New To Me Cooking Challenge, Wks 5-8

Week 5- Kahlua & Coffee BBQ Sauce
I’m really excited that this recipe came out so good! ‘Specially because I made a few changes from the original version. Click here for the ORIGINAL.
I don’t own a food processor. I should, but I don’t want to spend $30+ on a kitchen appliance that I don’t have room for in my tiny, tiny space! Which leads me to the peeling & chopping. The shallots weren’t so bad… but I’m pretty sure they’re just small onions. Right? The garlic was a-whole-nother story. It was oddly comical. I couldn’t figure out an easy way to peel the skin. Then about half way through the 3rd clove I realized that all the chefs on TV always squish their garlic (and I never knew why), turns out if you squish the little sections hard enough the skin pretty much peels itself. Darn. At anyrate because I don’t own a food processor, and my chopping skills aren’t that great, my sauce has A LOT of visible garlic chunks.
I’m one of those people who swear she knows what she has in the kitchen… and then doesn’t have it. That happened to me 2x while I was collecting my ingredients for this BBQ. The first time was soy sauce (which was going to replace the tamari), and the second was ginger. Ooops. Instead of freaking out like I normally would… I (in a totally relaxed manner without any cussing) replaced the soy sauce with teriyaki, and the ground ginger with cinnamon. I just assumed that teriyaki would make a good replacement for the soy sauce, and I read online that cinnamon makes an OK replacement for ginger.
:::SIDE NOTE: I didn’t know what tamari is. I had to look it up online, and I wasn’t sure if I could even find it in my grocery store. When I saw that it was like soy sauce, I decided to make that change.:::
Overall I really like the flavor in this sauce, even though it isn’t very Kahlua-y or coffee-y. Maybe I needed to make the coffee SUPER strong? I’m super excited that it came out so well even with my little issues. I also discovered that I like Sweet Chili Sauce! AND last but not least, this was the first time I’ve ever tried to “reduce” something that it actually worked! YAY!!
Week 6- Potato, Broccoli, and Cheese Soup
Thanks to Inside Bru Crew Life for inspiring me to make this! You should def check out her Nacho Potato Chowder! It’s delish. I did change a few little things from the original recipe.  Mostly because I don’t like celery or mushrooms, and I didn’t want to eat the extra calories from the bacon bits. I also couldn’t find Nacho Cheese Soup at the grocery. Hmph.
This would have been pretty easy-peasy… if only I knew an easier way to peel potatoes! Ugh, not fun. I’ll also need a bigger pot. I almost had some overflow. But that’s life as a “new cook”. I never used to worry about what size my pots & pans are. After all, the only thing they got used for was spaghetti! LOL.
Confession: I used frozen broccoli. I know. I’m horrible. But let me explain? What had happened was… I (try to) do all my grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon… Hubs had to travel most of this week, we weren’t sure when he’d be home. So I didn’t want to buy fresh broccoli, and have it go bad. That makes it OK, right? So, I steamed it for about 4 minutes in the microwave (just long enough to thaw), then put it in with the rest of the ingredients to finish cooking. 
This soup will be great for one of those cold days when we want something hot! It’s almost easy enough to make for lunch.
Week 7- Cheater’s Shepherd’s Pie
Week 7 of the “New To Me Cooking Challenge” was a success! Husband said he’d ask for it again AND I actually liked it too!
The only thing I didn’t like was that I had to use 3 pans. Pffft, I hate washing dishes!
I call this “Cheater” Shepherd’s Pie because, well… I cheated. I used pre-minced garlic, fake flake mashed potatoes, and pre-made beef gravy. Sue me. 😉 If you want to completely homemade version check out this one by Picky Palate. It inspired my version.
I used all reduced fat products when I made it… Super lean ground beef, reduced fat gravy, reduced fat shredded cheese, and made the potatoes w/ 2% milk & 1 tablespoon margarine. I count calories, and I need to cut them when I can (I like to save room for all the cupcakes/ desserts)!
Week 8- American Chop Suey
So, this American Chop Suey was a last-minute choice for week 8 of the New 2 Me Cooking Challenge. I wanted to make THIS recipe from Cravings Of A Lunatic… but I forgot to pick up the taco seasoning, and I didn’t have anything to substitute for it. Total bummer.
My mom used to make a version of this recipe pretty often, and I had all the required ingredients… so I figured I’d throw it together.
I know that Chop Suey is usually made with stewed or diced tomatoes, but I HATE (HATE, HATE) stewed tomatoes, and I didn’t have any fresh ones to cut up. I also know that most people sauté the peppers and onions then brown the meat, but I also HATE mushy cooked veggies. ::: I have a really weird thing about food textures:::
Overall it’s unassuming and pretty average dinner. It needs some sort of pizazz. Some sort of extra flavor! Hmmmm… I need to think about this.
That wraps up February’s “New To Me Cooking Challenge”!
Happy Cooking!
-Hey Waitress!!

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