Part 6 of The Super Awesome Cover-to-Cover Project
As you may have heard, we had a little bit of wind and rain in D.C. over the past couple days. We took the opportunity to hunker down and finish pulling together the final installment of the Super Awesome Cover-to-Cover Project. And we're going out with a bang!
Team Food Network tackled the November issue of the magazine with gusto, stewing gumbos, whipping up cakes, improvising fondant (Starburst? Genius!) and trying all manner of new (to them) techniques and recipes. Give them a read and leave a comment with your thoughts!
And without further ado, here's Team Food Network!
APPETIZERS AND SNACKS
Pumpkin Queso Fundido
"I assembled the dip according to instructions except for placing mixture in the hollowed out pumpkin. I couldn't find one in small town USA! It came out very greasy! I used a paper towel to soak up excess. My son was home so he gladly sampled the dip for me ( I don't eat meat). He said it was a little salty, due to the dried meat and seemed like it was missing something. So there you have it! I probably will never make this again. It gets a thumbs down."
"The garlic crostini recipe was pretty straightforward - roast garlic and serve with thyme and tomatoes. Since I had done things like this before, I was anticipating I'd know exactly what the food would taste like. And though that was true, it still didn't manage to take away from the deliciousness of the combination.
I used less oil in roasting my garlic because 1/2 cup seemed like overkill (just a couple tbsp will do). A green tomato garnished mine as it was begging to be used in my withering garden. The combination of creamy garlic with fresh tomatoes and crisp bread was tasty, easy, and surprisingly healthy. Overall, not an especially innovative recipe but delicious nonetheless."
Roasted Garlic Crostini recipe not available online
SOUPS AND STEWS
Butternut Squash Soup with Chicken Sausage
"Butternut squash soup with chicken apple sausage was an unapologetic savory soup; a great dish to warm you up on a cool autumn evening. Since the sausage is added after blending, be sure to cut it up into small pieces that you would expect to find in a bowl of pureed soup. I thought the fried sage leaf garnish was unnecessary and added very little to the soup. I tried a second version of the soup with buttercup squash that I had on hand; I added fresh chopped granny smith apples and it was a better tasting soup, as the additional apple flavor really added some interest."
Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons
"Ina's Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Chicken Croutons was as simple and crowd-pleasing as advertised but tasted even better during the week when I brought it to work for lunch. I substituted the orzo with farro (because orzo gives me the creeps. It's the texture. Whatever, we all have our issues, okay?) and I loved the bite of the farro in this- it made it feel more like a chowder than a soup."
"This was good fun. I appreciated my luck in getting assigned this recipe because it let me abuse the 'You're-not-allowed-to-judge-my-vice' agreement that my partner and I have. I'm the foodie and he's the techie; peace exists in our house because we have an agreement where I don't question what he spends at Best Buy and he doesn't question my purchasing yet another kitchen accoutrement. So needless to say, he just rolled his eyes when the box showed up w/ our new 12 quart stockpot. :)
All of that aside, the recipe itself was good, but I wouldn't call it great. I made several modifications on the fly. The seafood quotient is definitely there, as the recipe calls for a blue crab, a lobster tail, 4 lbs of shrimp and 1 lb of crab meat. The seafood counter didn't have any whole crabs the day I went shopping, so I used 4 small lobster tails instead. That still only came to about a cup of cooked lobster meat, which ended up being a background note at best in the final dish. Usually when you see lobster in a recipe, folks are gonna get excited by that and expect it to be the star of the dish, so it was a bit disappointing that it was so insignificant in the end. I also added a few bay leaves along with the 1/4 cup of Creole seasoning. Other than that, I followed the recipe as is. The flavors were good; the crab meat takes center stage in the taste of the final dish, while the 4 lbs of shrimp provide the bulk. The recipe calls for so much water that the final dish is more of a soup than what I think of as a thicker gumbo. But that is also likely because I chose to serve this with grilled, crusty french bread and okra rather than over white rice as the recipe suggests. If I were to make this again, I would probably up the veggie quotient (maybe some diced carrots, tomatoes and okra) to add some more heft.
Final verdict: Good recipe - solid flavors, but quite an effort given the nearly 5 hour cooking time. Because of how time-intensive it was, I probably wouldn't make this again at home. But I got a new 12 quart stockpot out of it, so I can't complain! I gave some Gumbo to two families on my street (it did make A LOT) and both reported it was delicious - after they added more stuff (one added corn, spinach and shrimp, one added more chicken) and cooked it longer to thicken it."
"I was really looking forward to trying this. Right off the bat I had the following issue:
- The order the recipe was written in. Make the roux first, then let it sit for an hour while you are cooking the chicken made no sense to me. Cook the chicken sausage and slice it when you have to boil the gumbo for an hour with other ingredients first before you add the chicken sausage made no sense to me either.
