My bloggy friend, Madge, more commonly known as author Margaret Reyes Dempsey over at her blog, couldn’t believe that a girl who solved her problems with bologna sandwiches came from a family who owned a restaurant! So, I’m here today to state the facts.
Fact #1. Yes, I had a moment of weakness where I ate a bologna sandwich and drank Chardonnay after a bad day. My only fault was blogging about it (with picture evidence, no less) because now I’ll never live it down.
Fact #2. My family owned a Steak House for 16 years. I thought the place was my free-for-all and walked around like I owned the joint, grabbing grape soda from the bar fridge and hoarding plates of my dad’s AMAZING homemade cheese spread. I was in a sense, raised by a group of cooks and waitresses who let me help make cole slaw. In fact, the waitresses at our restaurant were actually the ones that named me! I’m not sure if that’s a charming trait, or a reality check that my mother was about to have kid #4 and just didn’t care anymore. (Just kidding, mom, I know you love me!)
Fact #3. My parents have two cooking styles. My mom (apart from salads and desserts) basically made the same meals for dinner on some kind of rotation. Baked chicken, meatloaf, chow mein, CHILI MAC (my fav.), and my least favorite, goulash. Who would like something named goulash? It tastes like it sounds. 😛 My dad, on the other hand, will make a variety of dishes, but he’ll also make them for 50+ people. After graduation, my dad enlisted in the Navy, and was the cook on ship during his service. Add that to years of restaurant managing, and you have a man who inevitably will buy one chicken and make you chicken, yes, but also chicken soup and chicken salad and chicken and rice and chicken tiramisu! Ok, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea. How was I, the youngest, supposed to learn to cook in a house with a mother whose idea of taco salad was crumbling doritos on lettuce or a father who never measured a thing and made quantities for storage in a bomb shelter?
Fact #4. In college, I survived on pasta and frozen vegetables. My initial attempts at cooking were described as “palatable” and “finger food” by parties subjected to taste testing. I think back on my attempts to make my own coconut milk as creative! And so what if I was terrible at following directions and charred many a batch of cookies! It was the effort that counts, right?
Fact #5. I eventually learned to cook. I chalk it up to the wonderful gift of Simple and Delicious Magazine my mother gave me after graduation. Simple and delicious, you say? That’s my kind of meal! So get ready folks, I’m sharing with you two amazing recipes that will make dinner feel like summer’s finally here! These dishes were so scrumptious, even as leftovers! My honey and I really enjoyed them. Both were so flavorful, the burgers had a great little kick to them, and this potato salad was the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten!
Prep time: 30 min. Yield 10 sliders
1 pkg. (12 oz.) Hawaiian sweet rolls
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 tsp minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, divided
1-1/2 lbs ground beef
10 slices pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup mayo
Place 2 rolls in a food processor; process until crumbly. Transfer to a large bowl; add the salt, pepper, and 6 tsp chipotle peppers. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 10 patties.
Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160° and juices run clear. Top with cheese. Grill 1 minute longer or until cheese is melted.
Split remaining rolls and grill, cut side down, over medium heat for 30-60 seconds or until toasted. Combine mayonnaise and remaining chipotle peppers; spread over roll bottoms. Top each with a burger. Replace roll tops.
Golden Potato Salad by Linda Behrman in North Merrick, New York
Prep: 25 minutes Cook: 15 min + cooling Yield: 10 servings
2-1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
1 small red onion
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cup mayo
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 Tbsp mustard seed
3 tsp snipped, fresh dill (I used dried)
1-1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain; cool for 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the red pepper, onion, carrot and potatoes.
In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, mustard, mustard seed, 2 tsp dill, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over potato mixture; gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining dill. Refrigerate until serving.
Are your taste buds watering? What yummy dishes have you made to kick off summer? Who taught you to cook? Have you ever tried to make your own coconut milk? It’s hard, isn’t it?
Hello Readers, and welcome to the Happiness Project. It’s been a particularly stressful day following a particularly stressful week involving closing my credit card because it was stolen and used fraudulently, driving sales day in and day out only to be pushed back in the negative sales plan by a blizzard preventing business, state budget protests, financial concerns, and zero time to write creatively or even read more than a few pages before falling asleep with the little LED booklight poking me in the eye.
But, Jess, you say, we come to you to provide us with the ever-positive, try again and try harder, funny outlook from a new writer! All together now…”We shall overcome, we shall overcome…”
Right, right, we’ll kumbaya later. So what is it that’s getting me through the end of the day this time? A bologna sandwich and chardonnay.
Time to make a manageable list, and I emphasize manageable. Flashback to the store today, I think I spoke into the radio system something like: “Jess to Leadership Team, I’m stepping off the floor for a few minutes. I just need to
cry in a stockroom update the scoreboards.”
Pity party check in: Me. Check! Junk food. Check! (I admit half a can of Pringles was downed before I made the sandwich.) Looming deadline for two writing contests I’ve sworn to enter. CHECK! To Do List? *rifles through some wine glass coaster papers, smooths out wrinkled edges*
- Quit whining.
- Take a sip.
- Take time to journal 5 things to be grateful for today.
- Get the bottle out of the fridge, swig! No one’s watchin’.
- Finish reading Pope Joan, 60 pages to go, and one upcoming book review from yours truly.
- Designate time in your week’s schedule for writing devoted time to work on entry submissions.
- Freewrite a new section of your story-in-progress. Deadline: Saturday.
- Send out love, support, and kudos to your fellow writers!
How do you deal with meltdowns? What sparks the creative juices in you when your life’s got you down? What are your current happiness projects this week?
P.S. Did I ever mention every Tuesday night is band practice at my house? I find it strangely ironic that they’re learning Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” while I write about my crumbling grip on sanity. You know what they say, you can’t make up real life. Happy writing!