The goal for 2011 is 30 new recipes for the year. Can I do it?
- Pork Scaloppine (Real Simple, January 2011) – so, so simple to make, and makes me feel like I’ve prepared a Real Adult Meal. When I remember to add a reasonable vegetable accompaniment, that is.
- Pork fajitas (Real Simple, January 2011) – pretty similar to what I do when I make soft tacos, but a nice change from ground beef and turkey.
- Crispy tilapia filets with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans (Bon Appetit, January 2011) – only ended up using the tilapia preparation from this recipe, but it was so easy and delicious that I have a feeling it’ll end up in our protein rotation. This entire meal took about 10 minutes to prepare, what with the sweet potatoes and green beans steaming in the microwave. I could get used to this kind of dinner!
- Black beans and sausage (Everyday Food, November 2010) – this ended up being pretty healthy because I substituted chicken sausage and used dried beans rather than canned. Except for a slightly unfortunate discoloration of the sausage (it turned a really vibrant blackish-violet), this was a success.
- Pasta with broccoli and bacon (ever so slightly adapted from Everyday Food, November 2010) – lesson learned: frozen broccoli is pretty gross. However, the “sauce” for this dish is basically a combination of the cooking water and bacon grease, which, though it sounds sort of iffy, I can promise you is d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. Fergie-style.
- Baked butternut squash risotto (Everyday Food, November 2010) – I love risotto, I love butternut squash. This was a win, even if there is still about half of it hanging out in the freezer. (GP is sort of a “where’s the beef?” guy.)
- Sweet mustard chicken with warm balsamic potato salad (Cooking Light website) – I used chicken breasts instead of thighs– that’s what I had on hand– and this was insane. Both parts of this meal were really simple to prepare, and went so well together that I’m considering making them tonight. Bonus: this meal takes about ten minutes to prepare. Ten!
- Mushroom and tomato pot roast (adapted from Cooking Light) – in reality, this had only two tomatoes and one mushroom (type), rather than the double-triple of the original recipe…but it was still a winner! The relatively long (for a weeknight) cooking time makes the beef super-tender.
- Tuscan garlic chicken pasta (Cook’s Country) – Eh. Underwhelmed. Pretty basic, even though their recipe card promises deliciously flavor-infused olive oil will lift this beyond ordinariness. Now that I have found, after some googling, that Olive Garden makes something similar, I have a little more insight into why I was so disappointed with this dish.
- Griot with sauce ti-malice (Cooking Light, May 2010) – So. This dish takes awhile– a couple days, really, including prep– to make. But, if you are like me and have a big chunk of frozen pork shoulder in your freezer (what? I buy meat on sale and figure out the rest later!), you should be more than willing to go through the process. Your reward will be an amazing dinner, and hopefully your efforts at fried plantains will not be so disastrous.
- Beef tagine with butternut squash (Cooking Light, January 2011) – amazingly simple and quick to prep, and rewards you with a complex, spicy/spiced (yes, both) flavor. I can’t wait to dig into the leftovers!
- Roast chicken a la Zuni Cafe – We made this for a group of six one weekend in Tahoe, and it was a hit. The birds that I used were slightly larger than the recipe recommends, but still ended up perfectly cooked (thanks, meat thermometer!). There is a solid amount of smoke created by all the fat popping around in the oven, but lowering the temperature, using a pan that’s only slightly bigger than the chicken(s), and setting up a fan take care of that pretty well. I’m already plotting about when I can make this again.
- Vegetarian chili with sweet potatoes – I ended up making this on the stove top rather than in the slow-cooker; slow-cooker recipes that are even seven or eight hours long aren’t long enough when you have a job that requires a more-than-eight-hour absence from home every day. The wonderful news about making this on the stove top is that the flavors are still wonderful (I’ll credit the cocoa powder with this– a new secret ingredient!) and it’s a snap to prepare (think opening cans, rather than a lot of chopping and other prepping). Even GP, who’s usually Mr. Where’s-The-Beef, liked this one.
- Smitten Kitchen’s cream scones – I made these as a component of the ladies’ tea (attended by myself and my mother) that I threw the Saturday morning following the royal wedding. I omitted the currants and eschewed all other fillings/dress-ups in favor of a really lovely, biscuit-y scone that is heavenly with jam. Knowing how to make these is going to be dangerous, I just know it.
- Whole Wheat Apricot Muffins – the first of four new recipes I used for a Mother’s Day brunch, using a Cooking Light cookbook that I got from my grandmother last year. I loved these (and so did my guests, judging from the fact that they disappeared pretty quickly), but I think I’d sweeten with honey next time– it makes more sense to use a sugar alternative in such an otherwise healthy recipe, and would probably make the muffins a little moister. (That’s a word, right?)
- Individual Potato-Bacon Fritattas – another Mother’s Day recipe, which I made in 10-ounce ramekins so that everyone could have their own little frittata. They’re pretty reminiscent of tortillas espanolas, with potato chunks and bacon bits throughout. As healthy egg-based breakfast components go, this is definitely a winner.
- Green Salad with Honey-Orange Dressing – yes, this was from Mother’s Day, too. It seems a little silly to be posting a salad recipe, and such a simple one at that. But this dressing! It was divine. You have to make it.
