I used to say I liked to cook, but after sixteen years of feeding a family I now admit the truth: I like to eat, and I can't afford to eat out/buy take-out all the time. I also like to read cookbooks because they inspire me to be more creative in the kitchen and I get tired of my own cooking.
My 12 year old son isn't a picky eater but he's not enthralled with trying new recipes--he doesn't particularly enjoy going out to eat--it took me years to comprehend this--because he prefers to know what to expect when his plate arrives. He'd be happy with a regular rotation of grilled cheese and tomato soup, bean burritos, and spaghetti and meatballs, with a few fruits and vegetables thrown in for variety. My 16 year old doesn't much like beans and isn't crazy about tomato-based sauces. He'd survive quite well on a diet of Thai food and sushi, heavily supplemented with chips and salsa, Skittles, and Chewy Spree. Lunches are a challenge for this young man who will order a club sandwich in a restaurant but shuns a cold sandwich in his lunch bag.
$5 Dinner Mom's Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook off the library shelf, hoping for some good ideas that would entice my family. The budget focus was an added bonus, although I soon realized that Erin's grocery price estimates aren't at all realistic for this century. (I don't care how many sales and coupons you use, unless you find a dead cow at the side of the road you will not bring home 3/4 pound of ground beef for $1.04! At least, not in Portland).
Will I use it? I immediately found recipes I wanted to try. For Christmas brunch I made an egg dish inspired by her Fiesta Breakfast Casserole, which was delicious. I also tried her Cream Cheese-Stuffed French Toast recipe that morning, which wasn't as successful. None of us really liked the combination of mashed bananas and cream cheese in the filling. I've rarely fixed a recipe that nobody in my family would finish off the next day, but this was definitely a throw-away-the-leftovers situation.
Ben requested waffles for his birthday breakfast last week, so I decided to try Erin's recipe for Buttermilk Waffles.
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 Tbs. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (I use Waco buttermilk powder, since it's easier to keep on hand)
Combine dry ingredients (I included the buttermilk powder with these). Add eggs, oil, and buttermilk (water in my case, since I used the buttermilk powder). Whisk until a smooth batter forms. Pour one cup of batter onto hot waffle iron and cook until done according to waffle iron instructions.
This one was definitely a hit. We loved the addition of cinnamon and brown sugar to the waffle batter, and they cooked up just right.
Encore? Two out of the three recipes I tried were keepers, and there are plenty more that look good. I went back to the library for Erin's other cookbooks, so I am hoping to try some of her dinner ideas soon. Erin Chase blogs at 5dollardinners.com and I look forward to trying some of the recipes on her website as well.