L2C Challenge – Salad Samurai

Epic Fail… That’s the only way I can describe this month’s Learn to Cook Challenge. It is by no means a reflection of the Salad Samurai cookbook; rather, a series of events, including my own misunderstanding, meant that I was only able to make one recipe from this book…


If you’re new here, I started the L2C Challenge in 2021 as a way to get me in to the habit of cooking different meals and, if I’m being totally honest, as a way to justify my cookbook obsession. You see, I’ve always loved cookbooks. Each time I get one, I go through it from cover to cover and mark up all of the recipes that I want to try but that I likely will never make. So with this challenge, I pick one cookbook per month and make at least one recipe from that book per week. At the end of the month, I give my honest review of the recipes I tried and of the cookbook in general.

In case you’re interested, here are the cookbooks I’ve tried thus far…

Half Baked Harvest Every Day

Eat With Us

Beautiful Boards

Mandy’s Gourmet Salads

Jamie Oliver 7 Ways

Skinnytaste One & Done

Half Baked Harvest Super Simple


First off, this is the perfect example of why you should never buy a book for its cover… The full title of this book is – Salad Samurai 100 cutting-edge, ultra-hearty, easy-to-make salads you don’t have to be vegan to love… I didn’t realize when I chose this book that it is actually a vegan cookbook (had I taken a moment to read through the recipes, I would have noticed that very quickly…). While I have no issues with vegan cuisine, I have no interest in cooking with ingredients such as Tofu and Tempeh (it’s just a personal preference, please don’t hate…). So, right off the bat, I struggled to find recipes that I wanted to make.

Alas, because I am committed to this challenge, I did manage to find 4 recipes that I thought we would enjoy (although I planned to substitute the protein alternatives with actual meat). Since these are all salad dishes, I planned to make all 4 recipes the same week to make use of the fresh produce that was repeated in each of the salads. I bought all of my ingredients, cleaned and stored them in the fridge with the intention of cooking up a storm during the Victoria Day long weekend. Then… out of nowhere… the Ontario storm hit. We lost power and had no running water for 4 days. All my fresh meat and produce were no longer fresh. After that, if I’m being totally honest, I didn’t have it in me to go out and repurchase ingredients for recipes that I was not really excited to make in the first place…

So here is the one recipe I did make before our city shut down, as well as the recipes that I had planned to make…

The BKT (Bacon, Kale, Tomato) Bowl (p. 75)

While this is called the BKT, I omitted the cherry tomatoes because no one ever eats them in our house. So, really, its the BK bowl… The recipe calls for Tempeh Bacon but I used the good ol’ regular stuff. You can’t tell from the photo but there is actually avocado and red onions included in here. The star of the dish is the tangy vinaigrette – a mix of Dijon, maple syrup, vinegar and a few other complementary ingredients. It was more creamy than watery, so I doubled the recipe to make sure every inch of kale was covered in dressing. D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!

The Ones that Didn’t Make It….

  • Seitan Bacon Wedge (p. 101)
  • Tempeh Taco Bowl (p. 147)
  • Overnight Oats (p. 167)

FINAL REVIEW:

In the circumstances, it wouldn’t be fair to give this book a review. No cookbook should be judged based on one altered recipe. I will say that the one dressing that I did make was fresh and delicious and the steps were easy to follow. I think if you are vegan or interested in cooking with vegan substitutes, definitely look in to this book. I, however, will be giving this book to a friend who could likely put it to better use than I ever will…

UP NEXT…

Full disclosure – I’ve had the Fraiche Food Full Hearts cookbook since the moment Jillian and Tori released it back in 2019 but, like all my other cookbooks, there are still plenty of recipes in there that I have earmarked to try and never gotten around to…

That’s about to change and I can’t wait to dive more into this book next month!!!

L2C Challenge – HBH Every Day

My very first book in this challenge was by Tieghan Gerard and it fueled my desire to keep going; so, it is only normal that I would purchase her latest cookbook Half Baked Harvest Every Day as soon as it was released!


