food & drink

I Can Cook, Too

February 21, 2012

In my last post, I mentioned that I was really going to focus on my goal of becoming a good cook. I made a commitment to cook Sunday night dinner for my family as a way to practice, and although I think it’s a little too early to cross it off the list (I’m waiting for someone to say, “Melissa, you’re a really good cook.”), I have to say that I have made leaps and bounds in my culinary abilities. Here are a few of the recipes I’ve made over the last month or so:

  1. Mac-and-Cheese-Style Cauliflower: This was pretty amazing. I made a few adjustments as suggested by the comments on the recipe. I steamed the cauliflower rather than boil it, and I reduced the reserve cooking liquid in half. I even made the homemade bread crumbs, which is super easy, by the way. It turned out perfectly. Apparently, I have the ability to surprise myself. The entire family loved it.
  2. Garlicky Collard Greens: This was my first attempt at greens, and yes, mine were vegetarian. They were delicious, and they’re a super healthy food. Try it; you’ll like it.
  3. Tabasco Cheddar Biscuits: I probably will not make these again. The recipe appeared more inspired than it turned out to be. The Tabasco is more of a garnish you add at the end, so overall, I’d say they were pretty average.
  4. Chocolate Tofu Pudding: This was really good. I used chocolate soy milk instead of vanilla because I like to drink it. The pudding was incredibly rich, so although the recipe said it makes six servings, it’s probably more like nine to 12. However, you can feel good about eating a high-protein dessert.
  5. Waka Waka Salad: This was delicious, but I’m not sure that I’ll make it again because it gave me a monstrous stomach ache. (I think I may have put too much garlic in it.) But I seemed to be the only one with an adverse reaction to it. It was delicious.
  6. Slim Six-Layer Dip: Definitely making this one again. It’s like a typical Mexican-style layered dip, but you replace the sour cream with Greek yogurt and the refried beans with mashed kidney beans. It was delectable, and it doesn’t taste any different from the full-calorie version.
  7. Chile-Lime Glass Noodles (Vegetarian Times, March 2012): Yeah . . . This one didn’t really work out. At all. Because I live in rural Ohio where there is no ethnic food other than Mexican and Italian, I have been longing for Thai, and this was my attempt to make it myself. However, Brian went to a grocery store in Kent, which had, oh, about half of the ingredients. That being the case, we made a lot of substitutions. Oops. The lesson learned? Follow directions. All of them.
  8. Aromatic Barley: My mom loved this one. I think it was probably pretty good, but I had the worst cold I’ve had in years when I made this and couldn’t taste or smell anything, so I can’t comment definitively on its goodness or lack thereof.
  9. Paella Primavera (Vegetarian Times, March 2012): Another good one. Clearly, I’m really into olives these days because if a recipe has them in it, I’m willing to make it. This was a big hit with the family. I’d say the only drawback is the saffron because, although it’s wonderful, it’s $22 for a tiny little jar. Ouch.
  10. Rainbow Swiss Chard over Quinoa: Great success! I made this for a party with friends, and it was quite well received. It has black olives and golden raisins, which I love, and I got to buy rainbow chard, which is so pretty! If you’re not familiar with quinoa, it’s an amino-acid rich (high-protein) pseudo-cereal, although it’s commonly referred to as a grain. It’s good for you.
  11. Grandma Scharfenberg’s bread recipe: So, I can’t give away secret family recipes on the Internet, but this was the first time that I ever attempted to make bread, and it actually turned out really well. I used a Kitchen-Aid mixer as opposed to hand-kneading the dough, and I got some tips from my dad along the way, but I did it. I made bread with my own hands. It felt really good.
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