Recipe Challenge

Aileen learns to make a new recipe every week. Most recipes are ones she’s been meaning to make for years, but never got around to. Join in by making the one Aileen makes, or dig in to your own personal catalog of aspirational recipes.

Homemade mashed potatoes and gravy

Homemade Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Originally, I was going to make a turkey meatloaf to go with the homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. There were a few reasons why I didn’t. One, my younger son developed a horrible cold that lasted a week and a half and I never had time to go shopping for all the ingredients and make the entire meal. Two, I already have a turkey meatloaf recipe I like. I think meatloaf is a lot like love in that there is no accounting for taste. What one person adores another will think is a sociopathic jerk. Three, I wanted to make the mashed potatoes and gravy for a very personal reason so I kept that portion of the challenge and let the meatloaf portion go. Four, Contessa Garten’s version of meatloaf calls for 5 pounds of meat. It would take my little family weeks to eat that much. All that being said, we will include her recipe for meatloaf since it looks delicious and maybe you are both in need of a meatloaf recipe and you have a large group of humans that need feeding.

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Easy Tomato soup

Easy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Alright, I have to confess something here. Once a week (at least) Six and I eat tomato soup with toasted cheese sandwiches for dinner. However, the soup and sandwiches we consume are not this absolutely beautiful easy tomato soup and delightful grilled cheese croutons.

Nope. The tomato soup comes from Trader Joes and the sandwiches are two pieces of bread and two pieces of cheese that are put into something called a toaster bag (brilliant invention that lets you melt cheese onto bread in your toaster without setting fire to your toaster). We usually eat baby carrots and apple slices as side dishes. And that was my weekly grilled cheese and tomato soup meal. It took ten minutes from start to table and it was edible. Read more

Sidecars with dried cherries and crackers

Sidecars with Dried Cherries and Crackers

Oh by gosh, by golly!  It’s time for cognac soaked dried cherries!  We drank so many sidecars I was a wee bit hungover the next morning, but they tasted so good I didn’t care. Sidecars with dried cherries and crackers is an excellent way to spend an evening.

I urge you to make these drinks with your friends. Heck, make them with your enemies and they might become your friends. We made the sidecars exactly as directed and they were delightful. Read more

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies are not pretty, but boy are they delicious.  My younger son vociferously objected to the dried cranberries, so I made the cookies as directed up until adding the cranberries.  I scooped out half a dozen cookies without cranberries then put in the cranberries and finished the recipe as directed.

I didn’t spring for the fleur de sel, so my cookies don’t have that pretty, flakey white salt on top but they are still delicious.  Oh, and the recipe calls for chopping your own chocolate to make the chunks for the cookie.  When I make these again, I will buy the chocolate chunks they sell at Trader Joe’s.  I made a big mess chopping up chocolate and I didn’t buy a chocolate nicer than what Trader Joe’s sells in their bag.  If you spring for a nicer chocolate, then chopping it yourself is absolutely worth it.  Can you use chocolate chips?  I don’t see why not.  This recipe is very forgiving.  Most of Contessa Garten’s recipes are.  She recommends using the fancy version of ingredients, but I can’t imagine she would give anyone the stink eye for using what they had on hand.  I think the Contessa wants us to have fresh baked cookies.  Which means she wants us to be happy.  And happy people are fine with tossing some chocolate chips into a cookie recipe, if that is all they have on hand. Read more

My Version of Contessa Garten's Crunchy Noodle Salad

My Version of Contessa Garten’s Crunchy Noodle Salad

For reasons known only to the version of me from ten years ago, I changed this lovely crispy cold salad into a hot noodle dish. In all versions, I leave out the red bell peppers because I don’t care for bell peppers. Any dish I put bell peppers into always ends up mostly tasting like bell peppers. Also, Eddie Murphy had a comedy bit where he talked about wanting to have McDonald’s, but his mom made him eat a homemade burger with chunks of green pepper in it instead.

Anyway, I make this hot version about once a month and my family loves it. Make Contessa Garten’s original version if you’d like, I highly recommend it. It’s the recipe I made that convinced me that the Contessa’s recipes are worth risking my time and money on. Read more

Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts

Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts

I had to buy doughnut pans from Amazon because I couldn’t find them in the local shops or big box stores. The trend for cinnamon baked doughnuts has passed, so it makes perfect sense that I would now attempt them.

I am not what anyone would describe as trendy. Not because I eschew trends on principle, it’s more that I am not paying very close attention to what other people are doing. I have enough trouble keeping up with what I am supposed to be doing. Read more

Persistiny Recipe Challenge

Recipe Challenge

Why a recipe challenge? Well, I’m not much of a cook. I haven’t poisoned anyone, but neither have I wowed anyone. I am in charge of the feeding of the humans in my house and no one here has starved. But, I’d like to do better.

The internet is full of so many recipes. And they all look so good. But will they be worth the trouble of buying all the ingredients, nervously reading the recipe ten times then actually carving out enough time to attempt it?

I have never been able to convince myself that it’s worth all that trouble and risk.

But then, I made a recipe by Ina Garten, also known as The Barefoot Contessa. I’ve been tuning into her TV show for years and never made anything. I just enjoyed watching her sangfroid in the kitchen (sangfroid is french for cool, calm and collected especially under difficult circumstances).
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