Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Baked Quinoa with Roasted Kale and Chickpeas

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: 6 Ingredient Solution

This is another great recipe from one of ATK's recent cookbooks. I'm definitely buying this book. (I've had it from the library so far.) It comes from the Vegetarian chapter, which has 9 recipes. (There are more vegetarian recipes in other chapters though.)

There is not much work to do with this: prepping the kale, cutting the tomatoes, rinsing the quinoa and beans, and zesting a lemon. The recipe does call for marinated feta cheese, which I did not have. So I used a tiny bit of olive oil and a little oregano in this as well. You do have to roast the kale for about 6-8 minutes, but that is done while you are prepping other ingredients. It all comes together very quickly (because there are so few ingredients.)

I really liked the leftovers cold. Eating it warm was good too. I will definitely make this again because it is filled with good things, tastes good and is easy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Easy Egg Casserole with Boursin and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: 6 Ingredient Solution

This was the simplest thing I've made so far from the book. It relies on three ingredients that are not always pantry staples and one is processed, so some may not like this one. But I had the Ritz crackers, Boursin cheese and sun-dried tomatoes so making this recipe was quite easy. I didn't have fresh basil so used a little rosemary.

This is a pretty rich recipe, so I only used half the cheese called for. The Boursin cheese packs a lot of flavor and I knew it would be fine. Plus it is a slightly expensive ingredient, so that is another reason to use a bit less.

This was very good, but I felt it needed a little salt. The recipe called for none (salt, pepper and water don't "count" towards the 6 ingredients) and I assumed that was because of the crackers. But it needed maybe 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon I think.

The only problem I had was that 15 minutes wasn't enough time. My middle was a little runny. I made it in individual gratins, so I thought it would cook a little faster.

I would make this again for a brunch or if I had the ingredients on hand. It might be a nice thing to make for Christmas morning.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Roasted Tomato Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Assemble Time: 5 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: 6 Ingredient Solution Cookbook

I already have a tomato soup recipe that I love. And when I saw this recipe in the book, I wasn't sure I wanted to try this one. It reminded me of CI's very original tomato soup recipe "Ultimate Cream Tomato Soup". I hadn't loved that one, because it used heavy cream, and was too heavy tasting instead of tomato-tasting to me. I really loved the cream-less version of the soup because it is a super quick recipe, healthy and good.

But I decided to try this, since it is simplified at least in terms of the ingredients. Many recipe in the 6 Ingredient Solution are quick, but this one still takes time. There isn't a huge amount of hands on time. Prep is done in less than 15 minutes and the only time you need to work while cooking is to keep an eye on the onions for about 10-15 minutes. Then you need to blend the soup at the end. It will take over an hour to make the soup, but only 20+ minutes of your time.

The secret ingredient in this recipe is the Boursin cheese, which is flavored with garlic and herbs. I tasted the soup before I added the cheese, and it was good. The tomatoes are roasted, and onions caramelized in butter (I used 1T instead of 2T.) But when I added the cheese (about 1/2 of a package, 2.5 servings) it tasted amazing. Truly delicious and maybe the best tasting tomato soup I've ever had.

I will probably continue to make both versions of the soup. I won't always have Boursin cheese on hand, but if I remember to get it, this version is really good.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Prep Time: 15 minutes + 22 minutes
Cook Time: 18-22 minutes

Grade: B

Make Again:No

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (December 2010)

These really do taste good, but I prefer the Everyday Food recipe. These are pretty sweet and were not flaky. They felt more like cakes to me. Tasty cakes, for sure, but not what I want in a biscuit.

One interesting thing about the recipe is that there is no milk. It is all sweet potato that give the moisture. (And a tiny bit of vinegar.) So you really do get a good sweet potato flavor from these biscuits.


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Two Quick Pork Tenderloin Dinners

Recipe 1: Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fall Vegetables

Prep Time: 15 minutes each
Cook Time: 30+ minutes

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (November2011)

You start with this recipe and you save 1/2 of one of the pork tenderloins. Actually, since I cut recipe in half, I only used one tenderloin.

This was my first time trying parsnips (as far as I know) and brussels sprouts since I was kid. I loved the parsnips, but was neutral on the brussels sprouts. I should probably try a recipe with bacon and then I'd probably like them more. :-)

It made two meals for me and had lots of vegetables which was nice. There was very little effort to the meal, and I liked knowing I had a head start on a 2nd meal later that week. 

