Welcome to my new series, Food Journal! This is where I will write about different recipes I try, what was good, and what wasn’t. Let’s get started…
11/20 Fast and Easy Pasta with Blistered Cherry Tomato Sauce:
Fast, easy, pasta… this recipe is basically all of my favorite things 😛 It was really fast and really easy; like Kenji said in the video, the hardest part was slicing (and peeling) the garlic. The second hardest part was putting the tomatoes into the pan without getting burned by splattering oil. Note to self: dumping the tomatoes into the pan from a large bowl will probably work better than tossing them in by the handful. Next time I want to start on the sauce BEFORE I put the pasta in the pot. My pasta cooked and was done probably 10 minutes before my sauce. I guess I’m a slow cook. Anyway, this pasta was awesome and so were its leftovers.
11/21 Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken:
I had this recipe pinned for a while but never made it because it looked a bit more complicated than I care to take on for a weeknight (or any night). Well, I made it and it looked JUST like the pictures! I decided to modify the recipe a bit, partly to cut down on the day-of prep work and partly to take advantage of a good price on chicken. After searing the meat, I prepped the sauce, and threw them both into a gallon sized freezer bag. I let it all cool off completely and put it into the freezer until this morning when I took it out to defrost. Prep in the morning was easy – dump the pearl onions into the slow cooker, rinse the mushrooms and dump them into the slow cooker (I used pre-sliced so no chopping for me!), add pre-minced garlic, rosemary, and a bay leaf, then just dump out the contents of my defrosted freezer bag.
The only things I wasn’t crazy about were having to use so many pans & dishes and deseeding the pomegranate.
A lot of slow cooker recipes end up tasting the same: they aren’t interesting or fresh. But this one is! I really loved the recipe, and am excited to eat it again in a few weeks. If you’re like me and tend to skip the fresh herb garnish, do yourself a favor and pick up the fresh parsley that the recipe calls for. It definitely added something extra and rounded out the flavors.
11/22 We had leftovers for dinner (really a great idea for clearing out your fridge the day before Thanksgiving) but I still spent ALL DAY in the kitchen. I baked an apple pie, a pumpkin pie, and some dinner rolls, plus the normal endless snacks for my kids.
The apple pie took the longest time of the three recipes. I recently gave up on trying to make pie dough in my food processor and decided to try out this pie dough recipe from The Smitten Kitchen. I used a large balloon whisk to cut the butter into the flour – somehow I still don’t have a pastry blender. The whisk worked just fine, but I think a pastry blender might do this job more quickly, or at least be more comfortable to hold. The first crust was either too warm or I did not use enough flour, because it stuck to the counter when I rolled it out. So I pushed it all back into a disc shape, refloured the counter, and rolled it out again. Somewhere in the world a pastry chef is cringing. Really the pie turned out fine despite over-handling the dough, although all the extra flour on that first crust made it hard to seal it to the second crust.
The filling for the apple pie was made of a mixture of 3 pounds of Granny Smiths and 2 pounds of Pink Ladies. I don’t think I want to make another apple dessert until I have an apple peeler of some sort. I think I say this every I make apple pie. But really, peeling and coring the apples with my vegetable peeler and paring knife takes me FOREVER. Also, if you attempt this recipe, remember to use a POT of some kind with a lid and not a SKILLET. I tried using my large cast iron skillet and had to use a mixing bowl for a makeshift lid. It was also really hard to stir the apples because the skillet was too shallow for the amount of food in it. It still worked, but it was a pain.
Once the apple pie was in the oven, I started the bread dough. These rolls were light and fluffy, and the whole process was fast and easy thanks to my bread machine. One thing I learned while making this recipe is that you do not need to melt butter before adding it to the bread machine! Just cut it into smaller pieces and the machine will take care of the rest. Shaping the rolls was trickier than I expected because the dough was STICKY. So I just made basic pan rolls instead of the cloverleaf rolls I had originally planned.
This is my third year making this pumpkin pie recipe. The streusel topping makes it more impressive than the recipe from the canned pumpkin label, but it is about the same amount of work. My only modifications to the original recipe are 1) I double the crust and 2) I use all butter instead of butter + oil. It is a deep dish pie, but I use a deep cake pan and it works just fine.
11/23 My mom hosted Thanksgiving at her house, so I didn’t do any cooking that day. However, she asked me to find a recipe for sweet potatoes with brown sugar and cinnamon, and I found this super easy recipe for roasted sweet potatoes that everyone loved. Like, I don’t think there were even any leftovers. I usually make savory roasted sweet potatoes with just olive oil, salt, and pepper, but this was a nice change for the holiday and all of the spices made them feel more special. If you want “holiday” sweet potatoes without the heaviness of a sweet potato casserole, I recommend these!