Chicken Tikka Masala

Seth and I are en route to Greenville right now.

I’ve got a list of about a dozen or so places I want to take him in the next week. Food, drink, more food.

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

He knows I’m a planner. Knows I like to have game plans and goals – tangible things that we can accomplish on our days away. There’s breakfast at Tandem, coffee at The Village Grind, dinner from Bacon Brothers. And, of course, many a meal eaten at GB&D.

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Balsamic Honey Chicken with Roasted Fall Veggies

We need a quick dinner tonight.

Balsamic Honey Chicken

One that’s easy and filling and warm and comforting.

Balsamic Honey Chicken

Also, one that’s full of veggies. Because I haven’t been drinking my green drink as much lately now that it’s cold. Which is weird considering I have had it nearly every day for the last two years. But now? I don’t want it.

Balsamic Honey Chicken

But I do want this meal! I’ve actually made it four times in the last two weeks. It’s that good. I like it that much. And it reheats so wonderfully that I can make it at the beginning of the workweek and take leftovers all week to make my coworkers jealous.

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Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry (& planning)

I bought a planner. It’s pink with gold embossing and a thin ribbon to mark the page. It’s got a monthly overview and a weekly to-do. Very chic, very millennial.

I also got the color-coded pens – blue, black, red, green, pink, orange. All assigned to a specific sector of my life – finance, work, Ernessi, social.

It’s my hope/belief/misguided delusion that by making lists and filling out schedules and trying to be a better planner that I will somehow get my life in order.

And yet…I’ve missed weeks, I’ve missed paying bills, I’ve missed opportunities to get posts up in a timely manner.

There’s a small bit of solace in knowing that this isn’t uncommon for creative types. There’s some reassurance that my spastic scheduling and mediocre time management are byproducts of the artistic juices flowing through my veins! See? It’s not that I’m a bad person – I’m a great person – I just didn’t respond to an email for two weeks because I’m an artiste! I can’t help it, it’s how I’m wired. I can’t be expected to create masterpieces under the shackles of a schedule!

At least, that’s what I tell myself so I don’t dissolve into a heap of tears over not meeting the actual deadlines created by credit card companies or the personal ones I’ve set for myself. In reality, I know it’s a load of bull and I have to really commit to and work on sticking to a schedule if I’m ever going to get where I want to be, doing what I want to be doing.

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Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken Tacos with Pico de Gallo & Guacamole

If it isn’t obvious enough from the lack of baked goods being posted, it just hasn’t been my week in the kitchen. My mojo is no mo’. At least for the moment. I accepted it after the fifth batch of failed cupcakes.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken Tacos | via Midwest Nice Blog

This has happened before. And will likely happen again. Ebbs and flows. I will have days, weeks, at a time where things just don’t turn out in the kitchen. My touch and talent seemingly gone. While it’s very uncomfortable for me, and a serious blow to my confidence, it won’t last forever. But just in case, I did a sage smudge and deep cleaned my house for good measure.

I’ve learned that the most important thing to do when a funk like this happen is to not force it. Which, admittedly, I had been doing earlier this week; wanting so badly to bake the ideas from my imagination into a reality. It was a lot harder not to force it when I was baking professionally. It was my job to bake. I couldn’t just not. I had to force it. And the results were always less-than-ideal. Dry cupcakes, over-risen bread, croissant dough riddled with holes.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken Tacos | via Midwest Nice Blog

Eventually, things settle down. Things get back to normal. My cupcakes will turn out, my cookies will not crumble.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken Tacos | via Midwest Nice Blog

Until then, there’s tacos. With pico. And guac. They’re so delicious and so simple – made in the slow cooker so that even my struggling-self could knock them out of the park.

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Chicken Parm Subs

Morning is my favorite time of day. Annoyingly so. Particularly to my friends and family who don’t share my predisposition to keeping early hours.

Chicken Parm Subs | via Midwest Nice Blog

I love mornings so much that I’m envious of people who have mornings when I don’t. Do you know what I’m talking about? Actors on TV! I have the most serious case of FOMO when I’m sitting down in the evening, a full nights sleep ahead of me, and someone on screen gets to sit down in their jammies (preferably a matching set) and enjoy a cup of coffee at the kitchen table. Or they’re out brunching. Or making a delicious breakfast. It’s just not fair! I ache for that. I’m such a sucker.

I’m also hella susceptible to other suggestions about food and drink from movies and shows. Sure, it doesn’t help that majority of my viewing is food related, but still. A character can be eating something or drinking something and I just havetohaveit. I get a crazy, wicked craving.

Chicken Parm Subs | via Midwest Nice Blog

Movies and shows that support this:

Gilmore Girls (The stomachs on those two.)

Parks and Rec (“All the bacon and eggs you have.”)

Julie & Julia (Duh.)

The Mindy Project (Bear claws and sour straws.)

Mike & Molly (Diner scenes all day long.)

The Sopranos (Cannoli after cannoli after cannoli.)

Yes, The Sopranos makes me hungry. You’d think I’d lose my appetite what with all the murder and bloodshed, but, ironically, it makes me crave a good red sauce. And a nice chicken parm.

Chicken Parm Subs | via Midwest Nice Blog

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Pesto Roasted Chicken Legs

We got snow this weekend! Inches of it. The good kind too – big, fat flakes that crunch beneath booted feet. The perfect kind of snow to make snowmen and snowballs. The kind that cloaks the ground in a thick and fluffy blanket and settles a hush around everything, even a bustling downtown.

Pesto Roasted Chicken Legs | via Midwest Nice Blog

It came from the kind of storm they predicted all week. The kind that makes the sky an icy, steely gray and leaves a smell lingering in the air. The smell of snow. Do you know the smell I’m talking about? I hope you do.

That smell transports me back home. I get a whiff of snow on the air and whoosh I’m back in Wisconsin, with a cold nose and gloved fingers. There are a handful of smells that do that to me. That take me back to a different time or a different place.

Pesto Roasted Chicken Legs | via Midwest Nice Blog

Pesto is one of those smells. The strong scent of basil tinged with garlic and Parmesan. It reminds me of the restaurant I worked at all through high school and college. In the mornings, they’d prep big batches of it, the food processor whirring and smell the fresh, sweet herb all around. In the evenings, I’d pilfer small containers of it from the walk-in. Stealing it away to put it on anything and everything – pasta, toast, scrambled eggs.

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