It’s been a long time since I’ve shared with you my first-timer recipes. Don’t worry, just because I haven't shared any recipes doesn’t mean we are going hungry ;-) In case you’re new to the Hawley blog, one of my hobbies is cooking, and I’m in a cookbook club that cooks through an entire book (or as much as you can) in a semester. This semester (spring and summer) we’ve been cooking through The Best 30-Minute Recipe by Cook’s Illustrated. I write a small blurb on the first-time I cook a recipe on the changes I made and whether it turned out to be a flop or not. Since it’s been such a long time since I posted on my first-timers (Bad Darby!), and I’m very behind, I’m writing a VERY short blurb on each of the recipes I’ve tried from the last 2 months. Of course, as always, if you want more details, please comment :-)
Create-Your-Own Stir-Fry- 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.
Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Potatoes- 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.
Taco Salad & Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette- 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. I thought all of the colors were really pretty.
Southwestern Mini Meatloaves- I made the All-American meatloaves and thought they were pretty good, but always wanted to try the southwestern variation. 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. In fact, I crushed up the leftover patties and used it for tacos the following night.
Quick Cheesy Ravioli Bake, Creamy Caesar Dressing, & Garlic Toast- On this particular night I must to have been feeling pretty brave because I attempted 3 new recipes. Best advice for the ravioli is to READ the recipe. I had a major blonde moment that my sister has had a blast laughing over. For some reason when I read the recipe instead of reading “ravioli” I read “ricotta.” I think I must to have assumed that I was going to be making homemade ravioli? What was I thinking? This is a 30-minute cookbook! No way was I getting homemade ravioli in 30 minutes! So anyways, I had to do a last minute switch up and just use penne (because I already had it) and dump the ricotta I bought into the sauce. It’s kind of like ravioli, but in a different shape, right? No one complained about the taste, so everything besides the shape of the noodles, I can attest to being pretty easy and delicious. I served a Caesar salad with dinner, but wasn’t a fan of the dressing, though everyone else seemed to like it. I omitted the anchovies because I’m weird & can’t eat those little fish. Eek! It’s entirely possible that this is why I didn’t like the dressing. Maybe I actually do like anchovies in my dressing! (gasp!) I also made the garlic toast, which you don’t really need a recipe for. There isn’t anything in this recipe that you don’t already know on how to make your own garlic bread.
Black Bean Soup- This was very easy and fast to make. Even though this is a 30-minute cookbook, I let the soup simmer longer than the suggested 5 minutes so the flavors could marry. I served it with some tortilla chips for a little crunch.
30-Minute Chicken Tangine- This meal smelled delicious; it took all my energy to wait until dinner to dive in. Just like the note says, the sauce is both sweet and savory. I forgot to include onion in mine, but will try to remember it next time. Like I’ve said before, I don’t like to microwave my chicken so I grilled mine before adding it to the sauce. I think grilling the chicken added a nice texture to the meal and didn’t take up too much more time. I served the chicken over couscous and we gobbled it up! My favorite part of the meal was the chick peas, yum-o!
Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo- Phil loved the flavor of this gumbo, and I liked how quickly I got it on the table for dinner. For the Creole spice mixture, I used Zatarain's because it was the cheapest I could find. To make it seem like there were more shrimp, I cut up each jumbo shrimp into 3 or 4 pieces. If you do this remember to watch the shrimp because they will cook even faster and you don’t want them to get chewy. Also, make sure you don’t rush step 1; the roux is the most important aspect of the gumbo. Since this was so fast to make, I had extra time to butter some toast for dipping. We decided that the next time I make this I will add crawfish and some corn for more flavor.
Skillet Chicken Pot Pie- I can’t say this was my favorite chicken pot pie, but not because it tasted horrible. It was just so different from that traditional chicken pot pie that we all love. For the chicken, I purchased a pre-made rotisserie chickens and shredded it (I always cheat on chicken pot pie and do this). I also used more celery than they recommended (about 4). Instead of the frozen pea-carrot medley, I used 2 cans of mixed vegetables. For the breading, I used the pie crust option, but it didn’t end up being that bready at all. If you’re like me and you do like the bready part, they suggest refrigerated biscuits as an alternative to pie crust.
Skillet-Braised Bratwurst & Sauerkraut- We enjoyed this meal and I can see myself making this again during football season. The note recommended sauerkraut in the bags, but I couldn’t find that so I purchased the jars and it tasted just fine to me. I omitted the juniper berries because I refused to spend that much money on a small glass jar of berries. I served both the brats and the sauerkraut on a bun with yellow mustard and everyone was grinning ear-to-ear.
Are you hungry now? I am! I’m going to take a break and finish writing my reviews on the rest of the recipes from the past 2 months next week. So stay tuned for more yummies coming your way. Have a great weekend!! We love y’all!