Sunday, August 31, 2008

change in plans

After I had made out my menu plan last Monday, tigergirl made a transportation request so that she could return to the nest for part of the long weekend. So, instead of making the Asian Roast Chicken, we left from church to provide chauffeur service to bring her home from Tigertown. While there, we had a nice dining experience at the local O'Charley's. Upon returning home, we ended up snacking on leftovers for dinner. I would have to say it was a pretty apprehension-free day:)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

sous-chef saturday

Oh, how I love the weekend -- and not just for the usual reasons. I love the weekend because Chef D usually does the cooking on the weekends! I was happy to serve this night in the role of sous-chef. Chef D pulled it off again as he created his own recipes for a wonderful night of Asian-inspired courses. It all began when he called me on his way back from the market with the information that he had enough food for more than the 3 adults that were currently planned to be here for dinner. So, we made a few calls and found some adventurous and spontaneous friends to help out with the food and provide some good fellowship. The menu for the night included:

Chicken/Pork Fried Eggrolls
Chicken/Pork Fried Wontons with Ginger Sauce
Chicken Ginger Soup
Stir-Fried vegetables with Chef D's version of General Tso's chicken and Kung Pao scallops

Friday, August 29, 2008


This set of recipes come from an episode of Food Network's Guy's Big Bite with Guy Fieri. I tried to follow the recipes as closely as I could (and came pretty close, I might add!). They can be found at: taquitos, tijuana kitchen rice, and strawberry margarita. Oh, and to clarify, Chef D informs me that these are not taquitos, but flautas. He explained that taquitos would be like little tacos, just folded in half, whereas flautas are rolled.

Goal: Today's goal was to take a little extra effort and prepare something new -- be a little creative.

Chef D initially found the flautas to be bland, even after adding the guacamole. However, he found the tomatillo sauce plus a little salt and pepper made them very flavorful. Spanish rice is not his favorite, and he rarely eats it if it is part of a meal served when we are dining out, so I was definitely apprehensive about how he would handle it being served. I was pleased to hear that he thought it had a good flavor and actually ate all that was on his plate! Chef D prefers his margaritas on the rocks, but agreed this frozen version was acceptable.
I also found the filling for the flautas to be bland, but the tomatillo sauce was just the kick it needed. The rice and margaritas were just perfect.

Chef D gives both the flautas and rice a thumbs up on texture. The margarita was much to thin at first, so we had add more ice, and therefore more tequila. It still was not thick enough, so we threw it into the ice cream maker for a few minutes. Perhaps it was not supposed to be frozen, but that is the way I like it, so that is what we did. I appreciate Chef D bowing to my wishes here.
I loved the crunch of the fried corn tortillas. They really added so much to the flautas. I have very little experience in making spanish rice, so I was thrilled that it turned out not mushy and just about perfect. What can I say about the margaritas? I can say that I am happy we have an ice cream maker.

Ease of Preparation:
Even though this recipe was tauted as easy and taking less than an hour, it took me a little longer. I started at 4:15 pm and we did not sit down to eat until 6:05 pm. Although I was certainly capable of preparing and cooking this meal, it was a bit more work than I had anticipated. There is much that could have been accomplished in advance, and I will take that into consideration for the next time.

Recommendations for future use:
The potatoes are really unnecessary for the flauta filling, and just add more carbs and calories, so I will not include them the next time I make the flautas. I cut the recipes in half, but could easily cut them in fourths and have adequate food. There was an enormous amount of guacamole left. This meal is definitely high on the carb and calorie count, so I will save it for a special meal. I will probably just use pre-made guacamole or use a more simple recipe instead of this one. I also realize now that I could have used the leftover chicken from Monday's meal, and will keep that in mind in the future.

I am now replacing the former "goal success" category with "rating", providing a place to rate the overall performance of the meal, not only related to how it met the goal.

Rating: 4 stars
I really wanted to give it 5, but the flavor issues with the flauta filling had to cause me to hold back. I would definitely cook this again.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

barbecue sandwiches

Although we really enjoy some good southern-fried okra,we couldn't find any small ones with the tender quality we desired. I also had second thoughts on the slaw, so the menu for this evening ended up being Barbecue Pork Sandwiches and a tossed salad. Since I knew I would be out of the house between 8:30 am - 4:00 pm, and leaving again at 6:30 pm, I decided to go the easy route with the barbecue. Yes, we ate pre-packed, prepared Lloyd's Barbecue in a tub. Since I am watching my calories, I passed on the buns and just added my barbecue to my tossed salad.

Goal: Prepare a meal that did not require much preparation given a harried schedule.