If you’re new here, I started the L2C Challenge in 2021 as a way to get me in to the habit of cooking different meals and, if I’m being totally honest, as a way to justify my cookbook obsession. You see, I’ve always loved cookbooks. Each time I get one, I go through it from cover to cover and mark up all of the recipes that I want to try but that I likely will never make. So with this challenge, I pick one cookbook per month and make at least one recipe from that book per week. At the end of the month, I give my honest review of the recipes I tried and of the cookbook in general.

In case you’re interested, here are the cookbooks I’ve tried thus far…

Eat With Us

Beautiful Boards

Mandy’s Gourmet Salads

Jamie Oliver 7 Ways

Skinnytaste One & Done

Half Baked Harvest Super Simple


I feel like I don’t need to praise this book the way I do others – you know by now that, in my eyes, Half Baked Harvest can do no wrong. Her latest book did not disappoint! We were out of town for the Easter holiday, so I didn’t get to try as many recipes as I would have hoped but the ones I did were all delicious (I’ll be making minor adjustments to them in the future but that’s due to personal preference, nothing wrong with the recipes as they are)… So here’s what we ate this month:

Salmon Cobb Salad (p. 84)

I’ve been wanting to cook more with fish and figured a salad that had both salmon and bacon might be a good place to start! This salad was hearty and the dressing was absolutely delicious. The directions said to cook the bacon and the salmon on the same tray, which I didn’t even know was allowed… Both cooked perfectly – bacon was crisp and salmon wasn’t dry – in under 20 minutes.

My only alteration is with the cayenne pepper. I don’t like spicy food but I figured a 1/4 teaspoon would give it a nice kick without making my mouth burn. I was wrong; I’ll either omit the pepper altogether next time or just add a dash.

Mongolian Beef (p. 210)

This recipe has the potential to be delicious! I had made a beef recipe from the previous HBH book, so I know that anything beef from her is usually tasty and mouth watering.

The reason I say “potential” is because the recipe calls for 1 Tbsp. of crushed red pepper flakes – I basically had a clear nasal cavity and a burning mouth after eating this dish. Even Paolo, who loves spice, said it was very hot. Not sure if the quantity is a typo or if it’s intended to be that spicy but, either way, this is definitely good enough to make again without the pepper.

Sheet Pan Meatball Pitas (p. 218)

As far as actual meals go, this one is my favorite so far! I got two thumbs up from everyone – including the kids!

I never realized how easy it was to make pickled onions – I’ve made it twice since making this recipe. Paolo even said it needs to be a staple in our fridge.

The meatballs were delicious when fresh out of the oven and just as good reheated the next day.

Salty Chocolate Pretzel Rye Cookies (p. 254)

Ok, so cookies are probably not part of my “Learn 2 Cook” challenge but I HAD to try these – and so glad that I did!

I would forgo lunch or dinner and just eat these if I could! We shared with friends and family and they got rave reviews all around.

I froze a batch and would take 2-3 out at a time for snacks – they thawed perfectly and tasted just as fresh. Such a great twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookies.

FINAL REVIEW:

100% you need to get this cookbook and, if you don’t have the other two Half Baked Harvest books (Half Baked Harvest and HBH Super Simple), then you need to get those too!

I’m always mindful, especially when it comes to food, that different people have different tastes. So I wouldn’t emphatically say you must get a cookbook unless I truly meant it because you may not like what I like and I would hate to disappoint. But this book (and anything HBH) will not disappoint – the recipes are incredibly easy to follow (even for a novice cook like myself) and there is something in there for everyone.

UP NEXT…

I know there are those who do not accept that a salad can be a meal but, for us, it totally can!

I’ve actually had the Salad Samurai book by Terry Hope Romero for a couple of years but have never gotten around to making any of the recipes. I figure with summer around the corner, a hearty salad is always a good option (especially when you want to leave room for ice cream!), so I’m going to get a head start to the season and try out some different salads in May!

L2C Challenge – EAT WITH US

As promised, this month’s Learn to Cook (L2C) Challenge cookbook was Eat With Us by Toronto couple, Philip Lago and Mystique Mattai.


If you’re new here, I started the L2C Challenge in 2021 as a way to get me in to the habit of cooking different meals and, if I’m being totally honest, as a way to justify my cookbook obsession. You see, I’ve always loved cookbooks. Each time I get one, I go through it from cover to cover and mark up all of the recipes that I want to try but that I likely will never make. So with this challenge, I pick one cookbook per month and make at least one recipe from that book per week. At the end of the month, I give my honest review of the recipes I tried and of the cookbook in general.

