As a chef, is Freddie Prinze Jr. all that?

Mary Cadden
Prinze, currently hosting "First Impressions" on USA, just released his first cookbook, "Back to the Kitchen."

Another celebrity cookbook hits the bookshelves. Et tu, Freddie Prinze Jr.? Et tu?

Celebrity cookbooks are pretty ubiquitous these days.  But just the other day, one particular celebrity cookbook caught our eye.  This one was by someone we would have never expected.  Nope, never expected in a million years. It appears actor, host, writer, producer, WWE enthusiast and self-proclaimed nerd, Freddie Prinze Jr. has just released a cookbook. Who’d have thought?

In the past, we have put the cookbook prowess of other celebrities — Chrissy Teigen and Gwyneth Paltrow — to the test. Both Teigen, with her food blog, and Paltrow, with her lifestyle brand, were not a total surprise. But Freddie Prinze Jr.? The star of the '90s classic She’s All That and I Know What You Did Last Summer? Really?

You know what? Fred from Scooby Doo totally surprised us.

Reading Back to the Kitchen: 75 Delicious, Real Recipes (& True Stories) From a Food-Obsessed Actor, we learn a few things about Mr. Prinze.  We learn his wife, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, is his biggest fan. We learn he grew up playing in the kitchen, not on a sports field. And we learn he was all set to go to culinary school (his backup if his acting career didn’t take off) when he was offered his first acting gig.

Cooking up a few of the recipes we learn one more thing – he did not need that fancy culinary degree after all.  Yep, turns out this is not a celebrity cookbook we will be roasting. (Yes, ridiculous pun intended.)

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As for the recipes, nothing looked overwhelming to cook and the ingredient lists were pretty basic. When there was a chance of an ingredient being difficult to find, such as Prinze’s beloved New Mexico Chiles, he gave substitutions. And while we enjoyed reading about how and why a dish came into his repertoire, the only critique we have was that we would have preferred more dishes from this Puerto Rican heritage and his New Mexico roots.

Oh, and we really liked the food. While we couldn’t test EVERY dish in the cookbook we did sample a few. So, mindful of our expense reports, we chose recipes overlapping in ingredients.

Green (Chile) Eggs and Ham from "Back to the Kitchen."

Green (Chile) Eggs and Ham

Basically, a hot spin on a breakfast staple, the scrambled eggs in these burritos made with Prinze’s “Green Sauce” was different, but in a very, very good way. We were not able to use New Mexico Chiles for the Green Sauce but instead combined poblano and jalapeño peppers, per the author’s suggestion, and still came away with a new “go-to” sauce. And while we appreciate the healthy portions, we suggest TWO slices of bacon per burrito. Because, well, bacon.

Easy As Pie) Marinated Skirt Steak With Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salsa from "Back to the Kitchen."

Easy As Pie Marinated Skirt Steak With Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salsa

Yes, this recipe was easy as pie although pie is not what came to mind when we read the first four words in the directions, “clean any extra membrane.” But from prep to temp, a good basic recipe for grilling steak. The steak was good, the marinade okay but the salsa, well, the salsa recipe was simply delicious.

New Mex Carne Asada Tacos With Sliced Cucumbers from "Back to the Kitchen."

New Mex Carne Asada Tacos With Sliced Cucumbers

Probably our favorite recipe out of the bunch. The textures and contrasts of this dish just work. The steak is dusted with a basic spice blend and grilling it gives it a great charred outside and tender inside. The heat from the spice blend plays off the coolness of the cheese and the crispness of the cucumbers. This was all hit and no miss.

Southern California Guacamole from "Back to the Kitchen."

Southern California Guacamole

Like the tacos, this was an all hit no miss dish. Unlike the tacos, we did a broader taste test with this recipe. We brought it to a Memorial Day picnic and presented it merely as “here is some guacamole I made” as opposed to “here is some guacamole I made from Freddie Prinze Jr.’s recipe.” No, we did not want to influence the results. This recipe got rave reviews from all who tried it. (Yes, we were sitting next to the guacamole the whole time. Where else would you sit at a picnic?) Prinze subs the usual raw onion with onion powder because of his children’s preferences. Turns out, adults like it too.

Well done, Mr. Prinze, well done.