Why am I talking about food so much? Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I like cooking and baking. And right now, it’s one of the few things that gets me up and active during the day. And, honestly, it’s the only thing I’m doing that’s worth blogging about right now. By going back and looking at what I accomplished during the week, I feel better about myself and tackling new food challenges in the future.

I tried a few different things the past couple weeks, because I always like to try new things in the kitchen. I forget what day we had what, so I’ll just number ’em. Just to note: I’m not so great at food presentation. I just don’t concern myself with it, primarily because we’re a self-service type of family. I do like to keep my plate neat, however, because I’m not keen on letting my various food items touch. But no real effort goes into makng it look prettier – it just is what it is.

Meal #1: chicken with orange-caper sauce, twice-baked potatoes, and corn.

twice-baked potato, orange-caper chicken, corn

The chicken could have been much better. To be precise, the orange could have been better. The chicken was cooked perfectly, and the capers gave it a nice flavor. But the orange was too sour. A mandarin might have been better. Or maybe a blood orange! That would have made for some fun coloring! Also, I had to adjust the amount of liquid because there just wasn’t much of a sauce there. Not too bad, and it could probably be better with some adjustments. [note: I seem to have misplaced the recipe for this dish. It was a recipe card from Publix, and I can’t find it online either. I’ll update when I do find it!] I hadn’t made twice-baked potatoes in forever, and they were delish. I just mixed up the potato with half a container of one of the Philadelphia cooking cremes (plus a lot of extra seasonings – those things are pretty bland). Definitely something to do again.

Meal #2: spinach-rice casserole, (leftover) corn

spinach-rice casserole, corn

spinach-rice casserole, corn

I’d been craving tofu – that happens sometimes. I found this casserole, which uses spinach, tomatoes, brown rice, and tofu. I had to season it like a madwoman, but it turned out better than I expected. Also, it was not every attractive. But it made wonderful leftovers, and I’ll definitely make it again.

Meal #3: vegetarian barley casserole, carrots & sultanas

carrots & sultanas, vegetable barley risotto with sundried tomatoes and pesto

I wanted a recipe to use up some barley I still had in the pantry. This was . . . interesting. It was very flavorful, what with the sun-dried tomatoes and pesto mixed in. I wasn’t happy with the texture of the barley risotto, so I’ll try to do better with that next time. This was also good as leftovers, hot or cold (according to my brother’s roommate). The side is just a mix of carrots and sultanas (golden raisins), sprinkled with brown sugar.

Meal #4: carrot soup, oven-fried chicken, polenta with sundried tomato butter

creamy carrot soup

polenta and oven-fried chicken with sundried tomato compound butter

I like soups, and I like carrots, so this was a win for me. It required a lot more seasoning and a little more cream than the recipe calls for, though. Also, a couple drops of our Japanese rāyu (chili oil) punched it up nicely. The oven-fried chicken is a recipe from the Calorie Countdown Cookbook, and it is my absolute favorite way to cook chicken. It always comes out perfect and moist. It’s marinated in buttermilk, which gives it a wonderful tang in addition to holding in moisture. It’s tasty by itself, but it’s absolutly wonderful when it has a sauce to go with it. Instead of a sauce, I made a compound butter with marinated sundried tomatoes and some herbs. Perhaps not the healthiest way to go about things, but it tasted so good. I also put the butter on the hot baked polenta, which I liked quite a bit. I had never had polenta before, much less made it, and I was pleased with my first effort. We had plenty of leftover polenta, and I snacked on it all weekend long, heating it up with a little butter and maple syrup. Yum! Probably my favorite new thing from this week, something I’ll gladly make over and over again!

So, that’s that! I’ll probably start to make talking about food a weekly thing. Baking and cooking for me is somewhat theraputic, and I love to share what I’m making.  And maybe I can share a few new recipes too. I’ve got so many saved up, it’s time I started giving them a try!

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