Recipe 2: Lo Mein with Pork

Total Time: 15 - 20 minutes 

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (November2011)

I subbed a bit in this recipe using vegetables I liked. It isn't the most amazing stir-fry in the world, but for a real quick dinner it was great. I will definitely use this technique again - roasting some protein and saving it for a later stir-fry. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ricotta Calzones with Sausage

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rise Time:  90-120 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Bake Time: 11-15 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (September 2003)

The prep time includes the rolling of the dough, and assembling. Assembling took 30 minutes of the time. It could maybe be done quicker.

I started making the filling while dough was still rising. Then I made 6 balls of dough, and did nothing during the 30 minutes rest time. Then I was able assemble the calzones. So there is a little overlap, but overall, these do take about 2.5 - 3 hours to make and bake. I had to bake in two batches because I only have a round pizza stone and they won't all fit.

The actual recipe calls for Broccoli Rabe which I did not have, so I just left that out. I'm sure it would be a nice addition though.

This recipe takes a bit of time, but it makes 6 large calzones. I managed to usually eat one full one, but was pretty hungry when I ate these. Sometimes 1/2 of one would suffice.

I froze the leftovers and reheated in the over. These were just as good as original. Actually maybe better, because there was no effort involved and we could just enjoy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Burgers

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: The Six-Ingredient Solution

I just got this new ATK cookbook from the library and it may be one that I have to buy.  I remember reading 3-ingredient cookbooks seven or so years ago, and the 3 ingredient concept was a little too sparse. Six ingredients seems more realistic, but still easy to handle. Salt, pepper and water do not count in the six.

My picky eater had one complaint and that was that I did not cut up the tomatoes enough. He had a full strip of tomato in his burger. Whoops. Other than that he liked them. I loved them. They were very flavorful and a fun alternative to regular hamburgers.

They are quick and easy so I will probably make again someday.

  • 5 hamburger buns (tear up one bun and mix with 2 T. water for the panade)
  • 1/4 c. oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (save 1 T. of oil for cooking burgers) note: recipe called for 1/3 cup
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil (I used fresh rosemary instead)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 20 oz ground chicken (or turkey, which I used) 
  • 1/2 c. (2 oz) goat cheese crumbled 
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper 
  1. Mix all ingredients together, except reserved oil, with hands and form into 1" thick burgers. 
  2. Heat reserved oil over medium heat until smoking. Cook burgers uncovered on each side for 3-4 minutes till browned. 
  3. Lower heat and cook partially covered until 160 degrees. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pork and Apple Stew

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: Everyday Food (January 2003)

I've been trying to make some of my original favorites from Everyday Food. Recipes that I tried when the magazine first came out and that made me love the magazine. This is from the very first issue, and I remember loving this recipe, even though I was skeptical of the apples. I made it several times, but I haven't made it for years.

So, I made it again, and I only used one Granny Smith apple. Unfortunately, the apple part was very unappealing to me this time. I'm not sure why. I cooked it the 10 minutes called for, but I may have cut the pieces too small, because it was very soft.

I'm not sure what I will do the next time I make this. Maybe skip the apples (the potatoes, pork and cabbage are enough) or maybe just use a smaller apple with small pieces that I add at the last moment with the pork so the pieces stay crisp and are just an accent.

Regardless, I will make this again on occasion, because I do like it overall. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chewy Chocolate Cookies (Makeover)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Comfort Food Makeovers

I give this recipe an A, but I probably won't make these again. They are easy to make and taste great. However, they are very sweet, and lower in fat. If I am going to have a cookie, I don't care about the fat. If I eat just mostly sugar, it will not do anything to curb my hunger, but a little more fat in a cookie will help. Not that I eat cookies to curb my hunger, but when I just eat mostly sugar-y things, my appetite is stimulated more than anything.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

O's with Meatballs

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Comfort Food Makovers
(Recipe found here)

Note: The prep time is broken up into two parts, 20 minutes at beginning and then another 5 to puree the vegetables and add pasta and meatballs. Overall, this is a pretty simple recipe, the most complicated part being using the blender.

The meatballs only use 6 oz of ground chicken. That was annoying to me, because when am I going to use the other 10oz. So I sort of doubled it and froze half the meatballs for another time. The meatballs are just the ground chicken, low-fat pesto (don't know where you get that at the store, but I had some in my freezer that I made myself and was relatively lower fat) and panko.

After you saute vegetables in chicken broth (tomatoes, carrots, onion, celery) you blend to puree then cook the meatballs and pasta for another 15 minutes.

It was good. Nothing exciting, but a nice simple meal. I don't know that it reminded me of spagetti o's, but it has been a LONG time.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Almost Hands Free Risotto with Chicken

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (May 2010)

This was good. I will change one thing about the recipe next time though and that is to use boneless skinless chicken breasts. I really dislike dealing with chicken on the bone, and although I do think it ends up tasting a bit better, I think poaching boneless breasts in the broth will be almost just as good and it will save probably 10 minutes of work.