- Other issues: the roux was not cake batter like, barely even pancake patter like and I am not familiar enough with Cajun cooking to know if I could have just added more flour. My gumbo ended up more like broth with lots of meat than the richer looking gumbo seen in the picture on the Food Network site.
How I went about it: Thursday I cooked the whole chicken and let it cool off in the broth to keep it juicy. Friday I cooked the rest of the gumbo, in a more logical order. Saturday all I had to do was heat and serve. The recipe does say to skim the fat, and there was a lot!
Overall it was good, but a little disappointing. Considering the time and cost I was expecting something that would knock my socks off, which it did not do. Will not make again!"
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
"This made a very large pot of pretty good, but not great, gumbo. The roux got quite dark, and although I was afraid I'd scorched it, the flavor smoothed out nicely and it was a lovely rich color. It wasn't very spicy, which was fine, as everyone at our table could season it to their liking.
I confess I cut a few corners and didn't cook this for the prescribed two hours -plus. The recipe called for 21 cups of liquid. I was dubious, and started smaller, eventually stopping at about half that. I also added okra, which wasn't called for, because I like okra in my gumbo. Many of the online reviews said the amount of salt given was too much, so I just salted to taste. I debated adding some tomato paste or other acid; it could have used a little tanginess.
This won't replace my tried and true gumbo recipe, but if you have all afternoon and a hungry crowd to feed, you could do worse."
Spanish Turkey Meatball Stew
"This Food Network magazine recipe was every bit as easy and convenient as advertised. I made this weeknight recipe with well intentioned ideas of altering it right from the start. Didn't think it had enough spices (should add cumin and maybe a sherry vinegar drizzle), could use some rice and possibly hot pepper flakes. But I dilligently followed the directions and was pleasantly surprised at the taste of the finished product. Only a teaspoon of smoked paprika turned out to be excellent with the fire roasted tomatoes and other ingredients.
Thought it should simmer a bit longer but that ended up making the meat to stew ratio too high. Did add some rice to stretch it for four people but will definitely make it again. (PS Loved that the 20 oz pkg of ground turkey is exactly how it is sold in the store)."
Grilled Mortadella and Muenster Monster Sub
"I'd never had mortadella and it's kind've like fancier bologna with pistachios. Considering I love bologna (you read that right), I thought this might be a fun recipe. Bottom line, it was a really good sandwich that had the after effect of eating half a country ham. This meat is A LOT saltier than bologna. The aioli was amazing, however, and I think it would be great (and much less salty) paired with sliced turkey. A couple of quick notes--I more than doubled the amount of dijon mustard in my aioli, basically because I'm a mustard fan. It was still creamy and delicious. Second, I didn't grill my bread. It's a baguette--how crusty does your bread really need to be? Finally, let's talk briefly about the two pounds of mortadella. I included a picture that shows how much mortadella I put on the sandwich and another to show you how much mortadella is now sitting in my refrigerator. I'm kind've convinced that the Chicago Bears fans from Saturday Night Live wrote this recipe. If you are able to withstand two pounds of mortadella on this sandwich you should chase it with a diuretic and some heart medicine. I know it's supposed to yield eight servings, but I still can't imagine eating that much meat spread over eight three-inch servings of sandwich. I doubt I'll come close to finishing all that left over mortadella--but I see this aioli in my immediate sandwich future!"
Breakfast Bomber Sub
"Despite being incredibly rich, this sandwich was tasty. It's eggs, sausage, and toast, people. You cannot go wrong with that. The eggs are a bit heavy with both half-and-half and swiss cheese (a whole cup!) and the amount of cream cheese a little overwhelming. However, the simple basics are ones we can get behind."
PASTAS AND GRAINS
Quinoa and Bean Pilaf
"Quinoa and Bean Pilaf was surprisingly tasty for a dish made with such simple ingredients. The recipe was easy to source and to make, and my kids each ate a whole bowl! BUT the texture was mushy, rather than fluffy. To fix this, I would have cooked it like a rice pilaf (less water, cover with a tight-fitting lid, definitely NO stirring). And, it tasted even better with some spicy sausages and cilantro thrown in. :)
My verdict: Tasty and easy for a weeknight meal, but the flavours didn't wow me enough to make this recipe a keeper. But I will probably take the basic idea and tweak it to suit my taste."
Ravioli Alfredo with Peas
"Pros- It's reasonably good. (But really? With cream and butter, cardboard can taste good). This would be a great meatless main dish for people who still can't get comfortable with meatless meals. Also, labeling it as easy overstates how hard this recipe is.
Cons- With half a cup of cream and four tablespoons of butter, it's not as healthy for you as that chicken breast you passed over. And in general, I'll save my calorie splurges on something other than a so-so pasta dish."
Lobster Mac & Cheese
"This was delicious and my guests loved it. Ina assumed you know your way around a lobster when she wrote this recipe, but as long as you can handle that, it is definitely a classy, crowd-pleaser. This recipe is decadent in all the right ways. It’s rich, creamy, cheesy and full of sweet lobster chunks. I put up a post about the recipe on my own blog with a little extra info on how I cooked the lobster and made the breadcrumbs. Here's a link in case you guys are including things like that." More at Chelsea's blog.
