Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reviews of recent meals

I'm not sure what's gotten into me, but I've been cooking a lot lately. Since the original purpose of this blog was to provide meal ideas for families dealing with the same allergies as we are, I thought I'd show you what we've been eating in our house. I also wanted to let you know, in a "review" format, how difficult the meal was to prepare, how economical it was, and whether it actually tasted good.

To start off, last night we had my own invention, Turkey/Veggie Meatballs, with baked sweet potatoes on the side.

Ease of preparation: 4 out of 5 stars. The whole meal took about 30 minutes to prepare. A tip on the baked sweet potatoes - they can take forever to bake in the oven. If you need a shorter cooking time, microwave them (wrapped in a paper towel) for about ten minutes and then bake for 15 - they will taste oven-baked in half the time (you could also cook them just in the microwave, but they don't taste as good). With regard to the meatballs, if you are pressed for time, you can opt to add only veggies that don't require slicing and dicing, like matchstick carrots. If you have more time, you can add other things like diced onions, green peppers, and/or zucchini (last night I used carrots, onions, and zucchini).

Price: 4 out of 5 stars. The meal cost around $5; it helped that I bought the ground turkey on sale.

Taste: 4 out of 5 stars. The meatballs are one of my family's favorites. Ainsley especially loves them. The sweet potatoes tasted awesome with a generous amount of Earth Balance and brown sugar mixed in.

Tonight's meal was Slow Cook Chicken Drumsticks from the Kid-Pleasing cookbook (see sidebar, "My Favorite Cookbooks"), along with the book's recipe for "Aunt Jean's Rice" and Brown Sugar Carrots.
Ease of preparation: 3 out of 5 stars. The easiest was the drumsticks - all the recipe requires is that you brown them in a skillet with some oil and then put them in the slow-cooker with some bottled, store-bought BBQ sauce for 4-6 hours. The carrots were pretty easy too - I steamed them on the stove and then mixed the margarine and brown sugar in. The hardest was the rice. I had to dice an onion (gasp!) and make beef broth with a couple of bouillon cubes (if I had actually had beef broth from a can, I could have skipped this step). After mixing up all of the ingredients (including 1 cup of uncooked rice - I used brown rice), the recipe said to bake the mixture in the oven for 20 minutes. Well, after 45 minutes in the oven, the rice finally soaked up all of the liquid but was still pretty hard. I decided to pop the dish into the microwave for 10 minutes, and that did the trick - the rice was finally soft. So, FYI, as the cookbook suggests, the rice is indeed quite tasty, but you might be in for more cooking time than the recipe says.

Price: 4 out of 5 stars. The entire meal probably cost around $7. I got the drumsticks on sale for $2 and the carrots (a bag of peeled baby carrots) for $1.

Taste: 4 out of 5 stars. Everything tasted really wonderful. Leighton ate a ton of carrots and Ainsley didn't complain when I told her to finish her plate. Dave was especially impressed with how good everything tasted. Note that the drumsticks are messy - I found that I needed to wrap the end of the drumsticks with aluminum foil when I was serving them to the family so they could eat them easier.

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