Cookbook Review – Cooking Light Comfort Food

I like comfort food.  Mac and cheese, pot pies, apple crips, meatloaf etc.  But I don’t make these foods frequently, and when I do I usually make mine on the healthier side.  It’s just how I cook.  So sometimes I was a bit surprised when reading Cooking Light Comfort Foods: Home Cooked, Delicious Classics Made Light by the nutritional information and label of “light” for a recipe that still has 10 grams of fat and 50 grams of carbs.  But most recipes give a reason why it’s lighter than the classic version which is helpful to those who fry cook, use lots of oil, full fat dairy and fatter cuts of meat.  Suppose that’s why comfort foods are so flavorful  and hearty and well loved?.  That said, there are some tasty recipes in Cooking Light’s Comfort Foods, and it never claimed to be a diet book.  So if you don’t already make these foods on the lighter side or need a new version of your grandma’s strawberry shortcake, then this is a good guide to get you cooking lighter.  I made…

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

I thought making this soup would wreck my oven.  The cooking is done in the oven rather than the stovetop like most soups.  I was quite worried the mixture would bubble and overflow on my oven bottom (I even put a pan under), but luckily it didn’t happen.  This was good as a soup with grilled cheese sandwich points, and I would even use it over pasta (and not use add milk, as shown above).  It was hearty and had a bit of a tang from the vinegar.  It was a bit spicy for my youngest.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This was a classic chocolate chip cookie.  Of course best warm right out of the oven.  Nothing new here – sugar, butter, all purpose flour.  They came out nice and round and held shape rather than spreading (when using more buter).  Called for fewer chocolate chips than I’m used to, which my kids noticed, but still liked.

Buttermilk Pancakes

These were a hit.  These pancakes puffed up and cooked quite easily.  I substitute the usual syrup and butter topping with yogurt and fruit. Yum.

Overall Book Review

Pros: Foods that are classic and mainstream for all tastes.  Lighter versions of some classically guilt induced foods. Helpful nutritional information and comparisons to non light versions.  An appetizing color photo for just about every recipe.

Cons: Not as light as they could be.  Some of these recipes are pretty basic – you may feel like you’re competing with your family favorites (grandma’s secret recipes).

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Get Cooking Light…New Cookbook

So funny, that when you write about food and recipes and cooking people from all over contact you to try their product (food, book, sandwich wrap).  Most of these requests and things that people want to send me just don’t apply.  There’s way too many offeres for alcohol related recipes and products – obviously not in touch that I write about kids and family foods.  (or maybe they are and know parents sometimes need a drink).  Anyways when I was offered a chance to review a Cooking Light cookbook, I was quite pleased. 

Cooking Light, Cooking Through the Seasons is really how I like to cook.  Simple recipes with key ingredients and seasons in mind.  Choosing what to prepare is easy as you go to your season, in this case spring and list your ingredients to be able to buy at the local farmer’s market.  Not that I didn’t jump ahead and see some great summer and winter recipes too.  The book may replace my Better Homes and Garden Cookbook as a true cookbook staple and my new go to guide for making fresh seasonal food.  There’s easy steps of cooking methods for those unfamiliar (braising, blanching, etc).  The book also highlights ingredients from the seasons that may or may not be familiar.  Never being one to do much with rhubarb, I jumped right in, learned how to choose and made a refreshing sorbet.  Fava beans are also something I don’t use very often, but embraced a wonderful warm salad.  (And when I tired of peeling fava beans and didn’t buy enough, I substituted with spring peas.)

This book gives enough information and great photos for a novice cook, but also enough interesting ingredients, inspiration and delicious recipes for those more comfortable in the kitchen.

Here’s a few of the yummy foods I’ve made so far…

asparagus with brown butter sauce
chicken, edaname (sub for spring pea) and potato salad
rhubarb sorbet
vegetable fetuccini
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