andreaminarcek

This plate of deliciousness? It's West Coast Dungeness crab pasta with Prosecco and Meyer lemon sauce, from Sunset's January, 2015 issue—and my delectable homemade dinner on Saturday night.

 

Last week, I set out to become a more creative, dedicated home chef, attempting to cook new-to-me, made-from-scratch meals every day. That meant doing a little recipe research and experimentation, and man, did I luck out: I discovered some terrific dishes.

I made a divine Italian chicken sausage and artichoke soup. I cooked a savory quinoa bowl with Swiss chard and poached egg. I even branched into Thai cuisine: spicy green curry chicken skewers with ginger quinoa. Satisfying cooking and eating experiences, all—but none compared with the decadent feast I managed to create with a bit more time on Saturday night: West Coast Dungeness crab pasta with Prosecco and Meyer lemon sauce from Sunset's January, 2015 issue. Whoa. It was, hands down, the best thing I've cooked. Ever.

The zing of lemon and pop of Prosecco enhanced the crab's sweet flavor without overwhelming it, and the chewy pasta was the perfect textural backdrop. So, so good, and surprisingly simple to make. Shelling the crab was a bit time-consuming, but in a space-out, no-real-brain-power needed way: I caught up on my podcasts and had a sip of the Prosecco while I worked, and a blink or two later, the meat was ready to go. Twenty minutes after that, I sat down to the best meal I've ever made for myself. Quite a nice feeling!

Before now, this pasta dish is one I would've shied away from attempting. The idea of spending much on groceries always intimidated me—if I screwed up the preparations, I'd be out that money and a decent meal. Dungeness can be pricey. But the spirit of this Eat Fresh Challenge was just the motivation I needed to jump for it—and I am oh so glad I did.

Who: Andrea Minarcek, Senior Travel Editor

This year, I’m determined to: cook more often from scratch, starting with a two-week streak of preparing all of my own meals.

I chose this because: I need more confidence and creativity in the kitchen.

So far, the challenge is going: Great. Really great, in fact. In just one week, my nightly culinary experiments have put me at ease working with novel ingredients. And I've bookmarked so many promising recipes for the challenge—more than I could possibly cook in this two-week span—that now, I'm really motivated to keep this ambitious-cooking run going. In short: I'm hungry for more.

My biggest temptation to cheat: Socializing with friends often means meeting for a bite or a snack out (my apartment is too small to host), but this weekend, a group of us swapped our typical brunch outing for a hike—and it was wonderful! We got to catch up in the fresh air and got a bit of exercise: win, win.

Coping mechanism(s): Recipe research. The more exciting dishes I have in my to-make files, the more compelled I am to keep cooking.

A recipe I’m really digging: Besides my new best friend, crab pasta? I can't wait to try this Shawarma lamb with couscous salad. After my success with Thai food last week, I won't hesitate to try this Middle Eastern dish. Bring it!

Follow us! Twitter @minarcek, Instagram @andyminarcek. Show us your #SunsetEatFresh challenges, too, on FB/Twitter/Insta.

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