The Oprah Magazine Cookbook

For the record, I didn’t buy this cookbook. It was a gift. People know how much I love cookbooks, so it’s generally a guarantee for a successful gift. And while I appreciate the book, I generally don’t buy magazine cookbooks. Some may think it’s more efficient this way – Better Homes and Gardens has this mastered with the impressive 20 book collection of recipes my mom has – but if I want a magazine recipe, I’ll read the magazine. I like the story behind it – tell me about the chef, what is the perfect event for the dish, what beautiful person with amazing photoshopping has prepared/created/eaten this – and the magazine cookbook doesn’t always provide the depth of background I’m interested in. So how did this become the book of the week, you ask? The boys. I sent Jeff in with C to pick out the cookbook, and C picked this one because it was red. We have a color theme happening in our house. Since C picked the book, I thought I’d like H pick the recipes. See if we learned something from last week. We did. She picked all desserts, save one – bolognese sauce with pasta. She will pick pasta with meat sauce…every. single. time. It’s her favorite. So I agreed to make the pasta, vetoed the rest of her choices, and made the selections myself. How did I do this week?

The Recipes
Proscuitto di Parma-Black Pepper Quesadillas with Rosemary Oil
Mint & Pea Hummus with Pita Bread
Sweet Corn Salad with Black Beans, Scallions, & Tomatoes
Ham, Pepper-Cheese, & Apple Tea Sandwiches
Sauteed Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes
Bolognese Sauce with Pasta
Banana-Papaya Salsa (I substituted mango.)

The Good
It was a really mixed bag this week. The tea sandwiches were a hit with H, the corn salad was given a thumbs up by C. He screamed “corn! I LOVE corn!” when he spied the salad for dinner. C also liked the chicken and tomato saute, but I think that was more about the spaghetti than the sauce. I heard good things about the banana-mango salsa at my “help me help you” party. The book is beautifully photographed (expected, with the magazine behind it) and there is a good variety of recipes. A few fancy showstoppers for entertaining (like the 12 layer chocolate cake recipe picked by H, vetoed by me) and some pretty simple every day stuff that just works. There is a lot of variety as different chefs are included throughout the book, so you can explore different flavors with one cookbook.

The Bad
My attitude, for one. I wasn’t thrilled about using this book and hadn’t even opened it prior to this week. Not even once. I burned the leeks for the minted pea hummus; tried to tell myself that the caramelized flavor would add sweetness to the final product and that was not the case. I had to make another batch as it was part of the appetizer plan for the “Help Me Help You” party. H insisted that I make the pasta bolognese, so I did – but I ended up freezing it because it was just too hot last week for a heavy sauce. I guess that’s not bad, per se, but it’s not really in the spirit of my project. See, there I go. Bad attitude.

The Ugly
The high pitched whine of “Why aren’t you making anything I picked You never do what I want to do!!!???” Ummm, because you picked 6 cakes, that’s why. C declaring that he LOVED the corn salad….and then picking the corn out, piece by piece, leaving the rest behind like road kill on his plate. Kids begging for a plain quesadilla and me realizing that I used red onion – on all of them. And the fruit flies that appeared in my sink after I neglected to rinse out the banana-mango salsa bowl. Yuck.

The Oprah Magazine Cookbook
Overall Rating – 3 out of 5 stars
This was a tougher one for me this week because my heart really wasn’t in it. Is this book just taking up space? Why do I have such a beef with it when I’ve never used it? Why do I have these feelings in the first place? Maybe I should have made the 6 cakes that H picked, but I struggled with food that was ok but not super great. The corn salad was good, but I like my regular one better. The pasta bolognese (of course I tasted it when it was done) will be a hit when it’s finally served, but is that enough to give the book a better rating? And while the quesadilla, minted pea hummus, and banana mango salsa were interesting, there wasn’t anything that I was REALLY into. I will make the tea sandwiches again, even if C picks them apart to only eat the ham. What can I say – the kid likes his food separated into parts.

So that’s the week! Be sure to click “follow” on the blog if you’d like regular updates for posts and to check out 99cookbooks on Instagram and 1book-1week on Tumblr.

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