In case you’re interested, here are the cookbooks I’ve tried thus far…

Beautiful Boards

Mandy’s Gourmet Salads

Jamie Oliver 7 Ways

Skinnytaste One & Done

Half Baked Harvest Super Simple


Now on to this month’s pick! Full disclosure, I bought this book for its neutral colors and thought it was a nice addition to my kitchen décor (the beautiful photography was an added bonus). But, in keeping with the purpose of this challenge, I chose it as this month’s pick in order to justify my purchase and I’m so glad that I did!

The book is divided into lifestyle chapters. The first is food for simple, every day times; the next being all about comfort food; another chapter is about hosting for special occasions; outdoor dining, etc… What I really enjoyed about the chapters is that each one starts with a “Menu” which is essentially a collection of recipes for different meals – i.e.: Breakfast; Board; Appetizer; Salad; Main and Dessert. So the Chefs provide a breakfast recipe for the everyday meal (aka the “Simple” Chapter); a heartier breakfast in the comfort section; a fancy breakfast in the lavish chapter; and so on. So there is a lot of variety in this book.

While I limited my testing to just four recipes this month, I have a lot of other pages earmarked to be tried in the future. Here’s what we ate in March:

Blistered Sugar Snap Peas with Ginger, Garlic and Sesame (p. 23)

Ok, this one is obviously not a dinner dish but it’s a healthy side! I actually made it for lunch and had it with some Costco rotisserie chicken for protein. Super quick and easy to make but it smelled great and tasted fancy. I can see myself making a larger size of this side the next time we have guests over for dinner.

Mac Daddy Nachos (p. 95)

This was the first recipe that I tabbed when I first went through this book – I mean, it’s a Big Mac but nacho-style, so of course I’m going to try it! It was absolutely delicious and a true comfort food dish. Paolo came home as I was making it and he said it smelled of Big Mac as soon as he walked in. I got thumbs up from all of my boys for this one!

Hot Maple Crackling Chicken Thighs with Fried Bread and Quick Coleslaw (p. 42)

The big win in this recipe was the quick coleslaw – it was quick (obviously) and absolutely delicious! It will definitely become my go-to coleslaw recipe.

The big fail (for me anyway) was the fried bread. You’re supposed to fry the bread in the same pot that you cooked the chicken but mine never actually “fried” – it was just soggy and tasted of chicken fat. One bite was all that I could handle and I will not be doing that again!

The chicken thighs were delicious but they were just maple (not “hot maple”) since I left out the chili peppers because of Theo (and because I can’t handle hot peppers either). Still, it tasted great!

Chopped Cucumber Salad with Mint, Feta and Chilies (p. 32)

This needs to become my summer dish – it was so light and fresh. I love any salad that has mint in it. The recipe does call for chili peppers – I included one (thinly sliced) for Paolo; he said he loved the kick that the peppers added.

I had some roasted chicken left over in the fridge. We chopped it up, warmed it and added it to the salad to make it a meal.

I will say that the recipe says this salad yields 4 servings. For us, it was just enough to feed two adults (mind you, I made a salad meal, so maybe it would serve 4 if it was served as a true side dish instead).

FINAL REVIEW:

Ok, needless to say (because I’ve already said it…) that the recipes we tried were delicious, but that’s not the only reason why I will use this book again and why I would definitely recommend it. For me, it’s the layout of the book – I know exactly what chapter to look in depending on what lifestyle occasion I’m cooking for. Many cookbooks are divided by events – Christmas, Easter, etc. – but not for the everyday, which is what this book offers. If we have some close friends coming over and want a chill meal, anything out of the Simple or Comfort chapter will work. If it’s a work event or something more formal, maybe I’d try something from the Lavish chapter.

In addition to the ease of reference, the Chefs include helpful tips that are… well, helpful! Like how you should cut an English cucumber lengthwise and then remove the seeds before adding it to a salad so that it’s less watery – who knew!?!

All in all, the “design aficionado” side of me loves this book for its neutral and aesthetically pleasing cover and the “I do not cook” side of me appreciates the ease of each recipe and the thoughtful insights provided.

