Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blog Tour: A Year with Six Sisters' STUFF

Those popular sisters from Six Sisters' STUFF have recently released their second cookbook, A Year with Six Sisters' STUFF. If you're a fan of the family's blog or enjoyed their first cookbook, you'll want to add this book to your collection as well.

Sitting down to eat as a family is one of the most important themes that runs throughout the Six Sisters' STUFF blog. This cookbook expands on that theme with this simplified layout - 52 menus to inspire readers to cook a three-course meal at least once a week for the entire year. All of the recipes are geared towards the home cook and are perfect for beginners. While I would probably mix and match a few of the recipes, I did find several menu ideas that included three recipes that I loved together.

Some of my favorite menus include:
  • Menu 21 - Honey BBQ Meatloaf, Creamy Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes, and Butterfinger Blondies
  • Menu 33 - Oven-Fried Chicken, BBQ Macaroni Salad, Oatmeal Scotchies
  • Menu 39 - Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Loin, Brown Sugar and Bacon Green Beans, 5-minute Creamy Key Lime Pie
  • Menu 42 - Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia, Asparagus with Maple Mustard Glaze, Take 5 Cake Mix Bars
  • Menu 51 - Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Mom's Potato Salad, Cheesecake Cheese Squares
If you're busy like me and have simply run out of ideas for meals, you will be able to find inspiration in A Year with Six Sisters' STUFF. Each recipe features a full-page, full-color photo that will have you planning your own menu for the week.

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

If you would like to add this cookbook to your collection, enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a free copy. The widget may take a few moments to load. Good luck!

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Spring is Here: Go Forth and Homestead

Growing Vegetables and Herbs, Home Harvesting and Keeping Honey Bees

Backyard Farming - Make Your Home a Homestead Series
by Kim Pezza
Published by Hatherleigh Press

When it comes to books, I have two main areas of affection. My first love is cookbooks, of course.
But, my newest infatuation is homesteading books which I suppose may also fall under the categories of self-sufficiency and pioneering. I've truly moved away from reading food blogs and spend most of my time on lifestyle blogs which feature back-to-basics ways of living such as gardening, preserving, and raising chickens. Raising backyard chickens is quite in vogue now.

As my homesteading library builds, I've discovered a wonderful little series to add to the subject. I say it's a little series because each book is around 100 pages, costs $5.95 retail, and focuses on one area of homesteading. Currently, there are five books available in the Backyard Farming: Make Your Home a Homestead series by Kim Pezza. There are also two more books on the way later in 2014, Raising Cattle for Dairy and Beef and Growing Garlic. 
Raising Chickens, Raising Goats, Raising Cattle for Dairy and Beef (coming May 2014)
Not pictured, but coming in September 2014, Growing Garlic

Currently, I own and will be reviewing four of the books in this series: Growing Vegetables and Herbs, Home Harvesting, Keeping Honey Bees, and Raising Chickens. Each book begins with basic information on the subject. Growing Vegetables and Herbs transitions naturally into Home Harvesting with the first book showing you how to plan and maintain your garden. Home Harvesting shows you how to take those fruits and vegetables that grew in your garden and preserve them through canning, curing, pickling, and dehydrating. The end of Home Harvesting contains about a dozen pages of recipes.

As we are currently raising about a dozen chicks, I am interested in any tips that I can find on raising chickens. Raising Chickens contains information on different breeds and types of chickens and offers expert advice on feeding, breeding, incubating, keeping and culling, and preventing diseases. Since last year's chicken raising venture was a bust for us last year, I'm hoping that we'll have more success this year and will use this book as one of our guides.

While we have not ventured into the realm of beekeeping, I'm fascinated by the idea of it. Keeping Honey Bees is the first book that I've added to my collection on the subject. The book begins with the history of beekeeping and explains the hierarchy of bees. It also describes the equipment needed to start and maintain your hives, the process by which hives and pollination work, and, finally, the finale of harvesting and storing your honey.

If you're like me and are just beginning to dip your toe into the pond of homesteading and self-sufficiency, then this series of books is a great starting point to begin your reference library. The fact that each subject is published separately makes it perfect to select the area that is of the most interest to you. I do plan to acquire the whole series because you just never know when a garlic-eating goat will show up on your front porch and need a home.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with review copies; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Good-for-You Everyday Meals: A Gooseberry Patch Review and Giveaway

Spring is in the air and that means that this year's Gooseberry Patch cookbooks are hitting the market. The first one to arrive on my doorstep is Good-for-You Everyday Meals, a perfect cookbook for those of us who want to make healthier decisions in the kitchen.

It can be so overwhelming to look at all of the healthy-living cookbooks on the market: vegetarian, vegan, paleo, and anti-inflammatory just to name a few. So, it's nice to see that Gooseberry Patch has released some healthier recipes, recipes that are submitted by readers from across the country which means that the average cook can tackle these recipes. These recipes show that small changes can help you make healthier choices, changes such as using more fruit, vegetables and whole grains in your cooking, adding wheat bran and flax seeds, using reduced-fat dairy and reducing the amount of sugar is your dishes.

