This was a week of hits and misses – some dishes were surprisingly good, others were regretfully disappointing.


Lemon-Pepper Tilapia and Potato-Carrot Mash (from A Veggie Venture)


There is nothing all that exciting here. The tilapia has been in the fridge for a while now, part of a bulk purchase of steaks and fish from Steakhouse Steaks. Thankfully, this is the last of that tilapia, which was okay but nothing to crow about. I would have been happier to have the tilapia plain and make my own (better) sauce for it. What it was good for was a quick, easy meal, which is what I wanted on Saturday, so it worked out. But I’m very glad I won’t have to eat that again. I paired it with a potato-carrot mash that I have come to really love. I’ve been making it at least once a month for some time now. My favorite thing about it is that I can make it without adding any milk or cream to it. Instead, the recipe suggests using some reserved cooking liquid to help mash things up. All this needs is a little butter (and a little hot sauce!), and it’s fantastic. A while ago, I made it with sweet potatoes and carrots, and that was even better. It’s also good for using up potatoes and carrots, both of which I had a lot of extra of this week. It’ll serve me for lunches through the week too, which is also a bonus.


Rotini with Chicken & Walnuts (from Ten Dollar Dinners) and Grape Tomatoes with Herbed Bread Crumbs (from Weight Watchers)


I wasn’t overly impressed with this pasta dish. Geordie thinks it can be tweaked into tastiness, but I’m not sure I liked it enough to try. The dominant flavor was garlic – I added a little walnut oil to boost the flavor of the nuts and that helped a little. I like Melissa D’Arabian’s suggestion to add some reserved pasta water to the dish to bring some liquid to it, but it still seemed dry. I added ricotta in hopes of adding creaminess, and that worked a little. I didn’t hate it, it just wasn’t all that great. And it would have been even worse without the tomatoes. They added some extra bursts of flavor and a bit of much needed juiciness. But overall, I doubt I’ll be making the pasta dish again. In defense of the premise, it was a cheap meal. I chose it because I already had all the ingredients in the fridge or the pantry – with the exception of the grape tomatoes, and they were on sale. So, that’s a plus. But other than that, meh. The tomatoes, however, I will definitely do again.


Carrot Cream Soup with Cumin (from Cooking Season by Season)


Well, it should have been a bit creamier, but my half-and-half was starting to go off, so I used Greek yogurt instead. It added creaminess and flavor and made it a whole lot healthier – not that this was unhealthy to begin with. It’s a pound of carrots, a couple cups of vegetable stock, a little fresh orange juice, and the “cream.” And lots of cumin, which made the whole kitchen smell lovely. It went well with some homemade bread and butter. All it really needed was another shot of orange juice. Otherwise, it was quite a tasty and filling meal. Not bad for being vegetarian!


Classic Beef (& Pork) Meatballs with Mushroom-Tomato Sauce (from The Meatball Shop Cookbook)


One word: salty. The sauce nearly ruined this meal. It was so so so salty. I sauteed the mushrooms with a little (pinch) of salt, and then a teaspoon went in with the tomato paste and a 28oz can of diced tomatoes. I don’t know how this got so salty-tasting. Maybe because there was nothing to counter-balance the salty taste? No sugar, nothing vinegary. By itself, it tasted terrible. With a mushroom, it was tolerable. With a meatball and some bread and butter, it was okay to eat. But only okay. I have made much better tomato sauces, and this one will not be repeated. Which makes it the second sauce from this book that I will not make again. Fortunately, the meatballs were quite good. They were supposed to be 100% beef, but I had a premixed beef & pork combo, so I used that. The “secret” ingredient here is ricotta, a meatball additive I hadn’t used yet. It kept the meatballs nice and moist and gave them just a hint of creaminess. I may not do the sauce again, but we would certainly consider doing the ‘balls again. Very nice.


Cheating on Winter Pea Soup (from Around My French Table) with Ham & Cheese Open-Faced Sandwich


I wrote about the soup yesterday, so I’m not going to go into detail about that. It was okay. With the sandwiches, it was pretty darn good. Black Forest ham and Havarti make for a good combination. I added a smear of fig jam to mine, which gave it a bit of sweetness – that was just what this meal needed! It was a nice, light winter meal that makes me feel ready for spring! Or is that the 70°+ temperatures we’ll be having this weekend that makes me feel that way?


Crab & Artichoke Quiche (from The Deen Brothers)


This was my favorite dish of the week. This is not one the Deen Brothers’s healthier meals that they go on and on about these days – it’s an old-fashioned quiche,  full of cream cheese and whole eggs and heavy cream. It is also very filling and very delicious. Geordie thought the crab may have been a little over-powering, and I would agree that it needs more artichokes (and I would probably toast the artichokes a little first, before adding them to the quiche, just to get some color and flavor to them),  but I liked it as-is. I used bottled artichokes this time, but I bet it would be even better with fresh ones. I’d also like to give it a try with some asparagus in place of the artichokes; crab and asparagus sound like a good combination to me. I’ll have to try this one again when spring rolls around.