Books N Cooks http://www.books-n-cooks.com Recipes and Books Sun, 14 Jan 2018 05:00:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 Hummus http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2018/01/14/hummus/ http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2018/01/14/hummus/#respond Sun, 14 Jan 2018 05:00:16 +0000 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/?p=6553

With a slight kick from fresh garlic, homemade hummus is an easy, healthy munchie for snack or entertaining. Pair it with veggies, pitas, or pretzel chips for an irresistible snack.

With a slight kick from fresh garlic, homemade hummus is an easy, healthy munchie for snack or entertaining. Pair it with veggies, pitas, or pretzel chips for an irresistible snack. Ok folks. Who out there has a New Year’s resolution to eat better or lose weight? <Raises hand.> It’s soooo hard to eat well when weekdays are so busy – I walk in the door and the kids are immediately asking to eat or demanding other things…

I know that the months of January and February are crazy for us, due to some travel and houseguests, so I’m doing my best to position myself for success. Lists of healthy options to expedite planning, lots of weekend prep, and as much help from the grocery store as possible (hello pre-chopped veggies!).

One of my favorite go-to snacks for healthy eating… or even when I’m not being my best… is hummus. I love it with veggies, pretzel crisps, pita slices and pita chips. Great for easy entertaining or snacking. This homemade version only took a few minutes to make and is bright with flavor. The Tabasco and garlic give it a bit of heat, which is evened out by fresh lemon juice.

With a slight kick from fresh garlic, homemade hummus is an easy, healthy munchie for snack or entertaining. Pair it with veggies, pitas, or pretzel chips for an irresistible snack.

What is your favorite snack (bonus points for a recipe) for healthy eating?

Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 14-oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 c. tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 8 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • paprika (optional)

Instructions

  1. Drain the chickpeas and reserve liquid.
  2. Place chickpeas, salt, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and Tabasco in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 10 times. Add 2 Tbs. of reserved liquid and continue to pulse until desired texture, adding additional liquid 1/2 tablespoon at a time if needed.
  3. Transfer to a serving dish and, if desired, dust with paprika (optional).
  4. Serve within an hour, or store in refrigerator until serving.
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This recipe was adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (p. 46).

With a slight kick from fresh garlic, homemade hummus is an easy, healthy munchie for snack or entertaining. Pair it with veggies, pitas, or pretzel chips for an irresistible snack.
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Best Recipes of 2017 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2018/01/05/best-recipes-of-2017/ http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2018/01/05/best-recipes-of-2017/#respond Fri, 05 Jan 2018 05:00:06 +0000 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/?p=6573

Happy 2018!

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year. 2017 felt like it flew by in the blink of an eye. There were a lot of ups and downs, with lots of downs towards the end of the year, so I’m kinda happy 2017 is over. The new year is starting off with some great excitement and a welcomed break from life (Disney this month!!!).

Before jumping into a recap of your top 10 recipes on Books n’ Cooks in 2017, I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for reading, commenting and sharing this year. Even after year of blogging, I still get giddy when you leave a comment, share your experiences making one of the dishes or pass on a recipe to a friend. So THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart.

Without further ado, the most popular recipes published in 2017 are…

Most popular recipes on Books n' Cooks, 2017

  1. Cranberry Pistachio Bark (most popular!)
  2. Mom’s Apple Cake
  3. Chocolate Zucchini Bread
  4. Churro Chex Mix
  5. Pomegranate Grapefruit Martini
  6. Chicken Caprese Bites
  7. Christmas Sprinkle Cookies
  8. Mom’s Zucchini Bread
  9. Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup
  10. Slow Cooker Beef Tacos with Salsa Verde

Most Popular Recipes on Books n' Cooks, 2017

Also among the top recipe this year was Chicken Scaloppini Saltimobocca, published years ago but rephotographed this year. The updated photos really made a difference! This recipe is an old family favorite, so I was thrilled to see it get some love.

And, like last year, my top recipe of the year – although not published this year – was The Frenchy.

You guys picked some awesome recipes this year, but I do want to call out a few of my favorites, that didn’t make your list.

In addition to the two slow cooker dishes you liked (btw, my slow cooker has been a savior this year), one of my favorite new entrees this year was Spicy Shrimp & Zucchini Lo Mein – a filling, healthy 30-minute meal that’s bursting with flavor. Great for busy weeknights.

