Cooking experiments gone terribly right!

I’ve had my share of cooking experiments that have gone horribly wrong, but occasionally I just try something and it works out in impressive fashion. Here’s a recent example.

I like breakfast burritos, but with all the stuff I want to put in them, they take a bit long. I was making one with just scrambled eggs and salsa and thought, “Hey, why not heat this salsa up a bit. I like huevos rancheros. Why not?”

So I poured about 1/2 a cup of salsa in my frying pan which was still very hot from cooking the tortilla. The salsa started skittering around and producing a wonderful aroma. I continued cooking it down and the tomato sauce started to carmelize. After about two minutes, most of the water was cooked out and I had salsa paste. I poured it over the eggs, wrapped it up, and it was amazing. I can’t get enough. I’ve had it several times since then. I don’t like it with anything else on it – no cheese or anything.

This was made with Pace Medium Salsa. I’ve tried another brand, but it wasn’t as good.

So, what experiments worked out well for you?

This very evening I made a salad dressing in the blender consisting of nonfat cottage cheese, mayo, buttermilk, fresh herbs, garlic, anchovy, cornichons, capers, and lemon juice. I was just playing around without a recipe, but it turned out spectacular.

Then I discovered I had inadvertently made Green Goddess dressing. Oh, well. Freshly made, it tastes nothing like that boring bottled crap that was popular in the 1960s.

I made a pot roast once when I didn’t have any wine, so I dumped in a few tbsp of a sweet hot mustard and about half a jar of peach jelly. The beef roast and beef stock were in there too as well as some carrots, but the flavor of the mustard and the peaches…wow. I had company over that night and she commented that it was the best she had ever tasted and what was the secret. I amazed myself with that one.

My twin grand daughters spent the weekend with me. Saturday they wanted to make some cookies so I bought the stuff needed. First a batch of chocolate chip. Then some sugar cookies. Alicia wanted some peanut butter cookies so we gathered up the stuff but I had only enough PB for half a batch. Then I got an idea. I have a jar of Trader Joes Sunflower seed butter in the frig. So a batch of regular peanut butter cookies were made and a batch of sunflower seed butter cookies were made. They are awesome. I am going to make a special trip to Trader Joes tomorrow for a jar of cashew and almond butter and whip out a few batches of cookies. I will report back.

I made a vegemite cheesecake once expecting it to be a horrible but fun experiment. Nope, it was delicious. Even people who claimed to hate vegemite conceded that it tasted great.

About a month back, we were two weeks out from payday when an unexpected car thingie tore into my grocery budget. I haven’t been so creative since college! Luckily, I’m a better cook than in college, and I actually made some great stuff. Our favorite started out as a quiche, with eggs, milk and odds and ends of cheese - mostly Swiss, but also some cheddar and some muenster - when I found a block of frozen pseudo-lobster meat at the bottom of the deep freeze. It it went, with some minced chives and lemon balm leaves from the garden, half a red pepper and a few withered carrots, diced, some garlic, a few tablespoons of frozen peas and a couple dashes of hot sauce . . . all in a base of broken tater tots, nuked with butter, formed into a crust and baked to a crisp before the filling went in.

It was far too chunky by the end to be properly considered a quiche, and I think The French Chef would swoon to see a tater tot crust. But it was very good, and fed a family of four with leftovers for two lunches on essentially kitchen scraps.

I made a nice sausage sauce for some pancakes a few weeks ago. I took the casings off a few sausages and tossed the meat in a bit of boiling water and just cooked it until it saucified. It was fantastic on some nice fluffy pancakes. Next time i’m gunna try adding some browned onions too it.

Spice accidents that have worked out:

A short while ago, I was making tex-mex for a dinner party (if you’ve ever read any of my mex-posts, you know this can range from relatively simple to grinding my own flours for tortillas and soaking my own pintos for beans). After adding some cumin, I started to—


That wasn’t cumin.

It was curry.

It was a bit late in the seasoning/cooking process to completely shift gears, but with some yogurt, saffron, and a few other moves in method and spicing and it ended up as another notch on my knife rack.

A while back I made a similar mistake when putting together a stir-fry. Again with the “C” mistake, I accidentally grabbed cinnamon. So, in went the pineapple, crystallized ginger, etc., and we went from Chinese-based to island based in one short chicken flight.

