Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tried Something New

I don't drink alcohol but I do like to cook with it. I've heard about how amazing beer-can chicken is so I decided to test it out. I have to say I was a little disappointed because I never ended up tasting any beer flavor in the chicken. I was thinking next time I'd melt butter and some of the beer and use it to baste the chicken with while it roasts. I was also thinking a beer brine might work too. I used the rest of the beer (I poured half the can out before shoving the can into the chicken) and used it to make beer-steamed potatoes. The recipe called for me to steam new potatoes over beer and in a pan to saute onions in butter, and crumble bacon over it, then add the potatoes and the rest of the beer used for steaming all together to create a bit of a sauce. It was pretty good though the bitterness of the beer really overwhelmed it. All in all, not a huge win, but a lot of potential for me to keep building on in the future.

PS, I did not use the beer in the can after the chicken was cooked. If you try it out sometime, I hope you don't either...

Cooking Light Tuesday

Tonight I made Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Fettuccine and it was quite possibly the most amazing pasta dish I've ever made in my life. It was super simple, but the flavors were great! Cherry tomatoes break down really easily in a frying pan, good to know...And chicken Italian sausage is fantastic! I used that instead of the turkey Italian sausage it called for since I'm not a huge fan of ground turkey. The arugula didn't taste very peppery, and got a little bitter after a few bites so I picked around that but maybe later in the year I'll try it out again. I think the best part, was the pasta. I used a new brand of fresh pasta and I may never be able to go back to the dried kind again. It had the best texture I've ever had for pasta. I loved, loved, loved this dish and seeing as it's stove-top only I can make it again in the summer when the fresh ingredients will be at their peak and I can possibly buy locally, and as for the cherry tomatoes, I could even grow those myself!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cooking Light Night

Last night I made this: Baked Pasta with Spinach, Lemon, and Cheese

I am really starting to love making my own homemade macaroni and cheese. I can control what goes in it, and it's really not much harder to make than the stuff in the box. This wasn't much different in terms of the time it took to make than any of the other recipes I've made.

It definitely needed more salt than it called for, and I didn't really pick up on the lemon flavor, so I would add more zest next time. The wine was a great addition and I'll have to remember that in the future. I also liked the addition of the spinach. It was not too overwhelming, flavor-wise, and a great way to add more veggies and vitamins to my diet.

I would definitely recommend this to anybody interested in experimenting with homemade mac and cheese. It's worth it for sure.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cooking Light Night

Tonight's recipe was: Almost Classic Pork Fried Rice

This was probably the best recipe I've tried so far. I have always been reluctant to make homemade Chinese food because it's so labor intensive, but this was worth it. There was a lot of prep work involved but I did it all this afternoon so that tonight when I cooked it took a minimal amount of time. I also made some modifications in the ingredients, based on my tastes and what I had on hand. I didn't have a pork chop like it calls for, but I was thawing a pork roast for later in the week so I used some of that. I was worried at first that it wouldn't cook properly, but it turned out nice and tender, so that was good. I don't like celery so I replaced the celery with snow pea pods, one of my faves, and it was fantastic. I also didn't have the recommended amount of green onions, but I just used what I had on hand and thought it was fine. I did splurge and buy Mirin at the store, fortunately it was only $5 for the bottle, and I got carded at the store, which is always fun, so it was worth it.

I have usually made half-batches of these recipes and this time I made the whole recipe, so I will have leftovers tomorrow and maybe for lunch too. This was really delicious and I am glad I spent all the time to make it. It's pretty much the first time I've actually liked brown rice in something, so that's progress I'd say!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cooking Light Night

Sunday's recipe was: Herb-Crusted Chicken and Parsley

I put off the recipe because I didn't want to spend money on the herbs in jars when I could get to Central Market soon and buy the bulk mix for under a dollar. I went last weekend, so I was finally able to make it.

I am not a fan of parsley, finding it too chlorophyll-tasting for me. My store only had the curly kind which I refuse to spend money on, so I threw some dried marjoram into the orzo. All the spices ended up tasting a little bland, unfortunately. Maybe they were old, I dunno. The only herb that really stood out from the fines herbs blend was the tarragon. It was ok, and it filled me up and lasted for two meals, which is all you can ask for sometimes. I might try this again some time with fresh herbs.