Sunday, October 19, 2014

Review: The Kitchn Cookbook

The Kitchn Cookbook
By Sara Kate Gillingham & Faith Durand
Clarkson Potter Publishers

The Kitchn Cookbook is more of a culinary textbook rather than a cookbook. In addition to recipes which cover breakfast, appetizers, drinks, main dishes, sides & salads, and desserts, the book is rich with information on how to set up, stock up, and maintain your kitchen. This book is perfect for beginning and expert cooks. Even if you've been in your current kitchen for a couple of decades, you will still be able to find inspiration in this book.

Part I of the book includes three chapters on setting up the kitchen, focusing on kitchen tools, and caring for your kitchen. Advice is given on working in any kind of kitchen from extra-small, rental kitchen, one-drawer kitchen to the too-large kitchen. As someone who cooks in a small kitchen, I can't even imagine having a kitchen that is too large. The book is filled with gorgeous photos of kitchen gadgets and layouts. Yes, I love looking at photos of kitchens. The book also invites us into the personal kitchens of various chefs, artists, and designers. 

Part II offers suggestions on stocking the pantry, planning meals, and mastering essential skills in the kitchen. The section of the book contains the recipes. Everything in the book leads to the final chapter, gathering, which incorporates everything you've learned into creating a welcoming and stress-free event for family and friends. 

The Kitchn Cookbook is a wonderful addition to my cookbook collection. It is so dense and rich with information on every aspect of cooking that I'm sure that I'll find something new every time I open its cover. I can't wait to explore it in more depth. 

For more information on the book and authors as well as a sneak peek inside, visit the Random House website here:

Disclaimer: Blogging for Books provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Hamilton Beach's Set 'n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid

Hamilton Beach's Set 'n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid

Until I received the Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid, I had never owned a programmable slow cooker. My other slow cookers have basic settings- low, high, and keep warm. So, despite the fact that slow cookers are designed to be a worry-free cooking method, I didn't feel like I could throw ingredients into the slow cooker and let them cook for the nine-plus hours that I am away from home because of the possibility of overcooking my food.

With the Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid, I have numerous cooking options: first, we have the manual option that I'm used to, next is the programmable option which cooks to a certain point and then automatically switches over to the keep warm mode, and, finally, the probe option for large pieces of meat. Before cooking, insert the probe into the meat and set the desired internal temperature. When the temperature is reached, the slow cooker will move into the keep warm mode so you don't overcook your meat. This is perfect for people like me who are away from home for long periods of time. I once came home from work to find a hockey puck instead of a roast in my slow cooker. Overcooking won't be a problem now.


I've owned several Hamilton Beach slow cookers in the past but this is the only one in my collection that includes a latch and spoon. I'm always hesitant about carrying a slow cooker of food to events because of the threat of it spilling in my car. One of my co-workers had the misfortune of having her slow cooker spill chili all over the front floorboard of her car as she was making her way to one of our work events. Those accidents won't happen with these latches.

To test this slow cooker, I wanted to try something a little outside of the norm of slow cooker meals by testing a bread recipe. First, I lined the slow cooker with parchment paper that was then sprayed with cooking spray. I added ten frozen yeast rolls and programmed the slow cooker on low. The rolls needed to thaw and rise for 1-1/4 hours.

At the end of the rising period, the rolls were fully risen and ready to be baked in the slow cooker. I set the slow cooker to the high setting for another hour and 15 minutes.

At the end of the cooking period, you can see that the rolls had browned around the edges while the tops were still pale. As a person who always burns the bottom of my bread, I was happy to see that the bottom of these rolls were not burned but a nice, golden brown. The rolls were fully cooked at this point, but I chose to brown them in the oven. I picked up the rolls using the parchment paper and put them on a baking sheet. I spread on a little butter and put them under the broiler of my stove for a minute or so to brown the tops.

I was so pleased with the results of "baking" my rolls in the slow cooker. It will definitely be my go-to method for baking bread as it frees up the oven for other dishes especially on busy cooking days over the upcoming holidays. I'm looking forward to many more delicious experiments with my Set 'n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid.

Fresh-Baked Dinner Rolls
from Gooseberry Patch's Slow-Cooker Christmas Favorites

8 to 10 frozen dinner rolls
Garnish: softened butter

Line the bottom of a large slow cooker with a circle of parchment paper. Lightly spray with non-stick vegetable spray. Arrange frozen rolls in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low setting for about 1-1/4 hours, until rolls have thawed and risen. Turn slow cooker to high setting. Cover and cook for 1-1/4 hours, until set. For a more golden finish, remove rolls to a baking sheet; broil for 90 seconds, or until golden. Makes 8 to 10 rolls.



