Cookbook Reviews

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust by Ina Garten

Book: Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust
Author: Ina Garten
Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Ina Garten strikes again. A new collection of recipes from the Barefoot Contessa. Recipes, of course, range from appetizers to desserts with a couple of drink recipes thrown in.
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: Ina's recipes are always a winner for me, especially when I am looking for a bit more upscale yet still easy to prepare recipes. One of my favorite things about this cookbook are Ina's tips and tidbits for the kitchen and entertaining. 

On that note, I found a large number of the recipes I wanted already posted on There was a large handful of recipes that I actually needed to copy from the book. 
Source: Library
Would I recommend? : Always, but maybe take a look at the library and for the recipes before paying the dollars to purchase the book.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Book: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Author: Deb Perelman
Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: A collection of the author's recipes from her blog. Included were breakfast, main entrees, salads, sandwiches, vegetarian and desserts.
My rating: 2.5 Stars
My opinion: First, I must state that the photography in this book was gorgeous! On that note, although the recipes in this book looked good, I thought the better chunk of the recipes were a bit more "upscale" and used for entertaining purposes versus daily dinner recipes. I believe I targeted 10-15 of the recipes for copying. This was out of approximately 100 recipes.

The notes and tips section in this book are a must. She includes some really unusual tips that I loved.

One of the biggest things that irked me was how the recipes were laid out. Ingredients were laid out on one page and directions on another page. For a cook using this book in a kitchen, that would be mighty inconvenient. 
Source: Library
Would I recommend? : Maybe take a look at it from a bookstore or your library before purchasing.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Monday, February 11, 2013

Stephanie O'Dea's Layered Ground Beef Slow Cooker Casserole

From:  More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow.

One of the best cookbooks I have ever purchased was Stephanie O'Dea's More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. I use this cookbook all the time, especially during the busy weekdays!

There is something my family loves about this simple dish that really comes together quickly in the morning. I have even done the main prep the night before and put it together in the morning. It has all the important ingredients in it, which come together in a really tasty concoction! I serve with a pre-made salad and simple dinner rolls that make it a perfect dinner that is ready to serve after a long day.

So here we go!:


4 large russet potatoes, washed and thinly sliced (Stephanie calls for peeled, thinly sliced)
1 large onion, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 t. seasoned salt
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


1) In a 4 qt. slow cooker, layer all the ingredients as listed.

2) Cook on low for 8 hours or high on 4 hours.

Friday, February 8, 2013

America's Best BBQ Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards by Ardie A. Davis and Chef Paul Kirk

Book: America's Best BBQ Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own Backyard
Author: Ardie A. Davis; Chef Paul Kirk
Release date (if applicable): May 7, 2013

Synopsis: A collection of recipes for the BBQ. Cooking methods include gas, charcoal and smokers. Recipes included appetizers, meats, fishes, side dishes, desserts and sauces/rubs. What I found most interesting were the tips and tidbits for grilling. 
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: It is rare that I have mixed feelings regarding a cookbook, but I really do with this one. Although the recipes are scrumptious looking for the most part, I found this not to be a cookbook for a novice cook. While some recipes, few and far between, were simple enough for a new grilling cook, most were extensive and required a whole lot of prep or skill in preparing them. 

My favorite part of this entire book was the rubs and sauces section. Looking to make my own at this point in my culinary life, I am preferring to make my own versus purchasing commercially prepared sauces. 

Although they only had one or two drink recipes, this is a cookbook that definitely could have carried more of them.
Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : For a more experienced chef or one looking to expand their culinary skills past steaks and burgers on the grill.  I am on the fence whether or not to purchase it or not. I may save this one for grabbing it from my library!
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cast Iron Cooking with Sisters on the Fly by Irene Rawlings

Book: Cast Iron Cooking with Sisters on the Fly
Author: Irene Rawlings 
Release date (if applicable): April 23, 2013

Synopsis: A collection of recipes from appetizers to desserts for the cast iron cookware. I loved that the author even included some really fun alcoholic drinks.
My rating: 5 Stars
My opinion: What a fun and unusual cookbook this was. The sisters loaded it down with unusual, "down to earth", good Midwest, Western and Texas style recipes. I was in love. Utilizing nothing but cast iron skillets and dutch ovens in the cooking process.  The pictures of the dishes were spectacular and well represented for the number of recipes in the book. 

I think if I had one criticism of the book, it would be that some of the dishes were maybe a bit more difficult to prepare due to using charcoal briquettes in the preparation.  I would have been ok with it had they supplemented those recipes with oven directions, but they didn't with several of them. I must state that these are recipes to be used in camping cooking, as well.  

I must admit that the drink recipes alone bumped this book up to 5 stars for me. They are as fun and unusual as the food recipes in the book. 
Source:  Netgalley for Publisher
Would I recommend? : Heck yes, in fact I plan on purchasing it!
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Monday, February 4, 2013

Crock Pot Beer Brats

One of my favorite dishes are Beer Brats. I had come across a recipe on that had them cooking in the crock pot and, although I had my misgivings, I wanted to at least try them. While this recipe is good in a pinch, it wasn't my favorite compared to my Grilled Hot Pads, but would definitely be acceptable in a wintery pinch.

