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Deceptively Delicious: Delicious Results Remain To Be Seen.

Categories: Cooking, Food, Lunches, Meal Planning, Uncategorized


Last time we met, I had (against my better judgment) created chocolate chip cookies mixed with whole chickpeas. The results seemed all right, but I remained skeptical. I mentioned the real test would be lunch the following day, would the kids eat both cookies? Shockingly, this is Max’s lunch container after school.

Max's lunch

Both Max’s cookies remain untouched while Madison, my more typically picky child, could not resist the cookie appearance and ate them. Given this I will probably make these again, baking them slightly longer (I always struggle with over baking cookies so I erred on the opposite side this time) and mashing up the garbanzo beans at least a little before mixing them into my dough. One can only accept so many whole beans in one’s mouth before one begins to curse Jessica Seinfeld’s cruel garbanzo trickery. Continuing on with our Deceptively Delicious trial I continued to experiment with a couple more of Seinfeld’s recipes over the weekend.

First I made her Peanut Butter Chocolate Dip (with hidden carrots). I thought Maddie would like this in her lunch because I often pack apples, graham crackers and yogurt to dip them in. This way there would be some carrot and peanut butter, protein and some amount of the goodness of carrots. Since the book doesn’t give us nutritional data so there’s no way to tell exactly how much ‘good stuff’ but one would assume there would be some goodness.

Here it is as I mixed the ingredients.

Reminds me of cheetos.

The carrot puree reminds me of Cheetos. Thankfully it did not taste like Cheetos. The directions for this recipe recommend simply mixing everything together but my dip came out with tiny lumps of cream cheese in it. The texture was disconcerting to my (not picky) tastebuds so I decided to throw it into the Kitchenaid for a few minutes. This didn’t help, even beating it for 3- 5 minutes didn’t remove the lumps.

Peanut butter chocolate dip (with carrots)

I gave it to Maddie anyway telling her it was ‘crunchy’ peanut butter (it was creamy) and she ate a couple apples dipped in it while waiting for dinner. She barely scooped any of the dip up however and mainly had a vague coating of the substance on a 1/2 inch segment of apple. The recipe doesn’t tell us about the nutritional content of these recipes but I’m going to venture a guess she got about as much beta carotene out of that dip as she’d get from kissing me (on the cheek) immediately after I ate a carrot.

I sent this with the kids to school the next day as part of lunch and it came back untouched by both kids. At least the apples were gone.

Finally, last night we decided to try Seinfeld’s Macaroni and Cheese recipe which incorporates pureed butternut squash. I like squash and I adore macaroni and cheese and somehow this recipe has managed to ruin both these things for me. Perhaps permanently.

Cream cheese and pureed squash.

Here is the squash, flour/oil, milk and non-fat cream cheese in a pan. In fairness, I can’t stand non-fat cream cheese and will only ever eat the light version. I should have considered that fact when I decided to make this recipe. In other fairness, I don’t like my macaroni and cheese quite this thick and rich.

awfully thick.

Even half this sauce would have been fine for my personal taste, the thickness of the sauce and the bizarre taste of the fat free cream cheese mixed with the squash made this almost intolerable to eat. I rarely say this because I love food and palate is not particularly able to discern subtle nuances in food. However this macaroni and cheese made me want to pull Jessica Seinfeld’s hair. Just a little bit.

Final Product.

My son Max is a fellow macaroni and cheese lover, we often share some for lunch, homemade or from a box. I thought he might like this because he likes almost every version I’ve ever made. He did not like it at all and if he knew it was from the same book which ruined chocolate chip cookies and banana bread he’d probably want to pull Mrs. Seinfeld’s hair as well.

Madison has never liked macaroni and cheese and would probably like to kiss Mrs. Seinfeld for perhaps ruining macaroni and cheese for me forever. My husband was surprisingly not terribly offended by this recipe. He generally hates every version of macaroni and cheese I make which veers from the traditional southern version I usually make. I tried to convince him this tasted terrible but he thought it was ‘fine’. When I tried to tell him there was fat free cream cheese in it (definite deal breaker for him) he refused to let me burst his bubble and didn’t want to know what was in it.

I really want to like this book but honestly I’m not sure I’ll be able to make anything else from it for a couple weeks. Enough time to let the mac and cheese debacle clear out of my memory bank. Beth left a comment saying her family has liked the main dishes, particularly the Spaghetti Pie so maybe I’ll give it one more shot, eventually.

I mentioned previously I’d ordered The Sneaky Chef cookbook to give both books a trial run and compare. However, when I ordered it through Amazon’s One Click I failed to remember I haven’t ordered from them since we moved. I guess I thought since Amazon refuses to forget that ONE TIME I looked at a vaguely pornographic novel, it might somehow also magically know I moved. But no, so the book has been delivered to the new residents of our old house.

