The Food Lovers Cleanse – Bon Appetit

After what felt like an epic fail with Canyon Ranch, I decided to do what I do best – buy cookbooks. Under the guise of shopping for a birthday party present, I used this opportunity to retool and refresh by going back to basics – Bon Appetit. I’m really excited to kick this one off. Why? I love food.

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Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate – yes please!

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The South Beach Cookbook

I’ve had this cookbook for at least 10 years and I’m not sure I’ve cooked more than 3 recipes out of it. Even though our family is eating a bit more carefully to start the year, I’m going to hold the cookbook up to my same standards. It needs to taste good and be reasonable for me as a working mom and home cook. Emphasis: needs to taste good. First flip through, there seem to be some recipes that have some promise. We’ll see how it goes.

The Recipes
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The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook

Last week we used the New Mayo cookbook – so I thought it would be fun to check out the old Mayo cookbook! The original. Going old school. When I pulled this one off the shelf I was a little disgusted by the amount of guck on the cover book jacket. I suppose that’s evidence that this book had a lot of use when I first picked it up – probably in 2001 or 2002. This is another early member of my cookbook collection and I definitely remember reading through the introduction to learn more about healthy cooking techniques as well as good baking substitutions. To this day, I always keep applesauce in the house. (And you should too! Especially if you have a dad who loves to stock your freezer with applesauce every fall.)

This was the first week of the summer that I’ve been legitimately home all day with H and C. My first week off the kids had drama camp and last week we were in Kansas, so I’ve had more time – and more meals – to prepare. To engage the kids a bit more in the process, I let them pick out the recipes.
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I gave them sticky notes and they marked recipes they wanted in the same way I do each week. It was pretty entertaining to watch them work – and after cooking some of their choices, I have a much greater understanding of how they make selections. It has nothing to do with the actual ingredients – but everything to do with color. Is the food their favorite color? If so – then let’s make it. As we all discovered this week, there were some hits and some definite misses.

The Recipes
Roasted Red Potatoes with Chive Sauce
Herbed Carrot and Beet Salad
Curried Potato, Leek, and Apple Soup
Corn and Lima Bean Medley
Roasted Vegetable Fajitas
Fettuccine and Summer Tomatoes
Wild Rice and Chicken Salad
Spiced Muffins with Golden Applesauce
Quick Brown Bread
Papaya Agua Fresca
Banana-Chocolate Shake  Continue reading

Spiced Muffins with Applesauce

My kids went crazy for these muffins. I made a spice substitution from the original recipe as I really hate cardamom, but cinnamon and nutmeg do the trick. Even pumpkin pie spice works. The ingredient list is fairly basic, but you’ll probably have to buy some dry milk. Who really keeps that around anymore? While these little gems are tasty, the texture is a little heavier – these are not cakeish muffins. But overall, a healthier choice for the kids to sneak! Tip: using an ice cream scoop makes filling the muffin tins super fast and mess-free!

Spiced Muffins with Applesauce
Adapted from The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook  Continue reading

The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook

This past week brought us to the Flint Hills to visit my parents and to give the kids a chance to frolic around the prairie. Other than the heat and remembering what back sweat feels like, it was really great to see the rolling hills, hunt for chalk rocks and agates, and chase fireflies at dusk. Since my mom is my #1 blog reader, I let her pick the cookbook of the week. (Other diligent readers – your chance will come soon! It’s pretty easy – just tell me what you want and I’ll do it. Not a tough crowd here.) I could have guessed the book before we even started the road trip. She loves big, colorful pictures along each recipe (presentation is important!) and likes healthy cookbooks on her shelf. She’s nostalgic, so I knew she’d pick either a cookbook that I gave her or one we both have. Of course – she did both! The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook. I picked up this one for myself when I was working at Williams-Sonoma and I couldn’t walk past the cookbook shelf without taking something home. I knew my mom would love it, so surprise! It’s her christmas present. I may not be the most creative gift giver, but I know what works.

My parents live in the country about 25 minutes from town, so there is generally only one trip to the grocery store per week, and the rest we forage from the prairie. Don’t be too impressed – my dad maintains an extensive garden and my brothers have been growing potted herbs since the early 2000s. My mom knew the cookbook, but she wanted me to pick the recipes, so she just picked up a variety of ingredients that would work for most things. Monday night I grabbed the stickies and picked out the recipes that looked interesting and then I started comparing the ingredient lists. So – this is what we came up with!

The Recipes
Warm Potato Salad (with freshly dug red potatoes)
Garden Peas with Fresh Mint (frozen peas, but freshly picked mint)
Warm Coleslaw with Honey Dressing (fresh parsley)
Chicken Salad with Thai Flavors (featuring my mom’s lemongrass!)
Grilled Flank Steak Salad with Roasted Corn Vinaigrette
Banana Oatmeal Hotcakes with Spiced Maple Syrup
Jamaican Barbecued Pork Tenderloin
Tropical Fruits with Mint and Spices  Continue reading

BLT Salad

This salad is so simple that it makes me wonder why I didn’t invent it myself. The roasted potato addition adds some heartiness and doesn’t make you notice that the bacon is really just a garnish – if you’re able to grab any. C and his little mitts snatched the bacon before the rest of us could get to it. I knew blue cheese would be a non starter for our aspiring foodies, so rather than waste my precious Matag Blue, I opted for a nice sharp cheddar that was in the fridge. Credit to The Peanut in KC for reminding me that a good BLT has a bit of cheddar on it. I have a fun memory making this salad several (ok, many) years ago to celebrate new outdoor patio furniture with some good Kansas City friends. JM and KP, this one is for you.

BLT Salad
From Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen, Kathleen Daelemans
My comments/experiences are in italics.  Continue reading

Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen

After a week of baking bliss, it was time to lean into the healthier shelf of cookbooks. I’m kicking things off with an oldie – Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen.  Around 2002. She had a cooking show on the Food Network back in the early days before food competitions took over and chefs like Emeril, Sara Moultin, and Jamie Oliver were rocking it old school with a live audience and average lighting. Chef Kathleen has an interesting story – she was overweight, took a new job in Hawaii, and discovered that she was going to be the executive chef for a spa. Keep in mind this was the mid 90s, when going to the spa was more than pulling into a strip mall for pedicures and a massage. (Not that there’s nothing wrong with that…..because I do it too.) It’s Canyon Ranch style spaaing (is that a word?) when you have a schedule with sunrise yoga, meditation breaks, cucumber water, treatments of choice, and of course – delicious yet low calorie food. So she lost weight while she was learning how to cook for her new job. There’s an authentic-ness to this I like – and the first 77 pages of the cookbook tells the story with tips on how you can do it too. After all, I could use a little spa-like detox after enjoying Flour for a week. But will the kids like it?

The Recipes
Sweet Potato Bread with Cranberries, Currants, and Pecans
Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Onion, Tomato, and Arugula
Apple, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Cold Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Mozzarella, and Mango
BLT Salad
Fast Fried Chicken Tenders
Asian Noodle Salad
Flank Steak and Roasted Vegetables with Crispy Potatoes
Fresh Fruit Sorbets
Crazy Crunch  Continue reading