Trying a New Pinterest Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Flatbread

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Darth Husband and I are both fans of buffalo chicken sandwiches. They are something we will order when we are eating out but something we’ve never made at home. When a pin of The Hopeless Housewife’s Buffalo Chicken Flatbread showed up in my feed, I knew this was a recipe I had to try.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Medium. I tried to get everything at one store and ended up omitting/modifying things right away.
  • Prep: Easy – Basic cutting and measuring
  • Cooking: Easy – I ended up using low heat so I wouldn’t accidentally brown the butter. Instead of making the flatbread, I used pre-made naan so that cut out a that portion of the recipe.
  • Make it again: Yes. Darth Husband really liked this and texted me to let me know right away. I could see making this and cutting it into small pieces and serving it as party food.
  • Modify it: Yes. Rather than making a trip to a second grocery store, I swapped out blue cheese for sharp cheddar and omitted the scallions. For me, the sauce was hot but not so hot that I couldn’t eat it. Next time for mine, I’d most likely put half the amount of sauce. If I was making it for a party, I’d stick with the actual ingredient list and not modify it.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes. I actually made this beforehand and we ate it later. As long as you watch to make sure the edges don’t start burning, reheating is very easy. Once the cheese starts melting again, it is ready. For me, it took about 9 minutes. Time might be different if the flatbread was homemade.
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Trying a New Online Recipe: Spinach Lasagna III

I love spinach. Though I often eat it in salads, in sandwiches, and by itself topped with a bit of butter and sea salt, my favorite way is in a pasta dish. The idea to make spinach lasagna got stuck in my head and I knew it wouldn’t go away until I actually made it. The last time I tried winging it and it ended up more mixed pasta dish than lasagna. This time I wasn’t messing around and while looking up a recipe online, I found allrecipes.com’s Spinach Lasagna III.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping: Easy/medium – I didn’t have all the cheeses so I had to track them down in sizes that would work for the recipe. Everything else was either already in the kitchen or easily found at the grocery store.
  • Prep: Easy/medium – Basic cutting and measuring plus multiple steps for the filling. Layering the noodles takes a bit of patience but as long as you don’t rush the placement it works out.
  • Cooking: Easy – Sautéing veggies was easy. Once the dish was in the oven, all I had to do was set the timer.
  • Make it again: DEFINITELY! It was cheesy and delicious and satisfied my wanting spinach lasagna.
  • Modify it: Yes. The leftover mushrooms I intended to use had gone bad in the fridge. Since I wasn’t going out for one item, I substituted asparagus.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes. I made just shy of the full recipe (since I bought slightly less ricotta) which is TWELVE servings. We both ate it several days and gave some away. It also reheated extremely well in the microwave.

Trying a New Pinterest Recipe: Skinny Beef Casserole

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I had purchased ground beef while planning for a totally different dinner. What I didn’t do was make sure I had all the ingredients for that recipe. After grumbling about my shopping fail, I didn’t want to do something on auto-pilot and found this recipe on Pinterest: Skinny Beef Casserole from Skinny Mom. I think it was meant to be since I had everything on hand except for the tomato sauce. The can of creamed corn that has been shuffled around the back of the pantry would finally be used too.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Easy – I “shopped” my pantry. Since we didn’t have tomato sauce, I substituted diced tomatoes.
  • Prep: Easy – Basic cutting and measuring
  • Cooking: Easy – The hardest part was transferring everything from the saucepan to the baking dish.
  • Make it again: Yes. I had seconds. I really liked that the sauce wasn’t heavy since it was a mix of the creamed corn and diced tomatoes.
  • Modify it: Yes. Though swapping the tomato sauce for the diced tomatoes was more of a necessity to actually make this recipe this time, I can see myself adding different vegetables to the mix. Both Darth Husband and I added a bit of salt and pepper. I added some shredded cheese.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes  – This ended up being a lot of food. If I make the full recipe next time, and aren’t planning dinner for a group, I plan to either freeze some or give it away.

 

 

Trying a New Pinterest Recipe: Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta

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I found Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom’s Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta recipe on Pinterest. It didn’t take long for me to decide to add it to the to-make list. This recipe included ingredients that we regularly, if not always, have in the house: pasta, chicken, and asparagus. The spice cabinet (yes it is a small cabinet) already contained what was needed. I would just need to pick up a few dairy items and make sure we had chicken broth.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping: Easy – No expensive or hard to find items.
  • Prep: Easy – Basic cutting and measuring
  • Cooking: Easy – The hardest step was making sure the asparagus didn’t overcook and my timer helped me with that.
  • Make it again: Yes. The flavor combo of the chicken, cheese and asparagus worked well.
  • Modify it: Yes. I would use less basil and oregano.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes and No. The first night the dish was super creamy but reheating it make it lose that creaminess. The actual taste stayed the same.

Food, Glorious Food… and Meal Planning.

Though I have slowing started loving cooking, when Darth Husband and I first got married he was the “King of the Kitchen”. Ok, he pretty much stayed “King of the Kitchen” but I did cook more. I had been used to either cooking for one or cooking for a group so cooking for two ended up not quite enough or way too much in the leftovers neighborhood.

Over the years, I’ve gotten a better handle of cooking for us as well as having the proper amount of leftovers. We are a leftovers house and every time I hear about others that refuse I always make the “Whaaaa?” face. Somethings work really well the next day like chili.

For the last few months, there has been a shift in weekly dinners with me making them instead of Darth Husband. This means I’d be making the dinner when I’d usually be changing into comfy clothes and feeding the furrball herd while Darth Husband was finishing up the cooking. At first, I thought jumping into full throttle mode would work. Oh silly me! It didn’t which I should have known ahead of time. The excitement of cooking slowly wore off with me staring at the fridge with disdain and considering microwave popcorn for dinner. It never got to actually having popcorn for dinner since we needed leftovers for the next day lunches. It did make me rethink food shopping, meal planning, and exactly how much effort it will take cooking on certain nights.