They don’t have kids so I’m hoping it gets forwarded on to us soon. If not, maybe I’ll send Deceptively Delicious over to them as well.

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29 comments so far...

  • What a disappointment this book has been for you so far. It’s a shame since in theory it sounds like a great idea. Thanks for saving the rest of us from these recipes. Maybe your kids deserve a treat (or badge of honor) for being your recipe testers? :)

    Gabrielle  |  October 16th, 2007 at 8:11 pm

  • I’m in a food and nutrition class and read your blog regularily. We’ve been making sneaky dishes now for a couple days and I thought that this recipe would be good to try. These are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten in my life, they quickly lose their quality as they cool down, but even then they are still the most amazing ones ever. All we did was add one medium sized sweet potato to the dough. It does not change the colour:

    Also, we added a head of cauliflower to a (very large, fed 20 people) batch of white mac and cheese. SO GOOD.

    Robyn  |  October 16th, 2007 at 8:30 pm

  • I was thinking that, maybe if I added the puree to something I already liked, like the white sauce I make to go on my Mac and Cheese, I’d be fine with incorporating the veggies?

    The vegetables aren’t really the thing that offends me. I think it’s the recipes. I’ll try one more before I call it a total wash.

    I’m glad you liked the cookies.

    msummers  |  October 16th, 2007 at 9:04 pm

  • Fat-free cream cheese is crap! Don’t kids need fat, anyway? I recently decided that I’d rather have the full-fat version than a bunch of weird industrial ingredients that make it fat-free anyway.

    jana  |  October 16th, 2007 at 11:08 pm

  • I am rather glad that the recipes aren’t really delicious or that deceptive. Take that already rich Seinfelds! I also highly doubt Jessica does all that buying and puree’ing (sp?) on her own- she probably has her personal chef do it I am curious about the brownies though so maybe try those next time? For me?

    kimblahg  |  October 17th, 2007 at 3:13 am

  • I mixed pureed butternut squash into regular kraft mac n cheese. For me it wasn’t great but not horrible. I pushed my luck with how much squash I put in. My kid gobbled it up though.

    Lia  |  October 17th, 2007 at 4:22 pm

  • I don’t understand why the recipe needs to be special to slip a little extra vegetable in when we’re talking about such low quantities of vegetables here anyway. Couldn’t you just put pureed squash into a regular macaroni and cheese message and let it sort of blend in?

    a happier girl  |  October 17th, 2007 at 9:43 pm

  • I really love- LOVE!- things with butternut squash and cheese in restaurants, so I couldn’t figure out why this was so assy. You know what’s missing? Good, fatty cheese. And butter. One cubic butt-ton of butter. Which really kind of negates the whole healthy vegetable thing.

    I am beginning to begrudge Mrs. Seinfeld her considerable good fortune.

    Another Melanie  |  October 17th, 2007 at 10:16 pm

  • I think we can conclude that Jessica Seinfeld was able to get her book published because she is the wife of someone famous. One more reason I won’t even be checking this book out of the library.

    sheryl  |  October 17th, 2007 at 10:48 pm

  • My boyfriend’s housemate has a recipe for vegan biscuits and gravy where the biscuits have beet and zucchini juice and bits mixed in. (The “gravy” is just white sauce [vegan white sauce = flour and olive oil and butter] with nutritional yeast, salt & pepper and other things, I don’t remember what, but not almonds.)

    Anyway. I am not a vegan or even a weird hippie person like him, and I’m from the South, and they’re the best damn biscuits and gravy I’ve ever tasted.

    Which is to say that some sneaky food doesn’t suck.

    Bether  |  October 18th, 2007 at 2:45 am

  • You know I’ve been thinking today. I don’t think non-fat dairy products have anything weird in them. They just take the fat out, like they do in milk. I just prefer a reduced fat not non-fat product generally speaking. Like we drink 1/2-2% milk but can’t stand skim.

    Bether: You’re right. I think the thing I am not liking are these specific recipes, not the mixed in veggies.

    msummers  |  October 18th, 2007 at 3:00 am

  • I like the book. I also squished the chickpeas, it just seemed to wrong to leave the whole. WE liked the cookies. I have been experimenting with adding different purees with different foods. On thanksgiving (Canadian a few weeks ago), my mom surprised us by using one cup of pureed carrot in the pumpkin pie and it was the best pie EVER. I like Jessica Seinfeld. She was so nice and sweet on Oprah. I can’t believe I just said that, but its true. I am also totally opposed to non-fat dairy. The calories are often the same because they add starch and other carbohydrates to make up for the lack of consistency.

    jenB  |  October 18th, 2007 at 4:47 am

  • I definitely think that you might like Sneaky Chef better. Sounds like ole’ Jess was trying a bit to hard with her recipes. The Sneaky Chef recipes are a bit more traditional with some key substitutions or additions. My kids have loved the Sneaky Chef recipes, except — ironically — the mac and cheese one. Just can’t mess with that mac and cheese.

