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Sunday Supper Movement

This week, the #SundaySupper tastemakers are all about preserving summer harvest. My main method of preserving summer bounty is freezing (fresh herbs, pesto, blackberry chia seed jam) but over the past couple of years, I’ve begun to get into canning. Making strawberry jam with my daughter and mom is a favorite for early summer while I turn to homemade apple butter in late summer or early fall.

Apple season is just starting near me and will continue for the next couple of months and I’m super excited about going apple picking again. While apple butter is definitely on the list to make, so is homemade apple sauce, which the little ones and I eat in huge quantities and I then freezer for winter months.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Apple Sauce

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Apple Sauce

by Books n’ Cooks

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. apples (~12 apples), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 orange, juiced and zested
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon

Combine apple pieces, orange juice, orange zest, sugar, and cinnamon in a slow cooker. Set on high and cook for 4 hours,  stirring every hour or so to ensure that all of the apples cook completely.

Allow to cool slightly before mashing or pureeing to desired consistency.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

For long term storage, freeze in airtight containers.

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For more ideas on preserving your summer produce,
check out the recipes below.

Condiments

Main dishes

Sides

Snacks

Dessert

Beverage

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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Why Not MeThis one is going to be a short summary and a short review!

{Book Review}

Why Not Me?

By Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling, executive producer, writer and star of The Mindy Project as well as writer, executive producer and actress on The Office, shares tales of her professional and personal life – from receiving feedback on her writing and on-scene kissing etiquette to dating, love and weight loss – in this collection of essays.

Review/Recommendation: This light, funny book was a great read, or in my case, listen. I was constantly chuckling, if not wholeheartedly laughing at Mindy’s stories. Mindy mixes lightweight stories with more serious stories (i.e. her thoughts on body image and her own struggles with self-confidence) that are full of wit and sometimes dry humor. With every chapter I listened to, I felt like I was listening to the real, genuine Mindy – not a character in a book.

The book was entertaining, well-told (because, of course, Mindy read it to me and she’s awesome), and gave me a glimpse into the actress herself. Even if you don’t know who Mindy is or aren’t familiar with her work, I think you’ll enjoy this collection of light, humorous essays on one woman’s life.

Grade: A

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Have you noticed that I’ve been MIA for the past month or so? If you have, I appreciate your patience and am glad you’re still reading.

As my mom will tell you, I’m the queen of over-committing. I want to do everything but there’s only so many hours in the day. So last month, I made the decision to take a little break from blogging. During that time, I focused on work, spending time with family and friends, and some of my other hobbies – reading, knitting, and scrapbooking. I continued to read and cook some, but not nearly as much as earlier this year.

Cookies & Coconut Cream Popsicles

In the Kitchen

Since Nutterbutter turned 1 this spring, I’ve spent a lot more time chasing him around and cooking stuff I can pack into his lunchbox. While my daughter ate like a bird when she was little (and still does), Nutterbutter is a tank (they don’t call him Meatball for nothing!). Italian-style meatballs and zucchini bread muffins are two staples in his lunchbox. I can’t keep up with stocking the freezer.

With all the crazy that’s been going on this summer, most of my activities in the kitchen have been quick, simpler recipes. Some highlights include:

  • Testing out cocktails from my new book, Mix Shake Stir. The pomegranate gimlet and Hang Thyme (coming to Books n’ Cooks soon!), a citrus-based cocktail, quickly became two of my favorites.
  • Simple desserts like Oreo and Coconut Cream Popsicles and a Cookies & Cream Ice Box Cake (which I hope to share soon)
  • Overflowing antipasto trays – with assorted cheeses, fruits, and a few select meats – have been my go-to appetizer for summer entertaining
  • Dinners have consisted of LOTS of grilling, which I love – it’s light and generally something the whole family will eat. (We’ve been working on Hazelnut’s pickiness, but it’s been a very slow process!). I haven’t tried a lot of new recipes, but we did have a win this summer, with this Honey Garlic Shrimp. You’ve probably seen several variations on Pinterest. This particular variation was great. We loved the flavor, and it was a super quick meal, perfect for a busy weeknight. We’ll be making it again for sure.

