I Cook to Relax, 8 Dishes Later

When life gets too crazy or just too overwhelming, I cook.  I love to cook and spending a day in the kitchen really relaxes me.  Of course we then end up with tons of cooked food.  Funny these need to cook days are not scheduled and don’t happen to coincide with lots of people being at my house to eat all of this food.

Yesterday was one of those days.  I worked on creating some new recipes with new products.  I made some of my favorite comfort foods and I also worked on key ingredients needed for our Thanksgiving meal.

When I was at the grocery I picked up some turkey legs and wings, a beautiful chuck roast that was on sale, Sockeye Salmon and Lemon Sole both on sale, a long package of chicken drumsticks also on sale and two large pork butts which I asked the butcher to run through the grinder once.  As you can see I do love the sales.

Our refrigerators are now full of the following dishes and if there are any you would like me to share the recipe for,  I am more than happy to.

So yesterday I woke up early and decided I was going to cook.  I started with roasting the turkey parts at 450 degrees for 25 minutes along with onions and garlic.  When that was done I put the roasting pan on my stove, added in cold filtered water, fresh parsley and thyme sprigs, course Celtic Sea Salt, fresh cracked peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves.  Oh and the secret ingredient is apple cider vinegar with the mother.  I brought it to a boil, turned it down to simmer and covered it with foil.  This cooked from 7 am until 10pm.  It needs to cook for many hours and you can do this in a crockpot too.  I strained the stock, put it into all of those jars I save from salsas, sauces, sauerkraut and pickles.  I labeled it turkey stock and let it cool in the refrigerator.  This morning it went into the freezer and it will come back out for my Thanksgiving stuffing and gravy.  Making stock with bones is extremely good for you.  Read more here on all the benefits.

While the oven was still hot from the turkey, I made my version of shake and bake chicken legs.  These are super easy and very tasty.  They freeze up great and are perfect for the lunch box or meal at home.

I then got busy with the ground pork.  I had tons of it so I made my Pancetta Sage Sausage and froze it in portions for Thanksgiving stuffing.  I may use some of it around Christmas for Chipolatas too.  Then I made my Chorizo and froze that in useable portions.

I also made amazing little meatballs with some of the ground pork and ground turkey and a special ingredient that was given to me.  I’ll be posting this recipe soon.  You’ll want to make these for company.

With the last of the ground pork I made a sauce in the crockpot that I’ll use over pasta.  I sautéed shallots and shiitake mushrooms and then browned the pork.  Tossed in some fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.  I added in  some pork stock that I had saved when cooking off a previous pork butt.  Always save the stock these meats make.

I had also purchased fish so I really needed to cook that.  The salmon I broiled with olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper.  I served it with green beans with a little butter (Earth Balance soy free) and lemon squeezed on top.  Simple and yum!

It was requested that the lemon sole filets be breaded and fried.  This is what a cast iron skillet was made to do!  So I tossed the fish in a gluten free flour, dipped it into an egg and almond milk wash, and then rolled it in the good almond flour from Honeyville.  Fried it in a mix of coconut oil and olive oil and sprinkled it with a little salt.  So much better than those fish sticks in a box.  Oh and my secret is to sprinkle some garlic powder into the flour and onion powder and sea salt into the almond flour.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone.  Seasoning the first layer onto the protein and then the last layer or I should say the first layer you taste, is key to that saying, it has depth of flavor.

I happen to have more than one crockpot which comes in really handy.  I have different sizes and use them at least once a week.  I made a dish in the crockpot that I had made in the oven at the beach.  It was cannellini beans with sausage and a special garlic paste.  I have to say I liked the oven method the best but for pure comfort foods this dish is wonderful.  I’ll work on sharing this recipe too as it can feed a ton of people with not a lot of money or effort.

Last but not least is my Oven Roasted Beef Stew – one of my favorite comfort foods.  I made a huge pot full in my wonderful Le Creuset round French oven.  I’ll portion this out in my soup mugs and freeze it for those cold days when I really want a bowl of beef stew.  This is another one of those dishes that I think tastes the best cooked in the oven although the crockpot is a good second option.  Again one of the keys is that bone broth that not only tastes great but is really good for you.

When it was all said and done, I had created 8 dishes yesterday.   I then settled down with a nice glass of wine to see who was kicked off The Next Iron Chef.

So, what do you do to relax?

What recipes would you like me to share?