Mushroom and Squash Risotto
"I didn't have time to hunt for the porcinis and oyster mushrooms-life just seems to get in the way of the best intentions-so I just went with the crimini and button mushrooms for the enitre recipe. Because of size differences I used only 1.5lbs of mushrooms. I also substituted some vegetable base (demi-glace type bullion ) when making the "mushroom broth" but did use the stems of the crimini's as well, but didn't add them back later. Now that the changes are out of the way on to the recipe.
Great things: Tasty! I don't really care for cinnamon in general, but I stuck it out and it was totally worth it! A good balance of veggies to rice and a great layered flavor with the cheese and broth in addition to the basic ingredients' flavors. Not so good: An 8oz butternut would be a midget!! Be sure to dice it pretty small as well-not specified in the recipe- and plan on another use for the other half of even a small squash. The timing given in the recipe didn't get the rice cooked through. I would suggest adding the broth in three rounds and cooking on VERY low heat to give the rice time to cook. Overally very tasty-I would make it again, but take a whole bunch more shortcuts!"
Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce
"So easy to make and let's face it, anything with a sauce of shallots and cream would be delicious. The small amount of pumpkin in this recipe did not enhance the flavor much and now what do I do with most of a can of pumpkin? Bottom line: We loved it! Rich and creamy and we felt guilty eating it."
Beefy Mac and Cheese
"Just like Hamburger Helper, except more time in the kitchen! That is to say: the recipe is perfectly fine, reheats well, and is open to near endless permutations - we used ground turkey in place of beef and fresh herbs in lieu of chili powder."
Spaghetti with Spicy Scallop Marinara Sauce
"While I wasn't that excited by this recipe at first, it actually ended up much more flavorful than I expected from the simple list of ingredients. I was a little skeptical that it would be spicy enough, but it had a pleasant kick, and was very easy to prepare. It ended up being a little soupier than most pastas, so we added some garlic croutons made from stale bread. Delicious!"
MEAT, POULTRY AND EGGS
Pork Burgers with Bacon Marmalade
"I went to two stores looking for ground pork but couldn't find it. So, I ended up using ground turkey (and otherwise followed the recipe exactly). The burger and the marmalade on their own were rather lackluster, but together, they made a tasty burger. Definitely not knock-your-socks-off cuisine, but my husband and mother-in-law agreed that it made a tasty (and relatively quick) dinner."
Almost-Famous Steak Taco Salad
"I don't normally buy this magazine so otherwise would not have discovered how to make these great tortilla bowls!!!! I made this recipe for my husband and 2 daughters, aged 5 and 8, for a pretty normal week night meal. The only thing I omitted from this recipe were the black olives, and I added some sour cream as a garnish, otherwise I followed the recipe precisely. I was a tad nervous about making the bowls but they were surprisingly simple and I will definitely make them again. Here are the high- and low-lights:-
* the tortilla bowls were a real hit with the whole family (use a 28oz can if you have one but the 14oz was ok)
* it was quite straightforward to prepare
* the directions for cooking the steak were just right and as my husband will say, I'm a very crappy steak chef
* overall a good combination of ingredients for texture and flavor
^ there was too much chipotle in this for the girls, and even for us who love spicy food, I thought the heat of the chipotle chile powder overpowered the rest of the dish so I will halve it next time
^ it makes a ton of salad dressing for the amount of romaine so if you still like to taste the lettuce don't use the whole lot.
^ next time I will add some avocado and cilantro to tweak it up.
And yes, there will be a next time!!!"
Tomato-Yogurt Chicken Curry
"This well-balanced curry was a perfect meal as the season begins to cool off. The potatoes and chicken were fork tender and the yogurt served to really smooth out the texture of the sauce. Unable to find chiles de arbol and recognizing just a couple would not be nearly enough heat, I substituted 6 ancho chiles and 4 dried habanero chiles, which would have a very similar flavor profile but dramatically increase the heat (I did a double batch). When I make this again, I will be sure to use a more interesting protein though. I like chicken fine enough, but the gaminess of lamb or goat would match this dish perfectly."
Classic Pot Roast
"Tender beef with a rich gravy all enhanced by the comforting and hearty vegetables made for a wonderful Sunday dinner. The addition of the bacon and cloves was what turned this pot roast from a traditional pot roast into something to impress friends and family. I usually go for red wine in my beef dishes but the white was a welcoming bright note! Highly recommend, not a ton of hands on time and the payoff is huge."
