REVIEW: Holiday Cookies by Elisabet der Nederlanden

Holiday Cookies by Elisabet der Nederlanden

Holiday Cookies by Elisabet der Nederlanden

I am a complete Christmas cookie freak every year pretty much from Halloween until December 25th. Any spare second that I have I am either baking or looking up new recipes. Holiday Cookies by Elisabet der Nederlanden is the new source of cookie recipes that I have been waiting for.

The recipes are both fancy and approachable - the book is full of lovely cookies and packaging ideas that I know I will be using this year. I like that the cookie recipes are mostly familiar presented in a prettier than usual way. (People appreciate familiar at the holidays I think.)

NOTE: A free copy of this book was provided by Blogging For Books in exchange for a honest review.

September 2017 Quick Lit

From a road trip to Indiana -- seems like a nice place, but I was obsessed with finishing Glass Houses, so...

From a road trip to Indiana -- seems like a nice place, but I was obsessed with finishing Glass Houses, so...

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review. Well, I've been in such a back to school slump that my list is a whopping two book long this month. But really there's only one that matters:

Glass Houses by Louise Penny -- I never buy print books any more (out of room in my house), but I made an exception for this one. It didn't disappoint. These books leave me so emotionally drained, but in a good way. This one had a little different format that previous books in the series - it switched between a trial in the present day, and a murder in the past. I don't always love it when authors tell a story that way, but it worked here.

Also, I love Ruth.

Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan -- Simple and predictable, just what I needed for reading in the car while my husband drove us along the PA turnpike.

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My favorite non-fiction books from 2016

Earlier this year, I made a goal to read or listen to fifty non-fiction books. I read 47 - not bad, considering I'm in the middle of 3 non-fiction books right now, and I still have 11 days left to go in the year.

My non-fiction books look a lot different from my reading list I created at the end of last year. I managed to get through only 15 of 40 on my list. I can't decide if I need to read harder, or if I need to ease up a bit on my list. I have some very ambitious books on my list while my actual non-fiction reading leaned more towards travel memoirs and cook books. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Here are the non-fiction highlights from 2016. (Note, I'm talking about books I read in 2016, not necessarily books published in 2016.)

Best General Non-fiction from 2016:

Leaving Orbit by Margaret Lazarus Dean - Makes you sad that you didn't pay more attention to the space shuttle program when it was around.

The Road Not Taken by David Orr - An in depth look at the poem everyone quotes without understanding.

When Books Went To War by Molly Guptil Manning - A testamnet to the power of reading.

Best travel memoirs from 2016:

Grandma Gatewood's Walk by Ben Montgomery - Read this book if you want to feel weak (but in a good way.)

Walking with Plato by Gary Hayden - An excellent walking book where the walkers don't end up fighting or divorced at the end.

Braving It by Ben Campbell - A father and daughter go to backwoods Alaska. What could go wrong?

Best Biographies from 2016:

Hissing Cousins by Marc Plyser and Timothy Dwyer - A great look at a historical rivalry.

Rosemary by Kate Clifford Larson - So sad, but extremely interesting.

Best Cookbooks from 2016:

100 Recipes by America's Test Kitchen - Everything in this book is amazing. I keep having grand plans of cooking through it.

Home Cooked by Anya Fernald - Another book of delicious food, but also a great book to curl up with on a stormy day.

Everyone is Italian on Sunday by Rachel Ray - No gimmicks in this book, just great food. Try the oatmeal.

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Gift books under my tree

As should be expected in my house Santa leaves a lot of books under our tree. Here are a few I know he's bringing this year for my husband and kids (ages 5 and 8.)

For my son (age 8):

For my daughter (age 5):

For my husband (age unknown):

What's under your tree this year?

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[REVIEW] A New Way To Dinner by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

I recently had the pleasure of curling up and reading A New Way To Dinner by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. This gorgeous cookbook by the brains behind Food52 is a collection of amazing recipes that are also family friendly. Best of all they are organized to knock out a week's worth of cooking in one afternoon!

After an hour or so of reading and drooling over the recipes and color photographs I was inspired to get in the kitchen and cook. Not only did I prep for a week's worth of bag lunches for my family, I made the Thai Steak Salad from this book. We loved it, and I can't wait to do a more organized session of a week's worth of meals.

Buy this book for yourself, and buy a copy as a Christmas present for your best friend. you both will thank me later!

Note: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Blogging For Books.

REVIEW: KNEADLESSLY SIMPLE BY NANCY BAGGETT

This time of year things start to get crazy, but we still like our freshly made bread. Enter one of my favorite cookbooks, Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Baggett. In between swim camp and trying to get everything ready for back to school I was able to knock out 4 loaves of bread with about 20 minutes active work.

This is a great book for reading too. The varieties and instructions are interesting. Baggett really goes into the science behind her bread.

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REVIEW: A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches by Tyler Kord

I have never laughed so hard when reading about sandwiches. Amazing. Even if you are on a carb free gluten free paleo diet get this cookbook right away and read it cover to cover. All of the recipes, descriptions, even the index have little notes, and bits of sarcasm that just make you smile.

The recipes sound good too. There are normal meaty sandwiches, but there are also interesting vegetarian ones that involve broccoli. Apparently these are all served at the author's restaurant in New York, and I have never wanted to eat at a restaurant so much as I have after reading this cookbook. The food sounds good, but if the place is half the fun of this book I will never want to leave.

