During these long days at home in quarantine, like most, I have been digging into my pantry and refrigerator coming up with different ways of preparing some of my favorite meals. For me, cooking is a form of practicing self-care. It’s therapeutic, a way of showing love and expressing my creativity in the kitchen. The best thing about it is there is no right or wrong way of making a meal. It’s not like baking, where all the ingredients and measurements have to be exact, or else the result is a disaster. There is a lot of lead way in making a recipe your own. You can substitute, add, or remove ingredients to your liking and as long as your meals are flavorful and delicious, you can’t go wrong!
“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring the soul to the recipe.”
Thomas Keller (Culinary Institute of America)
Before my daughter left for college out of state, I was that “stay at home” mom that enjoyed making her favorite meals. She is more of a foodie than I am and she’s not afraid to try new foods. Some days after school I’d surprise her with a new dish from a new recipe I’d find online. I took the role of the chef and she was my critique-we were the best team!
Most of our quality time was spent during dinner eating my “approved” home-cooked meal. When she went away, much of my motivation to cook left with my daughter. One of the things I missed the most was having someone to cook for at home. It took me some time to get used to cooking for one, but during this pandemic, I now have the time and found the motivation again to get back into the kitchen and cook some of my favorite foods.
Most of the meals that I have made during this lockdown are nutritious, easy to make with simple ingredients that most of us already have in our pantries. They are great for leftovers, especially if you cook big batches. Particularly during these hard times, it’s important to make an effort not to be wasteful with money or food, so make meals that can be extended for a couple of days.
Some of my favorite dishes
Chicken and/or Fish
You can be creative and make different meals with grilled and/or baked Chicken and Fish. From Chicken and Rice, a good stacked Chicken Sandwich, to a healthy Chicken Salad. I like to pair my buttered lemon marinated fish with a small portion of rice and veggies. If I have fish leftovers, I will make some delicious Baja style fish tacos.
Pasta is another great main dish to make during quarantine because you can make a big batch and can eat for days. There are so many sizes and shapes of pasta, including noodles, shells, and macaroni. Some you can use in a casserole or like spaghetti you can serve with a sauce. My favorite and my daughter’s favorite, still, is her “Mama’s” traditional ground beef spaghetti with Vodka Tomato Sauce! My spaghetti has tastefully improved with time by changing or adding a new ingredient or seasoning that I’ve picked up from an online recipe, a friend, or from watching a cooking show on the tv which I enjoy very much during this isolation.
Greens or Fruit Salads
For my clean eating days and need to get back on track with my diet, I put together a nice fresh green spring mix salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, and little Feta cheese with Balsamic vinaigrette dressing. During the hotter days, you can add some fruit such as strawberries, tangerines, or apricots and eat a fresh summer salad.
“Fish, to taste right, must swim three times: in water, in butter, and wine.”
(Culinary Institute of America)
My go-to ingredients are:
- Olive Oil/Coconut Oil
- Garlic/Onion Powder
- Fresh Garlic
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Old Bay Seasoning
During this stay at home order, we can all benefit from some good comfort food. Make the most of this time to play in the kitchen and express your love with those around you. Our trips to the supermarket are limited, and we can also benefit from saving a few dollars on food. Be mindful of your budget and not wasteful with your meals. Get creative with what it’s already in stock in your pantry. We don’t need that additional stress brainstorming what we are going to cook every day or searching for hard to find ingredients from a new recipe.
You’d be surprised at yourself for the delicious meals you can come up with. Remember, when it comes to cooking as long as it is made with love, and filled with flavor, you cannot go wrong! It’s time to turn up the heat, adapt your cooking skills and find unique ways to make your favorite meals. Buen Provecho!
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