Vegetable Kingdom: Memphis Coleslaw
Cookbook Overviews , Recipes / August 28, 2020

How is everyone’s stress level? I feel like mine has been through the roof because of getting ready for the school year to begin. I work in higher ed, so getting ready for this unusual school year has been a little insane. Also, I have two sons who still haven’t started school yet (it was pushed back to after Labor Day), and we don’t even know for sure yet what their schooling will look like. Anyway, all of that is to say I haven’t been super focused on reading new cookbooks lately. I did pick up Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes by Bryant Terry from the library the other day. My family is attempting to cut down on our meat consumption, so I’m trying out more vegan/vegetarian cookbooks. This book is a lot of fun. Not only are Terry’s stories that go along with each recipe entertaining, but he even includes a song that goes along with each recipe. Unfortunately, many of these recipes are compound recipes (I think I just made that up :-), which require you to make one or two other recipes first in order to make the main recipe. I think it’s fine…

Stuff I’ve Been Cooking, Reading, Watching, Etc.
Favorite Things , Recipes / July 1, 2020

Hi, just checking in. It’s been a pretty stressful and illumniating few weeks. I keep wondering what incredible event will totally upend our lives in the next month or so. I, like most people, have been thinking a lot about racism in this country and what I can do differently in my own life to not only believe that black lives matter, but to work towards that goal. I will continue to work for and donate to political candiates who are going to work for social justice. As far as this blog and my presence on social media, I want to share more recipes from blogs and cookbooks by people of color. If you have suggestions, please send them my way. Thanks! What I’ve Been Cooking: Rose Sangria with Nectarines and Strawberries: Sangria always seems like a lot of trouble, but this recipe, from the current issue of Martha Stewart Living, was quite simple. You just need to plan ahead a little so the fruit has time to soak in the vodka. Yum! Nutella Swirl Banana Bread: I finally got around to making banana bread, like everyone else who has been quarantine baking. This version with nutella is super rich,…

Sister Pie: Strawberry Pistachio Crumble Pie

I have had Sister Pie borrowed from the library for quite awhile (I checked it out right before my library closed because or COVID-19), and I kept avoiding it because I am not a pie baker. If I feel the need to make a pie for some reason, I usually just get a store-bought crust and call it a day. (My husband loves blackberry pie, and about the only baking he ever does is making homemade pie crusts.) But this book, which has a gorgeous cover, kept staring at me, and I finally decided to take on the challenge of making a homemade pie with crust from scratch. Sister Pie is written by Lisa Ludwinski who owns the Sister Pie bakery in Detroit. If you want a traditional pie cookbook, this is not for you. The basic pie crust recipe seemed pretty standard, but the pie recipes are full of non-traditional flavors like Concord Grape and Goat Cheese Pie or Rhubarb Rosemary Struesel Pie. As I read through the cookbook, I still found quite a few recipes that looked interesting, including some recipes that aren’t even for pies. There is a whole section about salads because Ludwinski said she makes…

Stuff I’ve Been Cooking, Reading, Watching, Etc.
Favorite Things , Recipes / May 28, 2020

Hey, I hope everyone is hanging in there. My family is still doing well. Everyone is healthy, and my husband and I are able to work from home. But I feel like the whole “opening up” of things is more stressful than just being forced to stay home. So many decisions about when to wear a mask, whether my kids can have friends over, and on and on. Anyway, I just thought I’d do another quick post about what I’ve been up to. What I’ve Been Cooking: Cheeseburger Quesadilla: I should just buy stock in Iowa Girl Eats. Maybe because she’s a Midwestern gal like me, but her recipes are always a big hit in my house. Quesadillas and cheeseburgers combined! Of course my sons were going to love this. Szechuan Chicken: Another blog that’s a new favorite is The Happier Homemaker. It’s chockfull of easy and budget-friendly recipes. What I’ve Been Reading: Such a Fun Age: This is a quick (but very well-written) novel about a young black woman who is stopped in a grocery store for suspicious behavior while she is babysitting a white toddler. The novel is about the aftermath of that event. While it’s quite entertaining…

Mad Hungry Family: Double-Decker Pork Tacos
Cookbook Overviews , Recipes / May 13, 2020

Previously I reviewed Lucinda Scala Quinn’s cookbook Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys. Now Quinn, who worked for Martha Stewart, has a line of Mad Hungry cookbooks. I picked up Mad Hungry Family from the library (before it closed). This book seems pretty similar to the other Mad Hungry cookbook. It’s full of dishes that are simple and filling, so you can feed your family homecooked meals. Quinn is a big proponent of the family meal and teaching your kids to cook for themselves. She describes great stories of sharing her love of food with her boys. I wouldn’t say these cookbooks are my favorite, but I did find quite a few dishes I would like to try out. I’m always looking for new ideas for Taco Tuesday, but this recipe might move to Sunday night. They were a little more work than my regular do-it-yourself taco setup, and a little heavy for a weeknight meal. But they were delicious, and my family loved them, so I know I will be making them again soon. Makes 1 taco 2 teaspoons vegetable oil 2 corn tortillas 1 slice mild, melting cheese, such as Monterey Jack, or Mexican melting cheese, such as queso…

