Nightmare Before Dinner
October 31st, 2018 by diane92345

The Nightmare before Dinner includes recipes used in the famous Beetle House restaurants in New York and Los Angeles.

There are chapters for sauces, appetizers, soups/salads, entrees, and desserts. Most look more tasty than scary though they do have clever names like Edward Burger Hands, Silence of the Lamb Chops, and Bloodbath Cobbler. The best part is the cocktail recipes that look both scary and tasty like the bubbling This is Halloween. Also included are menu and decor suggestions for four different dinner parties.

I wish the food recipes included nutritional information. However, they all seemed simple to make with mostly easily acquired ingredients. The drinks looked delicious. I can’t wait to try The Beetle’s Juice with tequila, blackberry schnapps, lime juice, bitters, and simple syrup. Yum!

The Nightmare Before Dinner is recommended for hosts who want something different for their next party. 3 stars.

Thanks to Race Point Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Simply Bento
October 11th, 2018 by diane92345

All kinds of lunches, dinners and holiday meals are included in Simply Bento.

This cookbook includes Japanese, sandwich, noodle, rice and sushi bento recipes. It has a full chapter featuring vegan bento recipes and another for low carb bento. Each entree’s recipe comes with suggestions for side dishes and a make-ahead plan. Most recipes include a beautiful full color picture.

As a lover of Japanese culture through manga and anime, I want to create a real bento box for myself. Only three things stand in my way: being gluten free; not having any time to cook anything, even breakfast, in the morning; and not being a great chef. While this cookbook doesn’t provide allergen information, the recipe ingredients can be easily reviewed and substituted if necessary. The second issue means that almost all of these recipes have to wait for the weekend for me (and I assume many others) to have the time to cook them. Many of the cooking techniques require at least a medium skill set. If you are a beginning chef, it’s probably better to start with an easier book.

I loved the instructions for loading up your pantry with Japanese staples. Simply Bento includes instructions to make most of the Japanese sauces, like teriyaki and sweet and sour, from scratch. I also loved the cute side dishes like cherry tomatoes stuffed with cottage cheese and Tako (octopus) Sausage made with cocktail franks. Some of the recipes are traditional Japanese and some are Americanized like Taco Rice, Hamburger and Hot Dog Bento.

Love Japanese culture? want to try something different for lunch? Have an extra 30 minutes in the morning and some good knife skills? Simply Bento is highly recommended for you. Unfortunately, due to the lack of nutritional information, I have to take off 1 star leaving Simply Bento with 4 stars.

Thanks to Quarto, Race Point Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Gluten Free Instant Pot Cookbook
October 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

Containing fifty delicious sounding recipes, the Gluten-free Instant Pot Cookbook is both a flavor booster and a time saver for gluten-free cooks.

Beginning with a cheesy poblano frittata breakfast, savory creamy polenta and various soups like spicy butternut squash, this cookbook has a bit of everything. Who knew you could make lasagna in an instant pot? Or saffron risotto (with no more endless stirring)? The dessert chapter sounds particularly yummy filled with tasty treats like rice and bread pudding plus a to-die-for double chocolate fudge cheesecake. There are also easy bone broths for paleo fans.

Recipes are clearly labeled with other common allergens like dairy, egg, soy, and nut. There are vegan and vegetarian recipes included too. The only issue I have is the total lack of pictures or nutritional information. The pictures can be found on the author’s Heritage Cook food blog so I’m not sure why they aren’t in the book.

The recipes are surprisingly innovative. For example, the Shrimp and Grits recipe uses the Pot’s saute function to cook the aromatics first. The sauce is then covered with a trivet and bowl to cook the grits. After a short time, the grits are removed and the shrimp is added to the sauce for heating. It is very innovative to cook everything in one instant pot making the Gluten-free Instant Pot Cookbook a perfect gift for a college student with an instant pot but little else to cook within a dorm room.

The recipes are worth 5 stars. However, the complete lack of pictures and nutritional information brings my rating down to 4.

Thanks to Fair Winds Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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150+ Gluten-free Family Favorites
September 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

If you or a family member lives gluten-free, 150+ Gluten-Free Family Favorites is a useful tool in your cooking shed.

This cookbook includes gluten-free breakfasts, breads, appetizers, entrees, sides, salads, desserts, holiday and kid-friendly recipes. What’s nice is the authors don’t add a bunch of recipes that are already inherently gluten-free. There are no quiches in the breakfast chapter—just yummy scones and cinnamon rolls.

