Monday, April 13, 2015

Send me your best recipes


So here's the deal. One of the reasons I enjoy baking so much is because I'm not very creative in the kitchen. Baking is precise and deviating from the recipe usually ends up in disaster. This, I can live with. But cooking requires more finesse. I absolutely loathe when I see things in recipes that say, "add more seasoning if you want" or "taste it to see what else it needs." Fool, if I knew what needed to go in there I wouldn't be using your recipe in the first place.

Needless to say, I rely heavily on cookbooks and recipes to get food on the table. And even then, I'm somewhat limited because of the gadgets I don't have or the skills I don't possess (why are some of these recipes SO hard to follow?!). But back in February, Nate got me a new cookbook and everything changed.

And I know you're probably thinking really? Suddenly you can cook because of a cookbook? I've got tons of cookbooks and I still turn out mac n cheese from a box. But I can tell it's made a difference in my cooking. I think Nate can, too.

To be honest, I think I really like it because it's not uptight and stuffy. Don't get me wrong, there are some ingredients I've had to look up online (and still can't find in the grocery store), but for the most part it's easy. The instructions are easy to follow and that makes a world of difference to someone who isn't uber familiar with kitchen gadgets. It gives me a level of confidence that other cookbooks can't - or haven't - given me in the past.

Which isn't to say I've loved every recipe that I've made. I had high hopes for their pancakes, but they fell flat for me. Technically, they were really thick and pasty and hard to cook. And I know my way around some pancakes so don't start hollering human error ("It was totally your fault," - you, "Please, I plate my breakfast like I cook for IHOP."). But I've had great luck with some of their other recipes.

I've now made flautas from scratch twice. From scratch. Like, I literally mashed my own beans. Are you impressed? Because you definitely should be. And the second time around, I took some free reign and added a chipotle sauce. Adding things gives me anxiety as mentioned above so the fact that I felt comfortable enough to tinker with the recipe is amazing. I really think the way it's worded - and how it doesn't take itself so seriously - allows me feel better about cooking. Not so worried I'm going to screw it up, you know?

I made the sweet potato, black bean and squash enchiladas one night and got a standing ovation (not really). But I put sweet potato into our enchiladas, man. Mind blown. Just this week I made roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos - whaaaaat? YES. And they were so good I ate the leftover chickpeas for lunch the next day. Oh and the spiced chickpea wraps with homemade tahini dressing? Also a keeper. I made black bean tortas with homemade chipotle mayo one weekend and Nate said it could've been a $15 sandwich from Panera. That's high praise when my go-to sandwich is a grilled cheese. Or a PB and J. Although, technically I've switched to almond butter so that bumps up the class level, right?

Right so, I'd like to capitalize on this confidence in the kitchen and start expanding to some other recipes. What cookbooks do you rely on? Or do you make everything up in your head and then magically get it on the table in time for dinner? I wouldn't go so far as to say cooking is a hobby, but I do want to keep improving.

Hit me with your best recipes. Pleeeeaaase?

Cheers,
Jen

PS - Some folks have asked for my baked ziti recipe. You can find it here. I promise it's worth your time.

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