Reviews * Giveaway
Simplify Supper by Krista Numbers
From her grandfather Salvatore Granato's roots in Southern Italy to the legacy of her family's beloved Italian deli in the heart of Salt Lake City, Krista Numbers has a deep-seated love for good food. In Simplify Supper, this busy wife and mother proves that simple can be satisfying as she dishes up dozens of delectable dinners. From some of her family's best-loved Italian meals to fast feasts with an international flair, discover quick comfort foods you'll want at the heart of your dinner table, such as:
•Angel Hair Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce
•Smoked Turkey Panini with Pears and Blue Cheese
•Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas
• Teriyaki Chicken with Ginger Rice
In addition to her collection of simple and satisfying meals, Krista shares personal anecdotes, sanity-saving kitchen tips, and suggestions for making family dinner a time for good food and good conversation. No matter the occasion, there is a recipe here to help you get a delicious supper on the table, pronto.
I jumped at the opportunity to review the new cookbook, Simplify Supper. Cooking dinner in my house is often a chore. I usually don't know what to make, and then end up throwing something together last minute. We eat a lot of the same dishes, and I think everyone in my house is pretty tired of the same old standby recipes.
Simplify Supper wins major bonus points for having photos of each recipe, and I quickly marked many of the recipes to try with my family.
The first recipe I tried was the Slow-Cooker Santa Fe Chicken. It sounded so easy, and I had most of the ingredients on hand. I really appreciated the tip on this recipe that said what you can use if you don't have the Mexican-style corn. I had great intentions of actually using my slow-cooker, but then I forgot to get it started early in the day, so I decided to try it in the Instant Pot. I don't think that method was the best for this recipe (at least not yet as I'm an Instant Pot newbie and I think I overcooked it). I was pretty concerned about having the right amount of liquid for the Instant Pot to get to pressure that I forgot about the extra ingredients to add to my regular corn though. The end result was chicken that was somewhat bland and tough. But, it actually made for a tasty topping on nachos the next day.
I also made the Homemade Marinara Sauce. It was as easy and simple to make as the book said, and I had all of the ingredients on hand. I did stray from the directions slightly in that I didn't cook it in a dutch oven (because that wasn't something I had on hand). I'm not sure if that would have made a difference in the taste, but I was happy with how it turned out. I actually prefer a little sweeter marinara sauce, but it was good. It was chunkier than my husband likes, but I think you could blend it up if you like a smoother sauce.
My kids and I made the Homemade Baked Churros. It was a fun and easy project. I wished we had a bigger tip for the pastry bag to make these look more like the churros you buy at Costco or a fair. They taste different from what I was used to for a churro (probably because they're baked and not fried) but they were good. I wondered if the direction to have 1/2 cup cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar was a typo. That's way too much cinnamon for that amount of sugar, so I made some adjustments there. I wish I'd just started with maybe 1/4-1/2 cup of sugar and a tablespoon of cinnamon, since I ended up with a lot leftover. The recipe said to cook for 15-20 minutes. Mine weren't brown after 20, so I kept adding more time. I pulled them out after 35-40 minutes.
I should probably start with a disclaimer that I am not a great cook, or baker, or anything that involves food. I'm not a foodie, I'm a quick and easy, dump it all together type person. With all that in mind I was actually excited that these recipes look really easy. Our first recipe was the mini wonton tacos. I just thought it was a fun way to use wontons without deep frying them. I will say (which is probably obvious to everyone else) that this is more of a appetizer than a main dish. I used it as a main dish, and well, wontons just aren't that big :) My husband had to eat quite a few to fill his belly :) But, they were quick and easy. My kids thought they were fun too, so that's always nice. I did make some changes since I knew my kids wouldn't go for the green chile peppers and things like that, but since they were all just topping, it didn't seem to matter that much. I really liked that there are pictures of every recipe, and that for this one it shows you how to put the wontons in the muffin tin.
A family favorite dinner is Sloppy Joes, so I was a little hesitant to make them differently. Especially since they called for peppers and onions, and well, my kids are...well...picky. My husband is super glad we tried this recipe though. He and my oldest daughter thought it was really really good. I enjoyed it as well, and I liked that it was my style cooking...a lot of dumping ingredients in and mix together. I'm curious about the butter it calls for though. Like I said, I'm not a cook, but it seemed weird that you would put the butter in when hamburger already has so much grease that you end up draining anyway. Maybe that's more for a dutch oven? I used a non-stick pan so I didn't have any problems there. I also cut the onions and peppers in half, because of my kids. Anyway, we will definitely try this recipe again.
Since summer is almost upon us, a great way to cool down is with the Lemon Ice. It's super simple and relatively quick (I mean, it does need to freeze, and that takes a bit of time). My 11 year old made this herself. One thing with this though, is that it doesn't tell you how much water you are supposed to use. I just had her use 1 C, but I have no idea if that was anywhere in the ball park. I really enjoyed this. It was perfect for the hot day we had. It was a little sour, and a little sweet, but the serving dish my daughter put it in wasn't large, so it was just perfect.
I love cookbooks. Every time I'm at the store, I find myself browsing through the cookbook section to see if any of them catch my eye. This is very amusing, because I really don't enjoy cooking all that much. (I do enjoy eating though...)
The first recipe that I tried out in this book was the Italian Soda. My kids and I give this recipe a hearty thumb's up. I forgot to buy whipped cream, but that just means we'll have to make it again. Just as a side note, if you're not sure where to find the flavored syrup, it's in the coffee aisle.
I also made the Homemade Marinara, Slow-Cooker Braciole, Pesto and Cannoli...Well, I made a cannoli dip. I couldn't find cannoli shells at either store I went to, and the one person I asked didn't even know what a cannoli was, much less if they carried the shells. But as a dip, it's really tasty. I've never had an actual cannoli though, so I'll have to try harder to find those shells.
I'm not a huge red meat fan, but my husband loves it, so I'm always looking for a beef recipe that both of us will enjoy. The Braciole was a hit! Very flavorful, and not very beef-tasting, which is a huge plus for me. Not only that, it was pretty easy to make. I used the homemade marinara sauce in this recipe and it was really good. Again, really easy to make. And it made my house smell so good! This is a recipe that will go into our normal rotation.
I've only had pesto a time or two, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It was pretty good, but I'm positive that I'm vampire-proof now. Definitely a lot of garlic in this one. I used my little hand-powered food processor, so things didn't get chopped up as much as I thought they should have. Next time I make it, I'll use my regular food processor and see if that helps mix it up better.
There are several more recipes in this book that I'm looking forward to trying, so this cookbook is definitely a keeper. If I had to give any downsides to it, I would say that the pronunciation part at the bottom of each recipe was not much help, unless you're familiar with what an upside-down e is supposed to sound like (I'm not.) I much prefer the layman's pronunciation guide (i.e. vacation: vay-kay-shun) instead of using upside-down letters and other equally confusing symbols.
That being said, it's not important to the book. The recipes were all solid, and there was a wide variety of them. Everything I made was easy and the instructions were pretty clear. I love that each recipe has a picture to it as well.
Flavored syrup of your choice
16 ounces club soda
1 ounce half-and-half cream
whipped cream for topping if desired
Place ice cubes in a tall glass. Add syrup, then club soda, then half-and-half. Stir and top with whipped cream if desired.
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