So how did our first week of cooking and eating dishes off a restaurant menu go? Hits and misses.
First, the hits.
The spicy prawn linguine served with garlic bread turned out well. "Worth repeating," MrB said. I thought it was a bit too spicy, but my boys liked it that way. Oh yeah, there was one suggestion. Remove the tail. My boys don't like eating unshelled shrimps. I thought tails were okay. Not. By the way, I used the tiger prawns' poorer cousins. So for around $17, we had a big pan of shrimp pasta that fed all six of us.
Blackened salmon with rice pilaf and green salad on the side - I was lucky with this one too. I printed off an online recipe that called for different kinds of ground pepper, which I already had in my pantry. Instead of fresh salmon fillets, I used the cheaper frozen kind.
The rice pilaf was okay but I will probably not do it again in a long time. It's a lot simpler to just cook regular steamed rice. Besides, it uses white rice which I have given up for brown.
The chicken Caesar salad served with garlic bread was the easiest to prepare. You wouldn't go wrong with it.
The clam chowder was prepared by my 15-year son, Gabriel, so I'm putting it under hits. I found a simple recipe that he could do on my chore-free day during which he takes over the cooking. I think it was yummy, but he was not very happy about the outcome. I, however, was very happy about not cooking. Hit!
Now, the misses.
The cajun chicken was not spicy enough. I should have added more cajun seasoning. The flour coating should have been less. I served roasted potatoes and green salad on the side. I was able to use my garden herbs for the roasted potatoes. That's a plus.
Markus's choice, the NY burger, was not quite right. "What's this, Mom?" Markus asked, "Why, is it not good?" I asked. He tried to be nice about it.
Last Friday, I asked Gabriel and Markus to pick out one dish each as I was driving them to school. Markus was first to read through the menu.
"MOM!," he blurted. "The New York burger you made, you should have put patties! It's a burger!"
"Wha--?" Gabriel shook his head and chuckled. They started laughing.
"Mom, that's why you shouldn't just read from the menu. It's not a recipe," Gabriel said.
It was as if someone turned a light bulb on. "Oh, that's why!" I said. "But it doesn't say patties. Does it say patties? It says bacon, melted cheese and sauteed mushrooms." I was trying to find a graceful exit.
"It's in the name, Mom. Burger." They couldn't stop laughing. I have done dumb things before, but this one, by far, exceeds them all. I may be the quintessential cost-cutter, but making a burger which had nothing but add-ons? Over!!
"So Mom, if you see cheeseburger, does that mean you will only put cheese?" they kidded.
"I'm now afraid to say burger, but that's what I want," Markus teased. He eventually chose Chicken Club for this week. They continued ribbing me until they got off the car and I was left laughing by myself on the way to work.
I have already lined up our week's meals from the same restaurant menu. To compensate for the misses we had, I allowed Teriyaki steak this week. We had it tonight and were all very pleased. It turned out to be affordable too--$15 for the beef (and I've used only half) and $5 for a big bottle of teriyake sauce (I've used only a small portion). Even with romaine salad and mashed potatoes on the side, our steak dinner for 5 would have cost less than $20. Not bad!
At Costco last Saturday, I also bought a big pack of ground beef. I will reprise the NY Burger, this time with homemade patty!