August Cookbook Challenge!

Great Easy Meals (Food Network Magazine) was my choice for the Cook Book Challenge in August, To see the Cook Book Challenge for other months click HERE.

The Recipes:

  1. Moo Shu Pork (pg 169)-I liked this recipe, didn’t love it. The.mr said it was “really good.” is it still considered Moo Shu Pork w/o the mushrooms? I left those out ‘cause mushrooms gross me out and taste like dirt. I couldn’t find Bibb lettuce at the grocery store… so I settled with a small head of Boston lettuce… I should’ve bought 2, because we only had enough leaves to wrap about ½ of our Moo Shu Pork. I also used about 1 lb of pork instead of ¾ lb.
  2. Mix & Match Stir Fry (pg 217)- I did Pork w/ carrots, peas, and onions in sweet & sour sauce. I’m not sure why it calls for marinating the meat in cornstarch, egg whites, and rice wine… the.mr and I liked this better than my usual stir fry recipe. I love all the options to mix & match. It makes it really simple to change up the ingredients.
  3. BLT Pasta Salad (pg 281)- LOOOOVE. I left the milk out of this recipe, and switched the amounts of sour cream and mayo. Because I left the milk out it was a little dry, but I added a little light ranch to it when I was eating. I really liked the way the cooked tomatoes tasted in this pasta salad. I should mention that I used 8 oz of cherry tomatoes instead of “regular” tomatoes. This recipe made enough for both of us to eat our fill, and I had the leftovers for lunch the next day!
  4. Mix & Match Mac N Cheese (pg 325)- I used medium shells, a mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheese, bacon, spinach, and a panko and parmesan topping. The sauce was kind of gritty, I think it was because I used skim milk and fat-free cheese. Also, I remembered how much I don’t like the way spinach tastes. The.mr LOVED it. At least, I think he did… he finished ALL the leftovers in just a few days. Overall this was an easy recipe, and the mix & match feature is going to get used A LOT.

The Good:

  • Everything in this cook book was easy (just like the title suggests).
  • The recipes are easy to follow, and the ingredients easy to find.
  • The recipe index in the front has pictures!!
  • There’s a great Mix & Match page at the back of each section… it’s a really easy way to build your own recipes!

The Less Good:

  • Some of these recipes have a few too many steps (and pots to dirty). I ended up not even trying those.
  • mr and I have kind of simple tastes and some of these dishes made us raise an eyebrow. They sound a little fancy for us. I don’t think that’s really a deterrent for most people.

Other Recipes 2 Try:

  • Meaty Quesadillas (pg 80)
  • Chicken w/ Apple & Onion, in Cider Sauce (pg 101)
  • Pepper-Jack Chicken with Succotash (pg 125)
  • Rosemary-Mustard Pork w/ Peaches (pg 177)
  • Spaghetti Carbonara (pg 301)
  • Any/ all of the Side Dishes starting on pg 329

Overall:
I like it! I’m excited to try some of the other recipes I have bookmarked. There aren’t too many of the “tips” from the FN Stars, but I’m OK with it. I’d probably suggest buying this one, definitely would if it was on sale.

Happy Cooking!
-Holly

July Cookbook Challenge: Feed Your Athlete

Here’s the link to see the Feed Your Athlete Cookbook on Amazon!

Keep reading to see what recipes I made, and the “review” for the July post of my Cookbook Challenge series.

