Thursday, August 18, 2011

Recipe Verdicts

You'll have to forgive me for the delay on this post. Several things--not the least of which was me cracking my glass stove top (yes, that can be done), necessitating the purchase of a new range--contributed to postponing the completion of my new recipe knock-out challenge. I do still have a few to try but I've been reluctant to either because (A) they are baked-casserole type dishes that require a hot oven for least 30 minutes and (B) the weather has been in the 90s and felt like the 100s for the last two months or (C) the recipe calls for ground turkey and there was a huge recall on turkey meat--bummer.

A and B do not play well together and C does not play well with anyone so surely you can understand my hesitation. I'll be saving the "makes-me-sweat-just-thinking-about-them" recipes for the cooler months, thank you very much. And the turkey recipes will still be around once turkey is again declared fit for human consumption (which I think it has been already) and I feel safe feeding it to my family. (I like to give food recalls wide berth.)

For the time being, these are my “recipes in waiting”:

  1. 3-Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine
  2. Fontina & Marscapone Baked Pasta
  3. Make-Ahead Chicken Cornbread Casserole
  4. Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta & Pine Nuts
  5. Parmesan Polenta & Spicy Sausage
  6. Open-Faced Turkey Joes
  7. Crustless Smoked Turkey & Spinach Quiche

As for the others, we had several huge successes and only a few that won't be gracing our table again. Here are the verdicts as handed down by the Oberhaus Clan food critics, in order of deliciousness:

  1. Chicken & Spinach Lasagna - Ohhhh, yeah. This one is a keeper. I think it was our favorite of the bunch. Not only did everyone love it the first time around but the leftovers were just as popular. Brogan is notorious for loving something the first time we have it then snubbing his nose at round 2. That did not happen with this lasagna. In fact, he ate it for two dinners and two lunches. That sort of speaks for itself. You should try this one.
  2. Spiced Pork Chops with Apple Chutney - We loved this one! (Toddler included.) The spices were different from what I typically use on chops, which was really nice, and the chutney was simple and delicious. This was the first recipe I tried and, to be honest, it was so good that I was nervous about loving ALL of them this much. (It would be down right annoying to incorporate 26 new recipes into our dinner rotation.)
  3. Roasted Chicken & Bow Tie Pasta Salad - This recipe was a pleasant surprise. It's light, refreshing and delicious. Perfect for summer! Plus, as a bonus, it can be made the day before. If you do make it ahead, just wait to add the pecans until right before serving. I actually forgot to add the pecans that I had lovingly toasted and had sitting there, ready to go. To be honest, I didn't even miss them. The onion and grapes lend enough crunch that the texture doesn't suffer without the nuts.
  4. Hamburger Stroganoff - This was excellent. Easy, light and had great flavor. I'm always looking for a way to slip in green veggies so added a 1/2 cup of frozen peas, which worked well. I made extra and froze it. It was good reheated but not as good as it was fresh.
  5. Chicken Tamale Casserole - Another favorite! This all-inclusive casserole is super-easy and mega-delicious. Add a side salad and that's all you need for a great meal. Leftovers were terrific, too.
  6. Grilled Balsamic Skirt Steak with Tomato & Vidalia Salad - I made the steak and skipped the salad after my husband reminded me that he's not that crazy about tomatoes. (He's trying--and liking!--so many new things these days that I sometimes forget that there is a line drawn at certain foods. Tomatoes being one of them.) The steak was good but, the next time it's going to grace our grill, I will marinate it in the fridge for a few hours, if not over night. Really nice flavors going on here, though.
  7. Sauteed Chicken with Sage Browned Butter - Two words: Yu. Um! Not only was the chicken great but the fried sage was amazing. The recipe instructs you to discard the sage after sautéing it in butter. DO NOT DO THIS! Those crispy little leaves are pretty incredible. I'm sure the editors at Cooking Light may not approve but they are totally worth the extra fat and calories. Use the leaves as edible garish. You won't be sorry.
  8. Pimento Cheese Stuffed Chicken - This chicken was fantastic. It came out of the oven moist and flavorful. There was a good amount of drippings in the skillet after the chicken was done so I used most of them to make herbed couscous. Here’s how: Bring 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup drippings to a boil. Mix in 1 cup couscous, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp each fresh basil, oregano & thyme. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in the juice of 1/2 lemon. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
  9. Almond Crusted Chicken Cutlets with Scallion Beurre Blanc Sauce - Creamy and delicious! This recipe is on the richer side (it's from Rachael Ray, not Cooking Light) but when we're in the mood for something a little more decadent for dinner, I'll definitely reach for this one again.
  10. Hawaiian Ham & Pineapple Kebabs - This was a yummy little number. It's great for dinner or a party. I did two things differently: (1) I added chunks of red onion to the skewers and (2) I marinated the ham in the sauce overnight. Both were good calls. The onion paired perfectly with the ham and fruit. NOTE: Keep an eye on the ham while grilling. It heats up quickly and can dry out if it's on the grill for too long.
  11. Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas - These were really good in an I-can-tell-these-aren't-terribly-bad-for-me kinda way. Which is funny because, although they are from Cooking Light, in terms of nutrition stats, they are "worse" than most of the others on the list. If I didn't already have a go-to Chicken Enchilada recipe, I would definitely make this again. The filling was delish! You could easily omit the tortillas and just bake the filling until bubbly and serve it as a dip with tortilla chips. Ooh, now there's an idea!
  12. Grilled Corn, Squash & Tomato Penne with Ricotta - While good, this one was not great. For us, anyway. The corn was a bit distracting from the overall flavor and texture of the dish. Also, in thinking that my hubs would be highly disappointed if there was no meat for dinner, I added a few (4 or 5) strips of crumbled bacon. That is a must and I would definitely do that again.
  13. Lemony Chicken Saltimboca - Tasty but a little on the salty side for me. I'm a bit sodium-sensitive, though. Man and man-child did not have issues with the saltiness and really enjoyed it.
  14. Creamy Corn Soup with Sweet Beer Bread - The soup has potential. In the end, we added cubed ham (leftover from the ham kebabs), diced onions and some pickled jalapenos to make it more substantial and flavorful but the recipe as-is is a great starting point. The bread, on the other hand, ROCKED. And I mean "rocked" as in you won't want to stop eating it. One important thing to note is that you must use self-rising flour as the recipe states. All-purpose flour just won't cut it. I guess there is a difference after all...
  15. Chicken Tagine - Mmmm hmmm. This will definitely be making more appearances at our place. If you like Indian flavors, this one is worth a try. I'll warn you, though...I looked e-very-where for a Moroccan spice blend to no avail. Instead, I found this recipe online and was quite happy with it. In fact, I'm going to keep a jar of it on my spice rack going forward

