Monday, March 9, 2015

Gooseberry Patch Review and Giveaway: Mom Knows Best

It's always an exciting time when Gooseberry Patch releases a new cookbook. The first spiral-bound cookbook from Gooseberry Patch for 2015 is the Mom Knows Best Cookbook and it is filled with everything you've come to know and love from Gooseberry Patch. The recipes are simple and comforting and are created with easily accessible ingredients, the one thing I look for when choosing recipes to try. As you can see from these chapters, there are plenty of recipes to cover your cooking style.

  • Grab & Go Breakfasts
  • Brown-Bagging It
  • Healthy Bites for Snacking
  • Dinners for the Daily Dash
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Sweet Treats
It was refreshing to see so many recipes for wraps, roll-ups, sandwiches, and salads - perfect for those of us who carry a lunch every day and need ideas to break the monotony. The comforting dishes are the ones that I associate more closely with Gooseberry Patch and you'll find plenty of those here, too - casseroles, soups, and stews abound in Mom Knows Best.

The recipe I chose to feature here, Balsamic Chicken & Penne, appealed to me because I love the flavor of balsamic vinegar plus my favorite vegetable is asparagus. All of the flavors combined well and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this dish.

Balsamic Chicken & Penne
Submitted by Mary Nehring
Belmont, NC

Balsamic Chicken & Penne

1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 T. country Dijon mustard
2 T. sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper, or to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8-oz. pkg. whole-wheat penne pasta, uncooked
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, chopped and steamed
Optional: shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large plastic zipping bag, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, sugar, garlic and seasonings. Squeeze bag to mix well. Add chicken to bag; turn to coat. Seal bag and refrigerate at least 4 hours to overnight, turning bag occasionally. When read to prepare chicken, drain marinade into a saucepan; heat to boiling for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Broil chicken until chicken juices run clear, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. To serve, combine chicken, marinade, asparagus and pasta. Toss to coat. Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

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


Gooseberry Patch has provided me with a copy of this cookbook to give away to one of my readers. Please enter to win with the widget provided. Be patient. It may take a few seconds to load. Deadline for entering is March 28, 2015. Thanks! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cookbook Review: Lighten up, Y'all

Ten Speed Press

I'm always drawn to cookbooks that feature southern cuisine. It's the food that I'm familiar with, the food that makes me comfortable. I've been following Virginia Willis for quite a while on Facebook and Twitter and am happy to see that she has released a new cookbook.

In Lighten up, Y'all, the author introduces herself to readers by sharing her weight struggles and explaining the misconceptions that some people may have about southern foods being unhealthy. She then sets out to lighten up classic southern recipes with the goal of keeping the delicious flavors of the dishes intact. Recipes are divided into ten chapters:
  • Starters and Nibbles
  • Salads and Slaws
  • From the Garden
  • Grains, Grits, and Other Starchy Goodness
  • Seafood and Shellfish
  • Poultry
  • Pork, Beef, and Lamb
  • Soups and Stews
  • Biscuits, Bread, and Baked Goods
  • Sweet Indulgences
With easy substitutions of ingredients such as light mayonnaise, cheese, and Greek yogurt, the fat is reduced in classic dishes such as Sinless Seven-Layer Dip, Hot Mess Spinach and Feta Dip, and Lightened-Up Pimento Cheese. Vegetables and main dishes that are traditionally fried are prepared with a small amount of oil in a skillet or are baked in the oven. This cookbook proves that small changes can have a positive impact on your health without sacrificing flavor.

This cookbook is perfect for fans of southern cuisine as well as those readers who are trying to lightened up their cooking style.

From the Random House web site:

Virginia Willis is the author of Bon App├ętit, Y’all, which was nominated for the IACP Best American Cookbook award and voted the Comfort Food Book of the Year by the Chicago Tribune. She has been featured in Cooking with Paula DeenHouse BeautifulWashington PostHouston Chronicle, and San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. Willis has appeared on Real Simple TelevisionMartha Stewart LivingPaula Deen’s Best Dishes, and numerous local television shows across the country.

A graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine and Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne, Willis has served as a television producer for Turner South and Shirley Corriher, was the kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living Television, and the executive producer of The Discovery Channel’s Epicurious. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more at

For more information on this cookbook, please visit

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden
by Karen Newcomb

Over the past year, I have increasingly become more and more interested in gardening. My husband plants a few things every spring, but I haven't always shown an interest in it. Last spring, I named our backyard the Edible Acre and designated one area an orchard and another area the berry patch. I've already started making plans for this year's garden.