The Recipes

  1. Bran Raisin Cookies (pg 68): I really liked these! I added an extra cup of Raisin Bran. I also used parchment paper instead of greasing the cookie sheets. These cookies spread a LOT, I think the dough needed to be chilled. Either that or my butter was too soft. At any rate I liked these so much that I adapted them into THESE Raisin Bran Oatmeal Cookies!
  2. Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes (pg 86): The.mr and I both liked these pancakes. They’re waaaaaay better than box mix! I followed the directions, right until step 5. Instead of pouring out ¼ cup, I used a 2 inch cookie scoop to get the batter onto the hot skillet. I also left out the nutmeg, but that’s because I forgot it!
  3. Cranberry Limeade (pg 104): this was just OK. I wasn’t super impressed. It was REALLY tart. It’s supposed to be a pre-competition drink, but I don’t think I’d drink it before a long run or anything… mostly because I was actually thirstier after I finished drinking it! Hmph.
  4. Snack Mix Cereal Bars (pg 119): the.mr and I liked these so much I made them 2x. Actually, I made them 2x because I forgot the chocolate the first time! Tragedy! The second time I made them I played around with the recipe a little bit, so I’ll probably share that (eventually). No matter what, I suggest you make these. They kind of reminded me of Rice Krispie Treats, only better. What’s not to love about peanut butter, marshmallows, Chex, salty pretzels, and a liberal amount of chocolate sprinkled in?
  5. Quick Tortellini Salad (pg 136): This recipe was devoured! I made it twice in one week. The first time I used tortellini filled with chicken, and the 2nd time I used the cheese filled kind. The.mr liked the chicken the best, I preferred the cheese filled ones! It tasted as good cold as it did when the pasta was fresh out of the pot.
  6. Hamburger Casserole (pg 143): this recipe was just like Hamburger Helper!! It was awesome! I didn’t change a single thing! Wait, I used ground turkey instead of hamburger. So I guess I did change something. 😉 Don’t let the photos dissuade you from making this recipe… it’s not very photogenic, but it sure is yummy.
  7. Raspberry Lemonade (pg 151): This drink was soo good! It was kind of important to use the sweetest raspberries you can find or it’ll be too sour.

 

The Good

  • The first part of this cookbook is awesome. It’s broken down into sections like Nutrition Basics, and advice on how to feed GF or vegan athletes. Basically… I learned A TON from reading this part.
  • The recipes are broken down into Training, Competition, and Recovery sections, and then divided again by “type” (ex. portables, drinks, entrees). I love it!
  • Every recipe I tried was easy to read and had easy to find ingredients.
  • There are 5 icons that might appear next to each recipe indicating Low Fat, High Protein, High Carb, High Fiber, or Low Fiber.
  • Nothing felt or tasted like it was “healthy” and I liked it. I hate when I’m trying to be healthy and the food isn’t satisfying!

 

The Less Good

  • I liked (almost) EVERYTHING about this cookbook!
  • The portion sizes felt a little small… but that might be because the.mr and I really like to eat. 😉
  • I consider myself a “runner”, but I don’t fit the endurance category. I’m also not strength training… So it might’ve been cool to see it add blurbs or specific info for runners or other sports.

 

Other Recipes 2 Try

  • Blackberry Cooler (pg 54)
  • Sweet & Salty Peanut Bars (pg 62)
  • Greek Pasta Salad (pg 78)
  • Three Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Shells (pg 92)
  • Quickie Breakfast Burrito (124)
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (pg 166)
  • Super Simple Couscous Salad (pg 177)
  • Zucchini Pizza Casserole (pg 186)

Overall
Worth it! Esp if you’re new to healthy eating, want to improve your eating habits, or are attempting to fuel better for your workouts!

 

Happy Making!
-Holly

May & June Cookbook Challenge

America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
I cheated and used the same cookbook for May and June. The.mr and I had a busy couple of months so I didn’t do much cooking, never mind trying new recipes.

