Chicken Wins

I cooked chicken breasts in a frying pan and I DIDN’T BURN THEM! [Cue confetti, balloons, and blowout noisemakers.]

IMG_1002

That beautiful picture is the result of a Pan-Roasted Chicken Cutlets with Maple-Mustard Dill Sauce recipe. I’ve never cooked chicken this way without burning it on the outside. And the sauce was delicious! I was a little weary of combining maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and dill, but somehow it worked really well. I wish I was talented enough to know how to mix weird condiments and herbs to make such brilliant flavors. Le sigh…

Not that I can’t make up my own great flavors. The other night I made pesto-stuffed chicken with a side of seasoned brown rice. I didn’t use a recipe for any of it, and I’m rather proud of that. I stuffed the chicken with pesto, rolled it in a bread crumb-Italian herb mixture, and topped it with Parmesan cheese. I cooked the rice in chicken broth mixed with two teaspoons of onion and herb Mrs. Dash, and then added about half a teaspoon of salt and a handful of Parmesan.   It’s nothing complicated, but it was tasty! Chopped, here I come!!!

IMG_1000

Wooooahhhhh. I got a little carried away there. No Chopped. I’m lucky if I’m familiar with even one mystery basket ingredient each episode.

I am feeling pretty good about my cooking skills this week, though. I’m making pork tenderloin for the first time ever on Thursday, so let’s hope this good mojo continues!

Culinary deja vu

[Insert self pat-on-the-back here.]  In tonight’s meal, I used a jalapeno!  I’ve never even liked jalapenos.  Just the word “jalapeno” once made me cringe.  But since my recent realization that I do indeed enjoy onions in my food, I decided to give jalapenos a whirl.  Dinner tonight was chicken jalapeno quesadillas.  They turned out pretty tasty.  And I actually enjoyed the jalapeno!

However, my pride was short-lived.  While I tried something new tonight, I feel like it wasn’t new enough.  Part of my keeping this blog is to inspire myself to step out of my comfort zone and do things I don’t think I’m capable of.  But tonight, dinner was nothing more than tossing together some chicken breasts and jalapenos, slapping them on a tortilla, burying them in some cheese, and sticking them in the oven.  I’ve known how to make quesadillas since I was a child.  There was nothing about tonight’s dinner that challenged me or tested my abilities.  As an aspiring chef, this is one of my biggest faults.

Over the past year, I’ve tried dozens of new recipes and I’ve failed to understand how I still just plain suck at cooking.  Now I’m realizing, I’m not going to make any progress if I try the same things over…and over…and over.  Almost everything I have made involves pasta, chicken, cheese, tomato sauce, or beans.  If the ingredients get more complex, the steps themselves sure as hell don’t.  Any recipe that requires more than tossing ingredients in a pan and stirring usually sends me running for the hills.  Just the other day, I read a recipe that sounded delicious and I didn’t even bother to bookmark it because I didn’t think I was capable.  I doubted myself.  And as long as I keep doubting myself, I’ll never be anything other than a girl who tosses ingredients in a pan and stirs them.

My goal for next week is to find a recipe I’d imagine is “out of my league,” so to speak, and I’m going to cook it.  It may burn, it may taste like baby poo, it may make me cry and hate myself for a day or two–but no matter what, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I tried, and that trying eventually leads to succeeding.