The 30-Recipe Project: My First 5 Recipes of the Year

Sunday, January 17, 2021


Each year, I set a Goodreads goal for myself: How many books am I going to read this year? My 2021 goal is 55 books, up 10 from my 2020 goal. Back in 2018, I set a goal of 80 & read a whopping 101. I decided to take the same approach this year toward cooking & baking. 

As I've shared here before, I've finally learned how to do a little bit of both since the start of the pandemic – & while I'm nowhere near becoming an Ina Garten or a Mary Berry, I have started to enjoy exploring new-to-me recipes & trying my hand at getting things right. I'm setting my cooking goals a little bit lower than my reading goals, though: In 2021, I'd like to try at least 30 new-to-me recipes.

Why 30? I... have no idea, really. That's a little more than two ew recipes a month, which seems more than doable & leaves room to spend most of my time making stuff I already know I like. That means I'm pushing myself to seek out new recipes without making something new, like, all the time.

I figured I may as well keep track here, sharing every five recipes or so – & because I just made my fifth recipe of the year, I thought I'd start sharing now! Yes, I am ahead of schedule. Here's what I've made so far:


One of the things I've been most excited to make in my air fryer? French fries. But sadly, this recipe is not the ticket. It's a great recipe for sweet potatoes; it is a very bad recipe for French fries, as the potato sticks never got crispy. They were toasty on the outside but overall limp, which some better home chefs have told me is because the potatoes need to first be soaked in water to rid them of starch.

Grade: A+ as a tasty sweet potato recipe, D+ as a French fry recipe 


OK, I made these differently than I was supposed to. I didn't have jalapenos, but I did have sweet peppers, & I had a lot of yogurt; I wondered if it could be subbed in for cream cheese in a poppers recipe... & it can be! I didn't have scallions, & I subbed matzah meal for bread crumbs, just based on what I had in the house. Overall, these were really good & about 1pt each.

Grade: A- but would've been an A+ if I'd followed the rules more precisely


This soup was... fine. It look nice; it looked great, even. But the lentils were a little bit too al dente for me, & the flavors of ginger & lime seemed overpowering. If I made it again, I'd probably do more curry & cumin, & I'd cook the lentils much longer.

Grade: C+. More curry & smushier lentils, plz! 


We had a package of bacon that was going to expire within a week or so, & I had a hankering for the pecan-crusted bacon from Lucky's, a restaurant in my neighborhood... so I made my own! With just three ingredients, this was so easy to make 

Grade: A+. How on earth could this possibly be bad?


This was another case of trying to use up some things that were going to go bad, namely some sweet potatoes & a couple peppers that didn't get turned into poppers. We were out of bacon, on account of all the candied bacon-making, so I subbed Aidell's chicken apple sausage to make a really, really delicious meal that I have a feeling we'll be coming back to a lot.

Grade: A. This could only have been better with fresh rosemary, but the dried stuff came pretty close.


So those are the first new recipes I've tried in 2021, but I also made a few things in 2020 that I'm carrying over & wanted to share. The first is Air Fryer Cornflake-Crusted Chicken Tenders, which I've made about a million times already. They're so good & so juicy & so crispy, even if I have not yet been able to properly photograph them (as above).

I even turned them into little faux fried chicken sandwiches, also above, using Pillsbury biscuits (I've not yet reached make-my-own-biscuit status) & American cheese (don't judge me) & Bachan's Japanese Barbecue Sauce, which is maybe the best sauce I've ever had. I paired those with cheesy mozzarella hash browns, & we feasted while watching The Sopranos.


And a few more:
  • The Greek yogurt peppers came on the heels of a much less healthy version that I made on New Year's Eve: Stuffed Mini Peppers made with goat cheese; I added bacon bits. 

  • I've been making these Crispy Air Fryer Chickpeas, like, every other day; they're 0pts on WW, & they're perfectly spiced, with a little bit of a cayenne but not too much of it.

  • This Healthy Turkey Chili is my favorite chili so far, I think, which is saying a lot because I don't like turkey. It's great with a little bit of Greek yogurt mixed in & shredded cheddar on top.
Annnnd there you have it, my first five recipes of 2020, plus a few holdovers worth talking about. I'm plodding my way through some cookbooks & food blogs to figure out what else to make. I've got the air fryer plus a new KitchenAid mixer, so opportunities abound! 

What have you been making these days? Any favorite recipes to share? 

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