Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Playing Catch Up

I still haven't mentioned the food I made the week before Thanksgiving. Unpardonable! I was definitely cooking up a storm in the weeks before, probably in anticipation of the big day. Some hits, some misses. Check them out below.

Let's go ahead and do this in order. I'll start with the dish I liked most and work my way down to liked least. That way I get the gratification of sharing sooner, and I'm all about gratification.
  • Kale and sweet potato gratin, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. Deb's recipe actually calls for swiss chard, but for some reason my grocery stores just don't carry it. It sucks! But let me tell you. This is good. This is sinfully good. The sweet potatoes are sweet, the kale is nutty with an ever so slight bite to it. And the cheese...the bechamel... Sorry, I needed a moment. And thinking about it, it wasn't actually that bad for me. Wait, wait! Hear me out! The recipe called for heavy cream or whole milk. I had 1% and heavy cream. Since I wasn't about to use all heavy cream (ugh, emphasis would be on the heavy!), I mixed them! I forget what exactly my ratio was. maybe 50/50? Maybe I was daring and did 75% milk and 25% cream? Let's say I did. Because really, this recipe doesn't need to cream to be good. The cheese does a great job of adding creaminess, and the kale and sweet potatoes are so flavorful! Man oh man this was good! Make this one. Seriously.
  • Mini meatloaves, courtesy of Food Network. I've mentioned these before. They are so delicious. I doubled the recipe this time, so they would last the week with Husband on the mini meatloaf eating rampage he tends to get on when these babies are around. He was very good about leaving enough for me to have one everyday in my lunch. Really, they're more like meatballs. I still need to try making these a bit smaller and making a meatball sandwich with them. Yum!
I had the hardest time actually getting the meat at the meat counter! I told the guy I wanted a pound of ground sirloin, a pound of ground pork, and a pound of ground turkey. The guy was an idiot (he's the same idiot that pulls some idiot move every single weekend I'm there, ugh.). He ended up giving me some meat that was neither of the 3 I mentioned. And every time (every time) I ask for sirloin, he starts for the ground chuck and says "this one?" I always have to tell him no, I want the one labeled "sirloin" (and I have to hold in the "which is why I asked for sirloin!"). I try not to be a smart ass b*tch, but sometimes it's so hard. Thankfully Husband knows me too well, and was there to keep me in check.
  • Butternut squash soup, a mash-up of Shutterbean's...and some one else's, which I can't for the life of me find! Remember when I said I just wasn't big on squash soups? Yeah, I'm standing by that. I was in a soup mood, had some butternut squash, so thought, why not? But unfortunately, it was not all that. I ended up using more vegetables than just the squash, such as onion, celery, and carrots. And I added in some of the fresh sage I had left over from the polenta (see below). Even with the herbs, and curry powder, and other additives, I still thought it was a bit bland. And hot sauce didn't lend itself to the flavors, much to Husband's chagrin. Also, the sage was a bit overwhelming, so I would probably leave it out next time. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't great.
  • Quinoa stuffed squash, courtesy of The Kitchn. This one was a miss, which bums me out because I was so excited to make it! It sounded fantastic. Quinoa with dates and pistachios? Yum! I'll admit that this recipe originally drew me in because I had a big tub of dates from Costco and nothing to do with them, but it also just sounded tasty. First, I'll admit that I messed up a couple of times. I used acorn squash rather than the dumpling squash called for. And in my frazzled state (I usually get a bit frazzled towards the end of the day on Sunday when I realize it's getting late and I still have a lot to make) I totally forgot to add the cinnamon and lemon zest. But I really don't think that was the problem. The problem was the squash. Either I'm not a fan of the stuffed squash delivery method (much as I wasn't much of a fan of those stuffed peppers a few weeks ago), or it was just my mistake using acorn squash. Either way I thought the filling was quite tasty, but it didn't wow me. I don't know that I would make it again, even if I could decide on a better way to eat it.
  • Mushrooms and leeks with pumpkin polenta, courtesy of The Chef and The Photographer. I hate to say it, but I wasn't really a fan. Which bums me out because looking at the ingredients, I should be a fan. A huge fan! I love mushrooms and leeks, and cooked in butter and sherry with some fresh sage. Hello yum! And pumpkin! My fav! But something about this one just didn't come together for me. And I'm sure it was just my own cooking being off. First, I had textural issues. Polenta is mushy, mushrooms are mushy. It was a big mush party going on in my mouth. I know, my grandmother is turning over in her grave right now hearing me complain about food being mushy, seeing as how she always accused me of being too lazy to chew (thus why I didn't like meat growing up, supposedly). I used creminis. Perhaps another type of mushroom would yield tastier results. Or maybe some nuts thrown in for some crunch? Also, I went overboard on the sage. I hadn't used fresh sage before, so I didn't realize is was so...potent. And potent it is! And believe it or not, I also had issues with the polenta. I actually didn't much like the pumpkin with it. I didn't think the flavor meshed well with the rest of the dish. It just kind of I would take a bite and think, this would be good without the pumpkin. Maybe it's because I used canned pumpkin puree instead of fresh. Maybe canned pumpkin puree is perfectly acceptable in baked goods, but in cooking the difference really shows. That's probably it. But when I'm doing something as easy as polenta, I don't want to roast a pumpkin first. Husband really wasn't a fan. I've tried feeding him polenta a few times now, and each time he's tried it without complaint, but he just doesn't like it, which is too bad because I think it's pretty tasty and easy. It's pictured on the right side of my lunch container in the picture at the top.
Well there you have it. I don't think I've ever had so many mehs in one week! Thankfully the gratin and meatballs were fantastic enough to keep me excited the whole week. Unfortunately, I haven't been so great with taking pictures of my food stuffs since Thanksgiving. Bare with me people, it's been a busy few weeks! I'll have pictures galore when I show you the cookie tins I'll be sending out to people next week. Stay tuned!

PS: Did you notice I got a new keyboard? Woohoo! No more zzzzzzz issues! As you might have been able to tell from the plethora of zzzzzzs in this post. Though probably not because you don't realize how many times zzzzzz comes up until you're made to do without it.


Freya's Human said...

Oh wow, I totally am impressed with your cooking prowess!

The most I've done tonight was make a garlic butter sauce. Simple yet tasty and better than the jar of pesto I had the night before.

Diana Mo' said...

i think pumpkin is one of those ingredients that is just as wonderful canned, so why bother with all the roasting, etc?