17 Kasım 2012 Cumartesi

November...stressful month!!!

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All I can say about this month is...STRESSFUL!!! I finished my orientation training at work last month and have been a new nurse, on my own, for over a month now. I've been working a crazy rotating schedule at the hospital...switching from days to nights and back again every 2 weeks. Needless to say, it has taken a toll on me! Additionally, I am counting down the days until my wedding day! Prav and I will be married next month and we are finalizing all of the last minute details that go into planning a destination wedding. I must admit, this challenge has been harder to keep up with recently. Cooking a meal a day has been nothing short of impossible some days. I finally came up with a system that works for me. First, I am prepping all of my recipes ahead of time on one of my days off from work. This includes doing all of the grocery shopping, cutting veggies and herbs (if they won't spoil, etc), trimming meats, measuring out spices, and labeling everything into tupperware and baggies! When I'm ready to cook, it takes me half as much time as it usually does...a definite added bonus! It looks a lot more organized in my kitchen when I prep like Rachael does on her show (of course I don't have 5 assistants running around my kitchen wearing cute little "EVOO" and "YUM-O" t-shirts like she does, hahaha...I wish I did though!).

I try to prep all of my meals and sometimes I will even "pre-cook" some casseroles and store them in my freezer for days when I am really tired or busy. At first, I felt guilty doing this because I thought it was like "cheating" on my challenge, but my friends have reminded me that I vowed to cook a RR meal for 365 days and that, "putting things in the oven is still cooking", LOL. I got the idea to freeze some of my pre-cooked recipes and casseroles from Rachael Ray. When Prav and I were on the show, Rach made us the Chicken Divan casserole which she said was great for freezing and saving...or making a double batch and saving half in the freezer for another time.

This month, I've really been trying to cook with fresh herbs. I was really amazed at how good fresh tarragon tasted when I used it last month. So, this month, I've tried to use a lot more fresh herbs. I tried sage, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, and flat leaf parsley (which my local grocery store is always out of). Rach says, "It's all in the shoulder action!" when she describes how to use the knife when chopping fresh herbs. I have been mastering my shoulder action! I love the knife set Rachael gave me. The knives are a much better quality than any other set I've ever used. My hubby-to-be likes them too! I bought myself new cutting boards this month. I have to thank my co-workers, who gave me a lovely bridal shower and lots of gift cards to stores that carry cooking supplies! I have been stocking up on my kitchen gadgets like a mad woman (and I love it)!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Prav and I will be heading back down to Florida one last time before our wedding. The wedding will be held in Islamorada, Florida...which is in the Florida Keys near Key Largo. Usually, we host Thanksgiving at our house. This is the one meal that I am an expert at cooking! I can brine and cook a turkey with great ease, but I can't carve the turkey to save my life! :) Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. What's not to love about football, parades, family, and eating? I'm bummed that I won't be hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year. It's always nice to have Prav's family and mine all together around our table for a big, yummy meal. I must confess, although I make a great turkey and my mashed potatoes rock, I usually use StoveTop stuffing (from the box) canned green beans and Campbell's soup for the traditional green bean casserole, canned candied yams, and Mrs. Smith's frozen pumpkin pie. Since I'm going to have to make a RR recipe for Thanksgiving this year, I am going to step out of my comfort zone and cook something from scratch from Rach's website. I'm nervous, but excited. I've gotten really great at making gravy since starting this challenge. My fiance has even commented on how I can "Whip up a gravy in a minute." Maybe I'll offer to make the turkey gravy and a side dish to help my mom.

I'll post this month's recipes at the end of the month once I survive Thanksgiving!

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