UP NEXT…

I am so excited for next month’s book!!! When I started this challenge, the very first cookbook that I knew I wanted to try was by Tieghan Gerard. I had been following her on Instagram and literally wanted to try everything she makes! Her last book, HBH Super Simple, was published in 2019 and has been a staple in our home. Her latest book, Half Baked Harvest Every Day, was released 2 days ago (March 29, 2022) and I knew I had to get it right away – April is sure to be a delicious month around here!!!

L2C Challenge – BEAUTIFUL BOARDS

The L2C Challenge is back (after a longer than expected hiatus)!

If you’re new here, I started the L2C Challenge in 2021 as a way to get me in to the habit of cooking different meals and, if I’m being totally honest, as a way to justify my cookbook obsession. You see, I’ve always loved cookbooks. Each time I get one, I go through it from cover to cover and mark up all of the recipes that I want to try but that I likely will never make. So with this challenge, I pick one cookbook per month and make at least one recipe from that book per week!

I used to write weekly reviews of the recipes and then summarize it all at the end of the month in my Book Review posts but I found that became a little repetitive. So I’ve decided to continue this monthly challenge much in the same way as before but to have one post at the end of each month setting out my honest review of the cookbook and sharing what recipes we tried.

In case you’re interested, here are the cookbooks I’ve tried thus so far…

This month’s pick is: BEAUTIFUL BOARDS by Maegan Brown. Now that we are settled in to our new home and the spring weather is just around the corner, we are really looking forward to hosting friends and family more often. A charcuterie board has always been a must at our gatherings, so I used this month’s challenge as a way to up my game in the board food world.

The author of Beautiful Boards, Meagan Brown, is also known as the @TheBakerMama on Instagram and she often shares board food layouts and other food spreads. The chapters in Meagan’s book are broken down into different type of spreads such as Anytime Boards, Seasonal and Holiday Boards, Meal Boards, and Dessert Boards. Her designs are beautiful and achievable, even for a beginner like myself.

The Everyday Board (p. 25)

True to its name, this is the type of Food Board that we could have everyday! I used the same layout as in the book but substituted some of the meats and cheeses that I know my family would prefer. I love this board because you make it with items that you already have on hand. There are no recipes to make (although she does offer hummus and salsa recipes but notes that store-bought is perfect too) and any left overs can be used on their own or in other dishes.

For a family of four (albeit with a one year old who doesn’t eat a full serving yet), this board actually ended up being just enough to serve as a meal for dinner. We are a family that loves pickles but I never thought to purchase a jar of pickle chips. I did for this board and it was Theo’s favourite (even more so than the chocolate trail mix!); Paolo also said he preferred the chips over of the regular sized pickles. Thanks to the inspiration from this board, pickle chips have become a household staple around here!

The After School Board (p. 27)

I was most excited about making the after school board because I thought Theo would love it – and he did! I made the peanut butter balls recipe that is in the book and they turned out delicious but, I will say, that Theo wasn’t a fan. So it didn’t work for the intended audience but Paolo and I love them!

The one thing with this board is that although it is called the “after school board”, it’s a lot of food. Even on a reduced scale, if your kids have this after school, they’ll likely not eat much come dinner time.

I love how nicely it is laid out in the book. This will definitely be something I put together for play dates and maybe even for after school snacks when the boys are older (especially with their growing apetites!).

Build-Your-Own Taco Board (p. 123)

Taco nights are very popular around here! It was a no-brainer that this Board was going to make it on to this month’s list.

The board in the book has a variety of different meats and even shrimp. It makes for a beautiful board but I knew Theo and Paolo wouldn’t care for it, so I only used chicken (ground and rotisserie).

We also left out any of the hot stuff, such as the jalapenos, because of Theo’s refusal to touch anything that has been in contact with spicy food. The board did call for some fresh cilantro and some limes which I had never thought to include on taco nights but it was a pleasant surprise and will likely be a regular side from now on.

Date-Night-In Board (p. 37)

There’s no way I was going to do this month’s challenge and not throw in the traditional charcuterie board for a date night in (after the kids go to bed)!

While I’ve been making meat/cheese boards for years, I always struggle with knowing what types of cheese and meat to mix. I’m also always looking for different accompaniments that will truly make the board look appetizing.

