Saturday, November 7, 2009

(My 200th post!) And for dessert . . . a recap

Well, my Real Simple Easy Dinner Challenge has come to an end. Thanks for sticking with me for a whole month as I experimented. Especially thanks to my sweet family for their devotion and perseverance. There were definitely some weird (and yucky) things in these recipes, but there were also lots of new and exotic things we tried that we will try again. Here are the things that I will take from this experience:

  • If it's 4:00 and you don't know what you're having for dinner, the battle is already lost. Having a menu planned out ahead makes cooking every day so much more doable. I knew this before, but it's been probably two years since I did monthly or weekly menus. I am going back to that.

  • It's not only the planning, it's the shopping that counts. How many times do I have something all planned out, the meat thawed or even half-cooked when I realize I'm missing something essential? Well, that was probably the thing I enjoyed about this month's dinners the most: I put in the time at the beginning of the week, so dinner prep was pretty much a no-brainer each night.

  • Trying something new won't kill you, even if you're six and Mom is feeding you green slime from the Black Lagoon. Ah, Calvin has nothing on Isaiah. But, we came through it so well. Katie found a bunch of things she liked, and for that matter so did we all. Plus, there's just something thrilling about shopping in the produce section nowadays. Maybe it's all the hunting for chard and parsnips, but I've learned so much about what certain vegetables look like, how they're cooked, and what they taste like. I'm really looking forward to exploring the farmers' market next spring.

  • I have the most supportive, amazing husband, ever. I'm sure he wishes I'd never started this project, even now that it's over. But he's been so enthusiastic, interested, helpful and cheerful through the whole thing. And Honey, just wait! I've got some of your favorites slated for the next several days. You'll be enjoying dinner again sometime soon ;)

And here are the dishes or parts of dishes I will make again:

  • Beef and Bok Choy Stir-Fry. We love Chinese food, so this was just another great dish to add to the recipe box. I may make it with broccoli next time, though I'll have to experiment a little to get the cooking time figured out.

  • Spicy Orange-Glazed Drumsticks With Green Beans. This whole dinner was awesome, but I can't wait to make fresh green beans again. And barbecue the chicken. Mmmm . . .

  • Pork Tenderloin (Roasted Pork With Brussels Sprouts and Apricots). Although I liked the Brussels sprouts with the apricots, I think I was the only one. However, we all loved the pork tenderloin, it was so juicy and had such a great flavor, I think we'll try roasting that cut of meat again.

  • Sweet Potatoes (Spaghetti With Sweet Potatoes and Ricotta). I am excited to try cooking the sweet potatoes with this method as a side for another dinner!

  • Pork Chops with Garlicky Broccoli. What can I say, I just love broccoli! And our family loves pork chops, so there you go.

  • Goat Cheese Omelet. I may have to wait a while for the right occasion, but I'm looking forward to a chance to make this for a brunch for just me and Adam sometime.

  • Creamy Rice (Creamy Rice With Roasted Shrimp). I have actually already made this again! I really like it, although next time I'm going to experiment with the liquids a bit because Adam thinks it's a bit mushy and doesn't like the texture.

  • Sweet Meatballs (Meatballs With Sauteed Chard). I think I'll make these again with rice and/or broccoli.

  • Shrimp Pot Pie With Fennel. I am interested to try this with chicken. It was so creamy and tasty!

  • Ravioli With Apples and Walnuts. I'm putting this in my "Surprise! Dinner guests!" arsenal. Impressive but quick and easy.

  • Salmon With Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette. This may be the first recipe to go into my box under "seafood." I'll make it with rice next time, though, since we're not couscous lovers.

  • Gnocchi With Roasted Cauliflower. I think I'll roast cauliflower again (as a side dish), because it's the first time I've really liked cauliflower. But if I cook with gnocchi again, it will be in a soup or some such thing because it's pretty bland on it's own.

Thanks for following along with me on this amazing adventure! If you've read, post a comment and let me know what you thought of it. (And tell me what you think of the dinners: the ones that sounded the most tasty, or the most disgusting, etc.


Molly said...

Well, we tried the ravioli the other night. I really liked it. Shane said it was okay and the kids didn't love it. I don't really like ravioli in marinara, so I thought it was great. Lots of the recipes I really can't see us trying.

Rachel said...

That's how I felt, Molly, that not a lot of the recipes really fit our family. But components of them were actually really good after we tried them.

That's cool that you tried the ravioli! Your family's reaction was a lot like mine.