Last fall, I wrote about my new dinner plan: I challenged myself to try one new recipe each week by focusing on one cookbook in my library for a month.
It’s time for me to report back on this month’s selection . . .
Okay . . . so this cookbook – Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor (of Cookie + Kate fame) – has been in my library for a few years. But. I’ve only used it for one recipe: Extra Crispy Baked Tofu (which is excellent, by the way). I had never heard of Kathryne Taylor or her cooking blog (Cookie + Kate) before picking up this cookbook. Opening it, I thought the recipes looked intriguing, and at first glance I could see many recipes that I’d like to try.
But then, of course, I didn’t try any of them.
(Which is why I started this cookbook challenge in the first place. Because I buy great cookbooks, and then I never use them.)
Turns out . . . Love Real Food is an excellent cookbook. The directions are clear, the photos are lovely, and it’s well-organized. There are helpful tips on timing your preparation, as well as suggestions for making the recipes gluten-free or vegan. (There are even tips on preparing or sharing your food with dogs!) (“Cookie” is a dog; although I see on the website that, sadly, Cookie has recently passed away.) Kate’s writing style is “friendly” and accessible — but never “cutesy” or off-putting. And . . . everything I tried was fabulous. This cookbook is definitely a keeper! (Although I don’t read her blog regularly, I have started following Kate on Instagram @cookieandkate.)
So. What did I cook?
First, I made the Sweet Potato, Poblano, and Black Bean Enchiladas (p. 148). Now, this was a bold start . . . because we are true enchilada fans here, and I have a tried-and-true enchilada recipe that we love. Why mess with a good thing? Well. These enchiladas? They’re the answer! They are so, so good. Tom said, “Make them again — and for the kids next time they are here.” (So I did. This was actually our Easter dinner. And the kids, indeed, loved them, too.) (And my dad, who isn’t a fan of sweet potatoes and prefers ham – thankyouverymuch – didn’t mind them either.)
Anyway. I made these exactly as per the recipe instructions (although I did add red onion to the roasted vegetables). It does take some time (there is a “time warning” in the recipe) — but I’ve just gotta say . . . the enchilada sauce? It is TOTALLY worth the time. Every minute. (So delicious.) I was skeptical of using whole grain tortillas, but they were fabulous — and I’m glad I didn’t skip the pepitas, either! They added a wonderful crunch. This recipe was a fabulous start to my exploration of this cookbook.
Then, I tried the Chickpea Tikka Masala with Green Rice (p. 157). “I love this!” said Tom. It was fabulous — simple and straightforward, although it did take some time. I made a few modifications: I doubled the chickpeas, for example, and used a full can of coconut milk, and I omitted the cilantro (I’m one of those people who think cilantro . . . tastes like soap; sorry Tom). I also made the green rice in my rice cooker (I followed the recipe, put everything in my rice cooker, and chose the “brown rice” setting); it was perfect. I served this with naan bread. My notes indicate that I could bump up the heat next time . . . and there will definitely be a “next time.”
Next, I tried the Roast Cauliflower and Kale Spaghetti with Toasted Almonds (p. 151). As I wrote in my recipe notes, this was “really fabulous.” I also noted that I need to work on my timing when making this again (but then . . . I often have trouble with my timing). I made a few modifications to the recipe: I used 16 oz of regular spaghetti instead of the called for 8 oz (this was accidental, but I’d do it again; the dish seemed perfectly balanced — and I had a good amount of leftovers to boot). I also added half a red onion to the kale, and doubled the amount of lemon juice. Definitely will make again.
Then, I made the Roasted Broccoli, Bell Pepper, and Tofu Bowl with Peanut Sauce (p. 175), which gave me another chance to make the really fabulous (and fabulously simple) Extra-Crispy Baked Tofu (p. 176). (If you want the baked tofu recipe, you can find it here on the Cookie + Kate website.) Now Tom is still a bit . . . hesitant . . . when it comes to tofu, but even he had to admit that this was an excellent dish! It was easy and quick to put together, and the peanut sauce is really, really good. As usual, I cooked the rice in my rice cooker. The only “problem” I had with this recipe is that we only got 3 servings, instead of the stated 4 . . . so not quite two full meals. (I’ll add more vegetables next time I cook this.)
For my last recipe from this cookbook (I really didn’t want to let this one go . . . ), I made Sun-Dried Tomato Fettuccine Alfredo with Spinach (p.154), or what I referred to as “fake fettucine Alfredo.” (It’s made with a cashew-based sauce, instead of the traditional cheese-and-butter sauce.) It was another winner — although, as Tom said, you’d never really mistake it for “real” fettucine Alfredo. Still. This was a tasty, tasty pasta meal! Quick, easy – and much healthier than the real-deal fettucine Alfredo. I’ll definitely make this one again!
Five recipes. Five absoute winners! This cookbook is one I’ll certainly turn to again in the future. While I stuck to the “dinners” section of this cookbook for my challenge, there are really awesome looking salads and breakfasts and cocktails and desserts to try in the future!
What’s next, cookbook-wise?
This one . . . which is (another) new addition to my cookbook library (couldn’t resist). I’m dying to dig in!
I’ll check back in a month, and let you know how it goes.
In the meantime . . . have you tried any good recipes lately?
Past cookbooks I’ve unpacked: