Over the winter and even this spring I felt a bit uninspired in the kitchen and stuck in a rut, we were all tired of the same fare, and were wanting something new and different and appetizing. I wanted to freshen up our meals and get some new kitchen inspiration so I pulled a few cookbooks off the shelf and checked one out at the library. Then I set aside a Sunday to spend some extra time in the kitchen and make some new recipes. (In the beginning of April, and have been meaning to share ever since.)
The cookbook I picked up at the library was Cooking with Coconut Oil. It’s a favorite cookbook of mine and I’ve checked it out countless times. When I was at the bookstore recently, I ordered a copy for myself at last. Sometimes cookbooks just sit on the shelf unused, but I’ve gone searching for that one at the library enough times that I know it will get lots of use, so I’m glad I finally decided to buy it. It’s been on back-order and I’ve been doing my best to be patient for it to arrive.
The last recipe I made from that cookbook was a really good one! Apple and Fennel Slaw. Wow. I was blown away by how much I loved it, actually. Jeff absolutely loved it too. Bracken was a bit unsure of it in the beginning, but I think it won him over in the end. I remember talking to my grandma on the phone that day while I was making it and told her I would send her the recipe if it turned out good. Well, the verdict is in: it was good indeed, and definitely worth sharing.
I had been very curious about fennel. I might have tried it once before, but I really wasn’t sure what to do with it. When I saw fennel at the grocery store, it seemed to be glowing on that cold day and calling out to me, so I decided to bring it home and try out this recipe. The recipe called for the fennel bulb. (Do any of you like fennel? What do you do with the rest leftover after you use the bulb?) I’m glad I brought that fennel home and now know a delicious way to prepare it.
The apple and fennel were such a great pairing, but what really made that recipe incredible was the dressing, which included mayo. Jeff and I have made homemade mayonnaise before, but never liked the results. It was challenging for us to find mayo from the grocery store made with healthy fats and good ingredients until Mark (from Mark’s Daily Apple) created a mayo that not only tasted amazing, but was created with awesome ingredients. Now our favorite mayo is Primal Kitchen Mayo and it’s so delicious that it’s worth mentioning here. It’s expensive, but I can buy one jar at the nearby grocery store and it will last us awhile. (The site says to consume within 60 days of opening.) I’m grateful to have such good mayo on hand anytime we want some for a meal.
And speaking of Mark’s Daily Apple, another recipe I made that day were the Nutty Blueberry Protein Balls from Mark’s cookbook – The Primal Blueprint Cookbook. Yum! The macadamia nut and date combination made these taste like little balls of cookie dough, and the blueberries added a refreshing mix to balance it out a bit. (I only had frozen blueberries, fresh would have been better.) They were definitely sweet, almost too sweet for me, and I might try making some with less dates next time (if they can still hold together with less.) I don’t buy macadamia nuts often, but we love them and it made these treats feel extra decadent. I made some with shredded coconut on the outside and some without. Mine didn’t look quite as beautiful as the ones pictured in the cookbook, but they tasted good!
Then for Jeff’s birthday I wanted to make something different and special for breakfast. I made stuffed sweet potatoes inspired by a recipe from The Wellness Mama Cookbook. (Katie’s blog has been a great resource over the years and I’ve just started looking through her cookbook.) I baked sweet potatoes (the night before and then re-heated them the next morning) and then sliced them down the center and filled them with ground pork, onions, and spinach. Delicious!
I hadn’t made muffins in awhile and they make such great snacks. Last week I made my muffin recipe with banana, zucchini, carob, and chia seeds. This week I made the sweet potato muffins I made before, from Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. I bake two batches of muffins every time I make muffins and then freeze some extras because they freeze well and are so good to have on hand for especially busy weeks when I don’t have time for any baking. There are days when it’s challenging to find much time in the kitchen, but then we’re looking in the fridge for snacks and are in need of more choices. I do my best to make the most of the kitchen time I have and make extra when I can, for those busy days.
I love our staples, the favorite recipes we turn to again and again, but when it’s been a long winter of the same meals over and over- it’s wonderful to get some fresh meals and ideas in the kitchen, and to discover some new favorites!
What are your favorite things to make in your kitchen these days? I’m still searching for new recipes to make! Please share in the comments, so we can all enjoy some fresh inspiration in our kitchens.