Friday Feasts: The Lunch Project and Also… Thank Goodness January Is Almost Over

 

When we set out as two non-cooks on a self-imposed project to actually cook recipes from Pinterest every Friday in January for our Friday Feasts, didn’t know what to expect. Would it change our lives? Would we discover that we secretly love cooking? Would our families come rushing to the dinner table to taste our lovingly created concoctions?

Well, we can now answer these questions with a resounding: NO.

It turns out we couldn’t be more thrilled that this is the last Friday in January. We are totally ready to hang up our potholders after today’s presentation.

Before we get to that, we have something ACTUALLY wonderful and food related to cover first.

The Lunch Project.

The Lunch Project is a fantastic organization started by three moms in North Carolina to provide a hot lunch for the over 900 children at the Lemanyata Primary School near Arusha Town, Tanzania.

In Tanzania, teachers make due with three to four students to a desk, not enough books, and leaking roofs. Oh….and student teacher ratios of approximately 100:1. Yes, that was not a typo 100:1.

If that wasn’t enough barrier for these children to receive a good education, they are already often malnourished and must walk great distances to school. Can you imagine how difficult it is to learn under these conditions?

The Lunch Project aims to help these children by providing them with a hot meal at lunch. It even employs moms to make the meals, which gives their families much needed income.

How much money does it take to feed over 900 children a hot lunch? We thought it surely had to be a huge amount, something that was way out of the question for regular people. We were stunned when we realized that it really wasn’t.

It costs $85 to sponsor a lunch for over 900 children in Tanaznia.
We were SOLD!! We are proud to announce that The Dose of Reality is sponsoring lunch today at the Lemanyata Primary School in Arusha, Tanzania. Yay!!
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We hope you check out The Lunch Project website and follow them on FB to see the good work they are doing to provide hope, love and a sense of community – one bowl at a time!
Now, back to cooking that’s less uplifting…ours.

During this Friday Feasts nightmare adventure, we realized one reason we don’t cook more. It’s kind of tiring. And lots of the recipes from our Feed Me, Mom board have like multiple ingredients. And by multiple, we mean more than three.

Thankfully, we have reached the last Friday in January and no one in our families have required medical intervention for food poisoning and our kitchens are still relatively intact. We haven’t even set off our smoke detectors once! Clearly, this whole endeavor was a win, and we should obviously quit while we are ahead. After all, without us to sustain the take-out industry, it will probably go under. We can’t have that kind of thing on our conscience, y’all.

Since Ashley already made Beef Burritos and Lisa already made Tilapia and a Cauliflower side dish, we decided it was only fair if we BOTH chose a recipe to make for our final week. The obvious category was dessert. After all, we were headed out on a girls’ weekend away at the beach, and there is nothing better than putting yummy treats and good girly, girl conversation together. We decided on cookies since they were easiest to pack. Lisa chose Lemon Crinkle Cookies, and Ashley chose Chocolate Chip Rolo Cookies.

Ashley took the plunge first. It got tricky quickly because it turns out that the recipe for the Chocolate Chip Rolo CookiesRolo cookies called for making chocolate chip cookie dough from scratch. WHAT??!! Ashley’s eyes crossed when she got to the fourth ingredient. Let’s just say that a phone call was made to Lisa that involved a string of expletives and an alternate plan. Surely, the same cookies could be made by sticking a frozen Rolos in prepackaged cookie dough, right? Who would honestly know the difference? Turns out NOBODY. HA! Take that homemade cookie dough! So, a word of advice on this one…if you are looking for a cookie recipe that involves exactly two ingredients, then this is the one. Because, quite honestly, when you are eating a chocolate chip cookie with a Rolo in the middle, you don’t really care about the way it was made. All the fabulous ladies on the beach trip agreed that they were delicious. There was not a single cookie left over, and they fought over the crumbs.

Lisa started the lemon cookies only a few hours before leaving for the beach trip.Lisa's Lemon Crinkle Cookies There is nothing like baking with the added bonus of time pressure! This recipe contained four ingredients (don’t be too impressed, one of them is cake mix so there is no scratch baking going on or anything). It turns out that these are the perfect cookies to make under a time crunch because they were SO EASY. Well, except for one thing. In the recipe they caution that the dough is “sticky”. Um, yeah. Sticky doesn’t even begin to cover it. She quickly figured out you have to plop a glob of dough in the powdered sugar and then ball it up from there. Oh, and the cookies smell a bit like lemon car air freshener while baking. But if that doesn’t bother you, then you should try these because the finished product is nothing short of heaven on a plate. At last count, Ashley ate somewhere in the neighborhood of 57 cookies. Everyone else had to split the remaining three cookies. Whatever.

Our final verdict on the Pinterest project is this:

Paula Deen and Rachel Ray have absolutely nothing to worry about. We’re pretty sure their careers are completely safe from us taking over their gigs! And needless to say, we still have Domino’s Pizza on speed dial!

