#CookBookTrials: A Taste of Home's Home Style Cooking

February is almost at an end and I have completed my first cookbook trial with A Taste of Home: Home Style Cooking.

This is a cookbook filled with recipes from home cooks that have been compiled into various sections like: morning meals, side dishes & salads, Sunday dinners, sweet treats, and so on. I did five recipes one breakfast, one side dish, one gatherings dish, one Sunday dinner, and of course one sweet treat. I will always stand by doing something sweet!

Baked Eggs with Cheddar and Bacon

Prep/Cooking Difficulty: Not hard at all. You grate some cheese (in this case instead of cheddar I got smoked mozzeralla), break some eggs, chop some garnish and preheat the oven. Very easy to make and easy peasy but you have to watch your eggs to make sure the yolk doesn't harden fully to get the slight "jelly" effect of it while the whites around are hardened.

Taste: Perhaps because I under did the cheese (I'm not a huge fan of the egg & cheese combo) it settled on a bland taste for me, more egg than anything else. I'd also rather bacon inside than on top crumbled as a garnish because I like the combo taste of meat and egg. So, this may have been more my fault on the prep end than on the recipe itself but of course one can always make modifications and not necessarily go by the book.

Yay or Nay? In a sense "meh."

Crusted Baked Chicken

Prep/Cook Difficulty: Not difficult at all, especially if you've made chicken before. Biggest thing is if you don't have a good bowl for mixing you'll have crumbs all over your countertop after breading the chicken. Dipping chicken in flour and buttermilk is traditional fare for frying but since you bake less mess from no oil popping on your stovetop. And then you simply let it bake.

Taste: I enjoyed the breadcrumb mixture detailed in the recipe. Reminded me of some I had bought and now I know what combination of herbs and spices to use to get that similar Italian seasoned breading taste for chicken. And I prefer baked chicken to fried at times so on a cold day it was a nice way to eat without worrying about a lot of calories.

Yay or Nay? Yay!

Bacon and Garlic Green Beans 

Prep/Cook Difficulty: Not much really. You're using thawed frozen greenbeans so you take it out the bag before you're ready to use. From there frying up bacon and the garlic, onions and such make a nice savory combo to what could be a bland side dish with little additions.

Taste: I used turkey bacon for this (and the egg dish) and have to say I enjoyed it with the garlic & onions of the string beans. It was a different taste to something I usually eat with salt/pepper or with a bit of garlic/onion powder. It worked well as a side for the crusted chicken and complimented it with the hearty taste even though I had double the protein. It'd probably even go well with some basic mashed potatoes as a larger meal with turkey instead of crusted chicken.

Yay or Nay? Yay for varying up vegetables!

Lemon Snowdrops

Prep/Bake Difficulty: For me no difficulty whatsoever. But if you are truly new to the game I think the fact that you make the lemon butter filling (which is on par with homemade lemon curd in texture/taste) and then make a basic lemon shortbread could be a bit trying as a first recipe. But for someone who is used to baking it was super easy. I'd suggest making the lemon butter filling before the cookies this way it's cooling in the fridge while you're baking cookies and by the time the cookies have cooled so has your filling ready for use!

Taste: Oh my goodness. Fantastic. As several co-workers said to me when I gave these cookies out: "This is the perfect cookie." The shortbread cookie is made how shortbread should be made with confectioner's sugar so the texture is on point in being buttery & crisp (and you know I know having won a cookie takedown with shortbread.) And if you're a lemon fan like myself it's great because there's lemon essence in the cookie from lemon extract but strong lemon sweetness in the filling and it's a sandwich cookie so you get lots of cookie and a bit of filling with each bit. Also I did not add confectioners sugar on top because it's messy and I think this lessened sweetness helps since the filling is good enough as is.

Yay or Nay? Duh! Yay! A zillion times yay!

Note: For this recipe I also want to not try and make the cookies as small as you can. I rolled them out as tablespoons which made about 20 sandwich cookies in all when the recipe says four dozen though they are much much smaller.

Lemon Easter Bread

Prep/Cook Difficulty: Not much. The main thing about making anything with yeast is it needs to rise a few times in a warm atmosphere. So if you're making it make sure you have a few hours. Otherwise mix everything in bowl and leave, knead and leave then bake!

Taste: The mixture calls for lemon pudding mix along with flour, yeast, water, and such. So I think I had been expecting a sweeter bread but this was your traditional not sweet bread with a hint of lemon. Freshly baked it smells amazing. I did make some honey butter and having that along with the bread (warm) was very tasty as a nice treat. But I had it cool and alone and was none too impressed. So I'd suggest eating it warm and with something like a sweet cream or preserves.

Yay or Nay? A moderate yay with accouterments and warm. Cannot emphasize how good freshly made warm bread is.

Would I recommend A Taste of Home: Home Style Cooking? Absolutely, each recipe was easy peasy, and for the most part the ones I chose to do were quick (except for the bread which needs time to have the yeast rise). In general prep isn't more than 30 minutes per recipe and certain ones, like turkey, would take several hours on the baking/cooking end. There's a good range of options for protein dishes, but a head's up that in general this isn't a cookbook for vegans or those who are gluten-free. There are a good amount of veggie options but bacon can fit prominently into some dishes, though there is the availability of seafood for pescetarians. The ingredients for dishes is not hard to find and the title itself, Home Style Cooking, notes that this book was compiled with home cooks (not necessarily hardcore chefs) in mind.

For my friends with families who need to do a quick meal or even my couple/single buds who may want to do more cooking at home I'd heartily recommend this book. Also keep in mind the cuisines featured are very much American based (BBQ, fried, bacon galore, some Italian influence, cheese is great!). There won't be items like mascarpone or anise or anything of the like really. So if you're looking for items that are familiar and may have an alternate ingredient or method of preparation consider this book and feel free to tweak recipes as you feel fit. I'm definitely gonna delve in more.