ARC Review: Treat Yourself! by Jessica Siskin

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Treat Yourself!: How to Make 93 Ridiculously Fun No-Bake Crispy Rice Treats
Author: Jessica Siskin
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): It all began with a giant cheeseburger-shaped rice crispy treat, created on a whim and posted online. Since then, Misterkrisp, aka food artist Jessica Siskin, has become an Instagram sensation with her joy-inducing, pop-culture-inspired treats.

Treat Yourself! is the perfect answer for any cook, crafty food lover, or creative parent looking to make crowd-pleasing and personalized treats for birthdays, holidays, school events, and virtually every other occasion. With no baking required, these playful, visually dazzling sweets are simple enough for anyone to whip up.

Each of the 93 projects, arranged from Apple to Zebra, starts with a single base recipe. There are large, cake-sized treats to share and individual-sized treats perfect for bake sales and goody bags. Step-by-step instructions, vibrant illustrations, and downloadable templates ensure that anyone, with any level of skill, can turn out delicious, eye-catching creations: Lively designs for kids’ parties—Robot, Dinosaur, Crown, Balloons. A Cheeseburger. A Statue of Liberty. A Dancing Lady Emoji. And a sweet centerpiece for your next Super Bowl bash: a Football Stadium filled with sprinkle spectators. It’ll serve the neighborhood!

Treats have never been so much fun or so doable.

Goodreads | Amazon

Having been a long time fan of Rice Krispie squares, I knew that I had to check this book out! There are literally close to 100 different ideas and designs in this book, and it will most likely inspire its readers to create their own treat projects as well. The instructions are relatively easy and the images are absolutely whimsical. Also, Jessica shares her story and how she came to be the iconic Misterkrisp in the introduction to the book, which is an interesting addition to a recipe book.

If you have already discovered Misterkrisp online, you will already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Treat Yourself! Siskin gives her readers a list of tools and tips on how to achieve the best results from her recipes, as well as a chart that breaks down the ratios of cereal, marshmallow, butter and food colouring each design will require. The book takes on the idea that this is arts and crafts more than cooking and gives the sense that there is no wrong way to create each design. The medium is forgivable and it is easy to correct a mistake with a simple fix.

As the synopsis indicates, Treat Yourself! is a great resource for anyone looking to come up with some interesting, crowd-pleasing treats. The designs range from easy to advanced, with one of the more difficult recipes being a recreation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night! I am not sure if I have the ability to make that one turn out as well as the one in the book, but I think it is something that would be a lot of fun trying to create.

wkendcooking

 

 

I have linked this post to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: Essential Oils by Neal’s Yard Remedies

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Essential Oils
Author: Claire Cross (editor)
Publisher: DK
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): An introductory guide to essential oils and aromatherapy from the experts at Neal’s Yard Remedies, a trusted source for natural health and beauty products.

Introduce yourself to the world of Essential Oils for treating maladies and improving mental and physical well-being. Featuring comprehensive profiles of 88 essential oils, all-natural remedies for common ailments, aromatic recipes for home and beauty, and helpful guidance for blending, storing, and using essential oils, this introductory guide is packed with authoritative information from the experts at Neal’s Yard Remedies.

Whether you seek natural alternatives to conventional medicines or want to eliminate synthetically produced chemicals from your home and beauty products, simple visual instructions and gorgeous full-color photographs make it easy. An illustrated A to Z reference section helps you identify the most useful oils, while information on application methods, tips on massage techniques, guidance on creating custom blends, and up-to-date safety recommendations help you learn how to use them for maximum benefit.

Essential Oils can help you improve your overall well-being and start you on the path to a more natural you.

Goodreads | Amazon

I have just recently become aware of the benefits of using essential oils, and while I probably will never use them exclusively to treat my own ailments, there are some interesting ideas and tips in Essential Oils. This book really is a great resource for anyone wanting to understand natural medicine and the different ways that essential oils are used. There are tips for your home, health, beauty, and a very descriptive guide about each plant and oil used in these techniques.