As summer winds down, I’m getting excited to get back in the kitchen with both new recipes and old favorites. I’ve been bookmarking and pinning recipes like crazy – time to start making some of them!

August Reading - Riordan

On My Bookshelf

Although I’ve had less time to read, I still managed to squeeze in several books. I’ve mostly been binge-reading light series, as they’re easy to pick up and put down while I cater to the demands of The Munchkins. You can follow what I’m reading at any time on Goodreads, but here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been reading this summer.

  • The Max Revere Series by Allison Brennan – mysteries/suspense
  • Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling – humorous autobiographical; a good listen on audiobook
  • The Kane Chronicles Trilogy by Rick Riordan – young adult/fantasy. I had read the first two when they first came out but reread them in order to finish the series

I’m still binge-reading Rick Riordan books, having recently started The Heroes of Olympus series. I tried to put it off, since I know I’m going to be sucked in and will be much less productive around the house, but I gave in.

The Bullet Journal (BuJo)

In addition to reading books, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest and blogs. In particular, I’ve been a little bit obsessed with reading about journalling, especially bullet journalling. I initially learned about the BuJo on Pinterest (before Pinterest started all of these awful althorithms where the only thing they seem to show is their own recommendations, which aren’t very good), and quickly became captivated by all of the pretty, creative layouts.

If you’re interested, I’ve been doing most of my reading on the BuJo on Boho Berry and Pretty Prints and Paper. For my own part, I can’t do without my planner (currently using an Erin Condren planner), but earlier this year, I started my own take on a BuJo. While most of what I’ve read emphasizes list-making (daily, weekly to-do lists, movies to see books to read, really whatever floats your boat), I’ve been using mind as a habit tracker (healthy lifestyle and Books n’ Cooks social media presence – which I’ve been trying to be more consistent with), actual journalling – to highlight some of the memories, quotes, etc from my kiddos (with the idea that these details will be used in their scrapbooks, whenever I finally get around to finishing them), and planning, brainstorming, and creating a strategy for Books n’ Cooks. I do have the sporadic brain dumps of to-do lists, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, but those are few and far between.

Joji Cowl

Crafting

While I don’t talk about it much on here, I do love to craft. I used to be really into scrapbooking and while I still enjoy it, I just don’t have the time to do as much of it anymore. I have started to work on my scrapbooks again, starting with the one I began when Hazelnut was a baby. I’m making slow progress, but at least it’s progress.

I’ve also begun knitting again, pretty regularly. For the past year or two, I’ve been making a lot of baby blankets, but this summer, I finally got to work on a project for me! I purchased a kit for this gorgeous 3 Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli this past spring, and quickly started knitting it up. I love the way it turned out! Now I just need the weather to cool off so that I can start wearing it! (PS. I suck at selfies.)

Having finished the cowl, I’ve started on a couple of Christmas gifts for my daughter and niece – both saw me knitting and asked for scarves and hats. I’m enjoying the quick projects but am already itching to start one of the other projects I have picked out for myself.

 

The hiatus this summer was a much needed break for me, a good chance to recharge. Now, I’m happy to be back to blogging. Reading and cooking remain passions of mine, and I enjoy being able to share my passion with you.

Now that you’ve heard a bit about my summer, please leave a comment and tell me a bit about yours. What have you been up to? Read or cook anything worth sharing? Or have you been spending time on other things important to your life?

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For the past couple of years, I have taken July to highlight some of frozen treats – ice creams, popsicles, drinks and desserts – that have caught my eye. I share some of these recipes here on the blog as well as on social media (if you’re not following me on Twitter, Facebook, or G+, please take a minute to do so!). In honor of this, my contribution to this week’s #SundaySupper Piña Colada theme is a popsicle.

