Saturday, January 16, 2016

You're Doing Everything Wrong: Cooking Edition

I used to watch the Food Network obsessively. Favorite shows included Next Food Network Star, Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, Barefoot Contessa, and Giada at Home. I miss the Neelys (I hear they've separated - sad) and have a love/hate relationship with Bobby Flay. I used to subscribe to Food Network Magazine (everyone should thank them for teaching me how to make homemade pop tarts) and I feel like I've honed my knife skills watching some of these chefs. I've probably seen every episode of DDD at least twice and I dislike Guy Fieri intensely. My favorite moment is when he makes some comment about the portion size he's been served. Seriously dude? Have to you been to your own restaurants?

However, about a year ago I stopped watching any Food Network programming. I'd occasionally re-watch an episode or two of DDD because it is literally always on. Occasionally I'll catch an episode of Barefoot Contessa if I got home from work early. When I watch this show I often dream of working from home and/or not having a day job so that I can just watch reruns. I can't not watch Ina. It would be wrong. It would be like buying not good olive oil.

Watching Food Network shows made me hungry but since I don't love cooking, it seemed silly to watch it so much. Baking I love, cooking is just kind of meh to me. Don't get me wrong, I love food. Food is wonderful and usually very delicious but I find cooking for one to be a huge pain. I either end up eating the same thing for days (not every recipe can be halved or more), freezing leftovers and never eating them, or thinking I'm going to eat them but then I don't. It seems like a waste despite the fact that I'm a decent cook (with recipes) and I almost always like what I make. And yes, I've tried recipes for one or two people; they're not any better. Some are downright gross. It's like cutting a recipe down steals a little of its soul.

I decided over the winter break that I would try to do better with my cooking this year. My goal includes trying new recipes, cooking for the week on the weekend (like so many of my responsible friends do), trying ingredients I don't normally use, and being better at meal planning. I gave myself one week to get back into things at work and devoted last weekend to cooking. I'm proud to say that I made two of the three recipes I planned plus brown rice to use throughout the week (properly portioned of course) and I chopped vegetables. I don't know what to do with myself.

So what did I make? I busted out my trusty crock pot for a delicious sloppy Joe recipe using ground turkey (my favorite) and mushrooms and the food processor. The most shocking event of the weekend: I made homemade veggie burgers featuring...sweet potatoes. I know, it's crazy. I've never liked sweet potatoes. When I tell people this they either agree with me enthusiastically or they look at me like I just kicked a puppy on national tv. Apparently, everyone has to love sweet potatoes like everyone has to watch Game of Thrones. Sweet potatoes are too grainy and a little too sweet for being a member of the potato family. I'm not a huge fan of sweet foods for dinner so I was surprised that I even thought this would be a good idea. Who do I have to thank for this new addition to my life?

Trisha Yearwood.

Yep, the country singer turned Food Network and cookbook star is the reason I'm on way to coming to terms with my relationship with sweet potatoes. I've seen her show once or twice before but was never a regular viewer. Trisha was focusing on recipes that are good for you but feel like they're not and something about the "Sweet Pea" burgers she made caught my attention. The recipe combines sweet potatoes and chickpeas (my absolute favorite) into a a delicious burger that does feel sort of decadent even though it's not really bad for you. The comments on the recipe were helpful; this is definitely a recipe you can cut if needed and I followed the instructions for freezing the leftovers. Good stuff. I tried the first one with a bun but I don't think it actually needs it so next time just some toppings. Now I don't think I'm ever going to enjoy a sweet potato on its own or baked with marshmallows (seriously?) but I can enjoy this dish and it's a nice addition to my recipe repertoire. What could be better than that? (Please say this in your best Ina Garten voice.)

I planned to make a pizza with a cauliflower crust but this, I'm sad to report, I'm still doing wrong. It was a lot of things but edible was not one of them. I'm going to chalk it up to poor recipe choice and focus on the successes of the week instead. I love cauliflower so my next goal is to try cauliflower fried rice via one of those addictive Tasty videos that seem to be all over Facebook these days. There's something mesmerizing about those videos; if I didn't have a job or a life I could imagine being sucked into watching them all day.

Thank you Trisha Yearwood and blogger Jen Nikolaus and for inspiring me to start 2016 a little healthier and a bit more adventurous. I vow to continue to enjoy the sweet potato in ways I find acceptable and to try new recipes and meal plan like a boss. I will make my lunch in advance and not get talked into not eating it.

How easy was that? (Again use your best Ina voice - it's so much fun!).

This week's menu: Slow Cooker Chana Masala and something with chicken (don't know what yet). 

Ina Garten meme


  1. Look at you go! I too am trying to meal plan and eat healthier this year and so far it's actually going fabulously. I'm not surprised the cauliflower pizza didn't come out because I've heard other people have that same problem. I made a loaded cauliflower soup this week though that was pretty delicious!
    Ooh, another thing that you might like: I downloaded an app called Copymethat which I love. It pulls recipes off websites to keep stored in the app, you can easily add the ingredients to a grocery list, and it also has a meal planning calendar. LOVE IT!

    1. I'll have to check out that app - most of the recipes I've been trying lately are from food blogs so that could be helpful.

      I have faith in the cauliflower pizza crust; I just have to try some point in the future. I'm really hoping this crockpot chana masala works out today.