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. In 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 is 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 rectangular 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…

The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook: 75 Easy Recipes for Light Meals to Make in Your Electric Pressure Cooker
Cookbook Overviews / September 17, 2019

Thanks to Amazon Prime day, I finally got an Instant Pot. So far I mainly use it for cooking rice and making hard boiled eggs. I have to say it may be worth it just for the eggs! Oh, and I made some really delicious pork chops. The only thing I don’t like about the Instant Pot is the directions. It took some You Tube videos for me to really understand how it works. Now that I’m getting the hang of it, I am looking forward to trying some new and exciting recipes! I picked up The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook at the library. This cookbook does have some simple instructions for how the Instant Pot works, and some great tips, like don’t place your pot underneath your kitchen cabinets, unless you need to steam off a sticker or something! I really think you can just read the beginning of this cookbook and skip the manufacturer’s directions. Another nice thing about this cookbook is the focus on healthy foods. There are a lot of veggies in these recipes! I will be back later in the week with one of the recipes I tried out. In the meantime, I…

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day
Cookbook Overviews , Cookbook Reviews / August 23, 2019

Many of my friends and family have heard me complain about how hard it is to feed two teenage boys without going broke. Recently I found a couple of good sources for inexpensive recipes. I have been regularly using budget meal plans from the Budget Meal Planner. You can sign up for a free weekly email plan that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas for $5 per person per day. I especially love this because it plans out the meals for the week and provides a grocery list. The recipes are pretty simple and usually quite good. In addition, I tried out Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. This cookbook by Leanne Brown includes lots of inexpensive recipes with estimated costs for serving. For example, you could make Pasta with Eggplant and Tomato, which my son made and was quite yummy, for $2.50 per serving or Broccoli, Egg, and Cheddar Empanadas for $.60 per serving. Brown says the she picked $4 a day because that is about how much money you would have per person, per day if you were on SNAP, also know as food stamps. I really admire her work on creating these recipes because it…

Buddha Bowls: 100 Nourishing One-Bowl Meals

I don’t know when we started to eat food (that’s not soup) out of bowls. Did this all start with Chipotle? No matter how it started, I am a big fan. Currently, I have been making my lunches by combining rice and a couple of store bought items (right now I’m liking Panera Black Bean Soup and ready-made guacamole). It’s not super difficult to come up with bowl ideas, but if you want some inspiration you should check out The Lazy Genius. She has a blog post and a podcast with lots of info on this topic. When I saw Buddha Bowls: 100 Nourishing One-Bowl Meals at the library, I immediately picked it up to get some more bowl ideas. As I read through this book, I saw so many recipes I wanted to try, especially all the great sauce recipes. Sauces are very important for making tasty bowls! Some of the recipes seem a little complicated since a big part of the appeal of a meal in a bowl is that it will be easy to make. But I did try out one of the simple breakfast recipes, and I will share it on the blog later this week.

From Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogg’s Kitchen

Ok, stay with me on this one, because this cookbook is a lot of fun! If you are a huge Martha Stewart fan, like me, then you know all about Snoop Dogg’s domestic skills. Snoop Dogg, a rapper and television personality, was a guest on The Martha Stewart Show (oh, how I miss that show!) a couple of times. I guess they really hit it off in real life, and later they did a show together for VH1, called Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner. That show is hilarious, and while watching it, I even learned a new technique for making bacon from Snoop. Who knew? So when I saw that Snoop Dogg had a cookbook out, I knew that Martha Stewart was probably a big influence. And sure enough, she wrote the forward to the book. From Crook to Cook is a lot of fun just to read, but it’s not exactly PG. There are quite a few references to marijuana, but it’s all said in a joking manner. It’s a pretty basic cookbook, with some soul food influence. So if you’re a food snob, this will not be the cookbook for you. I had a lot of fun with…

Damn Delicious Meal Prep: 115 Easy Recipes for Low-Calorie, High-Energy Living

I am super excited about Damn Delicious Meal Prep! I am always trying to eat healthier and trying to plan ahead. This cookbook helps with both goals. I already reviewed Chungah Ree’s first cookbook, Damn Delicious: 100 Super Easy, Super Fast Recipes. In case you missed that one, Damn Delicious is a blog written by Chungah Rhee. Her recipes are simple but flavorful and include a nice mix of traditional American with Asian and Mexican inspired dishes. Just the type of food my family loves! So when I saw that she was putting out a meal prep cookbook, I was psyched! If you don’t know what meal prep is, it just means prepping meals ahead of time. Some people have elaborate meal prep systems which involve picking one day a week (usually Sunday) to cook and prep as much food as possible for the week to come. I actually did a meal prep system (where I paid for recipes and prep instructions) for awhile, and there were a lot of things I liked about it. I did enjoy spending most of Sunday cooking; that’s relaxing for me. And I loved not having a lot to do when I got home…

So Good: 100 Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours

I picked up So Good: 100 Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours at the library and knew that the guy on the cover looked familiar. Then I read the first page and found out the book is written by Richard Blais, a contestant on Top Chef. I haven’t watched it in years, but I used to love Top Chef; and I had a vague memory of this really arrogant Richard guy. Anyway, I started to look through this cookbook, and I would say that my first impression of a pretty arrogant chef was correct. Blais introduces this cookbook by saying that these are the types of things he cooks for his family, and the recipes don’t include all the experimental techniques that he showcased on Top Chef or in his restaurants. But as I was looking through the recipes, I was not finding a lot that didn’t have unusual ingredients or techniques. My son picked up the book and asked for me make the fried chicken recipe. I have never fried a chicken in my life, but I thought I would give it a try. Unfortunately, this is a pretty time-consuming recipe, and I just haven’t had a chance to try it…

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