The Recipes

  • Toasted Corn Salsa (pg 46): I stuck to the recipe 100%. I had a heck of a time toasting my corn, I think I over crowded it in the pan. It tasted good, we ate all of it in 2 sittings. I don’t like cilantro, but the.mr does… so I might leave it out (or reduce the amount I use) next time.
  • Apricot Orange Chipotle Sauce (pg 239): Neither the.mr or I really liked this sauce. We both thought it was fine, but not good enough to make again. The orange chunks and the orange juice overpowered the other flavors. Except the cilantro… but we’ve already established how I feel about cilantro. 😉
  • Southwest Marinade (pg 349): I actually used this marinade as a sauce for a pork butt I cooked in the slow cooker. I used raspberry jam instead of apricot. It was too spicy for my tastes. The.mr liked it, tho. I think if I had used it as just a marinade it would’ve been OK, but the pork had A LOT of time sitting in all that spicy sauce.
  • Multigrain Pizza Dough (pg 381): I made this recipe in my stand mixer instead of the food processor. This obviously changes the directions a little, but I didn’t write anything down besides “Stand Mixer” so… sorry. If you’re only going to use one of these pizza doughs, put the other in the freezer. If you leave it in the fridge it will continue to grow. And grow. The.mr and I both really liked this dough. It made a great crust.
  • Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits (pg 422): I really liked these! I thought the addition of cream cheese was kind of weird, but it worked out well in the end. Instead of cutting these out into round biscuits, I rolled/patted the dough into a rectangle and cut the biscuits in to squares. Mostly because I was too lazy to dig out a round cookie cutter, and partly because I didn’t want to overwork the dough. I baked these at 425 degrees F for 7 minutes, and 400 degrees for 12 and they were slightly over baked. I would’ve baked them at 450 but my oven smells like it’s burning something every time I turn it above 425. *shrugs shoulders* Make these biscuits, you won’t regret it.
  • Raspberry Bars (pg 443): Errr… I’m not sure what happened when I baked these, but mine DO NOT look at all like the photo in the book. I must have messed up somewhere and not realized it. The.mr liked them anyway. I didn’t really care for them. I’m going to try baking them again soon.

The Good

  • I love that this cookbook is a binder! It’s so much easier than trying to hold book pages down… I know that sounds silly but… love!
  • This book is filled with great “Test Kitchen Tips” on things from the best kitchen tools to how to poach something in the oven
  • I found all the ingredients I needed at my regular grocery store.
  • The writers have included variations on quite a few recipes.
  • Each section has a separate index for quick reference.

The Less Good

  • The page formatting was a little irksome. Some of the recipes only have a line or 2 at the bottom of one page, then go on to the next (or even the back). I’d the space was just left blank, or maybe had another “tip” instead.

Other Thoughts

  • The recipes are made with healthier ingredients, but most of them couldn’t be considered “diet” food.
  • I mentioned in the last post how busy the.mr and I were in May/June… so I didn’t try as many recipes as I wanted too. Obviously, I’ll be tackling some of the ones below. They may or may not be posted.

Other Recipes 2 Try

  • Carmelized Onion Dip (pg 41)
  • Any of the salad dressings
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup (pg 111)
  • Scalloped Potatoes (pg 143)
  • Chicken w/ Zucchini & Tomatoes (pg 254)
  • Any of the Marinades/ BBQ Sauces/Spice Rubs in the Grilling chapter
  • Whole wheat Dinner Rolls (pg 397)
  • Cinnamon Raisin Bread (pg 402)
  • Sweet Potato Biscuits (pg 424)
  • Classic White Sheet Cake (pg 452)

Overall
I like it! I’ve picked thru it for a few recipes here and there. IMO it’s worth the money I spent.

Happy Cooking/Baking/Making!
-Holly

PS don’t forget to check out the other cookbooks I’ve tried so far!

February Cookbook Challenge- SL Heirloom Recipe Cookbook

The Book
Southern Living Heirloom Recipe Cookbook. Cobbs, Katherine, & Strickland, Ashley. Oxmoor House, 2011.
I picked out the SL Heirloom Recipe CB while I was browsing thru the cooking section at Books A Million.  I lived in Southern Virginia for 8ish year and I never learned to cook while I was there, so I thought this might be a nice tribute to the area I love. I might have been born and raised a Yankee, but Southern VA is the place I really feel at home.

The Recipes
I have to confess… I didn’t start writing this post ‘til the end of MARCH. So, it’s been a while since we actually ate these recipes. I’m sorry it’s a little vague.

