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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

souped-up dinners

one of the things that i'm grateful for this year is my renewed love of cooking. it's one of the unexpected bonuses of operation downsize, which has been kinda shitty for the most part, but there's always something good in everything, right? at least, i'd like to think so.

i find myself trying new recipes at least once a week. it would probably be a great idea if i actually kept track of which recipes were well-received and which ones got the bright, fake smile and "mmm, it's good, but not as good as [insert some other fantastic meal here]." although i guess that's why i tell you guys about it, so i can maybe look back on my posts when i'm looking for dinner ideas and find something great.

last week, i did a fair amount of cooking from new recipes. here we go:

a few years ago, i'd found a fantastic recipe for
macaroni & cheese on the side of a box of pasta. i'd cut it out, not finding it online, and saved it - somewhere. oy. but since then, someone decided to submit it to recipezaar and i was stoked to find it and make it again to see if it was as good as i remembered.

butter is always a good start. i melted a bit of it into my saucepan:

stirred in some flour and cooked it for a bit:

poured in the milk (i always use nonfat, even when it calls for whole or cream):

tossed in some seasonings:

meanwhile, i cooked up my macaroni.

stirred in handfuls of this:

but it didn't quite look cheesy enough for me.

so i tossed in another handful.

once it was all melty and gooey, i stirred the noodles into the sauce,

poured the whole concoction into my baking pan, and topped it with even more cheesy goodness.

half an hour later, it was done. and it was just as scrumptious as i remembered. yummy! this one's a keeper for sure.

because i had to add something remotely healthy to my dinner table, i decided to pull out that broccoli salad recipe again. this stuff is so good, i have to keep from mixing up a batch, like, every day.

ever since that rehearsal dinner last week, i'd been craving more of that delicious coconut rice. like, i even submitted a request to the "culinary SOS" section of the l.a. times' food blog. i'm such a nerd, i know it. but i traded a few friendly e-mails with one of the writers, and she's super friendly. she e-mailed to let me know that she'd called the restaurant to ask about the recipe and was told by management that they don't serve coconut rice.

[confused puppy look and scooby doo noise]

what a bunch of freaks. i wondered when the last time was that they'd even looked at their menu, let alone eaten the food. anyway, she promised to research it further and let me know if her other contact at the restaurant was more helpful. in the meantime, i decided to try a different coconut rice recipe instead.

i found that my little can of coconut milk wasn't quite enough even for half of the recipe, but i improvised and tossed in a bit of water and extra sugar to make up the difference.

when the rice/milk mixture came to a boil, i turned the heat down and then put the lid on, but left it cracked to let some steam out.

15 minutes later, my rice was pretty and fluffy and pretty darn delectable. i ended up adding a bit of extra sugar to sweeten it up, but i stuck my fork into the pan again and again over the next half an hour. i was the only one interested in eating it anyway, so it didn't matter. more for me!

i guess i was in a soup-y mood last week, because for another dinner i decided to try this broccoli potato chowder recipe. i don't love peeling and chopping potatoes, so i don't do it too often, but it had been a while, so i went for it.

the teen is slowly incorporating some kind of meat products back into her diet, and gave me the green light to make this recipe as it's written - starting with some chopped bacon. the resulting bacon fat is the base of the soup.

it was an easy recipe to make, and ready to serve a half hour later. i took some of that chopped bacon and topped the hub's and my bowls of chowder with it.

it was a'ight. not really very flavorful, and although we polished off the pot, i doubt i'll repeat that one. i'm always sad when a recipe that contains bacon is a failure, but there are tons more out there for me to try.

this vegetarian chili and this incredibly easy-to-make cornbread was what i left my family for dinner while i trotted off to junior league. i wasn't home to share and enjoy, but i'm told it was pretty darn good.

brother wan and i are taking charge of thanksgiving dinner for the wan family. and when i saw this recipe, i knew we had. to. have. it.

OMG, i'm so excited. is it wrong that i'm really looking forward to taking pictures and reporting about the process and inevitable success? because i am.


  1. Is it wrong that I am excited to see the pics and read your post? Have a great TG!

  2. These recipes look so good! Just bookmarked the mac n' cheese to make to my work's potluck tomorrow, as well as the chili and cornbread to make someday for a chilly night. Thanks for the recipe's! Your dinners always look so good and make me wish I had a seating at your table to try them out! LOL

  3. These recipes look so good! Just bookmarked the mac n' cheese to make to my work's potluck tomorrow, as well as the chili and cornbread to make someday for a chilly night. Thanks for the recipe's! Your dinners always look so good and make me wish I had a seating at your table to try them out! LOL

  4. Your blog is the perfect place to keep track of what recipes you liked and didn't like. And then links to the recipe so you don't have to go look them up again.

    And FWIW - I add a little lime juice to my coconut rice. Something about the citrus brings out the contrast of sweetness.

  5. Speaking of cooking . . . urgh, I totally effed up and deleted some pictures of a tater tot casserole my HUSBAND made for dinner one night based on your recipe on your blog. I literally squealed with delight when I saw it :)

  6. i need to pay you for dinners during the school year instead. yum.


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