Louisiana Real and Rustic: Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

So I already mentioned that i’m a big Emeril fan. The last cookbook of his I reviewed was all about comfort food. This cookbook is really the basics of Cajun cooking. I haven’t used it a lot, because my husband does most of the Cajun cooking in our house. The other day he make this gumbo recipe, but he always likes to tweak recipes, so I will provide info about that below. Six servings 2 pounds small okra 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes 1 cup chopped onions 1 cup chopped celery 1 3/4 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon cayenne 5 bay leaves 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 2 quarts water 1 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined Wash the okra in cool water. Remove the caps and tips and cut into 1/4-inch rounds. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Fry the okra, stirring constantly, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until most of the slime disappears. Add the tomatoes, onions, and celery and cook, stirring often, for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the okra and other vegetables are soft and the slime has completely disappeared. Add the salt, cayenne, bay leaves,…

The Happier Homemaker Blog: Easy Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Recipes / April 21, 2020

No flour. No problem! So I had a request from a friend of mine (Hey, Max!) who is trying to go gluten free to see if it clears up some health issues. Before I had a chance to search for some recipes in my cookbooks, this recipe popped up on Pinterest or Instagram or somewhere. (Sometimes mindlessly scrolling turns out to be useful!) This recipe is super easy, with just four ingredients, and they turned out super moist and delicious. These cookies are like peanut butter out of the jar, but kicked up a notch! Click on the image to get the recipe. I have also linked to some of the gluten-free recipes I have posted in the past. Enjoy! More gluten free recipes: Superhero Muffins Deep Dish Skillet Brownie Chocolate-Dipped Macaroons Parmesan and Herb-Crusted Cod Brown Rice Bowl with Edamame and Tamari Scallion Sauce

Easter Menu Ideas
Holidays / April 8, 2020

Easter this year is anything but normal. I know most of us aren’t going to cook an elaborate dinner for just ourselves or our immediate family. But if Easter is a big holiday for you, it still might be fun to make a little something special. I am rerunning my Easter post from last year because things haven’t really changed. We often celebrate Easter with our extended family, but when we don’t the menu is pretty basic: ham, deviled eggs, and cheesy potatoes. I think I will make strawberry shortcake bars for dessert again, so that’s becoming a traditional also. There are links to all of the recipes below. If anyone has a good idea of a salad or vegetable to serve, let me know! Appetizer: Deviled Eggs So for starters, I have to make deviled eggs. The first link is for a pretty standard recipe that I usually make. The second link is a complete deconstruction of the deviled egg. I think I will get in a lot of trouble if I don’t make the standard eggs, but the Bon Appetit recipe does seem easier. Deviled Eggs from A New Turn in the South Deviled Eggs Are a Waste of…

Stuff I’ve Been Cooking, Reading, Watching, Etc.
Favorite Things / April 7, 2020

Since people are cooking more, reading more, and watching more, I thought I would share a weekly update of what I’ve been up to. I did start working from home full-time last week (the week before) was our “spring break”), and my kids sort of started back to remote school, but then there was a pause in schooling (I know, very confusing). I am lucky because my kids are teenagers, so they are not as high-maintenance as young children. But it still has been a busy and tough week, so I understand that many people feel like they are busier than ever. But if you are looking for distractions from the crazy world, I hope these suggestions on how to fill the time are helpful. What I’ve been cooking: Black Bean Soup (with Cilantro Lime Rice): Who would have thought that this would be one of the most successful things I have made since we began staying home? Both of my sons like this soup because you can use it to create your own Chipotle-like burrito. My oldest even learned how to make rice in the Instant Pot, so he could make more. A couple of friends also made it…

The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook: Lemon-Glazed Blueberry Muffins
Cookbook Overviews , Recipes / April 1, 2020

My husband bought this The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook (2001) at a used bookstore quite awhile ago, and I hadn’t made anything from it yet. So I sat down and looked through it the other day, and it’s full of good stuff. As I’m sure most of you know, America’s Test Kitchen is a real kitchen in Boston where they test recipes that they publish in Cook’s Illustrated Magazine and demonstrate on their PBS show. Both the magazine and the show focus on “finding the best and most full-proof methods for preparing home-cooked food.” Each chapter of this cookbook, which includes headings such as “Simple Sandwiches,” “All-American Cookout,” and “Fajitas and Margaritas,” includes a few recipes with variations and reviews of the best equipment and ingredients for making the recipes. I took this recipe from the “Muffins & Scones” chapter. The Ekco Baker’s Secret muffin tin took top honors. They also discovered that you don’t need to use fancy butter for baking, just make sure it’s fresh and unsalted. I have to say this recipe, which is pretty detailed, does produce a really good blueberry muffin. I suggest you give it a try!   Makes 12 muffins 2 cups all-purpose…

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