Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I haven't posted many reviews of my menu items from the last couple of weeks. I wanted to save you some time and effort and tell you which ones were worth repeating and which ones were not. Unfortunately, my recipe picking skills haven't been up to par the last couple of weeks. I'm not sure if I'm trying to be too fancy or if I've just had a bad luck streak, but there haven't been many keepers. I'll start with the losers.

Castle Burger Bites - Definitely had the White Castle thing down in that they were quite oniony. The cut up bread sticks were very small and therefore challenging to cut. These just didn't have a ton of flavor as compared to my own hamburger recipe.

Turkey & Stuffing Pie - While this was acceptable in the taste department, it just wasn't anything spectacular. I realize not every recipe has to be restaurant-grade but I do strive for that. The cornbread topping was quite good and if I were to make this again, I'd at least double the amount of turkey the recipe calls for. I added some shredded chicken I had on hand. The consistency is a little on the soupy side but since it's a Rachael Ray recipe, I used her trick for "stoup" and put the cornbread on the bottom and topped it with the turkey mixture.
Creamed Corn (crock pot)- This was the best part of the meal. My only comment would be to salt and pepper the final product to suit your taste. It was a little too sweet for me straight out of the crock pot. This shouldn't be in the loser category but I wanted to keep the meal components together. This one falls somewhere in the middle.

Butter beans - Not a keeper. I had to substitute lima beans because I couldn't find frozen butter beans. I'm convinced there's a misprint in the original recipe, as there's no way 12 cups of water would cook down in just 2 hours time! The end result was too sweet for my taste buds and so not worth the effort. I'd rather have the lima beans straight out of the bag!

Crock pot Salmon - This was edible, just way overcooked. The recipe gives an hour range for cooking on high and one for low. We chose the low setting and went in the middle of her range, 4 hours. I think the salmon probably would have been cooked in 2 hours at the most. The flavor of the rub (I omitted the oregano) was good though. I wouldn't be opposed to giving this another try with some tweaking.

Broccoli Rabe (aka rapini) - NOT A FAN! This was an expensive experiment. The recipe called for 2 bunches and at $4 a bunch, I might as well have flushed $8 down the toilet! I've seen the name broccoli rabe many times before but I don't think I'd ever actually seen the stuff. I was picturing broccolini and was quite taken aback when I took the rabe out of the bag. It's like regular broccoli with leaves. The taste is quite strong and bitter. I just looked it up on Wikipedia and it said, "The flavor of rapini has been described as nutty, bitter, pungent, and "an acquired taste". I won't be "acquiring" a taste for it, thank you very much! Thankfully, this dish had tomatoes and white beans so it wasn't a total loss. Lesson learned, avoid recipes that call for broccoli rabe or be willing to make substitutions!

The Winners:
Crab Manicotti - Giada knows Italian food! This is the third recipe of hers that I've used and had great success with. The filling mixture is only enough to fill about 8-10 manicotti shells. My box had 14, so I had to end up whipping up a little extra, minus the crab, to fill the remaining shells. I didn't splurge for real crab, I just used the imitation crab but it was still quite tasty! I also halved the bechamel sauce and that was plenty. This is a keeper because I can make it the night before and then just pop it in the oven the next day. I need to find more recipes like this.

Rainy Season Chicken Soup - I generally steer clear of chicken soups because I fear they'll be watery and bland. This recipe delivers a thick soup with a great flavor. The sour cream really richens it up, while the subtle chicken, veggies, and noodles provide a healthy base. A few notes and tweaks: I would let the chopped veggies sweat and cook down a bit longer than 5 minutes. I'm not a fan of crunchy, al dente veggies, so I'd make sure they were really cooked down before adding the flour and stock. As The Review Lady suggested, I just used fresh mushrooms instead of the dried porcini. I didn't saute them in butter, I just added them in with the chopped veggies. I cooked one chicken breast with the veggies and then added a cup of shredded chicken I had on hand. I omitted the white wine because I didn't have it and you didn't miss it (well I guess I can't really say that since I've never tasted it with white wine). I couldn't find the fideo noodles either but I looked them up online and they're just short cut egg noodles. So I found a wide noodle at Meijer (not the No Yolk brand) and we loved them!

Breakfast Enchiladas - These were good but nothing outside of the box. I had to modify the recipe slightly because I realized I had failed to write several of the ingredients on my grocery list. The cheese sauce was supposed to have chiles in it, yep, forgot those. The enchiladas were supposed to have cilantro and green onions, yep, forgot those too. I just omitted the chiles, switched out the cilantro and green onions for red peppers and mushrooms, and proceeded. I used turkey sausage instead of pork and I would probably cut that almost in half next time (but then again, I'm not a huge sausage fan). I would also recommend cutting the 14 eggs down to about 10 and adding a little water to the mixture. I had way too much filling for the 8 burrito shells the recipe calls for. I had enough for 4 additional shells. I enjoyed the addition of the red pepper and mushroom more than I think I would have liked the cilantro and green onions. This is another good make-ahead recipe.
Breakfast Baklava - Yum. I usually am not a fan of processed or prepared foods. However, Pillsbury has tried to make our lives easier if we'll just let him! I still prefer to make my own biscuits, pie crusts, cinnamon rolls, etc, but in a pinch, that fat little doughboy delivers! I can still taste the difference between canned and homemade but sometimes time just doesn't allow. This one was loved by everyone and again, I assembled everything the night before!

Wow, sorry that was a long post. I was just trying to save you from repeating some of my flops. Hopefully you will enjoy some of the winners though! Here's hoping the Tangy Pot Roast is a winner!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for posting such detailed updates - you have spared me disappointment, because I had actually flagged the lima beans and broccoli dishes!

    I am glad the chicken soup worked out - I think my second batch failed largely because I forgot to do what you mentioned - to let the veggies get plenty tender before proceeding to the next step.

    I hope your pot roast is a success!