In addition to the Christmas Sprinkle Cookies you loved above (which we make all year round with whatever sprinkles we have on hand), Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cookies and Peanut Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Cookies (your runner up at #11!) were a couple more of the stand-out desserts made this year. No fancy pies or cupcakes this year. Cookies ruled the dessert table in our house.

I’ve got a couple of new recipes already lined up for you in 2018 but I’d like to hear from you. What do you want to see on Books n’ Cooks in 2018?

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Best Books of 2017 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2018/01/03/my-favorite-books-of-2017/ http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2018/01/03/my-favorite-books-of-2017/#respond Wed, 03 Jan 2018 05:00:02 +0000 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/?p=5678

I surprised myself with more time to read this year, than I did last year. Young adult/fantasy books and short stories – all series – were the most popular genre this year, but my favorite books read in 2017 are a good mix of young adult/fantasy, historical fiction, and fiction novels. This list is in the order in which I read the books, with each linked to my book review.

I’m currently putting together the first stack of books to read in 2018. If there’s a book that you loved from this past year, that you’d recommend, please leave a comment with your recommendation. I’d love to check our your most recent favorites, as well as any books you’re looking forward to being released in 2018.

And if you don’t want to wait for me to publish my book reviews or annual list of favorites, you can follow me on Goodreads to find out what I’m reading.

The Shoemakers Wife (By Adriana Trigiani) – I couldn’t put this historical fiction novel down. Set in the first half of the 1900s, the story takes place in the Italian Alps, New York City, and the Midwest. It follows the story of two Italian immigrants as they adjust to life in the United States, provide for family back home, and create a new life for themselves in the U.S. It’s a beautiful story, with beautiful writing. I may or may not have gushed a little bit in the review.

The Chronos Files (By Rysa Walker) – A young adult series of 3 novels, 3 novellas, and a handful of short stories, The Chronos Files is about a teenage girl traveling through time to save the past as she knows it, as well as the future. Walker did a great job of using the novellas and short stories to provide additional perspective and additional detail to events that were only referenced in the novels, although the novels are certainly enjoyable on their own.

The Freedom Broker (by K.J. Howe) – The debute novel for Howe, this mystery/suspense novel starred a kidnap-and-ransom expert searching for her kidnapped father. The book was fast-paced and had some unpredictable twists. It was one of the few mystery/suspense novels that I read this year, but it set the bar pretty high for what I picked up in that genre.

The Women in the Castle (by Jessica Shattuck) – A historical fiction novel set predominately during WWII and during the recovery period, this novel tells the story of 3 German resister wives and their families. Each woman has a very different history which shapes how she survives the war and rebuild her life after the war.

Book Review: Sourdough

Sourdough (by Robin Sloan) – A cute little fictional novel about a software engineer-turned-baker, thanks to a feisty sourdough starter that she is tasked with caring for. The quirky book was a quick read that will be relate-able to anyone who finds solace in the kitchen.

Book Review: Six of Crows Duology

Six of Crows Duology (by Leigh Bardugo) – This two-book set includes Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, two fast-paced, action-packed young adult / fantasy books that follow a group of criminals who are tasked with kidnapping a scientist whose discovery threatens they way the world works.

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{Book Review} Six of Crows Duology http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/12/13/book-review-six-of-crows-duology/ http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/12/13/book-review-six-of-crows-duology/#comments Wed, 13 Dec 2017 05:00:55 +0000 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/?p=6303

 

Book Review: Six of Crows Duology

Book Review:

Six of Crows Duology

By Leigh Bardugo

A duology in the young adult genre, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are a mix of action and fantasy. It all starts when a group of thieves and criminals is hired by a wealthy merchant to kidnap a scientist, who was kidnapped and hidden away in the unbreakable Ice Court. Six of Crows starts the story, but of course, things don’t go exactly according to plan, so the story continues in Crooked Kingdom.

Review/Recommendation: This duology was enjoyable and a quick read. I bought it for vacation and couldn’t put it down. When I finished it, I promptly passed it to my husband, who read it even quicker than I did.

