Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Whatcha got cookin?

Long time readers of my blog may have noticed, that I'm not exaccctttlly the next Barefoot Contessa (see here).

I have a litany of excuses as to why I don't cook....

I travel too much. I work too late. I don't have time to go the grocery store. I never learned how. I'm not good at it. Blah blah blah.

It's a character flaw.

But recently I decided that the only way I'm going to become better cook is by actually cooking!

So last week I planned out all of my meals, went to three grocery stores to get everything (Whole Foods, Albertsons, and Costco), and then cooked up a storm!

Also, I've realized that I'm a visual learner, so when someone blogs a recipe and shows how to do each step, it really helps me out. So I took most of my recipes from a few of my favorite cooking blogs.

Here is a list of what I made, how it turned out, and what I learned.

Saturday: Homemade Pizza
Recipe from: My head (I just bought dough, sauce and toppings and baked it)
My cooking grade: B
What I learned: You need to pre-heat the crust when you bake on pizza stone.
Next time I make this I will: make my own dough (see recipe here) instead of using the processed Pillsbury dough for a tastier crust.

(Photo from Pioneer Woman)

Sunday: Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Recipe from: The Pioneer Woman Cooks
My cooking grade: A
What I learned: Casseroles are delicious and great to make for later. I was able to bake half of the recipe in small dish for dinner immediately and freeze the other half in another small dish for a later time.
Next time I make this I will: add more chicken and veggies and less pasta for a healthier dish.

(Photo from Pioneer Woman)

Monday: Green Bean and Tofu Stir Fry
Recipe from: Made it up
My cooking grade: C+
What I learned: This dish is really bland unless you add a ton of sauce (which I ended up doing)
Next time I make this I will: Invest in rice cooker so I don't have nasty soggy rice that took over an hour to make.

(Photo by me)

Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Recipe from: Finding Thyme to Cook
My cooking grade: A+
What I learned: It's actually really easy to make a delicious pot roast.
Next time I make this I will: Repeat the recipe exactly! The Mr and both LOVED this.

(Photo by me)

Wednesday: Blondies! (Well that and Pot Roast leftovers)
Recipe from: Finding Thyme to Cook
My cooking grade: A
What I learned: Blondies are a fun alternative to the typical brownies and are a lot easier than brownies to make from scratch.
Next time I make this I will: Add more pralines for a nuttier bar.

(Photo by me)

Thursday: Simple Lemon Chicken
Recipe from: Finding Thyme to Cook
My cooking grade: A-
What I learned: This recipe called for chicken cutlet, I used chicken breasts, which meant it took a lot longer to cook through. Broccoli tastes amazing with this dish.
Next time I make this I will: Make some basmati rice to go along with it.

(Photo by Finding Thyme to Cook)

Friday: Mediterranean Style Chicken in a Foil Pouch
Recipe from: Culinary Disaster
My cooking grade: A-
What I learned: This is a great way to make tender chicken breast that don't get dried out. Don't double wrap the chicken pouches in foil, it will take twice as long to cook. Also, these taste great with couscous.
Next time I make this I will: check to make sure that the onion I have at home isn't rotten so I can be sure my pouches have onion in them!

(Photo by Culinary Disaster)

A whole weeks worth of cooking! I never would have thought I could have done it! I'm so proud of myself!

What are your favorite every-day recipes? Favorite step-by-step cooking blogs?


Jessica said...

Great job on those meals! I make a ton of stuff from PW's cookbook, too!

Aly @ Analyze This said...

OMG! You've been a cookin' machine!! The lemon chicken looks great! Thanks for the recipes and encouragement/motivation! Ha!

Brittney said...

Mmmm, I'll have to check out some of the sources for the recipes you used. They all look delicious! I love this blog for step by step recipes: http://joyinmykitchen.blogspot.com/

kjlangford said...

PIONEER WOMAN! I know it probably seems like she just does country cooking, but her stuff is really great, fun to read, and she does a ton of pictures. And there's plenty variety (although if you wanted to do some really great country/homestyle cooking she's a great source as well)


Glamorous Newlywed said...

Whooeee! That pot roast looks amazing!!! Cooking it soon :)

Heather said...

Look at you, great job!! Those look good, even the green bean tofu one!!

Megan said...

Yay good for you!! They all look wonderful!

