The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook, a cookbook review

There’s quite the fascination online for minimal ingredient cooking, don’t you agree? If you’re unsure, you can navigate to Youtube and search for “3 ingredient recipes” or “5 ingredient recipes.” You’ll get quite the bevy of results! Even Food52 has a series called “Big Little Recipes” where the featured recipes typically only have 3-4 ingredients.

Cookbook author Toby Amidor tries her hand at it with her latest book release “The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook: 100 Fast and Easy Recipes for Everyone.” If you’re the type of person who is painfully, overly concerned with details, then none of these recipes are 3 ingredients. Pantry items of oil, salt, pepper, and water do not get counted. This is a guideline that I personally agree with. At every level of my cooking journey, I was using these very basic ingredients. Do you have to use pepper? No, and I don’t always use it. However, if you don’t have access to other spices, fresh black pepper can go a long way.

The chapter breakdown is:

  • Cooking Basics Using 3 Ingredients
  • Cooking Tips for When You’re in a Hurry
  • Smoothies and Breakfasts
  • Snacks, Sweets, and Treats
  • Soups and Salads
  • Lunches
  • Dinners
  • Vegetables and Grain Sides

A feature that I like is that all recipes are developed for 4 or 6 servings, but there’s a section for halved and double quantities printed so that you can easily scale up or down without doing it in your head or on paper.

Here are the recipes that I’ll be making in the future:

  • Lox scramble
  • Pumpkin oat pancakes
  • Black bean dip
  • Mini blueberry oat cups
  • Chocolate truffles
  • Chunky black bean soup
  • Chicken and rice bowl with vegetables
  • Thyme poached halibut
  • Lemon garlic shrimp
  • Ziti with turkey bolognese
  • Rosemary garlic pork loin
  • Barley with peas and carrots
  • Brown rice with mushrooms

There are a few recipes that felt a little like filler to me like the ricotta toast and the avocado toast with tomato, but I suppose that is bound to happen with most cookbooks.

I started off by making roasted grapes and yogurt because I really enjoy having a serving of Fage Greek yogurt for breakfast. (This is not an ad. Fage is the only commercial Greek yogurt I am willing to eat.) I also like roasted grapes but never remember to make them. I thought it’d be nice to change up my yogurt toppings as I’m often using cinnamon, granola, or even no toppings at all. Results? Thumbs up for me. It’s simply grapes, honey, oil, and yogurt, but I think you could easily skip the honey if you want. (Grapes are sweet anyway.) Since I was fairly sure I would like this, I went ahead and made the double batch. No regrets.

The second recipe I made was potato soup, made from potatoes, onion, broth, oil, salt, and pepper. I did make a substitution here but a minor one. I’m suffering from tenosynovitis in my dominant hand right now, which makes holding a knife somewhat difficult so I went ahead and used frozen shredded potatoes meant for hash. What I liked best is that this recipe is a great reminder that something simple can still be good. If you’re feeling like you want to add to it, you could easily throw in some cooked meat or some frozen veggies.

The third recipe I made was the roasted sweet potato-chickpea bowl. This recipe used sweet potatoes, canned chickpeas, tahini, salt, pepper, and oil. Out of the three recipes I made, this was my least favorite, only because I found the flavor to be a little dull. I am, for better or for worse, one of those people who think tahini is overused. There are applications that I really like it in, which is why I often have a jar in my kitchen, but this wasn’t it. But I’m not saying it was bad. I strongly think this recipe would benefit from even just one extra ingredient. I think the next time I make it, I’ll try adding some za’atar or some other spice to add a bit more oomph. Maybe? Hopefully? That is all it needs. Regardless, I think it’s a good option for a meatless meal. It’s also easy to make/pack for work lunches.

I enjoyed Amidor’s previous book, “The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook,” and I like this release as well so far. I find the simplicity of this book inspirational while I try to cook around my wrist pain. (Going forward, I’ll probably add one or two more ingredients than what’s published – mainly spices or veggies – but nothing much more.) This is such a great resource for people in my situation but also for new cooks, and for anyone who hates cooking but wants to cook more for health/cost reasons. It doesn’t require a huge pantry. It doesn’t require a lot of money. It doesn’t require any specialty pans. If this sounds appealing to you in any way, check out Amidor’s book when it comes out next week.

Disclaimer – I kindly received a preview from Robert Rose for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

Reference Links:

http://www.robertrose.ca/
https://tobyamidornutrition.com/

Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook, a book review

Did you know the average rotisserie chicken has 4 cups of meat on it?  This is a thing I learned from “The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook” by Toby Amidor.  I think it’s a fun cookbook.  The whole premise is focused on buying a rotisserie chicken, breaking it down, and using it for a variety of recipes.  Some of the recipes seem obvious, while others are recipes I would have never thought of.