Supposedly leftover risotto isn't that good, but I found the leftovers that I had for lunch the next day to be delicious. I have more in the freezer so we'll see how that works.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baked Shells and Winter Squash

Prep Time: 40 minutes (25 minutes hands on). 
Bake Time: 15 minutes 


Make Again: Yes 

I made this probably 10 years ago when this issue of the magazine was published. I remembered that I liked it but I wasn't reviewing recipes then. I really wanted to make it again to make sure. 
I actually don't like winter squash all that much, but since I remembered liking the finished product, I decided to make it. I couldn't find the pureed squash in the freezer section (I did the first time), so I bought some already cubed squash in a bag. I had to cook it in the microwave and then puree in my food processor. That probably added 5 minutes of work (but not to total time, because cooking the onions, takes the most time.) 

I hated the smell of the squash. I tried a taste, and didn't care for it. I was feeling skeptical. But I forged on and completed the dish. I did cut back on the olive oil, by 1 T, but still used 2 T for the onions and used the full amount of cheese. I wanted to make sure I could make the squash taste good.

One fortuitous thing was that I had leftover Rosemary Focaccia in the freezer, so I used that for my topping instead of crusty bread with oil and rosemary added. It worked perfectly.

The final dish was very, very good. I didn't taste the squash at all, and the smell of the squash was gone, overpowered I suppose by the Rosemary and caramelized onions. 

I am not sure how the leftovers will freeze, but I think it won't be too bad, because it wasn't too 'saucy' so there isn't a lot to soak up. 

I hope I can find the pureed squash in a different grocery store, because I would love to make this again. I really isn't too hard, you just need some time for the onions to cook. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Angel Biscuits

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Rise Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 14 minutes

Grade: B

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (August 2007)

These are biscuits with the rise from yeast and baking powder. I thought they were ok, but not as good as regular biscuits and not as good as some dinner rolls I've made. They can be made fairly quickly, but are more work and time than regular biscuits, so I won't be making again.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (May 2009)

There isn't too much to say about this, but it is nice cake with rhubarb and a crumb topping. At first I thought it was just so, so. But after having the frozen pieces later, I decided it was pretty good. Since I have lots of rhubarb growing in my yard, it is a good recipe to have.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rosemary Focaccia

Total Time: 24 hours, with very little work
Hands on Time: 20-25 minutes 
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes 

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes 

The Focaccia is very easy to make, but you do need to be patient. You need to start the biga the night before. The dough is very wet and does not kneading – just folding, every 30 minutes, 3 times. 
My dough was probably a little too wet because I couldn't really make it into a ball at the end and it spread out in pan without my help, but it turned out fine. 
It was very good, but a little greasy. I even used a bit less oil. I also used a little less salt because it seemed like so much, but it could have handled more. 
I have already reviews CI's earlier version of this recipe here. I definitely like this recipe more so this will be the one I use if I want to make focaccia again.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Applesauce Snack Cake

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes
Cool Time: 1-2 hours

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (September 2006)
(Find the recipe here: http://www.crumblycookie.net/2009/10/02/applesauce-snack-cake/)

This is a really nice, not too sweet cake. "Snack" cake is a good word for it.

I give it a "-" only because it is a little bit more work than you might think a snack cake should be. You have to cook dried apples in apple cider (or juice) until the juice evaporates. That took about 25 minutes. I was able to prep all other ingredient during that time, but I still had to wait. You are supposed to let the apples come to room temperature before mixing in a food processor with applesauce, but I did not do that. I mixed it with the cold applesauce and it ended up about room temperature.

I forgot the vanilla, but it still tasted very good. I will probably make again, but not very often just because of the time. It is a nice Fall treat.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Runsas or Bierocks

Filling Time: 25 minutes
Chill Time: 15 minutes 
Dough Time: 15 minutes
Rise Time: 60 minutes
Assemble Time: 15 minutes
Rise Time: 45-60 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (June 2012)

These take some time to put together, but the dough and filling times can overlap some. Really there is not a lot of hands on work, it is a lot of waiting for things to rise and/or cool.

But putting them together is quite simple. The dough wrapped around the chilled filling very nicely.

The biggest bonus is that these freeze beautifully. They can be reheated in the oven when you don't want to cook. I have defrosted in microwave then heated in over for 10-15 minutes and they are great.

I will try to make an Italian or Tex-Mex version with different flavors so I don't have to use cabbage next time. I don't mind it, but the picky eater does, so I want to try something he will eat.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Stir Fried Beef with Garlic and Rosemary

Total Time: 30 minutes

Grade: B-

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Everyday Food

I  didn't love this as much as I thought I would. It was an Italian twist on stri-fry served on top of polenta.

