9-39: Zesty Meat Casserole

Not every Simply Delicious recipe is a home run. With 9-39: Zesty Meat Casserole, perhaps unsuccessfully, tries to break the mold. By not forming the beef into a patty, meatball, or kebab, this casserole tries to do something different. To cook this recipe, I had to prepare a parsnip, something I’m not accustomed to. I made this dish before a trip out of town and brought it with me to have something homemade to eat.

I cut my vegetables in a manner similar to the photograph, but my substitution of milk for half and half made the sauce come out runny.

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6-39: Chicken Pot Stickers

6-39: Chicken Pot Stickers are another case of a food that I “can” make, but would choose not to after seeing all of the mess and work involved.

“Steamed, stuffed dumplings” sound delicious. Mine came out a little more fried than steamed, still delicious.

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9-29: Ground Meat Kebabs

The Ground Meat and Sausage category is mainly 2 types of dishes: ground meat patties and ground meat kebabs. 9-29: Ground Meat Kebabs is one of the kebab variety. I made this recipe at the same time as 9-19: Meatballs on Skewers because they called for almost identical ingredients.

Grilling outside is much more satisfying than using a grill pan in my apartment, but I currently don’t have a lot of space for grilling.

Editor’s note: Putting on my ex-history teacher hat for a second–note that Simply Delicious claims this dish is from the vineyards of Yugoslavia, which hasn’t been a country since the late 80s/early 90s, around the time the Soviet Union collapsed. These remind me a lot of lule kabobs, which were one of my favorites when we lived in a heavily-Armenian area in Los Angeles (the apartment with the blue tiles and yellow walls from the beginning of this project). These are NOWHERE near as good as those ones, but I suppose they could pass in a pinch. 

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18-15: Basic Kitchen Utensils

Doing a bit of housekeeping…here’s one that’s been sitting in my draft queue since around Christmas. 18-19: Basic Kitchen Utensils covers exactly what it says–basic tools even novice cooks should have in their kitchen. This is part of Cooking School, the back segment of Simply Delicious that covers basic techniques, ingredients, and recipes for all levels of aspiring chefs.

After the jump, I’ll show you what I’ve got in my own kitchen (similar to how I covered 18-3: Good Kitchen Knives and 18-6: Basic Pots and Pans). None of it’s super fancy, but it gets the job done.

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9-1: Spicy Beef Patties

Any excuse to pull out the electric griddle is alright with me! After all of the meatball-style recipes in the Ground Meat and Sausage section, I was ready for a patty-style recipe again and 9-1: Spicy Beef Patties did not disappoint. I’ve never thought to put pickled beets into a burger before, but after trying this recipe, I would consider it again.

I love the little skinned potatoes they served alongside the patties in the example photo. I haven’t quite learned the technique to cook those yet. Their side salad is very photogenic, but not very filling. 3 tomato slices and 1 leaf of lettuce.

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7-13: Thai Pork Loin

Pork and pineapple are two of my favorite ingredients. “Sweet and Sour Pork” from almost any Chinese restaurant makes me happy. Simply Delicious finally put these two powerhouse ingredients together in this recipe for 7-13: Thai Pork Loin.

Looking at the size of the chunks in the sample photo, I see how I could have cut my ingredients differently, however, I still stand by the choices I made. The method of preparation I chose is what Jamie and I would prefer versus what the book tells you to do.

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9-19: Meatballs on Skewers

Gyro is probably my favorite preparation method of ground meat, so when I saw this recipe, I got very excited. This recipe, 9-19: Meatballs on Skewers is basically the same recipe as gyro, just served differently. However, I wish I had just bought a container of tzatziki at the store instead of making the yogurt sauce.

The rabbit handle piece on the end of the skewer in the example photo is simply incredible. I’ve never seen a set of skewers quite like that. It looks like the other skewers have other animal handles, I think I see a cat and a chicken on the other skewers that are slightly obscured by the meatballs. The serving dish is very neat, I’d like to add one to my collection.

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15-30: Champagne Sundaes

The final dish of my Mother’s Day brunch this year (MD2017) was the second half of my dessert options (in addition to 17-23: Mocha Éclairs): 15-30: Champagne Sundaes. My mom loves mimosas (which we had in abundance already), and since we already had fruit from 15-19: Layered Fruit Salad, I decided this would be an easy dish to make as well. Plus, it’s nice to have something light to finish with–it balances out the other rich dishes I made for this meal.

I decided to update this recipe concept for the 2010s: I served them in mason jar glasses instead of stemmed glasses. This could totally be a dish at current-day hipster bottomless-mimosa brunches everywhere.

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20-15: Vary the Butter Sauces

Consider 20-15: Vary the Butter Sauces to be the advanced version of 20-13: Béarnaise and Hollandaise Sauces. There’s probably something that bridges the two better (whatever 20-14 is, but I don’t have that card in my collection), so 5-4: Eggs Benedict will have to do. This set of recipes is part of the Cooking School, the back section of Simply Delicious that provides instructions in basic techniques, ingredients, and recipes that any skilled cook should be familiar with.

Like I said in 20-13: Béarnaise and Hollandaise Sauces, Hollandaise and its variations comprise one  of the five mother sauces, a big part of French cuisine. Mastering it (and the others) is one of the marks of an accomplished and talented chef. I’ve always appreciated a well-made butter sauce, and these variations are intriguing–I’d be interested in eventually trying each one out.

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5-4: Eggs Benedict

I believe in a couple of things–nobody’s perfect, and all things eventually balance out. My experience with this recipe, 5-4: Eggs Benedict, especially relative to how the rest of the meal went, encapsulates both of those ideas. In the days leading up to making this Mother’s Day brunch (MD2017), I knew I needed to practice two things before the big day: poaching eggs and hollandaise sauce–I’ve had trouble with both in the past. Guess what I didn’t do?

I procrastinated on practicing both my egg poaching and my hollandaise, and those were my failure points on this recipe. After the jump, you can read about what went really well (my homemade English muffins) and what didn’t (my broken hollandaise sauce, for one).

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