Food is essential to life. I love food. Correction: I love eating food. I do not like cooking or baking or dicing or mixing or sauteeing or frying or…well, you get the picture. So I took to Twitter once again, and my lovely followers or I should say my well-meaning friends, challenged me to cook for an entire week. At first, I was going to go to the extreme and cook every meal. Then I cut it back to just making dinner every night. This was harder than I thought it would be and at the same time so simple. So this is how the past week of pretending I was Rachel Ray actually went. Side note: I planned on taking pictures of everything, but I basically ate all of the food before I remembered.
Monday: Mac n Cheese
I decided to start it off easy. This is one of my favorite dishes, both in box form and homemade. And to answer the question, no, I did not use the box mix for this. This is a dish I discovered on Pinterest earlier this January and I’ve been making it at least once a month since. When it comes to cooking, I try to stick to exactly what the recipe says because what if I accidentally make it taste awful. I’d rather blame the recipe itself than my spicing judgment and weird ideas. I like to experiment with this one. Different cheeses? Yes. Throwing in olives? Yes. Bacon? Yes, and I would have if I had thought about frying some up before I got to this end stage. It always ends up being a delicious, cheesy, gooey mess and I can physically feel my body gain five pounds. It’s amazing.
Rating (based on taste and cooking experience): 10/10; No explanation needed.
*Substituted: shells for macaroni, milk for almond milk, cheddar for mozzarella, muenster, & Colby Jack, add-in olives or whatever else suits your fancy.
Tuesday: Baked Potato & Peas
I recently discovered how baked potatoes work, which is probably embarrassing for a 23-year old to admit, but I’m oddly proud of my lack of skills in the kitchen. Who has time for cooking? I’m actually, like, really busy. Haven’t women been oppressed enough? Do I have to keep making people sandwiches if I don’t want to? No. I’m getting sidetracked now. Ever since this epiphany of how easy potatoes are I’ve been making baked potatoes and experimenting with seasoning. Olive oil and rosemary is my favorite by the way. As for the side, peas. They came from a can, but at least I heated them up. That’s kind of cooking right? This was the point I started to second guess this whole cooking everyday thing. In order to stop myself from bailing, I got organized. I planned out my dinners and made a massive ingredient list. Like ginormous. Like more than I typically buy in a month.
Rating: 5/10; I took the easy way out, but it still was tasty.
Wednesday: Chicken Enchiladas
This was my first meal with multiple steps. I was totally prepared to take this all on by myself and just accept that it would take me about two hours with all of the prep and baking. Luckily, my roommate and her boyfriend stepped up and helped out. When I say helped I mean they literally cooked all of the veggies and chicken. I was in charge of the enchilada sauce and the tortillas. No one ever said teamwork was off-limits. And to be honest, I promised them enchiladas and I don’t think they wanted to wait for my tedious kitchen pace to wrap up and deliver them a meal. The enchiladas were a hot, delicious mess. I watch a lot of reality TV cooking shows and those judges would look at my enchiladas and kick me out without even tasting them. Presentation: 0. Taste: 100.
Rating: 7/10; Teamwork makes the dream work; Very messy; Never enough cheese.
Enchilada Sauce Recipe: (This is the entire recipe. I just used the sauce. http://thekindlife.com/blog/2014/10/thug-kitchen-sweet-potato-squash-black-bean-enchiladas/
Whoops. I skipped a day. Actually what happened was it hit me that there was no way my fridge would hold all of the leftovers if I cooked every day. I have four roommates. We all eat different things. Our fridge was already overflowing. Also, I was tired of standing over the stove and pretending to enjoy what I was doing. I may or may not have ordered pizza.
Rating: 0/10; Rest days are the best days; Also I honestly can’t remember if I even ate dinner.
