Monday, December 15, 2014

Cookbook Challenge: I Bake Some Stuff

I've been recipe-ing up a storm! And baking more than is normal for me, but I have determined that 2015 is the year I'm going to finish this challenge! Since I don't eat meat (it's been more than a year now!), I haven't really touched very many of the meat recipes, and I need to get started on those soon or I'll never finish. Thankfully, I go to a good amount of potlucks for various book clubs and meetup groups I'm in, and Matt will never turn down a good, meaty dinner.

As a reminder, I'm cooking through the Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook. We are far from a bride and a groom anymore. But my sister is getting married! Maybe I should gift her a copy of this cookbook for her wedding. It's been pretty consistently awesome.

I know that mixing drinks isn't really the same as cooking, but … there are cocktail recipes in this cookbook! And I love cosmos! And I don't think I've ever tried one that wasn't made from that gross, sweet, pre-made mix. It had triple-sec in it! Which is probably not ground-breaking, but cut me some slack, I don't mix yummy cocktails all that often. (The recipe made far too many for one person, and I got a little tipsy off just one, and so I refrigerated the rest because WHO WASTES GOOD VODKA. It didn't end up tasting all that good after refrigeration. I cut it with leftover cranberry juice and drank it anyway.)

Shortbread Sweethearts
Ya'll, I bought a cookie cutter and everything for this adventure. I used my new rolling pin. I was patient while the dough sat in the refrigerator, and then again when it sat out on the counter to soften again. (Which made the dough kind of crumbly; if it was supposed to be soft, what was the point of the refrigeration?) Anyway, they were a little too buttery for my taste (butter is the main ingredient), but Matt said they tasted like the butter cookies you could get from those holiday tins, and he liked them. (I wonder if it would have been better with margarine? I started buying real butter to get away from consuming so many chemicals, but I definitely feel like real butter should be used more sparingly than this recipe would have allowed. Thoughts?)

Frittata with Sundried Tomatoes, Cream Cheese and Basil
As you can see, my first-ever attempt at making a frittata was not at all beautiful, but at least it was really freaking easy to make. And it did taste fancier than scrambled eggs, which I seriously considered turning it into when the eggs on top didn't want to flow onto the bottom of the pan like the recipe said. Also I accidentally broiled it on the wrong side and had to flip it and broil it again. But it was quite tasty, once all was said and done. Also, I bought sriracha for the first time to use on the frittata, and now Matt and I put it on everything.

Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
Were these the most delicious chocolate-chip-and-walnut cookies I'd ever tasted? No. But they were still pretty darn yummy. I just wish they hadn't pancaked out so much — I put the requisite space between them and cooked them for the recommended time, and they just flattened and turned dark around the edges, instead of staying ooey gooey like the book said they would.

Party Pecans
The combination of spices and sauces (liquid smoke! worchestershire sauce! butter! garlic powder! sugar! more stuff!) smelled amazing before I'd even popped these suckers in the oven. And when they were done? Hoo boy, I could see myself sitting with a bowl of these and hoovering them all up in one go. A little spicy, a little smoky, a little sweet … mmm. Matt thought they were only okay, though. All the more for me!

Completed: 50 of 147* recipes

How do you feel about butter vs. margarine? Do you like to bake?

*I've updated the total number of recipes. It turns out, when I initially tallied it up, I miscounted. There are only 147 recipes in the book.


  1. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvDecember 15, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Yum send me some party pecans!! I've been baking up a storm this season too, trying a different recipe each Sunday. And this weekend was Christmas cookie day at my parents. I think we cooked of 300 cookies!!! Busy but oh so fun. How do you feel about cooking meat even though you don't eat it? I don't eat red meat and can't really handle cooking it either.

  2. These all look so great! I've been debating butter vs. margarine lately too. Sometimes the butter flavor is all you can taste and it's easier to subdue that when you have margarine. I take it on a case by case recipe.

  3. Whoa, 300 cookies! I'm impressed.

    You know, I've only cooked meat once or twice since I stopped eating it, and that was only when we had people coming over for dinner. I didn't stop eating it for moral reasons or anything, so on that front I don't see a problem. I think my biggest problem with the idea of the meat recipes is that I'll spend a lot of time to make a good meal, and then I won't get to participate in it.

  4. That's a good idea, to sometimes use butter depending on what you're making. Would be cheaper, too, than using it for everything! I think too that margarine is what tastes "normal" to me because my family only ever bought margarine when I was growing up.

  5. These look really good! Chocolate chip cookies frustrate me to no end. I baked some for my son's class tonight and was so careful to make them small, and they still flattened out on the pan. :(

  6. I'm glad that doesn't just happen to me. There's gotta be a secret though. Grocery stores always have perfectly shaped cookies in the bakery!

  7. I am starting to get into baking. It was never my mom's forte when I was growing up. She is an amazing savory chef, but not a baker. Since October, I think I've tried four different cookie recipes and a few different banana breads. It's fun! But I don't really eat what I make. That's for E to do.

  8. I am staunchly anti-margarine in baking, and shortbreads are supposed to be buttery.

    I'd try chilling the chocolate chip cookie dough before baking next time to inhibit spread. (The water in the cold butter turns to steam creating lift along with the baking powder and/or soda before the fat completely melts as the proteins in the dough set; if the butter is too warm the fats melt before the other things happen, leading to thin cookies that spread.)

  9. For real, nothing beats a really good, chewy chocolate chip cookie.

  10. I think I baked one time with my mom … a few months ago she called me to ask how to hard-boil eggs, so we are clearly not a cooking family. :)

  11. That's really good to know. I'll do that for next time. I wonder why most recipes don't tell you to chill the dough? Some of us need that extra step written out! :)

  12. One thing that sometimes help with flat cookies -- chilling the dough in the fridge beforehand, for at least an hour (although can definitely be longer). Has worked well for me in the past!