I love trying out new recipes. In fact, the first year John and I dated, he put on about 20 pounds. He was a poor, hungry graduate student, and I had a whole slew of recipes that I had been collecting from magazines and books in the first year I lived on my own. I loved having him come over to my place for dinner. I didn't make the same thing for him twice in that whole first year. He developed some favorites that I repeat for him, but we still are frequently trying something new on our table.
I thought I had come to a point where I can just sort of read a recipe and know if will work out or not for the tastes of my eaters. I also thought I had come to the point where I can adapt the recipe on the spot if it needs just a little tweaking to suit our likes (like cutting down on the amount of onion or omitting the green pepper).
Last Saturday I had a full crockpot of 21 Ingredient Chili cooking away all day. Snow was gently falling outside, the girls were happily playing with each other, John and I had a movie night date to look forward to after dinner. (the real kind of movie date night, at the movie theater, while a babysitter puts the kids to bed at home) I had gathered this recipe from Stephanie O'Dea's popular blog, A Year of Slow Cooking. She had received the recipe from a reader and gave rave reviews about it when she made it herself. It sounded like something my family would like, too, and I had all the ingredients on hand. I had high hopes for this dinner.
About 4:30 or so as the smells were filling the house and making my mouth water, I decided to take just a taste of the chili. WHOA MAMA!!!! THAT CHILI IS HOT, HOT, HOT! I gave John a taste. He swallowed. His eyes bugged out a bit. There was no way our kids would eat this for dinner. What were we going to do?
John lovingly looked up a few hints on what to do if your chili is too spicy on his Blackberry (remember we were without Internet last weekend). I added some brown sugar (the chili had a sweet undertone with some honey already in the recipe) and sliced up a potato. I thought maybe with some sour cream and cheese, it would be okay.
At the dinner table, the kids gave their best effort to try it. Even with the added sugar, the sour cream, the cheese, and some chips. . .. it was still way too spicy hot. Luckily I had made a ham earlier in the day, so the kids had ham. John said he would eat it, but I didn't need to make it again. . . . . ever.
On a lighter note. . .
I tried another new recipe that same night for a cornbread from Melissa D'Arabian, The Ten Dollar Dinners Food Network star. I made a few changes from her original recipe, and the kids and John gave this new recipe rave reviews. In fact, they said I can toss my old corn bread recipe out the window (no more Jiffy mix, I guess!)
I did not get pictures, because I was too flustered about my way too hot chili dinner. You can check out the pictures on the Food Network site. Mine looked about the same.
Here's the recipe as I fixed it:
1 cup flour
3/4 up cornmeal
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup applesauce
2 Tbsp honey
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
3. In another medium bowl, wisk together the wet ingredients.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to mix together; do not overmix or you'll get tough cornbread.
5. Pour batter into a greased 9x9 baking dish.
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Serve warm with butter and honey.
This is more cakelike than a traditional cornbread, but it was superb! The sweetness was a perfect accompaniment to the spicy dinner. The kids loved it leftover the next day, too.
What do you do when a recipe is a bust?