Posts tagged ‘recipe review’

Recipe Rundown

Somehow, despite the fact that I’m still not working, life got kinda crazy last week.  Also, I’m sometimes a really lazy blogger.  I could write a whole post about that.  But I won’t.

Even when I’m not posting, I am cooking.  Here’s a brief look at what went down in my kitchen last week.


I never used to be a big fan of baking.  Yes, I frequently made cookies and brownies and such, often from a mix, for my debate team kids, but I was often unhappy with the way they turned out.  Suddenly I’m very into baking, which is fun but less than helpful when I really should be focusing on dinner.  It would’ve been all okay last week if Smitten Kitchen hadn’t posted an incredibly tempting recipe for snickerdoodles.  They looked too good.  I had to make them.  I’ve never even made snickerdoodles before…but I had to make these.  (Poor Brian…he has to come home after work to hear my ramblings about why I *had* to make cookies…not that he’s complaining)


They were “totally awesome” (if you’re my sister, you’ll get that. Otherwise, I’m sorry).  I would make more this week, but I have other plans for my oven.  Highly, highly recommended.

Spicy Bean and Cheese Burritos

Another Rachael Ray recipe, I made some substitutions to her Spicy Bean and Cheese Burritos.  I subbed vegetable broth for beer, because I’m too cheap to go buy beer just for one recipe.  I also used canned chopped chilies instead of pickled jalapeños.  The resulting burrito filling was this:

burrito filling

Definitely not bad, though not very spicy.  We put the filling and cheese into whole wheat tortillas and attempted cooking them on my George Foreman grill.


Final analysis: The burritos were fine, though would’ve benefited from a bit more spice and crunchier tortillas.  The lack of crunch was probably my fault and next time I’ll try cooking them in a skillet.  However, Brian and I were fans of the whole wheat tortillas, which we’d never had before, so those will definitely reappear on a future shopping list.

This week, be prepared for recipes that involve baking and apples.  Brian and I went apple picking on Saturday :)

September 22, 2009 at 12:23 pm 3 comments

My New Kitchen (and Curried Brown Rice)

As I’ve mentioned about a million times, Brian and I recently moved to a new apartment.  I’d just like to share with you my old kitchen:

old kitchen It was a shared kitchen/dining area, but as far as the kitchen’s concerned, that was it.  All our appliances, dishes, bakeware, glasses, mugs, pots, pans AND food were kept in these cabinets.  It was a little cozy.

This is my new kitchen:
new kitchen

More cabinets (though the perspective on this picture is a little difficult).  Definitely more drawers.  Lots more counter space.  What’s that behind the door in the lower right corner?

Oh, it’s a pantry! A whole closet in which to store food (and my reusable shopping bags and apron collection)! Imagine that!

Needless to say, Brian and I (probably mostly me) are greatly enjoying our new kitchen.  It’s nice to not have to empty out an entire cabinet to access what we need.

If you’re looking for something to cook in your kitchen, I highly recommend Curried Brown Rice with Tomatoes and Peas, as recently seen on Cheap Healthy Good.  The dish was cheap and healthy and good, as expected, plus you can read about her worst date ever.   I’d never made anything with brown rice before, but since it’s baked in the oven it’s pretty impossible to mess up.  I used regular curry powder, since I’m too cheap to buy anything I don’t have to, and it still tasted great…though now I really want to try it with Madras curry.  Brian and I don’t like peas, so I subsituted assorted frozen veggies for the peas.


September 3, 2009 at 7:34 am

Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Sour Cream

Question: What’s vegetarian, easy and fast to make, apparently better than my gazpacho, only takes 2 steps and only needs 10 basic ingredients?

Answer: Food & Wine’s Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Crème Fraîche”.

tomato soup

I’m really ready for fall, and thankfully it’s starting to feel like it around here.  Nevertheless, it still seems a little early to be making soup (Brian and I have grand plans to spend the entire winter making and eating soups).  Luckily, my free September 2009 issue of Food & Wine contained the perfect solution:  Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Crème Fraîche”.  The ingredient list is really simple: tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, vegetable broth, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, crème fraîche and tarragon. Chances are, you already have almost all of those ingredients.

