Reader discussion: Share your cooking experiences

It’s Monday and I’m in a chatty mood. If you are, too, share your answers to these questions in the comments:

  1. What is your favorite meal to make?
  2. What is your fall-back meal when you’re tired/stressed and don’t feel like thinking about food?
  3. What is the meal you have made that unexpectedly impressed you?
  4. What is a meal you want to learn to make?

1.) My favorite meal to make is pulled pork (a pork shoulder) that I have grilled all day in my smoker. Since it takes more than 14 hours to make, it’s not something I do very often. But, oh, how I love a homemade barbecue pulled pork sandwich.

2.) Tuna casserole, which my husband can’t stand, but I could eat every day of the year if I didn’t care about my cholesterol or sodium intake. It’s what I make when we do “dinner on our own.”

3.) The first time I successfully made steamed char siu bao at home. It was unbelievably easy, but before then I had decided it was something I would only ever eat out at a restaurant. These buns are not a regular part of our meal plans.

4.) Pâté. I hear it’s easy, but I haven’t yet built up the courage to try making it at home.

Now it’s your turn — share your responses in the comments. I’m eager to read your answers.

17 comments posted

  1. Posted by Nessie - 05/23/2011

    1. I’m really good at meals with potatoes and fish, so I’d say, steamed potatoes with fried salmon and an apple-cream sauce.

    2. A sandwich with whatever cold-cuts are on hand (marmalade if I still want to pamper myself without doing too much work).

    3. Yesterday my Mom and I baked pastries which went horribly wrong as long as we were following the recipe. When we finally veered off course it all turned out okay, if somewhat different to what we expected. We actually got my brother to eat some (although, if he knew how much butter went into this, he probably would have not eaten as many).

    4. I want to be able to make good steaks. My brother gets them perfectly right, but I haven’t been allowed to cook any meat for meals yet.

  2. Posted by Ruth - 05/23/2011

    I’d love to see your recipe for pork shoulder — or should I say, my husband would love it!
    1) My fallback company meals are: baked pasta (like lasagna or ziti) or roasted pork loin. Both don’t require last minute fuss and are cheap to make, but you don’t immediately think: Cheap!
    2) if I don’t feel like thinking about food I just make popcorn on the stovetop
    3) just last week I made pea soup with my Easter hambone, it was the best pea soup I ever made.
    4) I would like to expand my knowledge and skill level with eggplant this summer.

  3. Posted by bytheway - 05/23/2011

    1.What is your favorite meal to make? I love me some meatloaf & mashed potatoes! I don’t even really love ground meat, but it reminds me of childhood!
    2.What is your fall-back meal when you’re tired/stressed and don’t feel like thinking about food? Usually homemade pizza on a stone in a hot oven. I keep dough in the fridge most of the time anyhow, so add canned sauce (my fave is contadina) and cheese, toppings …or I do an alfredo one with leftover chicken, etc. Uses up leftovers & just as fast as buying frozen/getting takeout. My sons still feel like it’s a treat AND I’m saving soooo much fat, sodium, & calories by making at home.
    3.What is the meal you have made that unexpectedly impressed you? I learned to do chicken piccata in a cooking class and my kids were licking the wine sauce off their plates. We *all* loved it and it’s in heavy rotation at my house.
    4.What is a meal you want to learn to make?
    There are so many. I am a foodie at heart. I would like to learn how to do a few seafood things. I don’t eat seafood, but my husband loves it, and I want my kids to be adventurous eaters. Also, I’d like to learn a few Indian cooking techniques.

  4. Posted by Sunflower - 05/23/2011

    1. I don’t really have a favorite meal to make. I cook by necessessity, not because I love it. I have lots of favorite meals to eat, but not to make.

    2. My fall back meal is either a bean burrito or taco salad. Bean burrito entails putting a tortilla with cheese in the toaster oven while a can of drained/rinsed black beans with a little salsa and taco seasoning mixed in cooks on the stove. Assemble the beans, tomotoes, avacado and a little more salsa into the tortilla and it’s done. 5 minutes tops. For taco salad I use the same bean mixture but just spoon it over a bed of lettuce with tomatos, avacados, red pepper and cheddar, with a little salsa spread over top. Super easy.

    3. I just recently made palak paneer and was very surprised with the result. I was amazed that it tasted as good as when I order it in a restaurant. I was expecting there to be a big difference.

    4. I just made a meal I’d been wanting to make for a long time last night. Soba noodles with tofu, vegetables and peanut sauce. It was excellent.

