Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gooseberry Patch Review and Giveaway: Foolproof Family Recipes

Gooseberry Patch

I'm finally getting back on the blogging wagon and can't think of a better way to do so than to share a new Gooseberry Patch cookbook {and giveaway} with you. Foolproof Family Recipes is easy to get excited about because it contains some of the most original recipes that I've seen in quite a while. It was hard to decide which recipes to test because there were just so many that appealed to me.

When I look through a cookbook, I want to see recipes that are different from ones that I've seen in the past. Yes, it's nice to have a garlic cheese biscuit recipe in several different books, but I need to see recipes that make me stop and think, "Wow, that's different and I want to try it!" I found many recipes with the wow factor in Foolproof Family Recipes.

What kind of recipes appeal to me? Here are a few examples of originality:
  • Dreamy Orange Muffins which incorporate orange-flavored yogurt, orange juice, and mandarin oranges. They're topped with a glaze that is a combination of orange juice and powdered sugar. Yes, I want those on my breakfast buffet!
  • Mom's Dutch Noodles - Cooked egg noodles thrown into a skillet containing fried bacon and onions. Simple? Yes, but it's fried bacon and onions...the best combination on Earth!
  • Double Chocolate Brownies - I love making brownies from scratch so am drawn to brownie recipes. This was a simple, straight-forward recipe that called for butter-flavored shortening instead of butter. I like the option of using shortening if I'm out of butter. Plus, there were two cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips thrown in the batter for good measure...
  • Party Platter Pinwheels - No party is complete without pinwheels. I'm always on the lookout for an additional pinwheel recipe to add to my repertoire. This recipe appealed to me because it included Dijon mustard and bacon in the spread and was then topped with chopped tomatoes and shredded romaine lettuce before rolling up in the tortilla. Sounds wonderful!
Both of the recipes I chose to feature below struck a chord with me as soon as I read them. The cobbler called for a graham cracker crust and sweetened condensed milk in the filling so it was almost like an apple cheesecake instead of a cobbler. The chicken casserole contained components of one of my favorite recipes that I used to cook years ago. Sadly, I had lost that recipe somewhere alone the way and was so pleased to find this version in Foolproof Family Recipes.

I feel confident that you, too, will find plenty of new recipes to try in Foolproof Family Recipes. Think of the recipes in this cookbook as classics with a twist.

Dutch Apple Creamy Cobbler
Submitted by Laurel Perry
Loganville, GA

Dutch Apple Creamy Cobbler

1 c. graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. butter, melted
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c. lemon juice
8-oz. container sour cream
21-oz. can apple pie filling
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

In an 8"x8" baking pan, stir together cracker crumbs and melted butter with a fork. Press mixture down with fork to form a crust; set aside. In a bowl, stir together condensed milk and lemon juice; stir in sour cream. Spread condensed milk mixture over crust. Spoon pie filling over top. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Combine walnuts and spices in a small bowl; sprinkle on top. Serve warm. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

No-Peek Chicken & Rice
Submitted by Jennie Gist
Gooseberry Patch

No-Peek Chicken & Rice

10-3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
10-3/4 oz. can cream of celery soup
6-oz. pkg. long grain & wild rice mix, uncooked
1-1/4 c. water
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/8 tsp. curry powder
4 chicken breasts, or 8 chicken thighs and drumsticks
1.35-oz. pkg. onion soup mix

In a large bowl, mix soups, rice mix, seasoning packet from rice, water, parsley and curry powder. Spoon into a lightly greased 13"x9" baking pan. Remove skin from chicken, if desired. Arrange chicken on top of rice mixture; sprinkle soup mix over chicken. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 2-1/2 hours, or until rice is tender and chicken juices run clear when pierced. Serves 4.

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


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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Blog Tour and Giveaway: "It's All Greek to Me" from Debbie Matenopoulos

BenBella Books, Inc.

