I started a new job on July 6th. The magazine publication company that I now work for publishes Taste of Home out of our Milwaukee office. This means that during my first couple of weeks on the job, flipping through magazines and searching the website and internal recipe database were part of my job training. As such, I was inspired to cook some new recipes!
For July, I wanted to use up all of the meat in our freezer. We have a Costco membership, so we buy meat in bulk, but we ended up with a surplus. And rather than buy more meat, I decided we needed to use up the frozen chicken, ground turkey, ground beef, beef roasts, salmon filets, and beef stew meat that we already had.
We’ve gotten a little sick of our 10-15 go-to recipes, so it was time to try some new recipes! Who’s with me? You’ve been there, right? Eating out just because you’re sick of cooking the same old recipes. Wanting flavor and variety in your life? I can’t be the only one. Enter Taste of Home! Seriously, this job was timed perfectly. I can use the recipe database to search by ingredient (you can do the same thing on the website). It was so great.
So here are the recipes I tried and some comments on how they were received. I already have more planned, so expect some more recipe posts from me in the future.
Night 1: Chicken Pot Pie
I found this chicken pot pie recipe in a compilation of Slow Cooker recipes. The biscuit-topping drew me in (go look at the site, seriously), but I was a little lazy and didn’t want to make homemade biscuits. Instead I used Pillsbury Grand Biscuits. Both Jim and I loved this recipe. We used to make chicken pot pie a lot, but we hadn’t had it since before we went all “Low Carb” (that’s no longer happening).
The biscuits we a little under-cooked on the bottom, and at first I thought I should have used 4 and split them in half because I wanted more filling to biscuit, but it ended up being perfect. And Jim really loved the mussy bottoms of the biscuits. The left overs heated up well.
A couple of other changes that I made:
– I skipped the pimientos. I don’t like them, and they seems unnecessary.
– And I used a 9×13 inch pan. Everything fit fine.
– Also, you don’t need to cube the butter since you’re melting it.
Night 2: Turkey Tacos
We make tacos a lot. It’s the one meal where Christopher eats the same food we do. But I am trying to force him to branch out a little and try new things. Inspired by this chicken taco recipe, I decided to just make our traditional tacos (using Ortega taco seasoning) with ground turkey instead of ground beef.
Jim complained a little – who would have thought? But Christopher didn’t even notice! He ate 2 tacos that night and never said a word. So I didn’t either! The flavor was a little blander since turkey isn’t as flavorful as beef, but he ate something different. Who cares if he didn’t realize it? I certainly don’t.
Night 3: Salmon, Zucchini, and Sweet Potatoes
I found this grilled salmon recipe on page 235 of the Taste of Home Ultimate Guide to Grilling cookbook, but since I don’t grill (Jim does), I decided to adapt it for cooking in the oven. I made twice as much of what was supposed to be basted onto the salmon as it was grilling, and made it a marinade. I marinaded the salmon filets for 20 minutes, and then cooked them in the oven for 20 minutes.
The Taste of Home test kitchen team had done a live video feed for their Facebook page featuring zucchini recipes, and they had a bunch of extra zucchinis, so I ended up taking one home. It worked out perfectly because I had been wanting to try this zucchini fries recipe. Because I hadn’t planned on cooking it, we didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand. I had to substitute plain bread crumbs for the corn meal, and to make it easier for myself, I just used the whole egg.
I cooked the sweet potatoes in the microwave. Very unoriginal. I know, but they’re so easy that way. Jim had his with butter, but I like mine plain. Christopher wouldn’t try any of this, of course, so he had fish sticks and apple slices.
Jim took about 3 bites of the fish and then decided he didn’t like it. The marinade wasn’t flavorful enough, so it didn’t mask the fishy taste (according to him). I agreed that it was kind of bland, but I didn’t mind it. I also ate both Jim’s piece and the third extra piece leftover with some of the zucchini and half a sweet potato each time.
The zucchini fries were not what I was expecting. They weren’t dry enough or crisp enough. Perhaps I didn’t cook them longer? Or perhaps I was just hoping they’d taste deep-fried, like french fries.
Night 4: Thai Beef in the Slow Cooker
For dinner last night, I tried making a modified version of this slow-cooker Thai-style beef stew to use up the two packs of stew beef we had in the freezer. I am kind of sick of beef stroganoff, and the last time I put cubed beef in my chili, it was a little too grizzly.
I made the sauce according to the directions except that I used regular soy sauce, I skipped the cilantro (because I don’t like it), and I had to use garlic powder (1.5 tsp) instead of fresh because Jim had used it all last week when he made my Grandma Puleo’s spaghetti sauce and meatballs and didn’t tell me, so I didn’t know to buy more at the store this past weekend. But, I digress.
Instead of sliced red pepper (because I hate peppers of all colors), I decided to add other veggies – inspired by this other slow-cooker beef recipe. I didn’t use frozen vegetables though. I used about 1.5 cups of chopped carrots, 1.5 cups of chopped celery,1 cup of chopped onion, 1 small package of sliced mushrooms, and I used a can of sliced water chestnuts. My favorite stir-fry veggie.
I also followed the cooking instructions of the second recipe and cooked it all on low for 6.5 hours. I stirred the sauce into the beef and then just layered the veggies on top, so they wouldn’t get over cooked. I had Jim just stir the veggies into the beef and sauce about an hour before I got home and turn off the slow cooker. I love that he works from home!
I served it over brown rice. It made 8 portions, which was just fine, because Jim and I both really enjoyed this recipe as well.
A couple of things I would change for next time:
– use fresh garlic
– use 1 cup of peanut butter
– use only 2 Tbsp of soy sauce (it was kind of salty)
– add 1/2 cup of water
What have you been cooking lately?