In order to keep myself honest about cooking a meal at least once a week, I'm going to try to post each Sunday about what I cooked the previous week (we'll see how that goes). This week, I am happy to report, I cooked THREE times. And each of the two dinners I cooked fed us for two nights, plus two more nights of frozen! That's a lot of meals courtesy of moi!

The first thing I cooked was crockpot chicken Makhani (Indian butter chicken). I used the recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking, with the following modifications:
-2.5 lbs, rather than just 2 lbs, of chicken thighs (since that was what I had)
-no cayenne pepper (because Mark doesn't do spicy food)
-a can of diced tomatoes rather than a can of tomato paste (because it's what I had)
-no yogurt at the end

Overall, it was good. We ate it over rice noodles, since I discovered at the last minute that we didn't actually have any regular rice. Next time, though, I'll definitely use the tomato paste rather than diced tomatoes--the diced made it too watery. I'll also use curry paste rather than powder, for a more intense curry taste--this was fairly bland. It was very easy to put together, though, and with a few tweaks I think it would be really good. It made about eight smallish servings.

The second dinner I cooked was beef and Guinness pie, with the recipe from Epicurious. I made the following modifications:
-I used 2.5 lbs of kosher stew meat, rather than 2 lbs of boneless chuck (it was what was available at Trader Joe's)
-dried rather than brined peppercorns (brined peppercorns is not something I've ever seen in another recipe, so we don't have them on hand)
-four rather than 2 sprigs of thyme (more thyme=more good!)
-pre-made frozen filo dough, rather than making my own

The other thing I changed was the ramekins--the recipe calls for four 14-oz ramekins. Why has 14-oz ramekins? I made mine in three ovenproof Pyrex dishes--one six-cup rectangular and two-four-cup circles. I cooked the rectangular one (it made four smallish servings of the pie) and put the two round ones in the freezer for later.

This was absolutely fantastic. I will make it again soon--like maybe next week. The flavor is SO good. It's not super bitter, but the gravy is this intense, peppery, piquant thing. When I make this again, I think I'll fill the pies out with some veggies--maybe some potatoes and carrots--and some dried mushrooms. Other than that, I won't change a thing. We ate ours with spinach salad and braised carrots on the side and it was a fantastic winter meal.

The last thing I made was actually last night/this morning, for breakfast. Caramel pecan sticky buns from Little Blue Hen. It was actually my second time making these, and they are so good. They improve our Sunday morning coffee and soccer watching time immensely. The modifications I made to the recipe are:
-double the topping recipe, the recommended amount isn't, I don't think, enough for two pans of rolls
-use 1.5 or so cups of pecans
-melt the butter for the filling and spread it over the dough, then sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon on--it's just easier to get it even that way

This is a bit time consuming, but fairly straightforward. Rising times are long right now, at least here, because the house is cool and dry, but if you build enough time into making these, that's fine. I make up the pans of rolls (one for us now, one for the freezer), then stick our pan in the fridge until bedtime. I take it out right before bed, and in the morning they're quite well-risen and ready for the oven. Same thing with the frozen ones. Next time I make these, I think I am going to substitute maple syrup for the corn syrup and see how that tastes, since I don't love cooking with corn syrup, but the consistency is necessary to get the sticky topping right.

I'm very happy with the first week of my "cook once a week" experiment. Hopefully this bodes well for the rest of the year!

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April 2012

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