Would you like to have a Hamilton Beach's Set 'n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid of your very own? You're in luck because Hamilton Beach has generously offered to let me host a giveaway for one of my lucky readers. Enter in the widget below. Please give it a few moments to load. Deadline: November 11, 2014.

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Disclaimer: I received this product for review through the Hamilton Beach Ambassador Program. However, the opinion expressed here is my own.

Gooseberry Patch Review and Giveaway: Slow-Cooker Christmas Favorites

Gooseberry Patch

Cooler weather is on its way. In fact, it has already arrived in many parts of the country. With the weather cooling down and the holidays on the way, now is the perfect time to pull out a slow-cooker (or two) and try out some new recipes along with your old family favorites. Gooseberry Patch wants to help you to discover those new recipes in this year's holiday cookbook, Slow-Cooker Christmas Favorites.

~Table of Contents~
  • The Magic of Christmas ~ Sweet & heartwarming memories
  • Brunch Open House ~ Hearty breakfast & brunch dishes
  • Festive Fuss-Free Party Food ~ Appetizers, sandwiches & beverages to share
  • Come In & Warm Up! ~ Satisfying soups, stews & breads
  • A Cozy Christmas Dinner ~ Best mains & sides for the season
  • Sweet Endings ~ Warm, scrumptious desserts
There were several recipes for side dishes that I was attracted to and am going to try out for Thanksgiving dinner, including the rolls I've featured here. Recipes such as Cornbread Dressing, Old-Fashioned Scalloped Corn, and Grandma's Cranberry Sauce should have my kitchen smelling like the holidays. Fortunately, I have more than one slow-cooker to put into action. Using the slow-cooker for my side dishes will free up space in the oven for the turkey, casseroles, and pies. 

When I was trying to decide which recipe to test out for the review, I wanted to do something a little out of the norm from your typical slow-cooker recipe. When I saw this simple "recipe" for Fresh-Baked Dinner Rolls, I knew that this would be the one for me. I would consider it more of a process than a recipe. I followed the directions precisely and the rolls turned out exactly as they should. Working with yeast rolls/breaks is not my speciality so I loved this easy method of making rolls. You definitely need to give this one a try!

Fresh-Baked Dinner Rolls
Submitted by Virginia Watson
Scranton, PA

Fresh-Baked Dinner Rolls
8 to 10 frozen dinner rolls
Garnish: softened butter

Line the bottom of a large slow cooker with a circle of parchment paper. Lightly spray with non-stick vegetable spray. Arrange frozen rolls in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low setting for about 1-1/4 hours, until rolls have thawed and risen. Turn slow cooker to high setting. Cover and cook for 1-1/4 hours, until set. For a more golden finish, remove rolls to a baking sheet; broil for 90 seconds, or until golden. Makes 8 to 10 rolls.


Gooseberry Patch has generously provided me with a copy of Slow-Cooker Christmas Favorites to give away to one of my lucky readers. Enter at the widget below. Please be patient as it may take a few moments to load. Deadline: November 9, 2014.

Disclaimer: Gooseberry Patch provided me with a review copy of the cookbook; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cookbook Review: The SkinnyTaste Cookbook

by Gina Homolka with Heather K. Jones, R.D.
Published by Random House

Confession: I sometimes turned up my nose at "light" cookbooks because I didn't think that I could identify with the recipes. However, when I received a review copy of The SkinnyTaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka, I was immediately impressed by everything this cookbook had to offer. I quickly realized that these recipes and cooking methods were much more closely related to the way that I prefer to cook such as using olive oil instead of butter. Since I don't eat cheese and very little dairy products, I always found myself  trying to remove these ingredients from recipes. It is wonderful to find a cookbook that has recipes that aren't drowning in cheese and cream sauces.

Whenever I pick up a new cookbook, I like to mark the pages that contain recipes that I want to try. There have been many times when I've gotten to the end of the cookbook and haven't marked one single page. That definitely wasn't the case with this cookbook. Every time I go through this book, I am more and more impressed with the recipes. There are just so many of them that excite me.

