L2C Challenge – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – BOOK REVIEW!

I had big expectations for this cookbook since I’d been following Tieghan’s recipes for a long time on Instagram. Tieghan’s first book, Half Baked Harvest, won her several awards back in 2016. Her Instagram page is mesmerizing – she posts beautiful photos of food with recipes linked to her blog and, everyday, she posts stories of a new recipe. It’s no wonder that she has almost 3 million followers; the only thing that is surprising is that she has accomplished so much and is so talented yet she is only 27 years old!

The Super Simple cookbook is laid out the way you would expect a restaurant menu to be. After going through the basics, the chapters are divided by meal courses – breakfast, appetizers, salad, pizza, meats, etc.

As I have noted in my weekly recipe reviews, Tieghan did not lie, her recipes were Super Simple! And that’s coming from someone who has limited cooking experience. Having said that, the recipes I’ve made were absolutely delicious that I think even the most experienced chef would enjoy this book and, of course, it goes without saying that this is a good “starter” book for anyone looking to find their way around the kitchen.

The four recipes I posted were not the only ones I tagged; in addition to those four, the following are on my to-make list!

  • Overnight Cinnamon Roll Bread (p.44)
  • Herb and Garlic Pull Apart Rolls (p. 57)
  • Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Seasoned Pretzels (p. 94)
  • Spinach and Three-Cheese Stuffed Shells (p. 121)
  • Lemon Butter Cod with Orzo and Asparagus (p. 243)

and the list goes on and on!

In case it is not clear by now, I LOVED this book and fully recommend it! The recipes I made were simple and delicious and I loved the fact that there was always plenty leftover for other meals.

Next Month’s L2C Challenge Cookbook:

I sort of feel bad for next month’s cooking challenge book since it has really big shoes to fill; however, I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised since next month’s book is none other than from one of the very popular Skinnytaste collection. I chose Skinnytaste One & Done in part because it claims that all of the recipes can be made in one pot from start to finish! Less dishes to wash at the end of a meal seems like a great reason to commit to a cookbook for a month!

L2C Challenge – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – Curried Thai Spring Roll Lettuce Wraps

This week – CURRIED THAI SPRING ROLL LETTUCE WRAPS (p. 155)

Ok, so I know that the recipes I’ve chosen from this book make it seem as though it is all Asian-inspired food but, it really isn’t, there are a lot of different recipes in here – I’m just gravitating towards Thai food lately… Plus, you’ll notice this week’s ingredients are very similar to the ones I purchased for last week’s beef, so I chose these spring rolls in part to make use of the items that I already had in my pantry.

And, as usual, Tieghan did not disappoint with these wraps!

Ingredients –

  • Rice Noodles
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Avocados
  • Lime wedges
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Fresno chiles
  • Rice vinegar
  • Thai sweet chili sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Low-Sodium soy sauce
  • Red curry paste
  • Sesame oil

Difficulty level –

This is another beginner recipe. The prep work was straightforward and quick. You can prep everything ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Then, when ready to eat, just cook the pasta and everything else is tossed together afterwards.

Price –

Since this is my second Thai recipe in just over a week, I had almost everything I needed to make these rolls. The only ingredient purchased was the red curry paste; so total this week was $6.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe –

  • What are Fresno chiles? Turns out they’re the same as Fresno peppers.

Alterations to Recipe –

The only change I made to this recipe was to use jalapeños peppers instead of the Fresno chiles simply because I had those on hand. The rest was so straightforward that I didn’t have to change a thing.

Verdict

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Full disclosure, I made this for lunch, not dinner. I don’t think lettuce wraps alone would be enough for a dinner-time meal but it was the perfect amount for lunch. It also makes lots and keeps really well, so I ate lettuce wraps for about 3 days! The peanut sauce is versatile and I used it as a veggie dip during the week. I’ll be making this one many times over – it is fresh, light and really savoury.

L2C Challenge – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – Thai Basil Beef

This week – THAI BASIL BEEF WITH PEANUT SALSA (p. 213)

My Asian food cravings are still going strong (nope, not pregnant, just hungry…), so this week we tried the Thai Basil Beef dish and, to be honest, even before I read the description, Tieghan had me at “Peanut Salsa”…

Ingredients –

  • Rice Noodles
  • Ground Beef
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Limes
  • Salted peanuts
  • Fresno peppers
  • Onions
  • Sesame Oil
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Carrots
  • Thai sweet chili sauce
  • Low-Sodium soy sauce
  • Mint leaves

Difficulty level –

I prepped the veggies beforehand, so that wasn’t too bad when it came time to assemble things but it did require putting the different ingredients into various bowls, so the clean up was longer than I like on weeknights… In terms of the actual process of making the meal, in my opinion, this is another beginner level dish. The only “criticism” I would make is that once you start cooking you do have to stay by the stove the whole time. There’s only about 5 minutes between each step and you need to be prepping for the next stage so not much time to chase after (I mean… “attend to”) the kids while making this.