I guess part of the problem was having trouble getting the broccoli cooked properly. It tasted ok, but I don't think I will make again. The picky eater liked it, and it was easy, so maybe I'll change my mind, but I would cook the broccoli separately probably, then mix it in at the end.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Breakfast Strata

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 1-24 hours
Cook Time: 50-55 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Comfort Food Makeovers

Recipe is available from americatestkitchenfeed.com which is a great place to watch for free access to their recipes and videos.

I make stratas all the time, most often a skillet strata as a way to use up leftovers. They can be done without the resting time. But this is a nice one if you have the time to rest the strata, because the assembly is easier. Plus it is nice to get something done ahead of time.

They say to use whole milk and not substitute. I make stratas enough that I know I am fine with the lower fat milk. I still found this rich enough. In fact I like it better this way. It was very good. Leftovers were still good. I even froze a serving and had that later, and that was good too. I will definitely use this recipe again.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Chocolate Cream Cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 18-22 minutes
Filling Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 30 minutes
Frost/Assemble Time: 20 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (February 2010)

These were very good, and fun to make. But cake is not my favorite dessert so I probably won't make again. I would if someone wanted me to though. They were not too difficult. Definitely more steps than a normal cake since you have to fill the cupcakes and decorate the top, but it wasn't too bad.

Actually I already have made them twice, the first time about 4 months ago. Unfortunately, the first time I forgot to add sugar to the batter, making them inedible. So I really wanted to make again to see if they actually good, and they were.

The filling is made with butter, gelatin and marshmallow fluff and turns out pretty good. You use it to decorate the top as well.

Overall, these are a better tasting reproduction of Hostess cupcakes.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Fresh Apple Cinnamon Scones

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour 

I had an open bag of cinnamon chips that has been open since last fall, and I've been wanting to use them up. So I searched KAF's website for cinnamon and found this recipe. They were very good. Not sure I'll make again, just because next time I might find a different recipe to try. But I do like these. There are bites of apple in them and combined with the cinnamon chips it is a nice combination. Probably more appropriate in the Fall than Spring, but I still liked the flavors.

The only dairy in the recipe is butter, because it uses applesauce and eggs for the wet ingredients. That is different than most quick breads I've tried. I guess that would make it easy for someone who is lactose intolerant to make these with margarine instead.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cooks Illustrated - May Favorites

May is almost over, but I still have one day to post my favorites.

These are the Cook's Illustrated recipes that I really like and make more than once.

Recipes I've reviewed: 
Recipes I love, but haven't reviewed: 
And once again there is a huge list of May recipes that I would love to try, but haven't found the time for yet.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 60 minutes  
Bake Time: 12 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes
Filling Time: 10 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: D.I.Y. Cookbook

This is ATK's take on Oreo cookies. Oreos are the only store bought cookies I really like, so I was excited to try this recipe. It really isn't hard, but it takes time because of the chilling of the dough, and assembling the cookies. But less than 30 minutes of work total.

The one unusual ingredient is Black cocoa (which you can get at kingarthurflour.com). You also need Dutch processed cocoa (which is not unusual.) The black cocoa is what makes them really dark. I did purchase the cocoa, but the recipe only uses 1/4 cup, so I will have to make more of these.

These really do taste like oreo's but better. The filling was a bit different, definitely in consistency, but the cookie part was right on in flavor. I really enjoyed these.

Mine are not all that pretty. Cutting them evening wasn't too easy, and I was sloppy with the filling. But they ended up fine and of course, the taste was not altered in any way.

Note: There is different chocolate sandwich cookie recipe available on http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com/ but that is a different recipe than the one in the book. I will probably try that one sometime as well.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gemelli with Caramelized Onions, Kale and Bacon

Total Time: 50 minutes

Grade: C+

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Pasta Revolution

This was fine. It tasted good, but was more work than I wanted, because caramelizing onions takes a long time! Also, my bacon was really lean and didn't render much fat, so I ended up having to add lots of water during the process.

I think if I want pasta and kale, I will make this recipe from Everyday food instead. It is simpler and just as good.

The recipe comes from the Pasta Revolution book, which has a Pasta plus Five chapter. This is one of those recipes. I would want a 5 ingredient pasta recipe to be quicker. It wasn't 50 minutes of work, but you couldn't really leave the kitchen during the time.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Meatballs for a Crowd (or your freezer)

Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes

Grade: A+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (November 2010)
Recipe Source: ATK TV (Season 12)
Recipe Source: Pasta Revolution

These are possibly the best meatballs I have ever had. They are a bit of work, but the recipe makes a huge amount of sauce and meatballs. I got 39 medium sized (less than 2") meatballs from the recipe.

