Monday, April 11, 2011

Subject: New Week, New Recipes

Melissa - Hi friend. Remember back when I told you one of my goals for 2011 was to add a new recipe every week? Well, that hasn't exactly happened, but I have been trying hard to add one at least every few weeks, which I feel like is just as commendable. March and April have been challenging because Mr. Lass has been working super-late during the week (hello, dinner at 10:00 pm), so it just seems like there's no time to try anything out, because my main goal that late is just to get something hot and edible on the table! But I have found that inviting people over is always incentive to make something new and exciting (although I guess you also run the risk of it not working out...). So this weekend we had another couple over and I decided to whip up something new. Then a few weeks ago my parents came into town, so they seemed like the perfect guinea pigs for a new recipe. In my experience, since it is just Mr. Lass and me for most meals, it can be challenging to find recipes that make just two portions*. So I like to try out a recipe first and make it in the quantities specified, and then once I get a feel for the flavors and see how the recipe comes together, I feel a lot more freedom in tweaking it in the future. And, in true Lass style, three of the four new recipes are from Barefoot Contessa recipes. Are you surprised? First up: Lemon Chicken Breasts. These were really good and I called the butcher at Publix and ordered four boneless, skin-on chicken breasts. My only criticism of this recipe is that the meat was kind of on the dry side. So really, keeping the bone in might not be a bad idea because it would keep the meat more moist. This recipe would also be great with leg quarters, which is one of my favorite parts of the chicken to cook with. This recipe came from the Barefoot Contessa episode "Cook Like a Pro" that also had an amazing-looking recipe for Baked Fontina that looked amazing and I cannot wait to make! So that was the new recipe I tried on my parents. I served it with some couscous (my latest obsession...the boxed stuff is ready in five minutes!) and some sauteed spinach. It was nice because all I had to do was prep the chicken and put it in the pan and then put it in the oven an hour before dinnertime. Then once it came out of the oven, I made the couscous and spinach, since both of those take no time at all and Ina always recommends allowing your meat to "rest" before serving. Whatever starch you serve with this, you want it to be something that will absorb the yummy sauce - so couscous, rice, etc. are all great options. Okay, so then this weekend I made Ina's Indonesian Ginger Chicken. I have been wanting to make this for a really long time - I think I first saw the episode with this recipe several years ago - but I just never got around to it. Then last week I saw this episode on my DVR and after watching it, I became re-inspired to try it. This one is more time-intensive in terms of peeling the ginger and then grating it. And, actually, grating it didn't work as well as it did on the show, so I ended up chopping it like I would garlic. I cooked it in my big roasting pan that I originally bought with the grand plan of cooking turkeys at Thanksgiving. That hasn't come to pass yet, but having such a big pan is handy for large batches of meat like this. Our friends really enjoyed the chicken and when it's cooking it makes the whole house smell wonderful with the scent of ginger and garlic. We had plenty of food with enough leftovers for dinner on Sunday night and then I even had a small piece of chicken today for lunch. Yum! Along with the chicken I again served couscous (I told you I was obsessed!) and Sauteed Squash Ribbons I had sampled at Publix the day before. These were so easy and really, really good! I am typically not a huge fan of squash or zucchini (or Publix's Apron's Meals, for that matter), but prepared this way, they were so tasty! This is also a really fast side to whip up - peeling the vegetables takes longer than actually cooking them! For dessert I tried my hand at Ina's Croissant Bread Pudding. I love bread pudding, so this seemed like a new and exciting thing to try. Her recipe calls for raisins, which I knew Mr. Lass would balk at, so instead I used chocolate chips. Not exactly an even trade, I realize, but who doesn't love chocolate? Plus Ghirardelli chocolate chips were on sale this week. I also decided to include the zest of an orange because I thought it would give it a little more flavor and brighten it up some. Plus, the combination of orange and chocolate is always a winner in my book! Okay, so this recipe did not exactly work out for me how I'd hoped. Here is what happened: Ina's recipe calls for using six croissants and using a 10"x15"x2.5" oval pan. Well, when it came time to assemble everything, I realized the largest Corningware pan I had was not that big (I don't know what the actual dimensions of my pan were, but I was off by a number of inches for the length and width). So I used only three croissants instead of six, because that's all that would fit. Now, I don't know why it didn't occur to me that I should also cut the amount of liquid in half, but it didn't. So what I ended up with was really soupy, runny bread pudding. We all ate some of it, though, and the flavors were great. The orange really added a lot and the chocolate was really nice because it melted in between the two layers of croissant and was just perfect. And next time I will know to either find a bigger pan or cut the liquid amount in half. So, 75% of my new recipes worked out, which is not a bad record in my book! Sorry for the lack of pictures...I never think to photograph what I am making before we eat it! Cooking love, Kara *I know there are cookbooks on "cooking for two" (in fact, I think I own one), but I have never been all that impressed with them. PS I just returned to this post to add in the asterick because I forgot when I originally wrote it...what is going on with the spacing??? I promise you when I first wrote it I did not envision a huge, giant blob of words. Yikes!

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