The most confusing part of cooking gluten-free is what flour to use for each recipe. There are basically two kinds of regular flour—all purpose and wheat. But there over 20 different kinds of gluten-free flour that are usually used in combination. 150+ Gluten-Free Family Favorites not only tells exactly which flour to use for each recipe but includes a whole chapter explaining which ones to use for any family recipes that you may want to adapt to your lifestyle.

I love the great variety of recipes and all the information within this cookbook. However, I miss calorie counts and serving sizes. There are also no warnings of other allergens. Worst of all there are no pictures! Looking at the food is the main way I decide if I want to make it. Though I admire the effort, I can’t give this cookbook more than 3 stars.

Thanks to Harvest House Publishers and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Taco Tuesday Cookbook
August 27th, 2018 by diane92345

If you love tacos (and who doesn’t), the Taco Tuesday Cookbook is for you!

Filled with 52 taco plus guacamole, salsas, seasonings, beverages and tortilla recipes, this cookbook has something for every taste. Starting with eight easy breakfast tacos, the author includes tacos made with chicken, pork, beef, fish and shrimp. There are also eight vegetarian choices like Blackened Zucchini Tacos and Curried Cauliflower Tacos with Pineapple Salsa. If the thought of eating Mexican tacos every Tuesday for a year doesn’t appeal, don’t worry. There are Jamaican Jerk Chicken Tacos, Asian Thai Rib Tacos and Philly Cheesesteak Tacos. Skillet Beef Tacos and Food Truck Tacos are available for the traditionalist too. Overall, there is plenty of variety here. Most of the recipes take 20-30 minutes to cook though there are recipes using a slow cooker too.

I picked up the Taco Tuesday Cookbook because I’m gluten-free and corn tortillas are much tastier than most of the gluten-free breads. Even though some of the recipes call for flour tortillas, the author has included a gluten-free “flour” tortilla recipe or store-bought corn tortillas could easily be substituted. All the recipes include pictures that look delicious! The only flaw is no nutritional information is included. Still, this book is recommended for home cooks looking for fast and easy weeknight meals. 4 stars!

Thanks to Fair Winds Press and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Modern Pressure Canning
June 20th, 2018 by diane92345

Comprehensive guide to Modern Pressure Canning with mouthwatering deliciously photographed recipes.

This cookbook includes an explanation of how pressure canning works, the necessary tools and step-by-step instructions within each recipe. The recipes begin with basic vegetables like carrots, green beans and corn. Next, the author moves onto more advanced vegetables such as pickled cauliflower and pineapple-flavored zucchini. The canned fruit section also includes pie fillings and a concentrated grape drink. The meat section includes pork, beef, poultry and fish plus bacon jam, soups, ground meats, and spaghetti sauce with meatballs. The final chapter includes tomato sauce, ketchup, red/green/peach salsa, chutney, bbq sauce, and poultry/beef/garlic/vegetable broth.

Ideal for gardeners who need to preserve their summer crops and anyone who wants to taste summer farmer’s market flavor in the dead of winter. Modern Pressure Canning is highly recommended for anyone who has a pressure canner. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Quarto Publishing Group/Voyageur Press, and NetGalley for a copy.

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Soul
June 7th, 2018 by diane92345

Soul includes 150 southern soul food recipes that look uniformly delicious thanks to great photographs.

With chapters focusing on a single ingredient, each chapter in Soul progresses from simple to complex recipes.  The chapters include: Collards, Onions, Berries, Lamb, Seafood, Corn, Tomatoes, Melons, Stone Fruit, Eggs and Poultry, Pork and Beef, Beans and Rice, and Roots.

Soul includes menus and playlists plus wine and beer pairings. It includes simple traditional soul food fused with other cuisines like Fried Green Tomatoes made with tomatillos and ancho chili BBQ sauce and Chicken and Waffles with sweet potato waffles. Some are ideas I have never seen before like zucchini slaw. Since the book doesn’t contain nutritional information, I have to take off one star leaving it at 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Southern Living, and NetGalley for a copy.

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Fix Freeze Feast
May 29th, 2018 by diane92345

Extremely comprehensive family cookbook that includes both freezable meals and meals to be eaten immediately after preparation.