I came very close to making these just ok meatballs, when I almost didn't add the proscuitto. I had to go to Trader Joe's to buy it and I didn't want to. But decided if I didn't, the salt would be off, and I didn't want to mess with the original recipe that much. I'm so glad I got it, because it really added a lot to the recipe.

My least favorite part of making these was grating the onion (1.25 cups). I might use the food processor for that next time. The tears were pouring out of me.

The meatballs are baked instead of pan-fried which is nice, because a lot of the fat renders out and it is a bit easier with so many. The sauce and meatballs are finished in the oven. They use 6 cups of tomato juice because supposedly the sauce cooks down. I only used 4 cups, and even took the cover off the last half hour, but still felt the sauce was a little thin. I would use less next time. but I like a thick sauce.

As I said, this made a lot. I have a lot of leftovers in the freezer, which makes me very happy. I will definitely use this recipe again, but not that often, since it makes so much. !

Monday, April 08, 2013

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Rest Time: 8+ hours
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rise Time: 90 minutes
2nd Rise: 60-90 minutes
Bake Time: 40-50 minutes
Cool Time: 2 hours

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (March 2011)
Recipe Source: ATK TV (Season 12)

(There is a video on the TV website for this one.)

I never have good luck with making sandwich bread. Wheat or white. It smells good, but I never love the flavor. Until now. This one had amazing flavor. It may have something to do with the butter, whole milk, and honey. Although, to be fair, the amounts were not huge considering this makes two loaves. The wheat germ probably helps the wheat flavor as well.

This recipe takes some forethought and planning because you have to start the night before, and there are many steps. But none are hard, and the results are worth it I believe.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Skillet Baked Tex-Mex Macaroni

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Pasta Revolution

This was a nice quick weeknight meal. My picky eater said it was good, but he complained about the chilies. I will have to mash them up more next time. I used a lighter cheese and very lean beef. Next time I would just use less of regular cheese.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Potato Galette

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 40-50 minutes

Grade: A

Make again: Yes for a nice meal.

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (March 2010)
Recipe Source: ATK TV (Season 12)

There is a video at the TV website now, which is helpful to watch before trying this recipe.

I really liked this one. It was a bit of work, but not too much. It makes a nice presentation for a serving to others. However, as you can see from my photo, I did burn the edges a bit. It was still really good though. the hardest part is cutting the potatoes. Even with a mandoline. I wouldn't try it without!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chicago Style Pizza

Dough Time: 10 minutes
Rise Time: 60 minutes
Sauce Prep: 20 minutes
Sauce Cook: 30 minutes
Laminate: 10 minutes
Rise Time: 40-50 minutes
Assemble: 10 minutes
Bake: 20-30 minutes
Rest: 10 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2010) 
I have always lived in Chicago-land area (and for a while in the city) so I do know Chicago pizza. I'm not partial to this style of pizza though, I like all kinds really. The one thing I would say about the style is that it has a buttery crust. Some of them seem like they have cornmeal in them, but I've heard that is not really true. I am not a purist though so I just wanted to try it and see if it was good.

It was good. Very good actually. Maybe not a true replication of any specific restaurant around here but close enough. The crust seemed closest to Lou Malnati's I thought, because of the buttery flavor.

It is a bit more work than a regular pizza, but it made two pies. I wrapped one pan in foil and froze, then baked a few weeks later. That one was as good as the first.

I thought the sauce was a little too sweet so I would skip the sugar next time or use less. Otherwise it was a very good recipe.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and Fennel

Time: 27 minutes

Grade: A

Make again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cooks Illustrated (March 2010)
Recipe Source: Pasta Revolution

This was really good and simple. I lightened it up a bit using turkey sausage and 1/2 the oil and it was still pretty rich and filling. I used Ronzoni 100% whole wheat pasta and it was good. I thought I had bought the blend pasta which is not 100% whole wheat and that I've used often.

I will definitely make again because the sauce and turkey is made in the time it takes the water to boil and pasta to cook, so this is a keeper recipe.

This recipe is also featured (cut in half, for two people) in the ATK's Pasta Revolution cookbook, which I have out now from the library.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Favorite Chili

Prep Time: 70 minutes
Cook Time: 90-120 minutes

Grade: B-

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2011)
Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen TV Season 12

You can get recipe (and video) with free subscription at ATK website for the next year.

This was not as good as I hoped. And it was more work than I wanted. The flavor was not quite what I expected. That may be because I used slightly less chili's - I'm not sure. The meat was good and the beans were good, but the overall flavor just wasn't great enough to warrant 70 minutes of work. I could probably do it faster, but it would still take a while, so I probably won't do this one again.

