April is a National Stress Awareness Month. Naturally I jumped right onboard when Vegas.com reached out to me to share my ways to unwind. A perfect way to celebrate the occasion is to start with some stress busters. Sometimes that’s easier said than done but we must try. Even the smallest changes make a difference.
My favorite way to relax is of course to take a vacation, lay out somewhere by the pool and sip on anything with an umbrella. I can’t help but think of the Zac Brown Band song “Toes” and the line “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand” and I drift off to paradise. I wish I could get away every time a stressful situation came up but since that’s not remotely possible, I resort to other avenues. My kitchen is my Zen, my top stress buster. It’s the space where I let it all go. It belongs to me, I can do whatever I want and no one can say otherwise. There are no rules in the kitchen, no deadlines to uphold, no supervisor to answer to, unless your supervisors are hungry eyes waiting for dinner to be served. But I digress. I cook to unwind. I cook to relax. I cook with a glass of wine in my hand and music in my ear. I especially enjoy weekend cooking because it involves a low and slow dish that fills the house with delicious aromas. In the warm months it means I can hang out on the deck while the grill sizzles and Kurt creates amazing dishes in the smoker.
I love creating dishes that make me feel good and this guacamole makes me feel REALLY good. If you have never tried blue cheese with guacamole then you’re missing out on an amazing flavor combination. Please try it. I promise you won’t be disappointed :).
It’s important to use blue cheese that’s not insanely overpowering. This one kind of looks like Italy, do you see the boot?
Be sure to check back. I’ll be sharing the recipes for my Salsa Roja and Corn Jalapeño Ceviche. I’ll also share the dish that I made with all these amazing recipes. Let’s just say Chipotle’s got nothing on my home made Burrito Bowl. Trust me, you’re going to LOVE it.
Confession: I’m not a traditional beef meatballs with marinara sauce kind of gal. I seriously dislike the dish. It doesn’t even look appealing most of the time and the meatballs tend to be dry as a cardboard. I guess a lot of it has a lot to do with what I ate as a child. My mom never made spaghetti and meatballs. I am not a big fan of the marinara sauce dishes. I don’t even like spaghetti. What I do like is creamy sauces especially homemade ones.
Meatballs in creamy mushroom sauce are a whole different game. I used ground turkey seasoned with garlic, fresh herbs, Panko soaked in a little milk and some good old fashioned salt and pepper. I seared the meatballs first to seal the flavor and the juices and then simmered them in a mushroom gravy. The meatballs came out moist, tender and seriously delicious. It was a HUGE hit with the entire family. Briana licked her plate clean and Kurt asked for the leftovers for lunch.
But no cream of mushroom soup is allowed here. Yuck, that stuff is not even real food. Anything that has modified anything or MSG in the ingredients is off limits. And don’t even get me started on the flavor. Nasty.
Turkey tends to stick to your hands a lot more than regular beef. Don’t stress about making your meatballs perfectly round and don’t overdo on the Panko.
I can officially say that Spring has sprung here in New Jersey. This weekend was a dream come true with over 70 degree days and abundance of sunshine. Every season change is magical but the arrival of Spring is special. Waking up to the sound of the chirping birds is usually the first thing I notice. It doesn’t bother me at all, on the contrary it’s music to my ears. The trees are starting to bloom and the gloominess is finally gone. I love this time of the year.
We spent a good part of Sunday morning clearing our backyard of the massive amount of leaves that accumulated since last Fall. It took eight garbage bags to get it done yet we have a small backyard. Sometimes I feel as if all the leaves in the neighborhood make their way into our yard. Thankfully that project is done. For me this marks the official start to the barbecue season. That evening I made Peruvian chicken, garlic potatoes with fresh herbs and a BLT salad for our friends. The rest of the afternoon was spent on the deck, with wine and great company.
The only day off I had came and went faster than I could notice but it was just what I needed. Can’t wait till next weekend.
Until next time, I leave you with this bowl of ramen.
Ramen is insanely easy to prepare. You can add all sorts of ingredients, carrots, mushrooms, bok choy or pretty much anything you like. For me a hard boiled egg and Sriracha is a must!