Riddle from the Middle

real life with a side of snark


6/3/19: We’re gonna keep the Instant Pot streak going here. Breakfast became really important when I got serious about shifting my eating habits. Like, really REALLY important. Probably because fueling up on a good breakfast greatly decreases the chance I’ll get crabby hungry and gobble up crap junk food to make it until lunch. Scrambled eggs and turkey sausage was my go-to, but a girl can only eat so much of the same thing before getting desperate for something – anything – new.

Enter Quick and Easy Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats. They are indeed both quick and easy and incredibly tasty to boot. I’ve made the kind with dark chocolate and strawberries – yum – but most often I’d just stir in some almond butter and call it good. So so good.

5/6/19:  I’m getting this in under the “it’s been an entire year since I posted a recipe” by the skin of my teeth here. Whoop! Whoop! Breakfast has become pretty important for me – it’s a powering up, getting energy to start the day, making it to lunch without snacking on crap kind of thing. Because it’s been nine months (bless!!) since the last entry I figure I’ll share two new loves here.

I’ve learned to enjoy hard-boiled eggs. I can make six to eight, pop them in a Tupperware, and voilà – I’ve got a no-cook breakfast for the entire week. Plus they’re low in calories and high in protein. There were two parts I hated, though: doing a good job cooking them on the stovetop and trying to peel the darn things. But now I’ve discovered how to make them in the Instant Pot and it’s a brand new world.

Hard-boiled eggs are important. Utilitarian. Necessary. But decidedly not sexy. You know what is sexy? These grits that are a new part of my breakfast world. I know, I know, I’m late to the game, but I’m all in now. This recipe is from Divas Can Cook (so much yummy!!). Lactose isn’t always my friend so I make mine with 1/2 cup half and half and 1/2 cup almond milk and they are deeeeee-licious. Give them a try if you’re feeling southern.  😉


6/26/18:  I love a good marinade. I mean, I love a good marinade now, can’t say I spent too much time thinking about them before my newfound love of cooking. But if you’re a fan then here’s one for the books.

It’s called mojo marinade and it is dee-light-ful! My favorite use is with chicken in the crockpot – four hours on low and you can shred that baby up for tacos and tortilla wraps. Yum! I’ve also used this marinade for grilling chicken and with salmon and they’ve all been delicious.

A few details. After deciding this recipe is a winner I invested in a couple of juicers (one for oranges, another for lemons/limes) because, hello, thoroughly juicing citrus is hard. Also, apparently some folks aren’t big fans of cilantro. I like it fine, but I made this for a friend and substituted parsley with just under a teaspoon of honey to cut the bitter taste.


5/14/18:  Is it possible to fall in love with taco meat? ‘Cuz if you like Mexican food – and I mean at all – have I got the recipe for you. The name says it all: The Best Taco Meat. I love it with gluten free tortilla chips or in a burrito but it works well in tacos, salads, or even on its own. I’ll make double batches so I can freeze ½ cup servings – pop one in a bowl, defrost in the microwave for 7-8 minutes, and bam. Deliciousness.

Now for the details. I make mine with ground turkey. Don’t scoff at the idea of taco meat that isn’t ground beef because seriously, it’s.so.yummy, but if you’re violently opposed then just make it with the beef. I include diced onion and green chiles with the base batch but keep baby spinach on hand to sauté into my own portion. Experiment away and make it your own!


4/30/18:  Y’all, crazy salt has become my new love. You can always tell my go-to spices because they’ve earned a spot on the counter beside the stovetop, and this homemade spice hangs out there next to the salt and pepper. I add it to my eggs with kale and mozzarella each morning and it is 100% delicious. Shoot, I’d make that 200% delicious if I didn’t think I’d end up in some throwdown with a math major. I sprinkled some on my steamed broccoli over the weekend and pow, punched up veggie love.


3/13/18:  This one falls under labor of love, or “Grandmother cooking” as the hubby likes to call it. BrightSide is a huge chicken noodle soup fan. H-u-g-e. The kind of fan that should have bought stock in Campbell’s twenty-five years ago. So when gem told me she had an amazing recipe for homemade chicken soup minus the noodles I thought hmm, it’s worth a shot. And boy, was I right. BrightSide has waxed poetic about this Classic No-Noodle Chicken Soup in ways that made me wonder if I’d accidentally slipped some happy juice in there. Plus it does great in the freezer, so we can have some on hand for those random snow days in March.