I didn't like the look of the brats coming out of the slow cooker, so I ended up finishing them up in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes to get them browned.

As shown, I serve mine on a plate with the sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. They could just as easily be served on a roll though, if preferred.

So, here we go!:


1 lb onions, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rings
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 1/2 lbs bratwursts ( 10 sausages)
3 cups beer ( Budweiser or other light Am. lager recommended)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard, plus extra for serving
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup sauerkraut 


1) Combine onions, soy sauce, and sugar in bowl and microwave until just softened, about 5 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. 

2) Spread onions and their liquid in bottom of slow cooker. Arrange bratwursts in single layer on top of onions. 

3) Whisk beer, mustard, and caraway seeds together in bowl and add to slow cooker. Cover and cook until bratwursts are tender, 6 to 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. 

4) Transfer bratwursts to cookie sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven until browned. Stir sauerkraut into onion mixture in crock pot and let sit until warmed. Strain onion-­sauerkraut mixture through a colander. Discard the liquid and transfer solids to serving bowl. 

5) Serve with sauerkraut/onion mixture either with rolls or with mashed potatoes.

Caribbean Dew

I was in the middle of posting a review for Electric Lemonade for the blog when I figured out that I had no 7-up in my house. Not wanting to disturb my work in progress, I grabbed a can of Mountain Dew and used it in place of the 7-Up. I also layered it for effect versus blending it, which is done in an Electric Lemonade. My camera and the BLINDING sunlight didn't capture just how pretty this drink was.

My drink recipe tasters LOVED this switch. They stated it gave it a nice tangy twist. Although you could use vodka in this recipe, rum is more authentic to the Caribbean, so I only use rum in Caribbean drinks. I used a white rum in this one.

So, here we go!:


1.5 oz white rum
.5 oz Blue Curacao
2 oz sour mix
Mountain Dew


1) In a metal shaker, fill with ice. Pour first three liquids into shaker and shake for 60 seconds. Pour ingredients into a TALL glass such as a hurricane glass.

2) Top with Mountain Dew and garnish with an orange slice.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Raspberry Kiss Martini

I write a Midweek Mixer post for author Bette Lee Crosby's, Word, Wits and Wisdom. I wanted to do something special for her Valentine's month. She recently a posted my recipe for Da Love Tini and I wanted to do another special 'tini for a wonderful holiday! I am a lover of chocolate and raspberries together so, when the light bulb went off over my head for the Raspberry Kiss, I got to concocting! Although, I am a huge fan of dark chocolate and raspberries, it doesn't 'tini well. The white chocolate liqueur gave the drink a very soft taste...almost coming off as a raspberry shake.

One of the things I love the most about this tini is its' white chocolate rimmer and swirls of white chocolate inside the glass. It is just plain fun! Sipping on the drink, the recipient is automatically gifted to the taste of white chocolate. 

Be careful though...this is one 'tini with a TON of alcohol in it!

So, here we go!:


1.5 oz Vanilla Vodka
1.5 oz Razzmatazz Liqueur
1.5 oz White Chocolate Liqueur, such as Godiva
1.5 oz Half -n- Half


1) Melt white chocolate in either microwave or in a double boiler. Rim glass and swirl white chocolate. Place in freezer to set.

2) In a METAL shaker, add ice and all liquids. Shake for 60 seconds and strain into 'tini glass. Top with whipped cream and red sprinkles, if desired.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Crock Pot Ham and Potato Soup

This Winter season has been soup central to me. There has definitely been something different about the coldness of this season even without the massive snows. I have been making tons of soups and breads and freezing them for quick dinners.

One of my favorite soups is a Ham and Potato soup. I simply love the flavors. I have multiple soups that are done stove top, but needed one that was done in the crock pot due to my hectic schedule for the day. I couldn't find one that I liked during a Google search so I simply developed one. It is a very plain soup without the fan fair of cheese, which easily could be added if desired, but it was just plain goodness. I partnered with my Sue D's Quick and Easy Rolls and one of my massive salads. All of which were made ahead of time. When I got home, except for adding the white sauce to the soup, dinner was done!

One of my favorites of this recipe is the size veggies could be chopped. While I like the chunk of my veggies chopped finely, I love huge chunks of potatoes in my potato soups and this one had it!  If there was something I didn't like about this version, it would be that I thought it needed more pepper. I love the taste of pepper in this type of soup. As I am not in the norm, though, I kept it to one tablespoon, but be sure to adjust to your tastes.

My family enjoyed this so much that even with the large batch I made, after lunches and such, we had no leftovers! 

So, here we go!:


7 cups peeled, diced potatoes
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup onion
1 ham slice, chopped
2 quarts chicken broth
1 quart water
5 chicken bouillon cubes
1 T. pepper
Salt to taste (I use very, very little in mine)
12 T. flour
1.5 sticks (12 T. butter)
1 quart  milk


1) Place first nine ingredients in crock and cook on low for 8 hours.

2) In a large sauce pan, combine flour and butter to make a roux. Add milk and stir until thickened. Add to crock pot. Cook another 30 minutes on high to thicken. Dinner is done!