This is a sponsored post. I was given a copy of Fresh Tastes From A Well-Seasoned Kitchen in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. I also have added affiliate links, meaning if you purchase any product through a direct link in this post, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price from Amazon. This will not change the cost to you at all, but it can help support the ongoing costs of maintenance and upkeep of this blog.
With Thanksgiving and all its trimmings now a thing of the past, it’s time to start thinking about your end of the year holiday parties and celebrations! While our only Thanksgiving duty is to show up with some great bottles of wine, we are responsible for hosting our family get-togethers on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as well as our extended-family get-together mid-December on a cycled schedule. We are not hosting the extended-family get-together this year, which means our only obligation is to show up with some great bottles of wine. Speaking of which…if you are looking for a great recommendation, I love the 2015 Unconditional Pinot Noir from Battle Creek Cellars. It is reasonably-priced and complements most any meal. I’m no sommelier (a girl can dream), but I do know what I like.
So, back to the cookbook…Fresh Tastes is a follow-up to the original book, A Well-Seasoned Kitchen, by the author, Lee Clayton Roper, and her mother, Sally. How fun is that to write a cookbook with your mom? As avid cooks we actually already own A Well-Seasoned Kitchen, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to give this new cookbook a try. Like the first in the series, Fresh Tastes did not disappoint. But first, a minute about ‘we’. By we, I mean my husband. He is the cook in the family. I am the casual observer and chief taster. Don’t get me wrong–I can cook, and I think very well. But he loves to cook. Have at it, dude. I’ll just sit here and watch, sipping my pinot noir.
Anyhoo…back to the cookbook (didn’t I just say that?) The book itself is beautiful. Hardcover and almost 300 pages, it’s like eye candy for the cook in your life, and would make a great holiday gift. The pages are filled with beautiful illustrations of the varied recipes. It is nicely divided into sections, starting with appetizers and ending with menu suggestions. The week I received the book, my kids were coming over for the weekend. Our family loves spicy foods, so we decided to try two appetizers–the Chorizo, Cheese and Jalapeño Turnovers and the Green Chile Canapés. Both were delicious and easy to make. Since we like spicy, we didn’t seed and remove the ribs from the jalapeños as the first recipe instructed. If you don’t like things real spicy, I would suggest you follow the recipe exactly. Rather than work with full sheets of phyllo dough, we purchased mini phyllo dough shells, which helped speed up the process. If you want to work with the full sheets, the book has a great tip on how to work with them.
The next section in the book includes recipes for breakfast and brunch. I am honestly not much of a breakfast eater, so I skimmed through this section. A few of these recipes have a Southwestern flair (for example, Southwestern Chile-Cheese Souffle, Huevos Rancheros) so if we were to try them, those would probably be the first two we would make. Next are the sections on soups and salads. Hello. You had me at roasted. I love (love, love) eggplant, so the first recipe we tried was the Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup. We still had plenty of tomatoes from our garden (blanched and frozen in our deep freezer), so we were happy to try a recipe where we could utilize some of them. We doubled the recipe so we could enjoy it for more than one day. It was delicious. The recipe stated if the soup was too thick we could cut it with vegetable broth. We didn’t need to do that. I suspect it’s because frozen fresh tomatoes tend to be watery when they thaw. I have an excellent recipe for Butternut Squash Soup from a friend. I haven’t tried the one in this book yet, but I would love to see how they compare, since the ingredients are very different. There are a number of recipes for salads, including several that can be used as main dishes. We haven’t tried them yet, but there are several that we have bookmarked for future meals.
The next five sections include recipes for poultry, meats, fish and seafood, pasta, and vegetarian mains. There truly is something in this book for everyone! We haven’t had our hands on this book for very long, but we have made the Eggplant Parmesan with Sausage, Mushroom and Olive Marinara Sauce (did I mention I love eggplant?) This particular recipe had to be cut in half, since as presented it serves 12 to 14 people. We also omitted the black olives. I know they’re a staple in a lot of Italian dishes, but I don’t care for them in a hot meal. The next main recipe we have our eyes on is the Chicken Pot Pie. We make pot pie quite a bit for my mom, and she really likes it. The recipe calls for either light coconut milk, evaporated milk, or half and half. I think we will try it with the evaporated milk. I’m not sure she’d like the coconut milk flavor, and I think the evaporated milk will help thicken it up a little.
I’m also interested in trying the Ham and Shrimp Jambalaya. We have a fantastic recipe for Orzolaya (jambalaya with orzo instead of rice) from the The Heaven on Seven cookbook. This has been one of our favorite recipes for almost two decades, so it has a lot to live up to! The recipes are dissimilar enough that we may just end up loving both!
The last recipe section in the book is desserts. I have to admit, I’m not much of a sweet eater (I know, I know!), but of course my kids love them. There are some interesting-looking recipes, a few of which I might try for our Christmas celebrations. The book concludes with 13 full menus for hosting various dinner parties. What a fantastic idea! I sometimes struggle with putting a full menu together, and more often than not things are a mish-mosh of what I like or like to make, but not necessarily what goes well together. I love the lineup for the New Year’s Even Dinner Menu and even though I won’t be cooking on New Year’s Eve, I might try it for another get-together over the holidays.
I really like this book and am thrilled to add it to our collection. There are lots of great tips and do-ahead ideas that help streamline the cooking process. I also like that the author adds stories and anecdotes throughout the book, so by the time you’ve perused it or made a few of the recipes, you really feel like you know her.
How about you? Do you like to cook? What are some of your favorite cookbooks? If you’d like to add this one to your collection (or maybe gift it to someone this year), head on over to my Instagram feed for a chance to win an autographed copy!