If you are like me and have a super sense of smell, the directions for how to make a diffuser or room spray may be of use to you. It does seem like a healthier alternative to use an essential oil to alter the scent of a room. I love a subtle floral aroma in a room and I am going to give the room spray recipe a try. It is a simple mix of vodka, mineral oil, and an essential oil. Seems fairly simple and might just be my new go-to for a quick room deodorizer.

As with most DK books, the book is packed with all sorts of information and really delves deep into the history and science behind using the oils as a benefit to your mind, body, and soul. Each plant and its oil is discussed in depth and if you are at all curious about what a simple lavender oil can do, you will be very surprised.

The section that appeals to me the most in the book is the beauty section. I have just started trying to make my own bath products to save money, and as a hobby. There are a few recipes for making bath bombs and melts that are simple and relatively inexpensive to make. If those amazing store-bought bath bombs are your thing, you may want to check this book out because I was really surprised to discover the simple ingredients in making them. Baking soda, citric acid and essential oils are really all that is required.

This is a perfect guide for anyone interested in learning about essential oils and how they can be used. The book is easy to follow and you will come away with a wealth of information on this hot trend that has been around for centuries. I look forward to trying  a few of them out myself.

 

ARC Review: Mexican Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Stories by Fany Gerson

I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: Mexican Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Stories
Author: Fany Gerson
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): A collection of 60+ flavor-packed recipes for ice creams and frozen treats rooted in Mexico’s rich and revered ice cream traditions.
This new offering from the incredibly popular baker and sweets maker Fany Gerson, the powerhouse behind Brooklyn’s La Newyorkina and Dough, showcases the incredibly diverse flavors of Mexican ice cream while exploring the cultural aspects of preparing and consuming ice cream in Mexico. Gerson uses unique ingredients to create exciting and fresh flavors like Red Prickly Pear Ice Cream,
Oaxacan-style Lime Sorbet, Avocado-Chocolate Ice Cream, and Rice-Almond Ice Cream with Cinnamon. All recipes are created with the home cook in mind, and written in Fany’s knowledgeable but accessible voice. Mexican Ice Cream features vibrant location photography and captures the authentic Mexican heladerias that Gerson has been visiting for decades. For anyone looking to up their summer ice cream game, this is the book.

Goodreads | Amazon

If that cover doesn’t grab your attention and get you excited for summer and the days of licking endless ice cream cones, the contents of Mexican Ice Cream surely will. When I first saw this book I was intrigued by the concept that there is such a thing as Mexican ice cream. After reading the stories, lusting over the images, and creating my own taste of heaven, I am excited to try more of these interesting recipes.

I have never been to Mexico, or New York for that matter, so this whole new world of flavours really took me by surprise. The author, Fany Gerson, is the owner of La Newyorkina, a little ice cream shop in New York that sells all sorts of Mexican treats and ice cream. This second book that she has written not only contains many different recipes for creating gelato, sorbets and ice cream, it is prefaced with some historical information on how ice cream in Mexico all began. Gerson also tells of her own inspiration in setting up her shop, making this book more than just a book of recipes.

 

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I don’t actually own a fancy ice cream maker, mine is a hobby shop special that you have to shake to create your ice cream. Without the aid of an easier method, I did try creating the Lime Gelato with Chia Seeds recipe and it turned out quite well. The fresh lime zest gives it so much flavour and the chia seeds make for a really interesting texture.

 

If you are a fan of summer treats and ice cream, I highly suggest checking out Mexican Ice Cream. The images are beautiful and you will come away with some interesting facts about this traditional Mexican food. After I give my arms a rest, I am going to give the Spicy Watermelon Sorbet a try!

wkendcooking

I have linked this post to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: Impatient Foodie: 100 Delicious Recipes for a Hectic, Time-Starved World by Elettra Wiedemann

I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: Impatient Foodie: 100 Delicious Recipes for a Hectic, Time-Starved World
Author: Elettra Weidemann
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Sustainable and conscious eating made simple, fun, and delicious—the founder of Impatient Foodie shows how the “slow food” movement doesn’t have to be slow with these inspired meals perfect for everyone.