Pork and Wild Rice Salad
"As I needed ingredients, I took my friends Saturday morning to the Municipal Market, which is THE gourmet market in the city. As we are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, we walked there (about 5km). It was all fun and games, until we realized, literally, the weight on our shoulders. About 10kg of it (I tend to get too enthusiastic when I see good ingredients, so I bought more than I needed, as eggs, a whole kg of pecans, wine...) and we still had 5km back, under scalding Sun (which is a rare commodity in my town - so we are not that used to it, and I got sunburnt).
I got the greens, the yogurt, the pecan nuts, the apple vinegar, the carrots, the edible flowers, the dried fruits (cranberries and strawberries) and the meat. As I live in Brazil, and we don't speak English, I translated literally "tenderloins" to the butcher. So he explained to me that I might be talking about two different parts of pigs, one leaner, and one fatter, that come from different parts of their backs. As I'm currently not concerned about the fat content (only the sugar content), I bought the tastier one (guess which)!
Anyway, Sunday afternoon, when I was getting ready for the big dinner, I realized that I ran out of cooking gas!
I panicked, tried every delivery number I could reach and no luck, for it was Sunday, but in the end, my friends volunteered to bring a canister. Too bad I had already cooked the multigrain rice on the microwave (hey, I was allowed to make some changes to the recipe!)
From that moment on, we had so much fun! We had a bottle of good wine and the recipe was a success! My friends and my boyfriend went bananas about the yogurt sauce (I highly recommend making three to four times the quantity suggested on the recipe)."
1770 House Meatloaf
"I feel obliged to admit that when we first saw our recipe assignment I was not particularly excited. Meatloaf? Is that even a thing anymore? But I assure you one thing - MEATLOAF IS VERY MUCH A THING. A very very delicious thing if you make it Ina Garten's way.
This isn't your standard ketchupy beef brick of a meatloaf. No, this is a juicy, complex, crowd pleaser of a loaf. We served it on brioche with some caramelized onions, fresh spinach and a friend's homemade black pepper mayonnaise - it was spectacular and easily served 12 people. (It even made watching the first Romney-Obama debate manageable.) The comments section was aflame with people insisting that on the show the Contessa used half the salt than is called for in this online recipe (1T instead of 2T) so we split the difference and went with 1.5T which was spot on. The only thing I might change next time is the sauce - it was delicious but could have used even more roasted garlic (I'm admittedly a garlic fiend) and more simmering to further thicken. America - meatloaf is back! (but I still refuse to eat chicken pot pie)."
"I have to say, while the recipe itself didn't seem very exciting or inventive, it was delicious and very easy to make. I followed the recipe as directed, with the exception of using regular chicken broth instead of fat-free and the omission of parsley. I served it to my husband, my picky mother and my two year old daughter. All were in agreement that it was delicious."
Food Network Kung Pao Chicken
Will & Amy
"Amy and I are in the Peace Corps in a village in Indonesia, so we had to make a few adjustments based on what wasn't available at the local market. For example, rice wine was out of the question since we live in the most conservative area of Muslim Java, so we substituted a mixture of apple juice and apple vinegar. We also substituted flour for cornstarch and used canola oil instead of peanut and chili oil. We had to butcher the chicken breast ourselves, removing the heart and innards…that was a first. Total cost of ingredients here was under $3. The outcome was great and the only thing we would change would be to add a little more spice. We loved it, our host family loved it and the village stray cats all showed up, too. Although in full disclosure, we consider McDonald's a luxury at this point, so take our recommendation with a grain of salt."
Honey-Glazed Pork Chops With Mashed Sweet Potatoes
"Love pork chops and was happy to try this recipe. Made it for dinner while my parents are visiting. It's a super easy recipe. I substituted the cajun spice with piment d'Espelette (French red chili pepper). Next time, I'll marinate the pork overnight so the chops end up more juicy and the flavors are more pronounced."
Bratwurst with Potato Cakes
"I thought that it was a great idea, but they maybe backed down from making it too flavorful? I wanted my potato cakes to be more sauerkraut-y, but because you rinse the sauerkraut and squeeze it out it loses it's yummy flavor. I also thought the "sauce" could pack more punch--maybe using broth instead of water? I also wasn't sure whether to pour the sauce on or dip things in it? I give this a solid B."
Carne Asada Tacos with Carrot-Pepper Slaw
"This was close to a hit, but not quite. I loved using steak instead of typical hamburger, the onions and carrot-pepper slaw were yummy, and the yogurt-garlic saucewas perfect (my favorite part of the recipe), but it simply didn't taste good enough to be worth the effort. Namely, the effort to grate peppers and shred carrots was not rewarded with a slaw that was any better than simply slicing and grilling the veggies. Next time, I'll steal the yogurt sauce and use steak, but just make a standard fajita."
Broccoli Omelet with Tomato Salad
"1. I did not have a stove top to oven ready non-stick skillet (who does?!), so I warmed up the hash browns in my "stick oven ready skillet". I pressed them in a pie dish (sprayed w/ PAM-like product) to make a crust and baked the hash browns for about 15 minutes. I think I should have kept them in longer to brown, or better yet, to have a crispy crust.
