Dadgum! That was FUN!

A few weeks ago I had the great honor of filming a cooking/electric grill demo with John McLemore of Masterbuilt. We had such a great time and it was an all around amazing experience. John and his awesome wife, Tonya, prepared a delicious lunch for us to enjoy before we got to work and they made me feel right at home on the set. As I’m sure you can tell just by watching a few minutes of the video, John’s personality is larger than life! He’s always having fun and cracking jokes, and is just a really pleasant guy to be around. As soon as I walked in, he gave me a huge high five and said, “Look, you know what the most important thing is, right?” I of course assumed he was trying to calm my nerves so I responded, “Have fun?” He looked at me with a very serious look on his face and said, “No. Don’t screw up.” Everyone, John leading the way, burst out laughing and then proceeded to give me the rundown on all of his latest filming bloopers. So funny!

We had a great time talking about the food as we were prepping for the demo. He asked a lot of great questions about my recipe and I really enjoyed getting to share some of my food knowledge and inspiration with someone who already knows so much. We talked about the proper way to cook a skirt steak, a cut of meat that has been on the scene for a while at some of my favorite restaurants. It’s a cheap cut that goes a long way to feed a crowd, and it’s always cooked the same way…high heat for a really short amount of time. To finish it, let it rest and then thinly slice it against the grain to ensure that it doesn’t get tough.

It was also really great to sit back and listen to him enthusiastically describe different Masterbuilt products, especially the electric grill that he has been perfecting for many years. John is proud of his products and he absolutely should be. They make outdoor cooking so much more fun and easy, and always yield great results.

I hope you enjoy this little demo of the recipe I shared in John’s latest cookbook, Dadgum! That’s Good- and Healthy! It’s a great recipe for an outdoor dinner and is a breeze to throw together. Also, if you’re loving the electric grill we used, it is the special value on QVC today…check it out there or on masterbuilt.com.

What’s for dinner?

I’m the last person who has to ask the age old question, “What’s for dinner?” I’ve spent the last year and a half creating weekly meal plans for Menu Therapy subscribers, so my recipe repertoire is packed full of dinner ideas. With the click of a button I can search through the recipes on my computer by keyword and find something that hits the spot that night, and that’s only if I’m not already following the weekly meal plan I planned out for others! Our options are endless.

So what happens when the meal planner becomes the meal…plannee? I don’t think that’s the right word but you get my drift. What happens when the wife, mama, meal planner and meal preparer gets put on bed rest? Chaos, that’s what!

I kinda knew it was going to happen. I could feel it in my bones, or in my uterus anyway. I had a positive attitude, I tried to take it easy, I drank more water than a marathoner and yet it still happened. Seven months pregnant, way too much amniotic fluid in my already fussy uterus, 2 visits to labor and delivery, and doctor’s orders to take up permanent residence on my couch. Ugh. Definitely not the worst thing in the world and I’m counting my blessings that our baby girl is healthy, but definitely not the easiest thing in the world either. During a normal week I take care of our two year old, grocery shop, keep the house in order, write meal plans, cook and photograph meals, clean up an insane amount of toddler messes, and ALWAYS put dinner on the table no matter what. Now I can do none of that. Nada. My husband has picked up the slack in a major way, taking on all of those tasks while continuing to excel at his full-time job. He’s my hero. My parents will be here in a week and that will be a well-deserved break for BJ and lots a fun for Kellan. Poor buddy, he will finally have some undivided attention and so much action and excitement that maybe he’ll actually start napping again. (Please God, let him start napping again, now is not the time!)

I’ve been chilling on the couch for a week now and I want you to know I have not had to ask, “What’s for dinner?” one single time. Not once! Until my parents can get here and fill in the gap, my absolutely amazing friends who live in GEORGIA have taken care of our dinners. That’s right…they are feeding my pregnant self and family across the country in California by the simple click of a button on their computer. Isn’t that amazing? First of all it’s amazing that I have such loving and generous friends who would be so thoughtful, but secondly it’s amazing that it’s apparently such an easy thing to do. Who knew? They have used this awesome website called Restaurants on the Run, where they can find participating restaurants in our area and pre-order meals to be delivered to our home on specific days. How awesome is that? Every night around 5:00pm our doorbell rings and the same delivery guy is out there with another delicious dinner.