Elettra Wiedemann didn’t set out to be a foodie. At twenty-eight, with a burgeoning global modeling career and a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics, she understood the larger impact of her food choices, and the importance of a more conscious way of life. But whenever she walked into her apartment after a twelve-hour work day, all her ideals about food would collapse. Why did being a foodie mean you have to labor for hours using obscure cooking methods and ingredients? Why did good food always go hand-in-hand with slowing down? Wasn’t there a way to have slow, sustainable, delicious food without the “slow”?

Impatient Foodie bridges the gap between the ideals of the organic, slow food movement and the realities of a busy life. Loaded with shortcuts, pantry lists, and more than one hundred handy and delicious recipes for busy people, this vividly illustrated, easy-to-navigate cookbook shows how to get the most out of your meals in the least amount of time. Organized by ingredient to minimize grocery store trips and maximize seasonality, Impatient Foodie offers easy ways to spin off kale, chicken, fish, berries, and more into multiple meals, and offers home cooks a variety of inspiring vegetarian and vegan options. Unique, friendly, and entertaining, The Impatient Foodie provides the ideal foundation for thoughtful eating in a hectic, time-starved world. With her immensely popular Impatient Foodie blog, her profile at Refinery29, her degree in biomedicine, and her stunning beauty and charm, Elettra Wiedemann is the perfect spokesperson for this reassuring and helpful message.

Goodreads | Amazon

Impatient Foodie is the cookbook made for anyone with the desire to eat delicious, healthy and interesting foods without the time to prepare them. There are a variety of different  recipes to choose from, with a focus on fruits and vegetables, meats, and desserts. Weidemann takes the sustainable food movement to a new level, and has created easy to follow recipes that make it simple for those of us who are too impatient to cook nutritious meals.

I am always struggling to find ways to eat food that is both good for me and quick to prepare. Throw in a desire to eat something locally, and I have no idea how to begin. I love the fact that Weidemann takes the guilt out of what and how I eat through her easy and down-to-earth approach to cooking.

There are so many more recipes that I look forward to creating, that I think I have bookmarked every single page in this one! However, I narrowed it down to a few things to try for my review and every single recipe was quick and flavourful. The Banana Cardamom Oatmeal is one that I have actually made a few times, and if you are a fan of morning oatmeal, this is one that should be on your radar. It is cooked with coconut milk and the addition of cardamom, banana, and pistachios give it a yummy and rich flavour that is so perfect for kicking off the day.

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Banana Cardamom Oatmeal

Soups have always been a weeknight staple for me, as they are typically simple to prepare and provide a filling meal on a busy day. The Thai Cocounut Cauliflower Soup in this cookbook is absolutely incredible, and it has so much flavour that comes simply from  the addition of red curry paste. It is a must try if you plan on making anything from this book.

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Thai Coconut Cauliflower Soup

Last night, I made the enchiladas and I was surprised at how quickly they were to assemble. A rotisserie chicken makes the task so much easier that I am planning on using this tip more often. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo (they are that amazingly distracting!), however I discovered Weidemann has posted the recipe on her Facebook page.

If you are interested in trying to eat healthy and do not have the time to do it, this is one recipe book that you should check out. It is simple, straight forward and really helps to make a foodie out of anyone. I look forward to creating more recipes from this one!

wkendcooking I have linked this post to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades by Steven Raichlen

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades–Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too
Author: Steven Raichlen
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Barbecue sauces, rubs, and marinades are every griller’s secret weapon—the flavor boosters that give grilled food its character, personality, depth, and soul.

Steven Raichlen, America’s “master griller” (Esquire), has completely updated and revised his bestselling encyclopedia of chile-fired rubs, lemony marinades, buttery bastes, pack-a-wallop sauces, plus mops, slathers, sambals, and chutneys. It’s a cornucopia of all the latest flavor trends, drawing from irresistible Thai, Mexican, Indian, Cajun, Jamaican, Italian, and French cuisines, as well as those building blocks from America’s own barbecue belt.

There are over 200 recipes in all, including a full sampler of dinner recipes using the sauces. And the book now has full-color photographs throughout. It’s the essential companion cookbook for every at-home pitmaster looking to up his or her game.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

I have always enjoyed grilling season, and while I am not the one typically doing the grilling, I thought that this collection of recipes would give me some inspiration. There are so many different types of marinades and rubs in this book that it is actually mind-boggling! If you are in the market for some barbecue ideas or tips, this is the recipe book that has it all.

