The second week of my cooking challenge hit a slight snag, but still I soldier on.

I made two new recipes, one of which is my newest obsession and will be made again this week. I had every intention on making my third meal this weekend, but unplanned dinners with extended family kept me from cooking — not that I'm complaining about more family time.

First meal: polenta with mushrooms (from How to Cook Everything: The Basics, by Mark Bittman)

I didn't eat polenta when growing up, but it is now one of my favorite comfort meals when I don't want to do a ton of cooking but still want something warm and hearty. Typically, I top cheesy polenta -- also known as grits -- with sauteed peppers, black beans and tomatoes. But using mushrooms instead gave the meal a much more filling dish, serving as a substitute for meat. I did not follow this recipe explicitly because I did not have red wine, but the next time I try making this dish, I will try to have some on hand.

Will I try this meal again? Definitely. As I implied earlier, polenta is something I make often, at least once a month. Mushrooms are an easy addition when making the polenta, and it is a great winter dish.

Second meal: asparagus "risotto" (from Fun Food Fast! by Good Housekeeping)

This dish was so simple but so impressive and equally delicious. I was not prepared for how good this meal would be. The recipe calls for a box of rice pilaf mix to serve as the faux "risotto," and I cannot describe how delicious this meal was. All it took was the rice pilaf mix, lemon zest, lemon juice, asparagus and goat cheese. That's it. Five ingredients, about 30 minutes to make, and you have four servings to feed a family. I forced my fiance to eat the leftovers because I knew he would find it as delicious as I did. And he did. I cannot wait to make this meal again this week. It tastes bright, creamy and filling.

Will I try this meal again? Absolutely. It will be added to my recipe rotation immediately, and I am so excited I have leftover goat cheese so I can make this recipe again ASAP.

This week, I’m trying my hand at corn chowder, which I’ve had on my radar for the past week. Check in next week to see how it turned out.

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