Before I get into my experiences with trying out The Official WWE Cookbook, this writer has a big confession to make — I hate cooking! Thus, I don’t cook a lot. It stresses me out. All the steps. The sharp knives. The trips to the emergency room. The possibility of burning down the house. Thankfully, my husband, Martin, can cook and bake well. He even made our wedding cake!
But I digress, when I have to cook, I stick with very simple meals and utilize my favorite kitchen gadgets: the food processor, the microwave and the slow cooker. (And yes, I’m purposely leaving out the Instant Pot thingy that people are going nuts over. People claim it’s wonderful and easy to use; well, in the two times I’ve tried to use it, the word “burning” appeared on the tiny screen, so Martin says I’m not allowed to use it anymore!)
So now that the tone is set, why would I choose to try out recipes in a cookbook when I hate cooking? My answer is threefold: first, I interviewed Allison Robicelli, the author of this cookbook, and she said she purposely made the recipes simple so families could partake in the cooking process together; second I like eating; and third Martin’s birthday was coming up and I just think it’s lousy that he usually has to cook his own meal and bake his own cake. I thought I could double dip by writing a SLAM! Wrestling story and cooking for my husband at the same time!
So, over a weekend, my family — Martin, our nine-year-old son, Liam, and I — tried out some of the recipes, with me doing the majority of the cooking. Spoiler alert: we’re all still alive!
Day one started out with N.W.O.atmeal. Robicelli recommended this one to me as it is an overnight oats recipe and even better, there’s no cooking involved. (Yes, there will be some bending of the rules if I am going to do the majority of the cooking!) The recipe called for cookie butter which I had never used before. I found out it’s like a nut butter, but it has a thicker consistency and the kind I found tastes like gingerbread cookie batter! So now we’re all addicted to cookie butter! The dish turned out well and the recipe was pretty foolproof. The only alteration I made was not adding raisins because face it, raisins are gross! I liked the fact that the recipe contained chia seeds as I’m always trying to get good fats into my son’s food. Martin wasn’t a fan as he just couldn’t get on board with oatmeal being served cold. Liam loved it and finished the rest of the bowl himself. I’ve made several batches of this recipe since, as it’s his new favorite breakfast. Liam declared this recipe as his absolute favorite of the ones we tried.
All that cooking worked up a thirst, so it was on to trying a beverage. I made the Iced Booker T, which is a combination of limeade and sweet tea. I confess, I saw sparkling limeade in the store while I was buying ingredients for the recipes, so I decided to get that instead of making it from scratch. I did, however, make the Sweet Tea without cheating. I had the opportunity to live in Florida previously so I was curious to make some sweet tea as I know it is a very popular Southern drink and much different from what we Canadians refer to as “iced tea.” There’s a lot of sugar in the recipe, so I substituted some natural sweetener in place of the sugar in the tea. Martin and I weren’t expecting to like it, but we loved it. It was not too sweet and there wasn’t an overpowering tea taste. (I’m not a big fan of straight/unsweetened tea!) Martin decided to add vodka to his drink and liked it even more. We decided that spiced rum would probably work well with it too, but alas we were out. Liam, whose glass did not have any alcohol in it so stop dialing Child Protective Services, felt it was just okay. He preferred the limeade on its own. Again, this was another easy recipe that I didn’t mess up.
Next up was the Roman Onion Rings. I made the batter, which was quite easy. I liked the fact that the onions were just dipped into the batter and then put into the oil with no extra step of putting them into flour first. I was conflicted by the inclusion of coconut milk and shredded unsweetened coconut in the batter, as I don’t usually like the flavor and texture of coconut. My husband cut the onions into rings, as I wasn’t sure exactly how to do this, and he did the frying because I’m not allowed to touch his cast iron skillets. I was definitely wrong to worry about the coconut. The batter was light and was surprisingly enhanced by the coconut. We all loved these! Liam, who is our official onion ring expert, proceeded to jump up and down after his first bite. The recipe made a lot of rings and we all proceeded to joyfully eat way too many of these. We will be making them again for sure and this recipe was hands down my favorite of all the ones we tried.
After all that work cooking and tasting, Martin and I decided to treat ourselves to another beverage — the Sheamus Shamrock Shake. I should point out that there were a few things that led to this decision: we are all Sheamus fans in this house, one of the ingredients was mint chocolate chip ice cream which is Martin’s favorite flavor, and we happened to find a can of Guinness, another key ingredient, in our fridge that someone must have left from a previous get together. The first step was to make a chocolate sauce with heavy cream, some of the Guinness and chocolate chips. I managed to do this and not scald the cream, success! The chocolate sauce was quite good on its own, but once I assembled it with the rest of the Guinness and the ice cream, it was not so good. I should also point out that Martin and I really dislike Guinness so we really shouldn’t have made this in the first place. The shake tasted bitter and angry. We ended up dumping it down the sink. I’d make the chocolate sauce again, though.
