Recipe reviews: NSFD rankings

When I rocked the cubicle (for the six years leading up until last August), Mr. T was always careful to label suggestive or irreverent emails “NSFW” i.e. Not safe for work. I may have to start labeling my recipes not safe for diets because I have several that, while utterly delicious, will not help you with your resolutions. But, as my goals include trying 25 new recipes, they certainly help with mine! In any case, here are some notes on recent recipes that you might enjoy.

NSFD Rankings:
*= Good nutritional value, not outrageously high in fat and calories
**= Decent nutritional value, relatively high in fat and calories, to be eaten in moderation
***= Nutritional value, what’s that?! Really high in fat and calories, should never appear in a healthy person’s diet, but way too damn good to resist on occasion.

Oven Roasted Potatoes*

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My dinner cooking tendencies are on a spectrum–either highly simplistic pieces (meat, potato, veggie) or complex one or two-dish extravaganzas. A couple weeks ago, I was looking for a complement to some tasty kielbasa, and instead of noodles, I tried these surprisingly wonderful potatoes. The recipe is quite simple and open for interpretation but it basically boasts herbs and more herbs. (Or herbies, as they are known in my house). I axed the parsley because it does not rock my world, and the dill because I’m out, and added cayenne, sage and paprika. The result was intensely flavorful with a light kick. Not too spicy and not overwhelmingly herby. In response to some of the recipe reviewers, I chopped up a red onion to roast alongside the potatoes. Delish! Next time, I’ll probably leave the skins on or use whole red potatoes. Click here to find the recipe.

Luscious Lemon Bars***

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One of my favorite desserts ever, I may be abstaining from lemon bars for the foreseeable future now that I know what’s in ’em. (Although who am I kidding, if I had lemon juice in the house right now, I’d be tempted to whip up a pan.) I made these bars for a Christmas party and was delighted by the lemony goodness and thick shortbread crust. I followed the reviews and doubled the filling to improve the filling-crust ratio, although it screwed up my cooking time. I doubled the cooking time and I think the filling was overdone, resulting in a thicker filling crust which separated from the shortbread crust when cut up. Still tasted delicious though! For next time, I would reduce cooking time and add lemon zest to the filling for extra oomph. See here for the “best” lemon bars.

The Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Cacciatore*

Photo Credit

As I am wont to do when I should be completing homework, I perused my Google Reader lists last week and found that my blog friend Karen at Gravy Training made a scrumptious looking chicken cacciatore (complete with photos!). When I realized the recipe came The Pioneer Woman, I thought I’d give it a try. Well, everything was great until I made an “epic” error and subbed in a big can of crushed tomatoes for the required diced or whole tomatoes. Ugh. Instead of ending up with a multi-colored plate of perfect chicken and veggies with a savory gravy (see left), I had a big ol’ pan of tomato-dominated chicken stew. Don’t get me wrong, it was delectable–really, the chicken was so tender and the flavors were well, flavorful–it just wasn’t “right.” After spending two hours on a recipe, I wanted it to look like the damn picture! Alas, next time. Check out the recipe here.

The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls****

Smells better than Cinnabon, I swear. (Aim your eyes at 10:00, them rolls are in focus.)
This is where T and I sampled to make sure they weren’t poison before he took the remaining pans to work. I highly recommend sprinkling pecan chips in when you lather on the butter, cinnamon and sugar before rolling. Trust me on this.

So you will notice that my NSFD ranking goes to three stars. Well, this recipe needs four. These rolls changed my life (and probably my cholesterol level). They need four stars. You may have noticed my Pioneer Woman crush lately and I blame sister Emily for getting me hooked on the blog and then giving me the cookbook for Christmas. I have no regrets*! And you won’t either when you make these ooowy gooey wonderfully warm and soul satisfying cinnamon rolls. A few words to the wise: You need counter space. Lots! I set up four feet to roll out the dough and it was nowhere near enough. Also, as she explains in the recipe, freshly made dough is hard to work with. Next time, I will refrigerate mine for a few hours (or overnight) so that it is easier to handle. Because of the soft dough and inadequate rolling on my part, my cinnamon rolls ended up inconsistently sized (not that anyone complained!), but the baking was somewhat uneven. And you will want to keep an eye on the oven during baking. Some of my rolls went from undercooked to a bit over-brown in what seemed like seconds! Check out the recipe here and PW’s notes on cinnamon rolls here.

Scharffenberger Inspired Silky Chocolate Pudding**

 

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In order to make the cinnamon rolls above, I required whole milk which we never keep in the house. Post-roll adventure, I was left with half a carton and considered for a moment pouring it down the sink. (Really, I would wait until it went bad and THEN pour it down the sink). I’m not a milk drinker and I don’t appreciate the extra fat and calories in the whole variety. But then, I stumbled upon this simple recipe for silky chocolate pudding and I thought: What a great way to use up my milk. Waste not, want not, right?? In any case, I put together this fairly simple pudding featuring whole milk, corn starch, sugar, dark chocolate and vanilla. Creamy, rich and decidedly addicting, I’m afraid I’m forsaking Mr. Cosby’s J-E-L-L-OOOOO from here on out. A couple notes: You need a double boiler which I’m pleased to have made friends with in the last month and you will want to let the pudding cool a bit before putting it in the fridge. I poured mine into dishes, covered them with saran and then immediately popped them into the icebox. Condensation ruined my “pudding skin” although it didn’t seem to hurt the quality of the pudding overall. Check out the recipe here from Smitten Kitchen.

Happy eating!

xoxo,
shawna

* Largely because my jeans still fit. 😉

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