Ultimately, I halved the recipe (which then ended up only getting us through last night because Brian and I both had two servings), omitted the salt and pepper (I like to leave out salt whenever possible, especially since my broth wasn’t low sodium) and substituted sour cream for crème fraîche, because my supermarkets don’t appear to carry it.  And what was I going to do with leftover crème fraîche?

Brian and I both loved the soup, possibly even more than the gazpacho I made a few months ago.  The flavor is really fresh and I’ll eat anything with tarragon in it.  It’s a summer soup and not particularly hearty so I would recommend serving it as a side or getting a good loaf of bread to go with it.

My soup craving is satisfied for the moment…but I’m still looking forward to making “real soup” in the near future.

September 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Barbecue Hit: Giada’s Mediterranean Salad

I spent too much of yesterday agonizing over a barbecue.  It was my church’s women’s fellowship barbecue and, being new to the area and all, I really wanted to go.  Attendees were supposed to bring their own meat to grill and something to share.  First issue: I thought it was pretty silly to go to the store to buy meat and, more than likely, a roll, for a single person.  I don’t have hamburgers (or turkey burgers, or veggie burgers, or hot dogs) in my freezer waiting for occasions like this.  Nor do I want to.  So I agonized over whether to go to the store so I would have something for the grill.  Second issue: Then I debated over what to get-should I get meat? Veggie burgers? Vegetables to grill?  When possible, I don’t like to introduce myself as “Emily the not-quite-but-almost-vegetarian”.  If the conversation gets there then fine, but it’s not the point of my existence.  So, really the whole debate was about what first impression I wanted to make.

In the end, I brought nothing but Mediterranean Salad (and I am getting to the part with the recipe).  I hoped that no one would notice that I hadn’t brought anything for the grill.  Know what?  No one did.  There were so many pasta salads and bean salads and fruit salads and Mexican dips that no one noticed that my full plate didn’t have anything from the grill or any meat.  I had a really good time spending the evening conversing about things other than my eating habits.

What to bring to share was much easier for me to figure out.  I knew right away what I wanted to make.  Last year, before I was really into cooking, I saw Giada De Laurentiis make this Mediterranean Salad on Everyday Italian.  It was a big hit at last night’s get together.

mediterrean salad

The dish contains Israeli/Mediterranean couscous, which I’ve found at food co-ops and Whole Foods  It’s a small pasta, different from “normal” couscous.  The recipe says any small pasta will work, but I’ve been so happy with the couscous that I’ve never tried it.  Add in some broth,* garlic, lemon juice and zest, fresh mint, fresh basil and dried cranberries and it’s a delicious side salad (or meal, if I have my way).  Check it out.

*Switch out the chicken broth for vegetable broth and this dish is vegetarian.

August 29, 2009 at 7:13 am

Needs Work:Rach’s Creamy Pasta with Spinach and Fried Capers

Last night for dinner I tried out another Rachael Ray recipe (seems like there’s been a lot of her, sorry).  Creamy Pasta with Spinach and Fried Capers is a fine dish, but it needs some work.


The dish was, as promised, easy to make.  The taste is pretty bland overall, though the capers add a nice kick when you get one.  Next time I might add more capers and sauce (it’s creamy, but there’s not a lot to go around).  Today, while heating up the leftovers it occurred to me what would really make this meal good:  Sausage.  Guess it’s a good thing I haven’t gone vegetarian yet.

August 27, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Striped Eggplant, Tomato and Cheese

Welcome to the newly improved Relishments…where cooking actually happens! Today will hopefully be the first of many recipes and recipe reviews to follow.

victory gardenIn an effort to find new vegetarian recipes to try out, I picked up my husband’s (and I guess now my) copy of The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash. The book is really useful because each chapter covers a different type of vegetable (everything from asparagus to turnips) and provides a wealth of background information about it ncluding yields, storage and hints.  And of course, there are recipes, centered around the vegetables.  I don’t know how I spent 6 weeks living with Brian without opening this cookbook.  It’s definitely going to be a go-to in my kitchen.

I decided to try making “Red, White and Blue-Black Eggplant”, based on the appetizing photo and the fact that I really like all of the ingredients.  By the time I was finished cooking, I’d made several alterations.

