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Cook!

Hands down the best money we spent at the beginning of the pandemic as a New York Times Cooking subscription. When restaurants started to close and our financial situation took a bit of a hit due to COVID, eating out was clearly no longer an option.

I've had a love for spending time in the kitchen since I can remember, but experimentation wasn't always my thing. C definitely brought out some adventure in me when it comes to cooking. 

So, we've spent the majority of the last year reading the emails from NYT Cooking titled "What to Eat Tonight" and "What to Eat This Weekend" and we'd add things that sounded good to our virtual recipe box and plan accordingly. One of our unspoken guidelines is that the majority of what we made has to have as few ingredients and steps as possible. Something with over 22 steps better end with step 23 being "how to file for divorce"... I kid. We've loosened that rule a bit as we've added more staples to the pantry, but if I open a recipe with a laundry list of things, I typically pass.

Our time in the kitchen together is something we really look forward to. Special occasions, like birthdays, are now planned with the thinking of making something together. And we make a really great team. Even if things don't always work out...as they sometimes do. There's something about a homecooked meal, the labor of love, and the time creating it together that just makes my heart happy. Plus, I'd be lying if I didn't enjoy a good Insta-worthy photo to post before we stuff our faces!

We've built quite the repertoire of go-to's that we cycle through with new additions as they arrive in our inbox. I thought I'd share just a few (there are SO MANY!) of our regular favorite NYT Cooking recipes!

(FYI, if you don't have a subscription to NYT Cooking, these recipes may not pop up. I think you have a few freebie views before you've got to pay up.)

The Basics:

Diner Burger - Y'all. This is THE EASIEST thing we make and one of the most delicious. It's simple, but arguably one of the best burgers I've had. The trick is to get a good potato bun, butter that bitch, and ever so slightly griddle it so it gets a nice crunch. Serve with cheese, pickles, onions, and some mustard and you will love me forever.

Tomato Soup - This makes a TON, so either cut it in half or freeze the leftovers. We serve it with a salad and/or grilled cheese -- it's the ultimate comfort food.


Can't Miss Rice - I have NEVER been able to make stovetop rice without screwing it up, so for years I bought those Uncle Ben's rice baggies that you just throw in the microwave. Those have a time and a place, but this is a game changer!

In Regular Rotation:

Roasted Salmon with Jalapeno and Lime - easy, weeknight dinner we do at least once a week.

Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma - we make this alongside another absolute fave, Saag with Feta from Bon Apetit. The leftovers are so good.

Lemony Carrot and Cauliflower Soup

One-Pan Shrimp Enchiladas Verde - I make different versions of this each time, adding veggies, trying different proteins, etc. I also skip the homemade verde. I sub it with store-bought stuff which is just as good and saves some time!

Craig Claiborne's Smothered Chicken (I add mushrooms for a nice saucy gravy!)

One-Pan Crispy Chicken Spaghetti

Sweets:

Blender Chocolate Mousse

Snickerdoodles - the trick is some brown sugar to keep them soft!

Other Faves:

Olive Oil Roasted Chicken with Caramelized Carrots - the leftover olive oil is amazing for dipping bread.


Buttermilk-Brined Roast Chicken - this takes time but is a really great Sunday dinner.

Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew - seriously so flavorful!

Pork Chops with Dijon Sauce

I will say if you decide to buy the NYT Cooking Subscription, always read the notes from those who have cooked the dish! There are always gems and good takeaways. There are also asshats who post their own recipe in the comments as if they have some "better" version to which I say, "Fuck off, Linda. Get yourself a blog." Mostly, though, the comments are super helpful and highly recommended.

The Duds:

Pan Pizza - after 24 hours of kneading and yeast and rising and whatever, we ended up with a shit version of Stouffer's French Bread Pizza: a brick of bread and some overpriced toppings. We literally peeled the toppings off and ate them. Fuck that bread. We realized that there are pizza places for a reason. Why re-invent the wheel when you can place a phone call?

Ricotta Gnocchi - Great idea in theory...You do all this work to get it into these dumpling thingys, boil it, then (for some reason) throw it into a pan for it to turn into globs of cheese. Tasted great. Looked like a blob of white. Store-bought gnocchi it is!

PS --- I came into our relationship with a set of vintage (40+ year old) le Crueset pans in that sick old school orange. One of these pans is a 10" cast iron pan that was in pretty bad shape. I have zero patience for "seasoning" cooking utensils, so it was infrequently used. Then C Googled how to season cast iron and it is now the (2nd, I hope) love of his life. We cook everything on it and he takes pride in properly caring for it after each use. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It's quite amazing how it's turned out.

Welcome to mid-life: you now have a favorite pan. 

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