At the end of 2022, I went on a runner’s retreat to Chile through Aire Libre. We ran up and down beach coasts, mountains, and forests. Although we came from all over (mostly from the US and Mexico, but there was one Dutch guy), we all shared a love for running. And eating.
Runner’s will eat anything and ask for seconds. It makes rating food hard (most times) because everything tastes good when you’ve ran long enough. I need to had that caveat because there’s no saving overcooked food. I’ve been that hungry, but still had to turn down dried fish.
Elite Runners Eat Different
Among the elite runners of the group, diet sensitive was a must. They didn’t just want to burn fuel for the run, they wanted to burn clean fuel. Personally, I’m skeptical of all the meat-only and the vegan diets – how do the extreme practices make it possible to keep everything in moderation?
Nonetheless, a few mentioned different running cookbooks they’ve tried. Although the most popular by far were the “Run Fast, Cook fast, Eat slow” series, my local book store didn’t have any, so I settled for they did have – The Runner’s Kitchen.
The Runner’s Kitchen, written by Emma Coburn, has 100 stamina-building, energy-boosting recipes, with meal plans to maximize your training… or so the cover says. Thumbing through the recipes, you’ll find some that seem embarrassingly obvious like Oatmeal and all the Fixin’s but more complex and intriguing ones like Runner’s Carbonara. Either way, I’m excited to give me all a try through March. 100 recipes in 85 days…
It can happen.
The Unfolding Results
I will add photos, thoughts, and eventually my review of the cook book over the coming days, so be sure to check in regularly for updates!
To kick the quarter off, I followed these nine recipes in a week:
- Chicken Apple Sausage and Fontina Frittata
- Turmeric Chicken Salad Sammy
- Quinoa & Oat Granola
- Tart Cherry Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie
- Snickerdoodle Banana “Ice-Cream”
- Double-Date Green Smoothie
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Overnight Oats
- Kale & Brussel Sprouts Salad
- Hash Browns (with bell peppers and onion)
I am on track to cook 9 dishes each week. So, nine times twelve is 108, so I should be able to do all of the recipes within three months. At least that’s my goal.
Anyway, the first dish I made was the quinoa & oat granola. Wow was that sweet. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I should have known better when the recipe called for equal part oats to maple syrup (it also calls for brown sugar). Yikes! Way too sweet. Sadly, the granola sat in my jar for a little more than a week before I ended up throwing it away. I had a few scoops of it with mixed nuts or peanut butter. It definitely needed something creamy and/or salty to just take away some of the sweetness.
Early on Monday, I made the Chicken Apple Sausage and Fontina Frittata. I live alone so I had plenty of leftovers. This recipe made my breakfast during the work week a lot less complicated. I simply heated it up a slice, threw it into a tortilla, added some salsa, and lastly, devoured. I did cook it for ten minutes less than the recipe called for because it was definitely done. That’s been a growing trend with this cookbook… the suggested cook times are often waaaay longer than my actual cook times. I’m guessing it’s because the author lives somewhere cold so the stove/oven takes longer to warm up or perhaps the stove is not well-insulated and constantly struggling to stay heated. I’m not sure. What I do know is don’t trust the cook times in this book.
With the Quinoa & oat granola being too sweet and having a propensity for eating peanut butter, I was excited and eager to try the Peanut Butter And Jelly Overnight Oats. I knew the recipe called for chia seeds and I never really had them before, so that was another thing that caught my eye about this recipe. Ultimately, it was good but unfortunately, too cold. The oats came out more cold and wet, than mushy and creamy. I do wonder if heating the milk with the oats first, then putting in the fridge might have helped the oats absorb the milk. As for being too cold, next time (if there is one) I’ll need to let it sit for awhile first.
The next “dish” I knew was gonna be delicious. It has a bunch of my favorite ingredients number one being beets. I love beets. The Tart Cherry anti-inflammatory smoothie. Smoothies are pretty much always delicious. Who doesn’t love a refreshing smoothie? The recipe called for beet juice to be more specific, but my local grocery store didn’t have any so I did the next best thing – I made beet juice. I bought a bundle of beets, peeled and chopped them up then put them through a blender. Next I strained the pulpy substance until the liquid was almost as thin as water. This ended up being a bit less than the cup the recipe required, so I watered it down a bit. I imagine store beet juice is not nearly as concentrated as David’s beet juice, so a little watering down was acceptable. That makes two wins, one loss so far Runner’s Kitchen – touché.
