Saturday, May 28, 2011

Southwestern-Style Salmon Cakes ~ page 253

These were super yummy!!! Adam ate 5 1/2 of them and had to hold himself back from eating more. I have always used canned salmon for salmon cakes....I think I will always want to use fresh salmon from now on. The texture was so much better, not mushy. The only change I would do next time is to reduce the amount of corn a little, that would probably help them stick together a bit more, they were a little delicate. The recipe says to make 4 large patties....That is way to big I think. I made 11 patties that were 3 inches across and I thought that was perfect! I served steamed broccoli on the aide to offset the oil that the patties were cooked in. Now did it pass the 30 minute test? NO, it did not, but then again I doubt that the Cooks Illustrated test chefs had to deal with 3 kids climbing on them while they cooked dinner! --Carissa

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sorry ladies...

I shouldn't blog when I am this tired...

Shannon :)

Sloppy Joes

This has good flavor, easy to make, but mine were too runny- I had to use a slotted spoon to drain the liquid before putting it on the bun-  I did think it was a bit on the sweet side-

Healthier than the canned sloppy joe sauce!  :)

Fast All- American Beef Chili

This was super easy to make- I really like how they explained why they used the tomatoes they did, and why to put them through the blender- I really like the consistency of this chili- I usually use diced tomatoes and it's too chunky- I'll be doing this trick again...

But...using my own chili seasonings- these cooks must not be from the south, because even for me who hates spicy foods, this was bland!  I added probably triple the chili powder and it still wasn't enough-

I really like the boxed 2 alarm chili mix from the grocery store :)

Pasta e Fagioli

This was very easy and very yummy!  The taste was delicious- I did add 1 pound of ground italian sausage and that made it even better. 

My only complaint is I really dont like soggy bacon in my soup- I think  you could brown the bacon, get the flavor out of it and then remove it before adding the chicken broth

I used orzo pasta and it worked beautifully!  I'll be making this one again in the winter :) 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Southwestern Mini Meatloaves (page 235)

I made the All-American meatloaves and thought they were pretty good, but always wanted to try the southwestern variation after Morgan’s post. This version was just as good as the first and still entertaining for the taste buds. I was nervous that the ketchup glaze would be unusual with the cilantro, but it really meshed together well. For my meatloaf mix, I used ground beef and ground turkey. I crushed up the leftover patties and used it for tacos the following night. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Easy Cheese Lasagna (page 179)

This was my first try at making any type of lasagna. I've always heard people say that it's very time consuming. This wasn't too bad. It certainly took me longer than 30 minutes, but pretty much all of the recipes take me more than 30 minutes. I think I'm just a very slow chopper and mincer.

I followed the recipe exactly, but I pretty much follow all recipes exactly. I'm trying to become more adventurous, but I have always been a by-the-book type of person. It was pretty filling without meat, but next time, if I have time, I may add sausage like the book suggests or maybe try browned ground beef.

Simple Pan-Seared Pork Chops (page 208) and Worcestershire and Butter Sauce (page 196)

I try to buy whatever meat is on sale, and bone-in pork chops were on sale and I thought I would try the simple pan-seared recipe. Kirk thought the pork chops were really good on their own without the sauce, and I did too.

The sauce was okay. I was surprised it was just okay because I normally like worcestershire sauce, and who doesn't like butter? I just remember it being really salty. I'm guessing since the chops were seasoned with salt and pepper, and then I added a sauce that had salt and pepper plus chicken broth (I didn't use low-sodium like the recipe suggests), that all of that contributed to it. It makes sense to me now as I'm typing why they use low-sodium chicken broth and unsalted butter. Hindsight is 20/20!

Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Artichokes (page 165)

Isn't Darby the one who likes to make the recipes featured in the pictures? I'm the same way! I saw a picture of this and thought it looked good. Plus, I had all of the ingredients on hand.