Food shopping before was done several times a week. We shop at three or four places, both local and chain, depending on what kind of food items we need. Darth Husband would stop somewhere a few times during the week and I would go places during the weekend with an occasional weekday trip. It was working well before but not as well now. This was especially annoying if I was missing one basic thing like an onion and I really wasn’t going out for one thing. The obnoxiously ridiculous winter weather didn’t help either.

Food shopping became weekend only and list heavy. We’ve always shopped with some sort of a list. I prefer a paper list and though I often would forget it somewhere in the kitchen. I’ve switched it to post-its so now I can stick it to the shopping cart as well. Darth Husband likes phone based lists but I’ve learned that if I’m in a grocery store and starting at the phone I shop more slowly. I know it is partially due to my fear that the phone will get knocked out of my hand and that multi-tasking while moving with the phone in my hand just slows me down overall. I am one of those people who will step to the side and stop. As long as I’m not blocking people or lured by items in an end cap, it is fine.

So my lists got modified too since I became more serious with four to five day meal planning. Before, we would plan a day or two ahead. If things changed, it wasn’t a big deal. Now with longer spans, I can just stick with the plan rather than being sleepy, frazzled and hungry. I’ve been using a combination of our general meal ideas, recipes from books, and recipes from online. The general meal idea are default ones that I don’t really fully include on the lists. They are often shorthand since it includes the items we keep as staples.  It is the cookbook or online recipes that I really need to write down. One thing can make something fall short and fail quickly like the time I forgot cottage cheese for a lasagna, and make me scramble to think of something else.

The ingredients of the cookbook and online based meals also makes me plot out the week in general. I hate wasting food and especially produce. It makes no sense to buy something that is only used in part for one recipe and so one week might be a bit heavy of something like spinach and another of zucchini. It makes me look up item specific recipes too on Pinterest. I’ve used Pinterest for quite some time now and now I’m actually using some ideas I pinned.

My goal is to make at least one new recipe a week that is not my own creation. I do like winging it in the kitchen but I’m keeping that to the weekends.  I most likely won’t be posting photos anywhere but Instagram of what I make since my food photography needs serious work and the IG filters kill the blah lighting we have in our kitchen. However, I do plan to share some hits and misses here starting next month.

If I forget, you can always remind me on Twitter.

Slow Cooker Sunday: Post St. Pat’s Corned Beef

Corned beef is a yearly March tradition in our house.  This year we ended up making it twice.  The first round was baked in the oven with potatoes and carrots. While it tasted good, it wasn’t the norm. Luckily we found more while it was still on sale so we could make it again and this time in the slow cooker.

Corned beef in a slow cooker was something I first had at a friend’s mother’s house for the South Side Irish Parade. Parade Day was filled with food and drink, lots of green, and Irish faces since lots of people from the South Side of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs are of Irish descent. With a house full of people partying the entire day, she made sure we were all fed.  I loved her corned beef the first time I had it and had to make it at home.

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The best thing about this corned beef is that it is super simple and includes very few ingredients. As long as there is enough liquid to cook everything and not let it burn, you can vary the amount of each.  This time I used our 7 qt slow cooker since the cut of meat was a flat cut and therefore pretty wide.

  • Flat cut corned beef
  • Whole small red potatoes
  • Carrots (peeled and cut in half)
  • 1 bottle of Harp Lager

I set the slow cooker on low for about five hours and then turned it up to high for another two. If I am not home, I prefer to keep it on low just in case something starts burning on the sides or the lid moves and the liquid spatters on the counter.  If I had been home all day, it would have been on high longer.

It’s a POTLUCK: Don’t Forget to Bring a Dish

A couple of years one of our friends had a great idea to have a family style friends dinner. It would be part sit down dinner and part potluck. We would just have to figure out a day that would work for everyone. “A couple of years ago” and “for everyone” ended up being the factors that keep delaying the plan.

Recently another friend basically said enough was enough and set up a date at their house. The invite went out and it was just a matter of who could make it. With jobs, families, and other obligations the hope was that the majority would be able to make it. Well the stars must have been aligned since it actually worked!

My two ideas for what to bring were Green Bean Casserole (using the Campbell’s recipe) or a mini meatball version of Rachel Ray’s Chicken Parm Meatball Subs. Green Bean Casserole is one of those old school recipes that a lot of people love and make themselves. Basically, it is a safe bet.

With the people attending, the Chicken Meatballs were also a safe bet. I’ve made this recipe both as subs and as mini meatballs for some time now. The only time I had anyone make even a slightly negative comment was once when I added a bit more red pepper flakes and it had more of a kick.  That was totally fine with me since spicy/heat preference can totally vary. Since that day I try to keep the kick mid range and that way people know what they are getting.

The house quickly filled up with people and full tables of food. The kitchen was a frenzy of activity. Some things were being plated. Other people were doing last minute baking and one set off the smoke alarm. Gotta love burnt bacon!

Then there were the non-cooks/non-bakers.

The king of this group brought a crave case.  That’s right, he brought White Castles to a potluck.  It was amusing to see the box with turkey chili cheese dip and a veggie tray nearby.  Safe to say, there was something for everyone.

I ate. I chatted. I laughed. I played with my friend’s year-and-a-half old son. Next thing, I was hugging people goodbye as the night wound down.  Darth Husband and I ended up being the last group of people to go home. Safe to say it was a good night.

Have you ever had a friends based potluck or large scale dinner?