I made a stew type thing recently that was delish:

1 pound sweet sausage, cooked
1 huge onion, sauteed
2 cans diced tomatoes (one had jalapenos, which I didn’t notice till after – this is now part of the recipe)
4 cans beans, whatever you like (I had black, garbanzo, 2 red kidney)
2 cans whole corn, drained
And the experimental ingredient: 1/2 bottle BBQ sauce

I actually wrote this down because I want to be able to make this again – spicy but not too hot, and a wonderful smoky undertone from the BBQ sauce.

ETA: I made some cheddar cheese biscuits to go with; also good.

Share, please? I’ve been trying to make some similar dressing but without much luck. Green Goddess, mmmm!

Come on a recipe for Vegemite cheesecake could earn you **Australian of the Year.
** We just need the recipe as proof.

I used leftover cinnamon raisin and blueberry bagels to make bread pudding. I didn’t write anything down, but it was the best bread pudding I’ve ever made.

This isn’t nearly as creative as what y’all have already posted, but one night I was going to make stuffed chicken breasts, which requires breading. I was, however, out of eggs. So I dipped the chicken in some honey-mustard salad dressing, and it turned out really, really well. I’ve done it that way on purpose a few times since.

I threw together a chili last night with the odds and end I had on hand. Motorboy was skeptical when he saw what was going in, but it turned out so good he asked me to make it again someday.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili

6 servings

1 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 oz hot italian sausage

2 medium bell peppers, chopped (I used one green, one yellow)
4 medium jalapeno peppers, chopped (do not discard the seeds - use them!)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cubed

3/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper
dash ground cinnamon
2 tsps ground cumin
1 tb “chili powder” such as McCormick
2 tsps salt
2 tsps Mexican oregano

1/2 cup red wine
1 pint cherry tomatoes
15 oz canned diced tomatoes
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 cups canned black beans
Remove the sausage from its casing and crumble into a large heavy bottomed pot. Add the olive oil and onion and saute until onion is translucent.

Add the bell pepper, jalapeno, carrot, and spices. Saute for 3-5 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown.

Add the cherry tomatoes (cut each in half) and the red wine. Deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits.

Add the squash, canned tomatoes and enough water to cover.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add water if needed to prevent sticking.

Add the beans, adjust salt if needed, and add some water if needed to prevent sticking.
Simmer for up to another hour.

Serve with tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese amd sour cream or sliced avocado.

NOTES : 5 WW points without accompaniments.

Wow! That sounds really good…I’m going to have to steal that.

And, relatedly, I’ve got some chicken breasts stuffed with Boursin Cheese and wrapped in bacon sittin’ in the freezer. Oddly, not as tasty as one would expect, they desperately need something more acidic and…punchy… to wake them up. I bet honey mustard brushed on the outside of the bacon would be a most excellent addition.

I wrote it down right away so I wouldn’t forget it, but it’s at home. See if I remember it well enough to record it here:

1/4 cup each cottage cheese, mayo, and buttermilk
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil, chives, and parsley (proportioned to your taste)
4 cornichons
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 teaspoon of anchovy paste
1 small clove of garlic
squeeze of lemon juice

Put it all into a blender and blend thoroughly. It may be too thick to blend; if so, add a little more buttermilk or water. Taste for seasoning and add more acid or salt if you deem necessary.

I had a Delicata squash* on hand recently that I was going to roast and stuff, but I ran out of time, so I peeled and sliced it and sauteed it in butter along with some shelled edamame and a couple of chopped garden tomatoes. I added some onion, garlic and freshly ground curry spices (cumin, cardamom and turmeric), and served it over rice. It was better than expected and my husband liked it even more than I did.

*About the size of a large zucchini with a texture and taste half-way between butternut and acorn squash.

When mr. bot returned from his fishing trip he came home laden with Salmon and lots of crab. It seemed that no one else in his party wanted their crabs. Cretins! So we were blessed with Much Fresh Crab.

I made crab-stuffed Chile Rellenos. My poor boy lusts for them now.

I charred six large Passilla peppers on the grill, tossed them in a plastic bag for about 20 minutes; then rubbed the skins off.

Then made a slit in each one, filled with crab and a stick each of jack and cheddar cheese. Dipped those bad boys into batter and fried in 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet.

Topped them off with a homemade enchilada sauce.

Brown some onions in a small saucepot, when they are transparent add chili powder to taste (fresh powder is best!) and some smushed garlic. Add a large can of tomato sauce, and let simmer for hours until the smell drives you insane with hunger. Then proceed with the preparation of the Chilis.

Just thought I’d throw in the tip that delicata squash does not need to be peeled. Its flesh is like winter squash, but the skin is more like summer squash skin and is very tender when cooked. It makes it a great choice for pretty sliced squash tarts.

Vegemite-Parmesan Cheesecake