Rebecca's Cooking Journal

salt and pepper

Lentil Sausage Soup

I liked Ina Garten’s Lentil Sausage Soup, and my husband loved it. I want to make sure I make it again, for his sake! The sausage was my favorite part of it.

I pretty much followed the recipe but I used brown lentils instead of the “French green” lentils, which I couldn’t find. I also used a bit less chicken stock, but I didn’t measure so I’m not sure how much I used.

Get the Recipe from the Barefoot Contessa >>>>>

Penne Ponza

Most delicious pasta ever. It’s perfect because it’s not a heavy creamy sauce, but the tomatoes and breadcrumbs mixture is absolutely delicious. My husband added red pepper flakes to his serving; he said it didn’t have quite enough flavor. But I loved it so much just as it was.

Get the Recipe from Giada >>>

Casual Meals

I am very lazy on Friday nights. Sometimes it’s Saturday night. Sometimes it’s other nights. Here’s a list of quick and easy meals for such nights.

  • Frozen Pizza (required ingredients: a frozen pizza)
  • Homemade Pizza (required ingredients: yeast, flour, etc.; cheese and tomato sauce or pesto)
  • Pancakes or Waffles (required ingredients: bisquick, milk , butter, syrup and/or peanut butter)
  • Cheese sandwhiches or quesadillas (required ingredients: bread or tortillas, cheese. Optional: chicken, avocados, sour cream, tomatoes)
  • Pasta with sauce (required ingredient: pasta, preferably the frozen tortellini or ravioli with cheese or chicken; sauce, such as canned alfredo sauce or pesto; alternatively, cream and Parmesan cheese)

What’s your go to lazy meal?  I need more ideas.

Winnie-the-Pooh Chicken

It’s time to break my silence, simply because last night my husband made us the most delicious grilled chicken I’ve ever tasted. I don’t want to forget how he did it.

I called it “Winnie-the-Pooh Chicken” because I wanted my son to eat it so I told him it had honey in it, which Winnie-the-Pooh likes. As for myself, it seriously was the best (most moist and flavorful) chicken I’ve ever eaten before.

Get the recipe »

Quote: No Recipe Cooking

Once you have mastered a technique, you hardly need look at a recipe again.

–Julia Child, page 3, Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom

Potato and Leek Soup

It was so easy.

I cut up three leeks. I peeled and chopped three potatos. I simmered them in water for 20 minutes. I blended it with an immersion blender. I added some salt and pepper. And then we ate dinner.

Yum. My toddler son ate his all up and asked for seconds. We also had homemade bread (from the bread maker), which was yeasty and delicious.

I’ve always been afraid of Julia Child. I am not interested in mastering “French Cooking,” or at least I didn’t think I was. “Potage Parmentier” sounds very scary.

But Leek and Potato Soup I could make. Um. So maybe I’m going to trust Julia Child? I’ll try some more. Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom is right on my level and not overwhelming at all.

What We Ate (September & October)

I haven’t been posting our weekly menus throughout the last few months, but here’s the listing of some of what we’ve been eating. Some repeats, a few weeks where I didn’t keep track at all, and some new recipes. I’m going to try to be better about variety, full balanced meals, and trying new things in November!

  • Grilled grilled chicken quesadillas; lemon spinach
  • French Toast
  • Macaroni and Cheddar
  • (Book club social treats) Congee and Deep-Fried Tarro Root
  • Pumpkin Soup
  • Kraft Macaroni and Cheddar
  • Fetticini Alfredo with Grilled Chicken and Broccoli
  • Cheese Pizza
  • Carrot Soup
  • (company) Ginger Chicken with Almonds; Coconut Rice; Carrots and Ginger; Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • French Toast
  • Ginger chicken and rice
  • Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner
  • meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carmelized carrots
  • Pasta with Pears, Gorgonzola, and Ham
  • Chicken Pot Pie and Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Chicken nuggets; potato wedges; green salad with bacon and cranberry vinaigrette
  • (company) Baked Chicken with Cheese and Apples; Apple Muffins; Green salad with apple slices
  • Chicken quesadillas; smashed potatoes with scallions and bacon; green beans
  • Bean soup
  • Meatloaf; leftover mashed potatoes; frozen corn
  • Onion Tart with mustard and fennel; arugula salad
  • (snack) Bacon and cheese pretzel bites
  • Mustard Chicken; arugula salad with potato wedges

Onion Tart (Pizza) with Mustard and Fennel

I am afraid of yeast.

For some reason, I have always avoided breads and doughs that are made with yeast. But this week I’ve been reading Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom and Julia Child makes everything sound so easy. So I’ve determined to try yeast breads this week.

Last night, I made a simple onion pizza. My husband had made it a few weeks ago, so I knew it was going to taste good.

As I started with the first step, I was all nervous about making sure the water was the right temperature, making sure the bubbles were forming, etc. As I stood over the cup of yeasty water, my husband said, “Look! It’s farting!” Ha ha.

At any rate, I was nervous as I mixed the flour into the yeasty water. I was nervous as I kneaded it. And then all the sudden I realized that was  it! I prepped the onions (FYI, 3 pounds of onions was a bit too much) and an hour and a half later, I formed the now-risen dough into a few mini-pizzas, spread Dijon mustard on them, topped it with the onions and Parmesan, and there you had it! Onion Tarts!

We served it with an Arugula salad (I’ve been craving Arugula) with a mustard vinaigrette and bacon and apple slices.

“So Provencial!” my husband said.

“Pretty easy!” I said.

“Mmmmm!” toddler son said.

Get the recipe from epicurious >>>

Chicken with Cheese and Apples

My husband hates baked boneless/skinless chicken breast and thighs. It’s too boring, it’s too plain, it’s too “rubbery.” I like it and I find it easy, so the fact that he always complains about baked chicken makes me sad.

Emily Franklin’s recipe for “Autumnal Chicken” was one that I enjoyed. You wrap cheese and apple slices in a piece of chicken and bake it. I liked it. My husband did not. He thought it was too boring. It probably was: I should have made some kind of sauce with it. But the chicken was juicy and I just love apples cooked inside of things, so that was good in my book!

The other problem: the cheese. Ms. Franklin’s recipe calls for Istara. I cannot find “specialty” cheeses at my budget grocery store. So I used what I had in the refrigerator: cheddar. My husband did not like that either.

“Cheddar and chicken just don’t mix,” he says.

I’m getting tired of cookbooks that have recipes with fancy and expensive cheeses and other ingredients. Doesn’t anyone else live on a budget?

Chicken Nuggets (Breaded Chicken)

I made Emily Franklin’s recipe for chicken nuggets the other night. I was thinking it was a quick weekend meal, and that it would be delicious.

It certainly was delicious, but being an inexperienced cook, it took me quite a long time. I found I was breading each piece of chicken individually at first. Once I realized I could do many at once, it was much easier. (I know, I’m so dumb.) The breading Emily Franklin suggests is the normal flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.

They were quite delicious. I whipped up some honey mustard (ingredients: honey, mustard, and a little mayonnaise). However. The time it took to fry and then bake the many little bite-sized nuggets was not made up in flavor. Next time I do it, I’m going to leave the chicken in strips, rather than small bite-sized bits.

I think Ms. Franklin’s entire point was that kids are familiar with bite-sized chicken nuggets: once they know Mom can make chicken nuggets better than McDonald’s they won’t hesitate to have Mom’s breaded chicken either. Since my son is still too young to have ever had McDonald’s, I figure I can just skip that step and go strait to the breaded chicken and other chicken dishes!