2/28/18:  My oh my, y’all, I’m breaking my unwritten rule not to seem like a seafood loon to post this incredible recipe with an insanely long name. Pan-Roasted Swordfish Steaks with Mixed-Peppercorn Butter sounds like one of those super fancy dishes listed on a top tier menu and thus an impossible goal for your mere mortal’s kitchen, but no! This one is stupid easy, folks, and takes no time at all. I only had plain old black peppercorn and that worked out just fine. Also, there was some broccoli in the fridge that needed steaming (because there are few things I hate as much as throwing out wasted produce), and drizzling some of the butter sauce over it made veggies To Die For. Seriously. I’m pretty sure I should go to confession to discuss my feelings for that broccoli.


2/20/18:  I’m doing a lot more cooking these days and, miracle of miracles, actually enjoy it (I know, right?) so I thought I’d share some of the recipes here.

For my heart healthy people, or fish lovers in general, we adore this Teriyaki Salmon and Kale. It’s actually the first way I ever tried kale, a veggie I found more than a little intimidating, but I think we can all agree sauce makes everything less scary. You’ll find the salmon is moist and perfectly paired with a bit of kale. NOTE: Both teriyaki and soy sauce are on my no-no list, so I use a mixture of coconut aminos and raw honey. Mmmm…

All right, everybody, go ahead and clutch your pearls because I’m bringing on the Tofu Stir Fry. Fine, you hate tofu, perhaps on principle alone. Whatever. I’m not here to push a tofu agenda, I’ll just say this: I was not a tofu eater before last month either, so I’m as shocked as anyone else by this development. Now let me add these notes. If you’re looking to try making tofu, this is totally doable and ultimately delicious. Don’t let the multistep process freak you out. Also, fiddle with the recipe! I’ve added broccoli, onions, chicken, and zoodles (the utterly ridiculous name for those spiralized zucchini noodles you can buy in the produce section). Bear tried it the night I made it with chicken, tofu, broccoli, carrot, onion, and red pepper and actually said OUT LOUD “This is the best thing you’ve ever made, mom.” so I am convinced the dish has magical properties and should be served at peace summits.


1/1/18:  So it looks like I’m not the best at keeping my pages updated.  Yep…all I can say is I’m a work in progress.

My friend passed along a recipe that is quite literally called “Actually Delicious Turkey Burgers,” and they are 100% true to their name.  I’ll pause here for a moment so my beef lovers can scoff skeptically…okay, now I challenge you to make these at least once to see if they’re at least a tasty alternative to your regular burger.

BrightSide says he likes the prepackaged turkey burgers from the store just fine, but I need a little more oomph in my food.  When I’m lazy I’ll knead some chopped onion and steak seasoning into the prepackaged turkey burgers, but trust me – these are worth the time.  Per my friend’s advice I use at least ½ cup onion, steak seasoning, and a whole egg instead of egg whites.  Also, use turkey that has some fat in it so the burgers bind together better.

Let me know if you try them along with any tweaks you might make in the recipe!


9/2/15:  Okay, I know this one might not qualify as a recipe, so to speak, but it is a food prep thing I’d wondered about.  Bacon.  Actual bacon.  We love having this treat sometimes, but I truly h-a-t-e standing over a skillet cooking bacon until it’s just right – crispy but not burned – and having to work in batches takes forever.  Then, like an angel from up above, I heard about Cooking Bacon in the Oven.  (Insert singing angels here.)  Erica wrote a thorough guest post for the Pioneer Woman about the different methods for this along with her evaluation of each.  It’s awfully scientific (in a recorded observation kind of way), but pretty much what I hear is: easy bacon with no spitting grease to burn my hand.  Score!  How to Cook Bacon in the Oven.


4/11/15:  We had Easter dinner with my dad and were responsible for bringing a few sides to go with the ham.  (HoneyBaked ham…mmmmm…..)  One of the dishes we took was the Pioneer Woman’s Slice-Baked Potatoes.  It’s a twist on twice-baked potatoes and boy, are they tasty!  My dad especially liked the serving size since regular potatoes are too large a portion for my mom.  I’m again calling shenanigans on the total time: bake time on the potatoes alone was more like 1 hr 15 min.  But if you have some time available and are looking for a good side dish for company or a family gathering, this one’s worth the effort.  Note: It makes a lot of potato slices, so if you’re cooking for just your family you might want to cut the recipe in half.  Also, I made them a day ahead & kept them in the fridge; they heated up really well.


4/1/15:  Here’s the Pioneer Woman recipe for Shells & Cheese (with Bacon & Peas). It is delicious. Note: I’m calling shenanigans on the 5 min. prep time and 20 min. cook time.  Maybe you’ll manage that, but realistically it took me more like an hour to prepare.  Click here for my post with this dinner in it.

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