I typically eat salad for lunch, so the Kale & Brussel Sprouts Salad seemed like a fun way to mix up my routine. If you want to make this, be prepared to do a lot of shredding. I don’t think I’ve used my mandolin more than I did this week. I had to shred the brussel sprouts, the beets, the potatoes, and the apple. So. Much. Shredding. Ultimately, the salad tastes just okay. I liked the brussel sprouts but the recipe called for too many. The salad also has too many little things. The almond bits and the sprouts and the apple pieces – there wasn’t enough variety in texture and shapes that the salad was basically homogenous in flavor. The beauty of a salad’s taste is in its diversity. Each bite is completely different from the next. The salad needs different types of ingredients so every bite tastes something like its own meal. Not this salad though. Everything was like lettuce – flavorless, soft crunch.
For dinner, I made the Turmeric Chicken Salad Sammy followed by the Snickerdoodle Banana “Ice-Cream.” The recipe called for baking the chicken for 20-30mins, I baked them for about ten minutes. It’s possible 20 minutes would have been better. That way the dry chicken breast would absorb more of the dressing, because the results were a bit runny. Not that I’m complaining. I enjoyed the meal a lot especially the longer the chicken marinated. I did unfortunately get turmeric everywhere and now have a cutting board with yellow spots I can’t get out (if you have any tips, lemme know. I tried baking soda, I tried… well, yeah, just baking soda). As for the banana ice-cream, it’s literally two frozen bananas blended with some sweets. Definitely doesn’t taste like creamy, fatty ice-cream. Plus the bananas give it a slightly slimy texture. There have been some good “alternative foods” in this book, but this one isn’t fooling me.
The Double-Date Green Smoothie was delicious. I didn’t actually have any dates, but I did have date syrup which is made with just medjool dates, and seeing how it would all get blended in the end, where’s the harm? I also love when the smoothie is beautiful bright green color, and this one fits the bill perfectly thanks to the large amount of spinach.
Then there’s the Hash Browns. Man I wanted to love these. It made perfect sense: just shred the potatoes, add some oil, then heat it – what could go wrong? Well, a couple of things. First off, I shredded it the night before. To prevent browning, I added one of my vitamin C pills and kept the potato flakes in a large pot with cold water. The issue was drying this, 8 cups worth of potato flakes from just two potatoes. I did the best I could drying them, but it simply wasn’t enough. I grabbed handfuls and placed it on the skillet, but even then, the potato flakes were boiling more than they were frying. It took twice as long as predicted and I had three times as much potato as wanted. I’m writing this two weeks from making it and I still have Tupperware full of “hash browns” or more like soggy potato flakes. I threw in some diced bell peppers and onions just to had some textures and flavors to the side dish.
Okay, that’s pretty much all of the dishes for week 1. Be sure to come back for week 2’s experience!
The second week went a lot smoother. I cooked:
- Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs
- Green Eggs & Ham
- Collagen Chicken Soup
- Spicy Granola
- Bison Mushroom Meatloaf
- Sweet Potato Fries
- Sweet Potato Toast
- Protein Cookie Dough Bites
- Buffalo Chicken Salad
- Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse
Spaghetti Squash and meatballs, green eggs & ham, Collagen Chicken Soup, Spicy granola, Bison mushroom meatloaf, Protein cookie dough bites, sweet potato toast, Buffalo Chicken salad, Sweet Potato Fries, Protein-packed peanut butter chocolate mousse.
These were all pretty good. The first dish I cooked was the Bison Mushroom Meatloaf and the Sweet Potato Fries. Both were delicious and I had an adequate amount for my lunches each week. I did not mix the bison well enough with the mushrooms and onions so some parts seemed meatier than others. Fortunately, it all still taste great. I say that despite a good 12 ounces of sweet potato fries are sitting in my trashcan even as I write this. It’s not that it was bad, but after awhile I got tired of the flavor. I like sweet potatoes, but sweet potato fries just aren’t that good to me.
In the morning I made the Sweet Potato Toast. I tried the one with cream cheese and chives, peanut butter, chia seeds and rasberries, and the avacado and egg. The best one by far was the cream cheese and chives. It tasted like a baked potato with the fixin’s. Peanut butter melted from the potato still being hot, so it was a sloppy mess. The avacado and egg just didn’t fit the sweetness of the potato.
I made the Spicy Granola that night. I saw the recipe called for significantly less maple syrup so that was reassuring. The last thing I wanted was to through away more edible food. The granola is pretty spicy. Eating it with yogurt helps tone it down a bit so the only way you can tell it’s spicy is the amount of heat it generates in your mouth. It’s pretty wild, you’re mouth is hot even though you’re eating cold yogurt.
The Green Eggs and Ham were really tasty. I mean, who can complain with bacon and eggs? The herbs did help add a certain lightness to the dish, but it was going to be delicious no matter what. I noticed the eggs were super soft and fluffy after whisking them with an electric whisker (haha, “whisker”) as well as yusing the gentle tip she provides.
