Cookbook Reviews

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Juicy Pineapple



The POOL DRINKS theme continues on Bette Lee Crosby's Midweek Mixers. Today, I have a slightly different one for those who don't like sweet-sweet in their pool drinks. Now, I like my pool drinks sweet-sweet, but when I found it on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. It is 3 simple ingredients that blend together perfectly in a concoction that I would have never even considered!

On that note, here we go!:

Ingredients:

2 oz PINEAPPLE Malibu rum

2 oz RUBY RED grapefruit juice

2 oz cranberry juice

Directions:

1) Pour all ingredients into a metal shaker filled with ice. Shake for 30 seconds and pour into hurricane glass.

2) Garnish with fresh pineapple slices and ruby red grapefruit slices, as desired.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sweet: Inspired Ingredients, Unforgettable Desserts by Valerie Gordon




Book: Sweet: Inspired Ingredients, Unforgettable Desserts
 
Author: Valerie Gordon
 
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): October 8, 2013

Synopsis: Ms. Gordon takes bakers on a ride of incredible desserts from pies, cakes and individual desserts to mouthwatering confectionery fit for royalty. 
 
My rating:  A very, very rare 10 out of 5 Stars. It is very rare for a cookbook to earn this rating from me. I actually think this is the first one. This cookbook has accomplished this and beyond! 

My opinion: OMG...how quickly can you say "In Amazon Cart"?!?! If this woman's stuff is sold up in Hollywood...you might actually get me to go there without me having an instant gag reflex!
 

I seriously didn't know I could love a cookbook so much.  This book contained GORGEOUS PICTURES (that made me drool!) and would definitely take my dessert making up a notch. 

On a technical note, the author gave excellent descriptions of necessary terms and equipment complete with pictures. One must note, however this cookbook is NOT for the novice baker. I would go middle-advanced or advanced baker. I, as an experienced baker, learned new techniques.

On a final note, I am purchasing the book for the confectionery and "mini"/individual dessert sections alone. That doesn't mean I won't be making the cake and pie recipes though.
Source:   Artisan Books
     
Would I recommend? : I think I made that clear above.
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Taste of Home Recipes Across America: 735 of the Best Recipes from Across America by Taste of Home Editors



Book: Taste of Home Recipes Across America: 735 of the Best Recipes from Across America
 
Author: Taste of Home Editors
 
Narrator (if applicable): N/A

Release date (if applicable): September 12, 2013

Synopsis: A collection of regional favorites from the Taste of Home magazine. Recipes include appetizers, dinners, breakfasts, desserts among others.
 
My rating: 3 Stars
 
My opinion: Being a long time lover of Taste of Home and having a large number of their cookbooks, I noticed that the recipes were found in most Taste of Home magazines and other TOH cookbooks. Rather than being divided by category, recipes were divided regionally. I must admit that I found this to be kind of annoying and would be difficult in search functions. Furthermore, I noticed that there were some missing quantity in the ingredients. However, I did review an ARC. There were plenty of pictures and unusual recipes. I think what I loved most about this book was the "stories" behind the recipes. 
 
Source: Readers Digest
       
Would I recommend? : If you aren't a regular/long-term Taste of Home subscriber or cookbook owner. I noticed that I already had a better chunk of the recipes in my collection.
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mini Treats and Hand Held Sweets: 100 Delicious Desserts to Pick-up and Eat by Abigail Johnson Dodge



Book: Mini Treats and Hand Held Sweets: 100 Delicious Desserts to Pick-up and Eat
 
Author: Abigail Johnson Dodge
 
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: An AWESOME collection of mini treats. Those perfect sized treats for any gathering to give attendees a nice selection.

Recipes include mini tarts, cookies, ice cream treats, cakes and candies.
 
My rating: 4 Stars
 
My opinion: This was a dynamic cookbook that will be used in my entertaining and holiday trays. It would have been a 5 star cookbook had there have been more pictures. This cookbook is not for a novice chef and most recipes are quite intricate...step by step pictures or in-process pictures definitely would be helpful to bakers. 

I must add that I didn't like the formatting of the ebook. Now, I do have to admit that it looks like this book is not available in ebook format, so this complaint maybe a moot point to my 4 star review, but in what I read, it was mushed together. 
 
Source:Netgalley for Taunton Press  
     
Would I recommend? : Yes, for more experience bakers. Get the print copy!
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Sunday Dinners: Our Favorite Pastors Bring Together Family, Food and Faith to the Table by Diane Cowen


Book: Sunday Dinners: Our Favorite Pastors Bring Together Family, Food and Faith to the Table
 
Author: Diane Cowen
 
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): September 10, 2013

Synopsis: A collection of our favorite ministers' Sunday dinners complete with bios, blessings and inspiring stories. 

