Thursday, October 23, 2008


(Side note: When I first started blogging, I thought that titles were the greatest thing the world. Now I just think they're a huge burden. I feel obligated to come up with a witty title each day, and frankly, I'm just not that witty.)

What kind of cook are you? Are the sort who has a regular menu and basically makes the same recipes all the time? Are you the sort who rarely makes the same thing twice? Or somewhere in between?

As for myself, I'm of the "rarely make the same thing twice" variety. I've got some standards, of course, but most nights, I make some thing new. When I first moved in with my husband, I was a bit nervous about this. His family has a very scheduled menu. (Any day of the week, he can tell you what they'll be having. Sunday: Lasagna. Monday: Waffles. Thursday: Take-out pizza. Friday: Go out to eat. Saturday: Soup.) As a result, there were a lot of things he claimed to not like. When you get right down to it, though, it wasn't that he didn't like those things, he'd just never had them. I told him he had to try everything once. If there was something he truly didn't like, I wouldn't make it again. But he had to try it. (I believe I told him he had to try three bites of everything: one to see if his mouth liked it, one to see if his stomach liked it, and one to see if his brain agreed. Sometimes, husbands are like children, aren't they?)

So Ryan is used to trying new and sometimes strange things. In fact, he's grown to like the constant variety. This weekend, though, I feared I might be testing him. For the first time, I made lentils.

At first, I was gung-ho about the endeavor. Lentils are cheap! They're healthy! What more could you want, right? I selected a popular recipe from RecipeZaar: Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole. As I made it, though, the cold feet started to set in. As I stirred it before serving, my feet were ice cubes. I really felt I had made a mistake.

But I could not have been more wrong! This recipe really is simple, healthy, cheap, and delicious. I couldn't believe how much I liked it. Still, I was nervous about Ryan's reaction. With great trepidation, I asked what he thought. "It's good!" he enthused. He got seconds. And, he voluntarily had the leftovers for lunch the next day. (He has some horrible fear of leftovers. I'm working on it.)

You really need to give the recipe a try. You're going to be skeptical. You're going to stir it up, stick it in the oven, and think to yourself, "Self, this looks like slop. It's never going to turn out." You're going to take it out of the oven and think to yourself, "Self, this looks pretty blah. No one is going to like it." But by this time, it will be too late. You will have hungry children clamoring around the table, begging for food. Out of desperation, you will feed to to your droves.

Trust me: you're going to love it!

Just a couple notes on the recipe: It says to cook for an hour at 300. I did that, and ended up cranking it up to 400 and cooking it for another 30 minutes. Next time, I'm trying it on 350 for an hour. Also, I don't know what size your family is, but this doesn't make a ton. I would say it makes 3-4 adult servings. If you've got a passel of children, you'll want to double or triple this.

I also made these recipes:
I won't wax poetic about these, but I did really like both of them. I doubled the taco seasoning recipe and will definitely be using it from now on. It didn't take much time to throw together, and it's certainly cheaper than the individual packets. (No, I didn't do the math. The time I did that with bread I nearly gave myself a migraine. If you feel so inclined, do the math and prove me wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.)
The chicken taco meat was super slick, too. I used a whole chicken instead of the breasts, because chickens were on sale. I saved the giblets, tossed them in a pot with some giblets I'd saved from past chickens, some celery, and some onion, filled it with water, and made broth. I've got some chicken left over from last week that I need to use up, so I may be making some chicken noodle soup tomorrow.
Two posts in one day! Do I get an award for that? (Because I totally should!)