Move over Rachael, Martha, Nigella, Giada...there is another gorgeous chef in town. Her name is Jessica!
Jessica is one of my favorite new online friends. I love her cute sense of humor and admire the thoughtful way she is raising her children. Not only is she beautiful, smart, and funny...her recipes make my mouth water and inspire me to cook. Or at least go over to her house for dinner.
Here are her delicious thoughts on delicious food....
1. How did you learn to cook? And where do you get your recipes?
My mom was a good cook and enjoyed making meals for our family, but I don’t ever remember cooking lessons or making meals at home growing up. I didn’t really cook that much at college, either.
When we got married, I just realized that, not only did I have full say over what we made, but I had someone who would appreciate my efforts. I just simply started following recipes. I think I’m a good cook because I like ALL kinds of foods. Everything sounds good to me and so it’s fun to try a new recipe. I also am an-exact-recipe-follower. I’m not very creative but I know how to plan a meal and execute a recipe.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE http://www.allrecipes.com/. I get a lot of my recipes from there. I only try recipes rated 4.5- 5 stars. And I ALWAYS read the reviewers comments, so I know what a majority of the people said worked or didn’t. I love friends’ recipes and those ward cookbooks are the best.
2. What are your top ten pantry/refrigerator staples?
Okay, this is the thing. I don’t have staples. I DON’T have stuff just sitting on my shelf waiting for a recipe to come up. I have the cereal and snacks and cheese, but no staples. I don’t cook that way. (I do have food storage, which saves me once in a while.) I buy the ingredients I need for each week.
3. How do you plan your menus and shopping lists?
I usually plan 7-8 days out. I plan a meal and the side dishes for each day. I usually have a Mexican meal, an Asian meal, a pasta meal, a meat-based meal and a soup (or salad in the summer) each week. Friday we have fun food (grilled sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers). Then I pull the recipes out and just start adding the ingredients to my list. I don’t plan around sales or what’s in season. I’m a baby…if I want to make it, I do and I know my husband wishes I’d watch prices more in the grocery department.
I am BIG on vegetables, as side dishes, but after the effort of an entrée, my side dishes are simple and we usually rotate between steamed broccoli, steamed green beans, salad and frozen peas. And I’ll usually add muffins or bread or fruit, to round out a meal.
I am a mean mom. I cook what I like, always have, and so my kids eat better than any kids I know. I make a meal spicy, or add tons of peppers, or curry or whatever, because I don’t AT ALL cater to them. And they eat it.
4. Any creative ideas for leftovers?
Eat them for lunch. I have a husband who hates to spend money eating out and so he loves taking leftovers. And I hate spending time making lunch, so I’m always adding enough to my dinner so that I can just microwave myself leftovers the next day.
We do a leftover meal, once every few weeks, and I’ll pull out the food that needs to be eaten and they get to order it, like at a restaurant. They love that. And I LOVE not having to cook.
5. How do you cook like this and still stay skinny?
You do realize you are talking to Jessica from Everyday Romneys, right?? Um, totally not skinny and struggling every day with my weight.
But to attempt to answer…you know I’m a workout fanatic. And I think that you can eat SO MUCH MORE healthfully, and with such fewer calories, if you cook at home. Because I’m very aware of calories, etc., I’m amazed at how much less I can eat, when buying restaurant/fast food, than when I make the same stuff at home. I don’t usually cook with light or lowfat stuff (just don’t think it’s worth it), so I usually am more careful during the day, and I can eat normal meals with my family at night. I also add lots of extra veggies to my meals and my plate, to balance out a yummy entrée.
6. What's the husband's-out-of-town-feed-the-kids-quick-and-get-them-to-bed-quick dinner at your house?
This is where I’m going to sound obnoxious. Like I said before, I cook for me. I cook the way I cook, because I get bored eating the same things a lot. I cook the same way when he’s gone, as when he’s home. Seriously. I am not a mac and cheese mom, because I want to eat good food at dinner time. He has recipes I make, that he doesn’t like, so I make those when he’s gone, but that’s about it. (He’s a neat freak, so I don’t clean the house when he’s gone…that’s where I have the time and energy to cook: I know I don’t have to worry about it being messy when he gets home!)
I totally do Take-n-Bake pizza or McDonald’s or Costco lasagne when I need easy…or a lot of times, I’ll make a big meal one night, so I can just do leftovers the next.
7. Describe your all-time favorite meal to cook (and eat)!
Um, totally impossible. I have so many favorites. I like any thing with lots of flavor and lots of vegetables. And I probably don’t repeat a recipe more than once every two months. I really like variety and I love trying new stuff.
Besides desserts (I’d need a whole interview based on those alone!), I’d probably say soups are my favorite. They are a meal in one dish…protein and vegetables all mixed together…add some bread or muffins and you are done. I have a great chili, a great corn chowder, a yummy chicken/veggie/noodle soup, a different potato and white bean one, an Italian sausage tortellini…I could go on and on. (I’m always sad when it’s summer and soup is just not appropriate anymore.)
I’m probably not a lot of help…I’m kind of atypical here. It’s just my total hobby and outlet and my waistline (and wallet) suffer for it. But I like knowing that I’m teaching my kids how to eat all kinds of food and that we have the dinner-as-a-family thing down pretty well.
And I love to entertain and meal plan…I’m not fancy, and my tables aren’t set nicely, but if you want some good tasting food, come hang out at the Romneys. I would SO love to have you!
Oh, Jessica! We would SO love to come!! Thanks for the inspiration!