Recipes include such tasty morsels as:
  • Country Fried Pork Chops (T.D. Jakes)
  • Baking Powder Biscuits (T.D. Jakes)
  • Senator Russell's Sweet Potatoes (Joel Olsteen)
  • Texas Fudge Cake (Joel Olsteen)
  • Goi Cuon: Fresh Shrimp and Spring Rolls (Martin Lam Nguyen)
  • Strawberry Cake (Rev. Mike Glenn)
  • Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas) (Pastors Samuel and Eva Rodriguez)
  • Pernil (Roast Pork) (Pastors Samuel and Eva Rodriguez)
 My rating: 4 Stars
 
My opinion: What a fun and unusual cookbook this was! It focused on meal planning from top ministers in the US, such as Joel Olsteen and T.D. Jakes. I think what was most unique was that it focused on a variety of ethnic foods that had more substance to them. Although I walked away with many new recipes, my favorites were from Pastors Samuel and Eva Rodriguez with their Mexican flair and Bishop T.D. Jakes with its good old fashioned Southern cooking! Recipes were incredible simple and, in my opinion, the most novice chef could probably do a spectacular job!

I gave this 4 stars because I thought there was too much focus on the bio part of the ministers versus recipes. I would have like to have seen more recipes. 
 
Source: Andrews McMeel Publishing      
 
Would I recommend? : Oh yeah, this one is teetering on being in my Amazon cart. That is how much I enjoyed it. 
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Hot Ham, Mozzarella and Swiss Hoagies






source: Family Oven

This Summer, I have been doing a lot of sandwiches for dinner. The majority of the prep can be done early and the cook time is low. That is what I loved about these sandwiches. I prepped early in the morning and threw them in the oven at dinnertime. I served them with chips and corn on the cob and dinner was done!

If desired, serve with added mayonnaise. I have to say that we thought the amount of mayo was perfect.



Ingredients: 

1.5 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1.5 cup shredded Swiss cheese
6 sandwich dill pickle slices, paper towel dried (optional)
12 slices tomatoes (very thin slices)
salt and pepper
6 hoagie rolls
6 tablespoons mayonnaise 
Shredded lettuce
6 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup Italian salad dressing
24 slices deli baked ham, boiled ham (thin slices)


Directions:

1) Toss ham slices in dressing and let marinade for about 20 minutes.
2) Spread inside bottoms of rolls with mayo.
3) Pile ham inside rolls, don't lay flat.
4) Mix cheeses together, pile on top of ham. If desired add pickle slice at this time. Wrap each in foil loosely, sealing top of foil closed.
5) Bake in 350ยบ oven for 20 minutes or til heated through and cheese is melted.
6) Spread top rolls with melted butter and broil until the tops are lightly toasted.
7) Open the hoagies and add lettuce, tomatoes and a little salt and pepper.



Saturday, August 10, 2013

One Pot Spaghetti



I had never heard of One Pot Spaghetti before I saw it mentioned in Sisterhood of the Traveling Book, which is my book lovers group on Goodreads. After the person mentioned that they were making it for dinner, several members chimed in and said how much they loved this dish. Being that spaghetti is one of Pat's favorite meals, I knew I had to at least try it for him. It is now my standard way of making spaghetti. I love this stuff so much more than your standard saucy spaghetti dish. I partnered with the usual suspects of peas, salad and garlic bread. The leftovers of this dish were even better!

On a side note, if desired add green pepper and mushrooms in the meat browning stage. I did that the second time I made this and it was even better.

So, here we go!:

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 t. jarred minced garlic
1 can (14.5 ox) diced tomatoes
16 oz tomato sauce
1.5 cupswater
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. oregano
1 t. Italian seasoning
8 oz spaghetti noodles broken in half

Directions:

1) In a large pan, brown the ground beef, onions and garlic.

2) Add the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT noodles. Bring to a boil

3) Once boiling add noodles, stir and cover.

4) Simmer for 15 minutes or until noodles are done.



Choosing Sides: Classic to Creative Recipes for Completing Every Meal by Tara Metaraza Desmond



Book: Choosing Sides: Classic to Creative Recipes for Completing Every Meal
 
Author: Tara Metaraza Desmond
 
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): September 10, 2013

Synopsis: A collection of side dishes and "partner" dishes to your main event!
 
My rating: 3 Stars
 
My opinion: This book had some beautiful pictures partnered with some really interesting recipes.  Let me stress some very unique recipes. I could count on 2 hands the numbers that I would make for myself or my family. There were a number that were on the fence that I could make for my family. I would encourage a taking a look at a brick/mortar bookstore, library or online sample prior to purchasing. 

