Blog, Fat Guy Friday

Everything I Tried to Cook in January

Everything I Tried to Cook in January

When I set out my life goals a few years ago, I slid “learn to cook 5 new dishes” onto the list. I remember thinking it would be one of the hardest things on my list.

Considering the goals were my 30-before-30 goals and I was 33 before I accomplished it, I might not have been wrong.

Turns out, when someone gives you the right groceries, cooking is easy.

So, five new meals… I think I’ve got it covered.

The HomeChef Rundown

I’ve already told you about HomeChef, my meal subscription service of choice. So, I need not reiterate how much I love it. I’ll just get into the food.

Lemon-dill Shrimp Couscous
with spinach, peas, radish, and feta

Lemon-dill Shrimp Couscous

I’d never cooked couscous before. I didn’t even know what couscous was, other than it was edible and a funny word.

Now, I know how to cook couscous and I know it is tasty.

See the recipe

Chicken Diane
with mashed potatoes and green beans

Chicken Diane

See the recipe

None of the meals I’ve gotten through HomeChef were bad, but this was my least favorite. Weird because chicken is my primary food of choice.

Still, I think stacking it up against all the other chicken things I’ve learned to cook in the last four months is unfair to Chicken Diane.

I didn’t dig this recipe as much as others. It was good, but not great.

Pork Chop and Cranberry Mostarda
with roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts

Pork Chop and Cranberry Mostarda

Growing up, pork chops came in three varieties:

  • Covered in a thick layer of lemon pepper, then broiled
  • Floured and fried, or
  • Floured, fried, then baked in mushroom gravy

These are fine ways to cook a pork chop, but, I like knowing others.

I enjoyed this recipe and could see myself making it again. If there weren’t always new recipes to try.

Side note: Before I started my HomeChef journey, I didn’t realize I liked Brussels sprouts or asparagus and they are now in my top 5 vegetables.

Also, I didn’t know Brussels sprouts were a proper noun. The things you learn.

See the recipe

Pork Shumai Meatballs
with ponzu dipping sauce, sugar snap peas, and rice

Pork Shumai Meatballs

I’ve eaten Chinese food my entire life but don’t think I’ve ever had shumai before. It is a shame. If my local all-you-can-eat buffet had these on the steamer, I’d still be there gnawing on them.

This recipe also official marks my ability to say, I am no longer afraid to touch ground meat with my bare hands.

Double win.

See the recipe

Parmesan-Crusted Salmon
with fresh arugula salad and basil-balsamic vinaigrette

Parmesan Crusted Salmon

I’ve been eating a lot more fish as a byproduct of this journey. I like fish and it is much easier to cook than I thought.

You might notice how pale my crust is on the salmon in the picture. If you click the recipe link below, you’ll see what the crust should look like. All golden brown and wonderful.

I cooked mine for an eternity but couldn’t get it to brown. I don’t know what I did wrong.

Still tasted good though.

I wish I could have that awesome crust.

And here’s a tip for you. I found a canister of panko at the Dollar Tree. My frugal shadow-self wants me to try making this recipe again using tilapia from the Dollar Tree, too. I think my ego is egging it on just so I can say, “I made this semi-gourmet meal for less than $3.”

See the recipe

London Broil Sirloin Steak
with grilled zucchini and sweet potato fries

London Broil and Sweet Potato Fries

I like steak and part of me associates steak with being a treat-food. You can only have it so often. Since all the HomeChef meals cost the same, I picked a lot of steak at the beginning.

I realize there are only so many ways to cook steak. It’s always a good choice, but it isn’t very adventurous.

Sturdy. Dependable.

Exactly what you expect from a London Broil.

See the recipe

Hawaiian BBQ Pork Medallions
with pineapple-Sriracha glaze and sesame slaw

Hawaiian BBQ Pork

This one is a definite contender for meal of the month. The glaze and sriracha were marvelous together.

Since HomeChef has a minimum of 2 servings per meal, I put a serving back and get six days worth of food from 3 meals.

Not this time.

This meal was so good, I snarfed it down.

Snarfed hard.

