Whew, this is so much easier than I thought it would be. I've decided to make at least two recipes a week from the cookbook, which really helps me feel less overwhelmed when thinking about 109 recipes to get done in 2015. I've stayed right on top of it for this first month, but haven't felt strong love for most of the recipes (except one, which I'll save for last here). I have, however, been thrilled to find a compelling reason to finally open the box of vintage Lenox china c. 1960 that haven't been used in at least ten years. Every Sunday night is Pioneer Woman dinner, and we bust out the gorgeous gold leaf china. What a fun new tradition!
Let's start with the NAWS.
Chicken Tortilla Soup: My Lucy is the biggest soup fan and she loved this. Dr. Brown and I both thought it just okay. We make a version of this ourselves that we've perfected over the years, and we think it's better. The addition of cut up corn tortillas, though, is a brilliant idea.
French Onion Soup: Meh. Julia Child's is SO MUCH BETTER. I think it's the addition of chicken broth in this one that just makes it blah to me.
Hummus: So garlicky that it gave me a super upset stomach. Admittedly, I'm way sensitive to garlic (unless I'm pregnant - I know, weird), but Dr. Brown has a stomach of steel and eats ALL THE THINGS and it did the same to him. Also, Dr. Brown is Greek, so we are a bit snobbish about the Middle Eastern foods and we have a Mediterranean cookbook with a killer hummus recipe that this one does not beat.
Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms: We made these for Katy Bowl Sunday (football WHA?!@#) when our friends the Zehnas were in town from Utah, along with the hummus above (and PW's bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers which were in her first cookbook and we will make for the rest of time they are THAT GOOD). These were the best of the naws, but not amazing. Fine, but I'm not searching for just fine in this quest.
Pork Chops with Apples & Grits: Much like garlic doesn't agree with my stomach, grits do not agree with MY ANYTHING. Listen, I've even lived in the South for a short time (I went on exchange during college to Charleston, SC) where grits were served at every single meal (sigh) at my college dorm lunchroom. I've tried and tried and tried and even made them homemade myself to no avail. I ain't doin' it. Also, the pork chops weren't that great, and I do usually love them with apples. Dr. Brown did like the grits (he thought them better the next day), so he gives this one a higher ranking than I.
Let's move on to the FOREVER AND EVER AMENS.
Rigatoni and Meatballs: I made this for my grandma's 85th birthday party dinner and OMG WE ALL LOVED IT. Seriously, those meatballs?! We used tomatoes we had roasted with garlic and herbs from our own summer garden and frozen in the sauce and they truly made the difference. This recipe is not on PW's website (which is where I've linked all the other recipes here), so you'll just have to get the book if you want to make it. Also? Kid-approved. Even Arlo loved his teeny tiny bite sized pieces.
Meatball Sliders: PW directs you to use the leftover meatballs and sauce from the recipe above for these and holy moly, we almost loved these more than the rigatoni above. Paired with baked French fries, it was a super easy leftover kind of meal for a weeknight. Alice and Lucy also loved this one.
Classic Hot Wings: These are spicy as hell, but Dr. Brown is the wing connoisseur and he gives a big stamp of approval. It makes a ton of sauce, though, so you could probably cut back on that, or else more wings than the recipe calls for.
Roasted Cauliflower: We made this as a side dish to Dr. Brown's BBQ ribs and both agreed that this was the best way we've ever eaten cauliflower, hands down. So yummy! (Again, no recipe on PW's site for this, sorry!)
Billie's Italian Cream Cake: This, my friends, was January's crowning jewel. The best recipe I made all month. This cake is a winner. It took hours, was three layers high, and was my grandmother's 85th birthday cake. It was even better the next morning with coffee. Super rich and lovely. I'm a huge cake snob, and once you've had homemade cake, you'll never, ever, ever be able to eat store bought or boxed cake mix cakes again in the same way. We all give this the highest ranking. Grandma-approved!