This isn't just a cookbook. It's a conversation starter, or something you would leave on your coffee table.  It would make a great gift for a Secret Santa or your quirky cousin.

Note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a honest review.

The best cookbooks for freezer cooking

Cooking in summer isn't always fun, but still the people who live here want to eat every day. I tend to rely on freezer cooking or batch cooking to get us through until the humidity falls back below 50%. There are tons of freezer cooking options online, but of course my most trusted resources are books.

Click on any of the book covers below to go to the description on amazon.com.

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REVIEW: Home Cooked by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana

Home Cooked is the kind of cookbook that you just want to curl up and read. The recipes are great, but the stories and background information are just as great. Home Cooked focuses on the foods many of us don't usually take the time to cook, but don't mind spending a Saturday afternoon reading about how to cook them - lard, sausages, condiments, the list goes on.

My husband saw me reading this book, and demanded to know when I would be cooking something from it. I decided on "The Greatest Pork Spareribs" and they were amazing! Everyone in my family loved the flavor, and there was nothing complicated about the recipe at all. I made the rub and put it on the meat early in the morning, went to the water park all day with my kids, came home exhausted, and threw them in the oven for a few hours. This is a recipe we'll enjoy again and again this summer.

Get this book if you love cookbooks you can cuddle up with. It would also make a great gift for someone who really takes food seriously.

Note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a honest review.

Linked to Wake Up Wednesday

REVIEW: Everyone is Italian on Sunday

If you love vegetables and Italian food this book is for you. For anyone who is stuck on the 30 minute gimmick and the cutesy sayings Rachel Ray is known for, put those aside and get ready to cook from this book all summer long.

This is not your usual spaghetti, meatballs, and chicken parm Italian cookbook. You'll find those things, but you'll also find dozens of recipes for eggplant, a whole chapter on using up garden veggies, and no less than three variations of mashed potatoes. (There's also a whole chapter devoted to cocktails, and some pretty damn good looking desserts.)

I read this book right after my herb garden started producing, so the first recipe I made was Savory Fennel, Rosemary, and Honey Oatmeal. It was amazing! The oatmeal was just the right mix of hearty food and tasty flavor. I can't wait to request this book again once the full garden starts producing, and cook through the vegetable section.

Other cookbooks that make you want to eat all your veggies:

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REVIEW: 100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways To Make The True Essentials by America's Test Kitchen

If you need simple, tasty food that your kids will actually eat may I suggest 100 Recipes from America's Test Kitchen? I've looked at books like this before, and have been disappointed by lists of crazy ingredients or fancy twists on basic food. This book isn't like that. It contains basic recipes that use the best ingredients cooked in the best way.

A real sign of how basic these ingredients are: I was reading this book in the car on the way home from a hike, and saw a recipe for Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts. I decided it looked good, and was able to cook it from things I had on hand. That never happens to me due to the small children who live in my house and eat through all available ingredients as if they were a swarm of locusts.

I've never been tempted to cook through a cookbook before, but this book might just get me to do it. It seems as if it can get me to rise above the daily beat down caused by my lack of time combined with my suspicious of anything that is not pasta kids - at least once or twice a week.

I got this book from the library, but I'm planning on buying my own copy using cash money from the bookstore. That's saying something.

If you too are beaten down by life, here are some more cookbooks that might bring you back from the dark side:


REVIEW: The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook

I came across The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook by Debra Ponzek when I was looking for something else at the library. The title brings to mind one of those books that tells you how to survive the apocalypse or a terrorist attack. Dinnertime has invaded us, and it is something we must survive. The book isn't like that though. These aren't quick let's throw something on the table type recipes. They're hey, you have to eat anyway, so why not make it fresh and delicious type recipes.

Just because this isn't a quick cooking cook book doesn't mean that the recipes are complicated. Most have just a handful of ingredients, but they are good and flavorful ingredients. I made the Baked Mac And Cheese the day I brought this cookbook home, and my whole family loved it.

If you're in a cooking rut, struggling with wanting to serve whole foods to your family but need ideas, or want to give a great cookbook as a gift I'd recommend this one!

Other Great Cook Books For Busy Families:

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Quick Lit December 2015

My reading this month has been pretty diverse - from cookbooks to drug dealers I've read it all. Most of the year I stick pretty closely to my reading lists, and spend a fair amount of time reading ARCs. This time of year though I just read what I want. It's kind of like my attitude towards desserts this time of year. If I see it, and I want it, I go for it!

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner isn't a fluffy chick lit novel. It takes on the serious topic of addiction. The main character makes many, many mistakes, and is a somewhat unreliable narrator. However she was likable, and I found myself rooting for her. 

I really liked Cooked by Jeff Henderson. I found it at the library when I was looking for something else, and read it on a whim. If you missed this book when it came out, I suggest you give it a try. It really gives an inside look at the life of a drug dealer, and what it takes to come back from a prison sentence.

Until we read The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz out loud, I didn't know a pig could be so inspiring. This kept my 7 year old boy and my 4 year old girl interested, and it made a great next read after Charlotte's Web.

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center wasn't the best book I've read all year, but it had some good spots. It worked as an audiobook.

I listened to All The Wrong Questions - Shouldn't You Be In School by Lemony Snicket in my car while I was driving to get groceries or running my kids around. I usually find these in the kid's section of the library, but I think a lot of it goes over my kids' heads. At least I know there's not going to be any swearing so they're car safe.

Note: This is linked to Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit. All links to amazon.com are affiliate links. Thanks for your support.