The past few days I’ve tried to get back in the kitchen (not that I was ever really THAT in the kitchen to begin with) and try out some new recipes.
First up was this chocolate peanut butter pie. I’ve been waiting a long time to make this. I knew that I had to make it for some sort of event where I would not be able to eat it, as I knew that if I kept it at home, I’d eat it all in 2 days.
We have a themed monthly potluck at church, and this month the theme was legumes. Since peanuts are legumes and because peanut butter is delicious, I knew it was time to bust out the killer pie. It should come as no surprise that the pie went very quickly – I didn’t even have any. But, lucky for me or unfortunately, depending on how you view it, not all of the batter fit into the crust, so I wound up having my own mini pie waiting for me in the refrigerator at home when the potluck was over. And oh man, is it good!
Last night I made Squash, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Pasta with Basil. I know, right? It was pretty good although I used whole wheat shells for the pasta, and as much as I try and try, I just don’t really like whole wheat pasta (with the exception of this recipe for cauliflower and pasta). It would have been better with regular pasta, but it was still good and I’m looking forward to the leftovers.
Then tonight I made Smoked Salmon Feta Couscous, which is a ridiculously easy meal. I couldn’t believe it took as little time as it did. I was going to boil some frozen vegetables as a side, but the couscous was ready before I even had time to think about the vegetables, so I said screw it and enjoyed my veggie-less meal, thankyouverymuch.
Made anything tasty lately?
I’ve made a couple new dishes lately that turned out to be pretty bland, but fortunately I came across one winner: cheese and caramelized onion pizza. It’s sooooo good, you guys. I’ve never cooked caramelized onions before, and while I didn’t do a stellar job of it, the onions still turned out well. (This could have something to do with the fact that I got a new stove/oven, and I’m amazed at how much better it cooks. It’s just faster and cooks more evenly.)
The pizza is not exactly cheap, as prosciutto is rather expensive considering how much you get. And fontina isn’t really low cost either. But I think the cost is worth it, as it’s a nice change from the usual tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza.
Made anything noteworthy lately?
It’s been a while since we’ve talked about recipes. I haven’t been cooking very much lately, but in the past week I did try a couple new ones.
First up is roasted cabbage with bacon. I rarely buy cabbage because I just don’t really know what to do with it. But this recipe was so popular I thought I’d give it a shot. And it was good – but greasy. I loved the cabbage, and I of course love the bacon, but the grease from the bacon was a little too much. That said, I still enjoyed it. However, the leftovers were soggy and extra greasy.
The other problem I have with this dish is that I only like bacon when it’s super crispy. Some of the bacon became very crispy during the roasting process, but some of it stayed soft. It was still cooked okay, but it just wasn’t at that primo crispy stage. I’m not sure that I would make this again, but I’d still recommend it.
On to the second recipe: garlic noodles. I give it a meh. I don’t think I’ll make it again, but it wasn’t terrible – just average. And now my apartment smells like garlic, which can be good to an extent. However, this garlic smell goes just beyond my threshold of acceptable.
Made anything good – or meh – lately?
It’s been a while since we’ve talked about recipes. I blame that on the fact that I made a few duds recently (I didn’t think it was possible to make bad fish tacos, but somehow I did). But lately, I’ve made some meals worth mentioning.
First, there was orzo with spinach and pine nuts. The sauteed spinach with red pepper flakes added just the right amount of kick, and the feta cheese didn’t hurt either.
And because I had leftover feta, I made smitten kitchen’s pasta with cauliflower, walnuts and feta. I’ve never cooked with cauliflower, but I thought I’d give it a shot. However, as I was making it, I started to regret it. It just didn’t look that good. But I was totally surprised when I tried it – it was really good! Plus, the cauliflower is really filling, so a small serving goes a long way. My complaint, though, is that this is a TON of food. 1 lb. of pasta + 2 heads of cauliflower = way too much for 1 person. I made this last week, and I’m still working on getting through the leftovers. I highly recommend – even if you’re feeding more than 1 person – to cut this recipe in half. You’ll still have plenty of food! Also, make sure you cut the cauliflower into small pieces. If you leave it in larger pieces, it takes 5,000 years to cook through.
