, grilled chicken and spinach and one smoked ham, salami, Italian seasoning and Italian dressing. And I made a sauce of tomatoes and pesto to accompany my strombolis. They were fantastic! I ate so much.

I decided to make some breaded chicken with prosciutto and arugula over an angel hair pasta because I love that dish at the Cheesecake Factory. Tonight I am making a grilled chicken over shell pasta with spinach that I love to order at Brio. I even made pretzel bread Friday in time for Paul to make it home for lunch so that we could enjoy my favorite grilled Potbelly-inspired sandwiches. I love making great food!

Thursday, while recipe hunting and contemplating my food blog, I started thinking about Julia Child, so I Googled some of her recipes. I found an article about the movie, Julie and Julia featuring Meryl Streep's and Amy Adams' favorite Julia Child recipes. I loved it. That evening I joined a Supper Club at the Expat Kitchen in Little India. The cuisine for the evening - French cooking featuring beef bourguignon. I could not contain my excitement - my jaw dropped while simultaneously smiling. We had a great dinner of a seared tuna salad with lots of veggies, a rustic onion tart, the beef bourguignon and a gran marnier souffle for dessert. I was in heaven. I had a great time with eight ladies cooking, eating, drinking wine and talking about families and life in Singapore.

It was a great week and I continue to think of what else I can add to my list. I have to keep this interesting if I am going change Paul's response to the question, "What would you like for dinner?" Now it is, "I don't care." With any luck, it will soon be, "How about that.....you made last week with the....That was really good." That would be stellar.

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