Old Takes: "Cooking Light Five Star Recipes"

I’ve located a few old reviews that I don’t seem to have posted here, so I thought I’d go ahead and add them while I work on catching up with new ones.

Pros: Fantastic recipes, useful charts and tips, clear and easy instructions
Cons: So-so recipes, bad “…and next ten ingredients” instructions
Rating: 3 out of 5
Originally written: Jul 07 ’00


This is one of my favorite healthy cooking cookbooks. My fiancee and I don’t often repeat recipes. We like variety, and we love to explore new tastes. However, there are a number of recipes in here that we’ve made over and over again. This cookbook isn’t perfect. There are a number of recipes in it that aren’t particularly appealing.

The potato skins with cheese and turkey bacon are very good. Particularly with the nonfat sour cream and the cheese, I actually quite liked the turkey bacon. This dish tasted surprisingly like traditional high-fat potato skins.

The honey-mustard glazed meatballs were sweet and wonderful, although we found that they didn’t tend to hold up as meatballs. They’d be better as a meat and sauce to go over mashed potatoes or bread.

The buttermilk pancakes with fresh orange pancake syrup were fantastic! The buttermilk makes them lowfat, while contributing wonderful flavor. The orange syrup made a great addition, since after all, buttermilk pancakes can be found in a lot of cookbooks already.

The peppercorn beef tenderloin was absolutely outstanding. It uses a mix of various ground peppercorns (pink, green, and black), with ginger, cardamom, and garlic.

The pasta with roasted peppers and basil is very good. If you don’t want to deal with roasting peppers you can buy store-bought, or you can even just use fresh peppers without roasting them – add them when you add the tomatoes so they get a little soft. This recipe is actually quite good that way.

The fettuccine alfredo is good, but not amazing, as are the lasagna and the linguine with garlic-red pepper oil. The tortellini with cherry tomatoes and corn was passable, but the texture left something to be desired, and it didn’t really have much flavor to it somehow. The pasta recipes are the least useful part of this cookbook, in my opinion. The couscous with currants is the one really good pasta recipe, but I’d use a little extra currants and tomato and leave out the scallions.

The creamy potato salad is fantastic – the mayonnaise, yogurt, pimento, and other ingredients combine in a marvelous sweet, tart, wonderful dressing. We substituted cider vinegar for the white wine vinegar for even more flavor.

The potato dishes are, overall, wonderful. I wouldn’t use parsley as the main stuffing ingredient in the Indian stuffed potatoes, though, unless you REALLY love parsley. The creamed pumpkin potatoes are exquisitely smooth, rich, and creamy. And the sweet potato casserole…oh, the sweet potato casserole. The only differences we made were to use 2% instead of skim milk, to leave out the pecans, and to double or triple the recipe. You’ll want enough to last the entire week. We’ve made this recipe over and over and over again, and the entire cookbook purchase was made worthwhile by this one recipe.

The desserts are also well-chosen. The apple crisp with macadamia nuts was rich, sweet and satisfying. The lemon macaroon tartlets were perfectly tart and flavorful. The mocha pudding cake came out perfectly, and we’ve made it more than once as well. The triple-berry trifle is another one of our repeat visitors, too.

The book has some useful tips and charts. Finally now I know what all the various salad greens look like!

Directions are generally short and easy. Ingredients are almost always easy to find. My only gripe is the recipes’ tendency to say things like “mix cream cheese and next ten ingredients together” – it’s irritating to have to count them up all the time, and it means that if you’re off by one or if you misremember how you counted, you can end up with some interesting results.

While this book has some unappealing recipes, I’ve found that to be true of any cookbook. And unlike some, this cookbook has recipes that deserve to be made over and over and over again.

Posted in Cooking, Reviews Tagged with: , , ,
One comment on “Old Takes: "Cooking Light Five Star Recipes"
  1. Sam says:

    Interesting review. I like this cookbook for sentimental reasons. One of my favorite recipes is the Curried Vegetable Fried Rice. Instead of making every recipe exactly as written, I probably use this cookbook more for ideas. For instance, on a lot of the recipes, I increase the fat, decrease the sugar, replace the white flour with something else, etc. Overall, I think it’s a charming cookbook. But as you said, it does have its problems. For instance, one of the recipes calls for “pesto basil sauce.” That was an odd way to put itโ€”I assume they just mean “commercial pesto”? ๐Ÿ™‚

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