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19 Responses to I Cook to Relax, 8 Dishes Later

  1. Celiacs in the House November 9, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Holy cow, woman. You must be very relaxed! What a bunch of beautiful food. I, too, cook to relax and be creative. Since son came home from college, I realized how much I missed all the cooking I used to do to keep up with two hungry kids. It is a joy and a pleasure for me and not a chore. Now the dishes are another thing. :)Wendy

    • Diane Eblin November 9, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      Wendy I think when both boys have moved out and on with their lives I'm going to have to go back to cooking in restaurants or open one of my own. I do love to cook. It's nice you have your boy back to cook for. OK, so relaxed today it's hard to work!

  2. Melissa November 10, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    I agree! I find cooking and baking excellent therapy! When I find myself stressed or feeling like I'm treading water, it's cooking and yoga to the rescue. I actually do yoga while cooking. =) I have a few stretches, balances, etc. that I do in the kitchen while waiting for water to boil or the last minute or so before the oven beeper goes off. Even while sautéing onions and garlic. I have a whole routine down. I'm sure people would think I'm nuts if they saw me, but it all works for me.
    BTW, I love making stew in a big pot in the oven! I've been thinking that I need to make soup or stew for the weekend. You've inspired me!
    Great post!

    • Diane Eblin November 10, 2011 at 8:02 am #

      I could so see you doing yoga while cooking. This would make an excellant post and I hope you will share your routine with us.

  3. Jennifer November 10, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    I love to cook as well and find it very therapeutic, when I'm alone. Having two children under four definitely does not create a relaxed cooking environment. I definitely don't have the time to spend in the kitchen like I used to, but I wouldn't trade the time with my children for anything. But you do have me salivating over your recipes!

    • Diane Eblin November 10, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

      Jennifer some of my best memories as a kid is cooking with my mom. She got me started at 2 and I'm so lucky she did. I think she must have had lots of time on her hands but I guess I learned fast.

      • Jennifer November 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

        Hi Diane – Yes, luckily my older son does like to cook with me, but it's never relaxing. It is good bonding time however.

        • Diane Eblin November 10, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

          That is a great point. Bonding is good and so is relaxing. When my boys were little if we were trying to get a meal on the table it was not relaxing but if we were just cooking to cook then it was better.

  4. Alisa November 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    How about you just come over and bring me some of this delicious food.

    • Diane Eblin November 10, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

      Happy to!

  5. Kim-Cook It AF November 13, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Wow, lady! I already miss you cooking for me and I only got to experience it for 1 weekend. You are amazing. What a relaxing day you must have had. I, too, feel very relaxed while I am cooking. I even do not stress when I make big messes (like the other day when I spilled an entire thing of sugar all over the counter and the floor-I think I can still feel granules of sugar days later when I walk in there. LOL). And I can just imagine Melissa doing yoga while she cooks. I am no different though. I will very often do lunges or squats while I am cooking and cleaning. 😉
    And thanks for the link love, lady!

    • Diane Eblin November 14, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      Always happy to cook for you. Take me back and I'll be your live in cook! Always happy to share the good things you create and the healthy info. Sounds like you need a pet that likes to lick the floor to help clean up. 🙂 OK so I can see I'm going to have to get with the program. Kitchen workouts. I think you gals are on to something.

  6. JennC November 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Amazing! I'm now just getting into cooking and baking…I have a 5 yr. old and 3 yr. old. 2 of us in the family are gluten and lactose intolerant. I am looking for a yummy banana bread? Would you have one of those recipe's on hand??? And would you like to share it???? 🙂 Thank you to all of you that share! It helps a lot!!

    • Diane Eblin November 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

      Jenn I don't have a banana bread recipe but I think you can find one on gluten free easily or Elana's Pantry.

  7. Heidi Kelly November 17, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Holy cow is right! You never cease to amaze me Diane – good things certainly DO come in small packages. 🙂

    I want ALL of the recipes you talked about, especially the Shake and Bake Chicken, I have one for pork chops but need one for chicken too. Gosh, I used to love that stuff back in the day.

    I've been making your pepperoni chicken kabobs like crazy since I got home form California. I added one step though, marinating the chicken in Italian dressing first. Is it still okay if I share on my blog (all credit to you of course)?



    • Diane Eblin November 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

      Heidi of course you can share them and thanks for reminding me. I'll have to make them again and I like your addition. I'll be sharing these recipes soon!

  8. Carrie Nichols January 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    How can I get the recipe for your shake & bake chicken legs?

    • Diane Eblin January 12, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

      It will be posted next week. Pulling it all together.

    • Diane Eblin January 17, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

      Carrie I posted the recipe for the shake and bake. Hope you saw it.