cookbook challenge: episode 5

Moving right along, the 5th book I decided to tackle was Bobby Flay’s Bold American Food. My mom bought me this book a few years ago and it’s got a lot of great looking recipes. A lot of different meats and veggies and things I never eat, so it was hard to find a recipe. I wanted something exciting. But I also wanted easy.

I ended up picking Grilled Yucatan Chicken Skewers and the book recommended you make Papaya Tomatillo Salsa to accompany. So I went to the grocery store beforehand, and forgot half the ingredients. And couldn’t find a papaya. (Big surprise! It’s February! In Suburban Pennsylvania!)

I ended up being short on chili powder for the marinade, so I threw in some other spices. I also used chicken breasts instead of thighs, since I had planned on using thighs later in the week and Keith is not a huge fan of thighs. The marinade came together quickly in my mini-blender and I threw the chicken in for ~5 hours.


I decided I was going to just make a tomatillo salsa since I had everything on hand for that. It literally took 10 minutes and it is amazing. So fresh! So bright! I will probably never buy it again. I used this recipe from Simply Recipes (they post great recipes).  I halved it and roasted the tomatillos. (Side note: I love buying tomatillos. No one ever knows what they are.)

When it came time to eat, I cooked the chicken (didn’t grill, too lazy), made up some quinoa and topped everything with the salsa. Served with my favorite canned green beans.

As much as I loved the tomatillo salsa, I was a little disappointed by the chicken. While it was cooking, it smelled amazing, but the taste left a little to be desired. I would probably try it again, but cut the chicken into smaller pieces in an attempt to impart more flavor. Loved the salsa though.

I should call this “Katrina finds a recipe to try, changes everything and then complains about it challenge.”

Final score 3/5.

cookbook challenge, episode 3

I realized I’ve been slacking on my cookbooking, so I pulled two recipes this week. The first one I made on Sunday, from Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals 2. I kind of can’t stand Rachael Ray, but this book was given to me by my friend/old roommate Elyse because she somehow ended up with two copies. It took a bit of flipping to find something that sounded appealing and I finally settled on Lamb Pitas.

This is probably not the best review of the recipe because the whole point of this recipe was to make the lamb the night before for dinner, and reserve part of it for the pitas. I didn’t want to make an entire leg of lamb, so I just bought some lamb chops and chopped them up. It was also an expensive recipe, I bought $20 worth of lamb for this.

She calls for you to reheat the cooked lamb in chicken broth to keep it from drying out. My lamb was raw, so I seasoned it with some salt/pepper/coriander/cumin and sauted it.

photo 3

It also called for a yogurt sauce, pretty much yogurt mixed with mint, coriander, and cumin. I mixed that up and popped it in the fridge.

photo 2

Cooked up the lamb.

Pitas in the oven to heat.

I then again veered off the recipe by not making the scallion/tomato stuff. Cooked tomatoes on a pita sounded gross to me so I just skipped that step and sliced the tomatoes to put on raw.

photo 4

Final result…underwhelming. The lamb was nice and tender (I was terried of overcooking it) but it didn’t have much flavor. Probably my fault as the initial recipe may have imparted more flavor. I still think the raw tomatoes was a better idea, but I should have thrown some scallions on anyway. The yogurt sauce was okay, but nothing incredible. Also warming the pitas in the oven was a terrible idea. The other meal I make with pitas I toast them in a pan with a little butter and they turn incredible, so I was really bummed I didn’t do that.

Overall, I wouldn’t make this again. It was expensive and underwhelming. I much prefer The Halal Guys copycat meal I make with ground lamb, I should probably make that soon and share. Yum.

cookbook challenge: episode 2

The second recipe I decided to try out for my cookbook challenge came from the January/February issue of Cooking Light. Cooking Light is the only magazine I actually subscribe to and I enjoy it. 90% of the food blogs I follow are very decadent, so I like that I have an alternative, since it is more in line with what I like to/try to eat. I’d say from every magazine I probably find 2-3 recipes I’d like to try, so it’s worth it.

The recipe for this issue that stuck out the most for me was Stuffed Chicken & Herb Gravy with Polenta.

We like chicken, we like gravy. I hated polenta the time I had it at home, but it was from a tube so I had higher hopes for this one.


I actually cooked up the chicken/gravy on Tuesday while I was making chicken for something else and made the Polenta last night. We also had green beans from a can because we are classy. (And I hate bacon. And hate fresh cooked green beans.)

I didn’t use fresh thyme and probably accidentally used too much dried thyme to replace it, my grave tasted a little grassy. I added some sage to it and that seemed to help. Also added way more salt (and pepper) to the polenta.

chicminePardon the iphone photos, if I was pulling out my real camera, these would never get posted.

We were fans! The prosciutto got a little lost in the chicken and if I hadn’t known there was provolone in there I probably also wouldn’t have noticed. Maybe double those amounts, or use thinner chicken.

The polenta was creamy and wonderful. The gravy was good, it was my first try at real gravy and it came out well! The sage even helped tame the grassiness of the thyme. Looking forward to leftovers tonight.

Also – all that for under 500 calories? Two thumbs up!

2014 cookbook challenge

So I stated one of my 2014 resolutions was to cook at least one recipe from each of my cookbooks/cooking magazines. I did some cleaning/organizing on Saturday and pulled all my books together, here’s what we’re working with.

my new best friends

my new best friends

I have quite an assortment of books there. Some new ones, some old ones (hello, 1997), some healthier ones (Living Lean/Four Hour Chef) and then 2 versions of Cupcake Heaven, haha. I haven’t quite decided how I’ll go about picking the books, but I figured I’d blog about it, so I could check them off.

I’m not limiting myself to one recipe from each book, but I have to do at least one recipe. I’m also not going to be all food bloggery with nice photos and step-by-step directions, but I figured I’d stick up at least a photo of the end game (most likely from my iphone) and some basic ingredients/directions if I like the recipe.

The first book I chose was Living Lean. Keith bought me this book and requested a few recipes. He really really* misses pasta, so first up was:

Power Pasta Sauce

(slightly adapted from Living Lean)


1 bell pepper – chopped
1 medium onion – chopped
1/2 small zuchhini – chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 – 15oz cans diced tomatoes
1 – 28oz can crushed tomatoes
pinch – salt, pepper, basil, oregano
1-2T grapeseed oil

The recipe didn’t call for the zuchhini, but I had it in the fridge and figured it couldn’t hurt. Also called for all diced tomatoes, but I wanted something a little more saucy. Next time I’d sub actual tomato sauce for the crushed tomatoes.


It was pretty simple. The recipe calls for cooking the turkey and veggies separately, but that seemed like a waste of a pan. I browned the turkey with the oil, when it was almost ready threw in the veggies til softened, then threw in the tomatoes and let simmer for 30 minutes or so, salting as needed.


Served over thin spaghetti.

Keith liked it, although he requested it be more saucy next time. I didn’t actually eat it, I was eating leftovers, but will eat it tomorrow night.

One book down, seventeen to go!


*I don’t miss pasta at all. Definitely not traditional spaghetti. I have never been a huge fan and the spaghetti squash we eat completely takes care of that.

**Post contains affliate links. Not that anyone will ever click them/use them but I figured why not.