  5. Posted by caitmechanic - 05/23/2011

    1) Soup. Soup is so, so easy and you can fit all kinds of nutrients into it.
    2) Um, crudite and hummus? I don’t cook for other people a whole lot so my fallback meal doesn’t have to be fancy.
    3) Everything from Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. I just started using it last week and his recipes are shockingly delicious considering how few ingredients there are. This week I was particularly charmed by his roasted brussels sprouts (I knew they would be delicious, but not that delicious) and chorizo empanadas.
    4) I want to bake bread. Really, just baking more overall would make me happy since I’m not well-versed in it.

  6. Posted by Senora H-B - 05/23/2011

    What is your favorite meal to make?

    I love it when a beautiful steak turns out perfectly rare: juicy, tender, crisp on the outside. Mmmmmm….

    What is your fall-back meal when you’re tired/stressed and don’t feel like thinking about food?

    Chicken pizzaiola–spread pasta sauce in a 9×13 dish and put enough boneless, skinless chicken pieces for the number of people eating; bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Increase the temp to 475, take the pan out, sprinkle with mozzarella and whatever pizza toppings strike your fancy, bake until the cheese is bubbly. Sometimes I serve it with pasta. It comes together beautifully, even chicken breasts stay tender.

    What is the meal you have made that unexpectedly impressed you?

    I followed America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala. I didn’t have the highest expectations. It was to die for. The recipe for Naan was also delicious!

    What is a meal you want to learn to make?

    Pho.

  7. Posted by Desi - 05/23/2011

    1) I love to cook so this is hard to narrow down, but I would say that my absolute favorite meal to make is Chicken Supreme. It is a sort of inside out Chicken Cordon Bleu that my Mom taught me. It’s amazing.

    2) My fall back meal is either Chicken and Rice casserole. My children would eat this every single day if I gave them the option. So that’s a no brainer. My second favorite fall back is stuffed Quesadillas. Take meat or beans and put into the quesadillas and serve with a huge Mexican Salad.

    3) Potstickers. Actually I just made these for the first time about a week ago, and they are so simple to make from scratch. I don’t know why I spend the extra money not to mention the calories and preservatives to buy them pre-packaged.

    3) Tamales. I love fresh homemade Tamales and I have never tried to make them because they intimidate me. Also I would love to try to make a croque en bouche. I’ll have to beg my sister-in-law for help on that one.

  8. Posted by Joanna - 05/23/2011

    1. My favorite meal to make is a grilled meat (chicken, fish, beef) and broccoli rice cheese casserole with mushrooms – not cream of mushroom soup.

    2. My fall back meal has to be a sandwich. I always have some good deli meat – roast beef or peppered turkey – or a can of tuna on hand. Or something easy from my freezer – a PJ’s organic chicken burrito, pizza, pot stickers.

    3. My unexpected meal has to be a simple zucchini frittata. I’d never eaten or made a frittata. It was a simple recipe from on online cooking blog (stonesoup) and was delicious!

    4. The dish I would like to learn to make would have to be crawfish. I love eating them, but it seems like a big undertaking.

  9. Posted by Jeff Robinson - 05/24/2011

    1) Pulled pork is right up there with me but my favorite thing to cook is a bible thick rib eye steak on my charcoal grill…something about the sizzle and smells.
    2) Pasta…once I learned the proper way to cook pasta (cook sauce in pan and then add tossed pasta to it)…it is a quick go to meal that my kids will eat and is flexible in that you can add all kinds of stuff to it.
    3) I cook recipes from a host of cook books and web weekly so I can’t pin this down to one because it happens all the time. I recently cooked a Mongolian Pork Chop (of Mustard’s Grill Fame) and it came out fantastic (per kids and wife)
    4) Fried chicken…love it but can’t make it…tried once and it was a failure…on the goal list to conquer.

  10. Posted by Cara - 05/24/2011

    1. What is your favorite meal to make?
    Stir fry – most often Honey Soy Garlic or Teriyaki and whatever vegetables I have on hand (mostly broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, snow peas, carrot, onion and celery)
    2. What is your fall-back meal when you’re tired/stressed and don’t feel like thinking about food?
    Pasta napolitana (hubby prefers fresh ravioli, I prefer fresh fettuccine)
    3. What is the meal you have made that unexpectedly impressed you?
    Home made gluten free fettuccine with a fresh tomato sauce. Everything was made from scratch, and it was amazing :)
    4. What is a meal you want to learn to make?
    Chinese food that tastes like my local store makes, and really tender fillet teak like they do!

