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The Recipe Roundup: What I made, what worked, what didn’t

As you likely know, more than anything my goal with my business and this blog is to help make cooking accessible. So today I am starting a new feature on the blog that I will offer periodically called: The Recipe Roundup.

With this series I want to give you an honest account of what worked in my kitchen and what didn’t. I’ll share ways that I simplified recipes, ways I adjusted them, how easy or hard I thought they were, and, most importantly, how they turned out. My hope is that this series will show some of the practical tricks you can use to simplify and modify recipes but that it will also exemplify how flexible, creative, and fun cooking can be, even when things don’t turn out as planned…

So without further ado, here’s my first installment of The Recipe Roundup

Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Garlic Pesto

Image courtesy of The Minimalist Baker

The moment I saw this gorgeous recipe from The Minimalist Baker I knew I had to try them and I am very glad I did because they were DELICIOUS!! The original recipe called for boiling the potatoes first, but I didn’t want to make two pots dirty for one side dish so, to simplify and turn it into a one-pan dish, I cut the potatoes into quarters (a little bigger than bite-sized), tossed in them olive oil, and started roasting at 425. Half way through the roasting I took them out, smashed them, drizzled a tiny bit more olive oil on so they wouldn’t dry out too much, and then put them back in. Then I just topped them with pesto I already had in the freezer.

Make Again? YES

Roasted Citrus

Image courtesy of Teaspoon of Spice

I was so excited to try these. I mean, come on! How gorgeous is that picture?! I have been ogling roasted fruit for a while and imagining all of the different ways I was going to use it, so for my first attempt I made some cara cara oranges and grapefruit slices. Sadly, these were a bust for us. No one liked them, not even me. The roasting took the juicy-ness out of the fruit and I didn’t find that there was a boost in flavor that made that lack of moisture worth it. That being said, I could see how some people would really love these, so don’t rule out trying it for yourself!!

Make Again? PROBABLY NOT. I might try other fruits, but roasted citrus was not our thing.

30 Minute Cashew Chicken

Image courtesy of Don’t Waste the Crumbs

Cashew Chicken is my husband’s go-to order on those very rare occasions when we order Chinese food (or when I am out of town), so when I saw this recipe from Don’t Waste the Crumbs I knew I had to try it as a special surprise for him. When it was put out on the table my 8-year-old said, “but I don’t like Chinese food!” And then he took a bite and said, “Oh! I guess I like homemade Chinese food!” I call that a win! It was super simple to throw together and to make it even easier I used a bag of the stir fry mix you find in the frozen veggies section at the supermarket. It took longer than 30 minutes to cook, more like 35, and I cranked up the oven to 400 for last 10 minutes, but that may be because I used frozen vegetables which slowed the cooking of the chicken down.


One Pot Chili Mac n Cheese

Image courtesy of Well Plated

One pot + chili + mac and cheese?! This recipe from Well Plated sounded almost too good to be true… but it wasn’t!! It was a huge hit! Everyone really enjoyed it and I loved that it was a one-pot meal. The recipe is really simple as it is already written, so the only change I made was skipping the jalapeño to keep it from being too spicy for my guys. It took a little longer to cook than the directions said, maybe 5 minutes more. Next time I might add some chopped frozen spinach or baby spinach for the last few minutes of cooking, then I wouldn’t even need to make a side veggie!

Make Again? FOR SURE.

Taco Bowls

I have been wanting to make taco bowls for a while and so I used these directions for my first attempt when I was also testing out the avocado crema I blogged about last week. The crema was a huge hit, but the bowls were not. They did not look nearly as pretty as they did in the pictures, in fact they barely worked as bowls. As you can see here:

Now, if it only had been my failure at getting the shape right, which was to be expected as food presentation and crafty-ness in general is not my forté, that would have been one thing, but everyone said they had a weird consistency—not crunchy enough, a little chewy. So all in all, a bust.

Make Again? I might try making the bowls again, because I love the idea, but next time I think I’ll try a different approach and might use corn tortillas instead of flour.

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  1. Smashing potatoes sounds awesome. When we roast potatoes, and it comes time to flip them over, I always feel awful trying to flip multiple chunks over at a time with a spatula, figuring I’m missing some and double-flipping others. Alternatively, flipping individually means either burned fingers or some tedious double-fork method. Yuck.

    Smashing is a smashing idea!

    (Bonus note: I tried a roasted tater recipe at Serious Eats and I made a Serious Disaster of it. My wife says I cut the potatoes too small. https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/12/the-best-roast-potatoes-ever-recipe.html)

    1. I hear you on the flipping. I ended up deciding it just wasn’t worth it to stress too much, so now I stir them a bit so some flip and some don’t, but at least they are redistributed a bit, and that has worked well for me (and a lot less stress or burnt fingers!). Those roasted taters sound delicious. Maybe I’ll play around and see if I can simplify it some! 🙂

    1. There are molds? I had no idea! I’ll have to check them out. Do you use flour or corn tortillas? Any tips for making them nice and crispy?

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