    Amy S.  |  October 18th, 2007 at 12:06 pm

  • Yeah! Thank you for doing this review and saving me money! I had a feeling this is how the book would turn out. Frankly, it all sounded a little gross to me. I’ll have the money and keep introducing veggies in their pure form to my kids.

    Stacey  |  October 18th, 2007 at 12:14 pm

  • Wait a minute? This is a book about making nutritious food that kids will eat, but it doesn’t have nutrition information with each recipe? That’s a red flat to me right there that these purees aren’t really adding enough nutrition to be worth it.

    silver  |  October 18th, 2007 at 12:55 pm

  • I’m sure she’s a very nice person Jen. She just makes recipes that suck.

    For example: was the delicious pumpkin pie with carrot mixed in from Seinfeld’s book?

    msummers  |  October 18th, 2007 at 1:02 pm

  • I made these and you could have knocked the 15 and 19 year olds over when I told them that there was zucchini in them…I also sub’d applesauce for the oil and skipped the nuts. Really yummy when you put a big fat can of chocolate frosting on them! I am sure if someone put their creative mind to it, you could “healthy” these up some more, but I happen to like my baked good with plenty o’ sugar in them…

    Zucchini Brownies

    The batter appears dry until you stir in the zucchini. DO NOT add extra liquid or eggs! If after adding the zucchini the batter is still dry, add a few tablespoons of water to create a thick batter.

    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1 1/2 cups white sugar
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour (1 C wheat, 1 C white)
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 1/2 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    2 cups shredded zucchini
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or grated)
    6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 cup margarine
    2 cups confectioners’ sugar
    1/4 cup milk
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.

    In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

    Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners’ sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

    Jessica  |  October 18th, 2007 at 3:04 pm

  • Non-fat dairy products are disgusting, and they do have to add all kinds of unnatural things just to make them (arguably) edible. (For example, compare the ingredients in regular mayo and light mayo.) Eating them plain is bad enough, but cooking with them is asking for disaster. I would never trust a recipe from anyone who suggests you cook with non-fat cream cheese. Ick. I agree that adding veggie puree to a mac and cheese recipe you like might be OK. Better yet, roast cubes of butternut squash with olive oil, salt and a little brown sugar, then just keep putting it in front of your kids until they finally try it and realize how delicious it is.

    Kristin  |  October 18th, 2007 at 3:15 pm

  • My kids actually like zuchini, broccoli and squash.

    But I know plenty of kids who don’t like any vegetables and seriously there is nothing more frustrating than cooking something only to listen to your kids bitch and moan about it.

    Sneaking it in and having it as a side dish (without the sugar even) seems like a good solution to me. But not if you’re cooking with fat free cream cheese.

    msummers  |  October 18th, 2007 at 3:54 pm

  • I’ve become a freak about “fake food” since reading the book Real Food by Nina Planck. Hence my comment about fat-free cream cheese. It’s not just the ingredients, but the process the one-natural food had to go through to become fat-free. Here’s a sampling:

    “Conventional processes for producing low fat or fat free cream cheese products suffer from a number of deficiencies. One major deficiency is that these processes generally produce products which fail to approximate the flavor and texture of traditional cream cheese. Moreover, complicated, cumbersome and inefficient apparati are typically employed to accommodate the extensive mixing, shearing and heating steps required in these processes. U.S. Pat. No. 5,079,024, for example, describes a process for manufacturing a fat free cream cheese product which requires an apparatus which includes two homogenizers as well as three separate mixing vessels in sequence. These vessels provide a specific degree of agitation and shear at successive points in the process. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 5,180,604 describes a process for making a fat free cream cheese in an apparatus which requires only one vessel. The apparatus, however, is severely limited with respect to the amount of product produced per batch. Accordingly, there is a need in the art for an efficient process and apparatus for producing a low fat or fat free cream cheese product which closely resembles traditional cream cheese in flavor and texture.”

    Gross. From this website:

    jana  |  October 18th, 2007 at 4:53 pm

  • Mrs. Seinfeld did crack me up when she said that she sets out a box of store bought macaroni & cheese on the counter while she makes the other m & c w/pureed veggies and the kids just assume that’s what she’s using. Her kids must not be as nosy as my kids. Not even my 2 year old would fall for that. Its a cute idea though.