I realize that the above description doesn’t give you much, but I did want to avoid spoilers. So I’ll start here: Although this series was published after The Grisha Trilogy, which comes first chronologically, I actually read this series first. If you skip The Grisha Trilogy or opt to read the books out of order, you’re not missing much. It might take a little more time to grasp the gangs and nationalities of the various peoples and who/what all of the Grisha are, but that’s not a big deal. Additionally, there are a couple of characters that make a cameo, and you’ll miss some historical connections. All of that being said, I certainly didn’t feel like I was missing anything when I read it. It was only in retrospect that I realized that I missed a tiny piece of the story.

To be honest, I enjoyed the duology more than the trilogy. The two books were super fast-paced, filled with action, intrigue and mystery, emotional turmoil (but not the teenage angst you’d expect from a young adult series) and sprinkled with sarcasm and wit. The characters were all likeable and unique, with intense histories that emerged throughout the series, which make you like them even more.

Like The Grisha Trilogy, this set had vaguely Russian undertones to the people’s cultures, the locations, etc. As someone who’s always been drawn to Russian culture and history, it was slightly odd to see those connections but something I enjoyed. Those references made me reminisce a bit about the culture that I experienced through school. (Oh, how I long for blini!)

Given how much my husband and I enjoyed the books, I’m glad we bought the sets. I can see our children reading these in the future. I can even see myself rereading these in the future.

This duology is available on Amazon

 

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Mocha Biscotti #ChristmasCookies http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/12/08/mocha-biscotti/ http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/12/08/mocha-biscotti/#comments Fri, 08 Dec 2017 05:00:19 +0000 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/?p=6511

Pair your morning, afternoon, and evening cups of coffee with a Mocha Biscotti, a chocolate cookie with a deep coffee flavor, for a little something special.

Mocha Biscotti

Today marks my last recipe for #ChristmasCookies Week. I’ve been busy bookmarking and pinning all sorts of wonderful Christmas cookies to make this month, and next year, and the year after that…. there has been so many amazing cookies this week! That again to Ellen at Family Around the Table for hosting this event. If you haven’t already, you can enter to win the giveaway for a prize pack from our sponsor, Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors – a set of their pure flavors: 2-oz. each of Orange, Lemon, Peppermint, Almond, Chocolate, Coffee, Rose Water, and Orange Blossom Water. I’ve used a number of their products, and I can’t recommend them enough. Enter to win in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

I’m not sure if it’s the dreary weather or what, but lately, my afternoon cup of tea or coffee has become essential to making it through the day. Adding a cookie to that afternoon pick-me-up definitely makes the afternoon meetings, emails, and planning sessions much easier to get through.

Mocha Biscotti

And since I posted kid-friendly recipes earlier this week, I knew I had to post a little something that would have more appeal to adults this holiday season. These biscotti have a wonderful chocolate-coffee flavor, with just a hit of toffee, which I chose to add instead of a more traditional nut. Softer than store-bought biscotti, these cookies are delightful on their own or dunked in a warm coffee or cocoa. These cookies were a happy addition to my breakfasts and afternoon snacks this week.

What cookie are you most excited about making this year? Is it a new recipe or an old, well-loved standby?

Mocha Biscotti

Yield: 18 large biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tsp. instant coffee (I like Starbucks Via, 4 packets)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. toffee pieces, mini chocolate chips, slivered almonds, or other desired mix-ins (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar, eggs, melted butter, instant coffee and vanilla extract on medium-low speed until well blended. Add in flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder, mixing on low speed until almost completely mixed. Scrape down sides of bowl, add desired mix-ins, and mix until completely incorporated.
  3. Turn out dough onto prepared baking sheet and form into a long, 2 inches thick and about 12 inches wide. Bake for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to sit until cool enough to handle. Using a serrated knife, cut cookies into pieces about 3/4-inch thick, on the diagonal. Turn cookies cut-side down and bake for another 12-15 minutes. Then, remove from oven and flip over. Cook another 15 minutes, until cookies are toasted on both sides.
  5. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on a wire baking rack.
  6. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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Adapted from Kraft

Mocha Biscotti on Books n' Cooks

And finally, before you see the Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway, we have Friday’s #ChristmasCookies Week recipes. As always, you can search social media for #ChristmasCookies to see photos of these goodies. Happy Baking!