  • Pumpkin-Obsessed Vanilla-Glazed Scones
  • Summer Lobster Rolls
  • Loaded "Nacho" Potato Skins
  • Petite Baked Crab Cakes
  • Bangin' Good Shrimp
  • Buttermilk Oven "Fried" Chicken
  • Naked Persian Turkey Burgers
  • Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken
I could go on and on about these recipes. I am not exaggerating when I say how appealing these recipes are. The salad chapter in most cookbook is usually the chapter that I skim through with little enthusiasm. Why would I be interested in a salad? But, I've found myself drawn to Coconut Chicken Salad with Warm Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette, Buffalo Chicken Salad, and Turkey Santa Fe Taco Salad with Avocado Crema. I'm actually looking forward to making a salad now. I never thought I would say that...ever!

This cookbook contains recipes for breakfast, soups & chilis, sandwiches, appetizers, salads, main dishes (poultry, lean meat, fish, meatless), side dishes, and desserts. Icons throughout the book tell you whether the recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, quick, freezer-friendly, or slow cooker-appropriate. Each recipe also contains nutritional information.

The SkinnyTaste Cookbook is one of my favorite cookbooks of 2014 and I think it will be one of yours, too. Buy it - you won't be disappointed!

Author Information: (from Random House)

GINA HOMOLKA is the founder of, the award-winning blog that's been featured on Fitness, Better Homes and Gardens,, and, among other media outlets. She lives on Long Island with her husband and their two children.

HEATHER K. JONES, R.D. is a registered dietitian, the author of several nutrition books, and the founder of, a weight loss resource that focuses on healing and hope instead of diets and deprivation. 

Disclaimer: A review copy of this cookbook was provided to me through Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cookbook Review: Mason Jar Salads

by Julia Mirabella
Ulysses Press

Food is art! If you don't believe that then just pick up a copy of Mason Jar Salads and More by Julia Mirabella and you'll become a believer. Just look at the book's cover. Aren't those jars filled with layered salads absolutely gorgeous? How jealous would your co-workers be if you pulled a Mason jar-filled salad out of the refrigerator for lunch? I would probably have a couple of people circling my desk...

This cookbook begins with the author introducing the idea of Mason jar meals and the benefits to preparing your meals in these iconic jars. These benefits include portion control, saving time and money, easy cleanup, and, most importantly, the safety that glass provides such as being easily sterilized in the dishwasher and not transferring toxins into your food. The top of the Mason jar also provides an airtight seal to prevent spillage. The author also demonstrates how to assemble the salads in the jars beginning with the dressing, adding ingredients that won't soak up the dressing, and finishing with salad greens.


Recipes are not limited to salads although you will find over two dozen salad recipes. The book is divided into five categories of recipes:

  • Breakfasts: featuring smoothies and oatmeal recipes
  • Salads: from classics such as Caesar Salad, Fruit Salad, and Cobb Salad to modern combinations such as Corn and Blueberry Salad and Pomegranate and Pear Salad
  • More Lunch Ideas: pasta salads, chicken salads, potato salads, vegetable side dishes, rice dishes, and soups
  • Snacks and Dips: salsas, guacamole, and hummus
  • Salad Dressings: featuring ten different vinaigrette recipes


Mason Jar Salads and More opened my mind to the beauty and possibility of serving food in jars. I have several cases of Mason jars that I have only recently started using in my every day prepping and cooking. They're perfect for mixing up dressing and sauces. This cookbook will inspire anyone to pull out those jars and start layering tomorrow's breakfast, lunch, or snacks. The full-color photos are a feast for the eyes. See my favorite salad from the book, the Southwestern Salad, in the photo below. I want to eat it right now.

Photo courtesy of Ulysses Press

Southwestern Salad

Colorful with lots of protein and antioxidants, this hearty salad will keep you satisfied until dinnertime. You can step it up a notch with a little hot sauce in your salad dressing if you want to make things interesting.

Makes 1 serving

3 tablespoons Lime Vinaigrette
1⁄2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1⁄2 red vine-ripened tomato, diced
1⁄4 red bell pepper, diced
1⁄4 yellow bell pepper, diced
1⁄2 cup diced avocado (optional)
1⁄2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 cups mixed salad greens
1 ounce Cheddar cheese, grated
1 quart-size Mason jar

Start by pouring the vinaigrette dressing into the Mason jar. Then layer in the black beans, tomato, bell peppers, avocado, and corn. Finish with the salad greens and, finally, the Cheddar cheese. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use.

Lime Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
dash of hot sauce (optional)
3 tablespoons olive oil

Whisk together the lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, and hot sauce (if using). Slowly add the olive oil, whisking, until the dressing thickens.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a review copy of the cookbook; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.