Now the Protein Cookie Dough Bites were actually pretty good. I was amazed at how delicious they were without any eggs, granulated sugar, or butter – some of the common ingredients that would make chocolate chip cookies so delicious. Instead the recipe had oats and chickpeas (among other things) that made the ingredients have the same consistency as dookie dough, but ya know, not be made with salmonella boarding substances.
Probably my least favorite dish thus far has been the Buffalo Chicken Salad. The diary in this was extreme. I wanted to like it, but there was too much yogurt going on in the recipe, it was pretty much yogurt, romain lettuce, and hot sauce. If I were to rank the recipes, this one would be last next to the quinoa and oats one.
The Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse was delicious. Again, more yogurt. Yogurt seems to be the secrete ingredient in all these recipes. Not that I’m complaining, yogurt is pretty good in moderation.
The Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs was meh. The cook time for the squash seemed off or maybe there was something wrong with the squash. Basically, the squash did not have the spaghetti-like length or strength. The squash I had was lumpy and short pieces. This is a recipe I would need to try again to really get a good experience. I liked the meatballs and sauce. They came out pretty good. I would have rather the meatballs be a bit softer, but hey, for healthy meatballs they were pretty good.
The Collagen Chicken Noodle Soup was surprisingly hard to make. The ingredients used are all pretty general. I found several different types of carrots, noodles, even chicken breasts. Unfortunately I made the mistake of not getting enough broth. Or perhaps the issue was that I used not enough of the wrong ingredient – broth. I didn’t use the bone broth mainly because I wasn’t specific enough in my shopping list and just wrote “chicken broth.” The chicken noodle soup was still good but very simple. I mean, it was basically carrots, chicken, and noodles. Which, is actually a pretty great combo. The soft crunch of the carrots, the chewy chicken threads, and the slippery noodle goo is the trifecta of textures. Although if I were to add something it would be a salty dry thing, like bread. A chunk of salty dry bread would go really well with it. Then I would have the quad-fecta, if that’s a word.
And there you have it. Week two is in the books. Week three gets a little complicated when my sister goes into labor and I’m given the oh-so-important job of cat-sitting while she and her partner are away.
This week was a doozy! A lot of events unrelated to cooking happened that made it tough to get most of the recipes done, but here were the ones completed:
- Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie
- Runner’s Carbonara
- Baked French Toast
- Baked “Fried” Chicken Sandwich
- Pumpkin Spice Muffins
- Cauliflower “Mac & Cheese”
- Sausage Hash with Chimichurri
- Beet Hummus
I started the week off with the Pumpkin Spice Muffins. These were so good! Very moist and delicious. They were like miniature pumpkin pies. I was surprised how good they were even after a week in the fridge. I made them first because I was excited to use my silicon cupcake molds. I just purchased them and liked the idea of not having to buy the paper ones and instead use reusable ones. The only downside is the “muffins” would lose their molds because I would clean them and didn’t want people from work throwing them away. (Somehow I forgot to take a photo of these, just imagine brownish orange cupcakes!)
The next dish on the list – Baked French Toast. This one was a little odd. I didn’t use the topping portion because I don’t have a sweet tooth and the topping just seemed like too much. Perhaps this is why half of the toast was soft and flavorful while the upper half was a bit dry and tough. I had a bunch leftover so when I reheated them on a skillet I noticed it tasted a lot better being pan fried after the baking. Just those few minutes on each side really helped even out the textures and helped fill that crispy void.
The Cauliflower “Mac’n Cheese” was surprisingly good. I don’t know if it tasted like macaroni and cheese, nor do I think that comparison made the dish more appealing. In fact, It made it kind of ucky to imagine, in my opinion. The only problem I had with it is, it made for bad leftovers. The next day my girlfriend and I had it for lunch and ouch! Did it upset our stomachs. I ended up using the restroom on a different floor from where I work. I knew it was going to be a movement unforgotten by all in its proximity. So, this dish is good just be prepared to throw out any leftovers.
Ah, the Baked “Fried” Chicken Sandwich. Perhaps my favorite recipe in this book. All the different flavors really came together well. By themselves the breaded chicken, bacon, pickles, and tahini sauce were good, but together – amazing. They all balanced each other so well. It was a symphony for my mouth. 10/10
As a quick breakfast, I made the Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie. It was pretty good! Not nearly as messy as it sounds. Instead, the yogurt served as the bread that kept the peanut butter and jelly in line flavor-wise. I’d make it again, and as my girlfriend said “I’d drink it again.”
This week was a total blur looking back, so I don’t remember when I made the Beet Hummus, it was delicious surprise. I appreciated it as a side to my pita chips. This book has a lot of beet recipes which I enjoy. The more experience I get with beets, the better I get at cleaning up their pink drippings. Everything turns pink when cooking with beets, but at least this time the damage was minimal.
