the cookbook challenge: an update



Top Row: chickpea + asparagus + red pepper salad,  Chef Chloe’s roasted apple/butternut squash/caramelized onion pizza, fresh veggies from New Hampshire and Chef Chloe’s BBQ pineapple tofu pizza, green curry and impromptu veggie soup, Moroccan chickpea stew (modified from Food52, which is chicken), green curry

Middle Row: eggs with mushrooms + fresh mozzarella+ apricot chutney, Chef Chloe’s BBQ pineapple tofu pizza, Chef Chloe’s roasted apple/butternut squash/caramelized onion pizza, impromptu quinoa salad

Bottom Row: Peanut noodles and the chickpea + asparagus + red pepper salad, Giada’s spicy calamari stew (modified with shrimp and corn), Heidi Swanson’s chanterelle tacos, and peanut noodles take #2.

So far, cooking has been going very well this school year! When I get busy at school, I usually start reverting to takeout dinners and SBUX breakfasts. I’ve overhauled my entire routine to included nightly coffee + lunch prep as well as planning meals before heading to the grocery store and cooking on Sundays. Sounds overly simple, I know, but those small changes have made a huge difference in terms of optimizing both shopping and cooking.

I have also learned one important thing about the way my mind works: hence the Mindy Project picture above (photo credit: In that scene, Danny is helping Mindy build a bunk bed. He asks for the directions in a serious voice, then immediately rips them up, claiming “I don’t do directions.” The search through the cookbooks provided the inspiration to try new recipes, but the ones that worked best for me were the ones I could just build without f0llowing a tightly scripted recipe. For example, the peanut noodles and the calamari stew were both very forgiving when I altered them to suit the ingredients I had on hand, like when my fiance’s mom gave us fresh corn from a New Hampshire farm. Similarly, my attempt at chap chae failed when I realized I’d bought the wrong noodles after a hectic trip to Whole Foods. I ended up using the tofu, mushrooms, and red pepper from that dish for other meals.

The Easiest to Make
– Peanut noodles (the only fresh ingredients required were the garnishes)
– Green curry (now that I have a recipe in my head after making it 4 times, I can make it quickly)
– Impromptu quinoa salad (I either make a big batch of quinoa or use Seeds of Change packets)

Best for Taking to School
– Spicy calamari stew (easily microwaved)
– Peanut noodles (eaten cold)
– Quinoa salad (cold or microwaved)
– Moroccan chickpea stew

Better for Assembling at Home
– Chanterelle tacos (as much as I love tacos, they require too much space and folding at school)
– Chickpea, asparagus, and red pepper salad (because it had cucumbers…those got watery after about a day)

Best for a Leisurely Evening
– BBQ pineapple tofu pizza
– Roasted apple, butternut squash, and caramelized onion pizza
(As good as homemade pizza is, I would only prioritize it for a weeknight if I got home early without any work to do).

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