More recipes

I’ve been on another new-recipe kick lately. Many of the recipes I used to use a lot have dairy, and many of them use a lot of meat. In my quest to avoid dairy and cook cheaper meals, I’ve tried these recipes.

Lentil Tomato Soup

I’d never cooked with lentils before, but I’ve heard people say they’re delicious. I searched for a recipe that sounded good, that everyone in our family could agree on, and that didn’t contain any difficult-to-find ingredients. I tasted the lentils before adding the tomatoes and thought they were amazing. After adding the tomatoes, however, I thought the dish was just so-so. We all ate it, but it was a bit thick for my tastes. Granny would probably love it—you could almost stand a spoon up in it. Also, I couldn’t help feeling like I was eating spaghetti sauce, except with lentils instead of meat. Grade: C.

Nuevo Chipotle Beef

I watched a national beef cookoff on the Food Network, and this is the recipe that won the grand prize and $50,000. Of course I had to try it. The only ingredient I didn’t have on hand was the chipotle pepper (I used canned instead of dried crushed). I found it easily at a regular grocery store, and it was about $0.50 for the can. Not bad. The beef was easy to assemble and tasty to eat. It was spicy, rich, smoky, tender, and a tiny bit sweet. (Note: Jon Boy thought it was okay but not sensational.) I served it with Spanish rice, which I kind of threw together without a recipe, and which left much to be desired. Next time I’ll actually look up a recipe for that. I also steamed some yellow squash as a side instead of serving over the banana squash boats. Grade: A–.

Lasagna Toss Bolognese

Lasagna is one of Jon Boy’s very favorite dishes. Unfortunately for him, I don’t like cheese, and it’s way too much work for something I can only barely get myself to eat. Thus, we probably have lasagna about once a year. So when I saw this recipe, it caught my eye. It’s fast to make, and the cheese is added at the end (the mozzarella into the sauce, and the ricotta mixture as a topping). It would be easy, then, to separate out my portion of the sauce before adding the mozzarella. That way, lasagna can become a meal we have every few weeks.

Now, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. In fact, I kind of made it my own. For the tomato meat sauce, I used my mother-in-law’s fantastic sauce recipe instead of “doctoring up” a jar of pasta sauce. For the ricotta mixture, I just used the canned parmesan cheese instead of freshly grated Pecorino Romano. It probably wasn’t as good, but it was also significantly easier and cheaper. I also used dried basil instead of fresh.

The result was pretty good, though. I should have cooked the lasagna noodles even longer than I did. Jon Boy said the ricotta topping was quite good. Without cheese, I found it kind of dull, which surprised me. But I’ll probably make this fairly often from now on. Grade: B.

I’m sure there will be more posts like this one to come because I still need to replace some tried-and-true recipes.

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