As you can see, my picture doesn't look anywhere near as mouthwatering as the book. My artichokes never got quite as brown. I did use either whole wheat or whole grain spaghetti, which I know has a different taste/texture than regular. This was pretty good, but not anything special. It's exactly what it says that it is...pasta, garlic, olive oil, and artichokes.

Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Maple Glaze

So, this is my very first post. I've actually cooked several things from the book, but I haven't sat down and blogged about them. I've actually never blogged before, so this is all new for me. We've discovered that we need a new camera, so please forgive the fuzzy pictures.

I think this is the first dish I made. It was funny because I think that Carissa and Morgan made some of the same things I did at first.

Anyway, I buy pork loin when it's on sale, so I had some in the freezer. I actually learned that there is a difference between pork loin and tenderloin but not enough to really mean anything. I only used one pork loin that was about 1.25 pounds. Kirk and I both like extra sauce, especially since I made mashed potatoes to go with this. I don't think I deviated at all other than using less meat, and we loved this. I especially loved the sauce since I like syrup, mustard and balsamic vinegar.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Taco Salad (page 32) and Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette (page 22)

I made both of these recipes exactly as instructed and they were pretty good. I don’t know if I liked the dressing enough to make again, but I certainly will make the taco salad again.

Quick Homemade Biscuits (page 116)

My hubby has had an exhausting semester juggling work and school, but when he got his report of all A’s it was time for a celebration dinner. I told him I would cook whatever he wanted and he requested a super southern meal (full of starches and carbs- thank goodness the end of the semester is only twice a year). I made Christy Jordan’s Southern Plate fried chicken with white gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, and these delicious biscuits. These truly were super simple and fast to make (and I had some serious doubts that I could make them in 30 minutes). I didn’t get the 8 biscuits that were expected, but I was ok with that since I would have eaten every single one. I will make these again, not only for dinner, but also for special breakfasts with white gravy and sausage. Yum-o!

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Potatoes (page 113)

Of course I chose to cook this recipe because it was one of the few pictured recipes. We thought this meal was pretty regular. It was fast, cheap, and required ingredients I already had around the kitchen. I would probably make this again, but without the drizzle.

Create-Your-Own Stir-Fry (page 101)

We like this recipe because it allows a lot of freedom to be tailored to your own taste. I usually serve stir-fry when I have a lot of left-overs that need a make-over and I typically have most of the supportive ingredients on hand. For my protein, I chose chicken. For the vegetables, I used mushrooms, spinach, carrots, broccoli, and sugar snap peas. I served this over whole-grain rice. I also added some garam masala, turmeric, and red pepper flakes for some bold spice.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Indian-Style Red Lentil Soup with Coconut ~ page 56

Adam and I both really like Indian food, so this was a recipe I have been wanting to make for quite a while! We both really like it, and would make it again. It was ready in under 30 minutes no problem. The 5 yr old and 3yr old did not like it, (they gave it 2 thumbs down and 2 big toes down!) ...but then again they are not crazy about any Indian food I make! On the other hand, the 9 month old baby LOVED it...go figure!
I buy alot of my Indian spices and food at that new place on I10 called Ranch Market 99, it is an Asian grocery store. That is where these lentils came from.
Aren't they such a pretty color? I just love that color...once they are cooked, they turn more of a mustard-like color, but still pretty. And check out the fiber content! 1/4 cup is 11 grams of fiber! Just eat a bowl of this soup ever other day and you will be regular in no time! :) --Carissa