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Christmas Sprinkle Cookies #ChristmasCookies http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/12/06/christmas-sprinkle-cookies/ http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/12/06/christmas-sprinkle-cookies/#comments Wed, 06 Dec 2017 05:00:36 +0000 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/?p=6115

Soft, melt-in-your-mouth Christmas Sprinkle Cookies have a sweet almond flavor that adults and kids alike will love.

Christmas Sprinkle Cookies

I have a confession to make. I’m a cookie snob.

I’m the person you don’t want to invite to your holiday cookie exchanges, because I will almost never like anyone else’s cookies as much as the cookies I bring. I want my holiday cookies soft and to stay soft even if it takes us a couple of days to eat the batch. I want them full of sweet yet subtle flavors, not cookies overpowered with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg.

So after a couple of disappointing cookie exchanges, I decided it was probably better for me to stay home and bake the cookies I enjoy, and then to push them on friends and coworkers so that I don’t become a blimp during the holiday season. Truthfully, I’m bummed that I didn’t enjoy the cookies I took home at those exchanges more than I did, because I truly enjoy trying new cookies. But I just didn’t fall in love with any, and my friends and coworkers haven’t complained yet. So I guess this arrangement will do.

Christmas Sprinkle Cookies

So today, for this day on #ChristmasCookies week, I bring you a recipe that I discovered within the past couple of years. This recipe isn’t a seasonal classic in my house (that would be our seven layer cookies and our cranberry oatmeal cookies), but everyone loves these cookies so much that we now make a batch every month or two – for holidays as well as everyday entertaining. These cookies are slightly crispy on the outside but generally have soft throughout, a melt-in-your-mouth sort of texture. And the flavor is wonderful.

These cookies are also one of my favorites to make with kids. Miss Hazelnut and Mr Nutterbutter absolutely love to make it since they get to pick out which sprinkles they use. They love making all cookies but there’s something special about them each getting their own bowl of sprinkles for them to roll the cookies in. And then, of course, to be licking spilled sprinkles off the counter.

So if you’re looking for a new cookie to make this holiday season, may I suggest these Christmas Sprinkle Cookies. Not into sprinkles? Check out the collection of cookie recipes at the bottom of this post for even more inspiration. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Christmas Sprinkle Cookies

Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened slightly
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened slightly
  • 1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1+ c. sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place cream cheese, butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Lower speed to medium and beat in eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Scrape down sides of the bowl and beat again, if necessary. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and beat on low until combined, again scraping down sides and bottom of bowl to ensure that everything is mixed thoroughly.
  3. Portion dough into equal sized balls, using a 1 1/2 tablespoon ice cream scoop. Roll between the palms of your hands to warm dough slightly (as well as to perfect the shape) before rolling in a shallow bowl filled with sprinkles. Sprinkles should completely coat the ball of dough all around.
  4. Place sprinkle-covered dough onto prepared baking sheet, each about 2 inches apart. Press down slightly with the flat bottom of a drinking glass or palm of your hand to flatten. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until edges are set and starting to brown ever so slightly (center may look a bit underbaked). Remove from oven and allow to cook on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Store in an airtight container for 4-5 days.
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Rewritten but not really adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Originally from King Arthur Flour

 

Recipe Note: Smitten Kitchen advises that if the dough is too soft to roll, chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before using. I’ve never had this problem, but my butter and cream cheese are usually still fairly cold when making the dough.

Christmas Sprinkle Cookies on Books n' Cooks

Big thanks to Family Around the Table for hosting #ChristmasCookies Week! And don’t forget to check out more great recipe below, as well as enter to win a fabulous prize from the #ChristmasCookies Week sponsor, Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors. Rafflecopter below.

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Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cookies #ChristmasCookies http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/12/04/graham-cracker-chocolate-chip-cookies/ http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/12/04/graham-cracker-chocolate-chip-cookies/#comments Mon, 04 Dec 2017 05:00:23 +0000 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/?p=5807

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cookies are a fun twist on an American classic. Add an element of the unexpected to your holiday cookie swap or cookie platter by serving these soft, sweet cookies.

Welcome to #ChristmasCookies Week, hosted by Ellen at Family Around the Table! I’m excited to participate this year and have three great recipe I’ll be sharing with you this week.

