Friday, September 11, 2015

Blog Tour: "Festive Feasts" by Jeni Potter Scott

When I read that there was going to be a blog tour for this cookbook, I jumped at the chance to participate. This book had been on my wish list for quite a while since I love cookbooks that focus on holiday menus. I'm happy to say that this book really lived up to my expectations.

The book contains recipes that cover the entire holiday season: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each holiday is divided into several sections:
  • Halloween: Haunting Treats, Festive Party Starters, and Bewitching Main Dishes
  • Thanksgiving: Bountiful Starters, Entrees Fit for the Pilgrims, Rapturous Sides & Salads, Sweet Endings, and Thanksgiving Leftovers
  • Christmas: Blitzen Breakfast and Brunch, Angelic Starters, Divine Entrees, Festive Sides, and Gifts from the Kitchen
The Halloween section contained many recipes that will delight children from the Chocolate Spider Cake, Witch's Finger Sugar Cookies to the Super Easy Owl Cupcakes and Mummy Dogs, among many others. I was particularly impressed with the pumpkin cheese ball that used a broccoli stalk as the pumpkin stem. Cool idea!

The Thanksgiving section covers classic recipes along with many new recipes that you can add to your current traditional dishes. I especially loved the recipe for the Festive Pumpkin-Shaped Rolls. I'm going to start practicing now so that I'll have these perfected before the big day. This section also contained my favorite dessert in the whole book, Disney's Caramel Apple Pie (Copycat). Any pie that starts with a sugar cookie dough crust that is filled with apples, caramel, and a crumb topping is going to rank high in my book.

It was refreshing to find the brunch recipes in the Christmas section of the book. Every year, I have this romantic idea that I'm going to prepare an elaborate brunch for Christmas morning. As of now, that dream has not become a reality; however, with recipes such as Overnight Blueberry French Toast and Lemon Blueberry Bread, the dream lives on again this year. We'll see.

If you're a holiday cookbook fanatic like me, you'll absolutely love having this cookbook in your collection. I suggest that you go ahead and buy it now so that you can start using these recipes just in time for Halloween.

Festive-Feasts-blog-tour-bannerDisclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cookbook Review: Treat

Treat by Stephanie Banyas

Treat is not only the name of the new cookbook by Stephanie Banyas, it's also the word I use to describe this sweet little book. This cookbook offers modern updates on that childhood classic, the rice cereal and marshmallow treat. 

If you're feeling ambitious, you can make your own marshmallows. The first chapter of the book has recipes for homemade vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, and cream cheese marshmallows. While the treat recipes do incorporate the homemade marshmallows, there is the option of substituting store-bought marshmallows or marshmallow fluff. 

The treat recipes are highly creative and spread out among five chapters: updated classics, candy-store favorites, fruity sweets, chocolate delights, and holiday & celebration treats. As I turned the pages, I was tempted by the likes of Toasted Coconut Treats, Toasted Marshmallow Treats, Salted Caramel Treats, Berry Cobbler Treats, and Orange Cream Treats. I'm really excited to get started in the kitchen. 

This cookbook is the perfect addition to my dessert collection. I'm a huge fan of the classic treat and know that I'll enjoy trying these recipes?

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

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Review: Salsas and Moles

You may ask what would attract me to a cookbook that is dedicated to salsa. I chose to feature this cookbook because of my 12-year-old son's love of salsa and all things spicy. I contribute his love of Mexican food to the fact that I ate it a couple of times a week throughout my pregnancy with him. I realize that's not the case, but he enjoys hearing the tale. So, I knew he would enjoy reading this cookbook himself so he could learn about the various peppers used in the cuisine and find some salsa and pico recipes for us to try.

The cookbook is absolutely gorgeous! The vivid photos of the ingredients - bright red tomatoes and luscious green cilantro - will leave your mouth watering. The book begins with a guide to chiles and how to work with them. The recipes are spread out over five chapters: classic table salsas, hot salsas, mole and enchilada sauces, salsas for tacos, and chunky salsas and botanas.

One of the Mexican restaurants in my area serves what we refer to as "green salsa". I knew it wasn't tomatillo salsa (which I love) or guacamole (which I love even more). Through this cookbook, I have narrowed it down to Salsa Taquero (Spicy Avocado Sauce) or Salsa Mestiza (Avocado- Cilantro Sauce). I will be questioning my waiter on my next visit. 

I've never been happy with jarred salsa so I am thrilled to add this cookbook to my collection. With some much welcome experimenting, my family can have fresh salsas, pico de gallo and other unique sauces such as chimichurri, Salsa Gobernador (creamy sauce for fish tacos) and Creamy Lime Mayonesa. I can't wait!! If you're a Mexican food fiend like I am, you need this book!

Additional information provided by Random House: 

About the author:

DEBORAH SCHNEIDER is the executive chef/partner of SOL Cocina in Newport Beach, CA, and was dubbed “the reigning queen of San Diego chefs” by Bon Appétit. She is the author of the James Beard-nominated Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La PuertaAmor y Tacos¡Baja! Cooking on the Edge, which was one of Food & Wine’s Best of the Best of 2006; and is the co-author of Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Latin Cooking.

More information on the cookbook:

A collection of 60 authentic salsa and mole recipes from acclaimed chef/restaurateur Deborah Schneider, adapted for US kitchens. 

