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: Gnocchi
Recipes / March 25, 2020

OK, today I’m trying something new. I call it Anatomy of a Failed Recipe. I think it’s good to admit that not every recipe we try is going to work out great, even if we have been cooking for a long time. It might be the recipe isn’t great. It might be that you are trying a new technique. It might be that you substituted ingredients that did not work out. And it might be that you didn’t have much patience, so you tried skipping a step or simplifying the recipe. The reason that this recipe didn’t work out is probably a combination of all the above. So my youngest son Logan loves gnocchi. When I saw a recipe (that looked pretty simple) for homemade gnocchi in the Cook Something cookbook, I thought this would be a good project for Logan and I to work on together. It did turn out to be fun, and it was probably a good first step on the way to successfully making gnocchi. Unfortunately, the final dish wasn’t a huge success. My husband and I still ate it, but Logan didn’t (my older son is not a fan, although he was a sport and…

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,…

Smothered Pork Chops from Emeril’s Potluck
Recipes / February 13, 2020

Whatever happened to Emeril? I remember when he was super popular on the Food Network, and I was a big fan. I lived in Louisiana for a little bit, and I learned to love Cajun food. It’s become a lot easier to get pretty decent Cajun food in the Midwest, but it’s still fun to try some of these dishes at home. I have several Emeril cookbooks, and they are all good. But Emeril’s Potluck: Comfort Food with a Kicked-Up Attitude is the one I use the most. (Warning: There no photos. Just some illustrations.) His recipes are not always super simple, but they are definitely doable for a home cook. These melt-in-your-mouth pork chops, which take a little time, are a great Sunday dinner option. They are quite popular in my house!   Smothered Pork Chops Makes 4 to 8 servings 8 to 6 thinly pork chops 2 teaspoons Emeril’s Original Essence* 1/2 cup olive oil 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 4 cups thinly sliced onions 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon chopped garlic 3 1/2 cups chicken stock 2 cups water 1 pound smoked sausage or andouille, cut into 1-inch slices 1 pound russet…

The Fresh and Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook: Korean Chicken Bowls
Recipes / February 11, 2020

It’s a new year, and I should be posting about a new cookbook. But right now I have been pretty stuck on The Fresh and Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook. I even bought my own copy, which is rare. I already posted the Crunchy Lentil Salad, which I’ve been making a lot. The recipes in this book are simple, healthy, and tasty! So if you have an Instant Pot, I highly recommend you get a hold of this book. Korean Chicken Bowls Serves 4 1/2 cup soy sauce of tamari 5 tablespoons maple syrup 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 1 tablespoon Sriracha 1 clove garlic 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 cup white rice 1 cup water, plus 2 tablespoons 1 red bell pepper 1/2 red onion 1 cup fresh baby spinach 1 tablespoon arrowroot or corn starch 1/2 cup chopped green onion Sesame seeds, for garnish Add soy sauce, maple syrup, ginger, Sriracha, and garlic to the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Place chicken on top of the sauce in a single layer. To cook the rice at the same time, position the Instant Pot trivet over chicken breasts and place a 7-inch oven-safe bowl on top. Add…

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…

Crunchy Lentil Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette
Recipes / September 19, 2019

Serves 6 1 1/2 cup lentils 2 cups water 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 1/2 teaspoons salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard 1 tablespoon maple syrup 1 clove garlic, minced 1/4 cup minced shallots 1 English cucumber (about 2 cups, diced) 1 red bell pepper 1/2 cup parsley 3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries 3/4 cup sliced almonds (optional) Combine the lentils and water in the Instant Pot and secure the lid, moving the steam release valve to Sealing. Select Manual/Pressure Cook to cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes to fully cook the lentils. While the lentils are cooking, stir together the vinegar, olive oil, salt, several grinds of pepper, the mustard, maple syrup, garlic, and shallots in a large bowl to make a dressing. Dice the cucumber and add it to the bowl of dressing to a marinate. Seed and dice the red bell pepper and add it and the parsley to the bowl of dressing to marinate. After 10 minutes have passed, move the steam release valve to Venting to let out remaining…

Crispy Chickpeas and Pumpkin Seeds
Recipes / August 29, 2019

Serves 2 1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, drained 1/2 cup pumpkin or winter squash seeds 1 teaspoon butter, melted 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons any combination of ground spices* Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, better, salt, and spices in a bowl. Mix to coat every chickpea and seed with the spices. Spread the chickpeas and pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the chickpeas and seeds with a spatula. Put the baking sheet back in the oven until everything is crusty and golden, about 10 more minutes. Let the chickpeas and seeds cool for 10 minutes. Scoop into a bowl and serve. My notes: This is the perfect snack: inexpensive, healthy, and tasty. Also, it’s so easy to make that my 13 year old made them himself. *One suggested spice blend is a half teaspoon each of coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne pepper. We used a Penzeys spice blend. Adapted from Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown

Mack and Cheese
Recipes / June 1, 2019

Serves 4 to 6 2 tsp salt 1 pound elbow macaroni 2 cups whole milk 1 cup heavy cream 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 5 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese 2/3 cup sour cream 1 teaspoon black pepper 2 teaspoons dry mustard 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with a rack in the middle position. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch backing dish and set aside. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the package instructions. Drain and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and cream, being careful not to boil. While the milk heats, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly for 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warmed milk. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking frequently, or until thickened and smooth. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, whisking until fully incorporated and smooth. Add the sour cream and whisk until smooth. Add the pepper, dry mustard, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with…

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