I did it! I cooked*! Well, almost...

My panzanella was a success! Even more rewarding (for me) was that I didn't need to follow a recipe exactly; instead I read three and combined by favorite parts of each. I even diced up all the ingredients on my own! (Yes - I do realize this could be the accomplishment of a motivated 10 year old - but cut me some slack. I wasn't remotely interested in real food or cooking until after I turned 30.) 

My panzanella is combination of Ali Benjamin, Alton Brown and the pin I found online. Two called for bacon, one did not. Two called for stale bread, one called for toasting. One added chili peppers, two did not. None of them suggesting adding dijon mustard to the dressing; I figured that out on my own. 

This is what I did:
• Cubed two cups of baguette then spread them on a pan, drizzled them with olive oil and put them into the oven for 10 minutes until hard/crispy.
• While the bread was in the oven I: diced one shallot, put it into a cup of red wine vinegar, added a spot of dijon mustard and whisked. Next I cubed two avocados, a cucumber, a variety of tomatoes and combined them all in bowl. For a little heat I added half of one jalapeno. 
• When the bread came out of the oven it moved it to a Pyrex bowl to cool. Next I heated up the cast iron skillet that still contained bacon fat from our morning's breakfast. Once the bacon fat was hot I spooned out three tablespoons and drizzled them over the bread and tossed. 
• To the bread bowl I added the tomato mix and an appropriate amount of dressing. I mixed it all up with my hands and then put one and half handfuls into each dinner bowl. The only thing I would do differently next time is not mix in the avocado because it made the dish look green and mushy. Instead, I would add the avocado at the end as a garnish. 

It was so delicious!! And perfectly summer. I hope you try it yourself!
XO -
Cullen (the one who obviously doesn't create the beautiful meals you see on this blog). 

*According to Oliver "adding heat" is a core part of cooking. Everything else is just "combining ingredients". But I'm okay with that. Baby steps!

Roasting: Cabbage & Pork

Thanks to Pinterest we stumbled upon a new way to cook cabbage: sliced into large chunks and then roasted. If only we'd found this suggestion this time last year! By the end of May our garden had more cabbage then I knew what to do with. (I'll admit that my "know what to do" was limited to kimchi, coleslaw and soup.) This new recipe is simple and evokes a Brussels sprouts flavor. Check it out here: HERE!

Oliver paired the cabbage with chili-roasted pork (he made the chili paste himself by putting a variety of dried peppers into the blender with a lot spices, chicken stock and garlic). Along with the cabbage and pork we also had sides of sauteed spinach and rice. I'm looking forward to eating it all again tonight! YUM! But before that... I must be heading to the gym before it gets too late.

True Love Enchiladas

It's been a rough two weeks for me at work. Roles are changing and being redefined. I find myself silently repeating "the only constant in life is change", "you either bend or you break" and "life's lessons make me stronger". Those are (of course) interspursed with internal reprimations of "relax before you stress everyone else out" and "loosing your cool won't get this project done". The best I can offer now: I'm trying. I'm really really making an effort to go with flow and wait and see how things play out. I'm not the quitter I was ten years ago.  Even so, I had tears of frustration and fury streaming down my face before lunch. After a 12 hour work day I was so thankful to come home to one of my favorite Chez OB meals: enchiladas! These were made with chorizo and ground beef. The red sauce was homemade from dried chilis (YDFM). The gaucamole and salsa were homemade too (heavy on cumin and citrus, just the way I like it). He even picked up one of my favorite beers (Coca Mole). A needed reminder that there is more to life then work and career. Thanks Bou.

*Keep an eye out for our new (and completely unrelated) blog: BoudreauxsBigAdventure.blogspot.com. It should be up and running in the next 10 days. (No, we're not pregnant. That's not the adventure.)

Healthy, real food, we've been eating

Labor Day: Mini sausages on ciabatta rolls with a fun assortment of toppings (pickled cauliflower, homemade kimchi, carmelized leeks, avocado, etc).
Tuesday: Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, okra and tomato salad (it was a rough day for me so Oliver cooked up some comfort food - super thoughtful of him, thanks Bou).
Wednesday: Chicken salad (and some experimentation with filters on my camera).

Thai Chicken Satay Salad with Peanut Sauce Dressing

If you don't know what Thai chicken satay is - look it up*! Because it is DELICIOUS!! Last night we ate it on skewers hot off the grill with a side of homegrown grilled eggplant and YDFM sweet potato. Tonight we enjoyed it on a bed of lettuce with home grown red peppers and tomatoes. Oliver's peanut sauce accompanied both meals. YUM!

*Yes, this is me losing patience with writing copy for meals I didn't cook (read: don't know how cook) but LOVED eating.

Lunch & dinner, lunch & dinner

More dinners made from the London Broil we grilled on Monday: 
• Wednesday: London Broil on a big bed of red leaf lettuce with vinaigrette, homegrown tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles. 
• Thursday: London Broil stir fry with green peppers from the garden and baby portobello mushrooms from YDFM (side of baked sweet potato).

Lunch (x5): stewed black beans with a dollop of Greek yogurt

Sunday Morning at the Grant Park FarmersMarket

Our cupboards were bare this morning so we packed up our bikes and headed to the park to find breakfast. At the Grant Park Farmers market we found and shared a flaky, delicious sausage turnover from Little Tart Bakeshop and a tasty chocolate croissant from H&F breads. After an hour we biked home, jumped in the car and drove to YDFM for our weekly groceries.  