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jambalaya ~ page 132

After reading Morgan's review, I decided to give this a try. I used the option for regular rice instead of instant rice, so it took a lit longer than the original recipe. It was good...I would make it again. My only complaint would be that it was a little gummy and squishy...I might have put a little too much liquid in though, or maybe I let the kiddos over stir it. As I was slicing my sausage I kept thinking that Andouille didn't have a very appetizing smell, but I had never used it before, so I kept slicing...then finally I decided it just smelled down right bad. After pulling the package wrapper out of the trash, I noticed that it had expired a couple weeks earlier! I had just bought it 1 day ago! Don't you hate that?! So...plan B was the leftover rotisserie chicken from the night before. I think the sausage would have added more flavor than the chicken did, but oh least it was lower in fat! Here is my pile of chicken...
I have a new spice that I have been sprinkling on top of all sorts of things...Aleppo Pepper! It added a great amount of heat to the dish. If any of you aren't familiar with Penzey's Spice need to check it out. It is a store that only carries spices...and boy do they have any and every spice you would ever want, and at reasonable prices too. It is located in the Heights...would be a fun place to check out if you had the time one day. Next time I make this I will add the sausage in. Yum...I just ate a bowl of leftovers for lunch as I was typing this! --Carissa

Thursday, May 5, 2011

30-Minute Pork Vindaloo (page 83)

This has been a week of firsts for me. On Tuesday I made Hungarian for the first time and tonight I made my first Indian dish. I’m loving this!

The biggest issue I had with this recipe was finding the spices. First I went to Kroger for the garam masala and couldn’t find it. Then while I was flipping through our cookbook I found a recipe for garam masala on page 56. Since I still needed 2 of the ingredients to make my own (coriander and cardamom), my husband and I walked to Central Market to pick them up. When we found them in the spice section our jaws hit the floor at the sight of the price tag. It was going to cost us $16 just to make the spice I originally wanted. We decided that it wasn’t worth it and we would just pretend it was there. Then we walked over to the coffee section (we’re BIG fans) to get our weekly coffee. Since the coffee section is adjacent to the make-your-own spice section, we decided to check if garam masala was there. *It was there, AND for $5.99/lb!* So I got more than I will ever use probably for only 42 cents!!!! So the problem was solved and we didn’t have to pretend! It was certainly a hunt but well worth it. I was expecting the spice to be really hot, but instead it had a sweet flavor. I served the vindaloo over whole-wheat rice with naan crackers. I was pleasantly surprised with how well this dish turned out. I especially liked the flavor that the cilantro added to the dish.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Skillet Baked Ziti (page 140) and Bread Sticks (page 160)-

After Morgan’s post about the bread sticks I decided that I needed to find a pasta dish to make ASAP so I could have the bread sticks (it’s funny how my brain works sometimes). Though this pasta is one of the recipes featured in the skinny photograph section of our book, I don’t think my picture matches well. Looks aside, the taste was great. I used whole-wheat penne and Kraft Italian Cheese Blend instead of the parmesan. For the bread sticks, I had the same issue as Morgan with finding the recommended size. Taking note of Morgan’s suggestions though, I doubled the thickness of the dough (so I had fewer bread sticks) and really monitored them in the oven. I also used grated cheese, but agree that shredded parmesan would be better. Considering the taste, time to prepare, and having all of the ingredients on hand on a normal basis, I will probably make this again.

30-Minute Chicken Paprikash (page 74)

This was my first brush with Hungarian and I think the stew was pretty good. This was another recipe that said to cook the chicken in the microwave; I still couldn’t bring myself to do that, and boiled it on the stove instead. Other than that, this was a pretty straight forward recipe. We shredded the chicken so that it would have more of a “stew” feel to it at the end.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Easy Enchiladas ~ page 256

These were very yummy. One trick that they have you do is to add some refried beans to the filling mixture. This is to make it all stick together and make a neater enchilada. Usually you add alot of cheese to make it all stick together, but then once it cooks, all the cheese oozes out and you are left with a flat greasy enchilada. I really liked the refried bean idea, it worked for me. I don't know if I could have really had them on the table in 30 minutes. I prepped mine and assembled them ahead of time, and that alone too 30 minutes. The corn tortillas got a little too soft...I think if I had made them all at the last minute, they would not have gotten too soft...mine just sat in the sauce for 6 hours absorbing all the moisture. I didn't have canned sauce, so I made my own using their recipe. It was a great sauce. I'd make these again. --Carissa