The book opens with breakfast recipes such as smoothies, freshly-squeezed juices, eggs dishes, and whole grained baked goods. We can get easily bored with salads. Salads hold my interest for about a second. But, this cookbook offers some unique choices such as Minted Tomato-Cucumber Salad and Arugula and Nectarine Salad. The chapter on healthy snacks and desserts features dips, spreads, sorbets, and fruity pops. The most unique feature to this cookbook is the final chapter, A Homemade Pantry, which features recipes for spice blends and condiments. Making your own spices and condiments is the perfect way to control the amount of sodium and preservatives in your food. 

I've highlighted Chicken and Orzo Soup from the Hearty Soups and Fresh-Baked Breads chapter and Sisters' Baked Harvest Vegetables from the Fish and Vegetable Mains chapter. 

Chicken and Orzo Soup
Submitted by Jen Thomas from Santa Rosa, CA

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 leek, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 stalk celery, sliced
3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. orzo pasta, uncooked
1/4 c. fresh dill, chopped
Garnish: lemon wedges

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add leek and celery; cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add chicken and broth; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until chicken juices are no longer pink, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate, reserving broth in soup pot. Let chicken cool; chop. Meanwhile, return broth to a boil. Stir in orzo and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in chicken and dill; let stand several minutes, until heated through. Serve bowls of soup with lemon wedges for squeezing. Serves 4.

Kim's Take: I diced the chicken before cooking to save myself a step of having to remove the thighs to chop and return to the pot. I love orzo so added an extra handful (or two). But, it was that dill that really put this soup over the top and made this soup unique instead of an ordinary chicken soup. The work that kept coming to mind as I was eating it was that the dill "livened" up the soup. Don't leave out the dill!

Sisters' Baked Harvest Vegetables
Submitted by Stacy Lane from Laurel, DE

4 potatoes, or 2 potatoes and 2 turnips, peeled and cubed
1 bunch broccoli, cut into bite-size flowerets
2 c. green beans, trimmed
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 yellow squash, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/2 c. olive oil
1.35-oz. pkg. onion soup mix

Combine all vegetables in a lightly greased 13"x9" baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with soup mix and toss again. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until all vegetables are tender. Makes 8 servings.

Kim's Take: The potatoes are the barometer for this dish. The dish must cook until the potatoes are done. I suggest cubing the potatoes much smaller than the rest of the vegetables so that  they can cook within the same time frame as the rest of the vegetables. Also, this recipe is easy to customize to your vegetable preferences.

Gooseberry Patch provided me with a review copy of Good-for-You Everyday Meals and has been generous enough to also provide a copy for one of my readers. If you would like your own copy of the cookbook, please enter through the Rafflecopter widget below. Please be patient as it takes a few seconds to load.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Skinny-licious Blog Tour

Skinny-licious by Shauna Evans is the latest edition to the Cedar Fort Publishers family of cookbooks. In addition to Skinny-licious, the author has also written Sweet and Savory and the forthcoming 30 Minute Meals for Families, both published by Cedar Fort.
In this cookbook, Shauna Evans shares her weight-loss issues and journeys. She follows the 8-Hour Diet Plan created by Davis Zinczenko and the recipes in this cookbook are based on that diet plan.

The cookbook includes recipes in four different areas: lunches, snacks, dinner, and desserts. There is also a page at the end of the book that shows you how to create your own flavored vitamin water.
  • Lunch - This section features a number of light lunch recipes including smoothies, soups, salads and dressings, and wraps. You can eat Lobster Rolls, Greek Pasta Salad, and Barbecue Chicken Salad and still watch your figure.
  • Snacks - The snack section of the cookbook features several different dip and salsa recipes. I tested the Cinnamon Sugar Chips with Fruit Salsa. I loved the combination of pineapple, peaches, strawberries, and apples. Delicious!
  • Dinner - These recipe featured lean meat choices and reduced fat dairy products, and many of the recipe feature exotic flavors such as Chicken Coconut Curry, Tarragon Orange Halibut, Stuffed Peppers, and Shrimp Red Curry.
  • Desserts - Yes, you can eat desserts (in moderation) and maintain your weight. Shauna focuses on fruit or dairy based desserts and limits flour-based desserts. This section is filled with many ice cream, frozen yogurt, and ice pop recipes. You can also find more tradition dessert recipes such as Apple Betty and Creme Brulee.
If you're in to healthful recipes and want to expand your cookbook collection in this area, you may want to consider adding this book to your shelf. The cookbook features recipes that have a broad appeal and most of the recipes are accompanied by a full-color photo.

To learn about Shauna Evans, visit her web site, Sweet and Savory Seven.

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

Monday, February 3, 2014

My Favorite New Southern Living Cookbooks and a Giveaway

All cookbooks published by Oxmoor House

I think I've told you before how much I love Southern Living cookbooks. They are some of the favorites in my collection. I turn to them again and again for cooking inspiration. In addition to the wonderful recipes, the cookbooks are filled with beautiful photographs and engaging descriptions and essays. Three recently released titles that I'm currently enjoying are Feel Good Food, No Taste Like Home, and The Slim Down South Cookbook. Here's what each of them has to offer.