America has a new favorite condiment: salsa
And with good reason—a great salsa makes a big impression with just a little bite. In Salsas and Moles, award-winning chef Deborah Schneider explores a wide variety of favorites, from classic table salsas to mole and enchilada sauces, plus chunky salsas and snacks. While some people think salsa is all about heat, Schneider teases out fresh flavors from chiles, fruits, and herbs, creating authentic recipes that showcase the unique flavors of Mexico. 

With serving suggestions for each salsa, and recipes for popular sauces such as Salsa Verde, Enchilada Sauce, and Mango-Habanero Salsa, any salsa lover will be able to find their perfect match. 

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: Southern Living's Southern Made Fresh

Southern Made Fresh is another beautiful addition to the Southern Living cookbook family. Written by Tasia Malakasis, the owner of Belle Chevre Creamery in Elkmont, Alabama, this cookbook features unique recipes that incorporate fresh from the farm (and creamery) ingredients.

Let's start the journey with breakfast and brunch recipes such as Mushroom & Green Onion Scramble, Spicy Andouille Spanish Tortilla, Grits with Red-Eye Gravy and Baked French Toast with Banana Brulee. We then move to an extensive selection of salads, dressings, and sandwiches. Light lunches are served in the form of various soups, a Tomato Pie with Fresh Corn & Herbs, and Pasta with Green Tomatoes & Goat Cheese.

Stick around for the nibbles and cocktail sections of the cookbook. The Nibbles chapters includes the recipe that I've featured here, Chicken Rillettes. The Sips, Shakes, and Shines chapters features my favorite recipe from the book, Pickle-Brined Pan-Fried Chicken.

Our culinary journey through Southern Made Fresh concludes with supper recipes such as Spicy Ginger-Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Peanutty Braised Chicken, and Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie followed by desserts such as homemade Moon Pies and Banana Pudding Trifle.

Yes, the word "fresh" is in the title of the book, but it's also the first word that comes to my mind when I try to summarize the vibe of this cookbook. Fresh ingredients combined with the author's fresh perspective on cooking are brought to life through vibrant photographs that make me want to hit the fast forward button on my backyard garden so that I can bring these recipes to life in my own kitchen sooner rather than later.

Chicken Rillettes
from Southern Made Fresh
Recipe and photo provided by Oxmoor House


Rillettes is just a fancy French word for pulled meat that’s combined with flavorful herbs, butter or lard, and a little cooking stock. They are traditionally served in little jars, which I find both adorable and convenient. You can make them with almost any meat.

Serves: 12,Hands-on: 26 min.,Total: 4 hr., 36 min.

Chicken Rillettes

1 cup butter
1½ cups finely chopped shallots (about 6 shallots)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 (2-lb.) whole deli-roasted chicken, skinned, boned, and finely shredded
2½ cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. coarse-grained Dijon mustard
½ tsp. table salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Crusty country bread or baguette slices

1. Melt ¼ cup butter in large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add remaining ¾ cup butter to skillet; cook 2 minutes or until butter melts. Stir in thyme, chicken, and stock. Bring to a simmer; cook 10 minutes or until chicken is moist and tender and liquid is almost evaporated. Remove from heat, and cool 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and mustard. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Pack chicken mixture into 2 (8-oz.) jars. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.

3. Serve rillettes with crusty bread or baguette slices and pickles.

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

Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: Milk Bar Life

Of all the cookbooks I have in my collection, it surprises me that I don't own the original Momofuku
cookbook. Who knows how that one has slipped by me... Anyway, I don't think it's necessary to own the original Momofuku cookbook to enjoy this one. 

This cookbook had such a cool vibe to it from the funky photos to the party-ready recipes. Many of the recipes seem simple to prepare and remind me of the comfort and party food that I've enjoyed throughout my life. What would a gathering be without cocktail meatballs? I can't wait to prepare the chicken puffs for my next social event. 

Don't worry, cookie lovers! There are plenty of recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth. In addition to the classics, you'll find unique recipes such as Hijacked Biscoff Cookies, Ritz Cookies, and Salt-and-Pepper Cookies. 

Again, this is a cool cookbook to have if you want to find familiar recipes that have been kicked up a notch with a quirky ingredient here and there. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and can't wait to try out these recipes on my family. 

Additional information from Random House:

About the author...
CHRISTINA TOSI is the chef, owner, and founder of Milk Bar, sister bakery of the Momofuku restaurant group, with locations in New York City, Toronto, and soon Washington, D.C. She is the 2012 recipient of the James Beard Rising Star Chef Award, a finalist for the 2014 James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef Award, and a judge on Fox’s MasterChef and MasterChef Junior.

More information about the book...
Go off the clock with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar as she bakes one-bowl treats, grills with skills, and embraces simple, nostalgic—and often savory—recipes made from supermarket ingredients.

For anyone addicted to crack pie®, compost cookies®, and cake truffles, here are their savory counterparts—such as Kimcheezits with Blue Cheese Dip, Burnt Honey–Butter Kale with Sesame Seeds, and Choose Your Own Adventure Chorizo Burgers—along with enough make-at-home sweets to satisfy a cookie-a-day habit. Join Christina and friends as they cook their way through “weaknights,” sleepovers, and late-night snack attacks to make mind-blowingly delicious meals with whatever is in the pantry.

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