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Friday Feast: OMG Please Tell Me There Is No Mayo In That

I avoided it as long as I could. This week is my turn to cook for the Friday Feasts.

I laughed and laughed when Ashley couldn’t keep the can lids out of any of her bowls or pans…but look who has the last laugh now? (Hint: it isn’t me because I’m too busy squeezing lemons and preheating ovens)

Pinterest Pin for Tilapia Parmesan

 

When I was praying for death excitedly going through our Feed Me, Mom Pinterest board in search of a recipe to make, I came across the delicious looking Tilapia Parmesan! SOLD!

 

 

The bonus to this recipe is that tilapia is actually something that every member of my family will eat! We always grill our tilapia (and by “we” I mean my husband), and I thought this would be a good chance for me to find my own way of preparing it. I don’t want to be left out of the tilapia action! (I TOTALLY want to be left out of the tilapia action. Ashley is actually forcing me to do this entire project.)

Pinterest Pin for Roasted Ranch CauliflowerBut I didn’t stop there. NOPE. I wanted to tackle something that we DON’T normally eat. I wanted a vegetable side dish to add to our rotation of broccoli, broccolini, peas, green beans, and corn. Because I absolutely detest cooked cauliflower, I chose to make Roasted Ranch Cauliflower. I am nothing if not up for a challenge.

For me, cooking is always a series of semi-emergencies, followed by a couple of disasters, that generally ends with children crying and being carted off to McDonalds. Thus, begins my cooking adventure.

Cauliflower Mishap #1— This happened when I opened my wall oven door. There was some weird looking charred pan in there. WHAT? Where did that come from? Why is it there? How LONG has it been there? NOT an auspicious beginning. (and kind of gross to boot)

Cauliflower Mishap #2— I needed the juice of half a lemon. I thought I had one of those old- timey plastic things you twist a lemon on to juice it, but it turns out I don’t. I must have been thinking of the one in Cookie’s kitchen in St. Louis. I didn’t think I had the wrist strength or desire to squeeze enough juice using just my hand. I considered omitting the lemon altogether, but what if lemon juice was the one ingredient that would make me not want to hurl while eating this dish?

I asked Robert to squeeze the lemon half for me (Hey, he’s stronger than me, likes to cook, and walked in the door at just the right moment!). He suggested I use the fancy lemon press thing we got from Williams-Sonoma. OH, YEAH! I’d forgotten we even owned that! That is the hazard when you don’t use the items in your kitchen much. Crisis totally averted!

Putting it all together, my spirits lifted. This is basically cleaning cauliflower, tossing some stuff in a bowl with it, and shoving it in the oven. I can do that! How did I not know all these years I have the makings of a master cauliflower chef?

Cauliflower Mishap #3— This is not so much a mishap as an occurrence. The entire time it cooked it smelled…burn-y. Yes, decidedly burn-y from the first second it went into the oven. Maybe that’s the heinous nature of cooking cauliflower. Hell if I know. I was irritated because I had to keep checking on it every few minutes. I am not down with high maintenance vegetables. Once I decided to just leave it until the timer went off, I was much happier.

Cauliflower Mishaps

Moving right along despite the fact that there was the scent of burn-y cauliflower in the air and the sound of the children fighting in the playroom…

Fish Calamity #1— I decided on a hybrid approach to this recipe: baking the fish for the first part of the recipe then switching to broiling when I got to the the cheese/mayo/butter/seasoning sauce step. Pale looking fish will not be eaten by my kids. I needed the golden crusty appearance that only broiling would to bring to the table.

As I took out my  Pyrex 13 X 9 pan I saw these annoying words: NO BROIL stamped right on the bottom. Oh, FFS. That was the pan I was planning to use. I have to hand it to the Pyrex company, though. They know I will take the first opportunity to explode their glassware in the broiler the minute they turn their backs, so they chose to stamp it right there on the pan for my protection.

Nice, but that still left me without a damn pan. I then looked through the rest of my drawers. I found two Le Creuset small baking dishes I got as a gift one Christmas. Maybe they would work? This question lead to…

Google Inquiry #1— I rarely get through a cooking session without having to Google some piece of information most people already know. This was to be no exception. Google assured me that Le Creuset was enamel covered cast iron and could be broiled. Yay!

But I picked it up and just thought it was WAY too light to be cast iron. Is all Le Creuset enamel covered cast iron? This lead to…

Google Inquiry #2— It turns out that this is NOT enamel covered cast iron but rather their bakeware line which is made of…bakeware. How am I supposed to know? I’m not a pottery wizard. Their website clearly stated that it could go in the broiler, though. Whew! Why they just didn’t stamp that on the bottom like the good people at Pyrex, I’ll never know.

Fish Calamity #2— I forgot to put the butter on the counter to soften it. My butter was as hard as a rock yet still had to be incorporated into the other ingredients to form a saucy paste. I decided to nuke it a bit and hope for the best. It worked!