Feel Good Food: I've noticed changes in Southern Living cookbooks over the past couple of years. The cookbooks now have a contemporary vibe from the photos to the page designs. It just seems so much more updated than the classic Southern Living cookbooks that I have in my collection.  Feel Good Food is one of those contemporary cookbooks. The terms that come to mind as I flip through the pages of the cookbook are cheery and sunny. Each page features a bright green design that livens up the place.

Livening up seems to be the main theme of this cookbook with chapters named: Rejuvenated, Nostalgic, Gracious, Refreshed, Warmth, Indulgent, and Celebratory. Each recipe features a vivid, full-color photo and the cookbook is enriched with menu suggestions and personal stories. With recipes such as okra-shrimp beignets, strawberry-lemonade muffins, zucchini bacon spoon bread, and sweet potato cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, the cookbook is bound to expand your Southern cooking repertoire. In my kitchen, I cooked the southern-style collards and sweet tea brined chicken. Those recipes just shout Southern Living and eating!

No Taste Like Home: I can't think of enough words to describe how wonderful this cookbook is! It is written by Kelly Alexander who takes us on a culinary tour around the south. The uniqueness of this cookbook is that it is divided into regions including the Heart of Dixie (middle and north Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi), Cajun Country (Louisiana), Big, Bold Texas, the Piedmont & the Mountains (North Carolina and Virginia), the Bluegrass, Boubon & Barbecue Trail (Kentucky and Tennessee), and my neck of the woods the Coastal South (Baltimore, Charleston, Savannah, and Miami).

Each region features a detailed description of the area and includes commentary from famous chefs, writers, and celebrities from that area. And, of course, there are tons of recipes. Even though I'm from the Coastal South, I traveled to Cajun Country and made the Hot Crawfish Dip. Now, if you decide to visit the Savannah section of the cookbook, you can feast on Georgia Peach Deviled Eggs, Hoppin' John Hush Puppies with Green Tomato-Corn Relish, and Crispy Oven Fried Chicken. This cookbook is a good investment as there is so much more to it than recipes. It is a reference guide to the culinary south which I will turn to again and again especially when I see a road trip in my future.

The Slim Down South Cookbook: When I looked through this cookbook, I was surprised to find that  I tend to cook in the same way that is depicted in this cookbook. I don't cook with a lot of butter; I'm definitely an olive oil fan. I also choose to use lower fat options such as chicken broth over cheese and cream. This cookbook comes at the perfect time when I've decided to make some healthy choices with my family's diet.

This cookbook is written by Carolyn O'Neil, a registered dietician, and features Slim & Savvy Southerners who share how they make healthy choices in their Southern kitchens. The book also features a 14-day SLIM Eating Plan to help jumpstart your weight loss. This cookbook isn't about limits. This cookbook highlights the limitless ways you can prepare and enjoy a delicious, healthy meal that is full of flavor.

Thai Noodle Salad, BBQ Peach Summer Rolls, Hoppin' John Parfaits, Cornbread Crab Cakes, Country Chicken & Buttermilk Soup, BBQ in a Jar should pique your interest. Each recipe is accompanied by a full-page photo that will make your mouth water. Are you concerned that you have to cut out desserts in your slim down? No, this cookbook features dessert recipes, too, such as Angel Food Cake with Lemon Glaze, Classic Strawberry Shortcake, and Key Lime Pie. I cooked Shrimp and Grits (recipe featured below). It was absolutely delicious!! I loved the combination of shrimp and fresh spinach with that splash of lemon juice. You have to try it.

Shrimp and Grits
from The Slim Down South Cookbook by Carolyn O'Neal, MS, RD
Makes 6 servings, Hands-On 25 min., Total 30 min.

Parmesan Grits:

½ tsp. table salt
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

Creamy Shrimp Sauce:

1 lb. unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
⅛ tsp. table salt
Vegetable cooking spray
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1¼ cups reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth
½ cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. table salt
¼ tsp. hot sauce
2 cups firmly packed fresh baby spinach

1. Prepare Parmesan Grits: Bring ½ tsp. salt and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in cheese and pepper. Keep warm. 

2. Prepare Creamy Shrimp Sauce: Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and ⅛ tsp. salt. Cook in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove from skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Add oil; heat 30 seconds. Whisk  in flour; cook 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in broth and next  5 ingredients; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in shrimp and spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach is slightly wilted. Serve immediately over grits.  Serving size ½ cup grits and about ⅓ cup shrimp sauce

CALORIES 235; FAT 6.1g (sat 1.9g, mono 2g, poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 19.1g; CARB 25.2g;  FIBER 1.4g; CHOL 119mg; IRON 3.3mg; SODIUM 749mg; CALC 177mg

Disclaimer: The publisher provided me review copies; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.


This is the perfect month to introduce some healthy meals into your cooking routine. I'm happy to have the opportunity to add The Slim Down South Cookbook to your collection. To enter the giveaway, please use the Rafflecopter widget below. Please be patient as the widget loads. The giveaway will run until February 15, 2014 . Thanks for reading A Well-Seasoned Life and good luck!!

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