Fix Freeze Feast has a huge variety of recipes.  It has 84 meat-based main dishes: 37 with chicken, 23 with beef and 24 with pork. There are 24 seafood and vegetable main and side dishes.  25 sauces and 16 breakfast, snacks and sweets finish up the book.  Most of the recipes are family-sized but a few are for only two servings.  It would be easy to scale up or down any of the recipes to fit any size of household.  It was also easy to make most of recipes gluten-free by just using gluten-free flours, thickeners (like arrowroot), and breadcrumbs.

I tried the Chicken-Broccoli Bake, Vegetable Lasagna (small pan), Basic Red Sauce (small batch) and the Mama’s Pizza Sauce.  I used the red sauce for the lasagna as suggested. The results for all of the recipes were outstanding. The best part of this book is the clear directions for how to package for the freezer and how to reheat the food. Packaging varies depending on the item being packaged.  Most use either plastic freezer zipper bags or baking dishes.  The author has a great idea to buy foil baking pans for no clean up after the meal is reheated.  This works especially well when the item will be taken to a potluck or party.

About a tenth of the recipes are labeled with “Feast Tonight” and don’t contain a freezing step.  While I was fine with those being included, I wish they were all located at the end of each section to make them easier to find. In addition, I would have liked nutritional information including calories to be provided.

Overall, this is a good book for people trying to cook weekday meals in advance.  It would definitely be good for the family budget especially if shopping is done at Costco or Sam’s Club. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Storey Publishing LLC, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook
December 4th, 2017 by diane92345

Filled with 200 recipes from breakfast to dinner to dessert, who knew cooking with an Instant Pot could be so simple.

The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook is a great resource for those people lucky enough to own an Instant Pot or other brand of electric pressure cooker. The author explains that the recipes can also be easily adapted for a stove top pressure cooker too. The recipes are easy to follow and include only ingredients most pantries will have on hand. The introduction includes a very nice discussion about how the appliance works. The best part, of course, are the recipes. Who can resist trying Triple Chocolate Cheesecake, Coq au Vin or Beef Stroganoff made quicker and easier within an Instant Pot? Or cooking dried beans for truly homemade Red Beans and Rice in only an hour? Yum!

The recipes all sound delicious. Having the index organized by main ingredient (i.e., beef, chocolate, zucchini) makes it easy to see what options are available based on what the reader has on hand. Their are many vegetarian and gluten-free recipe options though there is no labeling of the recipes. The only drawbacks are there is no nutritional information provided and pictures are infrequent. 

I tried a few of the recipes (Corned Beef and Cabbage, Red Beans and Rice, Quick Turkey Chili) with excellent results. I highly recommend this cookbook for both experienced electric pressure cooker users and newbies like myself. 

Thanks to the publisher, Quarto Books-Harvard Common Books, and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy.

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The Vegan Cookbook
November 4th, 2017 by diane92345

Pretty pictures but recipes are less than awe-inspiring.

Readers have abundant choices for vegan cookbooks.  Most can be separated into quick and easy or complex and expensive.  The Vegan Cookbook falls into the second category.  It has mouthwatering pictures of the completed recipes. However, all the recipes include a multitude of ingredients.  Many are exotic spices that would be expensive to buy for a single recipe. Several would require a special trip to a health food store or Whole Foods rather than a neighborhood grocery store. It was particularly disappointing to not see any nutritional information—not even calories—for a single recipe. Also there was no indication which allergens were in each recipe without reading the entire ingredient list.  A nice soy-free or gluten-free icon would have made it easier for the allergic to find recipes.

Usually when I receive a review copy of a cookbook, I prepare at least a few of the recipes.  Within The Vegan Cookbook, I couldn’t find a single recipe where I had all the ingredients in my kitchen. I admit that I am not organized enough to add recipe ingredients on my weekly shopping list, bring them home and still feel like cooking the recipe many days later. Some readers are and will appreciate the recipes within this vegan cookbook.  However, it rates only 3 stars from me.

Thanks to the publisher, Nourish, and Netgalley for a review copy.

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I love my bread machine
September 25th, 2017 by diane92345

I Love My Bread Machine contains 176 pages of yummy photos and 108 delicious sounding recipes. 

