I love reading recipes. I follow several cooking blogs, receive a couple cooking magazines, and have overflowed one of my bookshelves with cookbooks. It began when I was saving up for graduate school and trying to cut back on expenses, including groceries. Stale cereal was a common dinner but with that stale cereal, I read about grilled flank steak, chicken parmesan, double layer cakes, recipes that would make you drool and that made the cereal a little more palpable. 
I now eat a little healthier, but still love reading recipes. It gives me ideas about what are good combinations and how to cook different foods. 
You would think with my love of reading recipes, I may actually follow them. Not so much. To me, recipes are like suggestions. It’s like someone is saying, This might be good if…”
This leads to both my greatest strength and greatest weakness as a cook; my complete inability to follow a recipe to a T. I have made some pretty nasty things and some pretty amazing things because of this. Before I recount my recent mishaps, a few successes.

Lemon Rice– This was a recipe I found in a cookbook while visiting a friend. I painstakingly copied it down and then proceeded to never actually follow it.  I started making it the first time and realized I was supposed to be adding fresh parsley. I have no patience for fresh parsley. I don’t use it fast enough and then it goes bad. Since then I have had to make it when I didn’t have the recipe handy (mainly because I promised this amazing lemon-y risotto to someone I was visiting and then forgot to bring the recipe with me). 
So to make it…
Buy some good rice. No instant! I have made it with jasmine, basmati and brown rice, all are excellent.
Make 1 serving of rice as directed on the package except a little less water than you are told.
Add juice of at least 1 lemon. 2 if you want it more lemon-y
Throw in a few cloves of garlic (do not mince)
Add a few tablespoons of butter (1-3)
Cook rice as directed.
When you serve it, mash in the cloves of garlic.
Yumm….

Corn Tortilla Baked Chips

I decided that I wanted to bake my own tortilla chips so I searched far and wide for a recipe. When I found it, I started tinkering immediately. It just called for a little oil brushed on corn tortillas. I decided that I could get rid of some of the oil if I added lime juice. Still a little boring. I have tweaked it and found something that totally blows baked scoops out of the water.

Use about a half of package of White Corn Tortilla.

Cut them into fours.

In a bowl, whisk together the juice of a couple of limes and lemons.

I have found an amazing Lime Fajita seasoning, but you could also do any kind of Mexican seasoning or even better Citrus Mexican seasoning. Whisk some of that in.

Add just about a teaspoon of canola oil. Whisk it together.

Spray the baking pan with some baking spray.

Using a pastry brush, brush on the mixture to the tortillas. Then sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake at 350. After 12 minutes flip them and re-salt them. Bake for about 8 more minutes.

*I realize that these are vague. Think in terms of ratio. For the chips, do a 4:1 ratio, 4 citrus juice to 1 oil. If it’s a little greasy, just decrease the oil. In terms of time, you will find out how crispy you like them.

Recent Disasters
I decided tonight to improv on a recipe for polenta. This was a bad idea for several reasons. 1- I have never actually made polenta so I didn’t know how it cooked or what it was supposed to look like. 2-I did have polenta once and hated it. 3-Whenever I read about polenta, it was in a recipe where polenta wasn’t the main dish. Use polenta in a tamale! Instead of pasta, use polenta! Put a yummy tomato mixture and cheese on top of polenta!
So what did I do with polenta? I did buy polenta pre-made and decided I would grill it. Worried that it would be too bland, I mixed up some olive oil, basil, oregano and minced garlic and spread it on the polenta. The result? Grilled, greasy, mushy polenta.

So, for tomorrow’s dinner, I am actually going to play it safe. Steamed green beans with lemon, potato salad that I have made before, salad with radishes and green onions and rhubarb pie for dessert. Hopefully the future in-laws will like it!

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