New feature: Recipe Review!

16 Jan

One of my quasi-resolutions for this year is to start cooking more and to try new recipes while doing so. Cookbook Club has officially surpassed the one year mark (woot!) and is still going strong, and through our chef-centric meetings I have definitely cooked out of my comfort zone many times in the past year. But we only meet once a month and, especially as work got busier toward the end of the year, I found myself practically ONLY cooking for cookbook club, and increasingly looking for simpler recipes. The chef for our next meeting is Rick Bayless and, because I couldn’t get the day off to cook, I’m finding myself in the same boat this time around – I’ve either got to find something more complex that I can make the night before, or make something very simple the night-of. Since I’m not always able to get my cooking fix fully sated by Cookbook Club (and since, even if I am, it only occurs once a month), this year I’m also turning to Pinterest for inspiration.

Recently, my mom and I were talking about how many things we pin that we never look at again – I pointed out, “I probably have enough recipes pinned to make one new dish a day for a whole year, and I haven’t tried a single one”. When I got home, I took a look back at all of the recipes and tips I have pinned on my “Foodstuffs” board on Pinterest – there are actually *only* 189 pins currently (although I add to it pretty regularly), but that’s plenty to be getting on with. This year, I will cook recipes found through Pinterest and review them here.

Part of the impetus for this is also my poor, deprived husband. We work opposite schedules and I am constantly out with friends or my family – he is more of a homebody, especially on his working days, and actually generally likes to spend his money elsewhere than on dining out, whereas I am a definite foodie and I dine out often. All of which is to say: we don’t share meals very often. This year I declared Tuesdays “our day”. It’s the last of my two days off each week, and it’s one of his longest, most tedious days at work due to being in meetings all day. I’m trying to mellow out and get to bed a little earlier since I return to work the next day, and he is just trying to relax after his most hectic day of the week – it seemed a natural candidate for a day when I could stay in and cook a meal that we can share together. And instead of turning to my few old standbys, I’m now turning to Pinterest (and the food blogs these recipes are pinned from) to try new dishes. This is also a great way to find recipes that are more up Trevor’s alley – most of my standbys are just that – MY standbys: he doesn’t necessarily love them just because I do.  After our dinner tonight, I told him I have been looking for more “meat-and-potatoes” recipes and he asked why. I said, “Well, you’re kind of a meat-and-potatoes guy, right?” and he replied, “More meat than potatoes” – which, really, I think just proves my point.

Tonight I made Cowboy Casserole from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary blog. I had pinned this recipe almost a year ago and never looked at it again until my more recent searches for Trevor-friendly food. It uses canned Cream of Mushroom soup, something I have staunchly avoided as I am neither a mushroom fan nor a fan of retro Frankenstein casseroles. Don’t get me wrong, I love casseroles – I just don’t trust those that use ingredients such as cans of soup, packages of gravy powder, canned vegetables, and the like. They come from a simpler time – when we didn’t know enough to distrust packaged and processed foods the way we do now. For reasons I can’t fully explain beyond saying that they just kind of grossed me out, I have always stayed clear of these types of casseroles. Until now.

First, despite the blogger’s “looks like dog food, tastes delicious” disclaimer, the picture of Cowboy Casserole that I had pinned looked like tater-tot-shepherd’s-pie and it looked delicious to me. Second, tater tots. Third, tater tots. Fourth…well, you get where I’m going with this. I love tater tots! Despite my abhorrence for all casserole recipes using processed/packaged/canned elements, I actually eat a lot of frozen food. Mostly, because it’s really convenient when you routinely work until 9pm or later to be able to come home, pop something in the microwave, and eat 5 minutes later. Fifth compelling reason to make this dish? MEAT. Since Trevor is basically a carnivore AND the dish involved my beloved tater tots AND it was described by the creator as a “stick to your ribs” kind of meal, I decided to brave the condensed cream of mushroom soup AND canned corn to try this recipe.

And it WAS delicious, guys! And it does look kind of like dog food, once you scoop into it, but it is still DELICIOUS. There is nothing mushroom-y about this casserole, despite having cream of mushroom soup in it, so put those worries to rest (or be disappointed if you love mushrooms, I guess). It was super easy and relatively quick to throw together, and this dish could easily serve a crowd – with only two of us, we will likely have leftovers for days. This would be a great potluck and/or family dish – there’s a lot to go around and it is very filling. 

cowboycasserole

 

Cowboy Casserole, Grade: A

Notes/variations: I used regular tater tots because my grocery store doesn’t carry the Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns – I also used the generic brand, all of which worked just fine. I keep my two oven racks pretty low/high, so I switched from the top rack to the bottom rack for the last 10 minutes or so, just to make sure the top didn’t get too browned. She doesn’t say in her recipe, but I sauteed the onions and garlic in a little butter and I did not put foil over the casserole at any point in the baking process.

Here, again, is a link to the recipe from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary blog. FYI she notes that the recipe is adapted from a recipe on Taste of Home.

Here is the direct link to repin the original image/link. Or you can just pin off my own image if you want it to lead here. If you were referred here by Pinterest, thanks for visiting!

 

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