Another double post. Also, a friend pointed out to me that these posts would be more interesting if I included the recipes, so from now on I will. My understanding is that there's no copyright issue with quoting a recipe or two from a cookbook, but please do correct me if I'm wrong.
Last week I drew the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook (from 1998, so not all that new anymore). It's not a bad cookbook, but it's not particularly exciting, either. I chose Southern Oven "Fried" Chicken because I had the ingredients readily to hand:
1/2 c. fat free buttermilk
2-3 drops hot red pepper sauce
1/2 c. cornflakes, crushed
3 T all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 lbs. chicken parts, skinned
4 tsp canola oil
1) Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
2) In a large, shallow bowl, combine buttermilk and pepper sauce. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine cornflake crumbs, flour, salt, and pepper. Dip chicken in buttermilk, then dredge in cornflake mixture, coating completely. Place on baking sheet, drizzle with oil. Bake 30 min., turn over, and bake 15-20 min longer until cooked through.
My modifications: I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts because it turned out I didn't have thighs and drumsticks left in the freezer after all. I soaked the chicken for several hours in the buttermilk because I know that works from previous recipes. I used at least a teaspoon of hot sauce and didn't bother measuring salt and pepper. And it took me more like two cups of cornflake crumbs to get the chicken coated. Oh, and I cooked it at 350 instead of 400, because that seemed a little hot for pieces as prone to drying out as boneless breasts.
The results: Meh. Edible, something you could throw together quickly. Nothing exciting or memorable.
This week's cookbook was Life After Pizza, which I used to teach myself to cook in college and the first few years thereafter. It covers everything from basics like how to scramble an egg and soups you can make by mixing various canned condensed soups to yeast breads and souffles (neither of which I've ever mastered). I still consult it now and again for reminders of cooking times and such for basics I haven't made in awhile, and I confess to a fondness for one of those canned soup blends. Finding a recipe in it I'd never made before that sounded appealing was a challenge, but I finally settled on:
1/4 c olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 green peppers, sliced
8 oz. thinly sliced pepperoni
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1) Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, peppers, pepperoni, and garlic. Cook for 5 min, stirring constantly.
2) Mix in tomatoes, oregano, and salt. Cook, covered for 5 min. Remove cover, cook for 5 min until sauce thickens slightly.
3) Pour over pasta, serve with parmesan cheese.
Modifications: I used 3 oz. of pepperoni, because that's what the package I'd picked up at the store held. It was still too much. I added another half can of tomatoes, because it didn't look saucy enough. I doubled the oregano.
The results: Not inedible, but I'll never make it again. My younger self would've enjoyed the pizza-topping gimmickry, but my older, somewhat skilled cook of a current self can make a better homemade pasta sauce improv. And the pepperoni just doesn't work at all.