I ended up making the Sausage Hash with Chimichurri Sauce last. I went with the spicy red pepper sauce, and found it very spicy. Unfortunately I used a stainless steel skillet so the only thing that got fried were the copious layers of potato skins stuck to my pan. The dish was good… just a bit healthier than it was suppose to be. Although I had two more recipes I was suppose to cook this week, I lost time when my sister gave birth to my new nephew. I wish I could say I was there to welcome him to his family, but someone needed to babysit the cats and no one else in the family could be trusted with such an important job. So, that’s what I’ve got this week. Thanks for reading!
- Jalapeno cornbread
- Golden Milk Latte
- Orange zucchini bread
- Egg cups
- Vegan Arugula Cashew Pesto with Penne
- Maple Turmeric Chicken Thighs
- Garlic Lemon Roasted Chickpeas
- Naan pizza
Okay, this week I cooked:
This one went by fast. We had a “snow day” at work and so I basically cooked all of Wednesday. The orange zucchini bread added a a nice fall scent to my place. Nutmeg and citrus, bready and buttery. The bread was pretty good but I would remiss if I didn’t say there was something missing to the recipe. I dunno, maybe it needed an icing or another spread to help moisten the bread up. Compared to the pumpkin bread muffins, it was dry.
I really liked the golden milk latte. THat’s one I’ve been wanting to remake for awhile. The creamy milk has a nice earthy taste and fragrance with the turmeric added. Ultimately, I’d recommend it to anyone not lactose intolerant.
The Vegan Arugula Cashew Pesto with Penne was delicious with a fresh, herb flavor. The cashew and nutritional yeast helped make the sauce mix well, but like the mac and cheese recipe, I had a very upset stomach the second day eating this dish. I’m not sure if it’s the cashews I’m using or the nutritional yeast, but something about the combo makes this recipe an eat on the first day and that’s it.
The lemon garlic roasted chickpeas were really good. I would definitely remake this if I have all the ingredients lying around and my oven at 400F. It’s a simple, easy snack that’s fun to munch on. I ate the whole thing in probably five minutes, so next time it’s worth making two servings worth.
One interesting thing that’s been on my mind these past few weeks is… has this helped my running at all? And honestly, no – not really. In fact I think I’ve been more prone to injury lately. I can’t tell if the issue stems from the recipes or, more likely, my year-old running shoes.
OoOoOo the maple turmeric chicken thighs – super delicious. Man… over that bed of rice. It was amazing. It had all the right combo moves of the sweet and gingery flavoring mixed with a fatty chicken thigh. Wow. So good, and the rice would just absorb the juices right up so you don’t waste any of the deliciousness.
The jalapeño cornbread is surprisingly filling. The cheese made it denser than it looks. I liked the cornbread, but I didn’t have the right main dishes to go with it. I know there’s a veggie chili recipe in here that I should have cooked at the same time. Oh well. I’m going to try to get better at cooking complementary recipes in the same week. Maybe even have a great big feast once a week.
Egg cups were another bust. They looked good and it seems like a winning combo, but unfortunately it had just too much cream cheese. The recipe may worth remaking with less cheese, but they were very heavy too. After two I felt super full.
Ah, the naan pizza. To be fair, I messed this recipe up by following it too closely. I ended up with four times the amount of bread after letting it rise, but still acted as though it was the right amount. Ultimately, I had four gigantic lumps of bread with a sprinkling of sauce and cheese. Had I separated the bread to more manageable amounts, there wouldn’t have been an issue, and the amount of sauce and cheese I had would have been adequate. I might try to remake it.
Well, there you have it! Week four officially in the books and cast aside for more recipes coming up in another seven day course.
Week 5, a lot of interesting recipes. I’m actually writing this during week 7 and I can hardly remember what I cooked yesterday let alone two weeks ago. But that’s why we make lists. Okay here we go:
- Banana Bread Muffins
- Cheddar & Chive Waffles
- Harvest Salad
- Mango Chutney
- Chicken Curry
- Beef & Broccoli
- Twice-Baked Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Crunchy Red Chili Topping
- Breakfast Tacos
It was a mix of really good and terrible this week. The Twice-Baked Stuffed Sweet Potatoes was pretty bad, mainly because the potatoes were undercooked so I guess it was more like one-and-a-half baked potatoes. I barely ate any of it. After the six servings sat in my fridge for a week I ended up throwing it away. The breakfast tacos were surprisingly delicious. Kale and poached eggs in a tortilla seemed super bizarre at the time of reading the recipe. Coming from Texas, I had always kept my eggs scrambled and my kale far, far away from my flour tortilla. It was a lot of work but still delicious.
