Sweet Cookbook Brings the Best of Food Network Magazine to Your Kitchen

*Disclaimer:  I received Sweet from Blogging for Books for this review.  All opinions are my own.


About Sweet

TAKE ALL THE GUESSWORK OUT OF DESSERT! Food Network Magazine editors have picked their all-time favorite treats and put them into one amazing book. In Sweet, you’ll find over-the-top brownies, super fun cupcakes, show-off layer cakes, one-of-a-kind cookies and so much more.

This great collection includes recipes for any occasion, with step-by-step instructions and full-page color photographs to help you along. You don’t need to be an experienced baker to get started. Every dessert in this book is easy to follow—and totally foolproof. Each recipe has been triple-tested, so you know it’ll come out just right. Flip through and you’ll find some fun surprises, too: a bowl made of chocolate, a spectrum of frosting colors and a cake that looks like a giant caramel apple. Check out what’s inside!

My Review

If you love sweets, Sweet is the cookbook for you!  It is a collection of awesome sweet treats from Food Network Magazine.  There are several things I really like about this cookbook.  I love the way that the book is set up.  In addition to having good chapters, including Cookies and bars, Pies & Crumbles, Fake-Out Cakes, and Show-Off Cakes, the beginning of the book has a picture of each and every recipe!  This makes it super easy to take a glance through the amazing photography to check out which recipes you would like to try.

I also really love the range of recipes that are in the book – there are excellent cookies that are easy enough for beginning bakers, and then there are some recipes that are clearly for the professional – namely the “fake out” cakes which look like other food.  For example, there is a “Guacamole and Chips Cake” that legit looks like a bowl of guac you would get at your favorite Mexican food restaurant – a bit intimidating for a beginner baker like me – but AWESOME to see the technique that goes into it.

I also love the range of desserts in this book – in addition to cookies and cakes, there are also recipes for truffles, doughnuts, tarts, and other sweet treats that I don’t have experience in making.  I see these types of treats made on my fave cooking shows, and I’m excited to give them a try with this cookbook!

The only thing I haven’t like about Sweet is that one recipe I found (the Popcorn Cake) in the Fake-Out Section failed to list ingredients (fondant and caramel popcorn) that were needed for the cake.  They were probably pretty obvious, but sometimes I shop for a recipe before reading the recipe, so I might have missed these.  I haven’t found any other recipes with this problem but of course haven’t yet read every recipe.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

BY Sparkling Mousse by Framesi {Product Review}

* Disclaimer: I received free BY Sparkling Mousse by Framesi in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

I have super, super thick, heavy hair, so it’s tough for me to find hair products that don’t weigh down my hair or make it look greasy or sticky.  So I was excited to give BY Sparkling Mousse by Framesi a try.

One of the first thing that I look for in a hair care product (any beauty product for that matter), is a light, pleasant scent.  I don’t need to have something be odor free, but I hate chemically-smelling product.  BY Sparkling Mousse has a nice, pleasant smell that stayed in my hair throughout the day – this is a huge plus in this mousse’s favor.



Obviously the second thing that I look for is performance – I don’t want anything that weights my hair down or makes it sticky – I’m constantly playing with my hair, so anything sticky is OUT.  BY Sparkling Mousse is alcohol free and foamed up right away – it was super light.  It worked well into my hair and didn’t leave any stickiness or goopiness like gel does.  I blew my hair dry as normal and I noticed that it was shinier and had more body than normal.   It helped hold the slight curl that I put into my hair with my round brush as well – so this product is definitely a winner for me!  Give it a try if your beauty routine has been lacking!
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Fried & True Takes Fried Chicken to a Whole New Level!

*Disclaimer:  I received Fried & True from Blogging for Books for this review.  All opinions are my own.

fried & true



About Fried & True

Whether you prefer it cold out of the fridge or hot and crispy on a buttery biscuit, you will find your new favorite fried chicken recipe in Fried & True, serving up more than 50 recipes for America’s most decadently delicious food.

Lee Schrager has left no stone unturned in his quest to find America’s best fried chicken. From four-star restaurants to roadside fry shacks, you’ll learn how to brine your bird, give it a buttermilk bath, batter or even double batter it, season with loads of spices, and fry it up to golden perfection. Recipes to savor include:

–Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
–Yotam Ottolenghi’s Seeded Chicken Schnitzel with Parsley-Caper Mayonnaise
–Marcus Samuelsson’s Coconut Fried Chicken with Collards and Gravy
–Jacques-Imo’s Fried Chicken and Smothered Cabbage
–The Loveless Café’s Fried Chicken and Hash Brown Casserole
–Blackberry Farm’s Sweet Tea–Brined Fried Chicken
–Charles Phan’s Hard Water Fried Chicken
–Thomas Keller’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken
–Wylie Dufresne’s Popeyes-Style Chicken Tenders and Biscuits

Sink your teeth into Fried & True, the source of your next great fried chicken masterpiece and a tribute to America’s most beloved culinary treasure.

