Friday, November 27, 2015

Review of Michael Symon's 5 in 5 for Every Season Cookbook

Nutshell: One of the co-hosts of ABC's The Chew has a new cookbook out! Michael Symon's has paired beautiful pictures with quick recipes in his new cookbook 5 in 5: 5 fresh ingredients and 5 minutes of heat. Each season of the year is featured in this book that include ingredients privy to that season. Each recipe in turn is quick to fix and on your table in a matter of minutes. You will find over 100 recipes in this packed cookbook with something to please everyone's pallet.

Pro's: The pictures! I'm a very visual person and the pictures definitely caught my eye right away. I love to cook and was excited to try this book. I poured over each recipe and read through the book a couple times, ear-marking recipes I wanted to try. I also enjoyed the little intersects of personal tidbits through the book about his life growing up and memories/places related to recipes.

Con's: As with any cookbook, not every single recipe will be a keeper. There were some recipes I knew I needed to skip over either due to cost, the items not being available in our area, or knowing my kids would eat one bite and be done.

Recommendation: If you are a fan of Michael Symon's, you will like this book. Great pictures, easy recipes for the beginner chef to intermediate/brave chef who is up for a challenge.

The recipe I tried was in the Spring section and was titled Pork with Broccoli and Cashews.

1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced 1/8 inch think
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups broccoli florets (from 1/2 large head)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cashews
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cornstarch

1. Put a large skillet over high heat. Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the pan. Add the pork in an even layer and cook, without moving, for 1 minute. Flip the pork and add the broccoli to the pan. Continue cooking until the pork and broccoli begin to brown, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cashews, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, mustard, 2 tablespoons water, and the cornstarch.

3. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan, over, and cook for 1 minute until the sauce thickens. Serve hot.

Adjustments I made: I did not add red pepper flakes due to sensitive taste buds in the house. I added the cashews as a side as not all members under our roof enjoy nuts.

*Outcome: I would make it again (my kids loved it) and would use a higher quality soy sauce as it was pretty salty even with the low sodium brand I used. I will add more broccoli next time as our youngest went back for seconds and I heard "ahhh...never mind...I wanted more broccoli" (words to a mother's ears!). I almost missed the w2 tablespoons of water in step 2 as water wasn't one of the ingredients up top and it caught me off guard a bit.

WaterbrookMultnomah sent me this complimentary book to review for them. Opinions expressed are
my own.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Review of Vendetta by Lisa Harris

Nutshell: This is book one in the Nikki Boyd Files series. Nikki Boyd is in charge of her first case on the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force. A teenage girl has come up missing after leaving her cabin to go on a walk. When Detective Boyd finds out she had been chatting on-line with a boy of whom she was secretly going to meet, and that boy wasn't who he says he was, the case takes on the form of an abduction. When clues start surfacing that mimic the abduction of her still-missing sister from 10 years ago, Nikki's mission now becomes personal. Will this case lead her to the answers she has been searching for surrounding her missing sister?

Pro's: I enjoyed how the author kept you guessing throughout this book. It made it that much more appealing to read all the way to the end. It wasn't excessively over-the-top bloody and gory which is nice, especially if you're reading before going to sleep! Good plot and story-line.

Con's: Even though this was the first book in the series, I felt like I should've known who the main characters were. They way they were introduced throughout the book left me a little puzzled as to where they came from. It took a bit in to the book to learn back stories before feeling like they all made sense in my head.

Recommendation: If you enjoy mystery suspense, then you may enjoy this book. I've enjoyed previous books by Lisa Harris and you may as well if you like this book.

Revell Books sent me a complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are mine alone.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Review of Grill It, Braise It, Broil It by the American Heart Association

Nutshell: A cookbook filled with 175 heart healthy recipes that feature 12 different ways to prepare your main dishes. This book contains recipes for your crockpot, the grill, broiling and even microwaving along with many more options.

Pro's: The color pictures! I love cookbooks with pictures as I am a very visual person and like to see what dishes look like. There was a variety of cooking styles that may suit those looking for a different slant of how dishes are prepared.

Con's: Not many recipes were appealing. We are not a tofu family and the majority of recipes use tofu. I found very few healthy sweet recipes and very few recipes that contain main staples in the kitchen. I may be more tempted to prepare some of the recipes if it was just my husband and I, but with two growing kids, I know they may not particularly care for the unusual recipes. (Yes, they do try everything I cook). My pantry does not contain a lot of the buy-once ingredients, not would my budget fit the unusual assortment of items I would need to buy for one recipe.

Recommendation: If you are an adventurous cook, this is the book for you. If Beets with Orange Gremolata to Stuffed Chayote Squash make your fingers itch to get cooking, get this book and you may just enjoy some of the interesting dishes it has to offer.

The recipe I tried was Stuffed "Baked" Apples. The recipe is found below:

2 T light brown sugar
2 T sweetened dried cranberries
2 T gold raisins
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
4 small Granny Smith, Fuji, or Gala apples, halved, cored scared
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 T chopped walnuts, dry roasted.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cranberries, raisins, cinnamon, oil, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.

Put the apples in a shallow 1-quart microwaveable baking dish with a lid. Spoon the stuffing in the apples. Pour the orange juice around the apples.

Microwave, covered, on 100 percent power (high) for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the apples are soft.

Carefully transfer the apples to serving plates, leaving the juices in the dish. Microwave the remaining juices, uncovered, on 100 percent power (high) for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by half (to about 1/4 cup).

Just before serving, drizzle the juice mixture over the apples, Sprinkle with the walnuts

*I served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. I also omitted the walnuts as they are not a favorite in our household. This tasted really good, but hard to eat the skins - they were used more as a bowl to hold the softened apple in.

Waterbrook Multnomah sent me this complimentary book to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own, as is the photo of the dessert.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Review of A Reason to Stay by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Nutshell: This is book 3 in the Texas Gold Collection. Faith Marin has it all. The perfect job. The perfect husband. The perfect life. Or so it seems.  She is climbing the ladder at the TV station she has dedicated her life to. Her sights are set on being a news anchor at a national station. But with her dedication to work, her marriage comes in second place and not long after saying "I do" things start to become strained and fall apart. In the blink of an eye, tragedy strikes and Faith now has to reevaluate her life, her marriage and her priorities.

Pro's: What a great book! It was a stand alone book even though it is in a series. I loved the story line, how the characters were portrayed, the battle put before Faith, the deep love and of course, the outcome. Kellie Coates Gilbert did a fantastic job keeping the reader engaged and hungry to read until the wee hours of the morning just to finish the book. What a heart string pulling book that takes you through the past of the main character and weaves it in to the present.

Con's: I wish it was longer! The only thing that could've been different was the cover. But what was behind the cover was amazing!

Recommendation: Read this book! There are not a lot of books that I will stay up late reading. This was one of them. Such a heart warming, heart wrenching good book that you won't be able to put down!

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.