The coconut milk flavor is subtle to nonexistant thanks to the heavy dose of vanilla extract and the abundance of Oreos. However, the use of coconut milk instead of cow’s milk creates a creamy popsicle that I find sometimes lacking in homemade popsicles.

Don’t forget to check out the other Piña Colada-inspired recipes that the #SundaySupper tastemakers have put together for you, below the recipe. I’m loving this week’s contributions, and will be making coconut everything for quite some time!

Cookies & Coconut Cream Popsicles

Cookies and Coconut Cream Popsicles
Adapted from The View from Great Island
Makes 6 Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (5-6 oz.) coconut milk
  • 14 Oreos – 6 whole; the remaining 8 crushed
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

In a medium, mircowave safe bowl, heat the coconut milk for 30 seconds, or just long enough for the fat to be able to be evenly distrubuted into mixture. Stir in crushed Oreos and vanilla extract.

In a popsicle mold, add 1-2 tablespoons of the coconut milk mixture. Add whole Oreo. Fill to almost the top, leaving about 1/2-inch room. Insert popsicle stick into the center. Repeat until finished with the Oreos and coconut milk mixture.

Freeze until solid.

Serve: To remove from mold, run the popsicle under hot water for 10-15 seconds, until the popsicle will wiggle out of the mold.

Don’t forget to check out these other Piña Colada-inspired recipes.

Great Starts

Dive in with Sides and Appetizers

Coco-Nutty Main Dishes

“Col-lots-a” Desserts

Sweet to Sip Beverages

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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Monkey-Bread-Ice-Cream-from-Culinary-Concoctions-by-Peabody

Monkey Bread Ice Cream by Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

For the past couple of years, every July, I share some of my favorite frozen treats that have caught my eye. I have tried very few of the recipes, if any, but the innovative recipe and/or drool-worthy photo had me saving the recipes at a pace there was no way I could keep up with. To kick things off, here are 25 ice cream and sorbet recipes that are sure to entice you to skip the store-bought stuff and make something homemade this summer.

If you try any of the recipes below, please be sure to come back and tell me how it turned out! And if you liked it, show a little love and leave a comment for the blogger as well!

 

 

{Frozen Fridays}

Ice Creams, Sorbets, and More!

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Max Revere Series

{Book Review}

The Max Revere Novels

By Allison Brennan

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Book .5: Maximum Exposure
Book 1: Notorious
Book 2 :Compulsion
Book 3: Poisonous

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Maxine Revere, Max, is an investigative reporter specializing in cold cases. After a couple of hit books to accompany her journalism career, her college friend talks her into hosting a television show focused on criminal justice, Maximum Exposure.

This series follows Max and her sidekick – assistant/bodyguard David Kane – as they investigate cold cases through their employment at NET. Max is outspoken, righteous, and a firm believer in the truth. In fact, she pursues the truth relentlessly, viewing the idea of ‘knowing the truth’ in black and white terms. The truth is always better than not just a lie but also the unknown, a view that frequently puts her at odds with friends, adversaries and sometimes, the people she’s trying to help.

Review/Recommendation: This series (so far) is a light, quick read. The first four parts of the series have been published recently, beginning in 2014, with the most recent being released in April of this year. Max’s role as a reporter makes the series stand out from others in the genre, who favor law enforcement personnel as leading characters.

I enjoyed the characters in the series. Max was referred to numerous times as a “bitch,” but the truth is that she’s blunt, honest, and determined. She’s a strong protagonist and while she may not see eye-to-eye with others, she stands firmly behind her beliefs, for better or worse. The supporting characters add some lightness and depth to the series – Max bickers constantly with her friend-coworker; her love interest flits in and out of the books and reveals a bit of a playful side to Max.

The plot lines are entertaining but not generally too deep, which is pretty much what I expect for books in this genre. Overall, I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an easy, light book (beach-read anyone?).

Grade: B+

 

 

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What's_Baking_BadgeEvery month I think things are going to settle down, and every month seems to get busier and more chaotic than the last. I can’t tell you how many times I earmarked a day on the calendar to make bars for this month’s What’s Baking? theme, how many times I pulled butter out of the fridge to soften only to put it back in the fridge later that day.

Thankfully, this month’s hostess, Nichole from Cookaholic Wife, was completely understanding when I emailed her this past weekend to see if I could get this post out a few days late. My in-laws, husband and daughter had just went to the movies and my Little Man was down for a nap, so I was going to whip up the bars, start this post, and hope the photos came out well. Nichole had agreed to to my plan just minutes before and the butter was melted… and Little Man woke up.

Needless to say, I managed to get the bars baked, photographed them before the family could eat them, and here I am, night before it’s due, writing my post. Big thanks to Nichole for letting me submit late!

Cranberry Shortbread Bars

These bars are part of my Operation Clean Out Freezer. Spring cleaning. My two freezers is in desperate need of it. (There’s inspiration for ya!)

Every year, I stash an extra bag of cranberries in my freezer for some recipe that is sure to strike my fancy during the year. As I was baking this, I couldn’t help thinking that this would be a great recipe for fall. The tart cranberries have a touch of sweetness from the sugar (and of course, the slightly sweet shortbread crust and streusel). This recipe is halved from the version in Fine Cooking Magazine, and rewritten, but not heavily adapted.

Cranberry Shortbread Bars

Adapted from Fine Cooking, Dec 2006 (p. 75)

Makes 16 Bars

Ingredients:

  • 11 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 c. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/3 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 c. + 1 1/2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 6 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries

Make Crust: Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine unsalted butter, 1/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. sugar, and salt. Whisk in egg yolk. Transfer 2/3-3/4 of it to the prepared pan, pressing along the bottom to cover. Use a fork to prick all over. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.

While crust is in fridge, move a baking rack to upper third of the oven and preheat to 325F.

Bake the Crust & Prep the Rest: Remove from fridge and bake crust for 18-22 minutes, until crust is set and edges are beginning to brown.

While crust cooks, combine remaining dough with 2 Tbs. sugar, crumbling with clean fingers. Set aside.

In a small pan over medium heat, combine remaining 1/2 c. sugar, cranberries, and 2 Tbs. water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the sugar doesn’t burn. Lower heat slightly and continue to simmer until cranberries break down and mixture becomes a thick syrup, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

When crust is ready, remove oven and allow to cool slightly. Increase temperature on oven to 350F.

Assemble and Bake the Bars: When crust has cooled slightly, top with cranberry mixture, spreading to cover. Crumble streusel topping throughout.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and set. Do not overcook.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before cutting.

Serve at room temperature.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Cranberry Shortbread Bars_Pint

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Summer is upon us – finally! Beautiful, sunny weather. Vacation just a few days away. I’m excited about taking my daughter swimming again. As a kid, we had a pool in our backyard. My brothers and I would be in and out of the pool, all day, every day. I learned to swim from my grandfather, and I loved watching my daughter get accustomed to the pool last year with my own father.

Today’s recipe – a throwback to my childhood days at the pool – was something we had almost every day of summer. Today I’m sharing a super easy dip for fresh fruit, so easy that I almost hesitate to call it a recipe. But to me, easy, light and fresh is what summer dishes are all about.

Do you have a recipe or dish that reminds you of summer?

Strawberry Fruit Dip

Strawberry Fruit Dip

By Books n’ Cooks

Ingredients:

  • 1-12.oz tub of Cool Whip
  • 2 c. strawberry ice cream, softened

Fold strawberry ice cream into Cool Whip until combined.

Refrigerate until serving. Dip is best served cold.

Strawberry Fruit Dip

Check out the following dishes – sweet and savory – that conjures up childhood memories for the Sunday Supper tastemakers.

