February 03, 2012

Super Suppers Cookbook by Judie Byrd

As of 2/3/12 I have made 36 recipes from this book.

Ok, this is your average cookbook. I actually don't know too much about the Super Suppers franchise, but from this book I'm assuming its one of those make ahead and freeze type of places. Which, judging by this book, its only part of the goal of this book, because there were a good many recipes that you could neither make ahead, or freeze after done. I'm not saying that the book is all bad, but its probably not what someone would expect who is a Super Suppers franchise.

The book is broke up into many sections; Tips & Techniques, Beef, Pork, Poultry, Seafood, Vegetarian, Bread Grain & Rice, Salads, Vegetables & Fruit, and Desserts. The tips section mainly involved how to peel, grate, and cut things and a few other cooking techniques.

The next section was Beef. Most of these recipes ranged from the common, to a few exotic dishes. A surprising favorite was Steak Soup. It was a huge hit with the family. The Asian Beef and Vegetable Wraps were good, but didn't really work the way the book said they would and were a bit of a mess to eat. The Cranberry Sweet and Sour Meatballs, were a little on the sweet side, but a good quick meal. Sadly the meatloaf was a greasy mess. Now the Swedish Meatballs, those were worth having again. They were absolutely delicious.

For Pork there were quite a lot of chops on the menu. And I actually haven't really made any of the chops but rather focused on some of the other things in the chapter. The Ham and Corn Chowder was very creamy and very good. I would make it again. Likewise with the Baked Potato Soup. For Sweet and Sour Pork, I also found the recipe easy to make and delicious. The Jambalaya wasn't spicy at all and was very good.

Poultry had some hits in it too. The Amish Chicken and Rice was easy to make but extremely bland. The Chicken Dijon was also pretty bland, and I wouldn't waste my time making it again. Now the Maple-Mustard Chicken was very good, and the Parmesan chicken was good too, even if it did reheat soggy. Sadly the Thai Chicken Wings were a good idea, but again, bland.

Seafood was kind of a bummer chapter. The Crab & Artichoke Pasta was something that sounded delicious, and actually wasn't very delicious. The Seafood Divan though was very good, although the whitefish was a little soggy and not as appetizing. I did like the Shrimp Scampi, the sauce was tasty. The Shrimp in Cheese Sauce might have been good, but it burned very easy, and that trashed the dish. While the Shrimp Stir-Fry was too salty to be good. There were also recipes for crab cakes and other dishes, but I haven't gotten around to those yet.

Vegetarian dishes of course involve a lot of pasta and egg dishes. Pretty common fare. I made the Chinese Noodles but they were very faint on taste, but they were easy to make. I did like the Caesar Pasta Salad, although I had to add a lot more dressing to made the taste strong enough. The same was true with the Hot Orzo Salad, although it did have a strong lemon flavor.

Bread, Grain & Rice is kind of an odd chapter. Not something I'd expect to see in a book like this actually. But it had a couple good things to make. The Spanish Rice I actually made with duck stock instead of chicken, but it was still good, but took way longer to cook than the book said it was. The Stuffed Greek Bread was absolutely amazing. I plan on making it again. There were some cheesy biscuits that were pretty easy to make and they tasted good, not Red Lobster's by any means, but it still rated pretty high.

I never delve much into the salad part of books. Salads to me are just throwing together what you have in the fridge. But I did make a few things. One of those things was the Steamed Broccoli Salad with Pine Nuts and Raisins, which was good, but I didn't care for the nuts and raisins in it. The Spinach Salad was wonderful too though and the Maple Vinaigrette that went with it was spectacular. The maple definitely came through.

Vegetables and Fruit. Well that's just what it sounded like. The Incredible Baked Beans were incredible. Just as good as any fancy ones you'd get in a can, and probably healthier. The Potatoes Cordon Blue were also very good, but kind of watery despite it being cooked for longer than it called for. Everyone's probably made Roasted Vegetables, and this was a pretty standard recipe, but I do think they tasted just the way they should have. I also liked the Spinach with Lemon and Parmesan, unusual flavors that came together well. Unfortunately, the Baked Asparagus with cheese was somewhat tasteless.

And finally we come to desserts. I'm not really a dessert person, but other people like it, so I make it for them. And they liked the ones out of here. The No-Bake Chocolate Cookies were good, but took almost two days to set up correctly. The Hello Dolly Bars were delicious, but a bit overly sweet. And lastly, the Bread Pudding was simple to make and tasted much like the normal recipes.

My biggest complaint about this book is the way its binding. After only a few uses the pages started falling out. And it didn't lay flat on the counter which also made it hard to use. I ended up punching holes in it and tied it together with string to hold it together. It works, but I shouldn't have had to do that.

So the overall thing to take from this book was that things were extremely easy to make, but often bland and required quite a bit more seasoning to make them worth eating. There were some stand-outs though, and this is a good book for a busy person as it does offer the tips for making ahead. I can't say its something I would refer back to very often, but it does have a few recipes that I would make again. Its standard fare, with a few twists, and its a book for the whole family to enjoy.

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