There is nothing that defines a culture more than its food. Not only do I enjoy reading cookbooks that center around the food culture of my area here in the American south, I also love to learn about other food cultures. Over the last few months, I've become obsessed with Mediterranean cooking. I love the simplicity of it ~ fresh, uncomplicated ingredients combining to make extraordinary flavor blends.

Of course I know how to cook. I'm Greek.
 ~ Debbie Matenopoulos
Photo courtesy of BenBella Books, Inc.

In It's All Greek to Me, Debbie Matenopoulos takes readers on a tour of Greece where we are allowed to taste the food, see the sites, and meet the locals. As Debbie shares her culinary culture with us, she educates us in the Greek philosophy of eating. Greeks emphasize using in-season, organic vegetables and fruits. These fresh vegetables make up the majority of the meal with meats serving as a smaller portion of the meal. A typical dessert in Greece consists of fresh fruits while heavier desserts are saved for special occasions and shared with family and friends. Greeks eat a larger meal around mid-day and have a lighter meal later in the evening. The light evening meal makes for easier digestion and a more restful sleep. This is a concept that I would like my family to adopt.

Cooking Greek food shouldn't be complicated or intimidating. I found many recipes in this cookbook that appealed to me and that I know I could easily recreate in my kitchen: Lemon-Olive Oil Marinated Fish Kebabs, Greek Hamburger Patties, Eggplant Dip, White Bean Puree, Yogurt Lemon Dill Sauce, Garlic Yogurt Cucumber Sauce (Tzatziki), Garlic Sauce Made with Potatoes, Bulgur Wheat Salad, Potato and Onion Salad, Greek Meatball Soup, and Baked Cod with Lemon Garlic Parsley Sauce. Many of these recipes call for several of my favorite ingredients: lemons, olive oil, and garlic.

The recipe that I chose to highlight below, Lemonati Kota sta Karvouna (Lemony Grilled Chicken)
served with Latholemono (Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing) is an example of simple ingredients creating a wonderful meal.
When I finished reading It's All Greek to Me, I felt like I had actually visited Greece without having to leave my living room. Reading through each recipe and closely studying each photograph and entry into Debbie's travelogue allowed me to see, smell, and taste another country. I thoroughly enjoyed this cookbook as it enhanced my knowledge of Mediterranean cooking and allowed me a welcome escape from the routine of my life.

Lemonati Kota sta Karvouna (Lemony Grilled Chicken)
served with Latholemono (Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing)

Lemonati Kota sta Karvouna (leh-moh-NAH-tee KOH-tah stah KAR-voo-nah)
Lemony Grilled Chicken

Excerpt: I have found that simple food with great flavor is often the most satisfying, healthy, and easy to prepare. This fast and fantastic chicken recipe is packed with flavor and can be doubled or tripled easily for a big crowd. Serve this chicken with Summer Peach Salsa for a great summer lunch or light dinner. You can make the salsa and start to marinate the chicken right before you leave for work in the morning. Then, when you come home, just toss the chicken on the grill, and you can have a healthy dinner on the table in about 20 minutes. SERVES 4

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
5 scallions, soft green parts reserved, thinly sliced
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups loosely packed mixed greens or baby spinach
1 recipe Summer Peach Salsa (page 83) or Latholemono (page 73)

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, and the white parts of the scallions. Set aside.

Rinse the chicken under cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and season on both sides with the salt and pepper. Put the chicken into a large Ziploc bag and pour in the lemon juice mixture. Squeeze out as much air as possible, seal the bag, and shake to coat chicken in the marinade. Refrigerate on a large plate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Flip the bag over at least once so that the chicken marinates evenly.

Prepare a very hot grill or set a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the grill or grill pan with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill for 4 to 6 minutes per side or until cooked through. Remove from the grill and let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

To serve, evenly distribute the greens among 4 plates. Slice the chicken breasts into 1-inch diagonal slices and fan the slices over the greens. Spoon the Summer Peach Salsa or Latholemono over the top of the chicken. Garnish with the reserved green parts of the scallions. This chicken is also delicious served with Tzatziki (page 76).

