Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cooking Club: July Recipe Reviews

Our first month back to the cooking club was a good one. There are a few recipes I know I will be regularly making. This was also a monumental month, in that it is the first month this year that someone did not get all of their points, in fact both my MIL and I did not get our complete points. She made the 4th recipe on August first, and thanks to Ryder, Eric ended up making two of the recipes instead of me. So July knocked two of us out of the competition and it is between Rachel and Raelynn. Here are the reviews of July's recipes; starting with the oldest recipe first.

1) Turkey Sloppy Joes (submitted by Rachel)

Rachel: "I really liked the sloppy joes. I don't think Todd liked them as much as me, with the wheat buns and all, but I thought they were so good. I love the way I feel after eating something so healthy. And also, the recipe says 4 carrots or about two cups. I got two cups out of two carrots, so you definitely don't need four!"

Me: "I had all of the ingredients prepped and ready and was just about to start cooking the turkey; then Ryder would have none of that. So Eric took over. Poor guy, dinner is rarely done for him when he gets home anymore.
So while we liked it, we weren't thrilled. Eric said "it is good but it's not sloppy joes". It was one of those force encourage the kids to take a bite meal; though Alex then said she liked it and ate all of three bites."

Melidee: "It reminded me of the sweet and sour stew recipe that I have loved for years. No wonder I enjoyed these sandwiches. At first I wished I had grated the onion just like the carrot, but in the end, they cooked down very soft and weren't detectable"

Raelynn: "It was an all around hit! I made a few minor adjustments. I threw a bunch of baby carrots into the food processor, along with 2 small onions (since they were small) and the garlic clove. Then I sautéed that in the oil. I also used 2 cans of diced tomatoes, but ran those through the food processor before adding them, and it was essentially the right thing. We all really liked it. Kate gave it a thumbs up (thanks to the very tiny pieces of carrots/onions)! She ate 1 1/2 herself! No additions/subtractions or modifications for anyone. Just good food. Thanks, Rachel! I will probably make this again. It was easy and we all liked it and I felt healthy eating it, too!"

RECAP: 4/5 Stars While almost every liked it, only about half loved it. They are a healthier version of sloppy joes, but well some things just need to be left alone and you need the classic.

2) Cesar Salad (submitted by Melidee)

Rachel: "I really liked it. I've actually never been a fan of Caesar salad before, but making the dressing and the croutons made it really good! I made quite a mess while making the salad and it took me longer than I thought it would, but it was yummy. I put some chicken in it and Madeline LOVED the chicken with the dressing on it. I'm really happy because I haven't been able to get her to eat chicken for a long time."

Me: "When I saw the recipe I figured the chance of me having the time to make croutons was slim, so I found a bag of fancy yummy looking croutons. I also bought a bag of Tyson precooked chicken strips-as hey I am a realist. Somewhere between the produce section and when I got home I lost the bag of croutons; I am pretty sure I never paid for then. So I did end up making my own. I used just soft white bread and tried so hard to make them all even; about half were even and the other half were even with each other, so about half got overcooked. The half that were good, well they were yummy but they didn't seem that much better than the good store bought kind."

Raelynn: "I actually love caesar salad and I used to make it for dinner quite often. I did think the homemade salad dressing was yummy, but let me be honest. I really like Newman's Own Creamy Caesar Dressing, and the amount of effort it requires to make my own versus just opening the bottle of Newman's is so much greater that I will just stick to Newman's in the future. That said, it was fun to make the dressing, since I have only ever made vinaigrettes before. And it was something I would never have done on my own."

Melidee: "Dad saw me making the dressing and told me he just couldn't do anchovies..."putrid" in his estimation. Well, I figured I had better continue and I was so in the mood for it. But...in the end I found out I don't like anchovies either!!! I wished I had only put one in instead of six and the whole thing just made me laugh. It had way too much of a kick for me. BUT...I loved the experience and was glad too because I would have never made it without the cooking club. BUT...we did LOVE the croutons...Dad just ate them like potato chips. He never likes croutons. I mean never! I did shorten the time I baked them by 10 minutes."

RECAP: 3/5 Stars A fun experience to try once, but really not worth the effort.

3) Dan's Favorite Chicken Sandwich (submitted by me)

Rachel: "Loved the sandwiches. How can you not love something with an avacado on it?! I recommend getting or pounding your chicken a little thinner than mine was. They made for quite a fatty sandwich! Thinner would have cooked more easily, I think."

Me: "We did some alterations to the recipe, see those here, and that made all the difference. We loved them and it was so easy! The kids both ate about half a sandwich. I am definitely going to make these again. Especially with the precooked chicken."

Raelynn: "I ran into a couple problems, however. The bacon would not crisp up on the chicken. My second problem was the same thing Rachel found. The sandwiches were so fat that they were hard to eat. I couldn't taste the barbeque flavor very well, so I just kept dipping my sandwich into a pool of sauce. Kate enjoyed the sandwiches a lot, sans the avocado. They were definitely easy, though, which is always nice."

Melidee: "My oh my! Was that ever tasty!!!!! Dad said it was his favorite so far this month. I LOVED the flavor combination of ranch, bacon, swiss, and BBQ."

RECAP: 4.5/5 Stars People ran into problems with the sandwiches being too fat, bacon not cooking; but if you do the alterations that Eric did, that resolves the problem and the sandwiches are oh so yummy!

4) Chicken with Plum Chutney (submitted by Raelynn)

Rachel: "It smelled so good and made me happy to have a reason to cook again. We've been doing a lot of fast not-really-cooking type of dinners lately, so it was nice to actually cook. Todd and I liked it easy and beautiful!"

Me: "I don't know if I have ever made anything with plums before, but oh this was good! It just looked pretty and I loved the taste. I forgot the ginger though and that would have been a great addition. I cut my chicken breasts so they were all pretty close to the same size and thickness and then I didn't have any trouble with cooking the chicken. We gave the kids the chicken, minus the plums and they both gobbled it and thanked me for the yummy dinner. We served it with rice and a California vegetable mix. This is definitely going to be a repeat dish."

Melidee: "Well, we finished eating it. I am surprised you didn't hear my exclamations of pleasure all the way out there in Virginia, Raelynn. Dad thought it was fine. I thought it was fantastic. But then...he doesn't like pineapple on pizza. I am glad you said to reduce the sugar with black plums, because that is the only kind I could find. I used a quarter cup instead. It was perfect. In the end, mine was so thick it was almost like plum butter. I smeared it all over my stuffing and sometimes it seemed like I was eating bread and jam for dinner! I think I would have licked the pan at the end if I thought it wasn't still too hot. (tee hee)"

RECAP: 5/5 Stars An easy recipe that everyone absolutely loved, even almost all of the kids!

So another great cooking month. I have seen all of the August recipes and I think there should be some more good ones.


  1. You never know Em, Raelynn and I could slip up and then we'd all be even with points again. ;)

  2. That last one looks delicious!

    I agree on the sloppy joes though...original is better. ;-)

  3. That chicken sandwich recipe is something I think I will be trying soon. Especially the way you did it.

    And don't worry about dinners being late and such. I honestly don't remember how long that took to even out, but it will.

  4. My first up is gonna have to be the turkey sloppy joes!