But first, I have to tell you about our sponsor, Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors and the great prize pack they’ve donated for this event. Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has been crafting the world’s finest vanillas and flavors since 1907. Each of Nielsen-Massey’s all-nature pure flavors are crafted with premium ingredients, sourced from around the world and chosen to meet the utmost quality standards. From lemon to peppermint to coffee or chocolate, Nielsen-Massey’s pure flavors offer convenience, quality and consistency to ensure your favorite recipes taste delicious every single time. All products are gluten-free, allergen-free, GMO-free, all-natural and Kosher.

Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors is giving one winner a set of their pure flavors: 2-oz. each of Orange, Lemon, Peppermint, Almond, Chocolate, Coffee, Rose Water, and Orange Blossom Water, like those above. To enter, simply visit the participants on Facebook or like them on Twitter, and say you did so in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Easy peasy.

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cookies

Disclaimer: Thank you to #ChristmasCookies Week Sponsor Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors, for providing the prize for #ChristmasCookies Week free of charge. Nielsen-Massey also provided me with product to use for #ChristmasCookies Week. All opinions are my own.

There’s something about winter that makes me think of s’mores. I know it probably doesn’t make much sense. After all, most people are probably huddled around a warm fire in summer and fall months, roasting marshmallows to the perfect degree of doneness (for me, just slightly browned with crispy edges and completely soft in the center). But for me, winter signals the demand for all things s’mores and hot chocolate.

I was drawn to these cookies because Nicole over at Prevention RD called them S’mores Cookies. While I didn’t think they tasted much like s’mores, we did love them – so much that we made them twice in one weekend. They’re super soft and while they look like fairly regular chocolate chip cookies, one bite in and you’ve got a great surprise. A deeper flavor, more vanilla than your typical chocolate chip cookie with that wonderful spiced graham cracker flavor.

Oh, and the cookie dough was friggin’ amazing. I’m glad I ignore the raw egg warnings because this dough was seriously out of this world. Sweet, with a really nice slightly crunchy texture from the graham cracker crumbs that you’ll notice if you eat a spoonful or three. I’d apologize for telling you that little secret, but I can’t. Because I’m not. You’re welcome, if you try it.

These cookies are on my short list of holiday baking, and I hope you’ll be adding them to yours. They’re quick to make and will receive rave reviews from your guests or the lucky recipients, if you manage to get them out of the house. Enjoy!

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: 18 Cookies

Ingredients

  • ½ c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 tsp. Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ c. graham cracker crumbs
  • ¾ c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. With the mixer still running on medium, add vanilla and egg. Reduce speed to low and add graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda and salt. When thoroughly combined, add chocolate chips until just mixed in. Turn off mixer and scrape sides of bowl, if needed.
  3. Use a ice cream scoop to portion dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies are golden brown and set at the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Store in an airtight container.
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This recipe was adapted from Get In My Belly via Prevention RD

Before you enter the giveaway, be sure to check out the other cookie recipes we’ve got for you today. Or, search #ChristmasCookies on social media for a visual cookie tour.

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{Book Review} Sourdough http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/11/29/book-review-sourdough/ http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/11/29/book-review-sourdough/#respond Wed, 29 Nov 2017 05:00:36 +0000 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/?p=6412

Book Review: Sourdough {Book Review}

Sourdough

By Robin Sloan

Lois is a software engineer for a San Francisco robotics company, but she is isn’t particularly happy. She works long days, subsisting on takeout and a meal replacement ‘drink’ (a nutritive gel) called Slurry. Her anxiety lives in an ever-present knot in her stomach.

Lois’ world starts to change when a Mazg takeout menu is slipped under her door. She orders the Spicy Combo, a Spicy Sandwich and Spicy Soup, and becomes hooked. The Spicy Combo becomes her daily dinner in order to quiet her anxious stomach. That is, until the brothers that own the restaurant (which, come to find out, is their apartment kitchen) leave San Francisco. When they go, the brothers leave Lois with a parting gift – an opinionated, feisty sourdough starter that was the base of their Spicy Sandwich – which Lois is tasked to care in their absence.

Armed with the sourdough starter, Lois learns to bake amazing bread that takes her from programmer to baker-programmer at a new farmers market, selling her bread while teaching a robot arm how to help in her new bread-baking business.

