FOODIE: The Pioneer Woman Cookbook Challenge | February Update

Friends, it's month two of my 2015 New Year's Resolution Revolution to make every recipe (all 100+ of them!) from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier, her second cookbook. A few years ago I took on her very first cookbook, and made all those recipes. (Yes, my family is SO LUCKY.) Here are the recipes I made in the month of February, with our family and friends weighing in on each one.

(Links to the recipes via her website are all provided.)


First, let's start with the NAWS. Because there are so few this month!

Beef & Bean Burritos: These were just alright. She makes them up a few at a time and microwaves them for lunches, but that's a bit too much work for easy lunches, in my opinion. But, I'm also not feeding ranch hands, so there's that. We made them for dinner, rolled them and put them in a baking dish, and baked with cheese and enchilada sauce on top instead. That made them better, Dr. Brown says. Neither of us are fans of ground beef in burritos, but my girls loved these. (But our votes count more, because we are the bosses of this family, dammit, so it's listed in the naws. I probably should've done a just okay category this month because I could've listed these there.)

Rib-Eye Steak with Onion-Blue Cheese Sauce: First off, steak is super expensive. Second, I am, admittedly, not a fan of red meat. I never have been. The sauce was pretty good, but it was just okay. Dr. Brown even agrees, and he loves a good, medium-rare steak. (Gross.)

Twice-Baked New Potatoes: I've made these several times in my life, albeit someone else's recipe. PW's is similar to all the rest. Nothing to write home about.

Let's move on the to the FOREVER AND EVER AMENS.

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes: I love homemade pancakes (and can I get an AMEN for heated up maple syrup?! None of that cold stuff). These were a fun twist, but came out a bit flat (not as fluffy as the photo, but whatevs). And so good. Arlo's very first pancakes, and he loved them.

Best Grilled Cheese Ever: This has been called PW's favorite sandwich recipe in the past, and I have to agree with her, because there is nothing I love more than a good grilled cheese. Therefore, I'm giving this two big thumbs up. It's messy and yummy and while it might not technically be the BEST ever, it's still a fun twist. (Also, rye bread is my favorite, and no one else in this house likes it, so any chance to buy it is a win in my book.)

Perfect Spinach Salad: We made this as a side dish with the above sandwich for dinner. Not a good pair, though, because both dishes are super rich, so it was a bit too much. Warm bacon and red onions with hard boiled eggs make this a winner. Even the girls liked it. Would be great served with a meaty main dish.

Simple Sesame Noodles: Admittedly, we have been making this for years, from the recipe on PW's website. It's so quick and easy and delicious. We always have the ingredients on hand, so it's one of those raid the pantry type meals. The whole family approves. We can't recommend this recipe enough.

Sesame Beef Noodle Salad: This is basically a version of the above recipe. We added leftover steak slices from the blue cheese onion dish above and it turned out great. The best thing about PW's Simple Sesame Noodles is that you can add any kind of meat and veggies to it. Or not, if you're not a carnivore.

Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork: This, I think, was the clear winner in February. Also an expensive dish (we picked up a pork butt at Meats Royale for almost $40), but great to feed a crowd, with enough left for freezing for later. We served it on rolls with coleslaw for my mother-in-law's 70th birthday dinner. You can adjust the heat a bit by using only one can of chipotles and taking them out before shredding the pork if you're serving kids, like we were. But the flavor is wonderful.

Pots de Crème: My friends always host an annual Oscars Party with a movie themed dinner buffet. This year I picked The Grand Budapest Hotel and served these alongside tiny store-bought chocolate eclairs with pink and blue sprinkles a la Mendl's bakery from the film. To serve a crowd, I made mini pots in small glass baby food jars topped with fresh homemade whipped cream. They were so good, and set right up on the cold back patio in just three hours. I heard lots of yums from the audience on hand. What a sweet treat!