This board rose to the challenge and was great! We even agreed that we’d use the same ingredients in a larger scale the next time we have friends over. Like the Everyday Board, this one doesn’t have any recipes to make and I love that it includes suggestions on the types of prosciutto and salami to get. I decided to be a little adventurous with my choice of jams this time and bought the PC Black Label Onion Maple Condiment. One word – AMAZING! – it literally elevated the taste of everything on the board.

FINAL REVIEW:

All in all, I would absolutely recommend this book. In fact, I recently gifted it as a hostess gift when we went for dinner at a friend’s house. The recipes are easy, the designs are gorgeous and the book itself is beautiful enough to sit on your countertop or to give as a gift. There are so many other layouts that I didn’t get to this month – especially for the holidays, movie nights, pizza parties, etc. – that make this book worth having year-round.

UP NEXT…

Stay tuned for next month’s challenge, where I will be trying recipes from Eat With Us: Mindful Recipes to Make Every Meal and Experience by Canada’s own Philip Lago and Mystique Mattai

L2C Challenge – Mandy’s Gourmet Salads – BOOK REVIEW!

If you have ever been to Mandy’s Café in Montreal, then this book needs no introduction because you already know the recipes will be great.

If you’ve never been then you’re missing out! But, fear not, this book is actually a close second to the real thing!

Mandy’s was established by 2 sisters in Montreal back in 2004. Today, it has 8 locations around the Greater Montreal area and they now have 400 employees! Keeping true to their style, this book is aesthetically beautiful – the cover is the perfect shade of pink and the images make any vegetable look appetizing.

The book is set up much the same way as their café menus – chapters are divided into Smoothies, Salads, Dressings, Grain Bowls and Sweets.

While the recipes in this book are all great (except for anything involving hearts of palm (no thank you!)), what has stuck with me is the desire to forever have a salad bar in my fridge! Each week, instead of prepping only what the recipe called for, I would just chop up all of the vegetables and make extra meat so that I could have several salads throughout the week. I found that I was more likely to eat the vegetables if they were already prepped and quick to assemble. I think if this book teaches us anything, it is that we all need a Mandy’s Salad Bar in our fridge!

My only regret this month is that I didn’t get a chance to taste the “Sweets” Chapter but the good thing about having a cookbook obsession is that I own the book and get to go back to it any time I want! I definitely plan to keep this one at arms’ reach.

Next Month’s L2C Challenge Cookbook:

If you’ve been following along on our house building journey, you likely know we are hoping to move into our forever home at the end of this month. And, assuming you haven’t been living under a rock, you likely also know that there are currently huge production and supply delays on appliances. So, I will be taking a break from my own Learn to Cook Challenge until we are settled in our new home and we have appliances to store food in and cook on!

Until then, I hope my little personal challenge inspires you to do the same!

L2C Challenge – Mandy’s Gourmet Salads – Keto Salad

This week – KETO SALAD (p. 127) [also Roasted Chicken Breast (p. 149) and Keto Caesar Dressing (p. 156)]

After having Theo, the Keto diet is the only thing that worked to get the extra weight off. In 2020, between being pregnant, being at home during the pandemic and then being at home with Luca, needless to say that I have not been eating healthy for a very long time and that I will have to work extra hard to lose the baby weight this time around; so, I am trying to get back on the Keto train. Lucky for me, Mandy’s cookbook includes a recipe for a Keto Salad!

Ingredients –

  • Mesclun greens
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Button mushrooms
  • Sliced canned hearts of palm
  • Skinless boneless chicken breast
  • Bacon
  • Lemon juice
  • Dijon mustard

  • Olive oil
  • Montreal steak spice
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Scallion
  • Basil leaves
  • Tarragon leave
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Eggs
  • Garlic

Difficulty Level –

Like all of the salads and dressings that I have made, this recipe is another easy one although I still found a way to make a mistake… In order to make the dressing Keto friendly, the recipe calls for the mayonnaise to be replaced by raw eggs but, for some reason, the dressing was very liquid – not the same consistency as the caesar dressing that I am used to.

Alterations to Recipe –

Still don’t like mushrooms, so I omitted those!