My Review

If you LOVE fried chicken, Fried & True is the cookbook for you!  This is a HUGE compilation of not only awesome fried chicken recipes, but also amazing side dishes that you will find accompanying fried chicken, like buttermilk biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and dirty rice.  You will also find recipes that have an ethic flair, such as Keralan Fried Chicken with Cardamom Waffles and Spicy Maple Syrup.

The book is arranged geographically, with sections on Southern Inspiration (featuring heavy hitters such as Paula Deen), American Originals, and Pacific Rim Flavors.  There are separate sections on Fried Chicken 101 (great for those of you who are frying newbies), as well as a separate sections on “Sandwiches, Wings, Li’l Bits, and Special Diets”. Special diets includes things like “vegetarian” chicken, gluten free, and baked chicken.

I really like this book – because I loved fried chicken.  If fried chicken isn’t your thing, steer clear.  But if you’re looking for a great way to learn and experiment with all the different ways that you can enjoy the yumminess that is fried chicken!

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”


The Nourished Kitchen Bring the Farm to Your Table

*Disclaimer:  I received The Nourished Kitchen from Blogging for Books for this review.  All opinions are my own.


About the Book

A cookbook from the author of the popular website Nourished Kitchen, featuring over 160 recipes based on the “traditional foods” philosophy of eating, which emphasizes whole grains, dairy, red meat, organ meats, and fermented foods.  

The traditional foods movement is a fad-free approach to cooking and eating that emphasizes nutrient-dense, real food, and values quality, environment, and community over the convenience of processed, additive-laden products that are the norm on grocery store shelves.

Based on the research of Weston A. Price, who studied the diets of indigenous peoples to understand the relationship between nutrition and health, a traditional foods diet avoids processed ingredients, but allows meat, animal fat, and grains. It embraces cultured dairy, such as kefir and yogurt, that contain beneficial bacteria; fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kombucha, that are rich in probiotics; and organ meats that are packed with vitamins and minerals. It also celebrates locally grown foods. By choosing ingredients from nearby sources, you create a stronger connection to your food, and have a better understanding what you’re eating and how it was produced.

In The Nourished Kitchen, Jennifer McGruther guides you through her traditional foods kitchen and offers more than 160 recipes inspired by  the seasons, land, and waters around her. In the morning, fuel up with Eggs Poached in Fiery Tomato Sauce. On a hot summer day, Cucumber Salad with Dill and Kefir is a cooling side dish, and on a chilly fall evening, Barley in Broth with Bacon and Kale offers comfort and warmth. Old-Fashioned Meat Loaf with Gravy makes a hearty family meal, while Chicken in Riesling with Peas can be the centerpiece of an elegant supper. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Maple-Roasted Pears, and quench your thirst with naturally fermented Vanilla Mint Soda. With the benefit of Jennifer’s experience, you can craft a loaf of Whole Wheat and Spelt Sourdough Bread and stock your kitchen with Spiced Sour Pickles with Garlic.     

The Nourished Kitchen not only teaches how to prepare wholesome, nourishing foods, but also encourages a mindful approach cooking and a celebration of old-world culinary traditions that have sustained healthy people for millennia. Whether you’re already a practitioner of the traditional foods lifestyle or simply trying to incorporate more natural, highly nutritious foods into your routine, you will find plenty to savor in The Nourished Kitchen.

My Review

I love this book – it is truly “old-school.”  One of my favorite books (still) is Little House in the Big Woods, and I love the part of the book that talks about how the family puts up all of their food, including fresh churned butter.  This book taps into that same part of me…the part that loves (when I have the time) to get my hands dirty and make food from scratch, from fresh, local ingredients.

There are some really cool recipes in this book – it teaches you how to make butter, cheese, and a variety of yogurt.  Some of them require raw milk (meaning not pasteurized), and I’m not sure where to get that just yet, but just ready about the techniques is fascinating!  The book is divided into sections, such as “From the Water” and “From the Fields” and has a HUGE variety of foods – from drinks, to breakfast, to dinner, to dessert.  The ingredients range from the somewhat-hard-to-procure but yummy sounding (Rabbit Pie with Bacon and Chantarelles – umm, yes please!) to the gourmet (Braised Short Rib with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Herbs), to the no-thank-you-but-interesting (Pickled Tongue with Mustard Sauce).  That being said, as with other cookbooks I have reviewed, this is NOT a cookbook where you can go to your pantry, grab a bunch of canned goods and throw together dinner – it’s recipes are thoughtful and soulful.