Heather Martin said...

Good for you thats great! I cook often and have like 4 cookbooks. I have to say to help save on time cooking a crockpot is really the way to go sometimes. I usually cook my pot roast in one.

Mrs. Smith said...

Look at you - you're a natural!

That chicken spaghetti reminds me... I should make a big batch of that for Mr. Smith to take just for lunches. Would be so good reheated!

BudgetBabe said...

Yum! Everything looks good! Good for you for getting in the kitchen when it's not exactly your comfort zone!

I looove smittenkitchen.com. The recipes are relatively simple and the food photography is awesome!

Bon appetit!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Your cooking looks amazing! I am a new cooker too...most of the time I would do stuff out of the box. I love cooking a spaghetti and chicken breasts in Italian dressing. Recently, I made French dip sandwiches that were really easy and so yummy. I want to try something more complicated like Marsala chicken.

Mrs. Carioca said...

looks like you're doing pretty well!

cessc said...

Tacos is a good go-to meal for us (cook the chicken breasts in slow cooker all day with a lime water and taco seasoning)...last night we had pepper cheese pasta with garlic shrimp and a salad made by hubby...I make a menu every sunday too...helps save money...

Meant to be a mom said...

Good for you!!! I'm like you, I'm not a big cook but over the years I'm getting better. All of those meals looked yum. Good job.

Belle said...

That's awesome! I'm in the exact same boat as you with the exact same list of excuses so seeing that you were able to do this for a week and stay sane at the same time makes me think I might be able to do this!

I'm definitely going to try the pot roast b/c it looks yummy and we receieved a slow cooker as a wedding gift almost a YEAR ago and it hasn't come out of the box yet. Perfect excuse to whip that thing out and use it!

Patience said...

Great job. All of those dishes look delish.

Alison said...

I write a cooking blog with a lot of super easy, family (and picky-husband) friendly dishes. Come check it out and let me know what you think! http://www.happiestbelly.blogspot.com.

By the way~ great pictures :)

Ink Obsession Designs said...

Wow! These all look so good!!

Red High Heels said...

I don't think that you are as bad a cook as you think you are!! This all sounds AMAZING!

Lil' Woman said...

I'm still running through my excuses of why I don't cook...lol :)

Cindi said...

You are a getting to be quite the cooking contessa. Your pictures are great and I'm sure they results are DELICOUS!!! Thanks for trying my recipes. Love Pioneer Woman and check out Smitten Kitchen if you haven't done so - she is AMAZING!!!

Cindi @ findingthymetocook.com

{Louisiana.Bride} said...

Oh I am totally trying the Mediterranean chicken.

Rachel said...

I am SO proud of you. You'll be a mini chef before you know it :) Seriously, the more you cook and meal plan, the better you get and the more you'll love it!! PW is great, but I have so many other I love! If you go back to my post in January about meal planning, I shared a bunch of my favorites on there. Let me know if you can't find it.

LittleMissDreamer said...

nice job cooking girl! i need to take some of your motivation... I'm the same when it comes to cooking!

~Mrs. Guru~ said...

MMM, can I come to your house for dinner!

Anonymous said...

Wow!! I am amazed at your awesomeness! I need to cook everyday too. I think you picked some great recipes to start out - my husband loves pot roast too!

Crazy Shenanigans said...

Oh I love Blondies! I'm guessing you did the butterscotch? I made a huge batch of these last month and ate them within 3 days lol

Katie said...

that chicken pasta looks DELISH!

Manhattan Mommy said...

Good for you! The food looks delicious. I love my crock pot! :)

Jamie Pickle said...

Wow, way to go!! I need to learn how to cook too.

In this wonderful life... said...

goodness lady... I don't know, you are quite the cook!!! I REALLY want to make PW's chicken spaghetti!

I've never had much luck with the pilsbury dough!

Shoshanah said...

I'm impressed with how much cooking you got done of the past two weeks. I definitely want to try some of these, especially the blondies and the Mediterranean chicken

Jami said...

I love that Chicken Spaghetti casserole! Looks delicious! Need to print and make :) Thanks for the recipes! Great blog! -Jami

virginia bed and breakfast said...

This is a great place to rejoice and have some pleasure moments with mouthwatering dishes at your front side.

You can have all the fantastic and amazing time with great food and drink available for your service as well.

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