2. After the 15 mins, I added the broccoli & egg mixture into the pie pan and returned it to the oven. It cooked for approximately 30 minutes.
3. Because I do as much organic as possible, I subbed the small tomatoes for grape tomatoes.
4. Taste: The quiche was good, however I thought is was a little bland. The next time I would add scallions or a few drops of hot sauce (or pepper flakes). The salad was delicious and complimented the quiche.
The quiche & the salad were very good! I think you could add a little crushed pepper to it too, if you wanted to have a bit of zip to it."
Cornish Game Hens with Pumpkin Seed Pesto
"This was certainly a challenge, but NOT due to any difficulty with the recipe itself. Suffice it to say that it took an entire week before I could prepare this. Some of it was selfishness on my part, and the rest was an equipment malfunction, along with an unavoidable accident by my wife the previous day. The first snag I ran into was attempting to locate suitable "game hens". Unfortunately, after scouring the local supermarkets and individual specialty meat markets in the Daytona area, which consumed all of a week, the only game hens I could locate were from a specific mass producer that I am boycotting, for reasons I won't go into here. What to do? Having spent 32 years in the U.S. Army, I decided to adapt to the circumstances and overcome, and settled on a 4 lb. "fryer" chicken...yep...you heard right...a FRYER! No big deal, as the size was perfect for two people, allowing for leftovers for soup, tacos or whatever. It was day before yesterday, when I finally found my "victim" bird. Upon returning home with the prized specimen, my wife decided to rearrange the kitchen, whereupon, she managed to drop the main food processor on the tile floor, shattering it into several pieces. OK...no big deal. I still had a small one (picture included) that I seldom used, but should do well for the pumpkin seed pesto. I also need to explain, at this point, that a few days before, my wife returned home from the supermarket with whole, un-hulled pumpkin seeds. Now, I believe in fiber in the diet, but this necessitated another trip to the grocer to find hulled pumpkin seeds. That trip consumed over an hour, as the local supermarket has nuts of all types (not including the customers) scattered in 5 different sections of the store. I finally located them where the sesame seed, Cajun spice mix, trail mix and chocolate covered peanuts and raisins were displayed...on the far end of aisle 7, near thelunch meat! SILLY ME for thinking it could be found in the Nut, Baking, Snack or "Ethnic" aisle! ! The following day, I prepped all the ingredients, and had everything ready to go. I used the juice of 1 lemon (not a very juicy one) which yielded slightly over 2 T. juice after squeezing the hell out of it, sliced 4 cloves of garlic (I like garlic...A LOT!), toasted the pumpkin seeds with olive oil and paprika (they were already salted), roughly chopped the parsley and green onions (I added an extra green onion...(I like onions...A LOT!), and allowed the pumpkin seeds, olive oil and paprika mixture to cool. Did I mention that I like garlic and onions A LOT?
OK...ready to go. ..oven pre-heated to 400...juice squeezed...garlic and onions prepped (did I mention that I liked garlic and onions...A LOT?)...parsley roughly chopped...EVOO at the ready...salt measured...pumpkin seed mixture cooled...smaller food processor set up...chicken looking poised and ready for pictures...this is going to be gooooood! After reading over the recipe again (for the fifth time), I concluded that it would be better to just include ALL the ingredients in the processor, rather than having a separate rub of just garlic, salt, EVOO and paprika; a decision that I will never regret! I loaded everything into smaller processor and started to pulse. OOPS!!! It seems there is a chute that comes off the top of the processor that commenced to sling all sorts of juice, partially chopped pumpkin seeds and parsley, and big chunks of green onion and garlic onto the counter and floor (did I mention that I like onions and garlic?)! Now...I was certain that at some point, I had an insert that blocked that chute off, but, alas, it was nowhere to be found. After I spent 10 minutes cleaning up, I placed the rest of the rudimentary pumpkin seed pesto mixture into a bowl and changed gears again. Two days in a row and two food processors in the trash! When facing adversity and overwhelming odds...who do you call? NINJA, of course! I pulled out my trusty Ninja Warrior and used the immersion blender attachment to emulsify the pesto which resulted in aperfect consistency! OK...so far. Feeling like the idiot who refuses to believe the "Wet Paint" sign, however, I HAD to take a finger swipe over the end of the immersion blender and taste the goodness of the pesto. My-O-My!!! It was pure heaven! Like all kids, I remembered licking the batter from the beaters and bowl when my mother would make a cake, but this was on an entirely different level. Obviously not sweet, but a savory sensation with a heavy "umami" flavor. I finished up by completely licking up everything from the end of the blender, the beaker...and the spoon I used to coax it from the beaker! I then sampled an entire tablespoon of the pesto, and set aside 4 more tablespoons in reserve as a finish after the bird came out of the oven.
