Charmingly Modern

January Recipe Reviews

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In January, Alex and I ate at home more days in a month probably than we ever have in the four years we’ve been married. That’s kind of sad, but it’s also a huge feat for us – we love eating out! – and I’m really proud of how well we did.

We learned a couple things in the process, too:

  • Budgeting is not that hard
  • Eating at home is actually pretty fun
  • Leftovers aren’t that bad – especially if you made them yourself and you know what’s in them

Since we tried so many recipes I wanted to review as many as I could and let you know how I tweaked them and what we thought of them. Let’s get to it!

Week of January 8th

Skillet Rosemary ChickenWe both really enjoyed this recipe. I didn’t change anything about it. It was really flavorful and super quick and easy. We will definitely have this again.

White Bean Turkey ChiliI reduced this recipe by half but didn’t mess with the ingredients at all. Honestly, this did not turn out very well and I was a little disappointed. It tasted fine, but it wasn’t as hearty as I thought it would be. We will probably not make this again.

Chickpea Hummus BurgersA major favorite around here! The only thing I changed about this recipe is I do not add the pepitas. Instead, I do 1/8 cup of oats. I have nothing against pumpkin seeds, but I couldn’t find them at Kroger. I’ll keep looking, though. Also, I was originally going to skip the tahini because it was $7.99. Do not skip the tahini. I splurged on it and I’m so glad. You only use 1 tablespoon every four burgers so this tahini is going to last a super long time and has probably paid for itself 10 times already. Another note about this recipe – we freeze these burgers for Alex’s lunch and they don’t re-heat that great. They tend to crumble apart. I fixed the problem by adding a slice of cheese to the top, though, and the cheese seals it all together. Problem solved!

Autumn Penne Pasta with Sauteed Brussel SproutsThis recipe was delicious! I chose it because I had a fond memory of once having brussel sprouts and they tasted super delicious. They were actually my least favorite part of this recipe. They have kind of a strange flavor…not bad, just different. Brussel sprout strangeness aside, we will definitely be making this recipe again. One note – I did not include the sausage in this recipe. Not a big fan of sausage.

Baked Parmesan Garlic ChickenThis was a delicious and simple recipe. I changed nothing in the recipe and made it as specified. I love recipes with just a few ingredients that don’t take much time or maintenance and this one will definitely be repeated.

BLT Lettuce Wraps - I made this for lunch for myself once and, while it was delicious, it wasn’t filling enough for lunch. It would make a great appetizer or snack at a party.

Crock Pot Santa Fe ChickenThis was an easy and tasty recipe. It did not, however, come out looking like the picture. It was somewhat soupy. But it tasted good. We probably won’t make it again, though, because this month I’ve made something that kicks its butt and is in the same kind of tex mex family. I’ll talk about that in my February review!

Breakfast Pocket DoughThis was a major fail. The dough was entirely too sticky and I had to throw it away. I did not make the filling that belongs in the dough because I was planning on using a different recipe for filling. Regardless, I think the problem with this recipe is the proportion of wet ingredients to dry is off balance. It calls for warm evaporated milk as well as water and I think that just made it too sticky. In retrospect, I should have added more flour but I didn’t touch the dough until it was time to start rolling it out so by then it was a little too late. Oh well.

Cuban Picadillo - This was the recipe I was adapting to use as filling for the breakfast pockets. Since the dough was a fail, we ended up eating this filling for dinner along with some hashbrowns. It was definitely delicious. I actually added 3 eggs to it and omitted the tomato, tomato sauce and green olives since I was putting it in a breakfast pocket. That is now the basis for the breakfast burritos as I make them now.

grocery aisle (Source)

Week of January 15th 

Chinese Pork & Vegetable Hot PotThis was a tasty recipe but I didn’t follow it quite to the letter. I omitted the sherry, star anise pod, cinnamon (on accident… I meant to include that) and the cornstarch (also an accident). Since I didn’t add the cornstarch in, this was pretty watery/soupy. It was still really good, though. It was a little bit of a pricier recipe because we had to buy rice vinegar and chili garlic sauce – which we actually ended up not getting and instead used Thai sweet chili sauce (because it was cheaper). I served this over rice and had the leftovers later for lunch sans rice. It was good, and we may or may not have it again.

