- For my niece's birthday party last Friday, I made that dark chocolate pound cake that was supposed to be for Valentine's Day. It was indeed delicious, but not life-changing. It's from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook (the one from Costco in the big red binder). My impression of their recipes so far is that they are good, solid recipes that won't let you down. But of the 3 that I've tried, none of them have been to-die-for kinds of recipes. That's okay, though. Sometimes good is good enough, and at least they're not disappointing.
- Saturday night's dinner was a creamy orzo pasta from Giada DeLaurentis. It was delicious! By far the best recipe of hers that I've tried. It was another pantry-staple recipe, if cream is a staple at your house. I actually made it with a tiny pasta called acini di pepi, because I did my grocery shopping at Walmart last week (cringe--apparently my lack of finances overrides my ethical issues with Walmart), and apparently Walmart is not high-brow enough to stock orzo. Ha. But it was fabulous with the acini, and I'm assuming this would be great with any smallish pasta.
- Sunday dinner was Moroccan squash and chickpea stew from Smitten Kitchen, and no surprise, it was fabulous. I don't think I've made a recipe from her site that I didn't like. Oh wait. There were the very sad browned-butter-brown-sugar shortbread cookies. Complete disaster. She actually ended up putting a disclaimer on that recipe because so many people emailed her saying they had tried it and it didn't work. So I don't feel so bad about that--misery loves company, I guess. Anyway. This Moroccan stew is certainly not a disaster, and we really enjoyed it. Try it if you have a winter squash (butternut, banana, etc.) sitting around and you're bored with roasted squash.
- Monday morning, I took one look at the very pathetic contents of the fruit bowl and decided it was a good day to bake. Banana bread for the nearly-black bananas, and pear-pecan bread for the sadly neglected pears that were past their prime. Pears don't usually last long in our house, because Mia usually loves them. But I kept leaving these ones for her and she kept saying she didn't want any, until I realized they were no good for eating out of hand anymore. Never heard of pear bread before? Neither had I! But it's just a page after my favorite banana bread recipe in the Joy of Cooking, so I figured I'd try it. Another winner! Joy of cooking also has a pear-almond crumble that I've made before, which we absolutely adore, but I wanted to try out this intriguing bread, and I'm glad I did. If you find yourself with past-their-prime pears and you don't have the Joy of Cooking, email me and I'll send you the recipe.
- Monday night we were very virtuous (as we were again tonight) and used the leftovers frrom Saturday night's dinner. I find that if I wait one day between eating the same dish, we're a lot more excited about it than if it's 2 nights in a row. So Monday night was Saturday night's pasta again, and it was even great as a leftover--that's a good recipe in my book.
- Tuesday night I tried a mushroom casserole from 101 Cookbooks. It was a very good vegetarian main dish, and very easy because I had made and saved enough brown rice from last Friday's dinner. That's pushing leftover-use-time right to the limit (you should use leftover rice or pasta within 4 days), but it tasted fine. This is really nice if you love mushrooms and brown rice, a combo we happen to adore. In fact, if I make it again I will double the mushrooms, because we all love them. I didn't get many, because Mia ate all of hers and then asked for more, so I gave up half of mine. Punk.
- The random combination award for the week goes to the Indian naan bread that I made to go along with the mushroom casserole. Not that they were bad together, just not a very coherent theme. But we absolutely love the recipe I have for onion kulcha naan, Joe has been requesting it for a few weeks, and I finally had no excuse not to make it because I noticed that I had everything I needed for it, and two of the items were about to go bad (cilantro I had from the Moroccan stew, and plain yogurt that's been in the fridge). Not that I mind making it, but it's definitely a time committment that's not the easiest with a nursing baby and the rest of life going on. So we didn't eat dinner until 7:30, but oh well. It was worth the wait.
So that's the homemade wrap-up for the week. It's only Wednesday, but from the looks of my fridge, the rest of the week is going to be, uh, less-than-homemade. Like, one of our favorite cheater meals--Chinese sticky rice with frozen pot stickers from Costco. If you like pot stickers/dumplings, the ones from Costco are seriously awesome. Not to mention easy. Then perhaps a baked-potato-and-salad night, and then on Saturday night maybe we'll get crazy and use one of our 3 Olive Garden gift cards from Christmas.