I separated the skin from both the breast and the back and stuffed the remaining pesto into, around and over the chicken, and placed it into the preheated oven. Allowing for extra baking time, since it was a larger bird, I rotated it after about 45 minutes, and baked for a total of 1 1/2 hours on a rack in a sheet pan. It came out perfect. In the meantime, I boiled some Yukon Gold potatoes and Italian green beans as anaccompaniment, and mashed the potatoes with butter and milk with a little garlic (did I mention I liked garlic...A LOT?). I used the reserved pesto to coat the chicken, and the entire meal was absolutely Nirvana! The chicken was moist, juicy and flavorful. Even the skin, which I normally remove, was irresistible.
With all the trials and tribulations, was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! Would I make it again? I plan on it! In fact, this will probably be one of my "go to" recipes. As far as the pesto goes, I intend on trying it with pork, pasta, seafood, Latin American dishes, etc. It just tastes like it would go with almost anything and could substitute easily for a Chimichuri sauce. Next time, I may try adding some cilantro to the mix as well."
FISH AND SEAFOOD
Banana Leaf Mahi Mahi with Citrus and Chiles
"I had to make some modifications based on availability of ingredients, but overall I found this a lot easier to cook than I anticipated. I never would have been inspired by this recipe on my own but ended up really liking it, so bonus. My only suggestion would be that I found the fish a little overcooked." More on Laura's blog.
Coconut Fish Sticks
"The recipe was easy to follow and the result was delicious. Seafood with coconut is a natural combination and the few extra steps the recipe required were very much worth it. Soaking the fish in milk was not something I considered doing before, but it made the fish tender and very moist. The combination of panko bread crumbs and coconut helped form a nice crust to the fish even without toasting the coconut flakes. The chutney, lemon, scallion dipping sauce was divine and easy to put together. The only thing I did differently was to dress the steamed broccoli with some olive oil and lemon. Over all, this was one of the tastiest fish dishes I have ever prepared."
VEGETABLES AND SIDES
Super Stuffed Baked Potatoes
"I'd never made twice baked potatoes before, so this was fun and new. The potato skins get nice and crispy in the roasting, and the potato flesh combined with the pureed cauliflower, makes a filling thats plush and velvety, with a great buttermilk tang. I do taste my food as I go and ended up seasoning my filling a little more aggressively than the recipe called for. These are homey and comforting, perfect for a grey day. One of these twice baked babies and a great salad makes a satisfying and casual lunch or dinner."
Quick Spicy Pickled Beets
"I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how these beets turned out. The intense vinegary smell was a little off-putting when I first uncovered them tonight. However, they were really quite tasty, if not a little too sweet. I’d probably cut down on the sugar next time. Their was a pleasant amount of heat (I took most of the seeds out of the serrano) and I could actually taste the grapefruit. I’m not going to say I’d make these again, but I’m looking forward to finding ways to use up this batch. The recipe note says they’d be good on burgers and such, which I don’t doubt, but I think they stand alone very well. They’d be a great addition to a salad, cheese plate, or a nice foil for a rich holiday spread. Alas, I’ll probably just end up snacking on them by themselves, straight out of the fridge. They’ll be good for that too."
"The good part is that it's made with ingredients we already have at home. It takes time, though, and there are many steps. After making the batter, you're instructed to press it through a colander into simmering water. Lots of work, so I reached for the food which was easier. The little dumplings float to the top, then you plunge them into ice water, then drain them. THEN you fry them. Served with roast chicken and veg, the spaetzle were tasty and reminded us both of matzo falafel, which is essentially broken matzo pieces sold at Passover and served in soup."
Pickled Red Onions
"WOW. These are little bursts of sweet tart and crunchy! Very quick and easy to make."
Sweet and Sour Cabbage
"[This dish] was well worth the effort because it is a great side. I made chicken roast to go with it with some stock I had frozen before, garlic and onions. The side dish seemed pretty easy and to my amazement it was indeed super easy. I got the ingredients from the farmer's market and also used my homegrown parsley which gave it a very nice touch. I wanted to try some alternative versions of it because it is perfect for playing around but due to my time issues at the moment I was happy with my sweet and sour cabbage the 'traditional' way. I took the leftovers to work and even my colleagues liked it."
Cilantro Rice with Sweet Plantains
"Sweet fried plantains, direct from the grocers’ freezer, add an easy and tasty Latino accent to cilantro flecked and flavored fluffy rice. Directions were clear and results were enjoyed. Bottom line: would make it again, but note to add more chopped cilantro in the final mix.
Also, who knew sweet fried plantains were available at the grocery store? (Ok, easy - I live near a Fairway.) I thought for sure I had the other ingredients on hand, especially the rice. After all my well stocked pantry has basmati, long grain white, Arborio, brown, converted and even sticky sushi rice. However, I had to Google “medium-grain” to find out it is common to paella. Thank you Goya. Oh, boy-a, I now own a lifetime supply."