The Crunchy Red Chili Topping worked well with the breakfast tacos, but because it has a lot of salt, it’s hard to use on anything else. It’s basically a bunch of salt and red pepper with an olive oil base. It would work well on anything needing a salty addition.
The Chives & Cheddar Waffles were really good! I liked them because they weren’t super sweet and could be eaten anytime of day. The cheddar and chives added that little something that made it taste like more than just bread. I also liked that they didn’t have a purely breakfast vibe like normal waffles do, and instead could be eaten anytime as just a snack food.
I’m a big beets fan, so I was excited about the Harvest Salad. The squash added a nice sweet flavor to the mix. The pomegranate seeds added a bitterness to the salad that seemed out of place to me. I like them, but yeah, something about it popped a little too much that it was kind of like eating pomegranate seeds with a mushy substance.
The Chicken Curry was an absolute delight. I ate it for several days straight. It paired really well with the coconut rice. The spicy heat melts into the thick, creamy rice like they were made for each other. Spending time with the two was like hanging out with a couple that complement each other so well everyone loves their company.
Now the Banana Bread Muffins were light and sweet. They weren’t as moist and devour-able as the pumpkin muffins, but they definitely held their own. I think what was missing with this muffin was a little pizazz. It needed a glaze or a crunch to help unleash the fruity banana from the dough and really pop. All of the muffins in this cookbook are easy to eat. Too easy to eat that I had to get them out of my place asap or else I would accidentally eat them all.
Frankly, I liked the Beef & Broccoli. The candidness is needed because I can understand why not everyone would. The beef was very chewy and the sauce was thick and sweet. But the chew helped get past the sauce and appreciate the beef flavor. The crunch of the broccoli needed no help. It was unmistakably that green tree.
The Mango Chutney aged well. I didn’t like it right away, mainly because the mango was not ripe enough. After a few days, mango seemed to soften a bit more into a mushy form that made it more delectable. I ate it with rice as a quick and easy meal. I also added it as a topping to different meals.
Okay that’s it for week five. Woo! It’s all coming together.
Week Six woo! I’m quickly getting back to where I need to be to meet my goal of a post per a week. Okay, so in this week I cooked:
- Oatmeal with All the Fixin’s
- Everything Bagels
- Banana Frappuccinos
- Wedge Salad
- Butternut Squash Gnocchi
- Chicken & Veggie Enchiladas
- Poached Pears
- Cinnamon Ginger cookies
- Beef Tenderloin
- Chocolate Cake
I love oatmeal but in the past I always had it with just boiling hot water. Adding in the milk helped give it a more mushy, thick texture and a creamy flavor. The Oatmeal with All the Fixin’s is Definitely one I’ll remake. I also thought it taste good cold so the leftovers were worth saving.
The Everything Bagels also a big win. It’d be cool always have freshly baked bagels. The bread was soft yet thick and made my apartment smell like cornerstone bakery. But the mess ya’ll. It was real.
One of the top dishes in the book has been the Chicken & Veggie Enchiladas. Wow! I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes, but daaaang it really helped give the dish a creamy flavor while still keeping it healthy. Plus the kale. Wow, I actually thought their twist on the traditional dish was a good one.
The Butternut Squash Gnocchi was one where over half went into the trash. I tried saving the uncooked gnocchi in the fridge but it was too moist. Most of it formed into a giant glob too much work to separate that dumping it made the most sense. Plus, the garlic powder was not evenly distributed so some gnocchis had burnt bits of garlic while others were soft and delciious. The burnt garlic was crunchy and had an unpleasant taste.
The Poached Pears had a bittersweet flavor that went well with the creamy yogurt. Geez, I’m starting to think every dish this week had a creamy twist. Well, actually, The tenderloin didn not.
I actually really liked the Cinnamon Ginger Cookies. The lemony glaze was good too. It was a solid treat that went fast. I tried giving as many away as possible because they were deliciously dangerous. Like the muffins, the cookies have been light and airy too with a soft bite. Not super healthy, but they have at least one bit of healthy ingredient added.
The Wedge Salad was light and creamy. I usually don’t like ranch dressing, but it went well with the iceberg lettuce and with a great proportion. The butter lettuce recipe one made way too much dressing. I have a jar full of it! I guess I just need to make mroe salad. Not sure how long it’ll stay good for so I should use it before it starts changing color son me. Alright, well that’s it for this week! Woo wow, I’m flying through these posts. I think I’ve got a good hang on it now. Well, until next time stay hungry!
The Chocolate Cake was really good! It also aged well and made for an easy sweet treat whenever I wanted a small bite. Unfortunately, I did not cook it evenly so a good chunk of the middle near saw the insides of my digestive tract but instead the insides of a dumpster where hopefully a lucky raccoon will get to feast on.
