Look Mom, I Can Cook

In January Ben and I will have been married 5 years. The first 4 years of our marriage were so crazy (multiple jobs, law school, living 1100 miles apart) that we never really got into cooking. We ordered a lot of take-out, cooked frozen meals, and made simple dishes. Now that we’ve settled into an adult-like life, I’ve decided that we are going to start cooking and eating like grown-ups. Since so many other book bloggers seem interested in cooking and food-related posts, I thought I would document our attempts. I plan on making this a semi-regular post. Below I have three of the dishes we tried.  I will take more pictures in the future. When I cooked these meals, I didn’t think I’d be writing about them, too.

Quick note: I don’t eat beef or pork so that is why you will find a lot of chicken recipes. I’m also hoping to find some good vegetarian dishes to try (that Ben will eat).

Pasta Gnocchi with Sausage and Tomato

Note: the grocery store did not cooperate with our plan so we substituted a lot of the ingredients including the gnocchi.

  • 1 lb 1 oz pasta gnocchi (we used regular shells)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 14 oz Italian sausages (we used chicken sausage)
  • 1 red onion – finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves – finely chopped
  • 1 lb 12 oz – tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar (we used confectioner)
  • 1 1/2 oz basil – torn
  • 1/2 cup romano cheese – grated (we used packaged romano and mozzerella cheese)
  • 1 cup of water (I would use 1/2 cup next time)

Summary: Cook pasta and drain. Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in large pan; add sausages and cook through. Drain and slice. Wipe pan and add remaining oil. Cook onion and garlic over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add tomato, sugar and water. Season with black pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes until thickened and reduced a little. Stir sauce, pasta, basil, and cheese together. Serves 4.

Time: 15 minutes prep; 30 minutes cook.

Thoughts: Ben really liked this one. I wasn’t a fan of the sausage (not a surprise). I would like to try this with real gnocchi instead of plain pasta. My sause never reallly thickened so I cheated a little and drained it so it was less saucy than it should have been. I would make it again but keep the sausage to Ben’s portion only.

Cajun Chicken with Fresh Tomato and Corn Salsa

  • 2 corn cobs – boil 5 minutes and remove kernels
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes – diced
  • 1 cucumber – finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves – roughly chopped (I used dried)
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (I used real lime)
  • lime wedges – to serve

Summary: Pound chicken until 2 cm thick. Coat chicken with Cajun seasoning. Use chargrill pan or barbeque plate (we used a Foreman grill) to cook chicken through. Mix corn, tomatoes, cucmber, and cilantro in a bowl for salsa. Stir lime juice into salsa right before serving. Serve with lime wedges, salad, and bread. Serves 4 (I halved the recipe).

Time: 10 minues prep; 15 minutes cook

Thoughts: We both liked the chicken. I liked the salsa but Ben wasn’t a fan and he can’t articulate why. We used the leftovers to make a salad the next night which was convenient. We will make the chicken again but will probably modify the salsa.

Stir-Fried Chicken with Ginger and Cashews

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 8 scallions – cut into pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves – crushed
  • 3-in piece of ginger root – finely shredded
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts – cut into strips
  • 2 red peppers – cut into strips
  • 5 1/2 oz snowpeas
  • 3 1/2 oz cashews
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

Summary: Heat oil in wok and then add scallions, garlic, and ginger. After a minute, add chicken and cook through. Then add peppers, snowpeas, and cashews. When peppers have softened, add soy sauce and sesame oil. Cook 1-2 minutes longer. Serve with rice. Serves 4.

Time: 20 minutes prep; 10 minutes cook

Thoughts: We loved this recipe. Stir-fry was something we’ve often made but we usually had a little lazier version. This one tasted a little more Asian than our Americanized version. We will definitely be making this one again.

All three of these recipes are from 30 Minute Meals: A Common Sense Guide.