Two Potato Home Fries
"This a perfectly fine home fries recipe. The use of garlic, ginger, and curry powder are a nice departure from the more typical home fry seasonings, plus the mixture of potatoes makes for a visually pretty plate. (I hadn't used sweet potatoes in a breakfast dish before but I definitely will in the future) I served these home fries with a fried egg on top and toast on the side. It wasn't life altering but it was quite tasty. Small tweaks I would recommend when making this dish- Boil the potatoes for less time, they got a little too mushy in the pan. Mince the garlic and ginger instead of grating it, both got clumped up in the pan. Oh and I didn't have any cilantro on hand so I skipped it and I don't think it made much of difference."
Roasted Beets with Lemon
"I made the Roasted Beets with Lemon recipe from Foodnetwork mag. I purchased two pounds of golded beets with greens attached. This made barely enough for two people as a side dish. I loved the recipe. My husband's comment was, "It sure looks pretty but still tastes like beets."
Roasted Squash & Tomatoes
Dave & Brian
"When we were assigned "Roasted Squash & Tomatoes," we thought "ugh, kinda boring," but we decided to triple the recipe and make it as part of our (Canadian) Thanksgiving feast. Turns out this recipe is a keeper: simple, quick to prepare, and exceptionally yummy. We forgot the cheese in the heat of the carving-the-turkey-seating-sixteen-people-finishing-all-the-side-dishes preparation, and it was still a gorgeous mix of sweet, acidic and savoury. Makes great leftovers, too."
Corn Fried Rice
"The corn fried rice was as advertised: an easy weeknight side dish made even easier if you have leftover rice. The flavor, built with quick fried garlic, scallions, and corn, is pleasing and distinctive, but not so strong that it will overwhelm the main component of your dinner. The rice would be a fine companion to grilled or stir-fried shrimp or chicken."
No-cook Beet-Orange Salad
"Luckily, I’m a fan of beets, so this salad was right up my alley. The original calls for chioga or golden beets, but I was only able to find golden and red when I went to the store the other day. The only downside to this is that red beets stain EVERYTHING, so it’s best to add them at the very end to avoid turning your whole salad pink. I also used toasted pumpkin seeds in place of the Marcona almonds because we’re a mostly tree-nut-free household. Having a mandolin is certainly beneficial here, but it’s by no means a requirement. You want to slice your beets paper thin, so if you use a knife make sure it’s super sharp."
Antipasto Chef's Salad
"I made the Food Network's Antipasto Chef's Salad with a few tweaks based on what I had (mixed greens instead of kale, sweet potatoes instead of russet potatoes). It's a good lunch or light dinner with plenty of protein. However, the flavors are completely dominated by salt and vinegar due to the combination of giardiniera, olives, and salami."
Bell Pepper Salad
"This was a simple, fast side dish to make, and it's one that I would normally skim past in the magazine. The lemon juice added a great deal of brightness to the peppers, and lightly toasting the caraway seeds at the beginning really brought out their flavor. I enjoyed it and will definitely be making it again! Also...My tip: when slicing the peppers, cut the top off, take out the pepper's insides, then tap the pepper upside-(cut-surface)-down on a hard surface to easily get the rest of the seeds out."
"You can't go too far wrong with mushrooms and cheese (barring mushroom aversion or lactose intolerance), so this Portobello Gratin is unsurprisingly a pretty tasty dish. Simple, too, as it doesn't contain much other than mushrooms and cheese. Pretty? Not so much - not that the iPhone photo helped matters there. It came together easily, though the mushrooms released so much water while baking that the whole thing was pretty gray and soupy looking when I removed the foil. The cheese did brown a tiny bit in the final eight minutes of uncovered baking, but removing the foil earlier, and maybe skipping the water, would probably yield better browning. Double the garlic if you want to notice its flavor and enjoy."
Spicy Pumpkin and Collards
"I have to say I was skeptical about this recipe in so many ways, but it was absolutely delicious. I had to substitute a habanero pepper because I couldn't find any scotch bonnets. The pumpkin brings the spice level to just the right heat. I think the filling would also be great for a year round dish - just prepare the filling and dial back the hot pepper and bake it for 15 minutes with the bread crumb and parmesan topping. The only negative I would say was finding all the ingredients, I had to find the sugar pumpkins and the frozen collard greens at different stores than my normal store"
Candy Bucket Cake
Luke & Carolyn
"If you need to feed 30 and like to stack cakes, this is the recipe for you! If you have multiple obscure Bundt pans, yet can only make a cake from a box, this is definitely the recipe for you! Those without easy access to premade orange fondant need not apply."
Apple Pumpkin Brown Betty
"Everyone enjoyed this dish quite a bit. The pumpkin flavor was a bit more muted than I wanted, but that will vary pumpkin to pumpkin. It made a LOT; four servings that night, three leftover servings, and maybe a cup of leftover pumpkin puree (almost uncontaminated). This was using a 3.5 lb pumpkin. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this dish shouldn't be made by the injury-prone."