I wouldn't say that other people shouldn't try this recipe though. The flavors may appeal more to others.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Cook's Illustrated Favorites - March

It is a new month and time for my favorites again. These are the Cook's Illustrated recipes that I really like and make more than once. (Or at least I want to make again - it is amazing how many recipes I've only made once, that I really loved.) 

Recipes I've reviewed: 
  • Pan Seared Chicken Breasts - this is good and simple. It isn't 'quick' but the breasts start in the oven at a low heat, and it isn't a lot of effort. I've made this one a lot. 
  • Banana Bread - there has been a new version of this banana bread since this one was published. But this version is easier and just as good as the newer one. 
  • Thai-Style Curried Chicken Fried rice - I have made this one a lot, although not in a while, because a picky eater entered my life. But I will make it again with leftovers sometime soon, now that I'm thinking about it again. 
  • Glazed Lemon Cookies - or lemonade cookies as my nephews once called them. These are good. 
  • Simple Chili - technically this may be a "January" recipe, but they published it twice. Once with beef and once with Turkey. I like it both ways. 
  • Wilted Spinach Salad - I lightened the recipe up a bit, and it still very good. 
  • Classic Brownies - I like this version better than their new brownies. 
  • Brown Sugar Cookies - this is one of those recipes I've only made once or twice, but that I really loved. I just don't 'need' to make cookies that often and have so many good recipes. 
  • Garlic Potato Soup - another I've only made once, but want to make again
Recipes I love, but haven't reviewed: 
Making this list made me aware again of all the recipes that I want to try but haven't tried yet from March. So there may be some more added to this list soon. 

Actually I did make the Potato Galette last weekend and really liked it, so that one will be added soon hopefully. 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Prep Time:  17 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes per 2 pans
Cool Time: 30 minutes
Filling Time: 5 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (March 2012)
Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen TV
Recipe Source: D.I.Y. Cookbook

The recipe and video available for free on TV website right now.

I only made a half recipe, since these cookies are big, so the time will take longer for a full recipe with 24 sandwich cookies, but probably not too much longer.

These are fairly simple to make. The hardest part is processing the chopped nuts, and that isn't really hard. They are nice, but a little dry (filling excepted of course), so not my favorite type of cookie. But they were fun to make. I might make again, but since I have a niece and a nephew with a peanut allergy and they are who I like to make cookies for, I may not.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Morning Glory Muffins

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (April 2011)
Recipe Source: Cook's Country TV (same link)

I was starting to write my review in my head while I was baking these, assuming they would get a grade lower than an A. The prep on these muffins takes quite a while. Grating carrots, peeling grating an apple, squeezing liquid from the apple and pineapple, toasting the walnuts and coconut, then processing in food processor! That is a lot for a muffin. And because I always try to multi-task I burned some of the coconut when toasting. I tried taking the burned pieces out and toasted a bit more. There was a burned coffee smell in my kitchen and I was sure these wouldn't taste good.

But I was really happy when I tasted one. The texture was perfect. One of the best I've ever made. These are not super sweet, so really a good muffin for breakfast. I have never tried to make these muffins before because all recipes I saw had walnuts and raisins which I don't like. But since these walnuts are ground up, I thought it would be ok, and it was. I think they added nice flavor to the muffin.

These are definitely some work, but I think they are worth it to have in the freezer for a quick breakfast that is a little less sweet than most muffins, but still very tasty.

The only change I made to the recipe was to replace 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with 1 cup of white wheat. I still used 1 1/4 of regular flour. It worked well.

This recipe is currently available for free on Cook's Country website since it was feature during the current season of Cook's Country TV, so grab it now if you are interested.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Graham Crackers

Prep Time: 33 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes per pan

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: D.I.Y. Cookbook

I wasn't too interested in this cookbook when I saw it announced by ATK, but I saw it at the library and decided to check it out. I actually really like the book, and am considering purchasing it. Their new layout of cookbooks is much improved over earlier cookbooks, which I hated for many reasons. Also it is a fun read.

Many of the DIY recipes are on the ATK Feed website but the graham crackers are not. These are delicious. Much better than store bought. And very easy to make. The 33 minutes of prep was mostly taken up by the rolling out of the crackers, cutting (or scoring them) and docking them with a fork. I started baking the first pan while still having more to roll out, and it worked fine. I was done with the full recipes in under an hour.

The flavor comes from graham flour, which I found at my store with the Bob Mill's flours. It used 1 1/2 c. of the flour, so I have enough to make the recipe probably 2 more times. Considering graham crackers are so expensive, it may be cheaper to make your own. But really, they taste so much better, I don't think I would want to buy them again. Even for making them just to break up into a crust. (Although if I was going to that, I would skip the scoring step.)

