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.
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.
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