Everything I cooked in April

I spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen in April. It was a good month for me. I learned two great lessons, and I made some truly awesome food.

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The Home Chef Meals

Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Brussels sprouts and cranberries

Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Real maple syrup isn’t very thick. It runs almost as well as water. This was a complete surprise to me. But, it was much better than the dyed corn syrup I normally use.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the dyed corn syrup.

Brussels sprouts are becoming one of my favorite vegetables and mixing them with cranberries is a genius idea. This entire meal was solid and stable. It’s the kind of meal you keep in your arsenal.

Not a first date meal, but definitely something you might cook in the first month.

Bone-In Pork Chop with Honey Mustard Cream with miso-roasted fingerling potatoes and asparagus

Bone-in Pork Chop with Honey Mustard Cream

I prefer pork chops to steak. This is something I’ve suspected about myself for a long time but am now 100% prepared to admit.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with this meal. Sadly, the rest of this month showed is so brightly that this delicious pork chop became my least favorite meal of the month.

I feel for this pork chop. In months past, it could’ve been a contender.

Buttery Chicken and Waffles with scrambled eggs and hot sauce

Chicken and Waffles

Believe it or not, this was the first time in my entire life I have had chicken and waffles. Seems almost blasphemous I waited this long. I like everything about this meal.

Fried chicken breast, check. Scrambled eggs, check. Hot sauce, check.

The waffles I got from home chef are basically frozen waffles. Except, these waffles weren’t frozen, and they tasted phenomenal. There was a definite powdered sugar vibe to them. Almost like eating French toast.

I will probably be singing this meal’s praises on my deathbed. (75,000 years from now as the nuclear battery powering my robot body finally gives out.)

BBQ Gouda Juicy Lucy with crispy onions and macaroni salad

BBQ Gouda Juicy Lucy

I learned credibly important lesson from this burger. Gouda is the best cheese for a cheeseburger. Hands down.

I am not normally a fan of macaroni salad, but; I think maybe I’m just not a fan of grocery store macaroni salad. I really enjoyed this macaroni salad. I couldn’t tell you why. It just tasted good.

This is one of those meals it makes you really rethink cheeseburgers. I love a good burger. But, my bar for what is a good burger has been raised.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana with bacon and pecorino garlic bread

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce the name of this dish but it was great. Basically, this is spaghetti made with bacon.

Really good spaghetti made with really good bacon.

This recipe also taught me how to crispy fried bacon. This is a skill I have needed my entire life and until I made this dish, never learned.

No more store by bacon bits for this fat guy. I get the premium experience.

Grilled Pork Chop with Whole Grain Dijon Sauce with red potatoes and green beans

Grilled Pork Chop with Whole-Grain Dijon Sauce

Another solid pork chop. I got to use my grill pan several times this month. You can say there is no truth to it all you want, but, we both know food really does taste better with grill marks.

Another meal I’d be happy to serve my family.

Thai-Style Yellow Curry Chicken with roasted carrots and cauliflower rice

Thai Chicken

I never thought I’d learn to cook anything curry. I am allergic to coconut. But, then I found out you can replace coconut milk with both soy and almond milk.

I went with almond milk.

I’m glad I did. This was a treat for me. I really wanted to branch out with different cultures as I learned to cook. One more nation under my belt.

My only complaint is calling it “cauliflower rice.”

It is pounded cauliflower. I put the cauliflower in a Ziploc bag and whacked it with a can until it was little pieces resembling rice. Looking like rice does not make it rice.

Although, I prefer the smashed cauliflower.

Parsley-Caper Pork Medallions with warm cauliflower salad

Parsley-Caper Pork Tenderloin

I have mastered the technique of using my vegetable peeler to turn carrots into fancy ribbons. This is the second meal I’ve used it on and I’m getting pretty good at it.

It wasn’t my favorite meal of the month, but I really enjoyed it.

When I think about the type of recipe, I would pass on as a staple food of my midwestern culture, this is one of those foods.

Even if I’m still not sure what capers are.

Spinach-Artichoke Chicken with roasted broccoli and radishes

Spinach-Artichoke Chicken

“So full. So extremely happy.”

Those are the exact words I use to describe my spinach-artichoke chicken. It was a glorious meal.

All those vegetables. All that chicken. Brilliant.

Greek Zucchini Quesadillas with tomato and Kalamata olive salsa

Greek Zucchini Quesadillas

I promise myself I was going to eat at least one vegetarian meal every month. This month, it was Greek zucchini quesadillas.

I was very happy with them and happy to learn the correct way of making a quesadilla. It was actually easier than I thought.

I do have a bit of a hangup when it comes to fusion cuisine though. I like Greek food. I like Mexican food. I liked this Greek/Mexican mix. But, some part of me has a hard time calling this a quesadilla. I feel like quesadilla is more than just a tortilla shell you full and half and then grill.

I could be wrong. I’m not a chef and I don’t really know anything about Mexico. I learned about Mexican food from Taco Bell.

Side note: I need to remind myself I like zucchini more often. I always forget.

