Part of my newfound free time will be spent cooking things I’ve never cooked before. Not necessarily difficult things, though there will be some of that, but definitely new things. Here’s how it’s going so far.

  • Mushroom Barley soup. This was only OK. I’m not sure where my recipe came from – it’s jotted down on an index card. Needed a stronger mushroom presence. I’m thinking dried mushrooms may need to play a role, not just fresh portobellos, which is all the recipe called for.
  • Lemon-Tarragon Chicken salad. A real winner! It had simple ingredients which were well balanced. Usually I don’t care for mayo-based salads (and I did use a little less than was called for) but this was great. The recipe called for red onion; I substituted shallot. Yum!
  • Spicy Burgers. These were a little fatty and not flavorful enough. They need some tweaking because I suspect they’ll go well with…
  • Couscous with Carrot and Herbs. Pretty good. The recipe called for a can of chickpeas as part of the salad, but I figured as a go-along with burgers I’d leave out the chickpeas. Maybe I should have replaced them with something else, like almonds or currants.
  • Roasted Red Pepper soup. I’ve been into making blended soups lately – my favorite being butternut squash. This recipe came from a trial issue of Cook’s Country they sent me a couple of years ago. While not overtaking butternut squash, this was pretty easy and quite good, and I would definitely make it again.