My mother is a Southern cook and loves to prepare classic Southern dishes. She had a certain set of recipes she prepared on a regular basis. She didn't stray too far from her comfort zone. I on the other hand love to cook a large variety of dishes from different ethnicities. My husband is of Hispanic and Irish decent... so there is some contrast in the dishes I prepare in order to bring back fond childhood memories of favorite meals.
My husband and I are also foster parents so we have children in our home who, sometimes, are the most picky eaters. One of the challenges I face daily is to incorporate veggies into their daily meals. I often find myself hiding veggies in fruit shakes. I've become the queen of fruit smoothies... don't tell the kids there are veggies in that drink ;-)
My favorite things to cook
Mexican all the way baby!! I'm known for my chicken enchiladas and Mexican rice.
I discovered the best way to make rice for myself and my husband. It's funny how we sometimes get set in our ways and make certain dishes a certain way. I love rice and make it A LOT. My favorite rice now is simply white rice cooked in vegetable broth. That's it! I love the flavor the broth gives and it's so low in calories. I used to use chicken broth for so many recipes until I tried plain old vegetable broth. It's healthy, cheap and easy to make in the crockpot.
My husband is a chicken freak. He prefers chicken over any other meat so I often find myself tweaking recipes to use chicken in place of beef or pork. Our first year of marriage was difficult since I loved steak and wanted to prepare it weekly. I now have a greater appreciation for chicken and rarely cook beef or pork. If I want a good steak... that's what restaurants are for ;-)
My favorite family cooking traditions
My parents loved to entertain and often opened our home to large groups of people for casual meals. My parents home was quite large and incorporated a large dining room into social gatherings. I also remember going to my grandparents home where all my extended family (Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc.) would gather on Friday nights and enjoy a great home cooked meal. It was something we all anticipated throughout the week. I also remember my grandmother making homemade chicken and noodles. She would roll out her noodles paper thin and cook them in a creamy sauce as she fried her chicken. She also made the best biscuits. My Grandfather's nickname for her was, "My little biscuit maker."
My cooking triumphs
Mexican rice!!! My mother-in-law makes an awesome Mexican rice and I struggled with making a rice comparable to hers. Although my rice still is not identical to hers... I think I make it better now, lol! Another triumph would be cake decorating. I took the Wilton Cake Decorating classes and can finally make my cakes look as delicious as they taste. The secret is practice, practice, practice!
My cooking tragedies
Hmmm... this is a hard one... I used to say fudge, but I FINALLY mastered that one. I guess I would consider my cooking tragedy today to be the current state of our economy. If I had the financial means to be able to purchase the ingredients to make all the dishes I love I'd be a happy woman, lol. Unfortunately, money is limited and often I find myself making concessions in favor of cheaper ingredients or just preparing inexpensive quick meals. The only positive thing about living in these rough economic times is that when I am able to splurge on ingredients I make memorable meals my husband and I consider romantic ;-)