I’m a day late, but had intended to post 14-28: “Hot Love” for Valentine’s Day, because how could you not? Apologies for procrastinating on it, but at least it’s there for Valentine’s Day 2024 (and beyond).
This one used to make me giggle every time I looked at the card as a kid–it felt cheesy to me even back then (but also sort of intriguing in that “is this what grown-ups do?” kind of way). I pretty much still feel the same way about it (grown-up question and all).
What is the plate in the picture above resting on (besides a book)? A cabinet on its side? A locked trunk? What’s in the box!?
Another day, another Simply Deliciouscasserole. Today’s version is 8-28: Flemish Beef Casserole, which doesn’t tell you much other than it’s going to involve beef and will be somewhat Flemish in nature. I didn’t grow up with a lot of casseroles (especially not Flemish beef ones), but they were (and still are, for the most part) popular because they are cheap, easy, and feed a lot of people.
Interesting that they claim it’s a family recipe, but it includes beer. Doesn’t bother me personally, but I know that doesn’t fly for some folks (mostly due to religious or other exceptions). I suppose most of the alcohol would cook off and not really have any effect, but even the mere inclusion of it can be a no-go for some.
I guess the best way to start this is…have you seen that Julie & Julia movie from a few years ago? If not, and you enjoy reading this blog (or even if you don’t), you DEFINITELY should go watch it. It’s essentially the idea that formed this website/project. In that movie, one of the featured Julia Child recipes is her Boeuf Bourguignon which is found in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one of her most famous books and one of the most famous cookbooks in general.
With that being said, we come back to the fact that this is not a Julia Child cookbook project, it is a Simply Delicious one. So, I present to you Simply Delicious’ version of the dish: 8-10: Beef Bourguignon.
Simply Delicious isn’t wrong–this dish is essentially French beef stew (with a good amount of red wine in it). I’ve made Julia’s version a few times (let’s be honest, we ALL made it at least once after that movie came out), but I’ve yet to attempt the Simply Delicious version, mostly because it was a “new book” recipe and I didn’t know it even existed until a few years ago. Let’s see how they compare…
Here’s another “traditional” recipe from Simply Delicious: 6-12: Chicken à la King. I’ve heard of this one before (you probably have too), but never ate it much as a kid despite it being chicken-based (the mushrooms were probably the dealbreaker for my mom). This is from the “new book“, so I didn’t even know Simply Delicious HAD a Chicken à la King recipe until recently.
Chicken à la King has been around for a while, but enjoyed a resurgence in mid-to-late 20th century America (probably due to all the Baby Boomers and a need to feed them cheaply/quickly). It seems “dated” to me at this point (and not necessarily in a good way), but probably was still pretty popular in some parts of the country at the time these books were published.
Combine this with 8-12: Beef Stroganoff, and you’ve got a pretty good handle on mediocre American cuisine from the 1980s.
Well, hello there. So it’s been a while, and my first recipe back is…rice with green beans? No wonder it took me so long to get back into this.
13-22: Green Bean Pilaf is exactly what it sounds like–a rice side dish with green beans that you could serve next to some sort of (presumably meat-based) main dish. It’s advertised as being vegetarian, but I feel that’s just by “default” since there’s no chunks of visible meat in it.
Man, does Simply Delicious enjoy their tarragon. It doesn’t seem like tarragon is super popular in modern dishes–is that because it’s not useful or because we don’t think of it as a relevant ingredient? Deep herb-related thoughts to consider on this Thursday afternoon. ?
Minestrone soup has a few specific memories for me: I remember there always being cans of it in our pantry when I was a kid, and all of my favorite Italian restaurants growing up still have it on the menu. My dad was a big minestrone fan–both of those memories are tied pretty closely to him.
3-6: Minestrone comes from the new book, and it’s not surprising that Simply Delicious had a recipe for it–they tend to have their own versions of most of the “classics”.
I’m not sure I’d suggest serving this in what look like miniature barrels in the picture above (imagine trying to clean those). However, the colder weather is coming soon, and this recipe is a good (and cheap) way to meal-prep, eat your veggies, and stay warm all at the same time.
We’ve just passed the 7-year anniversary of starting this project (April 16)…and I’m still nowhere near done. This is going to take me the rest of my life at this rate, I think.
A dish that WON’T take you the rest of your life to complete (notice my flawless segue there) is 8-30: Hungarian Goulash. It’s supposedly a dish for cold days, which are quickly becoming few and far between here in California now that it’s almost May. However, if you’ve still got a touch of cold where you are (or maybe your hemisphere is heading towards winter instead of summer), this might be a good option.
Many moons ago when I first began this project, I wrote about Simply Delicious‘ use of adjectives to spice up the descriptions of their dishes. 3-7: Snappy Crab Soup reminds me of 3-13: Velvety Carrot Soup in its use of flashy words to get you interested in something hard to get excited about.
This is essentially a crab bisque, without the extra steps of simmering shells. The “hot pepper seasoning” they refer to in the blurb above is Tabasco sauce, so this is a mildly Cajun-influenced recipe as well. I remember thinking Tabasco sauce was the HOTTEST thing ever when I was a kid…I’ve learned so much since then. ??
I often wonder when I “evaluate” these recipes if I’m biased in my ratings/attitude towards them because of my own personal feelings about their contents. If I don’t personally like pears, does that unfairly impact my review of 15-41: Pear Halves with Chocolate Topping? Probably. Just a thought.
I’m not a huge pear fan, so if you haven’t figured it out by now, pear halves with weird chocolate bread topping wasn’t my jam. But if months of quarantine have you curious about weird desserts from the 80s, read on.
Looking for a smaller Thanksgiving option this year than the traditional 6-29: Stuffed Turkey? Here’s part of what I made for last year’s meal–6-42: Turkey Pot Roast. If you’re cooking for less people this year (or any year) and still want something Thanksgiving-ish, this might be a good option.
I didn’t want to make a full turkey for only two meat eaters (me not being one of those two), so I combined this recipe along with some additional leg and thigh pieces into enough turkey to complete the holiday without having to make more than we needed.
This is also MUCH easier to do than a full turkey, especially if you’ve never attempted one of those before and don’t want 2020 to be your first run at it. 6-9: Orange-Glazed Turkey Breast is another “smaller” turkey option if you’re just looking for a taste of turkey instead of a glut of it.