Story time before I get into the recipes…
It’s a running joke among my group of friends that I can’t cook. I can put together a super-glamorous table with a full spread of bought and reheated foods, but ask me to bake a casserole or pie and I’d be lost.
One moment that sticks out in my mind is when Maks and I were first dating. I thought, “What the heck? I’ll make him an omelet! After all, they say the way to a man’s heart is through is stomach…” So I did my thing and tried my best. I knew the finished result wasn’t great, but I was proud of the attempt. Maks, being the trooper he is, ate a little and smiled and, as gently as possible, told me it was a little watery. Though I’d never show it, it was upsetting knowing something I tried so hard on and put so much love into just didn’t turn out. That was 5 years ago. From that day on, I never wanted to cook again (call me dramatic, but, hey, it was traumatic for both parties involved).
Growing up, mum cooked all the time. She was a brilliant cook – always knew what to pair with what, always buying the latest cookbooks or attending cooking seminars – and I used to love to help her in the kitchen. But since the age of 17, I’ve basically lived out of a suitcase. In whatever city I was performing, food was readily available. I never had the need, desire or time to learn to cook for myself. But, as the realities of motherhood approach, my lack of cooking ability started making me feel incomplete – inadequate, even.
So one day I woke up and thought, “What the hell? I used to bake with my mum and barbeque with my dad, what am I so afraid of?” I honest to God don’t know where this came from (my best guess is it’s some super-late motherly instinct kicking in), but here I am, 8-and-a-half months pregnant, ready to change that – and you all get to share in the process.
I decided to keep things simple so I researched dishes that sounded good, relatively healthy and doable for someone of my skill level: Artichoke and Avocado Salad with Parmesan and Creamy Lemon Chicken.
Baby Artichoke Salad by Cipriani At Home
Total Time: 10 Minutes
- 3 Baby Artichokes
- 1/2 Ripe Avocado
- 1 Lemon
- 4 Slices of Parmigiano Cheese
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Squeeze half a lemon into a bowl of water and set aside.
- Remove the outer leaves from the artichokes, until you reach the tender yellow ones. Trim off the stems, cut off the tops, and place them in the lemon water (this keeps them from turning brown).
- Cut the baby artichokes in half and then into thin slices. Return to lemon water. Once complete, remove and gently squeeze out excess water. Place them in a large bowl.
- Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Criss-cross cut the pulp and squeeze out of rind onto your artichoke bed.
- Add some lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Gently toss.
- Place tossed salad in serving bowl. Shave Parmigiano and lay on top.
Creamy Lemon Chicken from Delish
Total Time: 25 Minutes
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Pepper
- 2 tbsp Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
- 1 Small Shallot, chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp Fresh Thyme, plus extra for garnish
- 4 Red Potatoes, thinly sliced into rounds
- ¼ c Lemon Juice
- ¼ c Heavy Cream
- 1 Large Lemon, halved and thinly sliced
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat pan. Add oil and butter. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until deeply golden, 7 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
- Add chicken broth to skillet and deglaze pan, scraping up any brown bits with the bottom of a wooden spoon. Add shallot, garlic, and thyme to skillet and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook 8 minutes.
- Add lemon juice, heavy cream, and lemon slices and stir to completely combine. Simmer 2 minutes.
- Return chicken (and any accumulated juices) to pan and coat in sauce. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes more.
- Garnish with thyme and serve with pan sauce.
Amazingly, I found myself enjoying cooking rather than being so petrified. The process itself was hilarious. I was concentrating so hard on getting the timing right and talking to myself like a crazy person. Despite that, it was actually surprisingly peaceful and relaxing. And the result? Well, let’s just leave it up to my toughest critic…
So delicious! It wasn’t a masterpiece by any means, nor did it look magnificent, but the taste was awesome, and, more importantly, I was able to overcome that little bit of fear and doubt.
You don’t have to be a good cook to be a good mother; I know that. But just having the confidence to continue to learn more than just the basics means a lot to me – especially since I’m the kind of person who wants to be good at everything. I’ve got a ways to go, but who knows? I just may be the next Martha Stewart. 😉
BONUS: You know the worst part of cooking? The clean up. Ugh.
Photo Credit: Peta Murgatroyd