This is truly a cookbook that is a fascinating, beautiful addition to your cookbook collection, and gives you a blast from our culinary past.  It may make you want to move to a farm, especially if you are like me and are partially bent to that idea in any case!


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Nourished Kitchen on Instagram

Buy The Nourished Kitchen

Buy The Nourished Kitchen on Amazon for only $16.76

Buy The Nourished Kitchen on Kindle for only $14.99!

Simple Thai Food Brings New Flavor to Your Kitchen {Book Review}

*Disclaimer:  I received Simple Thai Food from Blogging for Books for this review.  All opinions are my own.




About Simple Thai Food

Thai takeout meets authentic, regional flavors in this collection of 100 recipes for easy, economical, and accessible Thai classics–from the rising star behind the blog She Simmers.

Who can say no to a delicious plate of Pad Thai with Shrimp; a fresh, tangy Green Papaya Salad; golden Fried Spring Rolls; or a rich, savory Pork Toast with Cucumber Relish? Thai food is not only one of the most vibrant, wonderfully varied cuisines in the world, it also happens to be one of the tastiest, and a favorite among American eaters.

The good news is, with the right ingredients and a few basic tools and techniques, authentic Thai food is easily within reach of home cooks. Take it from Leela Punyaratabandhu, a Bangkok native and author of the popular Thai cooking blog She Simmers. In her much-anticipated debut cookbook, Leela shares her favorite recipes for classic Thai fare, including beloved family recipes, popular street food specialties, and iconic dishes from Thai restaurant menus around the world.

All of Leela’s recipes have been tested and tweaked to ensure that even the busiest cook can prepare them at home. With chapters on key ingredients and tools, base recipes, one-plate meals, classic rice accompaniments, and even Thai sweets, Simple Thai Food is a complete primer for anyone who wants to give Thai cooking a try. By the end of the book, you’ll be whipping up tom yam soup and duck red curry that will put your local takeout joint to shame. But perhaps more importantly, you’ll discover an exciting new world of Thai flavors and dishes—including Stir-Fried Chicken with Chile Jam, Leaf-Wrapped Salad Bites, and Crispy Wings with Three-Flavored Sauce—that will open your eyes to all the wonderful possibilities that real Thai cooking has to offer.

My Review

I love Thai food – especially pad thai and curries with coconut and citrus flavors intertwined.  So I was super excited to review Simple Thai Food, because I don’t have a lot of experience cooking Thai Food.

The thing to know about this cookbook is that “Simple” is not in reference to the cooking techniques or ingredient procurement.  This is not going to be a cookbook where you can grab the book, flip to a page, and pull the ingredients out of your pantry.  For me, living in a rural area, this is going to be a cookbook where I would have to seriously PLAN to meal and would require traveling in to a specialty grocery store.

That being said, the recipes are authentic, the instructions are clear and easy to understand, and the photography is really gorgeous.  There is also a great introduction to most recipes that gives you some history, culture, and background for the recipe.  All in all, I would recommend this for the serious home chef who is interested in learning Thai cuisine!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.




Groovy Lab in a Box Bring Science Home! {Product Review}

* Disclaimer:  I received a free Groovy Lab in a Box in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.


I am always searching for fun ways to keep my girls engaged in learning activities over the summer to avoid that dreaded summer relapse.  In addition to trying to read every day, I also think it’s important to keep my girls involved in other academic areas, including social studies and science.  I recently had the opportunity to try out Groovy Lab in a Box, a great way to keep your kids engaged in science over the summer!

Each month through the Groovy Lab in a Box subscription service, young STEMists (your children!) will receive fun, hands-on projects and an engineering design challenge – all focused on that month’s STEM topic. STEM stands for “SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY & ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS.”  All STEMists will receive a Lab Notebook, where they can read about that month’s topic, perform investigation activities and document their findings. They will investigate, brainstorm, plan, build, test and redesign their own creations.  The Groovy Lab in a Box absolutely contains everything that you need to engage in many different activities with your kids!




