A year ago, I started a birthday challenge to cook 27 new recipes before turning 28 (which happens to be today!). My original thoughts were to include all sorts of recipes, such as meals and desserts, but as the year went on, I realised that meal ideas were the most fun, and I tried some fantastic new recipes! As of Sunday, I finished what I thought was the 27th recipe, and then as I went through my photos, I realised I had actually doubled up on recipe 17, so overall, I ended up with 28 new recipes and I completed this challenge quite well!
When it came to choosing recipes to cook, they came from all sorts of places… Some were from cookbooks or magazines, some were from blogs or Pinterest and some I scoured the Taste website for. I found some recipes I instantly wanted to cook and I added them straight to my grocery list. Other times, I had to search for ideas, and when this happened, I usually looked for recipes that use different ingredients to what I usually cook with.
I found this a great challenge to try new things (I’ve never cooked with pork, salmon, squash, eggplant, prawns, pear or leek before) and I made quite a few different meals that I would not have ordinarily made at all. I also tried a few different cuisines (Italian, Indian, Thai and Lebanese come to mind) and cooking methods (roasting and slow cooking).
From this challenge, I have managed to come up with a new list of recipes to add to my usual recipe rotation, and we have found a few new favourites! These include:
- Fried beef in sweet chilli sauce
- Sweet chilli beef with noodles
- Green curry
- One pot pasta
- Salmon en papillote
- Sang choy bow
- Homemade pizza
- Celery soup
- Chicken quesadillas
- Slow cooker savoury mince
- Slow cooker Southern style pork ribs
Over the last year, I have noticed that my food photography has improved a little, and I have quite a bit of fun taking my food photos each time. I’ve also come up with a fairly consistant style of shots that I take for each recipe. This was such a happy side-benefit of this project, one that was completely unexpected!
I started this challenge since I was in a rut with my cooking. I always stuck to my tried and true recipes, unless I was actively seeking out something new, which wasn’t very often. Over the last year, I have gotten into the habit of trying new foods and learning new cooking styles, and while I still have a lot to learn and improve, I am slowly gaining confidence in my cooking ability.
These are the recipes I have made over the last year, starting from the most recent going back to the first ones. You can click on any of the photos to take you back to the original recipe. These recipes also include my thoughts as to what I would change, and also Michael’s thoughts on the recipe, since he was the one who tasted all of my recipes!