Source:   Netgalley for Andrews McMeel Publishing
     
Would I recommend? : See my opinion
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Robin Takes 5 Cookbook for Busy Families: Over 200 Recipes with 5 Ingredients or Less for Breakfasts, School Lunches, After-School Snacks, Family Dinners, and Desserts by Robin Cook



Book: The Robin Takes 5 Cookbook for Busy Families: Over 200 Recipes with 5 Ingredients or Less for Breakfasts, School Lunches, After-School Snacks, Family Dinners, and Desserts

Author: Robin Cook
 
Narrator (if applicable): N/A

Release date (if applicable): August 20, 2013

Synopsis: A collection of over 200 recipes containing 5 ingredients or less with some easy prep for even the most novice or your youngest chef.
 
My rating: 4 Stars
 
My opinion: This book offered a nice selection of unusual, healthy recipes for both kids and grown-ups. Not being your usual light meal options, the meals were incredibly easy to prepare. Due to SOME of the ingredients and recipes, a potential purchaser might want to take a look at brick/mortar store or library prior to buying. Otherwise, most recipes had simple/common ingredients, which should be easy to access. Sections consisted of each of the three meals, plus snacks and desserts.

There are really a whole lot of cookbooks out there similar to this format.
 
Source: Netgalley for Andrews McMeel Publishing 
       
Would I recommend? : Yes, I would. Although I must admit that this isn't my favorite from this publisher and the first one of their cookbooks that I have reviewed that I won't be purchasing.  I thought that the recipes were a bit simplistic FOR MY COOKING LEVEL and not as unique as some of their other cookbooks. This is a publisher that if I see them offering a cookbook for review on Netgalley I request it sight unseen due to the uniqueness of their selections.
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Monday, August 5, 2013

Stephanie O'Dea's Funeral Potatoes




I have been going ga-ga over +Stephanie ODea's upcoming cookbook 365 Slow Cooker Suppers since I've seen it.  I reviewed it and have already had the opportunity to test 4 recipes from this cookbook and ALL have been winners. This tasty potato dish was the first one that caught my eye and it did not disappoint. It was all kinds of cheesy ham goodness. The picture really doesn't do the dish justice, but it photographed even worse on the plate. But don't let that fool ya! An entire 6 quart slow cooker was gone by the next day.

Out September 24, 2013!

On that note, here we go!:

Ingredients:

1 (26 oz) bag frozen hash brown potatoes (without onions/green peppers)
1 onion, diced
2 cups diced ham (I did 3 cups because we love ham!)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

Directions:

1) LIBERALLY spray a 6 qt. slow cooker with cooking spray. Trust me with this one. You want it liberally sprayed!

2) Place potatoes in the crock pot.

3) In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Pour over potatoes.

4) Cover. Cook on low for 7 hours. For the last 30 minutes of cooking remove crock pot lid and allow the dish to brown. 

5) I served with corn on the cob, tomatoes from my garden and cottage cheese. It was PERFECT!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Herb Roasted Chicken with Summer Tomatoes






OK...I know that I always say that a recipe that I post is one of my +Stephanie ODea favorite, but, I swear, this one just might take the prize. Not only was this dish simple, IT WAS FANTASTIC! Even leftovers rocked!

This dish is so simple to make and the seasonings just paired perfectly with all the food ingredients involved. I basically threw everything but the rice in the crock pot and left for the day. By the time I got home, it looked like the picture above.

I used fresh tomatoes from my garden that tasted so fresh. I did not core them like Stephanie had recommended so they stood up a bit better. I was a bit concerned that by the time I got home they would have been mush had I cored them. I think I made a smart decision. Go ahead and core if the tomatoes will be served after the minimum cooking time.

I used white wine on my dish. I am not sure what flavor apple juice would give the dish since it is sweeter than the wine. I would be interested in hearing thoughts on this.

Stephanie recommends removing the skin from the chicken. I don't do that as I want the sauce for the chicken to be a bit "beefier" that is accomplished by the skin. Also, the result is that beautifully roasted chicken pictured above.

I served with white rice and I believe Stephanie had recommended brown rice. Either would work beautifully. Just be sure to top with that sauce from the crock pot. That stuff was unbelievable.

This will earn a regular rotation in my meal planning because everyone chowed on it.

So here we go:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1 t. black pepper
2 t. herbes de Provence
1 t. smoked paprika
4 lbs. chicken parts (I used thighs)
8 vine ripened tomatoes (cored or uncored)
1/2 cup white wine or apple juice

Directions:

1) Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl.

2) Place chicken in a 6 qt crockpot and rub seasonings over chicken.

3) Place tomatoes over chicken. Pour wine/juice over all.

4) Cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

5) Serve with the tomatoes and white rice.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The American Craft Cookbook: 155 Recipes From Your Favorite Brew Pubs and Breweries by John Holl



**  Be sure to watch The Pub and Grub Forum in August for recipes from this dynamic cookbook**

Book: The American Craft Cookbook
  
Author: John Holl
 
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): August 27, 2013

Synopsis: A collection of 175 pub recipes that are meant to be partnered with beer. Recipes were across the board...appetizers, soups/salads, sandwiches, main dishes and even desserts. 