The Banana Frappuccinos wasn’t cold enough. I might remake it with some ice cubes or put it in the freezer for ten minutes. If a coffeeshop made this for me lukewarm like it was, I would have handed it back.
When I had gone to the grocery store at the beginning of the week, I remember going up to the butcher and asking for two pounds of Beef Tenderloin. “Prime?” he asked. “Sure.” I said with a dumb naive smile. He thought about it for a second and said, “How many people are you cooking it for?”
“Just me,” I said. “It’s for a recipe.”
He placed one pound on the scale and said, “Is that good?”
“Yeah, but it needs to be two pounds. I need one more.” He gave a nod like, you asked for this. Placed two more chunks of beef on the scale, got it to two, then wrapped it up in the paper and slapped a price tag on it and walked away. I looked at the price… $85. Yikes. But hey, it was delicious. All I added was salt and pepper and wow. It was delicious. I tried adding the Mango Chutney or even my favorite salsa but nope. Everything pretty much distracted from the amazing flavors.
This week of delicious treats was probably my favorite weeks o far. The recipes were quick all, well almost all, are worth remaking. Here’s the line up:
- Veggie & Herb Frittata
- Dutch Baby Pancake
- Veggie Chili
- Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Pudding
- Teryaki Turkey burgers
- Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
- Roasted Carrot Curry Soup
- Simple Bibb salad
- Carrot Fritters
I made the Carrot Fritters and the Buffalo Chicken Meatballs at the same time. They went really well together as a finger food that only requires 10mins of prep and easy clean ups. I got lucky this week in terms of cook and clean time, both were relatively short! I can’t remember how much I spent but it wasn’t anything crazy. The fritters reminded me of veggie sausage patties based on their shape and consistency, but the carrots made it sweeter than any pork sausage I’ve ever had. The meatballs were pretty tasty, but I didn’t do as well of a job mixing in the hot sauce as I probably should have. It was clear biting into them the sauce was not evenly distributed. All in all, I would and will make these dishes again.
The Dutch Baby Pancake was a weird one. The pan I used to cook this had a rounded edge instead of a more sauce pan style with high sides. So instead of it forming a thick pancake, it formed this strange bowl looking thing with a hollow center. The high up edges of course burnt and it all ultimately tasted like a cinnamon roll without any icing. It wasn’t bad but definitely not a winner either. I might remake if I had a better pan like a cast iron skillet – that would have been perfect.
The Veggie Chili took awhile to prep but still delicious. It’s a sweeter take on a dish commonly made spicy and meaty. The sweeter, lighter version gave it more of a soup feel but still really good. I liked the acorn squash instead of the potatoes or corn… it was a fun version of chili.
The Non-Diary Dark Chocolate Pudding was surprisingly good and got better with age. The longer I had let it sit in my fridge the more pudding like the texture it became. You know what I mean. THat slight giggle texture. After it sat in my fridge for 24hrs or so it was still a little more runny than pudding typically is, but still yummy. After 3-4 days, it had the right texture. I probably won’t remake this one, but it was still good!
The Roasted Carrot Curry Soup… well, I forgot the chickpeas for this dish, which may or may not made it worse. I don’t know. But what I do know is that more than half of it ended up in the trash because I just couldn’t eat it fast enough. It was super spicy, watery, and carroty. Basically spicy carrot flavored water. I will not make this one again…. unless maybe I’ve got the chickpeas for it 😉
Before the week began, there was one dish that appeal to me most… the Teriyaki Turkey Burgers. Reading the ingredients together just made my mouth water. Pineapple, ground turkey, brioche bun, raw red onions… it has it all. Not to forget the sweet and tangy teriyaki sauce! Eating it was easy, cooking it was a little tricky because of the high heat needed. Let’s just say all doors and windows had to be open for this dish.
The Veggie & Herb Frittata was good, but perhaps more work that it was worth. I ended up with a lot more asparagus than I needed for the recipe, so I had a good pound of asparagus left over. It wasn’t bad, but not worth remaking in my opinion. I liked the crunch of asparagus and the sweetness of the red peppers, but the sauasage frittat I made in a previous week was easier to prep and had more flavor with less leftover ingredients.
The Simple Bibb Salad was super easy to prep without too much leftover dressing. Butter lettuce is always a nice treat. It’s light, sweet, and crisp. I particularly enjoy it after traveling a bunch and eating a bunch of food that is bit more processed than you usually eat.
Whew, I am just cruising through these weeks. I’m glad I’ve found the time write about my journey through this cook book. I hope it’s been at least some what entertaining to read and be like ‘Wow, he’s actually doing it.’ Because it’s been tough cooking this much while maintaining a 9-5 job, plus side gigs.