We impressed ourselves by spending only $57. The only things not on the reciept* (below) that we should count towards the food costs are a $1.75 container of dried black beans and a dozen eggs; both of which we already had at home.  $11 of the $57 is coffee. $5 is raw almonds (Oliver's favorite snack). Check back throughout the week to see how we make it work.

$60 5 day, real food meal plan for two adults:
Breakfast - oatmeal (weekdays), bacon and eggs (weekend)
Lunch - black beans
Dinner - London Broil (on salad, on a sandwich and on it's own) with YDFM and homegrown vegetables

*click to enlarge

What's for lunch? Alton Brown's gazpacho

The big news about this meal is that I (Cullen) made it by myself while Oliver was not home! I'm three for three on cooking for myself this weekend. I've started easy (spinach salad with an egg) and have been working my way into meals with more ingredients and more steps. Last night I roasted eggplant and then mashed it with tahini, ground cumin & lemon. While today's gazpacho didn't require any cooking it did require much more knife work then I usually take on. And I learned how to peel a tomato! I recommend this recipe for any beginner cooks who love tomatoes (and/or salsa). Thanks to Alton Brown for another easy and great recipe!


  • 1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Tomato juice
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade


Fill a 6-quart pot halfway full of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil.
Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute. Remove and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. When seeding the tomatoes, place the seeds and pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl in order to catch the juice. Press as much of the juice through as possible and then add enough bottled tomato juice to bring the total to 1 cup.
Place the tomatoes and juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill for 2 hours and up to overnight. Serve with chiffonade of basil.
Recipe copied from here. Click for original posting.

Meals from the garden

The weather may be outrageously hot, but it's still a wonderful time of year to have a vegetable garden. For us Sunday marked the beginning of BLT (bacon, lettuce & tomato) season. To make this season opening, mouthwateringly delicious, sandwich we picked tomatos from two of our heirloom plants. The sourdough bread was fresh from the H&F booth at the Grant Park Farmers Market. Bacon and lettuce from YDFM. This sandwich was PERFECTION! I'm looking foward to more throughout the season. 

For this evening's dinner we picked our two giant eggplants. They were mixed them with pole beans, small potatoes, red peppers, curry paste and coconut milk for a super spicey curry. 
I'd write more - but our Peachtree Road Race costumes are beckoning. I've decided to add pockets to my toga and the draw string in Oliver's Uncle Sam pants need mending. One more day til the big race! YAY! Keep an eye out for us if you plan to be there too.

What's for dinner? Roast chicken, roast vegetables

You know what they say about the best laid plans... I'd wanted our June posts to focus on "how to" with post after post about our favorite ways to cook and grow and party. But I guess just because it's summer doesn't mean I'm no longer a grown up. Life has been busy and I haven't been able to to carve out extra time to write. Fortunately for us, food is borderline religion; we always make time to eat well. So I'm back to posting a delicious and healthy meal! 

Last night Oliver roasted a chicken with vegetables. (The vegetables are now our Facebook header - speaking of Facebook, have you liked us yet?) Small potatoes, eggplant (from the garden), mushrooms, kale and a glass of red wine accompanied a very juicy free range chicken. We'll be happily enjoying this meal for another night or two. 

What's for dinner? Chicken mole tacos

I was impressed that we were able to squeeze in a homemade dinner tonight. Between work and the Braves game there wasn't much time to cook - yet Oliver still managed to throw together chicken mole tacos. The chicken came from our trip to YDFM on Sunday night. The tortillas were left over from Tuesday and Wednesday's fish tacos. The Braves tickets were a last minute surprise from my brother and his fiance'! It was a beautiful night to sit in the cheap seats and watch the Braves score run after run; thank you Emory and Theresa!

Dinner from the garden: first cabbage!

Hooray! Three months of dedication have led to my first harvested cabbage! A 5 pounder at that. It was chopped into jalapeno coleslaw and used to top Oliver's grilled Amberjack tacos. Since we had company over for dinner Oliver broke out fancy beer for dessert too (Founders CBS is divine).

Today is a very good day. Hoping you all can say the same. XO - Cullen 

Weekend Eats

The leftover pork from last week's lettuce wraps was used in two more dinners. Once on a bed of homegrown lettuce with poached eggs. Another time as part of a stir fry with a side of aparagus and half a sweet potato. 

Sunday morning we walked down to the Grant Park Farmer's Market for a loaf of sourdough. Oliver needed it to make his extra amazing breakfast sandwich. Fried egg, homemade mayo, chili sauce (made for the lettuce wraps), homegrown spinach, bacon from YDFM and a few slices tomato (not quite in season yet). I ate every bite! YUM!

Korean inspired dinner from the garden

For dinner tonight we enjoyed homegrown lettuce filled with dry brined, oven roasted, pork topped with Oliver's homemade sauces (sweet chili and ginger scallion). We ate in the backyard because it's quite hot in the house but it's also too early in the year to turn on the AC. Side note: On Facebook I keep seeing these photos of my Chicago and Boston friends bundled up in gloves and hoodies. It's hard to believe it's not already summertime all over the USA. To those people, enjoy the rest of your winter gardens! I believe this is the very last of ours. Onwards to summertime foods!