Friday, August 19, 2016

Cook once, dinner twice!

See, I told you I still cook!

Aaron started a new job a couple of months ago.  He went from a truck driver, working 12-14 hour days, to a wastewater treatment plant operator, working 7.5 hour days.  We both now work for the City of Durham and live in Durham (we're cute, I know).

New job means new cooking routines.  For many years, Aaron ate sandwiches for lunch every day.  It was something he could take in a cooler, eat on the road, and not have to worry about having a fridge or microwave.  Now the man has gotten picky and refuses to eat any more sandwiches.  And, really, I don't blame him.  I wouldn't either.  He also only has 30 minutes for lunch. Dinners now have to feed the both of us and provide at least one day of lunches, preferably 2. I've been making big dinners on Sunday that we can eat for lunch the next few days.  This week, though, I tried something different.

Cooking Light has been my magazine of choice for years and I still love it.  It's probably my favorite magazine.  One I'll stop getting soon because this is the first issue I've looked at in the past six months. But still, I love it.

This month's edition had a section called "Weekend Warrior."  You make a large amount of meat one time and then use it in three different recipes.  Instead of doing it on the weekend, I thought I'd try it for our weeknight meals.  Spoiler alert - I only made it through two meals.

Monday I made Sheet Pan Swedish Meatballs.  You can find the recipe here.

It was a ton of work - took an hour and a half to make 42 meatballs! The recipe said it would taken an hour, but I never actually go as quickly as the recipe says.  Mind you, chopping a full onion takes me at least 10 minutes.  Two minutes to chop, eight minutes of running back and forth to the sink to rinse out my stinging, crying eyes. And that's just an onion, doesn't include actually chopping the rest of the ingredients (which don't make me cry, I just don't want to chop off a digit).

This wasn't a hard recipe, but it was very time consuming.  It went something like this:

Chop lots of onion (really, only one, but still). Cry lots of tears.  Saute those onions with garlic and fennel seeds.  If you know of other uses for fennel seeds, lemme know, cause now I have a lot of them.

Then mix ground pork and ground beef. It called for sirloin, I couldn't find it in the store when I was grocery shopping, so I used ground chuck.  The recipe used torn wheat bread, which I thought interesting.

Meat and bread mixture. 
Then mix the onion mixture with the meats.  Side note - every time I say "the meats," I think of the Arby's commercial and instantly resay it as "THE MEATS!"

Meat with the onion mixture added.  Side note - make sure to let it cool some first. It was a little...warm.
So you mix all of that together and make 42 (!) meatballs.  I was actually proud of myself for making as many meatballs as the recipe called for.  When making truffles, I always end up using too much per ball and never make enough.  Anyway, I made 42 balls (two are in a mixing bowl for the sauce, I really did make them all).

Then you broiled them.  I'm not sure how I felt about broiling them.  They came out like this:

Not super appetizing, if you ask me
I wasn't entirely sure they cooked all the way through, but they did.

The recipe just had four of these meatballs for dinner. We Zinns don't roll that way.So I added egg noodles and doubled the sauce.  If you knew how much sauce my husband ate, you'd understand why.

Finished product!

Honestly, it was alright. It was a ton more work than I thought the meal was worth. The meatballs were good, but they didn't work so well with the egg noodles and the sauce wasn't really made for the pasta. It was actually much better as leftovers.

Tuesday we made Bahn Mi Bowls, the second recipe (recipe can be found here)

This was delish!
Oh man. What Monday's night dish lacked, this one made up for in spades. So good!  The lime and the chili sauce combination was perfect.  And, best part, it only took thirty minutes to make!

Now, let's discuss my substitutions for the Bahn Mi Bowls.  I'm notorious for not having an ingredient and substituting something else.
  • I ran out of rice vinegar (didn't quite have a full 1/2 cup), so I used apple cider vinegar to make up the rest
  • I couldn't find the chile paste, so I used Sriracha (a chili sauce) instead.
  • It's supposed to include radishes, but we aren't fans, so they aren't in there.
  • Aaron hates cilantro (weirdo), so I didn't bother to buy any
Amazing. Seriously. I would make those stupid hour and half meatballs again just to eat this recipe. But maybe just make enough to make the recipe.

The third recipe was for Greek Stuffed Pitas (recipe is here).

That totally didn't happen.  Wednesday night I made beef and broccoli (really beef and carrots because the broccoli had gone bad, ha).  Thursday night, the night we were going to have the pitas, I forgot I had an appointment after work and we ate...Cookout. Whoops.

So, overall. This experiment kinda flopped. We loved the Banh Mi Bowls, but I think I can make those on their own.  The meatballs just weren't worth the effort, in my opinion. But this is what I love about cooking - experimenting and trying new things! It's okay if something doesn't turn out right the first time or if you don't love it.  You never know until you try!

What about you, any kitchen experiments you've tried that haven't turned out the best?

1 comment:

  1. Fennel : spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce. Toast before grinding. Also used in Indian cuisine. Additionally, We make banh mi type wraps with pickled carrots... amazing.