Striped Eggplant, Tomato and Cheese (serves 4)

You’ll need:
1 medium eggplant
2 medium tomatoes, sliced thin
10 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices
olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 tsp dried basil

  1. Wash the eggplant.  I peeled mine per Brian’s request, but the original recipe leaves the skin on, hence the “black-blue” in the original title.  Cut the eggplant into slices about 2″ by 4″ by 1/2″ (this can be done by cutting the eggplant in half widthwise and slicing from there.  Mine were pretty randomly sized, actually)
  2. Salt the eggplant (this is exactly what it sounds like: sprinkle salt on the eggplant.  Don’t be embarassed, I had to look it up too).  Place the eggplant in a colander for about half an hour.  This removes the excess liquid from the eggplant.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°.
  4. Saute the onions in 2 tablespoons of oil for 7-10 minutes, until the onions are soft, but not brown.  Place them on a plate.
  5. Use paper towels to pat the eggplant dry.  Brown the eggplant in oil several pieces at a time using the pan from the onions.
  6. Lightly oil a 8×8 baking dish.  Put half the onions and 1 tsp dried basil on the bottom of the dish.
  7. IMG_1575

  8. Layer the eggplant, tomato and cheese slices vertically in the pan, creating visible stripes.
  9. IMG_1577

  10. When the dish is full (and hopefully you’re out of ingredients), cover the stripes with the remainder of the onions and basil.


  11. IMG_1579

  12. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  13. IMG_1583


This recipe was a little less simple to make than I expected.  Besides the fact that the original recipe left me with a tomato and a half too much, it also seemed to require more dishes than should be necessary to create what is actually a pretty simple dish. It’s also a little messy to serve:


The end result was less pretty than the picture in the book (big surprise, I know) but tasted really good.  It was a mess to serve and at first it appeared that there was a lot of liquid in the bottom of the dish.  However, by the time we’d eaten the entire dish, the amount of juice it seemed more reasonable.  The cheese and basil really helped make the dish for me and the amount of baking time left the eggplant super soft.

Eggplant is one of those vegetables that I’m satisfied for a while after just one meal, but I’d certainly make it again.  This is a handy recipe to make for a group, just double the ingredients and use a 9×12 or larger pan.

August 25, 2009 at 10:04 am

Don’t Bother: Coconut Curry Chicken

I feel the need to explain what feels to me like the recent influx of Rachael Ray recipe reviews on this blog.  Before I moved, I cut up over a year’s worth of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazines and filed the recipes I actually  wanted to make in my recipe binder.  Now the majority of the recipes in my binder are from Rachael.  Though after last night, I’m less enthused about trying them.

Last night’s pick (because I have to keep my Man happy by serving meat once in a while…oh, and I like meat, too) was a 5 ingredient recipe for Coconut Curry Chicken.  We both like coconut and curry, it sounded simple enough and so I opted to give it a try.  It wasn’t difficult to make, and it looked pretty:

The taste, however, was lacking.  By which I mean, it didn’t really have any taste.  I know, it seems odd to say that a curry dish could have no taste, but my Man will back me up on this.  It’s not that it was bad, per se, it just wasn’t good.   It didn’t taste like curry.  It didn’t taste like coconut.  The recipe has 5 rave reviews, so either they’re crazy or I did something wrong (and despite a recent series of kitchen mistakes on my part, I think I made this one correctly).

We’ll be eating it again tonight, because there are still two servings left, but I don’t think I’ll be making this recipe again.  Definitely going to search for a relatively simple, delicious curry recipe for the future.

July 23, 2009 at 8:22 am 3 comments

Room For Improvement: “Mac ‘n’ Goat Cheese”

Last week was the final week (I hope) of last minute menu planning and food shopping.  I decided to make a recipe without reading it through and, as a result, found it to be less than I’d hoped for.

The recipe, Mac ‘n’ Goat Cheese, is from Everyday with Rachael Ray.  I liked it because it’s simple and includes some of my favorite ingredients: pasta, garlic, cherry tomatoes, spinach, cheese (we replaced the goat cheese with feta) and walnuts.   Plus it was vegetarian and I really need to work towards deliberately planning vegetarian meals.   Now, before I shower Rachael with criticism, I must confess that I didn’t follow the directions completely.  I cooked a pound of pasta (because I hate having a box with just a little bit of pasta in it!) but I neglected to increase all the other ingredients.