Every recipe has a key for less than 5 ingredients, 15 min or less, freezer friendly, meal prep, and/or or one pot/pan.  Depending on your cooking style, this is really handy information.  The breakfast, appetizers, and snack recipes come in a variety of serving sizes, but it seems like all of the entree recipes are made to serve 4, so it’s fairly easy to reduce the serving size to 2 if need be.

The chapter breakdown is:

  • Breakfast
  • Appetizers and snacks
  • Soups and sandwiches
  • Salads
  • Easy Mains
  • Even easier mains
  • Everyday sides
  • Dressings, sauces, and condiments

 

Things to I want to try:

  • Not Your Mama’s Chicken and Waffles
  • Simple Cassoulet Soup
  • Mulligatawny soup
  • Grilled apple, gouda, and chicken panini
  • Cajun chicken melt
  • Loaded chicken pasta salad
  • Brussels sprouts salad with chicken, cranberries, and pecans
  • Chicken parmesan casserole
  • Chicken and mushroom baked risotto
  • Easy chicken and sausage paella
  • Garlic smothered chicken
  • Chicken loaf
  • White bean and chicken chili
  • Herbed chicken meatballs
  • Skillet balsamic chicken
  • Cranberry almond farro (from the sides chapter)

 

The biggest challenges I had with this book?  I only had about a cup of chicken with which I could use for recipe testing, and I had to cook from my pantry.  (My location is under quarantine advisory at the time of working on this post.)  That’s pretty much it.  The recipes themselves all seem friendly for everyday cooking, and nothing looks intimidating.

 

There were a handful of recipes that fit my ingredient restrictions, but in the end, I kept coming back to Amidor’s recipe for chicken almond soup.  The published recipe calls for slivered almonds, chicken broth, almond butter, oil, leek, butter, flour, rotisserie chicken, frozen peas, unseasoned rice vinegar, dried tarragon, dried thyme, salt, and pepper.  I had to forgo the slivered almonds.  Then, I made two minor substitutions.  I used onion instead of leek.  I technically ran out of thyme and tarragon, so I used an equal amount of herbs de Provence, since it has both thyme and tarragon in the blend. 

I loved how easily this came together.  It also smelled really good while cooking.  The almond flavor is subtle but complements the herbs.  I imagine that if you didn’t want to use chicken, you can easily use cannellini beans instead.  Button mushrooms might work well too, but I think cremini or portobello might be too distinctive for this recipe.

Oooh, this might work lovely as a side dish if you omit the chicken completely and add something like butter lettuce.  (Yes, I cook my lettuce sometimes.  In the right applications, it’s delicious.)

But even as I’m pondering chicken substitutions, I love the recipe as is.  The chicken almond soup is going into my cooking repertoire.  I just want to let you know that even if you’re not a fan of eating chicken, you don’t need to disregard this book.  The recipes all sound flexible.

I’m already looking forward to getting my hands on more chicken.  It doesn’t have to be rotisserie chicken from the store either.  Honestly, I’m in a mood where I want to roast whole chickens at home.  And as the weather gets warmer in New England, I’ll probably pull out my slow cooker instead.  But as I’m a regular meal prepper, I expect to get a lot of use out of this book.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Previously, I was unfamiliar with Toby Amidor, but she’s written five cookbooks already, two of which are meal prep books.  “The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook” is her sixth.  I guess I have more reading to do in the near future!

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received a preview from Robert Rose for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  

With COVID-19 self-quarantine in effect, my scope of recipe-testing was limited.  Some modifications may have been made.  I apologize that I could not recipe-test better.  

 

 

Reference Links:

http://www.robertrose.ca/

https://tobyamidornutrition.com/ 

http://www.robertrose.ca/book/best-rotisserie-chicken-cookbook-over-100-tasty-recipes-using-store-bought-bird 

Vegan Meal Prep, a cookbook review

Meal prep is a topic near and dear to my heart.  I’m often prepping 4 days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Sundays.  I try to go for meatless for breakfast and lunch, mostly because I know that I should amp up my vegetable intake in general.  You would think about after three years of meal prep (more or less) that I’d have it down to a science, but I really don’t.

Breakfasts tend to be the same recipe, week after week, until I can’t stand it anymore.  Lunches can go either way. They are variations of the same basic recipe or simple-but-new-to-me recipes.  Dinner is the one meal that I give myself more time and freedom for experimenting. I’m often flipping through recipes all week long, trying to decide what I am willing and wanting to make that weekend.  And sometimes, I end up in a mild panic and just use a tried-and-true recipe when I’m too indecisive and running out of time.

