I think I may have mentioned this before, but Will and I love to cook together. Last year we figured out that this is much easier to do on the weekends. So most weeks I pick out a few recipes from various sources for us to try and we go to the store together either Saturday or Sunday morning and follow up with a couple of hours of forced family fun in the kitchen. Then we have several meals for the week prepared that we can freeze or refrigerate and not have to worry about being tempted to grab fast food during the week when things get crazy. It will be interesting to see if we manage to keep this up once our little one arrives.
This week we only made three meals since we have New Year’s in the mix. Also, dad sent us home from Christmas with some yummy turkey soup so we had a head start on meals for the week. All three of these recipes I found thanks to my favorite Buzzfeed contributor, Christine Byrne. Every month she does a “Delicious Things To Cook” post in which she gathers a bunch of recipes from various blogs and compiles them for people like me who are too busy (or lazy) to go finding them on my own.
A little disclaimer: I am not a food photographer. I take all my pictures with my iPhone and usually with less than optimal lighting. So I encourage you to visit the links and check out how these are supposed to look before making any judgements based on my pictures here. That being said, I will post pics of how our version turned out anyway and also let you know if I changed any part of the recipe for our version of it.
Thai Peanut Sauce Spaghetti Squash
Recipe from: leelalicious.com
What we changed: We used cilantro (recipe calls for parsley or cilantro). We used apple cider vinegar, not white vinegar. The recipe calls for crushed peanuts, but I had a little packet of nut topping for baking in the pantry. It was mostly peanuts, but not entirely. We also might have forgotten to drizzle the spaghetti squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt before roasting it, but it seemed to turn out ok. Finally, the recipe says to use 1/4 cup of the sauce for adding the spaghetti squash at the end, but we used 1/3 cup plus a little extra.
My thoughts on the recipe: I really liked that the sauce wasn’t too heavy. This is a light peanut sauce and it has good flavor. I also really like that this is basically a low carb, vegetarian meal. I can’t speak to the actual nutrition facts, but it felt pretty healthy. It did feel like it was missing something though. If I were to make it again, I think I would use more of the sauce and maybe up the amount of red curry paste in the sauce. I just felt like I wanted more flavor. We have some leftovers of this, and I think later this week I will try to add a little bit of chicken and see if that helps.
Overall rating: 6/10
Vegan Caesar Salad
Recipe from: ohsheglows.com
What we changed: We didn’t soak the cashews overnight, but we did soak them for about 4 hours. I thought I had raw sesame seeds at home and didn’t pick any up at the store, but it turns out they were toasted so we used toasted sesame seeds. We left out the optional nutritional yeast. We also didn’t have as big a salad bowl so we used only one head of romaine and one bunch of kale which ended up being about 5 cups of each.
My thoughts on the recipe: I have to admit, this was our first attempt at a vegan recipe. And it was delicious! I really mean it. I was so surprised. I enjoy kale in smoothies and in homemade kale chips, but usually raw kale is just ok in my book. Not in this case. It was the best raw kale I had ever had. The dressing was great and really captured that Caesar flavor. And the chickpeas gave the salad some extra oomph and really made it into a satisfying meal for us. I didn’t get hungry 30 minutes later like I sometimes do when we make a salad for dinner and the meal felt really clean and healthy. We will definitely be making this one again.
Overall rating: 10/10
Crockpot Pulled Pork Chili
Recipe from: howsweeteats.com
What we changed: We used a little more brown sugar than the recipe called for because I was at the very end of the bag. We used a 12-oz beer (which happened to be gluten free) instead of an 8-oz one. Instead of 2 14-oz cans of kidney beans I used one 25-oz can because it was on sale at the store.
My thoughts on the recipe: This recipe was super easy in execution which we loved, but you have to have a lot of time to do it right. We cooked the pork shoulder overnight on Saturday for 10 hours and then let the chili cook for another 7 hours on Sunday. The house did smell amazing. (I think it was driving Tesla crazy – she was right next to me every time I went in the kitchen yesterday and went straight to the crockpot for a good sniff whenever she came in from outside). This made a big batch so we froze half of it (starting to think about having meals ready for when baby comes), and I still think we will have at least 2-3 meals of it for us this week. We haven’t had it as a meal yet so I will update the rating later, but the taste I had when we put it away last night was very promising. It has a really nice smokey flavor from the chipotle pepper and smoked paprika. I was a little worried that it might be a little too spicy for my taste as I was making it (4 tablespoons of chili powder seemed like a lot with chipotle pepper on top of that – but I knew Will would love it so I went with it). But if my taste last night was any indication, it may be just about perfect. It had a kick at the end, but wasn’t too much. We’ll see how that holds up when I eat a full serving.
Update: This recipe did not disappoint. I served it with shredded cheddar, greek yogurt, and chives and Will and I both loved it.
Overall rating: 9/10