Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto Chips from Antoni in the Kitchen
Cookbook Overviews , Cookbook Reviews , Recipes / November 19, 2020

Is everyone ready for Thanksgiving? Do you even know what you’re doing for Thanksgiving? We were supposed to host a small family Thanksgiving, but now it looks like it will just be the four of us. I love cooking for Thanksgiving, so I will probably cook too much anyway. I’m trying to keep it under control. ­čÖé I picked up Antoni in the Kitchen at the library, and it has a great Brussels sprouts dish, perfect for Thanksgiving. Who is Antoni? If you don’t know already, Antoni Porowski is the food guy on Queer Eye, a makeover reality show on Netflix. The “Fab 5” help out people who need some major change in their lives. Antoni usually helps them learn to cook something for entertaining their friends or helps them with ideas to eat more healthy. He’s not really a chef. He’s just a guy who likes food and has enough looks and charisma to be on TV. Anyway, I did not have high expectations for this cookbook, but I was surprisingly impressed. Antoni was raised in Montreal by his Polish parents, and he went to a French school with an international student body. Consequently, his recipes have influences from…

Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Bake Sale Winning-est Gooey Oat Bars
Cookbook Overviews , Recipes / September 29, 2020

I know everyone’s stress levels are through the roof right now, and I know what I do when I’m stressed. I eat chocolate! This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen Every Day, the second cookbook of O.G. food blogger Deb Perelman. I already reviewed her first cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, when I made Balsamic and Beer-Braised Short Ribs. They were so good that when I saw she has another short rib recipe in this cookbook, I really wanted to try it. In fact, there were so many recipes I wanted to make. But in my current state of mind, I could not pass up these Gooey Oat Bars. They are super simple, easily modified according to taste, and so good. The bottom is basically a short bread cookie, and the top is a gooey mixture of oats, butter, brown sugar, coconut, and your choice of chocolate, dried fruit, or both. Mine were all chocolate, of course! Perelman said that they are a huge hit at bake sales, and I believe it. If we ever have bake sales again, I suggest you take these! Crust Nonstick spray 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup sugar 3/4 cup plus…

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…

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…

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.┬áNow 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 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…

Cook Something: Pimiento Cheese

Ok, so since we are all cooking at home a lot, I thought I would go ahead and share some recipes. Canal House Cook Something: Recipes to Rely On by Christoper Hersheimer and Melissa Hamilton is one of those basic recipe cookbooks that are great gifts for anyone who is just starting to cook. A lot of the recipes are just variations on a simple recipe. The one I tried out, Pimiento Cheese, is about as basic as it gets. This is something my husband makes a lot, but he doesn’t really have a set recipe for it. So the other day when I was hosting my neighborhood book club (remember those days when you were allowed to have other people in your house :-)) and wanted to make something, I looked up the pimiento cheese recipe in Cook Something. My only complaint about this book was some of the recipes seemed a little old-fashioned and not really the kinds of things I’m usually cooking. My two favorite basic reference cookbooks are How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman and the always reliable Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.┬áIn fact, I need to get updated copies of both of these! Anyway,…

Everyday Italian: Beef and Cheese Manicotti
Cookbook Overviews , Recipes / February 19, 2020

I guess I have Food Network nostalgia, because here’s another TV star cookbook. Everyday Italian: 123 Simple and Delicious Recipes by Giada De Laurentis┬áis true to its name. These recipes are Italian-American dishes that are quick and easy. She’s not trying to be super authentic or artisnal in her cooking, but she is trying to create dishes that are inspired by her Italian heritage that are easy for home cooks. I think she has succeeded. Serves 6 1/2 pound ground beef or turkey 1/2 cup finely chopped onion 1 (15 ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon black pepper 3 teaspoons olive oil 12 pieces of manicotti pasta 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce 1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces (optional) Heat a medium-size skillet on medium. Add the ground beef and onion. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the parsley, garlic,…

Cinnamon Spice Cake from Simple Cake
Cookbook Overviews , Recipes / October 24, 2019

I made this cake a few weeks a go, so I wanted to get a short post out about it. The cookbook that this comes from is Simple Cake: All You Need to Keep Your Friends and Family in Cake. The concept is great; it includes ten basic cake recipes, and then variations on those basic cakes. I really want to try out all the recipes! This may be one of those cookbooks I actually purchase, which is high praise. I wanted to try the basic Cinnamon Spice Cake since I am really in to fall baking right now. To serve it to my book club, I decided to make mini bundt cakes. This Wilton Mini Fluted Tube Pan is similar to the one I use. Cinnamon Spice Cake Makes one 13 by 9-inch┬árectangular cake or about 20 mini individual bundts 2 1/4 cups organic whole-grain spelt flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 3 eggs 1/2 cup mild-flavored olive oil or canola oil 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup unsweetened applesauce 1/4 cup honey 1/2 cup whole milk 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest 1 cup light…

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