Haunted Forest Cupcakes
"Although baking doesn't intimidate me, decorating does. I had anticipated some frustration with making the chocolate tree, but it turned out to be so easy. I printed out a tree silhouette image and used it to trace out the tree on the wax paper with the chocolate. Melting the white chocolate in the microwave was the only part that didn't work for me - the chocolate started to seize up so I transferred it to a double boiler and melted it that way instead. Other than that, this was an easy and fun decoration for a Halloween cupcake!"
Wicked Witch Cupcakes
"Unless you are a wiz with cake decorating, don't expect your homemade version to turn out nearly as cute as the one in the [magazine] photo. There was no way I was making fondant because I'm lazy (and live in a small town where I could not buy it) so I improvised by molding orange Starburst and black licorice. But without perfect-looking witch shoes, it's kinda hard to tell what I was going for. I think my version looks like a 3rd-grade art project!...I would not make these again...particularly because I'm not that into baking. But cute idea for those of you who are more perfectionist than I am!"
"This was a very basic frosting recipe, gussied up only by food coloring and a sparkly silver finish. Because I am too frugal to pay $10 a pound for sugar, I went with the silver sprinkles in the baking aisle at my supermarket. My children are obviously not vampires, since they were attracted rather than repelled."
Silver Frosting recipe not available online
Orange Caramel Icebox Cake
"Cookies in whipped cream! Orange caramel whipped cream! It was okay, for the amount of work we went to with the oranges...zesting, juicing, caramelizing...there wasn't that much orange flavor OR caramel flavor."
Salted Caramel Brownies
"They turned out very well. Gooey and chocolatey. Every one at work loved them. I made homemade caramel sauce, using Ina's recipe. The salt dissolved when it hit the hot caramel sauce, so my 10 dollar box of Malden sea salt was not really necessary. The recipe calls for a 9 x 12 inch pan. I think this is a typo. You can't get a 9 x 12 at fantes.com, so it probably doesn't exist."
Baked Pumpkin Rice Pudding
"It is a very easy recipe to follow. I selected a pumpkin from my father's farmette (6 acreas of garden) along with a bit of a shop at the local grocery shop I was on my way to make a delicious dessert. It is great warmed up service with some homemade vanilla ice cream."
Chocolate and Olive Oil Fig Cakes
"The fig cakes were delicious! The cakes were extremely moist and not overly sweet. What really made the cakes was the glaze. It was the perfect mix of salt and sweet (the little bit of pepper didn't hurt either!). My only dissatisfaction was with the figs in the cakes. They said to put them on top after 10 minutes- but I think putting them in earlier would center them better inside the cake instead of on top. I would definitely make these again! They are perfect for those who don't like something that is overly sweet but still want their chocolate fix."
Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes
"I made the Pumpkin Cupcakes with Peanut Butter icing. I got Maple Shredded Wheat to agree with the flavors. The peanut butter is wonderfully subtle. I had a hard time structuring my shredded wheat, but I think the effort was enough."
Mulled Apple Cider Cocktails
"This drink is essentially a Fall Sangria and was extremely easy to make consisting of ingredients that most people probably already have on hand. Although it was very refreshing, it didn’t blow me away. I’m not really sure if mulling the cider prior to adding the sparkling wine made that big of a difference, other than making my house smell really great. I tried the drink with plain apple cider instead and couldn’t notice that big of a difference, although the cider I was using came from fresh from a local farm, which could’ve been a factor in the taste. I did like the addition of the cut up apples, though. All in all, this is a good fall/winter cocktail, and I would definitely make it again. If you’re in a hurry and want to save 30-40 minutes, skip the mulling, and I think you might be just as pleased with the results."
Blood-Red Cherry Punch
"I rarely make fancy beverages, but I was going to a birthday party last weekend, and decided that was the perfect opportunity. It was as easy as can be to assemble, and we made two batches -- one with Maker's Mark and one alcohol-free. And by the end of the party both bowls were completely empty, so I'd call it a great success! I preferred the spiked punch better, as the bourbon added a little smokiness to cut the sweetness from the cherry-cranberry juice. The only thing we forgot was the orange, but considering it was just a garnish, I don't think it compromised the punch at all."
Mulled Red Wine Sangria
"Certainly a festive recipe now that fall is upon us in Chicago. Overall, I thought this was tasty and would be fun to serve at a party. The downside is that it requires several ingredients that you might not have on hand. For example, I made mine without pomegranate seeds, although I think it would certainly be more fun to have those included. I found a very similar recipe on the Food Network's site that could be a good alternative with fewer ingredients."
- Tequila Oasis
- Big Ol' Beer Brat Sub
- Name This Dish Autumn Wrap
- Teriyaki Chicken Party Sub
- Pumpkin Cheese Ball
- Fennel-Arugula Salad
- Spicy Broccoli
- Bubbling Caldron Cupcake
- Candy Corn