Recipes included:

+ Chicken Wings with Bacon BBQ Sauce
+ Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
+ Amber Ale Cheese Bread
+ Cheddar Ale Soup
+ Hanger Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
 
My rating: 4 Stars
 
My opinion: This was one really cool cookbook. This was pub food at its finest. Some recipes did strike me as a bit more difficult to make so maybe take a look at a sample first. Furthermore, some struck me as foods that would NEVER cross my lips (such as pork belly).

The pictures in this book were A-MAZING! So beautiful and captured brew houses and the food beautifully.  Due to the complication of some of the recipes, I would have liked to have seen photographs related to food prep. 
 
Source: Netgalley for Storey Publishing
      
Would I recommend? : Yes and already have
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


**  Be sure to watch The Pub and Grub Forum in August for recipes from this dynamic cookbook**

Swimming Pool Cocktail



August is swimming pool drinks for +Bette Lee Crosby's Midweek Mixers. When I came across this drink on Pinterest, I knew it would be the kick off this month. It is called THE SWIMMING POOL...creative ain't I?!? This drink was different than what I thought it was going to be, but it had a gorgeous color partnered with a pretty unusual coconut and pineapple taste. I loved the use of coconut milk instead of water in this drink and I LOVED the color blue it turned out.

So here we go!:

Ingredients:

1/4 oz Blue Curacao
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Rum
1 oz Coconut Vodka
2 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Coconut MILK (NOT WATER!)
1/4 oz heavy cream

Directions:

1) In a metal shaker filled with ice, pour all ingredients

2) Shake for 30 seconds and pour into a hurricane glass

3) Garnish with pineapple and cherries 




Fix It and Forget It 5 Ingredient One Dish Dinners by Phyllis Pellman Good



Book: Fix It and Forget It: 5 Ingredients One Dish Dinners
 
Author: Phyllis Pellman Good
 
Narrator (if applicable): N/A

Release date (if applicable):  Published

Synopsis: A small collection of recipes for the crockpot. Recipes include such family favorites as macaroni and cheese, porcupine meatballs, cranberry pork loin, etc.
 
My rating: 2 Stars
 
My opinion: I have heard about the Fix It and Forget It series, but have never ventured into them before having the opportunity to review for Open Road Integrated Media. I must admit that I wasn't that impressed. This "snippet" book reminded me of old fashioned crock pot recipes that were popular when crock pots first came out and cooks weren't aware of all the things they could do.  
  
Source:  Netgalley for Open Road Integrated Media
       
Would I recommend? : No, take a look at the books of Stephanie O'Dea. They are much more creative, fun and contemporary.
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of series

Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Pops, Shaved Ice and Agua Frescas by Fany Gerson



Book: Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Pops, Shaved Ice and Agua Frescas
 
Author: Fany Gerson
 
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: A dynamic, FUN cookbook of icy Mexican treats.
 
My rating: 5 Stars
 
My opinion: OMG...I loved this cookbook! This cookbook screamed fun and tasty treats perfect for Summer. I was concerned a bit at first because the recipes were pretty boring and I have seen them in numerous places, but then they took off and had some really unique concoctions that appeared simple to prepare, even for the most novice chef. This would be the perfect topper to any Mexican meal or for a lovely sweet treat. I loved the ones that had drink flares to them or really unique ingredient combinations that one wouldn't consider in desserts.
 
Source:  Library
      
Would I recommend? : Yep and I bought it!
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Chef Aaron McCargo's Flying Eagle Iced Tea


Gotta admit that I LOVE Chef Aaron McCargo. When I saw this featured on his show Big Daddy's House, I made it that second. I have tweaked his original recipe because the original could put hair on the chest of any woman and was too strong with the taste of vodka, but this stuff is pretty killer.

It combines iced tea, mint simple syrup, vodka and lemon and all I can say is YUM!

So, here we go:

Ingredients:

Mint Simple Syrup:

1 cup fresh lemon juice (do not use concentrate!) 
2/3 cup sugar 
1 cup mint leaves

Directions:

1) Place FRESH LEMON JUICE and sugar in a small pan. Simmer until sugar is melted. 
2) Add mint leaves and muddle into simple syrup.
3) Set aside to cool

In the meantime

Iced Tea:

Ingredients:

4 cups cold water
2 tea bags

Directions:

1) Bring water to a boil and add tea bags. Allow to steep.

Finally:

1) Combine mint simple syrup, tea and 1.5 cups vodka in a pitcher. I have also used citrus vodka in this recipe.
2) Allow to chill for 4 hours
3) Serve in a tall glass with plenty of ice and mint leaves/lemon slices as garnishes.