Fish Calamity #3— I was supposed to cut up green onion for the sauce, but the tips of green onions are white. Was I supposed to use that part or only the thin green part? (Do you see why I dislike cooking now? Who KNOWS all this stuff?). This should have lead to Google Inquiry #3, but hey…I don’t have time to Google everything. I’m just one woman. I had cauliflower burning in the oven after all. I made the executive decision to just use the green part. Feel free mock me in the comments if you want.

Fishy Calamities

It was right about then when Bobby walked in the kitchen, looked at the counter, and began hyperventilating, “OMG ARE YOU USING MAYONNAISE?? IS THERE MAYONNAISE IN THIS??”

I wholeheartedly assured him that there was absolutely NO MAYO in ANYTHING I was cooking. It was just sitting out from lunch. (This was a COMPLETE LIE. I’d never leave mayonnaise out on the counter, and there was totally mayonnaise in the fish parmesan sauce.)

The Verdict:

Although I have always hated cooked cauliflower THIS WAS ACTUALLY DELICIOUS. I did burn it a tad, but it was GOOD. Robert and I both gave it a thumbs up. Lucy happily tried it and liked it too! She even heaped two more spoonfulls on her plate. Bobby ate his one obligatory florette, smiled, and weakly said it was “good”. (He is polite enough to know not to wretch at the table). He declined to put more on his plate and immediately drank two cups of water (I’m assuming to get the taste out of his mouth). He didn’t cry or faint, though, so there you go.  I’m calling that 3 thumbs up out of 4.

I was most impressed with the tilapia. When this came out of the oven it looked fantastic. It smelled unbelievably good. I thought it was heavenly as did Robert. Lucy loved it so much that she GASPED when she took her first bite. I am not kidding. She could not stop praising this dish. Bobby ate his obligatory two bites, and then drank three cups of water in rapid succession. He said it was…interesting. (Damn you, mayonnaise!) This was a very solid 3 thumbs up out of 4.

The Verdict

I actually considered this whole thing a rousing success. I only had three setbacks with each recipe and two questions for Google. That’s got to be some kind of a (good) record for me! Plus, I had the unexpected experience of everything looking fairly good and tasting fantastic!! (except to Bobby and at least he was well hydrated from drinking all that water).

I felt almost triumphant until Lucy said, “I want you to cook every night! Your food is so good! What are you making tomorrow??!!”

Oh, what have I done?

Um….takeout?

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Friday Feasts: Please Pass the Beano

You know a meal will be a success when your husband says upon hearing the menu, “Thank God I just bought some more Beano last week”.

I know y’all probably thought our Friday Feasts plan was a pipe dream, and I am sure you all came rushing back this week just to see if we could actually pull put it off. I mean, we aren’t exactly known for our culinary skills…unless you count baking in the Easy Bake Oven (which we totally do, of course). If there were a Cooking Channel show for how to make the best chocolate chip cookies by light bulb, we would totally be in the running.

However, when it comes to using the actual oven, let’s just say that things can get dicey.

Knowing all of that, I was wise enough to pick a crockpot recipe for my first go-round in this experiment. Or so I thought.

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The pin description said Crock Pot Beef Burritos and the picture looked totally tasty. Since we had just come off of eating Christmas cookies and what seemed like 87 pounds of turkey, Mexican food sounded yummy! I was in!

 

 

Knowing that Robert likes more spice to his food, I decided to add some chilies to his and make his in a separate crock pot to ensure maximum tongue burning fire.

Just to be clear, not only was I making a meal, I was actually making two. I know, right? I am pretty sure I need a tiara and sash to celebrate my amazing wifery.

Like any good, wanna be chef, I set up my food prep area meticulously. Well, except the random stuff laying around on my counter. But really, what is food preparation without empty cereal boxes and naked Barbies to keep me company while I cook?

It is possible there were a few mishaps along the way, but unlike the Cooking Channel, I am not editing that stuff out for you! (Although I did fix things before the actual cooking began)

My Secret Ingredients

Here was the biggest surprise of entire experience for me. It turns out that this is not *exactly* a simply Crock Pot meal. Oh, no. That would make too much sense for something named Crock Pot Beef Burritos.

You have to BROIL (like in the oven) the food when it is finished in order to complete the meal.

WHAT?

Broiling is the step that produces burned food and smoke alarms going off. You can’t step away from the oven for even one second or your cheese goes from bubbling to charred. Oh Lord, I had to take a deep breath and do some yoga breathing to calm myself.

In the end, though, I pulled it off…and by pulled it off, I mean the food was edible. To Abby and me.

Robert “accidentally” grabbed a pizza at his “business meeting” (Is that what they call Dominos these days?) before coming home. Emma refused it out right and had leftover chicken instead.

Almost Identical Twins

The good news is that it turns out that this recipe is also delicious the second night! This is when Robert ate it and absolutely raved over my culinary skills! I am sure his overly enthusiastic compliments had nothing to do with sleeping on the couch the night before!

 Was this inspiring to you? Are you headed straight to the grocery store to pick up all the ingredients like right this second to follow in my footsteps? Or I have basically just driven you to the phone to order take-out instead?

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