I’ve always wanted a cookbook that did all the thinking for me, which led me to pick up a review copy of Vegan Meal Prep by Robin Asbell.  Asbell’s latest cookbook is basically detailed step-by-step meal prep instructions, from start to finish.

The book is split into three major sections.  “Setting Yourself Up for Success: Five Weeks of Vegan Meals” is the first section.  The highlight in this section, in my opinion, is Vegan Nutrition Basics. Asbell is pretty detailed: listing sources of protein, omega-3, calcium, iron, and zinc.  It’s a pretty good one stop reference if you’re fully vegan.

The second section is “Meal Prep 101: Planning, Shopping, and Prepping.”  This is where you’ll find the overview of the five week meal plan, shopping lists, and the prepping instructions for each week.

The third section is “Let’s Get Cooking! 125 Vegan Recipes”, which is broken down into these chapters.

  • Vegan Staples
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Salads, Dressing, and Sides
  • Desserts and Snacks

Here are the recipes that I’m most interested in trying:

  • Whole Grain Baking Mix
  • Lemon Pecan Muffins with Apricot Cashew Spread
  • Smoky Tempeh Taco Meat
  • Sweet Potato Chickpea Cakes
  • Barley with Vanilla Apples and Spiced Sweet Potato
  • Blueberry Breakfast Squares
  • Farro and Kimchi Bowls with Kale and Sesame Dressing
  • Farro Salad with Apricots, Carrots, and Spinach
  • Tempeh, Brown Rice, and Roasted Veggie Wraps
  • Tempeh Pasta Salad with Tomato and Avocado
  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Curry
  • Black Bean and Squash Chili with Dumplings
  • Matcha-Glazed Pistachio Blondies
  • Peanut Butter Raisin Cookies

The things I liked most upon first impressions were the tips, variations, and “to pack for lunch” blurbs that frequently show up on corners of the recipe pages.  I also like how the ingredient lists are generally not intimidating nor filled with hard to find items.

The only critiques I have are two.  I wish nutritional information were listed.  I’ve seen other meal prep books that do. But for the purpose of mixing and matching for people who might be trying to watch their sugar intake, etc., it would be handy to have.  The other issue I have is the order of the recipe section. The whole book is planned around the five week meal plan/schedule but the recipes are in order by course. At least within each course type chapter, recipes are back in order by schedule and marked with which week/day the recipe belongs to.  If you’re planning to mix and match, then recipes ordered by course type makes sense. But I think if you’re planning to use the book as written, then having the recipes ordered by course type makes less sense.

In neither a “pro” nor a “con” comment, all of the recipes are meant to make about 4 servings.  So while I had originally planned on following a full week of recipes for this review, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t feasible for me.  I am not trying to feed a family of four (But you might be!),

I ended up testing two recipes: Baked Marinated Tempeh, and Breakfast Protein Cookies with Dates and Pistachios.

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Breakfast cookies

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Both were easy to make.  I’ve made breakfast cookies before but it never occurred to me to use dates and pistachios.  I tend to use a lot of raisins. (In fact, I didn’t have time to get dates for this recipe so I used golden raisins which I think are milder in raisin flavor than the more familiar thompson seedless raisins.  Please don’t hate me for substituting.)  The cookies have good protein content, due to the sneaky addition of tofu, and don’t taste too sweet.  Having said that, the cookies actually use more sweetener than my typical baked oatmeal, and I don’t think you can reduce it as the maple syrup acts as part of the wet ingredients.  (Well, maybe you could increase the tofu?  Maple syrup and tofu are the only wet ingredients in this recipe.  Vanilla doesn’t count.  And like I said, it doesn’t taste too sweet so would reducing the sweetener be a futile exercise?)  The portion size is 3 cookies, and it seems to mostly sate my morning hunger.  (But I have a really high appetite in the mornings.  Sometimes I want more food.  Your mileage may vary.)

I liked the baked marinated tempeh too.  It never occurred to me to use apple juice as part of the marinade before.  I decided to mix up the baked tempeh with leftover marinade (which I cooked with cornstarch thinking i could use it as a sauce) and some cauliflower rice.  The natural tempeh flavor was not too strong in this recipe, so I think I’ll use it again in the near future. (However, the cooked marinade plus cauliflower tasted like… fish?  It’s a subtle enough flavor that I will push through it, but yeah, I’m never doing that combination again. lol!)

Overall, I recommend this book for anyone who wants to do more meal prepping, want a reasonable food budget, and have more than one mouth to feed.  Oh, and if you’re just trying to up your veggie intake (like me). I do have the minor reservations as listed above, but that might not bother you as much as it does me.

 

Reference Link:

https://www.robertrose.ca/book/vegan-meal-prep-5-week-plan-125-ready-go-recipes

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Robert Rose for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.