The book contains traditional white and wheat breads and so much more. The recipes includes breads and rolls that are kneaded by the bread machine but shaped by hand and then baked in an oven. Those breads include flat breads like pizza, naan, pita, and focaccia as well as bagels. There are also quick bread recipes, using baking powder rather than yeast, where the ingredients are combined outside the bread machine and only the baking function of the machine is used. These recipes include gingerbread and a fruit & spice bread that looks like a lighter fruit cake as well as a variation on banana bread. One chapter includes many breads from foreign lands such as French brioche, Italian panettone, and English lardy cake in addition to the familiar doughnuts and English muffins. There is an entire chapter devoted to teabreads and teacakes. There is another containing ten gluten-free bread recipes that are variations on regular breads from earlier chapters. There is also an extensive introduction with tips and tricks for both using a bread machine and adapting personal recipes for bread machine use.

Before reviewing cookbooks, I always try to make a few of their recipes. Using my old faithful Sunbeam bread machine purchased at least twenty years ago, I started with the two simplest white and wheat breads. They looked beautiful up until the end of the baking cycle when they fell like a volcanic caldera. They still tasted delicious but it is hard to make a sandwich with 3″ tall bread. I thought there might be an issue with my bread machine so I cooked my favorite white bread that I have been making for years and it baked fine. So while I Love My Bread Machine’s recipes look delicious, they obviously won’t work in every bread machine. In addition, I’m not sure of the benefit of cooking quick breads in a bread machine rather than in a pan in an oven–possibly a broken oven or a hot day where the oven would heat up the house? For these reasons, I’m giving the book 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Nourish Books, and netgalley for an advanced review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book was published on September 19, 2017.

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Voracious cover pic
August 2nd, 2017 by diane92345

Great discussions of books and fantastic illustrations.

I selected Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books for the recipes but I loved it for the stories about each book. Most of the recipes are way too advanced (or just too much work) for me. However, the stories of the author’s perceptions of the books were insightful. I never even noticed most of the foods when I originally read many of the books. Only if the book’s plot involved a particular food, like Les Miserables, Great Expectations and The Silence of the Lambs, did I recall the food connection. But I believe that I will be paying closer attention in the future due to this author.

As I said, most of these recipes are very complex. But I did learn how easy it is to make homemade ricotta, an excellent rib-eye steak or a terrific toasted cheese sandwich. Even some of the “bleak midwestern foodscape” related to The Corrections encouraged me to Google “Jello Pretzel Salad” as I still recall my Illinois grandma serving a horrendous green jello mold filled with raw cabbage in my childhood. Luckily, the pretzels aren’t somehow suspended in jello but used as a crust for a fairly delicious looking (4.5 stars on most online sites) Strawberry Jello Pie. I could totally see myself making that some hot summer day.

This cookbook memoir made me think about what side topic I most remember in the books I read. I decided quickly that it was the illustrations, either on the cover or if I was lucky also within its pages. This book is no exception. Most cookbooks come with photographs but I really enjoyed the paintings of the food (usually only some of the ingredients) within this book. The peaches, avocados and cupcakes made me hungry they looked so delicious. Yum!

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Cover pic
July 19th, 2017 by diane92345

Good variety of recipes that can be cooked in either a crockpot or Instant Pot.

 

This cookbook has 100 crockpot recipes and each have many variations for gluten-free, paleo, ‘picky eaters’ (i.e. less spicy) or vegan diets. The accompanying photographs look scrumptious. There are many unusual recipes including tomato paste, cream of mushroom soup, fruit butters, yogurt, fruit crisps and other desserts. There are some unusual vegan substitutions like pan cooked lentils for ground beef that I am going to try soon.  The author also includes some excellent cooking tips that I have never heard elsewhere despite my addiction to the Food Network.  My favorite was putting cut potatoes in a water and cream of tartar bath before cooking to avoid them turning brown while cooking, which worked great when I tried it.  I will use this tip in many of my family’s recipes–not just the ones in this book.

 

The recipes don’t have exotic ingredients or spices that you have to make a special trip to the store to buy. Most of the ingredients would be in a typical family’s fridge or pantry. I liked that the author included substitutions for items you may not have on hand, or just don’t like, along with any timing differences that might be required. The two dishes that I prepared were simple and tasty. I’m looking forward to trying a few more soon. I only have one complaint. There is no calorie or nutritional information with any of the recipes so I deducted one star for that oversight. However, I would still recommend this book.

 

I want to thank the publisher, Time Inc. Books, and netgalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for my honest review. This book will be released on September 5, 2017.

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