I haven't tried anything else from the book yet, but I will definitely be trying at least a few more recipes. I also would like to try the cinnamon graham cracker recipe as well.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sour Cream Muffins

Prep Time: 12 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 23-26 minutes

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Whole Grain Baking

This is not my favorite blueberry or muffin recipe, but it does use white whole wheat flour and tastes pretty good. The reason I will make these again is that it uses up 1 c. of sour cream. I have a tendency to throw away sour cream because I don't use it enough. This is a good recipe to use it up. Also, the batter can be made up to 4 days in advance, so if you want to have fresh muffins in the morning, this is a good one to use.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

January/February Everyday Food Favorites

I posted this list of Favorites from January/February last year, but I'm posting again because I wanted to bring up again and try to remind myself to review some of these recipes in more detail this month. I'm using my favorites list to create meal plans for the month, and it is good for me to use recipes that I've already tried and are successful!

I've reviewed these recipes:
Not reviewed yet:
  • Apple Pie Cake - I really need to review this recipe. It is unique and good.
  • Pork and Apple Stew
  • Sweet Potato Wedges - This recipe introduced a new favorite food to me. I had never liked those mushy overly-sweet holiday recipes for sweet potatoes, but made this way, I found out I loved them. I make this often all fall and winter long and have for the past 8 years.
  • Valentines Day Cookies
  • Pot Roast Hash - I only made this once, because I rarely make pot roast, but remembering this recipe makes me want to try it again.
  • Lentil and Brown Rice Pilaf - This takes a while to carmelize the onions, but it makes very plain ingredients yummy.
Want to try still:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gooey Cinnamon Squares

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

I don't post recipes from cookbooks here, for various reasons, but you can find this recipe on-line at David Lebovitz's blog.

After not liking the first recipe I tried from the cookbook, it has redeemed itself. This recipe is Deb's take on Snickerdoodles + Gooey Butter Cake. It was listed in the cookie section of the cookbook, but for me it seemed more like a cake.

I had a very tough cooking day on Sunday, making two things I had made before and messing both of them up (one in a small way, and the other in a huge way, rendering it unfit to eat!)

Dinner, which I was hoping would be great, was a bust. I felt the need to try something fairly simple with a high probability of success. My picky eater likes cinnamon, and this sounded good. As long as I didn't forget any ingredients, I thought it would be good.

It probably would take less than 30 minutes to prepare, but I had two things going against me: 1) I was re-reading the directions multiple times to make sure I didn't miss anything and 2) the picky eater was supervising, also making sure I didn't mess up. It probably could be put together in 20-25 minutes for sure.

Anyway, this recipe was a total success. I have never made a gooey butter cake, and it seemed weird putting it together. The bottom layer looked very similar to the gooey layer, and I wondered how it would work. But it worked great. The top of the cake was gooey, but not too gooey. The cinnamon sugar on top was awesome.  This one definitely gets a thumbs up from me and the picky eater!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Classic Gingerbread Cake

Prep Time: 18 minutes
Cook Time: 35-45 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (May 2011)
Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen (Season 12)

Note: Video and recipe available at 2nd link without subscription, probably for the rest of the year.

I have always been disappointed with gingerbread cakes. They are always too moist and gummy and the flavor isn't what I was looking for. This one was the best I have ever tried. It does have quite a kick though, and my picky eater didn't care for it. I liked the texture however. If I do make again it will be with a tiny bit less ginger. I'm not sure I will make again though, since I was the only what that liked it.

Speaking of the ginger, I came very close to forgetting the dried ginger. (There is also some fresh in the recipe.) I had my 2T measured out, but never mixed it in with the dry ingredients. Instead, after I put the cake in the oven, and started cleaning up, I noticed the ginger on the counter! Thankfully it was in time, and I tried to sprinkle it somewhat evenly over the cake, and then I whisked it in the pan. Because the batter was so thin, I was able to do this and avoid a disaster.

Unfortunately, this forgetting of ingredients is becoming a habit of mine. One I need to break. I made some cupcakes a few months ago with no sugar. Today I made rolls and forgot both the sugar and the salt. They were horrible. I also forgot the salt when I made gnochhi. (Notice none of these recipes have been reviewed yet, because I made such bad mistakes.)

I need to work on better prep, so I don't forget things anymore. It is such a bummer when you put all this effort into something and then realize you messed up too late!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Popcorn Cookies (from Smitten Kitchen)

Prep Time: 24 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

Grade: C

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

I only read one blog, and that is Smitten Kitchen. I enjoy her writing and the food looks good. But I have never really tried a lot of her recipes before. So I decided to get the book from the library before I buy.

