Cookbook Challenge Complete!

Posted 30 November, 2012 by Trish in In the Kitchen / 24 Comments

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In October I joined Uniflame’s Cookbook Challenge and pledged to cook one recipe from Rachael Ray’s Express Lane Meals. I know, I aim high, huh? I knew I’d be out of town one week for Ireland and another for my Orlando business trip and then another week gone for Thanksgiving and leftovers, so I chose three recipes from the book and gave them a go. Her final link-up post is here.

Smoky Black Bean and Rice Stoup – I’m an idiot and didn’t think that one cup of rice seemed like enough so I added two. So, this was basically a rice dish. The spices were good and I’d make it again, but next time I’ll be patient and follow directions.

Leek-y Chicken and Couscous – Can you believe that this was the first time we’ve had couscous? I wasn’t a huge fan of the texture but think this was because I made it too early and it dried out a bit. I was shocked at how much Scott liked this one, especially the couscous!

Spinach-Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini – The winner! Now if I could have just convinced Elle that the spinach was not as menacing as she made it out to be. You can find the recipe on (with much simpler directions than Rachael Ray gives!).

I used to watch Rachael Ray’s cooking show when I was in grad school and loved it but was never moved to make any of her recipes because the ingredient lists are so dang long. But if I was diligent about my prep-work planning throughout the week (like chopping up a bunch of onions ahead of time), the ingredient lists didn’t seem quite so daunting come cooking time. I was also pleased that all of these recipes took me less than 30 minutes to prepare. Very easy! My last complaint about RR is one that I’ll just have to continue to work through—the slang and cutsie names drive me crazy (I mean, why does it have to be a Sammy? (for sandwich)). Just call the recipe what it is!

Big thanks to Uniflame for hosting the challenge and giving me a kickstart on one of my 2013 Things which will be to focus on one cookbook a month. I will definitely be revisiting this cookbook in the future.

On another but related note, I wanted to let y’all know about the Foodie Reads Challenge hosted by Vicki from I’d Rather Be Reading At the Beach.

Foodies Read 2013

This was previously hosted by Margot, but she’s passed the baton this year. The rules are pretty simple and you can set your limits how you’d like. Categories include Cookbooks, Memoirs/Biographies, Fiction, and Nonfiction. Since I no longer like to plan out my reading too far in advance (please ignore my penchant for readalongs), I’m committing low but really look forward to the challenge! I’m hoping to finally read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Kingsolver and maybe some Michael Pollan. For now I’m going for Short-Order Cook.

Any Foodie books I MUST add to my list? 

Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.”  Hope you’ll join the fun!

24 Responses to “Cookbook Challenge Complete!”

  1. I like the sound of the Leeky Chicken and Couscous–will definitely give that one a try. Pasta dishes are one of the my favorite ways of sneaking spinach into my girls’ meals, although it’s easier with tomato-based sauces as it’s harder to see it! :)

  2. I used to be quite the Rachael Ray watcher, too, and made a few of her recipes when I was first learning to cook in college. You’re right: the ingredients list can be super long! And it was really intimidating to a newbie like me. But with practice, I got better… and remember loving a mustard chicken recipe I made of hers! I’m sure I still have the cookbook somewhere. :) (Like I would get rid of a cookbook!)

    That spinach-artichoke tortellini looks delicious! Yum.

  3. Temptation… I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to join any more challenges, but I like the Foodie one. I may have to go low as well.

  4. I think I made a few RR recipes back in the day when I watched her show daily. I should go back to them because they always turned out well. I could never get any of them to stay under 30 minutes though … more like 45!

  5. Yay! I’m so glad you joined the Foodies Read challenge!

    I can believe you’d never had couscous because I never have! I’ve been meaning to try it though.

    That Spinach-Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini looks good!

  6. I am so glad that you also think Rachel Ray uses too many ingredients. I have avoided her recipes because of this but I have to admit, the dishes you selected to make sound amazing!
    Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

  7. I’ve only got one of Rachel Ray’s cookbooks (365: No Repeats) and have had pretty good success, but rarely cook from it these days. I agree that she uses a lot of ingredients and I HATE her terms “sammies” and “stoups”. I think I may be getting old and cranky ;-)

  8. I’m totally doing the Foodie Challenge. I’ve been keeping a list of the challenges I’m interested in and changing up what I want to do as I add new things but that one stays put on the list.

  9. I really need to try the Spinach-Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini :)

    Thanks for participating in the challenge, Trish :) I am curious what you will come up with challenge wise in the new year :) Tomorrow I will make a cake from my Pinterest for Pin it Do it. And I will also be joining the foodie reading challenge next year once more :)

  10. Great start! The foo looks so good.

    I’m not much of a chef, but I have a strange collection of cookbooks, written by fictional characters. It started with Patricia Cornwell’s “Kaye Scarpetta” cookbooks and sort of snowballed from there. They’re mostly costly or complicated recipes, but I love them nonetheless.

  11. Thanks everyone!! The tortellini really was yummy and easy to make. It’ll be a keeper for us and I hope that you’ll try it too!

  12. I have never been a big Rachel Ray fan. I’ve tried a few of her recipes and most didn’t turn out well, but I have to say the recipes you tried sound good.

  13. Yay! Another Cookbook Challenge accomplished! I just posted my wrap-up, too.

    I used to watch RR 30 Minute Meals with my girls many, MANY years ago–golly, I think upwards of at least 10 years ago. No more– Maria was barely in school and she’s now a senior in high school. I remember our favorite part was when Rachel would go to the fridge and get all of her ingredients in one trip–stacking everything in her arms and effortlessly getting it all to her counter. Everything was packaged in perfect quantities and nothing seemed to need washing.. not very realistic, but we were enthralled. lol!

  14. As if you needed to hear it from another person, but SO gonna make that tortellini. Di is SUCH a meat person and I’ve been trying to do at least one vegetarian night a week. This might work for her.

    Also, I hear ya about RR, her cuteness, and the list of ingredients. I swear that’s what intimidates me the most about her cookbooks. I’m all like, fennel?? Who the heck keeps fennel on stock?!

  15. I’ve had an ingredient miscalculation. The first time i cooked with barley, the recipe on the bag wasn’t clear. i added the entire bag instead of just one cup. The resulting soup was so thick i could barely stir it.