Grilling season has just barely begun and I cannot wait to try out some of these interesting recipes in Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades. Raichlen has written this book to give help to those who are new to barbecuing and there are so many ideas and how-tos alongside the directions. Important concepts, such as how not to cross-contaminate foods are addressed, yet those more experienced cooks will enjoy the interesting variety of recipes.

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Desserts are not something I would associate with my grill, however my eyes have been opened to new possibilities! I tried the grilled pineapple rub and found it not only tasty, it was simple and easy to put together with just a few ingredients, such as sugar and cinnamon. I really enjoy the simplicity of these recipes and they take ordinary foods and kick them up a notch with an easy to assemble rub or marinade.

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Another recipe that I tried was Raichlen’s, “The Only Marinade You’ll Ever Need.” Well, this simple and zesty Mediterranean marinade is very versatile and can be used for so many different meats. It is essentially an oil and lemon juice mixture that has some added spice to it. I used this recipe to marinade some chicken pieces and it made my chicken flavourful and moist. This is definitely a recipe that I will be coming back to over and over again.

Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades is pretty much your one stop shop for any grilling recipe out there. Along with its tips and ideas for how to handle food, this book makes a great addition to any collection. I am going to be gifting this cookbook to a few grillers on my list this year, for sure!

wkendcooking I have linked this post to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: A Year of Picnics by Ashley English

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Title: A Year of Picnics
Author: Ashley English
Publisher: Roost Books
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Everyone loves picnicking—dining in the great outdoors, cozied up on blankets, and surrounded by the beauty of the natural world. Now imagine doing it year-round, where the setting speaks to the foods served, and you’ve got A Year of Picnics!

All it takes is a picnic blanket and some inspiration to take a meal from so-so to sensational. Pair the perfect location with the right foods, and you can take your picnicking to the next level. On mountaintops or rooftops, in nocturnal settings or in daylight, even in winter, this book invites readers to look at picnics in a whole new way. The twenty themed, seasonal picnics are made all the more special with activities, games, and crafts that encourage people to explore the outdoors and connect to one another—over food, perhaps on a blanket, in a special place. Grab a blanket and a basket, get outside, and start experiencing the joy that picnicking provides.

Goodreads | Amazon

If you are looking for a recipe book that is a little bit different from your typical book of tips and recipes, A Year of Picnics by Ashley English is sure to provide you with some inspiration. Not only are there themed picnics based on the four seasons, there are activities and ideas that revolve around the theme of each picnic. This book is full of fun ways to take your standard picnic and transform it into an event with its beautiful photographs and interesting approach.

As you can imagine, the most opportune time to venture out on a picnic is during the warmer months and when the weather is just right. The themed picnics included in this collection range from a coffee break picnic to a full on high altitude picnic. I am really looking forward to trying some of these ideas once it becomes a little bit warmer outside. I have already got the bird-watching picnic penciled in my daytimer, as the Carbonara Nests and Bird Seed Cookie recipes look divine and I just love the fact that they fit the whole idea of being outside with the birds.

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Each of the picnics contains a collection of activities to go along with the menu and the venue. Some picnics have things that the whole family can do and others are as simple as stretching on your coffee break. There is something that will interest anyone.

picnicSince we are just barely past winter here in Southern Ontario, I was only able to give the Winter Picnic a try. My family really enjoyed our wintry walk and we had a blast blowing bubbles and spraying the snow with food colouring to make interesting designs in the snow. The S’mores Brownies were an instant hit, as they are chocolate brownies baked on a graham cracker crust and topped with lots of gooey marshmallows.

For anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors and loves to picnic, this is a must-have in your collection. While it is fun to go picnicking, it is even more fun when you add some interesting foods and different ideas to kick it up a notch. I am definitely inspired to get out and picnic more often this year.

wkendcooking

I have linked this post to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: The Really Quite Good British Cookbook: The Food We Love from 100 of Our Best Chefs, Cooks, Bakers and Local Heroes by William Sitwell (editor)

 

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Title: The Really Quite Good British Cookbook: The Food We Love from 100 of Our Best Chefs, Cooks, Bakers and Local Heroes
Author: William Sitwell (editor)
Publisher: Nourish
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): What do you cook for the people you love? Asked this question, 100 of Britain’s food heroes have shared their most beloved recipes to make this extraordinary cookbook. Nigella Lawson divulges how to bake her Chocolate Guinness Cake and Rick Stein fries up Shrimp & Dill Fritters with Ouzo. Yotam Ottolenghi would serve Pea & Mint Croquettes and for Jamie Oliver, an unrivalled Fantastic Fish Pie. These are just a few of the incredible recipes provided by the best and brightest on the British food scene, including chefs such as Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsay, Delia Smith, James Martin, Nigel Slater, Thomasina Miers, Mark Hix, Jason Atherton, Marco Pierre White, Claudia Roden and more.

Compiled by award-winning food editor and author William Sitwell, The Really Quite Good British Cookbook is keenly anticipated and a stunning object in its own right. Ultimately it is a celebration of the breadth, creativity and richness of Britain’s unique food culture.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Really Quite Good British Cookbook absolutely defies that old adage that the British serve bland and tasteless food. In this large collection of recipes from so many celebrated British chefs, you will find many interesting and exceptional dishes to prepare at home. Also, the images that are peppered throughout this book include breathtaking images of beautiful scenery as well as mouth-watering food.

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What is most fascinating about this compilation of recipes is the fact that there are so many different types of dishes to choose from. There are breakfast ideas, fish, game, poultry, pasta, sides, and a number of desserts to create that really shows the breadth and changing palette of this diverse land. The Really Quite British Cookbook really has it all and if you are looking for one book that has a variety of recipes, this is the one you will want to check out.

For those of us who are not British, some of the ingredients may require a little bit of investigation if you are not familiar with some of the British terms. I definitely had to learn about caster sugar when creating the yummy Brioche French Toast recipe by Joanna Brennan, which really only required a little bit of molasses added to sugar. This was a really easy and delicious recipe that puts a twist on your standard french toast recipe with the use of brioche and vanilla paste.

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Most notably, the images in the book are gorgeous and each recipe/chef is shown on a map to further describe the food of that particular region of Britain. This part of the book really demonstrates the changing landscape and food evolution that is taking place in Britain. Also, some the proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Trussel Trust, which is a charity that runs Britain’s food banks. All the more reason to pick-up a copy of this amazing book!

If you are looking to try some new and interesting recipes, The Really Quite Good British Cookbook is one that I highly recommend. I can’t wait to try out a few more of the recipes included in this wonderful book. It is one that has something for everyone.

wkendcooking

I have linked this post over at  Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: Botanical Beauty: 80 Essential Recipes for Spa Products by Aubre Andrus

 

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Title: Botanical Beauty: 80 Essential Recipes for Spa Products
Author: Aubre Andrus
Publisher: Capstone
Publication Date: March 1, 2017
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Soak, scrub, and soothe your way to relaxation with simple homemade spa recipes from award-winning author Aubre Andrus. Using some of nature’s best ingredients, such as beeswax, sugar, coconut oil, shea butter, avocado, sea salt, essential oils, and more, craft everything from a Cooling Peppermint Hand Cream to a Vanilla Honey Body Scrub. Make practical products, like your own all-natural Bugs-Be-Gone Insect Repellent, Minty Homemade Toothpaste, and Natural Shaving Cream. Or pamper yourself after a long day with a Re-energizing Tub Tea, Lovely Lavender Bath Salts, and a Deep Conditioning Treatment. Nourish your body from head to toe with these organic, handmade recipes and crafts, or package them as a gift to share a fresh, fun spa experience.

Goodreads | Amazon

This is not a book that I typically review, but when I saw it on NetGalley, I couldn’t resist checking it out for all of those awesome DIY spa recipes! Botanical Beauty has a multitude of great recipes and ideas to make your own bath bombs, lotions and many other beauty products. This book is gorgeous and contains very simple instructions and tips. The only criticism that I have is the fact that some of the required items, such as essential oils are quite expensive.

If you are like me, bath bombs and salts have become a frequent purchase that can really add up. For gift giving, they are my favourite go-to items. Since I have had a copy of this book since before the holidays, I was able to create a few of the recipes for friends as gifts. Not only did I have fun, these gifts were just a little bit more special, as they were handmade.

