Weeknight dinners

I moved out exactly three weeks ago. I have been trying to be a good adult by cooking dinner and making my lunch. I think I have been doing fairly well. I have only bought my lunch twice – I took Theresa out for lunch on her birthday and I went to Subway on Monday. Dinner is a different story – when I first moved down we went out a couple of times but in the past two weeks we have been really good about it. We have only had sushi a couple of times and we went out for dinner with some friends. Overall, a pretty good transition into adulthood.

Before I moved out I stole a mini recipe book from Campbell’s that my mom had from a magazine. It was called “Better Weeknight Dinners” and it features 10 different recipes – 5 of which I have made so far.

1. Chicken & Sundried Tomato Pasta with White Wine Sauce.

This was creamy and sweet. The sundried tomatoes were slightly tart which cut the creaminess and richness of this dish. The chicken was tender and moist but didn’t brown as much as I would have liked. This was because I didn’t dry the chicken well enough (or at all) before I put it in the pan. This tasted great as dinner and just as good as cold leftovers the next day. This is going in the recipe box for future meals.

2. Creamy Basil Salmon Bake.

I will admit – this is not my image, but rather the one from the Campbell’s website. Unfortunately, I did not plate my salmon as nicely. It was because instead of using four individual, frozen salmon fillets we bought one larger, fresh fillet. The red pepper is sweet and the asparagus was perfectly crunchy but still tender. We had to leave the skillet in the oven for about 5 more minutes in order for the asparagus to rich the appropriate tenderness. The sauce had a subtle asparagus flavour and smothered the salmon and the rice making the entire dish creamy and delicious. Another one to keep in mind for future reference.

3. 3 Step Pear & Cranberry Pork Tenderloin.

This was delicious but I don’t think I would make this again. I am referring to this as a pseudo-stew and I think it could hold up on it’s own without any rice. The mixture of pear, celery and cranberry it light, and crunchy and works with the tenderness of the pork. The base of this stew is applesauce which is a natural compliment to pork and makes the pork tender and just fall apart off the fork. Not quiet pulled pork but as close as you will get in 30 minutes and without trying to make pulled pork. And I got to use a new spice! The recipe called for savoury which I had never heard of and I didn’t have but from a quick search I found that marjoram was a replacement which was something new but strangely enough I had some. Now I want to try savoury… what does that even mean? That is an adjective not a spice.

4.Orange Ginger Beef with Angel Hair Pasta and Snow Peas.

This is how mine turned out.

And the above is how Campbell’s made it. I would love to know how this happened. They don’t remotely look like the same meal. Regardless, this is still delicious. Part of my issue was I used way too much angel hair pasta because it is so deceptive. And it clumps instantly. And is so terrible. I now know why people hate it and choose not to use it. I think next time I would use spaghetti instead. I also didn’t use the right type of meat – I was supposed to use steak but I used stewing beef because that is all that I could find at the grocery store and that was a bad idea. Stewing beef, obviously, is very thick, tough meat that is intended to be marinated and stewed for hours to get a perfect, tender consistency. Stewing beef seared in a pan is tough and chewy and not good to eat without a knife. Next time, if I cannot find all my ingredients I will not make a recipe. And I love snow peas! They stay crunchy in the broth and are so fresh. Paired with the mandarin orange wedges. Perfect. However, in an attempt to stop my pasta from clumping, I was constantly stirring everything which pulverized my orange wedges so you didn’t get that big bite of citrus.

General note – everything I cook seems to have garlic in it which is amazing because I love garlic and we have about 12 bulbs of garlic. The only problem is, I don’t know how to chop/mince/cut it but I am planning on getting a garlic press.

5. Lemon Garlic Shrimp Soup with Brown Rice.

This soup is light, citrus, fresh and grainy. Probably not the best time of year to make soup – the past two days it has been close to 25 degrees but I think you could eat at this as a cold soup, which I didn’t try despite believing this. It is a good meal for the summer though because it is light but filling and doesn’t heat up your kitchen. The great thing with all of these recipes is they are made on the stove and typically use only 1 pot/skillet. My only complaint with the soup is yes, shrimp with the tail on is very visually appealing but then I have a bowl of shrimp tails at the end of my meal. Not so great.

5 meals down, 5 more to go. I decided to start with this group of recipes because they were easy and it was a great way to ease myself into cooking. My plan is to cook my way through all my cookbooks (this is very ambitious and slightly ridiculous) once I am done with these recipes. The five remaining recipes are:

1.Low Sodium Lemon & Rosemary Chicken with Quinoa

2. Dijon Cod & Veggie Bundles

3. Chicken with Cheddar Broccoli Sauce

4. Steak & Mushroom Florentine

5. Cowboy Pasta