Before we moved to Flagstaff I worked at restaurants, so on a typical Saturday night I would be working until midnight or later. Afterwards, I would hit up a bar with friends or meet up with TDL wherever he happened to be. Saturday nights were late and full of fun.
Nowadays, TDL is a full-time nursing student (completing a Bachelor’s of Nursing in 1 year) and I am the bread-winner (without the bread) in the house, working as much as possible to get us through this year. In summary, we are broke and tired.
When we are lucky enough to see each other, we often spend our time cooking. TDL is a growing boy of 34 who crossfits and plays outside enough to have gained 11 pounds of muscle in the past six months. I love food. So we require a TON of food to sustain us through our hard week. The weekend often represents both our only time to see each other and our only time to cook. But instead of being something we dread, we have gotten pretty good at making the best of it and (usually) have a blast cooking.
Here are some tips for making cooking enjoyable (even when all you want to do is sit on a beach somewhere far, far away):
1. Music! Pandora is my hero.
2. Dance parties in the kitchen. As a result of #1 and #4, of course.
3. Podcasts. If music isn’t your thing , or if you want a thought-provoking (or funny) background to cook to.
4. Booze. I know, I know, booze isn’t paleo. But, drinking can lower your (cooking) inhibitions and make you a better cook (I sure this has been proven somewhere). And if it gets you in the kitchen, I am all for it.
5. Having the right tools. A food processor can shred veggies quickly. A sharp knife saves your forearm. A zester makes you feel fancy.
6. A positive attitude. I remember the “floor pie” incident when we dropped an entire pie we had spent hours preparing on the floor while taking it out of the oven to check on it. Instead of giving up and going to Marie Calendar’s, we scooped it back into the pie dish and put it back in the oven. It ended up tasting phenomenal, and we now have a special floor pie recipe (key ingredient: clumsiness).
7. Have a cooking buddy. I have TDL to cook with, but I also have a patient with whom I exchange photo texts of our meals- anytime either of us cooks something fun, we text a photo of it to the other person.
What are your tips for making cooking fun?
This Saturday night, we cooked up a storm, making Stovetop Carnitas, Macadamia Nut Mayo, a red cabbage slaw for the carnitas, these cookies, some coconut shrimp from Everyday Paleo, and these Enchiladas:
Coconut oil for cooking
2 diced garlic cloves (speaking of tools, try this)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp chili powder
1 lb uncooked chicken thighs or breast, sliced into bite-size pieces
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
Swiss chard stems, from one bunch (optional, but a good use for them!)
2 packages Pure coconut wraps, from Improv’eat, we used 1 package curry and 1 package original
~3 cups Enchilada sauce
First make the sauce (or open a jar of store-bought- read your ingredients!). We used a recipe from Paleo Comfort Foods.
Oven is at 350F.
Place a large glob of coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over med-high. Add the chicken, onion, and spices. After a couple minutes of stirring and cooking the chicken, add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for a couple more minutes and add the chard stems. Stir until everything is cooked and smelling delicious.
Now cover the bottom of a 9×13″ pyrex with a spoonful or two of the sauce. Open your coconut wrap packages and spoon the chicken filling into one wrap. Fold the two sides over, making an enchilada, and put it seam-side down in the pyrex.
Do this for all 8 wraps, until the pyrex is full. If you still have some filling left over, spoon it over top of the enchiladas, then pour the sauce on top.
Bake until nice and brown, about 30 minutes when you live at 7000 ft elevation and have an old oven. We topped with full-fat sour cream (Nancy’s is cultured!) because we eat some dairy. So tasty!