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Many of the ingredients are most likely already in your cupboard, making many of the recipes super easy to put together. The tub teas are a mix of sea salt, oatmeal and essential oil. They are not only easy to make, they are customizable, as you can choose the scent that you would like. I have had lots of great feedback as well and I can honestly say that they are soothing and skin softening.

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While there are quite a few bath products and gifts that can be made with just a few ingredients from your kitchen, some of the more elaborate recipes will require a trip to a natural food store. Items such as coconut oil, shea butter and essential oils are needed to create the lotions and lip balms. I found that a few of these products were a bit more pricey than I expected, so I suggest that you shop for deals or investigate the cost of the necessary items ahead of time. It is definitely worth the cost up front if you do intend on making a large quantity of certain recipes.

If you are looking to try your hand at creating some of your beauty products, I highly suggest checking out Botanical Beauty. This book is jam-packed with recipes that are easy to follow and the images are also quite stunning. I have been whipping up quite a few of the tub teas and while I love shopping for those expensive bath products, these recipes are fun and definitely well-received gifts!

 

ARC Review: Packed: Lunch Hacks to Squeeze More Nutrients into Your Day by Becky Alexander

 

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Title: Packed: Lunch Hacks to Squeeze More Nutrients into Your Day
Author: Becky Alexander, Michelle Lake
Publisher: Nourish
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Stars: 3.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):  The workday packed lunch – so often a repetitive and disappointing affair – is easier than you think to get right; it just requires a little forward planning. Throw out the soggy sandwiches and fill your Thermos or lunch box with nutrient-packed goodies that are simple to prepare, delicious – and full of things that are good for you. Contemporary and seasonal recipes are supported by sound nutrition to bring you this hip and easy guide on lunch on the go. While food writer Becky Alexander shows you how to knock up simple and satisfying bites – from vibrant Skip to the Beet Soup to satisfying Good Mood Cookies – nutritionist Michelle Lake will explain how that lunch is doing you good. Chapters include:
– Get Up and Go for those breakfasts on the run
– Raw Goodness salads
– Filling Flasks of satisfying hot food
– Fork-free Fare: sandwiches, dips and other cutlery-free eats
– Snacks and Bites for the inbetween times and treats
By strategic shopping, making things ahead, and using your fridge and freezer craftily, creating exciting and healthy lunches every day becomes almost effortless. Health benefits of particular foods are featured throughout, so you know your blood sugar will be balanced, the nutrition will be packed in and your brain will be kept in top gear. Because work is harder when you’re not fully fuelled!

Goodreads | Amazon

I am always searching for ways to simplify my life and my routine. Eating healthy and making wise food choices is something that is important to me and I am sure many others out there. While Packed has some wonderful ideas and takes an interesting approach to lunchtime fare, most of the recipes and ideas were not in accordance with my definition of a “lunch hack,” a way to use shortcuts and tricks to simplify my productivity.

Smoothies for breakfast and salads for lunch are not a relatively new concept for healthy eating options. However, there are some interesting combinations and ideas that may shake things up for you, if you are looking for new ideas. Some of the other recipes included in this book are deli plates, soups and even sushi. As you can imagine, the soups will take some effort to prepare and the sushi will require time, equipment, and skill. These techniques are unique and they are definitely a delicious approach to your standard lunch, but you will have to put quite a bit of effort into their creations.

IMG_5146As for the recipes included in the Snacks and Bites chapter, these are quite a bit easier to prepare. However, I still found that the number of dishes, time, and ingredients to make something as simple as popcorn was a little excessive. I made the Paprika Popcorn, which was quite tasty. The method uses coconut oil to pop the corn in a pan on the stove and a small amount of butter and paprika. I am not sure if I would go to all of this trouble before leaving in the morning, but I will concede that it is a healthy and filling snack.

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Another recipe that I enjoyed from Packed was the Pick-and-Mix Granola. I really enjoy granola and it is so versatile, as you can snack on it and use it as a topping for so many other foods. This recipe calls for oil, sweetener, grains, spice, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. What is great about this approach is you can choose from a variety of items and make it all your own. I used coconut oil, oatmeal, cinnamon, vanilla, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. The recipe is simple enough, yet will require an hour to bake in the oven.

