Meal #8: Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic, and Walnuts

The recipe book suggests this pasta is a great option for a cold winter night, so we’re giving it a shot on one of the coldest nights so far this season.

Ingredients

  • 1 head garlic
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • You can multiply the spicy ingredients by a factor of 5 when cooking with us – I think we used closer to a whole teaspoon
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 ounces campanelle
    • I used some more mundane pasta instead
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons parsley
    • A green and leafy garnishing, did you mean cilantro?
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts
    • Nuts were a new ingredient this week and we wanted to be able to snack on them too, so we bought almonds instead

Finished Product

This pasta was different from what I’m used to in a pasta dish. A much earthier flavor and reminiscent of truffles. It wasn’t bad, but it was a new flavor/texture combination that I’m not sure I’d make again. We had some leftovers and mixed those with traditional pasta sauce later – which we found more palatable.

Meal #7: Shrimp Burgers

This week’s theme: using up our leftovers. We had some extra shrimp and avocado, so we made a simple but tasty shrimp burger to kick off the week.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces shrimp
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mayo
    • Tartar sauce was a good substitute here, matching the fishy flavor
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
    • Another theme this week: Using up our cilantro instead of parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
    • As usual, lemon juice is pretty close
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • We just sprinkle this on as needed, too
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 hamburger buns

Finished Product

These burgers turned out pretty nice – we served them with a side of sliced pineapple and threw in some extra guacamole into the burger to add to the texture.

Meal #6: Five-Alarm Chili

We like spicy things and thought this chili would hit the spot. It called for some pretty exotic* peppers though, so we got dangerously creative.

*Well, for our local suburban grocery store, at least.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ounce ancho chilies
    • We couldn’t find these at the Pick’n’Save, but some bright habaneros caught our eye. The cashier told us we were smart to buy the two gallons of milk we were also picking up… Doing a taste test at home of a tiny slice of the pepper made us second-guess whether we should actually use them as a substitute, but we decided to go for it and threw one in to the mix.
  • 1 1/2 cups water
    • In hindsight, this is way too much water. In fact I’m not sure why the recipe called for water at all. We spent about 15 additional minutes at the stove after letting the chili simmer to boil off all the excess.
  • 4 tomatoes
    • I’d just like to mention that the recipe said to “core” these.
  • 3 tablespoons crushed tortilla chips
    • Ours were stale anyway so we figured it would only enhance the flavor.
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chilie
    • Also couldn’t find this one but figured the habaneros would be spicy enough. I guess that makes this only a four-alarm chili.
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 ounces ground beef
    • Hey, not meatloaf mix this time!
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 jalapeno chilie
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • We added more along the way to even out the tomato taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • It was more like 1/2 teaspoon in our case…
  • 1/3 cup beer
    • This caught us off-guard for a chili but luckily we had some old Lake Louie that no one was going to drink, so we sacrificed a bottle here.
  • 3/4 cup pinto beans

Finished Product

The most exciting part of this dish was just anticipating how spicy it was going to be – actually, the levels came out perfectly. We like things a little on the hot side, and this was right on the money. Adding some garnishment at the end of cilantro, sour cream, and cheese (in my case) really brought it all together.

Meal #5: Lasagna

Lasagna is a classic meal that everyone has their own twist on. We usually make it in big 13″x9″ pans and cut it into squares, but this recipe calls for hosting the noodles in a bread pan. We were skeptical at first that it would be enough food, only calling for 4 noodles – so we doubled the ingredients.

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 ounces meatloaf mix
    • Meatloaf mix strikes again – we’re still going to use ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
    • We didn’t have any heavy cream and didn’t want to buy some just to use only two tablespoons – so we substituted 2% milk
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
    • We found a pretty exciting can of fire-roasted tomatoes to spice things up
  • 1 can tomato sauce
    • Somehow “organic” despite being in a can

Noodles & Filling

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons basil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper
  • 4 lasagna noodles
    • The recipe wanted no-boil noodles but we didn’t think that was very interesting
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Final Product

These bread-pan lasagnas turned out great. We had quite a bit of extra liquid content though so we let them sit for a while after baking. I also forgot to trim the noodles before I put them in the pans, so there were some curly crusties on the ends.

Also as we found out, 4 noodles was plenty and we wound up with an entire bread pan extra of lasagna leftovers. But that’s fine, we just ate them the next day.

Meal #4: Lemon-Herb Cod with Crispy Potatoes

A tasty fresh fish dish for Monday night. The raw cod almost looked like it was ready to eat right away since we had it prepared with herbs and spices ahead of time at the deli.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cod fillets
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Lemon slices

We were pretty much by-the-book on this recipe – we used a little extra lemon juice to liven the flavor up.

Finished Product

We served the cod on a bed of potato shingles and with a side of kale chips – it turned out perfectly. The taste was amazing, deli-fresh fish really has no substitute. We will definitely be making this one again.

Meal #3: Steak Fajitas

Tonight we prepared a quick and easy pair of steak fajitas – beware, they’re pretty spicy!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounce flank steak
    • We used a different, meatier cut. We probably should have used flank steak
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
    • Seems like a lot of these recipes call for lime juice, but we just don’t see the need
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
    • Sriracha sauce was our choice for this, but we almost used Frank’s
  • Flour tortillas to taste
    • It’s really up to you how much filling you want to put in your tortillas

Finished Product

These presented very well, and they were filled with flavor. The only issue was the steak – it was a thicker cut and pretty chewy. It constituted a large portion of the filling so we were left wanting something like sour cream to smooth it out. Unfortunately, our sour cream had molded. It wasn’t bad though, we’ll just use a thinner steak next time.

The dish was actually much hotter than expected, owing to the peppers, cayenne, and hot sauce. We noticed this while cooking the veggies and having to leave the room due to how spicy the air became!

Overall, quite tasty.

Meal #2.5: Shrimp, Avocado, Grapefruit Salad

Originally we were going to make this with tomorrow’s full dinner, but looking at the recipe we thought it was more than enough to stand on its own as a meal.

Shrimp Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit

Ingredients

Shrimp

  • 12 ounces shrimp
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 bay leaf

Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 ounce snow peas
    • We had edamame and decided to use that up instead
  • 1 tablespoon mint
  • 8 ounces lettuce
    • Substituted spinach instead for a healthy dose of iron
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Finished Product

Even with replacing the base of the dish for spinach, the flavors here mixed perfectly – this was the best-tasting salad we’ve prepared so far.