L2C Challenge – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – Cheesy Poblano and Bacon Quesadilla

This week – CHEESY POBLANO AND BACON QUESADILLA (p. 49)

This week, I was looking for something from the HBH book that required a little less prep time. I figured quesadillas would likely go over well with our preschooler’s picky habits and the ingredients list was nice and short. Technically, this dish is under the “Apperizers & Sides” chapter, so I knew I was going to have make another side (I made a big salad) for Paolo and me but it was the perfect amount for Theo. It would also probably be just the right amount of food if we were to have this for lunch instead of dinner.

Ingredients –

  • Thick-cut bacon
  • Peppers
  • Flour tortillas
  • Pepper Jack cheese
  • Baby Spinach
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salsa

Difficulty level –

Once again, Tieghan didn’t lie – this recipe is SUPER simple. It is definitely a weeknight-approved quick meal. If you’re able to find shredded pepper Jack cheese than it’s even quicker to prep.

Price –

The bacon, peppers, tortillas and spinach are staples in our home, so I didn’t need to purchase those. I just had to purchase the cheddar cheese and I opted for the store-made salsa as opposed to making our own. So, in total, I only had to spend about $13 for this meal and, again, the cheese and salsa will be good for other meals/snacks.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe

  • Difference between bell peppers and poblano peppers? (Poblano peppers would have made it a bit more smoky).

Alterations to Recipe –

The recipe includes the option to make your own Pickled Jalapeño Pineapple Salsa. We’re not really fans of pineapples in our meals, so I opted for the traditional salsa (store bought) instead. I also used the bell peppers that I had on hand as opposed to the poblano peppers that the recipe calls for.

Verdict –

This is likely to be another staple in our house. So easy to make PLUS everything is made in one skillet (less dishes is always a win!). There wasn’t enough for any leftovers, so this is a one-and-done dish.

L2C Challenge – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – Korean Beef with Yum Yum Sauce

The first book in my Learn to Cook Challenge is by the amazing Tieghan Gerard, who is the chef behind Half Baked Harvest. I first learned of Tieghan when I stumbled upon her Instagram account (@halfbakedharvest) and it was love at first sight! She has almost 3 million (!!!) followers and posts daily recipes/how-to stories. I own both her books – Half Baked Harvest and Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – and for this month’s challenge I picked the Super Simple cookbook because, well, my skill set would not allow me to do anything above the “super simple” level!

My first recipe – KOREAN BEEF WITH YUM YUM SAUCE (p. 214)

I won’t lie, we have been ordering out a lot lately (trying to support local during the pandemic and eating our feelings about all of these lockdowns…). Each time we seem to gravitate towards Asian-inspired cuisine so it was no surprise that I chose the Korean Beef as my first recipe to make from this book.

Ingredients –

  • Flank Steak
  • Onions
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Rice
  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Soy Sauce
  • Honey
  • Gochujang
  • Sesame seeds
  • Tahini
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Chili powder

Difficulty level

Tieghan was not lying, this recipe was simple. The only thing I would say, however, is that I found it to be time consuming. Others with more experience chopping vegetables and slicing meat could easily breeze through this recipe but for the newbies like me, it took me about 40 minutes just to get all of the ingredients ready.

Price

I paid about $75 to get everything I needed for this recipe, which is wayyy more than I wanted to spend. However, you have to keep in mind that I am starting with a blank slate so there were a lot of pantry items that I purchased that I will be able to reuse many times over in other recipes.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe

  • What is gochujang and Where do I find it in the grocery store?
  • How to cook rice?
  • How to toast sesame seeds (I couldn’t find any ready-made toasted sesame seeds, do they even exist?)?

Alterations to Recipe –

I followed this recipe exactly as described and I think it turned out as intended (although my food pictures will never be as beautiful as Tieghan’s). In the future, I will probably substitute the mushroom and spinach side with another vegetable. My whole family is not particularly a fan of mushrooms to begin with and the mix of spinach, mushrooms and olive oil tasted like dirt to me…

Verdict

Right off the bat, I can vouch that I will be making this recipe many times again! The beef, rice and sauce were a hit with everyone, including Theo (the four year old chicken fingers lover)! The meal was delicious served fresh and just as good reheated the next day for lunch. Plus, we had left over Yum Yum sauce that we used as a dip with some veggies.

Learn To Cook Challenge

While I sit in our rental home, reviewing the millwork drawings for our future kitchen and dreaming of the day I will cook our first meal in our new home, something dawns on me – I have all of these dreams of having big family dinners but… I don’t actually cook!

I mean, I put food together that we consume daily but, often times, I’m defrosting something that we have frozen (soups, pasta sauce, etc.), adding some vegetables and a carb source and calling it “dinner”. Nothing I make actually amounts to “cooking”…

At the same time, I have an unexplained obsession with buying beautiful cookbooks! I even go as far as tabbing all of the recipes that I want to try but rarely (almost never) end up making.

So, in an effort to address my cooking shortfalls (as well as justify my cookbook purchases), I’ve created a little challenge for myself.

Each month, I will choose one cookbook (ideally, it will be one that I already own but I can’t commit to not buying new ones – it’s “for the challenge” after all!) and make at least one recipe per week from that cookbook. I won’t post the recipes on my blog because they are not my recipes to share but I will share the ingredients in case it entices any of you to try them. I will also document my experience with making each recipe and what our family’s final verdict is.

Not sure how long my challenge will last but, since the goal is to learn to cook, I feel it will be a while…