See the recipe

Shrimp and Sweat Pea Risotto
with sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan

Shrimp and sweet pea risotto

The entire time I was cooking the risotto, I had this sick feeling Gordon Ramsey would bust through my back door and call me a donkey.

Turns out, he’s right to bitch at people who screw up a risotto. It isn’t hard to cook.

Sure, mine wasn’t perfect, but it was good. I avoided my donkey moment.

Also, I’m getting good at cooking shrimp.

See the recipe

Sirloin Steak and Brown Butter Bordelaise
with Brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes

Sirloin steak with brown butter borderlaise

Brown butter is just butter you cooked too long.

So, like I said with the London Broil, I picked a lot of steak. This recipe made me stop.

It was okay, but not great. I think I’m burnt out on steak.

Also, there may be buyer’s remorse on this recipe because I picked the steak because it was steak and missed out on other intriguing recipes.

This is about broadening my horizons.

See the recipe

Steelhead Trout Nicoise
with warm potato and spinach salad

Steelhead Trout Nicoise

I liked the salad. I’ve never had a warm salad before and it was good.

But, I loved the trout and its crunchy, crispy skin.

My mom would hate this recipe. She doesn’t like her fish to taste very fishy.

But, I do and I only have to cook for myself.

#UpsideToBeingForeverAlone

See the recipe

Acapulco Beef Burger
with Chihuahua cheese, fresh pico de gallo, and cilantro-lime fries

Acapulco Burger

This is my other contender for meal of the month.

You’ll notice I have both burgers on my plate. I didn’t think I had enough fries. Fries are meant to be the filler in a burger and fries combo.

I thought I could eat both burgers in one sitting.

I was wrong.

It was delicious and filling. The chihuahua cheese—which in my head-cannon is cheese made by milking tiny dogs—was tasty.

I ate all of my fries with the one meal, but it was okay. I had enough pico de gallo left to eat with some tortilla chips for a second meal.

So. Damn. Good.

See the recipe

Mojito Lime Chicken
with roasted cauliflower and blistered tomato-jalapeno relish

Mojito Lime Chicken

Cilantro mus be in season right now or something. Both my Acapulco burger and the mojito lime chicken had fresh cilantro in the recipe.

I’ve decided it is my favorite herb. It is easy to chop.

But, it seems every time I get cilantro I have to zest a lime.

Zesting has become my least favorite cooking chore. Maybe because I own a tiny box grater with a 1″ square for zesting and it is very tedious.

I refuse to spend $15 on a zesting file, though.

Oh, and if you’re cooking with jalapeno, don’t think, “I can just nibble on one of these slices for a second.” If you do, have a drink handy.

See the recipe

Other things I cooked this month

HomeChef only covers my dinners on six days each week, so I do still have to cook other things. This is just using up the chicken breasts I accidentally bought in bulk back in December, but I made something I want to talk about.

For my monthly dinner with the folks, I made Pioneer Woman’s Hot wings. They turned out great and were better than the frozen store-bought hot wings.

But, not enough to justify the amount of work it takes to make them or the added cost.

I’m glad I put the effort into making a batch from scratch. It was a good learning experience.

If I do them again, though, I’ll try breading the wings with a cayenne pepper breading before I fry them. I like my wings crunchy.

My dad thinks we should try finishing them up on the barbecue grill this summer.

One of those is likely to happen. I’ll let you know how it goes after the billion feet of snow melts away.

So, there you go. All the food I cooked in January. Or, at least what is worth talking about. I get another HomeChef box today and it kicks off my February meals.

Looking at the next six weeks gets me excited. Today’s box is the last time I have steak on my schedule. I would’ve skipped it, but it is another Gordon Ramsey dish and I don’t want to lose any opportunity to stand in my kitchen shouting about donkeys.

I’ll let you know how it goes next month.

Published by M.A. Brotherton

M.A. Brotherton is a writer, blogger, artist, and fat-kid from the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. He’s tasted a little bit of everything the Midwest has to offer, ranging from meth-tweaking rednecks in massive underground cave complexes to those legendary amber waves of grain. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time screwing around on the internet.