  • Vegetable Cheddar Chowder (pg 199): Step 1 in this recipe says to drain the veggies after cooking them. I drained about ½ the liquid off, because I thought we needed the broth as a base. I won’t drain any of the broth next time. It’d be really easy to make this recipe vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth. The.mr and I enjoyed this recipe, but we found that it didn’t reheat well. Everything got waaaay too mushy in the microwave.
  • Meatloaf (pgs 120 & 121): I originally set out to make the Turkey Meatloaf on page 121, but I couldn’t find turkey sausage in the grocery store! I just used regular pork sausage. I reduced the recipe by ½. Instead of cooking this in a “loaf” I cooked it in lightly greased LARGE muffin tins. I filled each spot w/ about ¾ cup of the mixture, and baked it for around 40 minutes. This recipe was greasy, I think it was because of the sausage. If I make this again, I’m going to try precooking the sausage.
  • King Ranch Chicken (pg 170): I reduced this recipe by ½ also. I also used all cheddar cheese, and substituted nacho cheese soup. Other than that I followed the directions! I wasn’t a fan of this one. I’m not sure why… but I just didn’t like it. The.mr really liked it, he said he’d even ask for it again. Go figure.
  • Sour Cream Crescent Rolls (pg 57): Of the 4 recipes I made for the challenge this month I loved these the best! Surprised, you shouldn’t be? I really love my carbs! I accidentally used ¾ cups (instead of ½ c) of butter when I made the dough. It was kind of sticky… Oops! It’s OK, they still worked out really well! Step 5 in the instructions said to let the dough rise for 45 minutes. I made 2 cookie sheets of rolls and let them rise in a warm oven (preheated to 200 degrees, then turned off). I let one sheet rise for the full 45 minutes, and the other I let rise for 30 minutes. The.mr and I like the ones I let rise for 30 minutes the best. They had the best texture, and kept their crescenty shape. I also made a rookie mistake by baking both cookie sheets at the same time, and forgetting to rate them on the racks! So some of them browned more than others.

The Good

  • Easy to follow recipes
  • (Mostly) easy to find ingredients

Other Thoughts

  • It’s neither good nor bad, but I’m kind of indifferent to the stories… I barely skimmed them.
  • I wish there were more pictures.
  • This *isn’t* a healthy cookbook. 😉 What I mean is, there are lots of delish fats & carbs!
  • The recipes are def family sized! I had A LOT of leftovers!

Other Recipes 2 Try

  • Orange Rolls
  • Chicken Kiev
  • Macaroni Au Gratin
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Jalapeno Jelly
  • All the desserts!

Overall
I like this cookbook, and there are a lot of other recipes I can’t wait to try. The.mr liked everything we tried, but I was indifferent to the meatloaf and didn’t like the KRC.
I’m not sure it’s worth the money I spent, but if I saw it at a used bookstore I’d grab it!

See all the 2015 Cookbook Challenge Recipes!!

Happy Cooking!
-Holly

January Cookbook Challenge- Skinnytaste

I was really excited to start a new challenge this year. I wanted to do something different from in 2013 or 2014, so the Cookbook Challenge was born! Click HERE to learn about it!
Because this is the first time I tried this I’m still working out the kinks. So bear with me, I should have it all together (and organized) by December! *apologetic smile*

The Book
The SkinnyTaste Cookbook. Gina Homolka. Clarkson Potter, 2014.

The Recipes

  1. Cubano-Style Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (pg 205): I followed the directions for this recipe to a “T”… almost. I had a little trouble trying to figure out how to cut it for the prep. I don’t think it was the directions…I think it’s cuz I’m special. Pounding the meat to thin it is pretty fun. Just in case you were wondering. I used pickle chips instead of spears… but that’s because I wanted to use the leftovers for sandwiches! I also didn’t have any twine, so I had to use toothpicks to hold it all together. I never would’ve thought I wouldn’t be able to find cooking string in at the grocery store! The dry rub w/ this recipe is aaaahmaaaazing. I’ve used it a bunch already!
  2. Chicken Rollatini Stuffed w/ Zucchini & Mozzarella (pg 152): I didn’t change a thing! Pounding the chicken cutlets is awesomely fun… if you’ve never pounded meat into submission you don’t know what you’re missing. Oh gaaawd, that sounds horribly inappropriate. *winks*
  3. Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers (pg 242): This recipe was my first time using Quinoa. It’s… interesting. I did deviate from this recipe in a few places. I used green peppers (they’re cheaper at the grocery store). I used 1 cup of crushed pepper instead of ¾ of a cup, and I added it to the skillet w/ the spinach after the garlic. I didn’t bake these in the oven, instead I assembled them, and then cooked them in the skillet, covered, on medium heat until the peppers where done. I had to add the rest of the can of crushed peppers & some extra chicken broth to the skillet so it didn’t burn.
  4. Teriyaki- Glazed Grilled Pork Chops w/ Pineapple Salsa (pg 198): I didn’t change anything in this recipe… besides the fact that I didn’t grill them. There’s like feet of snow surrounding our grill, it IS winter after all. I cooked them in the skillet. I love my skillet. I used a can of pineapple in juice instead of fresh pineapple… for convenience and all that. I think it was a 15 oz can. I also used a yellow pepper (it was small and kind of green), not a jalapeño, in the pineapple salsa. Speaking of Pineapple Salsa, the.mr LOVED it.

