Monday, September 27, 2010

Recipe challenge - RESULTS

Whew, what a busy few weeks I've had! I meant to post my 5 day cooking challenge day by day, but first Cayden got sick and then Mando and I got it so I haven't been cooking as much as I'd like. HOWEVER, I did make a point to hunt down fall friendly recipes, make a list, get my ingredients, and have been cooking a new meal here and there over the past few weeks and I have successfully made 5 BRAND NEW dinners! As promised, I'm going to share the recipes, along with my notes and how I think I did. So here we go!

(Original recipes below with my notes in bold.)

Day 1:

Nixon Chicken (recipe shared by @AnnieUS13)
Served with: white rice
Difficulty Level: Easy

Broccoli (frozen works)
Chicken (either two boiled, shredded chicken breasts, or the picked meat of a rotisserie chicken)
1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup of Mayo (I skipped this because I'm not a Mayo fan and it still turned out great!)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Potato Chips (I used bread crumbs for the top layer and it was delish!)

Mix together the Cream of Chicken Soup and the Mayo. Then layer in a casserole dish:
1. Broccoli
2. Chicken
3. Cream of Chicken and Mayo mix
4. Cheese
5. Crumble some potato chips on top to make a little crust

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the broccoli is done. Serve with rice.

Overall impression: I thought this was a great meal that's SO easy and quick to make! It makes leftovers for lunch the next day, or you can freeze and reheat later. I will definitely be making this again.

Day 2:

Potato Cheese Soup (recipe was from an old co-worker of mine)
Served with: French bread and butter
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
How'd I Do? Major fail

8 cups peeled and cubed potatoes (I used about 5 potatoes)
2 cups peeled and chopped onions (I used 1 yellow onion)
4 cups chopped celery (I used 3 cups)
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups half and half (I used 3 cups)
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
several pieces of cooked bacon (finely chopped) (I used half a package)

Place potatoes, onions, celery and salt in water to cover in a large pot. Simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
Put in blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade and puree until chunky.
For a chunkier soup do not put all of soup in food processor, leave out some the the large pieces.
Return to soup pot; add half-and-half, butter, chopped bacon, and cheese. Stirring, simmer until piping hot. (Do not boil.)
If the soup is too runny and you want to thicken it up, add potato flakes for desired thickness.

Overall impression: First of all, I messed with the quantities because I was only cooking for my boyfriend and myself and I knew a huge pot of soup would go to waste (and trust me, this makes a HUGE POT). Secondly, I don't know what I was thinking, but I added water to 'boil' the potatoes when the recipe doesn't say to do that so mine came out EXTREMELY watery. Major fail. Thirdly, the recipe says to puree in a blender/food processor... I don't know if it's because I added water or what, but the puree made this so liquid-y I don't recommend it. I would pulse in the blender for a chunkier soup. Lastly, I would half the amount of celery... I subtracted a cup and it was still WAY too much celery for my taste. I would also double the bacon and the cheese to make it more flavorful and salt to taste. I like things SALTY and this soup was so bland to me (once again, could be due to the extra water). All in all, I think this recipe could be a success if you work with the ingredient amounts and season to taste. And whatever you do, DON'T ADD WATER!

Day 3:

Garlic Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon (recipe from Food Network by Rachel Ray)
Served with: mashed potatoes and green beans
Difficulty Level: Easy

2 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 cloves of garlic, crushed (I used 2 TBL raw garlic from a jar, just because I like it better)
3 TBL fresh rosemary stripped from the stems (I used 2 TBL dried rosemary because that's what I had)
3 TBL extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 TBL seasoning (I used salt and pepper but you could get creative)
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth (I used chicken broth)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Arrange chicken in a baking dish, 9 by 13-inch. Add garlic, rosemary, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest and grill seasoning or salt and pepper to the dish. Toss and coat the chicken with all ingredients, then place in oven. Roast 20 minutes. Add wine and lemon juice to the dish and combine with pan juices. Return to oven and turn oven off. Let stand 5 minutes longer then remove chicken from the oven. Place baking dish on trivet and serve, spooning pan juices over the chicken pieces.

Overall impression: This chicken was TO DIE FOR. I basically didn't eat chicken for 10 months because I couldn't stand it when I was pregnant so it may have just been me falling in love with chicken all over again, but my boyfriend loved it too. It was so full of flavor and juicy! This is something that was relatively easy to make and delicious so I'll definitely making it again!

Day 4:

Roast pork loin with garlic and rosemary (recipe from
Served with: baked potatoes and asparagus
Difficulty Level: Easy

4 large garlic cloves, pressed (I used 3 TBL raw garlic from a jar)
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried (I used dried)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 2 1/2-pound boneless pork loin roast, well trimmed
Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional) (I didn't use these because I didn't have them)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 13 x 9 x 2-inch roasting pan with foil. Mix first 4 ingredients in bowl. Rub garlic mixture all over pork. Place pork, fat side down, in prepared roasting pan. Roast pork 30 minutes. Turn roast fat side up. Roast until thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 155°F., about 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.
Pour any juices from roasting pan into small saucepan; set over low heat to keep warm. Cut pork crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Arrange pork slices on platter. Pour pan juices over. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.

Overall impression: This was a great dinner and pork tenderloin is low in fat and delicious. The pan drippings are absorbed once you pour them over the pork slices and make it moist and flavorful. It does take over an hour to make, but it's something yummy that I'll definitely serve again.

Day 5:

Chad's mom's recipe (yes, it's really called this. Chad was an ex-boyfriend of mine and his mom gave MY mom this recipe a million years ago. This was the first time I attempted to make it by myself)
Served with: serve it over mashed potatoes
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
How'd I Do? Decent

1 LBS Chopped Steak (also called skirt steak or round steak)
1 Medium White Onion (I used half an onion)
2 TBLS Garlic (I used 2 TBL raw garlic)
1 Box Sliced Mushrooms (I opted out of the mushrooms because my boyfriend hates them, but I've have this recipe both ways and it's yummy either way)
2 TBLS Steak Seasoning
2 Packages Lawry’s Aus Jus Mix
2 TBL oil (I used vegetable oil)

Brown Meat, Onions, Garlic, & seasoning in 2 TBLS oil. Add Mushrooms cook for 3-4 minutes. Add Aus Jus mix & 2 cups water. Simmer 30-40 minutes. Thicken with corn starch. Serve over mashed Potatoes.

Overall impression: This recipe comes out yummy if you follow the instructions, but I messed up. My normal outlook on cooking is that you can never have enough garlic or salt so what did I do? Added a ton of garlic salt to the meat. Now the seasoning and the au jus is already extremely salty so I ruined it and it was WAY TOO SALTY (like, you could barely swallow it). Also, my instant mashed potatoes came out too runny so it wasn't a huge success. But like I said, if you follow the instructions unlike me, this is a yummy recipe good for cold nights!

Overall I had a lot of fun with this challenge. Sure, I made some mistakes and might have ruined some dinners, but my boyfriend is sweet and swears every one of them was delicious. Plus, I now have some new and yummy recipes to add to my cookbook and successfully got out of my same-5-meal funk! I plan on trying to cook one new recipe every week until I have a ton of dinner options for myself.

Did anyone else challenge themselves this week? Share your recipes! And feel free to try out any of the recipes above and make sure to let me know how they come out!


  1. These sound yummy! Will have to try them.

  2. These sound yummy! Will have to try them.