Weeknight Chicken Fajitas with Chihuahua cheese and cilantro cream

I made these fajitas on Tuesday. They are not tacos, but, I still don’t know anything about Mexico. From henceforth, I will assume anything made with a tortilla is acceptable for #TacoTuesday. If you want to be a purist, you can refer to it as #TortillaTuesday instead.

Fajitas a really good. But, I have a complaint.

Home Chef did not send me the taco seasoning this recipe calls for. I had to run across the street to the grocery store and buy emergency taco seasoning.

But, I am grateful. My desperation for taco seasoning motivated several Facebook friends to share their homemade taco seasoning recipes and secrets with me.

I love tacos.

I will never be taco listen again.

Also, this is the second time I’ve used Chihuahua cheese. I didn’t think I would like cheese that comes from milking a dog, but is wrong. Sadly, they do not sell dog cheese at my grocery store.

Buttermilk-Ranch Chicken with mashed carrots and green beans

Buttermilk-ranch chicken

After posting this picture on Instagram and Facebook, I realized how few of my friends actually know anything about food.

I botched this recipe. This is a buttermilk-ranch sauce.

Does anything in the name implied to you this sauce should be brown? No. I do think so.

I burned my gravy. I screwed up.

It was still good if slightly blackened.

I’m just a little nervous about how many people liked my ruined gravy. Or, they might just like the fact that I’m willing to admit that I’m still not great at this.

Everything in this recipe is available at my local store, so I’m I going get it and try again.

My own inventions

This month, instead of just relying on a food delivery service to send me ingredients and recipes, item by myself to invent my own foods. I did a pretty decent job. I’m happy with the results.

Plus, it makes me feel like a boss.

Homemade Steak Fingers and Mac ‘N’ Cheese

What do you do when steak is on sale? You make steak fingers, of course.

I made all of this bill from scratch. These steak fingers were made from cheap steak, and the macaroni and cheese was made from macaroni… And… Cheese…

I did make one mistake. Well, I made several mistakes, it was a learning curve. The error not related to my gross incompetence was picking the wrong cheese for my mac & cheese.

I went with Monterey Jack. I wanted to try something different, and it did not work out the way I wanted it to.

I also tried a technique where you mix flour in the hot milk then melt the cheese into it. I’m not sure I did that right, either.

Basically, my mac & cheese tasted like paper. Next time, I’ll stick to cheddar (or take a lesson from my mom and use Velveeta).

Homemade Turkey Burger and Home-style Fries

I went to the store with one goal in mind: cook the best burger I have ever cooked.

I succeeded.

Yes, it is a turkey burger. This is because turkey is better for you. Now, I’m just kidding. Ground turkey is two dollars per pound cheaper than ground beef.

You thought I’d care about what’s good for me.

I put a significant amount of work in this burger. I sliced fresh tomatoes and onions, and by pickles sliced for burgers. I got my hands on sriracha ketchup. I buy bakery fresh buns.

It was marvelous.

The burger itself was a double quarter pounder with Gouda.

It turns out, a double quarter pound turkey burger with Gouda on a cabatta bun is too much turkey burger for even this fat guy.

Fortunately, I had a plan the whole time.

Homemade Turkey Burger Leftovers Salad

A plan called leftover salad.

I knew I bought too much ground turkey. So, I also bought a spinach and spring green salad mix. All I had to do was get busy with my knife on the remaining 2/4 pound turkey burgers, onions, tomatoes, and cheese.

I also made my own salad dressing. Equal parts all of oil and Balsamic vinegar. It was good.

I am very proud of myself for these two meals. I kicked to that ground turkey is butt.

Homemade Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Fries

Spicy Chicken Sandwich

My favorite Wendy sandwich is the spicy chicken sandwich. I wanted to make one on my own. I succeeded, mostly.

My father and I have been trying to figure out how to add the spiciness to fried chicken for years. We were focusing on the branding. It made the most sense.

I learned the secret shortly before cooking this spicy chicken sandwich.

Makes hot sauce into the egg wash.

It worked. This was a delicious sandwich on a bakery fresh hoagie bun.

The French fries are also made from scratch. They didn’t come out quite as crispy as I was hoping, but I also didn’t double cook them.

This is the meal I learned how tired I get when I eat carbs. I fell asleep less than 45 minutes after eating this meal and felt like crap all day the next day.

Still, worth it.

I learned a valuable lesson: Don’t touch hot pans

My cast iron skillet was on my stove from the night before. I had it sitting on a burner and thought I had turned on the burner behind it. Turns out, I heated my cast-iron skillet up pretty well.

Then, I realized it was in the way and needed to be put in its proper place. So, I grabbed the handle, lifted off the stove, and before my brain registered the handle was warm, I slapped the bottom of that skillet like I was a professional marching bongo player.

I burned the crap out of my hand.

Fortunately, after following all the horrible medical advice from “medical professionals” on WebMD, I stumbled across a YouTube channel dedicated to old-time remedies. It taught me I could use a cold, wet tea bag to cure burn.

Five minutes later, my hand was functional. A week later, I can’t even tell it was burned.

Thank you, old-time remedies.

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