Monday, March 2, 2015

Cookbook Review: Lighten Up, Y'all



I've been trying to eat healthier lately so I was excited when I received my new cookbook Lighten Up, Y'all by Virginia Willis. Many of the typical southern favorites aren't always the healthiest, so it was so neat to see a cookbook with the premise of making southern food healthier. I'm all about that!

This book features so many beautiful pictures. Every recipe doesn't have a picture, but many do. There is a recipe for pimento cheese that I am anxious to try. The recipe for grilled potato salad sounds yummy and would be wonderful to try when it gets a bit warmer. There's even a recipe for Summer Squash Lasagna! That sounds really good. Flipping through this book definitely gets me excited about the warmer months and the yummy produce that follows, especially at the farmer's market. I can't wait!

One recipe that I would like to make soon that would be good for these colder months is the Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy. Good comfort food! And the Vegetable Corn Bread looks absolutely delicious to serve with some yummy soup! Hopefully I get to make something out of the book soon and will definitely share it when I do! If you like southern food, but are trying to be healthier in your food preparation, this would be a great book for you to check out.

Want to know more? Check out this page.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cookbook Review: The Soup Club Cookbook



This time of year, there is nothing better than some home cooked soup. It's good year around, but just even better in the winter. My newest cookbook to my collection is all about soups, so I was excited to look through and see what all there was. What is so neat about this book is that this group of ladies actually decided to form a soup club. Hence the name, The Soup Club Cookbook by Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow, and Julie Peacock. On page 11, they explain a bit more about how it works...."What we do is simple: We take turns cooking big pots of soup, enough to feed our four families. We drop off the soup, along with sides and garnishes, at the homes of our three other club members. This happens once a week, which means that we each cook our big pot of soup once a month. The other three weeks, we are treats to one another's home cooking". What a great idea!

This book is full of so many different yummy soups! Soups like Lentil soup, Egg Drop Soup, Roasted Broccoli Soup, Spiced Pumpkin Soup, Winter Minestrone, Senegalese Peanut Soup, and more. They also give instructions on how to make basic broths. There are also recipes for toppings for your soups, as well as sides and breads to go along with it. Including a recipe Kale Chips! Hopefully I can make something out of this book soon. There are so many options, I'm not sure which one to pick first!

I love the cover of this book because those jars of soup are so nice looking! There are several pictures throughout the book, but not one for every recipe. I would have definitely loved to see more pictures. They are fun to look at as you go through a cookbook. There's definitely something for everyone in this book. If you love soups, I definitely recommend you check it out. Maybe you'll even start your own Soup Club! Want to know more? Check out this page.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cookbook Review: Supermarket Healthy



My latest cookbook to review is Supermarket Healthy by Melissa D'Arabian. If you watch the Food Network, you may remember her from the Next Food Network Star competition. I loved the feel of the book and the beautiful pictures right away.

There are plenty of healthy recipes in this book. You'll find things like Morning Glory Muffins, Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce, Creamy Cauliflower "Baked Potato" Soup, Poached Chicken Puttanesca, and more! There aren't pictures for every recipe, but many do have pictures. The food looks very yummy!

One of my favorite parts of the book is where Melissa gives you a blueprint to customize dishes how you like them. For instance, on page 36-37, there is a blueprint to customize your own frittata. I think this would be a great help from those cooks who want to start learning to come up with their own recipes. It's kind of a stepping stone to take to learn how ingredients work together. I think it was a great idea to add that to the cookbook.

Want to know more? Check out this page.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Smoked Gouda Stuffed Meatloaf



Do you buy ground beef or have your meat gound up fresh? I love to have ours ground up fresh. It's the only way I buy it. I usually use sirloin tip or london broil, and have used a couple of other cuts before too. I just watch for it to go on sale. Sirloin tip was on sale this time and I decided to make meatloaf again. I wanted something different for this one, so I thought why not stuff it with smoked gouda cheese! This was really good. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Smoked Gouda Stuffed Meatloaf

2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup of ketchup (I used just a tad less than ½ cup)
¾ cup of breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of thyme
2 eggs
2 pounds of ground beef
1/3 pound of smoked gouda, cut into sticks (like cheese sticks only smaller)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter and then add the diced onion. Sauté until translucent. Add the minced garlic, allowing it to cook for a minute or two. Set aside, sprinkle the tsp of thyme over the mixture and let cool.

Crack the two eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat them. In a large bowl, add the beaten eggs, ground beef, breadcrumbs, onion mixture, and ketchup. Mix the meatloaf mixture with your hands until everything is mixed well.

Now you’re ready to form your meatloaf and place it in a pan. I chose to use a sheet pan and free form my loaf. I like this way the best. Take a little over half of the mixture and pat it out in the pan to make the bottom of your loaf. In the middle of the loaf, add the smoked gouda cheese sticks. Take the rest of the meat mixture and cover the cheese sticks forming a loaf, making sure to completely cover the cheese. Bake for an hour and a half.

I tasted this and decided not to put ketchup on it as it was really good. However, I am sure it would be tasty with ketchup as well. If you choose to do so, top the meatloaf with ketchup and allow it to bake for 10-15 more minutes.

Handy Tip #1: I advise you to check any meats you cook with a meat thermometer just to be extra safe. Fully cooked according to this website that I found online here is 160 degrees.

Handy Tip #2: Use parchment paper on your sheet pan for easy clean up.

Handy Tip #3: Feel free to add more salt to this recipe as I didn’t really add any extra salt. You could also use a bit more cheese if you’d like. I found mine at the Kroger deli. I just had them slice two large hunks of cheese. It ended up being 1/3 of a pound. I trimmed the rind off and cut them into cheese sticks. Worked great!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Lemon Chicken Artichoke Soup



There is a take and bake place in town that has the most amazing lemon chicken artichoke soup. I decided to try to make a copy of it at home. This soup isn’t exactly like the one at the local shop here, but it’s close. This recipe is so good and highly addictive! I encourage you to try it as soon as you can!