 

If you are looking for some different lunch ideas that have health benefits, then you may want to take a look at Packed. Many of these recipes will require time and some skill, so if a “hack” is what you are after for your lunchtime routine, this book may not provide you with those solutions. There are quite a few recipes in this book that I will definitely attempt on weekends, but most of these ideas don’t work for my busy lifestyle.

 

 

wkendcooking

I’ve linked this post over at Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: My Sweet Kitchen: Recipes for Stylish Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Donuts, Cupcakes and More by Linda Lomelino

 

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Title: My Sweet Kitchen: Recipes for Stylish Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Donuts, Cupcakes and More
Author: Linda Lomelino
Publisher: Roost Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): The world of desserts has never been more delicious, or more elegantly styled. With Linda Lomelino as your baking muse, your kitchen just got a whole lot sweeter.

With an offset spatula laden with buttercream in one hand and a camera in the other, Linda Lomelino has made her mark as one of the most exciting recipe creators and food photographers in the world. My Sweet Kitchen, Linda’s third cookbook, is bursting with many of her favorite recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, cupcakes, donuts, spoon desserts, and other sweet delights.

Linda’s desserts are renowned for their elegant blend of classic flavor combinations and unexpected style. Along with nearly 50 original recipes, the book also contains three chapters chock-full of tips on how to bake, decorate, style, and photograph your own creations at home.

Linda Lomelino openheartedly shares her secrets for successful baking, telling us what we should always keep in our well-stocked pantries for best results. What should we prioritize when baking complex cakes? Is it best to use a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients? (Hint: “accurate measurements” and “yes”!) With her trademark atmospheric photographs, every recipe in the book comes to life. Linda also shows us how to pipe icing, frost cakes, decorate with edible flowers, style food to be shared (and “liked”) on social media, and even how to tell if we should invest in a new camera to take food photography to the next level. If you have even the slightest sweet tooth, this book will hook you.

Goodreads | Amazon

 I have been baking up a storm these last couple of weeks thanks to Linda Lomelino and her new recipe book, My Sweet Kitchen. I was first drawn to this one for its gorgeous cover and the fact that Lomelino shares some of her photography tips in the book. If you are anything like me, taking pictures for social media or the blog is a struggle. This book is a really useful guide to anyone wishing to learn baking basics and how to capture images of the process with ease in a genuinely kind and forgiving manner.

My Sweet Kitchen is filled with beautiful photos that will make the reader both drool and become excited to get baking and styling. Lomelino walks through some of her photographs in the book and describes in detail the process to go from a good photo to an eye-popping masterpiece. Her method is so laid back and she gives her readers permission to make mistakes, which is comforting to me because I make lots of them! I am not about to say that my pictures are gorgeous, but I do feel as though I have made some improvements with her suggestions.

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These yummy blueberry bars have actually become one of my favourite new go-to desserts. They are so easy to make and are basically a tea biscuit with fruit. I have made them a couple of times now and I love that they satisfy my sweet tooth in a simple and quick recipe.

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First off, I am going to say that I have never used dulce de leche before and I am a new fan. I have always used basic caramel sauce as a topping for ice cream, but this incredible sauce made from condensed sweetened milk is so decadent. These cookies have a hint of cinnamon, white and dark chocolate as well. The recipe only makes a few cookies, but they are definitely worth the effort. I also used Lomelino’s tips for adding movement in a food picture. The recipe for these is over on her blog, if you would like to give these a try!

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These chocolate cupcakes are effortless to create and use ingredients that are typically on hand. While Lomelino provides a wonderful tutorial on how to pipe designs onto cupcakes in the book, this frosting goes on nicely just using a spatula. This recipe is included as an image to view on Amazon, if you are interested in creating these as well.

I most likely won’t become a food photographer and I have only used a smart phone to take these photos, but I do feel as though I have gained a little bit of insight in taking a better picture. To get an idea of what the images in My Sweet Kitchen are like, check out Linda’s stunning Instagram posts.

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I’ve linked this post over at Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.