Newlyweds. Goofballs. Movie stars. We are Carbonated Jeans.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cooking Chronicles: Chapter 1

My mother would be so proud of me. I cooked TWO meals this past week!

Those of you who know me are aware that I am seriously inexperienced in the realm of cooking. I'm still afraid of raw meat. I mean, seriously, I keep finding recipes that require browning ground beef or boiling/baking chicken, and I can feel my heart rate skyrocketing at the mere thought of such an undertaking.

Baby steps, people.

So last Thursday, Joe and I cooked a meal for our pastor Jim and his wife Jenny. It was an easy one which we had done before, but this was my first time kind of taking the reins, as Joe is a tortellini pro. Anyway, I like to call our meal the "Twelve Cheese Extraordinaire" - because, um, there was a lot of cheese in it. The tortellini was the seven cheese kind from Costco. The sauce was four cheese from Ralphs. And then we grated fresh parmesan to top it all off.

It. Was. Delicious.

I added some garlic and herb seasoning and pepper to the sauce, which was a gooooood plan. Then I steamed some broccoli, also adding the garlic and herb seasoning, and that worked well too. (Thanks to Joe's mom for the tip on how long to steam broccoli!)

Jim and Jenny brought some great garlicky bread, as well as two bottles of wine - a red and a white. All in all, a complete success!

So last night, fueled by Thursday night's delightful experience, I decided to bust open my cool new Five-Ingredient cookbook, which I bought from Ross for a whopping FIVE DOLLARS! See, Joe came over to my house so I could do some laundry, and we were watching Jeff Dunham's ventriloquist comedy stuff, but Joe started to fall asleep. So he laid down to rest, and I was totally not tired, but I didn't want to disturb the angelic creature in my presence.

Then a little lightbulb went *ding!* and I thought, Ooh, I could try one of those five-ingredient recipes! Woohoo! I ran into my room and started thumbing through the pages I had already marked with post-its as ones I wanted to try. I found a dinner recipe and a dessert recipe, jotted down the ingredients, and took off for the store...oh, and I left Joe a note saying, "Don't go anywhere! I'll be back soon." (Funnily enough, he woke up to my note and the sound of my housemate and her fiance, and I think it threw him off a bit. Hehe.)

Anyway, I came home and set out to make the most fabulous dish ever:

"Peppy Macaroni"

That's right. The base of this meal is a box of mac 'n' cheese. Don't judge me. I just figured it looked like something I could throw together quickly, since it was a spur of the moment sorta thing. It turned out pretty good, but definitely not gourmet. Basically, you make a box of macaroni and cheese, then stick it into a greased baking pan (the size they recommended was way too big, so next time I'll use a smaller one). You spread some pizza sauce on top, then layer pepperoni and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake it for awhile, then serve!

Like it said, it was decent. A keeper for a casual, quick meal for Joe and me, but not really an entertaining one, unless we're going to like, a potluck or something? And I will add a LOT less mozzarella next time, and use a smaller pan. And maybe add some more spices/seasonings. And make bread to go with it.

Then it was time for dessert. But since this post is already getting long, and we didn't actually TRY the finished product yet because it took too long to cool/set, I'll post a "part two" later tonight or tomorrow after we try it out.

Things I've learned about this particular cookbook:
  • You can't always trust the quantities or sizes of things (proved in both the dinner and dessert by the pan issue, the cheese issue, and (to be explained) the butter issue.
  • Five ingredients doesn't always mean FIVE ingredients. The box of mac 'n' cheese was counted as one, even though you needed the box, the butter, and the milk. Still, it seems like it's gonna be a great tool for a beginner like me!
To all you pro cooks out there: do you have some way of organizing your recipes like, what worked and what didn't, or what you and your family like and don't like, etc? I'm thinking of getting two separate recipe files and putting all the MILLIONS of recipes I'm collecting in one (I'll call it "To Be Tested" or something) and then moving them over into another one once I make them. I guess once we hate I could just throw out. I dunno.


  1. I don't have an organized way to keep my recipes, but I did get an AWESOME cookbook from my mom as a wedding gift, because, um... raw meat didn't cook itself?? ANYWHO, it's called Anyone Can Cook and it's put out by Better Homes and Gardens. I'm not sure how much it is, but it's totally worth it's price. It even explains the cooking vernacular that was like trying to read Chinese in so many recipes. Plus, all it's recipes are rated from 1-3 in their difficulty. Sorry this was such a long comment, but I hope that helps! :/

  2. My organization for recipes is in my head. I tear things out of magazines, dog ear them and then file them away mentally (and physically inside one of my many other cookbooks). If an event comes up and I want to cook for it, I filter through the recipes and find one. I have a handful of classic recipes that I always go to and then I jump around a lot.

    I am hoping to get a binder myself to organize all the ones I print off the internet and etc so I can stop having paper all over the place.

    All of the food talk in this post is making me incredibly hungry...

  3. I love love love the Betty Crocker cookbooks. They're humongous, and make me feel like Susie Q. Homemaker when I'm holding it, but there are sections for technique explanations, substitute possibilities, and helpful hints all over the place. They're great for beginning and will last you forever! I've begun to mark up my cookbooks just like my mom with suggestions or additions or who liked/disliked the recipe!

  4. I'm just catching up on some of your posts. I'm so happy to hear about your cooking experiences (and sorry I wasn't a't a teacher when it comes to cooking. Hope you continue to enjoy cooking.

    Much love to both of you!


Show us some love!