That was enough recipe trials for one day. Day two was Martin’s birthday so I started off with an appetizer — Nacho Man Randy Savage, which just so happens to be Robicelli’s favorite recipe in the book. The recipe consists of chili made with Slim Jim beef sticks, cheese sauce (we used a store bought Queso) and salsa (again store bought) over chips. I skipped the olives because olives, like raisins, are gross. Martin loved the addition of the Slim Jims with the chili and liked the fact that you could customize the ingredients depending on how hot you like your nachos. Ours turned out pretty spicy, so Liam was not impressed as he hates all things spicy right now. He immediately ran to get water and declared the nachos too spicy for him to continue eating. Martin couldn’t get enough of these, he actually ended up eating the leftovers the next day and declared this recipe his favorite. I liked the resulting nachos, but I’m someone who feels chili should be made with beans, I know to some this is sacrilege, so next time I would add those to the recipe and green chilies, of course, as we currently reside in New Mexico and I’m pretty sure there’s a law requiring us to do so. Another simple recipe to start a special day.
For dinner, we went with the Chicken Rock Pie. I decided that putting the filling into a refrigerated pie crust instead of putting it in ramekins and topping with puff pastry as Robicelli suggested, would be easier. I was wrong. My first mistake was buying a brand of pie crust I had never used before. Even after thawing it overnight in the fridge and letting it come to room temperature on the kitchen counter, when I tried to unroll it, the pie crust shredded into several pieces. Martin managed to use a rolling pin to put the pie crusts back together, but it just wasn’t a good move on my part to not follow the recipe as written. The recipe resulted in a lot of liquid-like filling, way too much to fill our lame pie crust. Plus, when we baked it, the bottom of the pie crust got quite soggy. The filling itself was delicious, albeit a tad richer than I’m used to as there’s a lot of butter and evaporated milk in this! Liam enjoyed his piece, which he made quick work of. Martin felt that if we made it again, we should only make half the recipe as we had so much of it. Good thing one of our neighbors consists of a family of five. They all came over excited to not have to cook their own dinner, praised the pie and finished it.
Our final dish consisted of Martin’s birthday cake: The Undertaker’s Chocolate Grave Cake. I chose this recipe because it was another no bake option. Living in New Mexico, I was not about to deal with the altitude factor affecting my baking a cake from scratch. This was the perfect desert solution; I mean dessert solution. (See what I did there!) I actually made the cake the day before. It consisted of ground up chocolate wafer cookies, cream cheese, milk, whipped topping and pudding. It was very easy to put together via layers and have set in the fridge until it was time to serve. The decorating was simple too. It consisted of a large chocolate bar to serve as a headstone, although I did not heat up a knife as Robicelli suggested, to make the top rounded. I decided not to tempt fate and that Martin would be happy with a rectangular headstone. Mini chocolate bars served as the rest of the tombstones, while Kit Kat bars made up the fence surrounding the cake graveyard. Martin, who loves chocolate hence another reason why I chose to make this cake, felt the dessert had too much chocolate. I immediately divorced him. Just kidding, if I did that I’d starve to death! I liked the cake. I felt it was just right and not too sweet even though I’m not a sweet person, I prefer savory dishes. Liam had the opportunity to try an ice cream cake for the first time for his birthday earlier this year, so any cake that is not an ice cream cake is a disappointment to him. He did try some, but alas it wasn’t up to his standards. He chose to eat the mini chocolate bars adorning the cake instead. Our same neighbors were happy to stay for dessert and they all enjoyed it.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t say that I love cooking now, but Robicelli delivered on her promise for creating a simple, but tasty, cookbook. I did the majority of the cooking myself, except for the onion rings, and believe me that is a victory worthy of a championship belt. I’m stuck making the N.W.O.atmeal for life now as my son’s breakfast, but I’m okay with that.
My family and I are eager to try some of these recipes again, except for the Sheamus Shamrock Shake, of course, and I can see us actually using this cookbook and bringing it out to try some of the other recipes we didn’t get to yet. This cookbook will definitely not join the cookbook graveyard in our living room closet. Although sadly, one of the previous WWE cookbooks, Can You Take the Heat? from 2000 currently resides there.
I’d like to mention that it has been a few days since my family and I tried the recipes, not only are we all still alive, but no one had food poisoning. Bonus! Hmmm, I haven’t seen our neighbors lately though. I’m sure they’re fine.
EDITOR’S NOTE:Watch for an interview with the cookbook’s creator Allison Robicelli down the road on SLAM! Wrestling.