Finally, tonight I made this layered chicken and black bean enchilada casserole. I didn’t expect much from it, but it wound up being really good!
I came across this post recently on The Kitchn that explains how to make brown sugar.
For each cup of sugar, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of molasses for light brown sugar, and up to 1/4 cup for dark brown sugar. Depending on the recipe, you can either combine them in the food processor or just mix them together with other ingredients.
That’s pretty good to know! Brown sugar gets clumpy and while there are ways to fix that, it’s nice to know that you don’t even have to buy brown sugar in the first place.
Now you may be thinking “Why would I have molasses handy but not brown sugar?” Here is why you need to have molasses: The best ginger cookies ever. I’m not that big of a ginger fan, but these cookies are amaaaaazing!
Tonight I made one of my favorite dishes: Smoked salmon pasta.
I can’t say there’s any one thing truly outstanding about it, but I just really like it. It’s pretty and it’s like something I’d get in a restaurant. And I’m a sucker for smoked salmon, so when you add lemon, pinenuts, dill, and pasta, I’m happy! The recipe is pretty flexible; I substituted skim milk and a pat of butter for the cream and onions for the shallots. And because I’ve been home during the day and watching Rachael Ray, I threw on some parmesan before serving. Delicious!
I would like to make this more often, but I have a hard time paying for smoked salmon. I really like it, but it’s kind of expensive for the amount that you get.
But I did manage to take advantage of a good deal at the grocery store last week – QFC had giant packages of blueberries for $3.88! I made blueberry crisp, which uses 6 cups of blueberries, so it worked out well.
I substituted walnuts for pecans, and I regret that. The smokey walnut flavor just doesn’t work. But I still like the recipe – it’s a little bit healthier than some of the other blueberry desserts I was considering making. The dish is mostly blueberries with just a little bit of crumble on top, and it only uses half a stick of butter.
What have you made lately?
The Kitchn (Apartment Therapy) has been posting all summer about cocktails. They finally wrapped it up and made one giant ol’ post about summer cocktails and mix-ins and guides and tools and all sorts of informative stuff. It’s a pretty handy list and worth bookmarking. My alcohol knowledge is not that great, so it’s good to learn what some of this stuff is so that I’m not as overwhemled the next time I’m at happy hour.
mmmm, happy hour.
Anyway, if you’re not reading The Kitchn, you should. The posts range from super fancy recipes that are way over my head to even simple things like how to fry an egg, and the comments are also great places for ideas and discussion.
Last night I had friends over for dinner, and I decided to go with the old stand-by: carbs.
Relying again on my favorite food blog, Culinary in the Country, I made a dish that I’d bookmarked a long time ago: Four Cheese Baked Penne. And it was really good – much better than I had expected. And it’s a little bit healthier than your average mac and cheese dish. It uses cottage cheese (i don’t like cottage cheese, but in recipes like this, it’s not so bad), so you can go with a light cottage cheese. Plus, you can use whole wheat pasta, so that’s extra fiber – or whatever it is that makes whole wheat pasta healthier. Just make sure you use a big skillet because it’s a lot of food to stir.
I also made Terri Salad. Okay, maybe it’s not officially Terri Salad, since I know other people make this salad too, but I’d like to go ahead and take credit.
- baby spring mix or whatever lettuce you like (just please not iceberg)
- dried cranberries
- crumbled gorgonzola cheese, preferably Trader Joe’s (I had to substitute with blue cheese because TJ’s was out of gorgonzola – the nerve!)
- this is key: Paul Newman’s Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette – it’s the best dressing ever. or you could make your own, if you’re fancy like that.
- optional: mandarin orange slices, chopped apples, or sliced strawberries (i didn’t use any of these)
Made anything good lately?