The dish came out fine otherwise however, and since we had tons of leftovers, I cooked up more spinach and garlic for the second night and added it in.  The problem with this “Mac ‘n’ Cheese” is that it isn’t really mac and cheese…it’s more like pasta salad.  The dish never gets baked (despite the misleading picture of the macaroni in a baking dish in the magazine) so the cheese doesn’t melt, and there’s nothing crunchy.  For a pasta salad, it was good.  But I wanted to make mac ‘n’ cheese.  In fact, my Man and I ate the leftovers cold. Granted, if I’d read the recipe all the way through before cooking it, I would’ve know this.

If I wanted to make this pasta salad again, I’d probably increase the amount of garlic, cheese, nuts and especially tomatoes and spinach even further.  I think a few sliced black olives would be a nice addition as well.  I’d also switch out the pasta for whole wheat pasta, which would leave me feeling less guilty for eating the same meal for dinner three nights in a row.  If you’re craving really good mac ‘n’ cheese instead of pasta salad though I would definitely re-recommend Cheese Lovers 5 Cheese Mac and Cheese.

July 18, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Covert Operation

Something amazing has occurred in my house.  My father ate something with chickpeas in it–and liked it!  We’re definitely making progress.

Last week, Matt of NoMeatAthlete posted a recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Salad with Couscous Cakes which he found on Fine Cooking.  I’m pretty over salads at the moment, but the couscous cakes looked pretty good.  Plus they’re wicked simple: they only require  8 ingredients and  I had all of them except the lemon already in the house! I made them last night as a side dish to accompany the cube steaks my mom had planned for supper.  The cakes, which are made mostly of couscous, parsley, chickpeas, lemon zest and garlic, were incredibly easy to create.  I had about the same experience Matt did–they fell apart a little and didn’t brown as well as I’d hoped.  But they taste really good.

The ultimate success came at dinner however.  I served up the cakes and, when dad inquired about the ingredients slyly forgot to mention the chickpeas.  Dad, my strongest critic and hater of all things in the bean family, was quick to praise the couscous cakes.  Mom also though they were tasty.  I was so thrilled to expose the secret chickpeas to Dad.  He didn’t have much to say in response to my gloating and victory: he just smiled and finished eating his cake.

I will say that the side dish did get one negative review in my house: my sister (who I forgot doesn’t like couscous to begin with) thought the couscous cakes were bland and tasteless.  No one else in my house particularly understood that review, but I guess they’re not for everyone.

I, for one, would make them again in an instant.  And I plan to continue spreading my love of beans and other healthy foods to my parents.

May 31, 2009 at 8:15 pm 1 comment

Delicious Bowl of Mush

If there one thing I have a hard time with it’s taking good photos of my food.  I realize the image above looks like a bowl of mush.  It is a bowl of mush.  But it’s an incredibly delicious bowl of mush.

The recipe from Real Simple is called “Spicy Black Beans”; my future brother-in-law tweeted it to me over the weekend when I was begging for a good vegetarian recipe to make (have I mentioned I love Twitter lately?).  I haven’t made anything with black beans before, but I figured it was worth a try.  Oh, it totally was.  Not only is it good but the recipe only requires 7 ingredients: sundried tomatoes, white onion, jalapeño, canned black beans, canned tomatoes (I used diced), salt and cilantro (which I left out, because I usually leave out salt and shockingly, our supermarket didn’t have any cilantro!)  It’s pretty much a matter of chopping everything up and cooking it in a skillet.  Super easy.

And super delicious.  I was surprised how good it is, even though it’s pretty much a pile of mush.  I will say, its not remotely spicy, despite the recipe title, but it is yummy.  Doesn’t need salt, or cheese, or anything additional.  Originally, I was going to try putting the beans on a wrap for lunch, but it’s a little too liquidy for that.  On top of rice it is perfect, however.

Thank you, Kevin, for providing me with the best vegetarian meal I’ve made in weeks (months?).  If you’re looking for something healthy, fast, delicious and easy, this is it.

May 20, 2009 at 8:38 pm 2 comments

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