Price –

I only had the sesame oil, soy sauce, carrots and onions on hand, so I spent approximately $40 on this dish. I will say, however, that there was quite a bit leftover so Paolo and I were each able to get a second meal from this recipe.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe –

  • Different types of rice noodles? There was about 5 different packs of noodles in the grocery store and they all said “rice noodles”!
  • What are fresno peppers? Similar in look to the jalapeño peppers but with less heat.

Alterations to the Recipe –

The ingredients are pretty straightforward for this one so there wasn’t much to change. The only substitute I made was with the noodle size – the picture in the cookbook shows a thinner noodle but I opted for the large noodle and don’t regret it (it soaked up the flavours perfectly!).

Verdict –

I have an unexplainable desire to change my verdict from my past reviews just to be different but I can’t – this is again 100% a make-again dish. The recipe was delicious when eaten fresh but just as good (Paolo said it was better) reheated the next day. Plus, in addition to extras, there was lots of peanut salsa leftover which I mixed in with some plain chicken breast and rice for a tastier lunch during the week.

L2C Challenge – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – Cheesy Poblano and Bacon Quesadilla

This week – CHEESY POBLANO AND BACON QUESADILLA (p. 49)

This week, I was looking for something from the HBH book that required a little less prep time. I figured quesadillas would likely go over well with our preschooler’s picky habits and the ingredients list was nice and short. Technically, this dish is under the “Apperizers & Sides” chapter, so I knew I was going to have make another side (I made a big salad) for Paolo and me but it was the perfect amount for Theo. It would also probably be just the right amount of food if we were to have this for lunch instead of dinner.

Ingredients –

  • Thick-cut bacon
  • Peppers
  • Flour tortillas
  • Pepper Jack cheese
  • Baby Spinach
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salsa

Difficulty level –

Once again, Tieghan didn’t lie – this recipe is SUPER simple. It is definitely a weeknight-approved quick meal. If you’re able to find shredded pepper Jack cheese than it’s even quicker to prep.

Price –

The bacon, peppers, tortillas and spinach are staples in our home, so I didn’t need to purchase those. I just had to purchase the cheddar cheese and I opted for the store-made salsa as opposed to making our own. So, in total, I only had to spend about $13 for this meal and, again, the cheese and salsa will be good for other meals/snacks.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe

  • Difference between bell peppers and poblano peppers? (Poblano peppers would have made it a bit more smoky).

Alterations to Recipe –

The recipe includes the option to make your own Pickled Jalapeño Pineapple Salsa. We’re not really fans of pineapples in our meals, so I opted for the traditional salsa (store bought) instead. I also used the bell peppers that I had on hand as opposed to the poblano peppers that the recipe calls for.

Verdict –

This is likely to be another staple in our house. So easy to make PLUS everything is made in one skillet (less dishes is always a win!). There wasn’t enough for any leftovers, so this is a one-and-done dish.

L2C Challenge – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – Korean Beef with Yum Yum Sauce

The first book in my Learn to Cook Challenge is by the amazing Tieghan Gerard, who is the chef behind Half Baked Harvest. I first learned of Tieghan when I stumbled upon her Instagram account (@halfbakedharvest) and it was love at first sight! She has almost 3 million (!!!) followers and posts daily recipes/how-to stories. I own both her books – Half Baked Harvest and Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – and for this month’s challenge I picked the Super Simple cookbook because, well, my skill set would not allow me to do anything above the “super simple” level!

My first recipe – KOREAN BEEF WITH YUM YUM SAUCE (p. 214)

I won’t lie, we have been ordering out a lot lately (trying to support local during the pandemic and eating our feelings about all of these lockdowns…). Each time we seem to gravitate towards Asian-inspired cuisine so it was no surprise that I chose the Korean Beef as my first recipe to make from this book.

Ingredients –

  • Flank Steak
  • Onions
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Rice
  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Soy Sauce
  • Honey
  • Gochujang
  • Sesame seeds
  • Tahini
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Chili powder

Difficulty level

Tieghan was not lying, this recipe was simple. The only thing I would say, however, is that I found it to be time consuming. Others with more experience chopping vegetables and slicing meat could easily breeze through this recipe but for the newbies like me, it took me about 40 minutes just to get all of the ingredients ready.

Price

I paid about $75 to get everything I needed for this recipe, which is wayyy more than I wanted to spend. However, you have to keep in mind that I am starting with a blank slate so there were a lot of pantry items that I purchased that I will be able to reuse many times over in other recipes.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe

  • What is gochujang and Where do I find it in the grocery store?
  • How to cook rice?
  • How to toast sesame seeds (I couldn’t find any ready-made toasted sesame seeds, do they even exist?)?

Alterations to Recipe –

I followed this recipe exactly as described and I think it turned out as intended (although my food pictures will never be as beautiful as Tieghan’s). In the future, I will probably substitute the mushroom and spinach side with another vegetable. My whole family is not particularly a fan of mushrooms to begin with and the mix of spinach, mushrooms and olive oil tasted like dirt to me…

Verdict

Right off the bat, I can vouch that I will be making this recipe many times again! The beef, rice and sauce were a hit with everyone, including Theo (the four year old chicken fingers lover)! The meal was delicious served fresh and just as good reheated the next day for lunch. Plus, we had left over Yum Yum sauce that we used as a dip with some veggies.