    1 tsp each cumin, ginger & salt
    3/4 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp each cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, all spice, cloves & tumeric
    Mix together and store in an air tight container.

  16. Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Peppers - We liked it but didn't love it. We actually enjoyed the leftovers much more. I thinly sliced the chicken and heated it and the leftover peppers with additional balsamic vinegar in a skillet. We topped flat bread with garlic mayo, the chicken and peppers and a slice of provolone cheese. For what it's worth, round 2 was superb.
  17. Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash - The flavors did not sing in this tagine like they did in the chicken version on the list. And the meat I bought was tough. It needed to braise a while.
  18. Maple & Soy-Glazed Flank Steak - The ingredients seemed promising but the taste did not deliver. This recipe card is long gone.
  19. Asian Noodles with Chicken and Snow Peas - This one is a definite no. The vinaigrette was less-than flavorful and the texture of the rice noodles was just not our cup of tea. It, of course, made a HUGE amount so I was stuck eating it for days. Seriously, I at it 4 days in a row for lunch. Lucky me.

Throughout my little escapade, I was also systematically purging my food magazine collection; tearing out any recipe that looked remotely promising and trashing the rest. After all, who actually goes back into a food magazine that is sitting on the shelf to dig for a recipe that you think you saw in there 6 months ago? Not me.

So, as I said, I went through each and every magazine and tore out any recipe that I had any propensity to try in the future. Things like roast duck sound lovely but will I really ever get around to trying it? Probably not. So the duck didn't make the cut. But plenty of other recipes did, and there are a slew of potential keepers among them. I've satisfied my new recipe itch for now but will be sprinkling newbies in here and there. I'll be sure to pass along the very best ones to you all.

Happy Adventures in Eating!

NOTE: For links to and images of these recipes, click here to see my original post: No Recipe Repeats

No comments: