When trying to expand your cooking and baking skills, consider a challenge to try new recipes! Discover 50 new recipes I tried over the last 5 years and our reviews on how each one turned out and was enjoyed by my family!
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If you remember in February of 2017 I turned 35 and launched my 40 Before Forty list. It included 40 things I want to do before I turn 40 years old and one task was to try 50 new recipes. That might not sound like many to some but I’m not a chef by any means and it’s an area of my life I want to improve and expand on. I’m happy to report that I was able to hit my goal and my 50 new recipes that stretched between appetizers, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts and side dishes. We have added many of these into the rotation of meals, but some were flops for one reason or another.
Here are the recipes I tried and the results/my opinions on the dish broken out by meal. Some weren’t winners and some were good, just not as a good as a different recipe we tried previously. I made notes on our thoughts:
- Buttermilk pancakes – RECOMMEND! – We always made ours with a store bought mix but then you still need to add the wet ingredients. Instead, for Valentine’s Day, I whipped these up and added a few drops of red food dye to make them pink! Everyone gobbled them up! Note: The recipe was pretty large as we didn’t eat all the pancakes it made.
- Easy Banana Bread – Remember that kick during quarantine when everyone was making banana bread? We enjoyed this one, but I still felt it was a little dense so it’s NOT a favorite.
- Sour Cream Banana Bread – RECOMMEND!– I made a sour cream crumb cake recipe years ago that we loved at Christmas time so I was up for giving this a try to take a break from the denser banana bread version. This was especially needed when the girls were seemingly on a banana strike in summer. I actually substituted the sour cream for Greek yogurt but it was DELICIOUS and will now be my go to banana bread recipe as I’ve made it more than once!
- Classic Strawberry Banana Smoothie – RECOMMEND! This was the first smoothie I’ve ever made and it came out delicious! We make it a lot! We even made cute straw toppers for them for Valentines one year!
- Baked Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes Herbs and Lemon – RECOMMEND – This was the very first recipe I tried out in my grand scheme to try 50 recipes. While the title says cherry tomatoes, the ingredients listed grape which I what I ultimately purchased and used.
- Fajita Chicken Bake – RECOMMEND This one was super easy since I was able to cut the veggies ahead of time and it made the witching out dinner prep time not so stressful. We turned this into fajitas for the adults and fajita plates for the girls and everyone loved it!
- Sheet Pan Lemon Chicken with Parmesan Roasted Broccoli – RECOMMEND! The hardest part about this recipe is remembering to marinate the chicken in advance. The preparation was easy enough. I actually prepped the meal during lunchtime so the chicken could marinade for a few hours before baking. It was my first time trying out a one sheet pan recipe and I’m hooked! Everyone loved this meal and quickly gobbled it all up! It’s been added to my meal planning rotation and we’ve made it MANY times, especially since there was only a small amount of dirty dishes left to clean!
- Bruschetta Chicken Pasta Salad – RECOMMEND!– I’m always looking for pasta recipes that don’t require red sauce to mix it up so this fit right in my current needs. Derek and I both thought it was delicious (especially with the addition of the balsamic glaze) and it’s been added into rotation!
- Bruschetta Chicken – This was a slightly different recipe from the above as it was about the chicken and I tried to follow it more specifically, including the correct tomato type. Everyone ate it, but we all agreed the homemade balsamic glaze I tried to make, wasn’t a good as the store bought! So if you make this, buy the bottle!
- Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup – RECOMMEND! This was yummy and I enjoyed 2 bowls that night and for lunch the next two days. But while my kids like chicken and noodles they aren’t big soup fans so I was the solo eater of this meal. It’s too big of a portion to make for myself but I’d recommend it to others!
- Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken –It was my first time ever cooking mushrooms and I found this recipe super yummy. While the girls didn’t eat the mushrooms they did like the chicken and the sauce on the angel hair pasta I paired with it. Derek meanwhile thought it was done correctly and how the recipe was meant to taste, but he later told me that he isn’t a creamy cheesey sauce fan. So while I won’t be making it again for the family (much to MY disappointed) it was delicious and I would recommend to others!
- Chicken Marsala – Apparently I didn’t remember the receipe above as I tried another mushroom based one. Derek and I thought this was a yummy meal and while the girls ate the chicken and pasta I made with it, they did not try the mushrooms. I’d still consider this flavor and recipe attempt a success!
- Chicken Potato Bake – RECOMMEND! – I’m working to get my girls into potatoes and I’ve been able to convert Hailey into them through this recipe! Brielle enjoyed the chicken at least and Derek and I both said this recipe is a keeper!
- Sheet Pan Garlic Herb Butter Chicken and Potatoes – RECOMMEND! Right after the experience of the last chicken and potato recipe above, I gave this different one a try. Derek, Brielle and I all enjoyed it and Hailey, this time, wasn’t as big a potato fan as she was last time around, but did enjoy the chicken!
- Chicken Piccata with lemon Sauce – I love ordering this at restaurants but can never remake it as well at home. I tried this on and while yummy, it still wasn’t restaurant quality to me. I never use the capers, as I personally don’t like them, but maybe that’s what missing to add to the flavor to the whole meal, even if I don’t eat the in the end? Still adding this to my recipe box to make again as everyone did eat it!
- Chicken Fried Rice – In an attempt to add more Chinese food style dinners to our menu, I created this one. It was yummy and everyone ate it, but I am still perfecting my attempt to actually “fry” the rice and be a little less mushy.
- Sheet Pan Chicken and Potatoes – Still trying the potatoes thing with my girls and came this lemon pepper recipe a try. It was also the first time I did roasted carrots, we our house tends to prefer them raw vs cooked so it wasn’t as successful as I thought it would be!
- Shredded Chicken – This is my new favorite way to cook chicken to create a shredded version to include in recipes!
- Mummy Hot Dogs – Ok not truly a “recipe” but also not an idea I would’ve come up on my own without looking at Kristin’s site for some cute Halloween food inspiration.
- Parmesan Crusted Chicken – RECOMMEND! I need to perfect the “cook the chicken but don’t overcook the outside” aspect of things with this recipe but luckily everyone enjoyed the crispness of the crust on it! We ate it with some rice pilaf and ceaser salad and it will be added into rotation!
- Sheet Pan Crispy Cheddar Pork Chops – RECOMMEND! While I usually do pork lions instead of pork chops, I did the bone in version that this recipe called for. And it was the right move as it was delicious and EVERYONE ate it! I’ve added this one to the rotation. I did only make 3 pork chops vs 4 (as the girls shared one) and I had A LOT of extra cheddar/panko left. Next time I make it, I’ll make it with less of that dipping mixture but it was all delicious!
- Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops – RECOMMEND! Fact: in this house, we love pork chops and we love parmesan so why not put them together? This dinner was super yummy, not too involved and everyone ate all their food!
- Sweet and Sour Pork – Derek and I like this dish but the girls were not a fan. They both like lots of fruit but are not pineapple fans which is a main feature in this one.
- Baked Pork Tenderloin – RECOMMEND! The good news is everyone ate this one so I would recommend, BUT Derek and I also decided we preferred the brown sugar one listed next better.
- Baked Pork Loin with Brown Sugar and Honey Glaze – RECOMMEND! – This one has been added to the rotation of yummy pork loin recipes in our house! Everyone loved the flavor and I loved the easy prep for it!
- Glazed Pork Chops – RECOMMEND! – I was looking for a new flavor for this meat type that we eat often. I tried out this brown sugar rub version and EVERYONE gobbled it all up!
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork – RECOMMEND! We typically only make pulled pork with a full pork shoulder earned for Easter or Thanksgiving time. But this time we bought our own half shoulder and gave this recipe a try. Everyone loved it, even enjoying some leftovers the next day!
- Korean Beef Bowl – Derek and I both agreed that while we liked the flavor of this, it would’ve tasted better with sirloin beef vs ground beef. The author did say this was a cheater’s way of doing this recipe so we may try it again but with the traditional meat type. OR this would be better as lettuce wraps. We both just felt like it was missing something else of substance.
- Incredible Baked Meatballs – The title did not live up to the hype as we both thought these were only OK. I’m not a huge fan of onion or too much garlic, of which these meatballs had both. I also have been loving the style I’ve been making with whole wheat breadcrumbs vs the panko they suggest here. If you’re into those types of flavors than these meatballs are for you!
- Easy Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) – RECOMMEND! LOVED this! Derek and I ate it with lettuce wraps (a first for us) while the girls had it with tortilla wraps.
- Baked Penne with Italian Sausage – While I think this recipe came out as it was supposed to since I followed it to a T, I wasn’t a fan only because it made me realized I don’t like mild sausage! I’m a sweet sausage gal. But my both my dad and husband who had it, liked it so I saw if you like that type of sausage, give this recipe a go!
- Caprese Pizza – I had a great caprese pizza while at Disney and once I got home I couldn’t stop thinking about it! I already had the balsamic glaze from a bruschetta chicken recipe above so I went ahead and got the additional ingredients mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil and pizza dough and whipped up my own instead of following a distinct recipe. EVERYONE loved it and it’s been added to our rotation of dinner options that isn’t covered in sauce!
- Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes – RECOMMEND! I’ve been wanting to make tomato sauce on my own for years and finally tried this recipe when we had a bunch of roma tomatoes from our garden! We all really enjoyed it so it will be added into the rotation for summer
- Caprese Pasta Salad – RECOMMEND – We enjoyed this recipe at my sister-in-law’s beach house during summer and it quickly became the go to side to bring to any barbecue we were invited to, especially since I could use the cherry tomatoes and basil from our garden!
- Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Potatoes Recipe – RECOMMEND– Nothing necessarily crazy different from your average potato recipe except it was the first time I actually baked mine in a cast iron skillet or used paprika as one of the seasonings. Turned out yummy and we added it to our collection of recipes!
- Baked Sweet Potato Cubes – RECOMMEND! I KEEP trying to get my girls into potatoes and have yet to find a way to make them that they actually liked. I thought I’d go the sweeter approach and made these Parmesan topped versions. I was a BIG fan of this one, but the kids and hubby decided they aren’t sweet potato fans. BUT don’t let that stop you! It WAS a yummy recipe for those that like sweet potato.
- Roasted Garlic Bread – RECOMMEND! I know this sounds weird but I’ve never made garlic bread! I tried this recipe which has you roast the garlic before creating a roasted garlic butter and it was so good that we’ve added it into rotation!
- Vanilla Cupcake – RECOMMEND – I haven’t had much experience baking cupcakes with a recipe vs a box and these came out deliciously! It will be my go to recipe when I have time to make them from scratch.
- Vanilla Buttercream – RECOMMEND – This was the first time I made my own frosting and it was yummy! But WOW, it was a real eye opener on how much butter is actually in buttercream!
- Crumbly Apple Crisp – I was never really an apple pie fan but have come to like the hot caramel apples and pork chop recipe that I make for dinner sometimes. With September being apple season I thought it was time to try a dessert and gave this a go. I’d recommend for sure as it tasted yummy! The first time I made it I missed the additional flour step for the crumbly crust until last minute but it still came out ok when I fixed that mistake.
- Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds – Because everyone needs to try a pumpkin seed recipe in October, right? We gave this one a whirl and EH maybe there isn’t a good way to make pumpkin seeds taste good haha.
- Pound Cake – I have been wanting to make a yummy pound cake that pairs well for a strawberry shortcake style treat but this recipe was not it. It was moist inside but too hard on the outside (probably due to my bad, old oven than the actually recipe). But the flavor inside was pretty plain.
- Ice Cream in A Bag – RECOMMEND! – We gave this fun summertime activity turned treat a try and were happy to see it came out delicious! The video suggests wearing winter gloves, which definitely helped, but I’d also suggest adding the full contents in yet another bag. I’m not sure if it was the cheap Target brand bags we used, or just my girls aggressive shaking but at one point, both their bags were leaking.
- Layered Jello – RECOMMEND! – I’ve made plenty of Jello in this house, especially with all the party styling I’ve done, but this was the first time I tried the layered technique using condensed milk. It looked great on my vintage patriotic party and the girls gobbled it up after the shoot!
- Cookie Bars – RECOMMEND! Our old oven is not too kind to cookies that are not refrigerated and shaped, like an oatmeal or peanut butter cookie. So I gave these cookie bars a try and they were A HUGE HIT! They tastes just like a warm chocolate chip cookie, but in a square form! I also love that this recipe is almost half size so it’s just enough to give some sweets for a day or two but you don’t have too many that they start getting hard and stale by the end of the batch. Will definitely be making these again!
- M&M Cookies – RECOMMEND! I already had success with one Lil Luna recipe so I wanted to give another one of her desserts a try! I made these for the girls’ rainbow birthday party and can’t wait to make them again for more holidays!
- Chewy Banana Oatmeal Cookies – I never met a cookie recipe that I didn’t like… until we made these. I have to provide a disclosure that I did use three bananas vs the two recommended but I still don’t think this flavor was our thing. It just wasn’t a sweet tasting cookie and even the girls were not fans. We ended up throwing them out and not eating the whole batch so I’m sorry, this is not a recommendation.
- Smores Prezels – RECOMMEND – For 4th of July, we tried making these with summertime treats using square shaped pretzels and we all loved them!
- Peach Sorbet – RECOMMEND! – After another summer of peach picking we gave this dessert a try. The measurements are listed for Australia so we went with 4 cups peaches (8 peaches) to 1 cup sugar.
- Sugar Cookies – RECOMMEND! – I’ve been wanting to try a rolled cookie dough recipe for a while (ya know, to use all those cookie cutters I’ve acquired over the years and never used!) so we finally did it for Christmas! This dough recipe was yummy but I want to try a different icing recipe in the future. The icing was a bit too sticky/sweet for us and not the texture I was hoping, for but I’ll definitely make the dough again!