Beverages

Breakfast

Appetizers

Main Dishes

Side Dishes

Desserts

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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This week, the #SundaySupper tastemakers are gearing up for Father’s Day, bringing you some of the favorite foods for the special fathers in our lives.

When my husband became a father three and a half years ago, I couldn’t have imagined how much of a natural he’d be. I still remember looking over at him – this big guy – with this teeny baby girl in purple curled up on half of his arm as we’d watch tv in the evening. Typical new parents, we didn’t want to put her down. Every day, he continues to amaze me with how wonderful he is as a father to our two children – playing with them, helping them learn, and teaching them lessons. He has a patience that I’ll never have (and I can only hope that at least one of our children will inherit that from him!).

Turkey Chorizo Burgers

And so, in honor of this week’s theme, I chose to make two of my hubby’s favorites – burgers and guac. He’s a simple man, and is generally happy with a large, well-cooked burger. I can usually pick out the burger he’ll order when we go out. If there’s one with pineapple or guacamole, that’s usually it. So a few weeks ago, I dug out an old favorite. The chorizo gives this burger a lot of flavor, which pairs well with the subtle guacamole. I used my own guacamole recipe instead of the one in the recipe

You’ll definitely have leftover guac, so feel free to halve the guacamole recipe or have some tortilla chips on hand.

Turkey Chorizo Burgers with Guacamole

Burgers adapted from Fine Cooking
Guacamole by Books n’ Cooks

Makes enough for 5 burgers, with guac leftover

Ingredients for the Burgers:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb. ground spicy chorizo
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Burger buns or English Muffins
  • tomato & onion slices (optional, for serving)

Ingredients for the Guacamole:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

Make the Burgers: In a large mixing bowl, add turkey, chorizo, and salt. Use clean hands to work the mixture, trying not to over mix. Form into 1-inch thick patties, using a finger to indent middle slightly.

Grill, flipping after 5 minutes, until center registers 165F – about 10 minutes total.

Make the Guacamole: While burgers are cooking, make the guac. Remove flesh from avocados, keeping 1-2 pits on the side. Lightly mash avocado with a fork. Add in salt, pepper, garlic powder, and lime juice. Continue to mash until desired consistency. Return pit(s) to guacamole, to help the guacamole from browning.

Serve burgers on burger buns or English muffins (toasted, if desired), topped with guacamole, tomato, and onion.

Check out more of Dad’s favorites below!

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Appetizers & Snacks:

Beverage:

Breakfast:

Condiments & Sauces:

Desserts:

Main Dishes:

Side Dishes:

Plus What Dad Really Wants for Father’s Day from Sunday Supper Movement

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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Pomegranate Gimlet

It’s no secret that I don’t really drink beer. Once in a blue moon, I’ll have one, but you can usually find me drinking wine or a cocktail. A well-made cosmo – not overly sweet – is my go-to drink, but I enjoy trying new drinks. I generally choose a vodka or gin-based drink with a touch of sweetness.

I’ve got a couple of recipes I’ve been super excited about lately, two of which are from a new cookbook that recently came recommended to me – Mix Shake Stir. There are a TON I want to try, but my limited bar can’t store all of those liquors, so I’m slowly working my way through the recipes. This one has been one of my favorites (no surprise since it’s similar to a cosmo). It took me a few tries, but I finally managed to hold off on drinking it so that I can get a photo for you.

Pomegranate Gimlet

Adapted from Mix Shake Stir: Recipes from
Danny Meyer’s Acclaimed New York City Restaurants
(p. 51)

Makes 1 drink

Ingredients:

  • ice
  • 1 1/4 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz. pomegranate juice
  • lime slices and/or pomegranate seeds for garnish

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add gin, lime juice, simple syrup, and pomegranate juice. Shake vigorously.

Pour into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge and/or pomegranate seeds.

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