Another week, another nine recipes. Whew, trying to do six to nine recipes a week is exhausting. FOrtunately some of them were pretty darn good! Here’s the list:
- One-Pan Roasted Chicken
- Turmeric Rice
- Honey Balsamic Roasted Beets
- Tempeh Stir-Fry
- Bacon Butternut Squash Soup
- Sweet Potato Pancakes
- Orzo Pasta Salad
- Best Friend Bolognese
The One-Pan Roasted Chicken was delicious. If there’s one thing this cook book has going for it, it’s delicious simple recipes. The more complicated a recipe gets, the more variables and greater likelihood it’ll turn out bad. So yes, roasted chicken recipe is a winner in this book and definitely worth making.
I made the chicken along with the Turmeric Rice and Honey Balsamic Beets. It was weird combo that reminded of a bizarro thanksgiving meal or plate of food from a buffet for someone who is just curious about how each tastes with little consideration of their pairing. That being said, they didn’t pair poorly, it was just an odd couple.
The turmeric rice had a strong earthy flavor that gave it a dirty texture. Frankly, I don’t know what the dish would have paired well with. Maybe a dried fruits and nuts? It had a Moroccan flair to it.
The Tempeh Stir-Fry was surprisingly good. I’m not a fan of tofu and lack a wok so I already knew this recipe was going to be soggier than it’s suppose to be based on my pan not getting hot enough the incredients not getting tossed as much as a stir fry should be. The tempeh with the sauces were delicious together however. I went with plain tempeh from the store and it was actually pretty good despite being, at least how it looked, a bunch of soybeans smashed together. Cutting it up was a little tough because the pieces just wanted to come undone.
Shakshouka was one of those rare recipes I stumbled on for the first time through this book. It’s the feeling one hopes to have when they buy a cookbook. The discovery of a completely new meal that changes the way you look at your traditional idea of breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. A tomato-rich meal with eggs for breakfast? Oh yeah, and it has chickpeas in it. What the. I figured maybe it would delicious, but not as a breakfast meal. With all those tomatoes and peppers it seems best as a dinner. Perhaps a side. But no, this is definitely a breakfast meal that simply doesn’t fit the mold for breakfast. As unique as tomatoes thmeslves. The rich flavor of tomatoes and umami of the eggs with the bitter bite of the feta cheese make this a wonderful meal. I loved it and plan on coming it again asap.
The Bacon Butternut Squash Soup was smooth, thick, and yummy. The bacon really added that special something that it took the soup from a consistent good flavor, to something that awakens curiosity about what was that magic something? That’s definitely been a consistent thing about the recipes I’ve enjoyed in this book. A broad stroked background with a color accenting the whole piece. A color that takes the main stage and because the background can easily fade in the background, that one special thing really pops.
Another great example of this is the Orza Pasta Salad. The whole thing is kind of plain but the roasted pine nuts connects the whole thing like the pretty bow of the string. This was one of my favorite sides. It had a light feel, and healthy taste that made you want to eat more and not feel guilty about it (even though most of it is just rice-shaped pasta. This is a side dish I will make again. What’s weird is if I were to add say, feta cheese to it. Another good accenting flavor commonly topping dishes, it would likely break the recipe into something more like a collage that would overcrowd one’s palate.
If you’ve been following my progress through this blog, you’re probably aware that I don’t like sweet potatoes, so naturally, I was not looking forward to the Sweet Potato Pancakes. Fortunately, this recipe was actually super yummy. I’ve never before made from-scratch pancakes that taste so good. That whipped cream gave a lightness to the warming nutmeg and cinnamon.
The Best Friend Bolognese was decent. Not something special, but also not bad. It was like another thing with bacon in it. I probably won’t make it again, but I would eat it again…. if that makes sense.
Alright, just two more weeks to go and about 16 more recipes. Woo!
Almost done with this book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great experience and it has a lot of really good recipes, but yeah. It’s been a lot of work committing to new foods each week. Anyway, here’s the list:
- Joe’s Steak Tacos
- Tomato Corn Salsa
- Spicy Black Beans
- Date Cranberry Chia Bars
- Checkered Chocolate Banana Cake
- Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs
- Veggie-Packed Lasagna
- Homemade Pop-Tarts
What of the things I’ve learned about cooking in general from this book is…. I don’t like skirt steak. It’s too chewy! The supposed remedy to the chewiness is cooking it over very high heat. Okay, fine. I do this and my apartment overwhelms with smoke and the surface of the meat is black. It does taste good though. Joe’s Steak Tacos went really well with the Tomato Corn Salsa and Spicy Black Beans. Both of which were super salty and sour from the lemon and lime added. Separately, the sides didn’t taste great, but paired with the steak and poached egg, they went well together.