Review/Recommendation: I absolutely devoured this short little novel – super cute, and relatable for those that find time in the kitchen as a place of relief, a place to recharge from work or life in general. It definitely hit home with me, since I work with a bunch of tech-savvy computer guys but am a liberal arts major (who loves crafts) that would be quite content working in a kitchen instead of an office.

Sourdough is filled with fun, quirky characters – from the farmer’s market crew to the Slurry club (a group a the robotics company who subsist on Slurry, to various degrees, instead of food), to the Lois Club (a group of old woman, all named Lois). This varied cast of characters, along with research and determination, help Lois find her way to happiness.

As the book progresses, following Lois’ journey, the weird comes out. The story behind the Lois Club was cute, although a bit unlikely. The idea that a sourdough starter has personality, never mind one so feisty, is definitely out there. At the height of weirdness, the end of the book has a scene that’s completely unrealistic, but that’s ok. All of this weird somehow works, and doesn’t seem quite so odd or outlandish as your read. At least not for this reader.

In summary, this book is light, funny, and definitely worth a read. I’ll be watching the bookshelves for Sloan’s next release, as he’s 2 for 2 in my book.

Sourdough is available on Amazon.

Want to read more by Robin Sloan? Check out Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, also reviewed on Books n’ Cooks and available on Amazon.

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Cranberry-Orange Brie Bites #ThanksgivingLeftovers http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/11/25/cranberry-orange-brie-bites/ http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/11/25/cranberry-orange-brie-bites/#comments Sat, 25 Nov 2017 05:00:32 +0000 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/?p=6478

Leftover cranberry sauce or relish from Thanksgiving is turned into a quick sweet appetizer, Cranberry Brie Bites, for Thanksgiving weekend entertaining. Don’t want to wait until Thanksgiving leftovers? Make my 5-minute Cranberry-Orange Relish for this recipe and freeze the extra for appetizers, lunches or dinners later on.

Leftover cranberry sauce or relish from Thanksgiving is turned into a quick sweet appetizer, Cranberry Brie Bites, for Thanksgiving weekend entertaining.

Thanksgiving Day came up on us unexpectedly this year – work, my husband changing jobs, and travel leading up to (and following) the holiday meant that I was completely unprepared this year. Thankfully, we were once again able to crash the Thanksgiving celebration held by our Family Away From Family, so prep for me was minimal. I was in charge of cranberry sauce (check! Cranberry-Orange Relish made and frozen ahead of time), wine (check!), and dessert (check? Does store-bought the night before count?).

We had a lovely day with a few of our closest friends. I’d say that it was a small, quiet Thanksgiving, except there were 2 2-year olds and 2 4-year olds running around with an abundance of energy. So while it was small, it certainly wasn’t quiet.

Nor was our mid-afternoon meal particularly small. It’s really hard to scale back on the Thanksgiving classics, don’t you think? There was quite a bit of leftovers, despite the scaled back menu and portions. We came home with a sizable doggie bag that we’ll be eating for a few days, and that’s nothing in comparison to what our hosts still had left at home.

Cranberry Brie Bites

While many love Thanksgiving leftovers, sometimes there’s just SO MUCH. It becomes necessary to make those leftovers into something new to keep things interesting. With that in mind, Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is hosting today’s event – repurposing Thanksgiving leftovers. Check out these great ideas for how you can reinvent your Thanksgiving leftovers.

For my part, I took my 5-minute Cranberry-Orange Relish (although you can use any other leftover cranberry sauce) and used it as topping for a simple appetizer – Cranberry Brie Bites. The sweet and tart relish is a bright contrast to the crispy phyllo crust and rich, creamy cheese. Yum!

Don’t have leftover cranberry sauce? Make a batch of mine and stash it in the freezer – for this recipe, sandwiches, a breakfast topping, or your next roast turkey or chicken dinner.

What’s your favorite way to reuse Thanksgiving leftovers?