Lemon Chicken Artichoke Soup

Ingredients:
½ stick of butter
1 tbsp oilive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 yellow onions, diced
2 12oz jars of quartered artichoke hearts in water (drained, rinsed and diced)
2-3 lemons
2-3 cups of cooked chicken breasts, diced
1 tsp of dried oregano
8 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups of half & half
Salt and pepper to taste

In a 5-6 qt. stockpot over medium heat, melt butter and add the olive oil. Sauté the onions until translucent, add the garlic and then cook for a minute more. Add the artichoke hearts and salt and pepper if desired and cook for 3-5 minutes. Next, add your chicken stock. Allow this to come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half & half and the juice of the first two lemons, bring to a simmer and taste everything here. I added the juice of another lemon for a total of three in my recipe. However, lemons can vary in how much juice they give, so try it after 2 and see if you would like more in the soup. Also adjust for salt and pepper at this point as well. Continue simmering for 30 minutes. Then add diced chicken and oregano. Allow to simmer for 15 more minutes. Then enjoy!

Some notes: I didn’t add any extra salt to this recipe at all and it was plenty salty for me. Also more pepper or oregano can always be added. It’s very important to taste as you go along to see what you’d like to add more of. Want more of a kick? Increase the black pepper. Don’t like oregano? Just leave it out. It will still be delicious. Want more chicken? Add 3 cups instead of 2. It's really a flexible recipe. This soup is amazing. I hope you will try it soon! By the way, I found the artichoke hearts at Aldi for a good price. Check them out if you have one close by.

Also, I used chicken breast I had cooked using a wonderful method I discovered on a blog and then froze it. You can find her method here. I used the Tuscan Garlic seasoning from Tones (found at Sam’s) as my seasoning for the chicken. This way of cooking chicken is amazing, not to mention how she has you refrigerate the chicken, then dice it. It makes for perfect little cubes of chicken!

Cookbook Review: One Pot



I recently received the One Pot cookbook From the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living. I was especially looking forward to this cookbook, because one pot means less dishes right? That's always a plus! This book had plenty of mouth-watering photos to enjoy and that is something I consider very important when I choose a cookbook. I love seeing what the finished product should look like.

You might think by the title, One Pot, it would always mean a stockpot or dutch oven type of pan. However, this book has recipe for all kinds of pots and even roasting pans! The chapters are:
  • Dutch Oven
  • Skillet & Saute Pan
  • Slow Cooker
  • Roasting Pan & Baking Dish
  • Pressure Cooker
  • Stockpot & Saucepan
  • Desserts


The recipes look delicious! Some that stood out to me were Carnitas Tacos, Arroz con Pollo, Sausage, Chicken, and White-Bean Gratin, Turkey Skillet Pie, Skillet Macaroni and Cheese (with multiple variations!), and more! There are definitely several tasty things to make in this book. The only issue I had with the book is that I found some of the ingredients to be things I wouldn't likely get my family to eat. Things such as fennel, clams and items like that. And since I don't have a pressure cooker, that leaves out that chapter for me. However, I am sure the recipes could be adapted to be made without one. I wish they would have included instructions for those without pressure cookers.

In the end, I think this is definitely a cookbook worth checking out. I love all of the pictures and the fact that each chapter includes some basics and tips about the cookware that you're using. That is always handy. If you'd like to find out more about this cookbook click here.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Veggie Packed Meatloaf



I haven't made meatloaf in forever and thought it would be yummy so I decided to make it. This time to be a bit healthier, I decided to add some veggies to my meatloaf. I really enjoyed the results. I have to warn you here that I am trying to watch our sodium a bit, so if you choose to make this, you can adjust the recipe to add more salt. This is a good way to sneak veggies into kids, you could even puree the veggies if you wanted to before adding them to the meat so they can't be identified. I like to leave them like they are though.

Veggie packed Meatloaf

2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of finely diced onion
1 rib of celery, finely diced
1 carrot, diced finely
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ of an 8oz can of tomato sauce
1 cup of breadcrumbs
2 eggs, large
2 pounds of ground beef
ketchup


Preheat your over to 350 degrees. In a saute pan over medium heat, melt butter and then add the diced celery, onion and carrot. Saute for 3-5 minutes allowing the veggies to soften. Turn the heat down a bit and then cover and let the veggies continue to soften for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat back up to medium and add the minced garlic, allowing it to cook for a minute or two. You can also add a bit of salt here if you would like. Then add the half can of tomato sauce cooking for another minute. Set aside and let cool. Crack the two eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat them. In a large bowl, add the beaten eggs, ground beef, breadcrumbs, and the cooled veggie/tomato mixture. Mix the meatloaf mixture with your hands until everything is mixed well.

Now you’re ready to form your meatloaf and place it in a pan. I chose to use a sheet pan and free form my loaf. I like this way the best. You could also choose to use cupcake tins, though the cooking time would be quicker. Bake for one hour. Top with desired amount of ketchup (I like a good amount) and bake for about 10-15 minutes more.

Handy Tip #1: I advise you to check any meats you cook with a meat thermometer just to be extra safe. Fully cooked according to this website that I found online here is 160 degrees.

Handy Tip #2: Use parchment paper on your sheet pan for easy clean up.

Handy Tip #3: you could also use ketchup in place of the tomato sauce. I chose to use no salt added tomato sauce because I am trying to watch our sodium intake somewhat. I never really realized how high in sodium ketchup is. Feel free to sub it in place if you’d rather. Also, feel free to add more salt to this recipe as I didn’t really add much.