As part of the blog tour for this cookbook, the publisher has provided me with a copy of the book to give away to one of my readers. The giveaway is open to residents of the US or Canada only. Please be patient as the widget takes a few moments to load. Visit Debbie's web site, IAMDEBBIEM.com to read more about the cookbook and to visit other stops on the blog tour.

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Mediterranean Cookbook

Marie-Pierre Moine, Editor-in-Chief
DK Publishing

Are you interested in Mediterranean cooking? Would you like a comprehensive Mediterranean cookbook that covers food from every country in the region? If so, then this cookbook, Mediterranean Cookbook, is the one for you. This is a massive collection of recipes: over 300 pages of recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Greece, and Turkey.

You'll find the book divided into the following chapters:
  • Mezze, Tapas, and Antipasti
  • Soups
  • Eggs
  • Pasta, Rice, and Beans
  • Fish and Shellfish
  • Meat and Poultry
  • Pizzas, Pies, and Tarts
  • Vegetables, Herbs, and Salads
  • Breads and Bread Dishes
  • All Things Sweet
Within each chapter is recipes from the featured country. The name of the country of origin is included under the title of the recipe. In addition to the recipes, each chapter features a detailed pictorial on an ingredient that is common to the recipes in that section of the book such as olives, peppers, herbs, garlic, yogurt, vegetables, cheese, fruits, and honey. You'll also be transported to each country and given a background on the food culture and a sample menu of that specific country.

While some of the recipes have exotic names such as Shakshouka, a Middle Eastern egg dish, and Zahlouk, a North African eggplant dip, the ingredients are fairly common and easy to acquire. This cookbook may introduce you to ingredients that are unfamiliar to you or it may inspire you to use ingredients in combinations that you could never imagine.

This cookbook is more of a textbook of Mediterranean cooking. It is filled with gorgeous photographs of the recipes, ingredients, and scenic views of the Mediterranean. Summer is the perfect time to indulge in a cookbook such as this while fruits and vegetables are in season and readily available. Bring a little of the Mediterranean into your home.

Kreidis Kabobs
from the Middle East

These kabobs get their exciting red color from a mixture of cumin and paprika. The marinade for these shrimp consisted of lemon juice, crushed garlic, cumin, and Spanish paprika (pimenton), and sea salt ~ all ingredients that I already had on hand.

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: Southern Living Heirloom Recipe Cookbook

The Food We Love From the Times We Treasure
Oxmoor House

My mom wasn't one to have magazine subscriptions. So, when I was growing up, I had little access to Southern Living magazines. As a teenager, I started spending time with a great aunt who lived in Augusta, Georgia. She was a fan of Southern Living magazines and kept a basket of them by the recliner in her den. Whenever I would spend time at her house, I would settle down with one of the magazines and read it from cover to cover. I fell in love with everything about the magazine from the stories to the recipes to the photographs. As an adult, I have subscribed to the magazine throughout the years and have added numerous Southern Living cookbooks to my collection.

The Southern Living Heirloom Recipe Cookbook combines everything that I love about the magazines ~ stories, recipes, and photographs ~ into one cookbook. Reading through this cookbook filled me with nostalgia as I remembered my sweet aunt and the evenings I spent at her house reading through her magazine collection. In addition to recipes, the cookbook is filled with personal essays from well-known southern personalities, interesting food trivia, and vintage photographs from past Southern Living cookbooks and magazines. This cookbook has quickly become one of my favorites.

The recipes cover a broad spectrum of southern favorites with chapters on cocktails, breads, main dishes, side dishes, covered dishes, desserts, and preserved fruits and vegetables. Traditional recipes such as Old-Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings, Best Waldorf Salad, Southern-Style Creamed Corn, Sweet Potato Casserole, Cola Cake, and Peach Ice Cream will help you create your own Southern Living traditions no matter where you live.

To get you started on your southern culinary journey, I have chosen to feature one of my favorite recipes from the cookbook, Southern-Style Creamed Corn. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of the sweet summer corn and prepare this simple dish which is the perfect combination of sweet and savory.