I used turkey bacon instead of regular bacon because that is what I had on hand.

Verdict –

I’ve never had hearts of palm before, so I was happy to try something new! Now that I’ve tried it, it’s not for me!

Maybe it’s because the salad dressing was too watery or maybe it’s because I didn’t like the hearts of palm but this has definitely been my least liked salad thus far.

Verdict for me – not to be repeated!

L2C Challenge – Mandy’s Gourmet Salads – The Fave

This week: THE FAVE (p. 53) [also Homemade Pita Chips (p. 150) and Honey Mustard Dressing (p. 170)]

I wasn’t too sure that this recipe would fill me since it’s lacking the protein that my other two recipes had but I wanted to try a salad with a dressing that I haven’t (and probably would never have) made before.

Ingredients –

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli florets
  • Corn kernels
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pitas
  • EVOO

  • Shredded carrots
  • Parmesan flakes
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Honey
  • Dijon mustard
  • Sunflower oil

Difficulty Level –

Another easy recipe for the win. Ingredients were simple and mainly things I tend to have on hand anyway.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe –

Nothing! There isn’t much to research with these clean ingredients.

Alterations to Recipe –

My grocery store didn’t have any broccoli florets in stock so I just omitted them from the dish. While I didn’t miss the broccoli in this salad, I actually really like raw florets so I would add them the next time I make this recipe.

Verdict –

I wasn’t sold on the first few bites – the dressing was sweeter than I like – but half way through I was hooked. A very fresh and savoury recipe. Next time around, I may add some meat source just for added substance.

Two bowls because the Mister saw mine and wanted some but I wasn’t about to share!

L2C Challenge – Mandy’s Gourmet Salads – Lumberjack Salad

This week – LUMBERJACK SALAD (p. 57) [also Roasted Chicken Breast (p. 149); Homemade Pita Chips (p. 150); and Caesar Dressing (p. 156)]

Full disclosure – I chose this recipe because I had some left over sliced turkey that I needed to use up. Plus, I’ve always wanted to make my own pita chips!

Ingredients –

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • White mushroom caps
  • Chicken Breast
  • Bacon
  • Sliced turkey
  • Pita bread
  • Montreal Steak spice
  • Mozarella cheese
  • Scallion
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Dijon mustard

Difficulty Level –

Every salad in this book has at least 2 (usually more) recipes within one – you have the main salad bowl, the meat and the dressing. I actually love that it’s divided that way because I can prep things at my own pace (sometimes even the day before…). Difficulty level for this one is a ZERO, straight forward and simple (and kinda fun!). Plus, we all know how much I love leftovers, it makes me feel as though my “hard work” continues to pay off during the week… This recipe was no exception – the roasted chicken breast recipe is enough for 6 salads, the salad dressing recipes yield about 2 cups each and, in this case, there was lots left over from the pita chips recipe.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe –

  • Difference between scallions and green onions? They’re the same! Different stores just use different names because apparently keeping things consistent would not be fun…

Alterations to Recipe –

  • I’ve tried (repeatedly) to like mushrooms but I just don’t – so I omitted the white mushroom caps.
  • I didn’t have any pork bacon on hand so I used turkey bacon instead.

Verdict –

Delicious! When I was putting this salad together, I honestly kept thinking of the saying “everything and the kitchen sink!”… It felt like I just kept adding meats and veggies together. Somehow, it all works!

Would I make this salad again? Absolutely. Would I make the caesar dressing again? Meh… It was good and paired well with the other ingredients but it was certainly not better than the store bought caesar dressings that I usually get from Costco so not sure it was worth the time (although you can whip it up in under 2 minutes).

L2C Challenge – Mandy’s Gourmet Salads – Tokyo Salad

This week – TOKYO SALAD (p. 49) [also Roasted Chicken Breast (p. 149) and Tamari Salad Dressing (p. 155)]

Ok, I know that some may think that picking a salad book for my cooking challenge is cheating, but it’s not!!! Most of the recipes in Mandy’s Gourmet Salads have a cooked meat or substitute component and I have to make the dressing from scratch so, in my books, that constitutes “cooking”.

I chose to start with the Tokyo Salad because the ingredients (except for chicken, of course) were raw and it was all things that I could use again throughout the week – so no waste.

