The bucketlist

Cooking is definitely not my middle name and I am absolutely grateful for women breaking that glass ceiling because I am certainly not one to be stuck in the kitchen. I’d end up burning down the house and being single for the rest of my life. I am notorious for messing up recipes, not reading the exact directions, using wrong ingredients… and it’s flat out embarrassing. Cooking for me has always consisted of throwing a box of pasta in boiling water and heating up marinara sauce. It just scares me, especially the end result.

With him away for over a year, I’ve made a hefty commitment to learn to cook (really, I just want to impress him when he’s home). He is truly the Anthony Bourdain in my life and clearly has one amazing gift. And it is a GIFT. Who goes to the grocery store without a list and knows what to make? He does. I cringe just thinking about it.

His cooking is always by far, my favorite meal. I used to love watching him cook because he’s so precise and knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s methodical and it’s truly an art for him and I miss being able to watch him in the kitchen. Me sitting on the couch with mouth watering, feeling like a kid in complete awe of the magic he can do.

So. My goal started off as one brand new dish, once a week. Of course, I’ve already lost that game as I traveled quite a bit for over one month. Cooking for one on a Sunday and coming home to moldy leftovers was the absolute last thing I wanted. Right now, I’m at six new recipes, thanks to the amazing Pinterest. Sadly, this is the most I have actually cooked (or tried) a recipe in my entire life. I spend my Sundays in the kitchen, hair a disaster, kitchen a mess, and usually some sort of sauce spilled all over my shirt. I can’t help but laugh and think he’d at least be proud of me attempting this debacle.

How has it gone so far? I can’t help but brush off my shoulders because I haven’t started the kitchen or myself on fire, the smoke alarm has yet to go off and I’ve actually made some decent recipes that I can (surprise!) add to the empty cookbook that sits on my shelf.

Here they are in order, of attempt in timeframe (not deliciousness). I am starting to feel like I should have a lead role in Julie and Julia…

1. Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

My first recipe. My first meal! I went to the grocery store and felt I was about to conquer the world. It was almost like the first day of school or that new job, exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time.

I literally spent the first 30 minutes in the grocery store trying to figure out where the heck I could find basil because of course, I’ve never had to buy basil before… After being too stubborn and embarrassed to ask, and walking around the salad section for another 15 minutes, there it was. And this recipe called for fresh breadcrumbs. I wasn’t even about to figure out where fresh breadcrumbs are or make them for that matter.

The best part was adding the real lemon juice to the recipe when I started cooking. Being the genius I am, I just cut the lemon in half and started squeezing. After this attempt, I figured this how journey was a failure, I was just not meant to cook.

At the end of the day, it turned out well. Great flavor and I had leftovers the entire next week. All smiles here.

2. Baked Pesto Chicken

This was one a lot of fun and definitely delicious. The recipe is fairly simple and calls for pesto, homemade or store bought from the jar. I decided to be an overachiever and make the pesto from scratch. Heavenly. I couldn’t keep myself from eating the pesto with a spoon. Probably a good thing he wasn’t there. I would have given him a heart attack eating the pesto (he wasn’t a fan of me eating the food halfway through) :) I added some cherry tomatoes to the sauce and poured it over whole wheat pasta. Ta da! I did it!

3. White Cheese and Chicken Lasagna

This recipe was AMAZING. Hands down the most mouth watering, spectacular lasagna. I have to admit, I was pretty proud of this one.

The recipes calls for mixing some of the cheese as the first layer and then adding the ricotta, but who follows directions these days? I mixed everything together to make one big mess of a cheesy sauce and I was glad I did. Despite my small mistake, I think it turned out even better. Next time, I will use fresh spinach and wilt it myself rather than using frozen spinach. Not a fan of the smell of frozen spinach. With the amount of leftovers (and giving a good portion to my dad, who ate a good 4 slices the first time I made it) I ate this lasagna for a week straight and could have had it the entire month of October. Delicious!

4. Creamy Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup

I am a sucker for mushrooms and tortellini, put the two together in a recipe and my mouth is already drooling. When I saw the picture for this recipe, I couldn’t help but want to make it. It was fabulous, amazing, and the easiest recipe thanks to the crockpot! The sauce turned out quite a bit thicker and was hardly “soupy” but it made for a great pasta dish. I’m guessing I may have messed up the recipe somewhere along the way, but no complaints here. I loved it.

5. Smoky and Cheesy Buttermilk Baked Mashed Potatoes

My mouth started watering the second I read the title of this recipe. How amazing does that sound? I was able to bust out the Cuisinart Mixer (he left it for me!) and make mashed potatoes for the first time… ever.

I felt like a pro going to the grocery store and knowing exactly where to buy the ingredients. I’m still working on building up my spices and got to add paprika now! These turned out well however could have used a few more spices. I may substitute the paprika for more garlic (who can resist garlic) and use real shredded cheese rather than the fat free. The cheese wasn’t how I envisioned it coming out the oven. Regardless, I made mashed potatoes for the first time. High six for me.

6. Crockpot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin

The images of the pork tenderloin alone sent me into a frenzy. Long, long ago, I made pulled pork in a crockpot and this recipe was a very similar concept.

Word to the wise: do not touch the pork tenderloin after it’s been in the crockpot for 5 hours. I attempted to dump out the water to begin the glaze, and the entire roast flipped over. I took a fork to it to reverse what I had done, and the entire roast fell apart. I am assuming that was not supposed to happen but nevertheless it was amazing. The sauce was a sugary deliciousness with the brown sugar. I would absolutely use the broiler next time and only coat the top, rather than coating my fallen apart roast.

All in all, another pat on the back. I think he’d be smiling if he saw me working through these recipes and trying :) All in the name of love!

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One thought on “The bucketlist

  1. aedill says:

    Cooking for one has been an adventure for me, too! Thanks for sharing the recipes, I’m going to check em out :) Also, in regards to your roast falling apart…that is exactly what is supposed to happen! :) When you cook a roast in the crock pot (beef or pork) it gets super tender and starts to fall apart – which is part of the reason it is so delicious, Bummer about it falling apart before you got a chance to coat it though! Happy cooking to you!

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