One of my 2020 goals was to cook through the Half Baked Harvest Super Simple Cookbook. It was a fun and daunting challenge that would give me some new recipes to try. It’s been a year of cooking and learning!
Why Cook Through a Cookbook?
This was my third year cooking through a cookbook and like my previous two times, I was aiming for similar goals.
- Saving money by cooking at home more
- Trying new recipes and ingredients
- Getting more comfortable with cooking
- Making use of a cookbook
How did I do in round three? Keep reading to see!
Half Baked Harvest Super Simple Cookbook
Half Baked Harvest is a popular food blog by Tieghan Gerard, and Half Baked Harvest Super Simple is her second cookbook. This cookbook does have a lot of super simple recipes needing fewer ingredients and less time. The cookbook has about 137 recipes, give or take. Some recipes had accompaniment recipes like salsa or whipped butter that went along with the main attraction. If you’re not proficient in the kitchen and want to try some new recipes, I think this cookbook is a great place to start.
While this cookbook and cooking from a cookbook have their frustrations (more on that later), there are some winning recipes I tried and love having in my back pocket. Here are some recipes we made multiple times.
- Caesar Broccoli Salad – We love Caesar salad but it can be time-consuming. This dressing in this recipe uses tahini.
- Chicken Pot Pie – You can’t go wrong here! It’s a classic recipe that is always a crowd-pleaser.
- Chicken and Orzo – This recipe also has artichokes, olives, and feta, and it is so delicious! You’ll likely see me make this for a future dinner party.
- Butter Pecan Bars – These bars were so mouth-watering!
I ended up making 97 of the 137 recipes, about 70% of the cookbook! (I did 56% and 58% on the previous cookbook challenges.) There are more recipes from the cookbook I want to try and there were plenty of recipes I enjoyed, so I’m sure I’ll come back to it.
What I Learned From Cooking Through a Cookbook
Here are some of my notes from a year of cooking through this cookbook.
- The cookbook does a good job of recreating recipes with familiar ingredients. It might not be totally authentic, but the goal is to make something similar with the essential ingredients.
- Recipes will take longer than it says. A lot of this has to do with how slowly I chop and prepare. Recipes usually included chopped vegetables in the ingredients, which is why sometimes a recipe would take twice as long. Not a big deal; I just had to add in extra time to make sure dinner was ready on time!
- Are cookbooks for everyday cooking? Cookbooks include a lot of fancier recipes that can sometimes be complicated and expensive. How do the things you cook every day differ in budget and complexity?
- Why doesn’t this dish look like the photo? I said this a bunch while cooking these recipes. But that’s expected because cookbooks have professional photography with tricks that make the dishes look perfect!
- This cookbook has lots of recipes with cheese and gluten, which we typically don’t do a lot of.
What’s Next in the Kitchen?
Would I do it again? Yes! But maybe in a few years. It’s a huge task to cook through a cookbook. This year, I’ll be cooking from the cookbooks I have, trying more Chinese dishes, and hopefully cooking and baking for friends. I’m sure it will be another tasty year!
Do you have any cooking or baking goals this year?