Ingredients –

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Mesclun Greens
  • Carrot
  • Red Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic

  • Tofu (used chicken instead)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Red Onion
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Tamari
  • Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • Montreal Steak Spice
  • EVOO, salt and pepper

Difficulty level –

Full disclosure – I bought shredded carrots and broccoli florets, thereby reducing my prep time. I did, however, shred the cabbage myself (for the very first time!).

This salad has three recipes in one (a recipe for the actual gourmet salad, for the chicken, and for the dressing) and all of them are straightforward and easy to make.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe –

  • What are mesclun greens? It’s a mix of chervil, arugula, leafy lettuces and endive.
  • What are nutritional yeast flakes? (I was more interested in seeing what the package looked like so that I knew what to look for in the grocery store!)

Alterations to Recipe –

I am not a fan of Tofu, so I substituted it with Mandy’s Roasted Chicken Breast recipe – it is delicious and makes enough for 6 salads, which left me with plenty for the rest of the week.

I didn’t have Montreal Steak spice, so I used The Keg spice mix instead.

The recipe calls for black and white sesame seeds; I used the white sesame seeds that I had toasted for a previous recipe and it tasted great!

Verdict –

The Tahini dressing was amazing; I used it all week. The chicken was moist and the Keg spice gave it the perfect taste. Plus, I had enough chopped up vegetables that I was able to make several salad meals. I literally looked forward to lunch almost everyday this week because of how fresh and flavourful this dish is.

And, it’s official, I think I am FOREVER going to have a salad bar in my fridge! Every day this week, I just grabbed a bowl, opened my fridge and mixed all of the veggies that I had already prepped and stored in there. Throw in the chicken (that I had already cubed), add some seeds, pour the dressing and lunch is served!

100% a make-again recipe.

L2C Challenge – Jamie Oliver 7 Ways – BOOK REVIEW!

Jamie Oliver is such an entertaining chef to watch on television; somehow, he makes cooking look so simple and fun. When I purchased his latest cookbook, I hoped that it would provide the same energy and inspiration but, while it was great, I’m not sure I would keep watching if the “7 Ways” book was a television show…

In this book, the chapters are divided by commonly used ingredients (referred to as “hero ingredients”) – such as chicken breast, avocado, broccoli, salmon, etc. – and then each chapter provides 7 recipes using the “hero ingredient”; in other words, each chapter provides 7 ways of cooking with a specific ingredient.

The concept of the book is great; I didn’t have to filter through every page to find something I liked. Instead, if I knew we were having chicken for dinner, I just looked up the chapters that listed chicken. I think most people would enjoy this layout and I particularly appreciated that each recipe includes an image of every ingredient within that recipe (it helped to figure out what I was looking for when I went grocery shopping).

The flip side is that there are obviously popular ingredients that I don’t like – such as mushrooms and sweet potatoes. Since it is unlikely that someone would enjoy every single one of the 18 hero ingredients, there will probably be whole chapters within this book that won’t appeal to you.

Every recipe that I made from this book exceeded expectations in terms of simplicity, flavour and taste. Each week, I even received a thumbs up from both Paolo and Theo – my two toughest critics.

So why would I not watch “7 Ways” if it was a television series instead of a cookbook? Honestly, for me, the book lacked enticement. While the recipes ended up being delicious, I was never enthused about making them. When I was earmarking recipes for the previous two cookbooks in this challenge, I was getting hungry just looking through the books but I didn’t get hungry with Jamie’s 7 Ways. It felt practical but mundane. Does it meet its purpose? Yes – it provides easy and delicious recipes throughout. Would I reach for this cookbook again? Probably not – this one will likely be filed on the top (somewhat out of reach) shelf for me.

Next Month’s L2C Challenge Cookbook:

Something about the summer months has me craving fresh big salads more than any other time of year. So this month, I am going to try to step up my lettuce game by learning how to make some of Mandy’s amazing gourmet salads!

The Mandy’s cookbook is based on the actual “Mandy’s” salad bars that originated in my hometown of Montreal, Quebec. It was established by two sisters back in 2004 and has grown to over 8 stylish locations across Montreal and they now sell come very cute merchandise – including some colourful large bowls that I will be putting to good use next month!