I’ll be honest: food still isn’t something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately. I still want to eat good food, but I mostly want to minimize my time in the kitchen and just make simple, easy, quick meals. I’ve been falling back a lot on old standbys, things that are are so familiar to me that I don’t have to put a lot of thought or effort into them. We’ve made a lot of homemade pizzas. A lot of pasta with homemade sauce. Tacos. Fried rice. Roasted chicken. That kind of thing. Homemade but nothing terribly exciting. I’m happy with that.
Mostly. With such a familiar and unchallenging menu, it gets boring after a while. So I’ve tried to make sure that a couple of new recipes sneak in. As with the old standbys, I keep them as uninvolved as possible. Some of them have been really good, some of them have been kind of unimpressive. Here are a few of them that we’ve tried these past few weeks.
Marinara Sauce (from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)
I have mentioned before that I prefer to make my own pasta sauces, not just because they’re healthier than what you get at the store but because I can control what goes in them and what they taste like. The sauce I usually make takes about three hours to get ready, but it makes a ton and lasts for weeks. It’s great for pasta, and I love it, but for a pizza we made a couple weeks ago, I wanted something simpler. This marinara sauce did the trick, and I’ve made it twice since then, just to use on quick pasta lunches (or, as with today, breakfasts). I simplified it a bit by not bothering to add carrots (or celery, ew) and not running it through the food processor, though I’m sure it’s just as awesome that way. That’s just more work than I’m willing to put in right now. Even without processing, this is just a terrific sauce and it makes quite a bit, so I’m glad to have added it to my repertoire.
Apple-Cheddar Soup (from Food Network Magazine)
I realize that this would be better in the fall, but I couldn’t resist. I really wanted a soup, and this one was easy to make. The only thing that didn’t really work out were the rye bread croutons – next time, I’ll just bake them in the oven like I would any other crouton. Geordie wasn’t impressed by them, but I liked them and thought they went well with the soup. Especially with that cheddar topping. This really was a great soup, not too sweet and not too cheesy, very mellow and tasty. I would have liked it a little bit thicker, but it was still fine as it was. Definitely something I’ll make again in September/October.
Pork with Mushroom Gravy (from Food Network Magazine)
Geordie wanted pork, I wanted mushrooms – it all worked out. Meat with a pan sauce/gravy is the easiest thing ever, and it’s something I’ve been doing a lot more lately. I especially love a good mushroom sauce, but then, I love just about anything with mushrooms in it. I’m trying to limit how often we eat potatoes, but this was definitely a meal that called for some simple mashed potatoes. Nice and comforting in the middle of a busy week.
This was not a particular favorite of ours, but I include it here because I think it can be improved upon. I linked this to the website I got the recipe from, but it’s originally a Dave Lebovitz recipe, and his version is a little different. I wish I’d done his version. First off, this really needs a pre-baked pie crust. Or else it needs to be baked at a very high temperature so things don’t go all soggy. Second, the combination of whole-grain mustard and Italian herbs did nothing for us. It was weird. Lebovitz doesn’t actually call for specific herbs, which I take to mean to use what you’ve got or what you think will work for you. Basil did not work for us. Also, his version calls for goat cheese, which sounds awesome. It’s not that what we had was bad, it’s just that it could have definitely been better. This is one I intend to play with a little, especially as those summer tomatoes are coming in!
Lemon Chicken (from Inspired Taste)
Quick, easy, delicious – just the way dinner should be. I really enjoyed this. Geordie was maybe a little less excited about it, but he did like it and had no complaints. I served it with couscous mixed with fresh roasted corn, which I thought went really well with the lemon sauce. This is another meat-and-pan-sauce recipes and is really simple to make. But the best thing is the chicken – so tender and juicy! And absolutely delicious. A very fine meal indeed.
Once you’ve got the crust made and ready to go, quiches are pretty simple deals. Throw everything into the crust and let it bake. This wasn’t much different. I will say that I made a couple changes. For example, I’ve never made a quiche that didn’t call for milk or cream. I worried that it might be a little dense, so I left out two eggs and added in a splash of cream. Worked quite well. Second, I made this quiche with goose eggs. One of Geordie’s co-workers has a whole gaggle of geese, and she periodically brings in goose eggs for people to take. They’re equivalent to about two chicken eggs, and they are so rich and delicious. Baking with them has been a lot of fun. I’m not going to say that maybe that’s what made this quiche so good, but I imagine it helped a little.