Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Recipe failure and success

I am always intrigued by "roasted garlic". I've tried roasting a head of garlic. Meh. I've tried "roasted garlic mashed potatoes". Meh. The other night I made 40 clove chicken. It smelled absolutely delicious. It was great. The whole house smelled amazing. Unfortunately, the chicken was rather bland. I tried putting one of the roasted cloves on a piece of bread, but that wasn't that great either. Apparently, I just don't like roasted garlic. I prefer the bite of the fresh stuff I guess. Oh well. It was a success in one way- I did find a new way to cook chicken- I browned it on the stove top, then put the whole pan in the oven (because it is oven safe. Very important to remember!). Roast covered at 350 degrees for an hour and a half. The chicken was very moist and delicious and perfectly cooked, just not perfectly seasoned. Next time, I'll know better. I decided to do 40 clove chicken because I had a whole cut up fryer, which was, unfortunately, frozen when I bought it. (Otherwise, I would have separated it out into better portion sizes. The three of us definitely can't eat a whole chicken in one meal.) So I had to cook all of it at once. At least the leftover chicken will make good salad or pot pies.
In other news, there is a show on channel 5 here called Studio 5. I don't know what you would classify it as. I guess talk show meets variety show meets Rachel Ray? They do a little bit of everything- crafts, cooking, relationship help. You name it, they do it. (It's obviously meant for stay at home moms.) Since it's the only thing on at 11, and baby usually eats then, we watch it occasionally. Yesterday, they were talking about a blogger that is using her crock pot every day for a year. I got excited, because I miss Stephanie the crock pot wonder. Her site was great. She still posts every now and then, and if I have a crock pot need I still go there first. But I was hoping for a new crock pot site so I could get some new ideas. So I went to this lady's blog (and trust me, it was hard to remember to get there- baby ate, pooped, and peed on me all while I was trying to get to this website). Once I was there, I was disappointed. Unlike Stephanie, who very rarely used cream of soups, this lady was all about the cream of soups. Sure, a cream of soup casserole or crock pot dish is nice once in a while, but not everyday! So I was saddened. I guess I will have to keep looking.

After the failure of 40 clove chicken, I was a little anxious to make the other new recipe on the menu this period. (I never know how to refer to my menu making time period. I do it every other week, so I can't say "the menu this week". I usually end up saying "this time" but that doesn't always work.) Anyway, the recipe is called Gallo Pinto. I got it from Serious Eats, by way of Cheap Healthy Good (another of my fave cooking sites). Go read the CHG link, and look at the link to Serious Eats. Once you look at the picture on Serious Eats, tell me, why are there tomatoes in the picture? There were no tomatoes in the recipe, though some pico de galo would have been great with the dish. Actually, now that I think about it, and study the picture on CHG, those red things were probably the bell pepper. Oh well. I used green, because red is too expensive. Some pico would still be good. This recipe was great. Most "beans and rice" recipes I have tried have gone over not so well. This was awesome. I tried it without Alann, since he tends to not appreciate my beans and rice overtures. (I just got a "pretty good" on the leftovers.) But we are poor, so beans and rice will probably become staples and he will have to deal. A few words about the recipe- don't be afraid of the W sauce. Use what it says to use. Also, to cut down on salt, buy low sodium beans, or make your own. Or rinse the beans partly or mostly and use some water, maybe 1/2 c to start? I tossed in the "bean juice" despite my usual misgivings about that practice. I usually rinse and replace the water, because the bean juice just looks funky to me. But this was ok. Maybe next time I will rinse. Or use freshly cooked beans. Also, use the cilantro. It makes the whole thing that much better. CHG says no need for a salad, but I disagree. I like to round out my veggies as much as possible. I try not to count onions and bell peppers as veggies, because even though they are, they are also in almost every meal I make. I ate mine with some yummy crunchy iceberg, and it was delish. I also wished I hadn't cut the iceberg so small, so I could make some lettuce wraps with it. The iceberg went really well with the rice in the same bite. I'll see if Alann wants to take some of this for lunch tomorrow. It's pretty good cold too. (Of course, I don't mind cold leftovers on occasion. Alann doesn't care for them.)
Here's another trick for sneaking more healthful beans and rice into your meals: make a big pot of beans ahead of time, and freeze them in 1 1/4 cup portions. Then you can add them instead of canned beans. For rice, I prefer brown rice. It has more fiber and nutrients and I really enjoy the chewy texture. You can cook lots of brown rice (on the stove, in the oven, or in the rice cooker) and again, freeze the leftovers. You don't even have to portion it out. It breaks apart pretty easily. Just smack the bag around to loosen the grains. Since my rice cooker won't let me cook less than 4 cooked cups of rice, and that is way more than we will eat right away, I am trying to get in the habit of freezing the leftovers, rather than refrigerating. I lose rice in the fridge, and I've read that it breeds bacteria super fast. I don't know why. It's just one of those things. I've trying (in vain it seems, I try this often) to institute a more rigid plan to our menu. Some people do Mexican Mondays, beef Tuesdays, etc. I can't do that. But, I am trying to be more conscious about what kinds of things we are eating, and I am trying to cut down on the meat centered foods. I'm not saying I don't love a good steak (because boy do I), but we eat a lot more meat than we need to. And one meatless meal a week can be good for the pocketbook and waistline, as long as meatless doesn't mean "five cheese macaroni and cheese from scratch". I wouldn't ever go vegetarian, I like meat too much, but I would go halfway, if Alann would go with me. But it's difficult finding things that he likes that grew in the ground, instead of on legs.

Anyway, moral of the story- no more 40 clove chicken, but yes more Gallo Pinto.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Good for you trying out some new recipes. I am always worried that they will be failures and I will waste the food. Sometimes that happens, but usually they are at least decent. I always do at least one meal a week that doesn't use meat. Favorites are veggie stir fry, eggs and hash browns, or pancakes/waffles with fruit. Sometimes they are not as filling, but it usually works out just fine. I will have to check out your cooking website links.