  11. Posted by Thera - 05/24/2011

    1. A full blown turkey dinner with mashed potatos, fresh boiled carrots, gravy and biscuits. This is one I don’t do often as it takes so much work, usually at the main holidays, Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, but I love the smells, the tradition, the family that gathers etc.

    2. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.

    3. A light summer spaghetti sauce from scratch, by a real Italian.

    4.Bread and fresh pasta.

  12. Posted by looloolooweez - 05/24/2011

    1. My favorite meal to make is also one of the easiest to spruce up and one of the best to serve for guests because it’s quick and almost everyone likes it– just spaghetti w/ marinara & baked chicken parm + salad or whatever veg happens to be in season. It takes like 20 minutes, plus it’s fairly cheap if you make your own pasta sauce & breading.

    2. Quiche. It’s another quickie & it can also be spruced up in like a bazillion different ways, PLUS it keeps in the fridge so we can have multiple meals off of it– see my take on it here: http://lonestaronalark.blogspo.....uiche.html

    3. I never thought I’d get Momma’s gumbo right, but I think I actually managed it!

    4. I like to eat seafood but I never make it at home b/c the husband won’t eat it. I’d love to learn to make a real meal with fresh fish or shellfish instead of just tuna out of a can for sandwiches!

  13. Posted by Katie - 05/24/2011

    Favorite Meal to make: Chicken Piccata — it turns out well every time!

    Fall Back Meal: Omelets — so easy and always have ingredients to make something that will work.

    Unexpectedly impressed: The first time I made brisket. I was so worried I was messing it up, but it was delicious!

    Want to learn to make: Indian food and Pho. I have recipes, but am worried about investing in the spices and then not liking it and never using them again…

  14. Posted by DeeCee - 05/24/2011

    Favorite Meal…Chicken and Noodles or Chicken and Noodle Soup with veggies. Makes me warm and happy and healthy!

    Fall Back Meal…The Big Salad. Gather everything in the ‘fridge and make a wonderfully huge salad served with toasted garlic bread.

    Meal That Impressed Even Myself…Vegetarian “Meat”-Loaf. Husband and I thought it would be a disaster, but it was incredibly good and now a staple meal.

    Want to Learn How to Make…GOOD gluten-free bread (it’s just not the same as regular bread, but I have no choice…*sigh* :)

  15. Posted by Lynn - 05/24/2011

    1. My favorite meal to make is pizza with whole wheat crust, fresh cooked spinach, fresh garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, and whatever other toppings I feel like throwing on. So quick and tasty!

    2. I fall back on salmon salad sandwiches (grilled). Canned salmon, organic mayo, diced banana peppers, dill relish, and finely chopped celery, salt, and pepper.

    3. I was unexpectedly impressed with a recipe titled: “Pork Chops with Apple Cider, Walnuts, and Prunes.” There was a whole lot of “mmm mmm mmm” going on when we feasted on that meal.

    4. I’ve always wanted to learn to make Lumpia. A Filipino friend used to make such delicious lumpia…I wish I could make it, and have it taste as wonderful as hers.

  16. Posted by snosie - 05/25/2011

    1. Fave to make: not sure… perhaps pork satay pies, simple but uber tasty!
    2. Fall back: if no left overs, tuna & tomato pasta (tinned versions of both). it was my sole student meal I think!
    3. Surprised dish: Chicken provencale, didn’t even know what to expect, but VERY well received
    4. Learn: bake bread without the drama – I think the time and the yeast factors deter me. Someone I know loves it, so it encourages me to try again

  17. Posted by Annie - 06/01/2011

    1. To make? I guess mandu (Korean dumplings) — because it’s such a social undertaking. Once you have the pork+cabbage or leek+whatever dumpling innards mixed and ready to go, you can just sit around with friends or family and assemble dumplings til the end of time or you run out of dumpling skins!
    2. If I have a little bit of cold rice in the fridge, I do fried rice with whatever I can scrounge up (remnants of a Thai chicken curry, yesterday’s fried chicken takeout, scavenged kimchi from a church cookout). If I don’t, frozen chili (Zippy’s here in Hawaii) over frito chips and with some cheese and chopped onions on top.
    3. Cochinita pibil. Slow roasted Yucatan-style pork marinated in citrus and annato and then eaten taco style! I like the kind of meal where the magic is in the long cooking time and not in any stovetop wizardry.
    4. A good kimchi stew. I never learned how to cook Korean from my parents and now that I live on my own, am tired of shelling out mucho dinero at the restaurants when I want my go-to comfort food.

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