The first recipe I wanted to try was popcorn cookies. Such a clever idea and part of the reason I enjoy reading her blog. She is a creative cook, but not overly fussy.

These take a bit longer because you need to make the popcorn first. But it is otherwise a simple recipe.

The first cookie I ate (still quite warm) was good. Not amazing or anything, but good. The soft dough with the popcorn was good, and slightly reminded me of caramel corn. But the cooled cookies were not as good. I ended up not liking the texture of the popcorn with the cookie. I tried some again today, and my feelings are still lukewarm on them. No need to eat a cookie if doesn't taste great I think.

I am not ruling out the cookbook based on one recipe. I will definitely be trying some more before I fully judge. Regardless, it is an enjoyable easy read. (If you like reading cookbooks!)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Twice Baked Potatoes with Cheddar and Scallions

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Cool Time: 10 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes (while shells bake)
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Cool Time: 10 minutes

Grade: B-

Make Again: Maybe, with more seasoning

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 1999)

These are not hard to make, but take a lot of time. I did shortcut the cooking time a bit by using the microwave to kick-start the potatoes.

The mixture tasted very delicious before I baked the potatoes the second time. But the final product tasted a bit bland for some reason, like it was under-seasoned. I was a little disappointed after the work. They weren't bad at all, but I'm not sure the effort is worth it. I might just prefer adding all the good stuff to a regular baked potato.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Glazed All-Beef Meatloaf

Prep Time: 34 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Glaze Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 20 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2006)

Any previous meatloaf recipe from CI called for Meatloaf mix (pork, veal and beef). I never used it, and always just used beef. This recipe was specifically created to only using beef. I would say it is better than their regular version (if you only use beef, that is.) However, it does call for two types of beef - a pound of ground sirloin and a pound of ground chuck.

It also calls for quite a lot of other ingredients: gelatin (to replace missing quality from veal), crushed saltines, paprika, celery, onion, soy sauce, tomato juice and more. Then there is a tasty glaze on top.

It was really a little bit more work than I want to do for a meatloaf, however, the flavor and texture was very good. Since it wasn't a terrible amount of work, I probably will make this version again.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Cauliflower and Cream

Total Time: 33 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2004)

This was pretty good, but has a lot of fat for a quick weekday dinner. I made a significant change to the recipe which calls for 2 cups heavy cream and replace 1.5 cups of it with chicken stock. It worked well. I'm sure it would be even better with all the cream, but I just have no desire to eat something that heavy, because I will only need a tiny serving to fill me up.

The sauce also include sun-dried tomatoes, thyme (I used dried), dry wine (I used vermouth) and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It was a good sauce with a touch a creaminess from 1/2 c. cream. 

I did my usual mistake of prepping during cooking, instead of prepping before, which made some of the work a little stressful, trying to get things ready in time. I really should prep more before I start.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Cook's Illustrated Favorites - January

I started this blog to help me keep track of recipes and to organize my cooking. It has helped with that, but it could be better. Last year I did some "Favorites" posts for Everyday Food magazine which reminded me about some really good recipes. I want to keep that up and include Cook's Illustrated now because I truly forget to re-use some really great recipes.

I am hoping to ultimately have Favorites lists for every month so I can always find a tried and true favorite any time of the year. 

My Cook's Illustrated January/February Favorites 
(Note: the links are to my blog posts, not the recipes. The posts have links to the recipes (but sometimes behind a ATK paywall)
I also really liked but haven't blogged on 
  • Twice-Baked Potatoes - January 1999
  • Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Cauliflower and Thyme-Infused Cream - January 2004 
  • Hearty Lentil Soup - January 2004 
  • Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake - January 2004 
I was thinking about adding all the January magazine recipes from Cook's Illustrated that I still want to try, but that list is about 30 recipes long, so I will not add them here until they are tried and become favorites. I wish I could try them all this winter, but it probably won't happen. That list includes: 
  • French Toast
  • Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
  • Apple Turnovers
  • All Beef Meatloaf 
  • Gingerbread
  • Crossaints (someday!!) 
  • and lots more 

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (September 2008)

I am not a fan of raisins, but I had some dried blueberries that are about to get too old, so I tried those and that was a delicious combination. I am now interested in the idea of substituting these blueberries in anything that calls for raisins.

I should have used parchment paper, the bottoms were getting too dark, before they were cooked through. (When will I learn.)

They ended up a little flat, even though I did not forget the baking soda. They were still delicious and very chewy. Overall, these are just as good as the other Oatmeal cookie recipes that I love. The King Arthur Flour recipe and the recipe from the Best Light Recipe.