The Good:

  • I had a hard time picking which recipes I wanted to try from this cookbook.
  • The pictures are BEAUTIFUL.
  • The recipes are pretty self-explanatory, and I found all the ingredients (except cooking string) in the “regular” aisles in the grocery store.

The Less Good:

  • The ingredient lists… it’s kind of a love/hate thing. They’re divided by which part of the recipe they go in. So when I used pineapple juice in the pork chops it was listed 2x. Once in the list under the pork chops, and again in the list under the teriyaki sauce. It’s great when I’m making the recipe, but it caused a little confusion when I was making my grocery list. It’s not a deal breaker by any means. And I honestly like it better than if it was one giant list of ingredients that kept listing “divided”. Does that sound crazy, cuz I don’t think I explained it very well.
  • I know the recipes are skinny… but the.mr and I finished everything, every time. No matter what the serving size was. I don’t think I could cook “skinny” for the.mr every day… yah I blame him. *wink*

Other Recipes 2 Try:

  1. Chicken Cordon Bleu Meatballs (pg 163)
  2. So-Addicted Chicken Enchiladas (pg 171)
  3. Tricolor Summer Penne (pg 239)
  4. Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls (pg 248)

Overall:
LOVE IT.
Buy it!

See all of the 2015 Cookbook Challenge!

Happy Cooking!
-Holly

PS. I forgot to take pictures while I was making them, especially when I made the Stuffed Peppers & Teriyaki Chicken! Oops!

Chicken Parm Meatball Casserole-N2MCC50

I know,I know… this is supposed to be a “New 2 Me Cooking” Challenge not a “How Many Casseroles Can Holly Make in a Year” Challenge.

I just couldn’t help myself when I saw the original version of this recipe on Buns In My Oven.

Sorrynotsorry.

I’m totally in love with the way this recipe turned out. I mean, you can’t really beat tiny Chicken Parm meatballs surrounded by saucy shells topped off with some melty mozzarella!

Overall the.mr and I gave this dish 2 thumbs up. It tastes even better than regular Chicken Parm and reheated nicely on Leftovers Night.

Click here to check out my version of Chicken Parmesan Casserole. Trust me, you want this in your belly. Don’t forget about all the other New 2 Me Cooking Challenge recipes from 2014 and 2013!

Happy Making!
-Holly

Cheesy Veggie Bake- N2MCC48

cheesy veggies

I adapted this Veggie Bake from A Southern Fairytale for week 48 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge.

Overall there isn’t much to say. It tastes like baked veggies, which is a good thing.

The bad thing is… it was a little wet. After it finished baking there was a lot of moisture in the bottom of the baking dish. It made the veggies mushy when I tried to reheat it. 

I did a little research online, and came to 2 conclusions.
1) The zucchini/ squash has a high moisture content, so next time I make this I’m going to reduce the zucchini/ squash and add green beans or another veggie.
2) low fat sour cream doesn’t work well in recipes like this… something about the whey separating from the cream worse than with regular sour cream. I’m still a little unsure on this, but I’ll use regular next time to test this theory.

The way I made my version of Cheesy Veggie Bake got thumbs halfway up from the.mr and I. it wasn’t awesome, but with a couple of changes I think it will be.

Happy Making!
-Holly

Don’t forget to check out the other recipes from 2014, or 2013!

EPIC Slow Cooker Chicken & Rice Soup FAIL… So I Made Chili.

Alright, here’s the deal… This post is supposed to be for week 46 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge.