Cranberry-Orange Brie Bites

Yield: 12-15 Bites

Ingredients

  • flour
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • Roughly 1 c. leftover Cranberry-Orange Relish (or other cranberry sauce)
  • 1/3 lb. brie (about half a wedge), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (no need to remove the rind)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place a silicone muffin pan on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Sprinkle a clean counter top lightly with flour. Roll out one sheet of puff pastry dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 12-15 square pieces. Place each square in a space in a silicone muffin pan, pressing down slightly so that bottom and sides line the space, with extra puff pastry hanging over top.
  3. Place a cube of brie in the center of each piece of puff pastry. Top with 1-2 tsp. of cranberry-orange relish.
  4. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until brie is melted and top of puff pastry is beginning to brown.
  5. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a serving dish.
  6. Serve hot.
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Leftover cranberry sauce or relish from Thanksgiving is turned into a quick sweet appetizer, Cranberry Brie Bites, for Thanksgiving weekend entertaining.
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Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark #CranberryWeek http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/11/17/cranberry-pistachio-dark-chocolate-bark/ http://www.books-n-cooks.com/2017/11/17/cranberry-pistachio-dark-chocolate-bark/#comments Fri, 17 Nov 2017 05:00:31 +0000 http://www.books-n-cooks.com/?p=6435

Dark Chocolate Bark is studded with sweet dried cranberries and salty pistachios, and finished with a sprinkling of sea salt – perfect for dessert to an elegant wine and cheese pairing or for a holiday gift.

Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark

I’ve been trying really hard to keep our schedule free and clear. I’ve failed miserably. Somehow, over the past two weeks, we ended up attending 4 potlucks, hosting friends for an evening 3 times, and hosting overnight guests for a long weekend. Add this to school Halloween events, prescheduled doctor’s appointments, and work crazy and I’m seriously ready for a vacation.

A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to get ahead of all of these events. I spent an epic weekend cooking and baking to get us through the busy week and the numerous events. That weekend, not only did I make Kahlua Truffle Triangles, but I made a Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark – a sweet perfect for an evening out without the kids (potluck!). Bonus? Like most candies, bark keeps pretty well at in at a cool room temperature, so I didn’t need to spend that Saturday baking (in between family photos and a Halloween potluck party) before heading out to the party, an hour away.

Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark

This chocolate bark – or at leas some variation of it – will definitely be included in my holiday baking this year. Because it keeps so well, I can make it a bit ahead of time instead of stressing out at the last minute and the recipients won’t have to consume it immediately, along with all of the other holiday goodies they’re sure to make and receive.

Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for more #CranberryWeek recipes! Thanks again to Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking for hosting!

Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. good-quality 70% cocoa chocolate, divided
  • 1 c. Dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 c. Pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp. Sea salt flakes

Instructions

  1. Lay out two baking sheets. Line each with parchment paper, taping paper to the baking sheet in each corner. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine chopped cranberries and pistachios. Toss to mix and set aside.
  3. Take 2 lbs. of the chocolate and chop into small pieces. Place in the top bowl of a double broiler set over medium heat and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Continue until chocolate is melted and the temperature (taken with an instant read thermometer) is between 115 and 120. Turn off stove and remove bowl from double broiler. Wipe bottom dry with a dish towel.
  4. Place 1/2 lb. of the remaining chocolate into melted chocolate. Fold melted chocolate around solid chunk, which will begin to melt. Continue folding and mixing until mixture reaches 95F. Remove solid chunk from mixture, setting onto a piece of wax or parchment paper to harden and save for later use. Add remaining 1/2 lb. chocolate piece and repeat until mixture reaches 90F.
  5. Quickly pour half of the chocolate onto one of the prepared baking sheets.
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Recipe Notes: 

  • Recipe by Books n’ Cooks, but I followed the tempering technique outlined in Fine Cooking, issue #144. Fine Cooking also recommends using the largest blocks of chocolate you can find for making bark, in particular for the tempering, as the larger blocks are easier to remove. (When removing the blocks from the chocolate, place on a piece of wax paper and pop back in the fridge to set again. Store in an airtight container or baggie and save for use in another recipe.)
  • If you choose to use milk or white chocolate for this recipe, please be sure to read the above Fine Cooking article, as the temperatures listed in this recipe will be different.
  • I used Scharffenberger chocolate for this recipe.
Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark on Books n' Cooks

See all the other recipes being shared for today’s final Cranberry Week post – we hope you’ve enjoyed following along and will try some of the many cranberry creations!

 

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