Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Yes, I have been cooking.

So it's not that I haven't been cooking in the past month. It's that I haven't been writing about it. First off, there was Thanksgiving. It was my first time cooking the entire meal, complete with an 18 pound turkey (I didn't research before I bought the turkey and later learned that was way bigger than we needed). It was a small gathering with my mom and my boyfriend and I did mess up the homemade gravy, but for the most part, I pulled it off. :)

Then there were all the leftovers, which were delicious on their own. But to revamp the turkey after oh, about five days of reheating it, I had previously found this Turkey Tortilla Soup recipe way before Thanksgiving. I bookmarked it immediately and kept it in mind for this holiday months later. It definitely paid off.

Turkey Tortilla Soup
Start to Finish: 20 minutes
Rated: 8

There were few ingredients and it was simple to make. I took a shortcut and used tortilla chips. The key to the recipe is to use a quality salsa. I had a great salsa with chipotle already opened in the fridge, so I used that. It really gave the soup a kick. Also, although it says optional, the lime makes a huge difference in the taste of the soup. I tried it first and preferred it without lime. My boyfriend loved the lime flavor. It's a recipe that could be experimented with to possibly thicken the broth or to add different vegetables. I do think it's one I will keep for future uses.

Baked Acorn Squash
Start to Finish: 1 hour 30 minutes
Rated: 5

So after the fridge was rid of Thanksgiving leftovers, I dug out the acorn squash I had had in the cabinet for a couple weeks. This was my first time tasting as well as making squash, so I looked up a traditional recipe to bake it. It wasn't too difficult; cutting it in half was the hardest part. I believe it turned out as it was supposed to and it was nice to try something new. However, neither the boyfriend or I were big fans of the flavor or texture. I don't know if I'll be making it again.

Chicken Stir Fry
Start to Finish: 20 minutes
Rated: 9

The most recent meal I made in which I tried something new was a chicken stir fry. We had some leftover mix of vegetables and I wanted to add some extra flavor to them. What better way than to serve them with chicken, rice and a nice sauce. So I started searching online about making stir fry. It seemed quite simple and I didn't have to buy anything special.

So I started boiling the rice while I made the sauce and heated my large skillet with oil. I used everything I had in the fridge to make the sauce: some sweet chili sauce, a touch of Worcestershire, hot Sriracha sauce, and luckily we had some leftover sweet and sour sauce from Chinese takeout. With a desire for something like a Szechuan sauce, I combined it all to taste. Then I cooked the chicken almost to being cooked through and removed it from the pan. Then I heated the vegetables through, as they were already cooked. Adding the rice, sauce, and chicken back into the pan, I stirred it until it was mixed through. And voila, a simple chicken stir fry. It certainly wasn't complicated and it might not have been very traditional or technical, but it was delicious.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sweet Mashed Potatoes & Cheese Fondue

Start to Finish: 40 minutes
Rated: 7

With the fall season, my interest has been peaked by all the different vegetables and other ingredients newly in the market. I have actually never made anything with sweet potatoes, so I bought a handful on our last trip to the market. After looking at some recipes, mashing them seemed to be an easy and delicious way to try them. It definitely was simple and although I'd have to get used to the more stringy texture, I do think I'd make these sweet potatoes again.

The recipe follows below, although I did a loose interpretation of it. I used way less butter, milk instead of whipping cream, maple syrup instead of molasses, and unfortunately I didn't have any bourbon on hand. I would love to try that addition sometime. I paired it with chicken as the main course and it was a good meal overall.


We had an early dinner with the chicken and potatoes, so later that night, we decided to make some fondue. We had some smoked Gouda cheese in our refrigerator and we added some sliced mozzarella as well. It wasn't our first time making fondue, but it was our first time putting these two cheeses together. The turnout was delicious. We paired it with toasty wheat bread, smoked sausage, pieces of ham, and mini pretzels. We also had some chardonnay that complimented the cheese wonderfully. Fondue is so easy to make and so delicious. We don't use a traditional fondue recipe. We simply simmer milk and start whisking in cheese once the milk is hot. There are a ton of various ways to make it, but this works for us. It takes maybe twenty minutes and I always rate it a 10. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Apple-Sausage Rigatoni

Start to Finish: 30 minutes
Rated: 8

I have never put apples and sausage together into one meal, so this recipe intrigued me right away. It also seemed simple in its ingredients and preparation.

I did make some substitutions, such as feta cheese for the gorgonzola because I'm not a fan of blue cheeses. I also used milk for the whipping cream and turkey sausage in hopes to make it just a little healthier.


Overall, the meal had a great, mild flavor with a nice mix of savory and sweet. It was also very easy to put together. Next time, I would consider cutting the apples and sausage into smaller pieces, but it's not necessary because it was simple enough to cut it while eating. I would also consider adding basil while cooking the sausage and apples just to heighten the flavors. It is something I would make again due to its simplicity. It was a fantastic autumn meal.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Couscous-Stuffed Peppers with Basil Sauce

Start to Finish: 1.5 hours
Rated: 7

So for this weekly dinner, I decided to go out of my comfort zone. Kind of way out there. I saw this recipe on the Food Network show Giada at Home while I was in the gym and it just looked so good and easy enough. Well it was good and easy enough, so I'm glad I tried it. It is meatless, so I considered adding chicken to the mix, but I thought I'd leave it as is for the first time. And honestly, I don't feel it was missing anything.

The prep did take longer than I first anticipated. But I believe it's because I was working with newer ingredients and prepping each one.

First, I had to prep the peppers.

Then it was time to make the mix.

Once the peppers were stuffed, they went into my preheated oven for one hour.

I felt nervous about the length of cooking time considering this is my first time baking stuffed peppers. However, I believe Giada has her cooking times absolutely correct. Once the peppers were in the oven, I began to make the basil sauce that everyone in the recipe comments said was to die for. Well I made it, as it said exactly I believe, and I didn't see what all the fuss was about. It certainly didn't taste bad with the peppers, but I don't feel it enhanced them. Maybe it's just me.

Anyway, the final product. It was pretty delicious for something new.
Get the full recipe here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Basil Pesto Chicken with Parmesan Pasta

Start to Finish: 20 minutes
Rated: 9

I'm a big chicken and pasta kind of girl, so for my first recipe I decided to stay close to my comfort zone. However, this is my first time using pesto as I usually opt for a simple tomato sauce. It was a simple recipe with few ingredients and a very short prep time. The carrots were a nice addition to have a little vegetable and crunch. The chicken and pasta packed a ton of flavor and came out perfectly. I will definitely be making it again.

I also made a delicious white sangria to go with the chicken. I used one bottle of Riesling and threw in a ton of fruit. Oranges, a lime, strawberries, peaches. I left out the added sugar because it simply didn't need it. I didn't prepare in enough time to let it sit overnight to marinate, but within a couple hours the wine absolutely took on the flavors of the fruit. Squeezing the juices from the oranges definitely seemed to help with that.