I was going to share a recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken & Rice Soup, but it was an EPIC FAIL. Like, inedible, we had to order take out it was so bad. The only thing I’m going to say about it is… don’t try and substitute white rice for long grain wild rice in a slow cooker recipe and walk away expecting it to cook the same. It won’t.  It will be a horrible mushy pile of… mush. *shudder*

So, instead of sharing a new 2 me recipe, I’m going to share my favorite slow cooker “chili” recipe. You’re (probably) going to read the recipe and tell me it’s not chili because there are beans. Or something. But this is as close to “real” chili as you’re ever going to get out of me.

I’m pretty sure I’ve made this recipe a billion times, or at least a couple times a year for the past 3 or 4 years… and I don’t think I’ve ever shared it! I couldn’t find it anywhere on the blog.

It’s a super easy recipe and I change the ingredients around depending on what kind of mood I’m in. Usually I use ground turkey and ground hot Italian sausage. Sometimes I go with beef, sometimes I cut up sausage links. Sometimes I add more hot sauce (or leave it out altogether), most of the time I only use 1 tablespoon of chili powder. The.mr likes SPICEY so I try and compromise on that. I also switch out the beans depending on my mood. I usually go with Navy Beans because they have less calories, but the.mr and I both like Kidney Beans so they often make an appearance in this chili.

Overall… this Slow Cooker Chili recipe is perfect for the cold days of Fall & Winter! It’s the perfect easy meal and would go great with some buttery cornbread!

-Holly

Look at the New 2 Me Cooking Challenge Recipe for this year or last year!

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock- N2MCC45

I adapted this Slow Cooker Chicken Stock recipe from Baked By Rachel for week 45 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge!

I’ve been dying to try to make my own chicken stock for a while. All the recipes I saw online need a big stock pot and have to sit on the stove top for hoooours! I don’t own a stock pot, and I sure as heck don’t want to babysit a pot on my (gas) stove for hours…

Luckily for me I stumbled on this recipe from Baked By Rachel, and it couldn’t be easier! All I did was throw everything in the slow cooker, turn it on, and let it cook. I left mine on all day.  I started it after my morning run & breakfast, and strained it after dinner. It ended up cooking for about 10 hours. I got about 7 ¾ cups of stock when all was said and done. Compared to the 6 hours and 8 ½ cups from the original recipe, my stock is just more concentrated. I used this stock to make my favorite Quick Chicken Noodle Soup and I ended up adding a little bit of water to the liquid stock. Just add a little at a time if the stock is too concentrated!

This Slow Cooker Chicken Stock recipe  is a great way to decrease the waste when you roast a chicken! I actually cheated and used a precooked whole chicken from the grocery store. Don’t judge me, but I’ve never roasted a whole chicken, but now I have no excuse not to try! I guess I’ll be googleing “how to roast a chicken” in the near future, especially now that I know how to use the bones & leftovers for this Slow Cooker Chicken Stock!

Happy Making!
-Holly

Wanna make my version of this Slow Cooker Chicken Stock!? Feeling adventurous? Look at the New 2 Me Cooking Challenge Recipe for 2013 or 2014!

Maple Bacon Corn (w/ Peppers & Onion)- N2MCC44

I adapted this recipe from Picky Palate for week 44 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge. I’m so glad I did. So is the.mr. He told me this is his favorite thing I’ve ever made. Ever? I was a little disappointed that such a simple and quick dish is his all-time favorite… but I guess a win is a win. Amiright?

There isn’t much to say about this recipe… besides how delish and easy it is. It’s pretty much the most perfect side dish ever. Vegetables, maple syrup, and bacon?! Totally a winning combination.

Did you notice pictures are different? I had to make this 2x because I didn’t take enough pictures the first time. It was dark and cloudy and I have a light out in the kitchen so the pix from the first time REALLY suck. The pix for the 2nd try are a little better… but, I’m not a photographer. 😉

This would make an awesome side dish for Thanksgiving! You could pre-cook the bacon and chop the pepper & onion, add the syrup, and then toss it all in the fridge until you’re ready to heat it up!

Are you bored of eating plain corn? Make my version of Maple Bacon Corn! You’ll never go back.

Happy Making!
-Holly

 

PS. Check out my other New 2 Me Cooking Recipes from 2013 or 2014.