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It’s seriously the best thing ever. I’m so excited to know about this because I can see it being super helpful in the future when I get the chance to return the favor. In fact, I have a friend in Atlanta who is expecting TWINS in April and I can’t wait to take care of her and her sweet family in this way when the little babes are born.

So now, I hope you’ll cut me some slack if the food photos and recipes are less frequent over the next few weeks, although I will do my best to stay in touch. You can see I have a pretty legit excuse. 🙂

Kale Pesto

Raise your hand if you love pesto! I do, I do! I could seriously slather something in pesto every day of the week. Pasta, bread, chicken, veggies…everything tastes better with pesto. Last week I had a bag of kale that never made it to our lunchtime smoothies and needed to be used up, so pesto came to mind. Why not? Since kale is naturally a little bitter, I considered a quick blanch to mellow it out, but then I also considered the fact that I’m 7 months pregnant and that’s like an additional 2 steps and dishes, so I quickly decided who cares. I’m glad I went that route because it honestly didn’t need it. Once you add the parmesan cheese, toasted walnuts and extra-virgin olive oil, the bitterness quietly melts away into the background. It’s just enough to still recognize the kale, but not so much that it’s unpleasant.

Pesto is truly a blank slate that you can take in any direction you choose. Use what you have on hand and don’t stress too much about measurements and what you don’t have in the pantry. I had kale and a small amount a basil leftover from another recipe so I threw both in the food processor. Mint or parsley would have been equally tasty additions. I toasted up some walnuts I found in the freezer and tossed them in with parmesan cheese, lemon zest and some garlic. Finally with the processor running, I streamed in some extra-virgin olive oil until it reached the consistency I like best. Perfection.

We kept it simple…like I said, 7 months preggo…and combined it with some whole wheat penne. Quick and easy and delicious. My two year old gobbled it up because like his mommy and daddy, he LOVES all things pasta! I was thrilled that he was getting so many vitamins and nutrients from the kale, especially because he has been on a veggie strike as of late. Dinner success!

kale-pesto

Kale Pesto

1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup basil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more and less to taste

In a large food processor, combine kale, basil, garlic, toasted walnuts, parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Pulse to combine. With the machine running, slowly stream in extra-virgin olive oil until pesto reaches the consistency you like best. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate or serve.

6,000 Calories Later…

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It’s Monday after the Super Bowl. The Patriots took the win, Katy Perry and Missy Elliott rocked the halftime show (or didn’t if you’re of that opinion), and on average Americans consumed about 6,000 calories EACH. Yep, I’m not kidding. And unless you woke up this morning and ran a marathon, you’re not likely to undo the damage you just did in a day or two…you’ll be running that one off for a while! BJ and I definitely did our fair share of eating yesterday. I usually like to do it up a little more than I did this year, but being 6 months pregnant and completely exhausted from two straight weeks of wrangling my potty-training two year old, I got lazy. We love a good chip party in our house so good old-fashioned queso and guacamole did the trick. I doubt we reached the 6,000 calorie mark but it still feels good to err on the healthier side today. Green smoothies for lunch and a super flavorful, yet nutritious salad for dinner.

If you’re interested in joining us in making better food decisions today, you should definitely give this Crunchy Ramen Salad a go. It’s really easy to throw together and your family will love it! If you want to add more protein, top it with sliced grilled chicken. This will likely become a family favorite and your go-to recipe for potlucks and picnics. Enjoy!

Ramensalad

Crunchy Ramen Salad with Mango and Asian Honey Vinaigrette

Salad Ingredients:

1, 12 to 16 oz. bag tri-colored coleslaw mix
2, 3 oz. packages of ramen noodles, crumbled (you will not use the seasoning packet)
1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
1 cup frozen mango chunks, thawed and chopped
1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions
Asian honey vinaigrette (see ingredients below)

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the crumbled ramen noodles on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, or until noodles are slightly toasted and golden. Remove baking sheet, toss and return it to the oven and toast for an additional 2 minutes. Keep an eye on the noodles so they don’t burn. Remove and set aside.
  2. To make the vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients together until combined.
  3. Add ingredients (including the vinaigrette) together in a large bowl, and toss until combined.
  4. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

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