As promised we are cooking exclusively from our 3 new cook books for the next 4 weeks. The only exceptions will be a few dinners we have at family gatherings at other houses.
Monday – Ricotta Rotini page 104 Healthy in a Hurry
Trying to stick to our routine Monday is Meatless. The thing I like about the Company’s Coming series of cookbooks are the very clear instructions. We started with this recipe because most of the ingredient were familiar to our family but we still had one new ingredient: artichoke hearts. As promised this recipe was done in less than 30 minutes, and that including preparing all the ingredients. We made one substitution using shredded Parmesan cheese rather than grated but it worked out fine. My only complaint is that even though it was considered heathy it still had 702 calories per serving. The serving was a good size but I thought there could be ways to reduce the calorie count. For example it called for regular ricotta cheese and we used light instead, and the flavour seemed fine. Not an amazing dish but O.K. for meatless Monday.
Tuesday – Gary’s T-Night Tacos page 9 The Family Dinner
When I was making my weekly menu last Sunday I opened up The Family Dinner I realized that I probably needed to read this book before cooking too much from it. I decided to tackle the first recipe in the book as I figured I could ready the 8 pages leading up to Gary’s T-Night Tacos. This is no normal cookbook – it could more realistically be considered a parenting book. The Foreward by Harry Karp had a great quote that I think show the focus of this book:
I encourage you to think of family dinner as your child’s nightly dress rehearsal for adulthood, a protected space for him or her to master patience, conversation, an cooperation … one meal at a time.
The foreward is followed by an introduction by author Laurie David and then the recipe we tried.
We are a pretty traditional Taco family so I was not sure how this was going to go. Our tacos usually come from a kit with ground beef, tomatoes, cheese, and lettuce added. We have had some luck in the past trying the non-traditional so I thought we would just go for it – and we were pleasantly surprised. The texture of this recipe is a big softer than I would normally like but the favour was great! I asked Gord what he thought and his comment was: “Surprisingly pretty good”. There were many ingredients in these that my kids would not normally eat, eg. avocado, but they devoured them in the tacos. It wasn’t amazing but was pretty good and probably a make again.
Wednesday – Tarragon-Poached Fish page 91 Healthy in a Hurry
For the next couple of weeks Wednesday’s are still pretty busy for us, until swimming lessons finish at the end of the month. Because of this I picked a really quick recipe for Wednesday. This recipe definitely met my criteria. It took less than 10 minutes to prepare and was very easy to clean up. This was a nice light fish with a mild flavour. Again not an outstanding recipe but good for a weeknight.
Thursday & Friday – Thursday afternoon and evening were crazy busy with a visit to the Naturalpath, make up dance classes, and our Family Fit exercise class, so we decided to make it a leftovers night. Most of the dishes were left over from our Chinese feast last Sunday but the Ricotta Rotini from Monday re-heated pretty well. Still not a big fan however. On Friday it was a gorgeous day so we decided to treat ourselves to a hot dog from the Arbor in Port Dover after dance class.
Saturday – Alphabetter Soup page 32 Kids Cooking
Saturday is our kids “Cooking with the Kiddies” day so it was the perfect day to try out Kids Cooking. I picked the Alphabetter Soup because it looked pretty easy and it wasn’t anything too strange for the kids. I really like the way this cook book is set out for kids. The ingredients and tools are listed both with pictures and words. Then the recipe was divided into Getting Reading and Cooking. Kaitlyn helped read the recipe using both the pictures and any words she knew or could sound out. The steps are pretty well laid out and it tells which steps to have an adult do. We did have one problem as it tell the child to “Open the can of tomatoes and carefully pour them into the pan”. This is a step that an adult should do – when Kaitlyn was pouring them in the oil in the pan splashed up on her hands. She doesn’t take too well to pain, like any child would react, and it took her a bit to come back in the kitchen to finish dinner.
The cookbook seems very kid friendly and very well laid out but there seemed to be a lack of creativity in the recipe we tried and in short it was not very good. I think the problem was two fold. First it needed more flavour. Other than a bay leaf there were no spices added and they would have been a welcome addition. Secondly it called for 4 bouillon cubes in the soup. We never use bouillon and now I remember why. It didn’t say which type to use so we used chicken bouillon. Upon first taste I knew something wasn’t right. It wasn’t until Gord mentioned it that I figured out what it was – SALT. It tasted like I was eating pure salt. It was sooooo strong that you couldn’t taste the flavour of the vegetables. I went to check the bouillon package and quickly noticed the first ingredient listed is salt – no surprise. This recipe would possibly have been much better if made with low sodium vegetable broth instead of the water and bouillon, or possibly even just using the water and adding more natural spices. A very disappointing dinner. Hopefully the next recipe we try from Kids Cooking will be much better.
Sunday Breakfast – Egg in a Frame page 15 Kids Cooking
Normally Sunday is pancake day but none of our three new cookbooks had a pancake recipe. Instead we decided to try one of the “Four Ways to Cook an Eggceptional Breakfast”. My girls had never had them before so we made “Eggs in a Frame”. Again there was not a lot Kaitlyn could do in this recipe. She used a cup to create the hole in the center of the bread but Mommy had to do the rest as it was over the stove. I am starting to think this cookbook is for much older children.
Sunday Dinner – Simple Beef Broccoli page 75 Healthy in a Hurry
Normally Sunday night is our big family dinner and we invite extended family over for dinner. This week we were suppose to go to a BBQ for my father-in-laws birthday but that was cancelled so we made a dinner we were suppose to have early in the week (but decided to go out instead). Simple Beef Broccoli was a very easy recipe. The most time consuming thing was cutting up the meat and veggies. I purchased a whole steak instead of pre-cut beef stir-fry strips so it took me a few minutes longer to prepare the meat. Instead of the suggested rice I served the beef over a bed of whole wheat egg noodles. Sometimes it feels like we eat brown rice every day so this was a nice change and a nice pairing. We did make one substitution in the recipe. It called for 2 tbsp of dry sherry, which I did not have and did not want to buy a whole bottle for one recipe. I found a great website that gave substitutions for different types of alcohol in your cooking. It called for vanilla extract, orange juice or pineapple juice. I couldn’t imagine using vanilla in this recipe and I didn’t have orange or pineapple juice so I used apple juice, a staple in our fridge. The substitution seemed to work fine.
So that was our first week of cookbook testing. We tried a few recipes from Healthy in a Hurry and Kids Cooking and I am really looking forward to next week and trying more from The Family Dinner.