I liked the idea of making sides that, alone were a bit extra. It helped bring out the deliciousness of each recipe. When a side is good all on its own, the meal’s harder to appreciate. Why not just have a big bowl of that side? For me, a plate should have sides that pair well with the main portion. The sides should pop and stand out. You shouldn’t want every bite of the main portion to include the side, instead it should just be an occasional burst of flavor that helps you appreciate both the side and the main portion. Like pickled veggies. Eating a bowl of pickled veggies would be weird because it’s just a lot of sourness. Having it every now and then with your main meal gives it an extra boost at one’s desire.
The Date Cranberry Chia Bar has the flavor right in the name. Very sweet, mushy bar. It’s baked at a very low heat, so it’s more solid than mush. I included shaved almonds because it seemed like it was going to be too sweet for me. I would also smear some peanut butter on top whenever I would eat one. The bar’s were most delicious after a hard run. Eating one helped bring me back to a normal energy state. Eating one during lunch on the other hand… that was a lot of sugar. I can’t remember if I talked about this before, but the main reoccurring taste is sweet and the meals tend to be spicy. I suppose the idea behind it is athlete’s need fast burning sugar for energy and they need it from a nutritious source like honey, syrup, and dates. At the beginning of the book, Emma Coburn talks about tailoring each recipe to one’s own taste and exercise schedule. Basically, the recipes as written for a professional athlete. Not a 9-to-5 paper pusher.
Okay, the Homemade Pop-tarts were probably my favorite this week. The pastry like shell and the jelly filling turned out pretty good! I also enjoyed the rustic, homemade look to them. The best part was I got to control how sweet it was by cutting back on the outer frosting, not including the sprinkles (they look great, but I just don’t like the taste, plus at my grocery store sprinkles are surprisingly expensive. I’m talking $8 a bottle… for clumps of sugar. Next up was the Veggie-Packed Lasagna. Normally veggie lasagna consists of eggplant and not mushrooms. I’m not a big fan of American/European eggplant, so I typically don’t carte for it. I am however a big fan of mushrooms, so I was intrigued. It was delicious. I really liked the salty savoriness that came with mushrooms and garlic mixture. Lasagna is more like a once or twice a year meal for me, so I probably won’t remake this one, but it was delicious.
The two recipes I was most intimidated by were the Checkered Chocolate Banana Cake and the Bibimbap. They both look amazing in the book photo. To even attempt to recreate them seemed impossible. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to save them for last because by the last few weeks I was ready to quit. Throw in the towel and say “let’s just order out.” But I persisted. The main problem with continuing despite my exhaustion was the food quality went down. Some ingredients were forgotten, some were substituted. I overcooked something, undercooked others. By leaving the most challenging for last It meant the easiest to feel disappointed and discouraged. To be honest though, I do feel like I’ve gotten better at cooking and after a few weeks break and a return to cooking I know I’ll notice a huge increase in my performance.
Okay, so the big ones. The Bibimbap was the easiest of the Asian style dishes to make, but had the most variety in terms of cooking. From frying the ground beef, making the rice, pickling the veggies, and sunny side up egg, there were a lot of necessary pieces to prepare for this dish. Ultimately I liked it, but it definitely didn’t look as good as the professional photo of the dish. Since I made the entire, four servings meal just for myself I only prepared one egg I ate the rest for leftovers but didn’t cook an egg with them. This was a mistake. Eating everything except the egg made it feel like something was missing. The meal tasted significantly cheaper and less satisfying to eat.
And the final recipe…. the Checkered Chocolate Banana Cake. The photo in the book reminded me of the advanced version of any hobby book. The super intricate swan in origami, the beautiful watercolor painting in the how to watercolor paint book, the sort of Mount Everest of mountains. The one that look at when you buy the book and say “Wow, some day” but you also feel like it could never happen. Yeah, that feeling for me was awoken with the chocolate banana cake.
First off I really didn’t set myself up for success with this one. I started it in good dramatic fashion at 7pm on the very last day March 31st. About four hours later, It was finished. I didn’t have enough powdered sugar for the icing, so it was mainly cream cheese. I also used a different size pan for baking which was difficult to account for when baking. I probably should have taken the cakes out of the oven sooner. Issues aside, the cake was decent though a little over cooked. The checkered pattern of the cake was actually easy to recreate and fit well enough. I think if I were to redo this, I would need a very long and thin knife, stack the cakes on top, smoothing out each one so they rest level on top of each other, then do the cutting for all of them.
So, in conclusion, was this book worth it? Yeah! I learned a lot about little techniques that will help my normal, everyday cooking. I also got a better sense of what recipes I’m good at making and which ones I’m not. I also learned how exhausting cooking is when done all the time, each time a brand new recipe. Ultimately I recommend the book to runners and non-runners alike. Just take the level of sweetness and spiciness with a big grain of salt.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you will join me for the next cookbook review.