    Mitzi  |  October 18th, 2007 at 4:57 pm

  • I have the Sneaky Chef and so for I don’t think it’s too bad. I haven’t tried any of her recipes yet, but I’ve made one of the purees which she says you can add to boxed mac ‘n cheese — it’s got zucchini and cauliflower. My husband hates both, but never even noticed that it’s been added to the cheese sauce. And I made her flour mixture (regular, whole wheat and wheat germ), which has worked ok as a replacement for regular flour in my muffin recipes. My toddler eats very little outside of dairy, crackers, baby carrots and fruit, so I’m all about trying to sneak some stuff in! Thanks for experimenting w/the Seinfeld book, now I’ll stick to the Sneaky Chef and not bother w/trying the other one out!

    Marjorie  |  October 19th, 2007 at 12:13 am

  • [...] what I’ve read the recipes are pretty much horrible anyway. Check out Melissa Summers’ review of the sauce from the macaroni and cheese with squash puree [...]

    Kids Dish » Blog Archive » Deceptively Delicious  |  October 23rd, 2007 at 11:17 am

  • [...] am I glad I didn’t look up the receta that everyone was using. Because, according to the Work it, Mom! blog, the recipe is a total disaster. What damn fool puts cream cheese, let alone non-fat cream [...]

    Macaroni and Peas (with acorn squish) « Eat, Drink, and Be Mary (Sue)  |  October 26th, 2007 at 6:44 pm

  • This book is so pointless if you feed your children right in the first place. Of course, they WILL be picky in the first years but they will eat many vegetables and most sweet fruits if you start them on this path when they begin eating solid foods. Just serve them veggies and don’t make a fuss if they pass over certain ones. Take note and don’t serve those again for a few weeks.

    Serve them in tasty ways too instead of just as a limp steamed side dish. I come from a family of Seventh Day Adventist vegetarians and we children always ate our vegetables willingly. One of my favorite foods to this day is brussels sprouts in lemon pepper and butter sauce. Kids will eat most anything with cheese in it so try things like lasagna packed with good things like spinach (fresh - frozen and especially canned are nasty and mushy and children usually won’t like them as texture is important to them) or one of my favorite recipes is to make mac and cheese (we like Annie’s Bunny Shaped because it’s all natural and fun but any brand or homemade recipe works) and mix in peas, corn and steamed baby broccoli and baby carrots to the finished product. I got the idea from my sister who tells her children a charming tale bunnies gathering vegetables on a farm during meal time.

    If you don’t give your children vegetables in their intended form, their tastebuds will not mature and they will instead have a taste only for junk food just like all the parents who let their kids eat whatever junk they wanted.

    Jada  |  October 29th, 2007 at 2:30 am

  • Jada, I agree with you.

    While I am not a particularly healthly person, I am much more concerned about what my child eats. In our house, there is no need to hide anything in chicken nuggets because chicken nuggets (or any other processed meat for that matter) has ever crossed our doorstep.

    Your mention of tasty ways to prepare veggies is so true. I didn’t learn to love veggies until I discovered that they didn’t need to come from a can!

    My kid will chow down steamed broccoli dressed with lemon juice, a bit of melted butter and grated parm cheese.

    Heather  |  November 1st, 2007 at 7:48 pm

  • I just decided to try some of the recipes from the deceptively delicious cook book. I made the macaroni and cheese 1 using cauliflour. It was terrible. I made the pink dinner pancakes. My mistake is that I didn’t have ricotta cheese so I substituted with cream cheese. My roomate and her son gobbled it up though. Her son at the pancakes first prior to anything else. The turkey chili was an absolute hit with me. I regret setting some aside and giving it to my roomate. I ate so much of it in one sitting. I also didn’t have the red pepper puree so I substituted it for 1 full cup of carrot puree instead of half a cup. Some kids might be sensitive to the chili powder so I would try a bit less if for them. Or just have cornbread on hand. That macaroni and cheese…. don’t eat it.

    Stacey  |  September 6th, 2008 at 4:59 pm

  • I absolutely love this book. Have you tried the Aloha chicken kabobs, having them for dinner. They are amazing. Also, the cupcakes with yellow squash puree. Yummy. The brownies are good but you can taste the spinach. Some recipes need tweaking for our families likes, but she mentions this is just what her family likes. Give a couple other recipes a try.


    Alynn  |  December 30th, 2008 at 12:32 am

  • I am rather glad that the recipes aren’t really delicious or that deceptive. Take that already rich Seinfelds! I also highly doubt Jessica does all that buying and puree’ing (sp?) on her own- she probably has her personal chef do it I am curious about the brownies though so maybe try those next time? For me?

    Kaiser  |  June 30th, 2009 at 1:44 am