Crock Pot MinestroneI made this twice in January because it’s that good. I did not reduce the recipe size at all because I wanted leftovers for lunch. The first time I made it, I used penne which I don’t recommend (it was just what I had on hand) – it got too soft and fell apart. The second time I used medium shells and it worked much better. Both times, I did not puree the beans and just added them whole. Pureed beans kind of made me feel sick and I have no idea why. I also did not add the parmesan rind because I didn’t want to buy one. I would like to try making it with the parm rind though. Anyway, this will remain on permanent rotation until we get sick of it because it’s so easy and so delicious.

Shepard’s Pie Lightened Up - This is another huge favorite! I used turkey instead of ground beef (I made it this past Thursday with lean ground beef and the flavor wasn’t that different and it was just as filling) and left out the celery and mushrooms because I hate both of those. This recipe is so quick and easy and the leftovers taste great.

Spinach Lasagna RollsI can’t wait to make this again! I need to schedule it in ASAP because we absolutely loved it. I made two changes: I didn’t use lasagna because I had large shells I needed to use so I just stuffed them with the mixture. I also did not use ricotta cheese as it completely grosses me out and, instead, subbed in reduced fat cottage cheese (an old trick I learned from my mom!). I will definitely stick with these substitutions. I really enjoyed having the shells – shells are usually cheaper than lasagna anyway, plus you end up with more shells than what you would have gotten from the lasagna, which means leftovers! I froze the leftovers and Alex ended up eating them the following week and he said they were even better.

Week of January 22nd (until the end of the month)

Pasta Corn CasbahThis was so easy and really delicious. We really loved it. I also loved that I had leftovers for lunch as it is not very heavy so it made the perfect lunch option. I didn’t change anything, but I did add a can of black beans as well as a few generous sprinkles of cumin and seasoned salt.

Pasta with Peanut Sauce - We loved this recipe! But I actually completely changed it. I had a bottle of peanut sauce in my pantry that I really wanted to use so I googled peanut sauce recipes and came up with this. I used this as a base. The changes I made were: thin spaghetti instead of angel hair, peanut sauce instead of the peanut butter and no bean sprouts (they make me think of worms), tamari instead of soy sauce and I added broccoli and carrots. I still used the tamari, ginger and broth to make the ‘sauce’ – I just added the peanut sauce to that. I used probably 1/2-3/4 cup of the peanut sauce and about 2 T of tamari (it was all I had left) and maybe 1 T of ginger. I just kept adding things together until it tasted the way I wanted it. Then I felt adventurous and added some Thai sweet chili sauce which gave it some kick. I’ll definitely be making this again!

So there you have it! There were a few recipes I did not get to for whatever reason. I ended up using the ingredients in just made up recipes off the top of my head, or by repeating a recipe we had already made. We also had a lot of leftovers so that freed me up for the nights I felt like giving in and going out. It was really nice to just pick something from the freezer. Overall, we ate at home 24 of the 31 days in January. I still can’t believe we accomplished that.

The recipes I did not get to for January were:

Slow Cooker New England Pot Roast
Loaded Quinoa Burgers
 (I could not find quinoa at our Kroger!!) with homemade tater tots
Maple Pecan Granola
Baked Zucchini Sticks
Blueberry Pie Baked Oatmeal

 Not too bad! Those recipes will hopefully be making appearances soon in the upcoming weeks. Also, I’ll probably have to venture to another store to find the quinoa since my Kroger is not hip to that, apparently.

Did you try any of the recipes I linked to? What did you think?


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