- Fruit Salad with Honey-Yogurt Sauce – another nearly-too-simple Mother’s Day recipe, but I think I’ve lucked into what might be my absolute favorite fruit salad combination. No melon, no grapes trying to escape the tines of my fork. And it’s so good with the sauce! Super-simple, but it really pays off.
- Kugelhopf – brought these to a garage sale that we “shared” with friends, and it was the perfect thing with a cup of coffee as those early birds are eyeballing the junk that you’re attempting to sell to them. To be fair, this horribly ugly pot that we were trying to get rid of was handmade and probably cost the well-meaning but taste-deficient relatives that purchased it a pretty penny. (No, I am not bitter that it’s still sitting in our garage. Not at all.
- Salmon Cakes – My initial experience with canned salmon was slight horrifying (hello, spinal column of a fish in a can), so I switched to the packet-version, and haven’t looked back. These come together really quickly, and are awesome atop a salad. I usually whip together a dressing/sauce that consists of a 50/50 blend of mayo and dijon mustard (better than it sounds, I promise), and then add fresh lemon juice until it’s at the consistency I want.
- British Flapjacks – When we were in England last year, I tried a packaged version of this traditional bar/cookie, and knew immediately that I would be trying to re-create the buttery goodness contained therein. Luckily, Molly Wizenberg understands things like this, and included this 4-ingredient recipe in one of her Bon Appetit columns.
- Dinner Bruschetta with Eggplant Ragu – I know, I know, this is a recipe from Fitness magazine. (Which, by the way, I have no business subscribing to. Who do I think I am?) But! Not only is it possibly the best way to use the eggplants that your green-thumb neighbor has graciously donated, it is also a veritable loaves-and-fishes situation. The recipe claims to make 4 servings, but we were eating this for the better part of the week…not that I minded.
- Navy Bean and Andouille Soup – Sometimes, even in California, it rains in September. Should you find both human, adult members of your household have taken ill and would like nothing better than to bathe in a big vat of soup…well, you’ve got to run down to your little Italian market and make this thing. You probably won’t even notice that the greens are likely good for you.
- Traditional Lasagna, adapted from this – When it comes to making something as basic/foundational as lasagna, I’m always hesitant to follow a single recipe, even if it claims to be the “ultimate.” (Sorry, Mr. Florence, I’m not buying your weird “noodle collar” around the edge of the pan.) The recipe that I used for the basis of this dish did indeed make two whole lasagnas, which was perfect for this sort of “freeze for later” dish. I used the Cook’s Illustrated recommended meat ratio of 1/3 ground veal, 1/3 ground beef, and 1/3 Italian sausage, and I doubt I’ll ever stray from that. (Cheese and herbage are another story, but that meat mélange has my undying loyalty.)
- Black Pepper Chicken Thighs with Mango, Rum, and Cashews – I’m sure you could make this with chicken breasts (if you’re the type, like me, who always has that bag o’ frozen breasts on hand), but it probably wouldn’t be as succulent as this slightly-tropical and completely delicious version. (Upside or downside, depending on whom you ask: I have a big bottle of spiced rum now!)
- Peanut Butter Caramel Corn – Peanut butter? Caramel? Corn? SOLD. I threw a handful of the remaining cashews from the above recipe into this, and it was even better. Again, the yield seems funny because it claims to serve twenty, which…yeah, nope. (It is a lot of caramel corn, but it’s also delicious.)
- Creamy White Chicken Chili – I took advantage of a week-long GP absence by making something that his lactose-intolerant tummy could definitely not manage; the result was a week’s worth of chili that I was more than happy to eat every single day.
- Grilled Plum and Prosciutto-Stuffed Pork Chops (served with Smoked Gouda Grits and Sweet Onion Applesauce) – Served when we had four friends over for a little Friday night dinner party (we even used our china! fancy!), met with general joy. I had started the pork on the grill pan (stove-top), and then transferred it to the oven to finish, which made the glaze extra glaze-y. The grits were lovely (hello, cheese) and the applesauce was the perfect sweet-savory complement.
- Shrimp and Grits – Similarly to the lasagna, I scoped out the various takes on this before I started. Using the notes I’d gathered on ingredients, amounts, and process, I created something that GP has already requested I make again. [FYI, I made quick-cooking grits separately, while I was cooking four strips of bacon (cut into smaller pieces) in another pan. After removing the bacon and some of the grease, I sautéed about half a medium-diced onion until it was translucent. Then I added a couple cloves of minced garlic and half a pound of shrimp that I’d seasoned with salt and pepper and then dredged in flour. Once the shrimp were nearly cooked, I added a couple tablespoons of lemon juice, a couple tablespoons of parsley, and about half a cup of chicken broth, cooking for about five more minutes until everything was ready to serve over the grits.]
- Beef Goulash with Dumplings – A hearty but not heavy fall/winter dish, well-spiced but not spicy, and those dumplings…well. Let’s just say I’m glad that this made a good amount of leftovers.
- Overnight Buttery Streusel Coffee Cake – I’m eating this right this very second, and I have to say…I sort of never want to eat anything else. I’m a big fan of weekend breakfast dishes where you do most of the prep the night before, so it was lovely to just pop this into the oven and eat awesomely buttery coffee cake just a little while later.