Once upon a time, Cooking Light came to my house and created recipes for my family.
Have I mentioned that already? 🙂
I know, I need to get over it and move on with my life, but here is one last post on how it went afterwards. They designed a day of recipes for us in the January/February issue and here are the real life Test (Home) Kitchen’s results:
Aside from wanting to relive this experience and name drop, I also wanted to say that the ladies and gentlemen at Cooking Light really did get us. They listened and sincerely provided the ultimate day for us. These people care about their work and about the people who read it, cook it, and love it. Those of us who follow them and subscribe to their magazine and diet are all the better for it.
Thank you, people of Cooking Light Land. You rock.
As I re-read that sentence, it still hardly seems real. If you’ve been anywhere near me the past month, you already know all of the details; feel free to “x” out now. However, I’ve decided to preserve that day in writing so that when I’m old and senile, I will know it actually happened.
Cooking Light came to my house a few weeks ago. As a huge fan and guest blogger of their life-changing Cooking Light Diet, they asked if we could make a little cooking video together to go along with the January/February issue. I was like, “yeah, sure, you know, no big deal, I do this all the time. My house is always magazine-ready, and I always have magazine-worthy clothes ready to go, and I’m never anxiety-ridden about cooking with award-winning food writers.”
Ha! As thrilled as I was about getting this amazing opportunity, I actually was more in disbelief, which quickly led to denial. For a few weeks, with the date being a ways off, I lived life and made a lot of lists of things I needed to do. I am amazing at list-making. Unfortunately, list-completing is another thing entirely. With a week left and the details being communicated, I soon found myself in panic mode. I had tried to convince them earlier that I was a terrible choice, that I was not worthy, much less able to speak coherently on camera. I’m a writer, not a speaker. (Also a lover, not a fighter.) Unable to change their minds, once the plan was a-go, I decided I needed to channel a strong, capable woman to get through this. As any middle-aged, dieting, white woman would do, I chose Beyonce. She is the queen. She can do anything!
With my new Beyonc-spiration (sorry,) I realized that my house and wardrobe and yard and everything was wrong and I contemplated burning the house down. After deciding that was a bit extreme, I decided to temporarily move in to someone else’s house. That plan didn’t work out either, so I asked a friend to help me spruce up the house decor. I purchased 734 blouses, hoping one would work. I planted some flowers. In the end, things were looking so good, I felt as happy as Beyonce on a yacht with Jay-Z and Blue.
The folks from Birmingham arrived late morning and with the help from some courage-boosting mimosas, we got acquainted. There was a great deal of Cooking Light Diet talk, lots of football talk, quite a few Parks and Rec references (knowledge of which being my main criteria for “good people”) and eventually, we got down to work. They even brought a hair/makeup/wardrobe lady! Marie, who also blogs and cooks in CL videos, tended to my every want and need, mostly by making me laugh at her perfect impression of Kristen Wiig’s Target lady. Her doting on me only encouraged my inner diva, which was of great concern to my family. I tried to get my son to fan me and my daughter to feed me grapes, but they both refused. Kids today!
There was also a chill video guy, Caleb, who basically kept the camera rolling all day. I felt so awkward; honestly, I don’t know how reality stars can stand it for more than a day. There was a sound guy with really good energy, Sean, who mic’ed me up early, and of course, I forgot it was on in the beginning and went to the bathroom with it on. He kindly assured me I wasn’t the first to do so, but good grief, Beyonce would never do that! The group brought lots of yummy Cooking Light Diet snacks; some gorgeous cookbooks; some delicious, much-needed wine; and basically made my whole family feel comfortable and appreciated.
After displaying multiple speech impediments and an inability to think under pressure in an on-camera Q&A with the smart, funny, and down-to-earth Matthew Moore (CLD Community Manager,) I had the pleasure of cooking with the lovely and talented Ann Taylor Pittman. She immediately made me feel at ease by being a mom and a dog lover, as well as being a super nice person. Her recipe for Easy Thai Steak Noodle Bowl was ideal for my family: healthy, easy, delicious, and interesting. We had some laughs as she showed me some of her techniques and I tried not to be distracted by the fact that my ovens from 1994 might be in the video.
Afterwards, I cooked our very first Cooking Light Diet meal, Linguine with Garlicky Kale and White Beans, for the camera. I was so nervous, I messed up the amount of kale, but hopefully no one noticed. It was surreal to be cooking with these awesome food professionals. We ate a lot of fabulous food, drank some great wine, and overall had an incredibly fun day.
I was so busy, I didn’t take many pictures. I wish I had taken one of the whole gang. Beyonce definitely would have thought of that. Suffice it to say, my day with Cooking Light is right up there with all of my best days. They were truly the nicest people; professional but laid-back at the same time and very gracious. I loved having them here. As stressed as I started out, I ended up having a ball.
It’s funny how quickly it was all over. Monday morning came and it was back to life as usual. Which was good and bad. I had 733 blouses to return, two kids and two dogs to parent, and dinner doesn’t just cook itself, now, does it? But I had leftovers, thanks to the generosity of the Cooking Light Diet team, and through that food, I was able to relive that day one more time. I’ll be reliving it in my mind for many years to come. I have so much gratitude for the wonderful Cooking Light Diet that got me here and for the Cooking Light Diet team for showing us some new healthy recipes that even Beyonce would love.
Technically, this dish is called “Mexican Casserole,” but since my kids avoid the word “casserole” like the plague, I marketed it to them as “Deep Dish Nachos.” Even if you’re selling dinner to your children, marketing is everything! And children and nachos go together like chips and melted cheese, do they not? This meal worked out great for me because my next door neighbor and my mother had just brought me some beautiful farm stand and homegrown tomatoes..lucky us!
It’s our first full week of school and I’m trying to get back into cooking a healthy meal most nights. Summer was a lot of quick and easy…and a lot of late dinnertimes. With football practice and high school homework, I’ve been trying to get dinner on the table at a decent time. This meal was loved and devoured by my kids. I had some trouble getting the corn flakes to adhere to the fish but it was still good. I loved the ketchup but the kids were pretty meh about it. The overall work involved was too much for a weeknight. Save this one for the weekend or prep earlier. (Full disclosure: also added some sweet potato fries for starving, growing boy.) Peas and corn were from the Veggie Patch down the road…so so lucky to have their produce stand convenient to my house! Lady peas and sweet corn make any dinner rock!
Back to School means back to structure, discipline, and schedules. For me, that also means back to better eating habits! For starters, I plan to implement more Meatless Monday dishes like this one to help counteract the summer snacking monsters we all turned into.