Today was the day I physically was put to the test cutting onions. I haven’t cried that much since watching P.S. I Love You for the first time. Mascara was literally streaming down my cheeks and onto my neck. Part of the crying was from laughing, but mostly my eyes are just super sensitive to onion apparently. I would never have known that if I hadn’t attempted this challenge. My roomie cooked the meat for me because I rarely eat meat and I’m always convinced I’m going to undercook it and die. Dramatic I know. I probably wouldn’t die from undercooked meat and I would probably overcook it out of fear. Overcooked meat isn’t good though. So I left it up to someone else to handle. We assembled the lasagna and baked it. I broiled it, as directed, and it burned. On the plus side, it was still really good despite the entire top being brown.
Rating: 6/10; Really good straight from the oven, however, I still have leftovers that I just can’t bring myself to eat.
Saturday: Baked Brie & Sriracha Roasted Cauliflower with Peanut Dip
Saturday I had a little get together with some friends and instead of making dinner I decided to make snacks or hors d’oeuvres if you’re fancy. I wanted something sweet and something savory. Challenging myself to do, and eat, something I never had before. First up, baked brie. This was by far the fanciest thing I’ve ever made and maybe the easiest. Brie with raspberry jam wrapped in pastry dough with some maple syrup and brown sugar on top. Crackers for dipping. Is your mouth drooling yet? Mine was just writing this. It didn’t get sealed properly so when I pulled it out of the oven the “pastry” was sitting in a pool of melted cheese and syrup. Not that that is something to complain about. Yum.
Next, sriracha roasted cauliflower with peanut dip. I got this from Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck, which is my favorite cookbook. This is the only cookbook I’ve read from cover to cover because it is that funny. It’s also completely vegan so you can’t go wrong with what you choose. Ran into a couple of problems with this one. One of my roommates is allergic to peanuts so I had to be extra cautious about where I was slinging ingredients around. I put too much of the batter on the cauliflower. It wasn’t anywhere as crunchy/roasted as I wanted it to be. I was the only one who thought this was actually spicy. But it was finger-licking good.
Rating: 9/10; Delicious with minor problems.
Baked Brie Recipe: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/baked_brie/
Sriracha Roasted Cauliflower with peanut dip: Recipe isn’t online. Guess you’ll have to buy the book. 🙂 http://www.thugkitchen.com/
When I picked this I thought let’s cook something I would never think of cooking that’s also easy. It hit me as the dish was about done that it consisted of a lot of ingredients I just don’t like. I’m talking about poached eggs, onions, and red bell peppers. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a picky eater who likes to keep it simple. Shakshuka smells amazing and I made a garlic yogurt dip to go with it too. It’s a middle eastern and north African dish and one of the most exotic things I’ve ever eaten. I enjoyed how different it was from everything else I normally eat and I think it can be best summed up by my roommate, “It was good and I’m satisfied, but I wouldn’t go back for seconds.” Definitely recommend trying it though.
Rating: 6/10; Happy to have tried it; Probably wouldn’t eat it again because I prefer my scrambled eggs and toast.
I had fun, which is not something I thought would happen. My interest in cooking went from a 3 to a 5 on a scale of 10. I still prefer dining out or having someone else cook. Overall, everything I bought for the week cost me around $60-$70. Keep in mind I hadn’t been grocery shopping in about a month so I was missing the basics. My normal shopping costs me anywhere from $35-$50 and I go about twice a month. Cooking actual meals was a bit more expensive than I anticipated. I normally cook for one, but most of the recipes were for 2-4 people. In the big picture, I did save the money that I would have used to eat out. I think if I were to tweak this challenge I would just try to make every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner), but keep it as simple as possible to really get those cost savings. I definitely felt better fed. Maybe because I wasn’t relying on pasta and wraps. Food for thought I guess.
Tell me about your cooking experiences! The good, the bad, the messy, the delicious. Let me know what recipes you think I should have tried instead! Also, if you have a challenge you think I should try out next, I’m happy to give it a shot. Send me your ideas!
I’ve got to go and clean the mess up in the kitchen. Until next time!