Photo courtesy of Oxmoor House

Southern-Style Creamed Corn
Hands-on Time: 15 min. Total Time: 28 min.

6 ears fresh corn, husks removed
1⁄4 cup butter
1⁄2 cup half-and-half or milk
2 tsp. cornstarch
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. Cut tips of corn kernels into a large bowl; scrape milk and remaining pulp from cobs into bowl.
2. Combine corn, butter, and 1⁄4 cup water in a large skillet or saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
3. Combine half-and-half and next 3 ingredients, whisking until blended. Gradually add cream mixture to corn, stirring well. Cover and cook 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring often. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: Puree half of the corn for even creamier results.

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

Review: Southern Living's "Scooped"

Southern Living's Scooped:
Ice Cream Treats, Cheats, and Frozen Eats
Oxmoor House

Summer after summer, I agonized over the question of whether or not I should purchase an ice cream maker. Did we eat enough ice cream to justify the cost? Would I use it often enough to justify the cost? Would I even be able to make decent ice cream with it? Each summer slipped past me as I deferred the purchase to future summers. Well, last summer, I broke down and purchased an electric ice cream maker and, while I haven't used it as much as I would like to, I have thoroughly enjoyed using it and am pleased that I splurged on it. I'm like a child with it - I love to watch the ice cream form around the frozen, spinning barrel. It's hypnotizing... 

I was so excited when Oxmoor House offered me the opportunity to work with one of their newest ice cream cookbooks, Southern Living Ice Cream Treats, Cheats and Frozen Eats. Let me ease the minds of all of you out there who do not own an ice cream maker. No, you do not have to own an ice cream maker to get good use out of this cookbook. In fact, the majority of recipes in this book call for store-bought ice cream. The theme of this book is how to easily turn ordinary ice cream into extraordinary desserts.

In Scooped, you'll learn how to set up your own ice cream bash. You'll also find dozens of fun and creative ways to make your own ice cream bonbons, sandwiches, bar desserts, pies, cupcakes, cake rolls, shakes and floats. These no-bake desserts can be quickly assembled and placed in the freezer to await their unveiling ~ so little work for such a big impact on your guests. The photographs that accompany these recipes will make your mouth water. The chapter on ice cream pies alone is worth the price of the book: Caramel Cone Ice Cream Pie, Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Pie and Key Lime Ice Cream Pie sound like the perfect desserts for a summer gathering.

Let's say you do have an ice cream maker and would like to try your hand at some of the homemade stuff. Yes, there is a chapter on homemade ice cream. I made the Dulce de Leche Ice Cream that is featured in the recipe below. It was absolutely incredible and tasted like my favorite store bought frozen delicacy, salted caramel gelato. I was so impressed with this ice cream and could barely believe that I had made it myself with just a few simple ingredients.

The chapter on homemade ice cream features the basic flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, but there are so many tempting and unique recipes that I am excited to try out this summer: Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream is at the very top of my list followed closely by Birthday Cake Ice Cream. My family would also love to sample Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream and Chocolate Milk and Cookies Ice Cream.

The final chapter of this cookbook features extras such as sauces, toppings, cookies, and crusts. I wonder how Caramel Sauce would taste drizzled over the Dulce de Leche Ice Cream - possible caramel heaven! This is a such a fun cookbook to have in your collection. If you are an ice cream lover, you'll love this book!

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
makes about 1½ quarts
hands-on time 14 min.
total time 8 hours, 52 min., not including freezing

2 cups whipping cream
1 cup milk
3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄8 tsp. table salt
1 (14-oz.) can dulce de leche
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 14 minutes or until dulce de leche is melted. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cool completely
(about 1 hour), stirring occasionally.
2. Place plastic wrap directly onto warm custard (to prevent a film from forming), and chill 8 to 24 hours.
3. Pour mixture into freezer container of a 1  1⁄2-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Instructions and times may vary.) Freeze in an airtight container
at least 4 hours before serving.

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