I was excited to see that The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden was available on Blogging for Books. This is a pure gardening books. You won't find any recipes in here; however, you will find numerous ideas on how to turn any small space into a productive garden. I enjoyed looking through the postage stamp garden plans. It was fun to imagine these small gardens growing in my back yard. 

In addition to garden layout ideas, the book also includes advice on how to plant, water, and maintain your vegetables. You'll also learn which plants work well together in beds. Finally, you'll learn how to control pests and diseases. 

I'm looking forward to utilizing the plans in this book to create my own postage stamp vegetable gardens. I'm already envisioning these full yet condensed garden boxes scattered throughout my back yard. This is the perfect book to begin a collection of books in my newest area of interest - gardening.

For more information on this book, visit the Random House website.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cookbook Review: Supermarket Healthy

Supermarket Healthy
by Melissa D'Arabian
Clarkson Potter

Supermarket Healthy is a cookbook geared towards faithful fans of Melissa D'Arabian's cooking show on the Food Network. I found most of the recipes to be a departure from her the simple, $10 meal recipes that she features on the show. It is a dense volume of recipes that cover 11 chapters: breakfast, snacks, soups/stews, salads/wraps/sandwiches, veggie mains, pasta, fish/seafood, chicken/turkey, beef/pork/lamb, sides, and dessert. Each recipe features healthier alternatives for certain ingredients such as coconut or soy milk, low-sodium broths, quinoa and brown rice.
When I read the title of this cookbook, I assumed that the recipes would be highly approachable for the average home cook. However, my initial impression as I thumbed through the pages was that most of the recipes did not appeal to me as either a cook or an eater. Almost every recipe had a little twist to it (ingredient-wise) that made me shake my head and move on to the next page where the sentiment was repeated. Again, if you're a fan of Melissa's show or Food Network in general, you'll want to add this to your collection. If you're just a home cook looking for new, simple recipes that have easily attainable and affordable ingredients from your local grocery store, you may want to do a little more research before you decide that this is the cookbook for you.

Author Bio: (from the Random House website)

Melissa d'Arabian was a corporate finance executive before becoming the host of Food Network's Ten Dollar Dinners and Cooking Channel's Drop 5 Lbs with Good Housekeeping. She also developed the seriesThe Picky Eaters Project, serves as lead judge on Guy's Grocery Games, and is the author of the New York Times bestselling cookbook Ten Dollar Dinners. Melissa has an MBA from Georgetown University, and lives with her husband and their four daughters in San Diego.

For more information on this cookbook, visit the Random House website.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Cookbook Review: The Recipe Hacker

The Recipe Hacker: 
Comfort foods without gluten, dairy, soy, grain or cane sugar
by Diana Keuilian
Front Table Books

Diana Keuilian writes the blog, With this cookbook, she sets out to share her healthy take on classic, comfort food by recreating the recipes into healthier versions that are free of gluten, dairy, soy, grain or cane sugar. 

In the opening of the book, she explains that when you eliminate these ingredients from your recipes, you must fill in the gaps with healthier alternatives. Her favorite substitutions are flax meal, coconut flour, blanched almond flour, almond meal, coconut palm sugar, pure maple syrup, raw honey, coconut milk, and coconut oil.

This cookbook has five chapters which cover every meal of the day:
  • Breakfasts - Recipes for pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods along with hot cereal and egg recipes. Since I enjoy making homemade sausage patties, my favorite recipe in this chapter was Roasted Pepper Sausage
  • Appetizers - Vegetables appetizers, meatballs, pulled pork sliders, and dips
  • Main Dishes - Several pizza recipes featuring homemade pizza crust, numerous fish, chicken, beef, and pork recipes
  • Sides - A recipe for cauliflower rice that is featured in different "rice" dishes, numerous recipes for breads including tortillas, cornbread, flatbreads and biscuits just to name a few, vegetable dishes, and sauces
  • Desserts - The final chapter covers all of your favorite desserts - cakes, pies, cookies, and brownies
If you have decided to eliminate ingredients such as gluten, dairy, soy, grain or cane sugar from your life, you may want to investigate this cookbook to get ideas of foods you can continue to enjoy with just a few substitutions of ingredients.

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