Chef D thought the flavor was acceptable.
Not that the flavor wasn't good, but I had the flavor of our last pre-cooked barbecue night in mind. A few months ago, I purchased a barbecue roast from the Honeybaked Ham Company and shredded it for barbecue sandwiches. I really enjoyed those sandwiches. Perhaps the problem tonight was the fact that I did not eat the barbecue as a sandwich, but as part of my salad. Plus, you usually get what you pay for.
Six words from Chef D: too much sauce, too little meat.
Now, I normally am not very particular about texture, but the meal tonight seems to be changing that. This 'tubbed' bbq was a little too wet -- just had a bit too much sauce and it seemed a bit mushy.
Ease of Preparation:
When all you have to do is heat it up, you can't really complain, can you?
Goal Success: It was easy and I had time to fix it, so it was successful. I cannot quite bring myself to give it 5 stars, though. I must rethink this evaluation. Perhaps I should just give an overall evaluation at the end.

Recommendations for future use:
I don't think I will buy this brand of tub barbecue again. I will either try something else new or go back to HBH.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

celebrating AFW

They may have celebrated winning the gold in the final of the men’s 4x400-meter relay during the Beijing 2008 Olympics, but I am celebrating that it is Apprehension-Free Wednesday (AFW)!

Tonight's menu at church is Sloppy Joe's. This special meal is prepared and served by the Men's Club, filling in for Miss Joan while she cares for her hubby who is recovering from hip-replacement surgery.

REVIEW: It is hard for me to give a negative review on any AFW meal since, by default, they are 5 stars because I didn't have to cook!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

oriental chicken wraps

Due to the fact that Chef D strongly dislikes chow mein noodles and prefers not to include mandarin oranges in a wrap, I made a few alterations to the recipe. Instead of chow mein noodles, I fried up a few wonton wrapper strips and julienned a carrot to include in the wrap. On the side, there was fresh honeydew melon balls, strawberries and green grapes (mostly on 'my' side, as Chef D passed on the fruit).

Goal: Prepare a meal instead of dining out

Chef D had issues with the mixed cultures being represented (using the hispanic culture's flour tortillas with chinese-flavored filling elements). This was especially noticeable with this recipe since it brought to mind (or palate) one of his favorites, Oriental Chicken Salad, but was higher in carbs due to the tortillas. The fried wonton wrapper strips definitely helped add to the flavor in the place of the chow mein noodles.
I enjoyed the wrap, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had followed Chef D's lead and use the Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing we had in the fridge instead of the recipe's dressing. My favorite part was how the flavors were reminiscent of the Oriental Chicken Salad that Chef D made for me first during the beginning of our courtship.
Chef D appreciated the crunch provided by the fried wonton wrapper strips, which he thought was necessary to pull off acheiving the specific flavor combination similar to his Oriental Chicken Salad.
Texture isn't really a think I think about, unless is is total mush or slimy. Therefore, the texture for this was just fine for me.
Ease of Preparation: The marinade was so easy and only had 4 ingredients. It also helped using a ziploc bag. Prep time was minimal.
Goal Success: 5 stars since we ate it and did not dine out.

Recommendations for future use: Chef D suggested preparing only 1 chicken breast in the future (instead of the 3 that were prepared tonight) unless I was planning to use leftover chicken as part of other meals during the week. He also suggested using a sesame chinese chicken salad dressing instead of the mayonnaise dressing provided in the recipe as well as tossing the green onions (their flavor was hidden with everything else in the filling). I think I should fix the Oriental Chicken Salad soon so I can share the recipe here.

method of reviews

I just thought I should explain how I will be evaluating the meals. I will be including the purpose/goal for the meal as well both my and Chef D's thoughts in regards to flavor, texture, ease of preparation, recommendations for future use, and how closely the meal met it's goal.

Monday, August 25, 2008

menu monday

I happened upon an interesting website where many people posted links to their weekly menus each Monday. There were hundreds of links. Yes, I decided that was just the encouragement I needed to start up a new blog all about my fear of cooking. So, this is the beginning of my life as an apprehensive aliment artisan. I didn't see the site in time to include my menu for the week, so this is just a practice go at it.

Monday (yikes! that's tonight!): I think we are going to have Shrimp with Pasta. We'll see if I can conjur up all the necessary ingredients or not.

Tuesday: I am planning on something new called Oriental Chicken Wraps.

Apprehension-free Wednesday: Dinner at church:)

Thursday: BBQ Pork Sandwiches, fried okra, cole slaw.

Friday: Taquitos and Tijuana Rice with a side of Margarita.

Saturday: Hopefully, I will play the sous-chef role to Chef D.

Sunday: Asian Roast Chicken, Rice, Tossed Salad for after-church lunch.

REVIEW: I did not pull it together to make the shrimp dish and we needed to run some errands (I need a replacement belt for my antiquated Kenmore vacuum and we needed to go to Publix), I had my standby 6-inch Turkey on Wheat at Subway. Although it went against my goal of cutting down on dining out, it was reasonable in two important areas: cost and calories.