In my last post I shared the new recipes I was planning to try for the new year. Here are the results. All in all this was a success, even if it did have its challenges. There were points I wanted to just make an easy family favorite and call it a night. Plus I did have to adjust my time frame a little to allow for leftovers. My husband raved about one of the recipes and has requested I make it again. The others were good, but each needed a few changes if I made them again. I’ve listed the recipes below in order of our preference, Number Seven being our least favorite and Number One our most favorite. The rating is based on how much we enjoyed each dish, how kid-friendly it was, if it was an easy weeknight dish, and how likely I am to make them again.
#7: Garlic Honey Chicken in the slow cooker– I know that chicken breasts are the go-to health cut of meat, but they just don’t have enough fat to hold up to the slow cooker. The sauce was nice and really helped since my chicken was over cooked and dry. If I made this again I’d use chicken thighs and add a can of diced pineapples to add a little acidity to the party.
#6: Butternut Squash Soup in the slow cooker – I love the idea of soup in the slow cooker. You toss in wonderful vegetables with some chicken broth and let it cook away. We used homemade turkey stock leftover from the holidays and had very high hopes based on the smell as it cooked. In the end it was a very healthy soup, but a little one-dimensional. If I made it again I’d start with a roux (butter and flour cooked, then add in the liquid) to form a thick creamy base for the soup. A roux however does take away some of the simplicity of the toss-and-go method of the slow cooker.
#5: Alton Brown’s Lamb Shoulder Chops with Red Wine- The only reason this one isn’t higher on my list is because my four year old wouldn’t eat it. I don’t think she liked the smell of the rosemary in the braising liquid. The sauce was incredible. I used dried apricots and dried cranberries because that’s what I had on hand and it worked wonderfully together. To be sure, I also used boneless pork chops (because I had them already) and they didn’t have enough fat to stand up to the cooking time. I should have known better.
#4: Chicken Pinwheels – This was a great way to use food from my refrigerator that my children loved. Instead of canned cranberry sauce I used the leftover cranberry dipping sauce I had made earlier in the week. I did only put the cranberry sauce on half of the roll because I wasn’t sure my girls would go for it. Which did turn out to be a good idea. One thing I learned was that when rolling up it does need be pretty tight in order to make a pretty pinwheel when cut. This would have been easier if the dough was colder. I had it sitting out for several minutes before I was ready to roll.
#3: King Ranch Casserole– The flavors in this dish were great and it made several servings. However the recipe called for 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and 1 1/2-2 cups of chicken broth. This was way too much liquid. Next time I will only use one of the soups and maybe half of the chicken broth. Assembly and baking were nice and easy for a weeknight meal, plus it was child approved in my house. (And wasn’t bad for breakfast either.)
#2: Baked Bow-tie Pasta with Winter Squash- What a quick and easy weeknight meal. (If I had followed the recipe exactly) The flavors were great. The two things I did wrong were using fresh squash (which was only wrong because of the time it took to peal, cut and precook it) and I used corkscrew noodles because I ran out of bow-ties. The corkscrews didn’t go as well with the sauce. The good addition I made was adding sausage to the dish. It gave the whole thing a nice smokey flavor and tied everything together. I foresee trying this one again for pasta Thursdays.
#1: Goat Cheese and Leek Tarts– Everything about this one was great. The goat cheese wasn’t exactly kid friendly, but because you are making individual tarts that’s an easy thing to fix. I’ve worked with puff pastry in the past, and not had great success with it. This recipe gives wonderful instructions for getting the nice tart shape out of the puff pastry. I used more of my cranberry sauce on top, just because it was what I had on hand. Next time I will try it with the apricot preserve. And there will be a next time.
If you try one of these recipes let me know how it worked out for you and if you liked it or not.