When I moved away from home nearly 10 years ago, I didn't have a whole lot of cooking experience. When I was 8 or 9, my dad bought me an apron, kids cookbook and a few kitchen tools, such as pans and spatulas. I think I made pancakes once or twice but other than playing around in the kitchen once in a while, I did not have much common sense in the kitchen. When I got my first apartment, I remember being so excited to make my first trip to the grocery store by myself. I had cut coupons for all of the staples. Windex, bathroom cleaner, wood cleaner, Lysol, toilet paper, paper towels, milk, fruity pebbles, peanut butter, jelly, bread, Kraft Mac and Cheese, Jar of Marinara sauce, Angel Hair pasta, salt and pepper, butter, etc... Very basic. One night I boiled pasta and heated up marinara and was thrilled that I made spaghetti. About a few months or so, my mom came over and was looking in my pantry for the marinara sauce and open the lid to find 3 inches of mold growing in the bottle. She was cracking up and I was so confused! I bought the marinara off the shelf and not in a refrigerator section. Yes, it clearly said "refrigerate after opening," but I didn't read it. I just assumed it was like the peanut butter. There are several stories like this. Once, I made a batch of cookies and I said (to my coworkers) something like, "I'm not sure why they aren't turning out very well, it must be the high altitude." I had gotten this idea because I was in a 2nd floor apartment and on the box (yes, I managed to screw up a boxed cookie recipe) it gave special instructions for high altitude. There is no high altitude in Dallas, TX. I was clueless (and sheltered).
Thank goodness for Rachael Ray. I just loved her show, 30 Minute Meals. It was on several times a day so I would watch and take notes so that I could learn how to cook. I even bought a knife like hers so that I would be fast at chopping veggies like her. I would say things like Yum-O and EVOO. Every birthday and Christmas, I would get at least 1 of her cookbooks from my family. I would get so excited when I would hear her 30 Minute Meals jingle on the TV every day after work. It would be the motivation that I need to get in the kitchen a whip up a meal in 30 mins (more like 60 minutes for me). As cooking became a little easier for me, I found that I loved cooking. I loved researching recipes. I get excited when I get a new cookbook. I wish I had more time, discipline, talent to be a full time food blogger. Ha ha. Lately (since June 2010) I started cooking Vegan/Vegetarian. I find that it takes a lot of planning and creativity but I really enjoy it.
The other day, I was thinking about all of my dusty Rachael Ray cookbooks and decided to pull out an old favorite. RR's Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders with Tangy Maple dressing. It was always a crowd pleaser so I decided to try it out with Tofu and it turned out pretty well.
I used Almond Milk instead of eggs which worked very well. I also used whole wheat flour to try to make them a little healthier. Pan frying was where I think I made a mistake. I should have baked the tofu. The tofu was a little soft and the pecan crust started burning. That's ok though because I loved it and so did LT. He went for 2nd and 3rd helpings of the tofu.
I tried to take better pictures by using my aprons to block out the clutter in the background. LOL. I realize I am an armature. I wonder if there is such thing as food photography lessons???
On another note, the wedding plans are coming along nicely. We purchased my shoes, the table decorations and our sand ceremony items. :) Not much left to do! 47 days!