We received the “Here Comes the Sun” box.  I was thrilled to see how many different activities there were included in the Groovy in a Lab box!  There was absolutely NO WAY that we could have accomplished all of these activities in one day – these are absolutely activities that we were able to stretch out over the month.  The first activity we tried was a simple experiment with photo paper – it was a great little starter activity!



The next activity that we tried definitely needed some adult assistance and supervision – we built a solar balloon – which we were able to do inside because it was raining the day our box came.




My daughter LOVED Groovy Lab in a Box!  In addition to the MULTIPLE science activities in each kit, STEMists also receive access to “Beyond…in a Box” online learning portal. This is a unique feature of Groovy Lab in a Box because it gives STEMists a deeper understanding of that month’s topic. “Beyond…in a Box” has videos and more interactive activities to supplement what they are learning from the box projects, which also helps the STEMist even more when completing the design challenge. Additionally, the monthly box contains bonus supplies exclusively for the activities available through “Beyond…in a Box.”  The Engineering Design Challenge is the culmination of your STEMist’s learning experience – the ultimate project where he/she must apply the knowledge gained from that month’s activities.

There are tons of different subscription offers, but a single month is well worth the price at $26.95!  I highly recommend that you try it out for your little scientist!  Groovy Lab in a Box is great for kids ages 8 and up!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.



Ageless Derma Anti-Aging Intensive Skin Brightener {Product Review}

* Disclaimer:  I reviewed a free sample of Ageless Derma Anti-Aging Intensive Skin Brightener in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not getting any younger, and neither is my skin!  So I’m always thrilled to try out new skin products, and I was SUPER excited to try out Ageless Derma Anti-Aging Intensive Skin Brightner!  Formulated with scientifically proven ingredients and developed by a team of researchers, physicians, scientists, and estheticians sharing over 30 years experience, Ageless Derma Anti-Aging Intensive Skin Brightener offers natural, safe ingredients with clinically proven results.

Combining six powerful ingredients producing dynamic results, Ageless Derma Anti-Aging Intensive Skin Brightener will lighten and even out your skin tone within weeks, leaving you with a healthy, youthful look.

Ageless Derma has a very unique delivery method – you just push on the white disk and the perfect amount of Ageless Derma is dispensed.  I have been using it at night – it is smooth and creamy (almost mousse-like), and it doesn’t leave any kind of greasy residue.  I also didn’t notice any increase in acne from using this product, which sometimes happens.  It absorbs really quickly and leaves my skin feeling super soft.  I also have super sensitive skin and this hasn’t irritated my skin at all.  After using this for a couple of weeks, I feel like my skin is definitely smoother and glowing!  I highly recommend Ageless Derma for those looking to even out their skin tone.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.



My Irish Table Brings Ireland to Your Kitchen!

*Disclaimer:  I received My Irish Table from Blogging for Books for this review.  All opinions are my own.


About My Irish Table

The debut cookbook from Cathal Armstrong featuring 130 recipes showcasing modern Irish fare, along with stories about Armstrong’s journey from Dublin to Washington, DC, and becoming an internationally recognized four-star chef, the owner of seven successful food and drink establishments, and a leader in the sustainable-food movement.

With its moderate climate and amazing natural resources, Ireland is a modern-day Eden, boasting lush, bountiful produce, world-renowned dairy, plentiful seafood, and grass-fed meats. In My Irish Table, sustainable food movement leader and four-star chef Cathal Armstrong celebrates the food of his homeland and chronicles his culinary journey from Dublin to Washington DC, where he runs seven beloved and critically lauded restaurants.
Featuring 130 delicious recipes—from Kerrygold Butter-Poached Lobster with Parsnips to Irish Stew, Shepherd’s Pie, and Mam’s Apple Pie—My Irish Table draws on Armstrong’s Irish upbringing as well as his professional experience and French culinary training. In his hands, Irish food is comforting yet elegant, rustic yet skillful, and My Irish Table invites you into his kitchen to explore the vibrant traditions and rich culinary landscape of the Emerald Isle.

My Review

This cookbook exceeded my expectations!  I am honestly pretty unfamiliar with Irish food, but I love trying new things.  I was expecting pretty simple recipes in this book, but I found like there was really something for everyone.  There is definitely some recipes of what I would consider more traditional pub food, such as Steak and Kidney Pie, but there are some really elegant, restaurant quality recipes that will appeal to a more seasoned chef or foodie, such as Roast Prime Rib of Beef with Red Wine Sauce and Yorkshire Pudding.  There are also traditional Irish recipes such as Corned Beef and Irish Soda Bread.  I was also happy to find some awesome recipes that will be great for everyday use – especially side dishes like Creamed Spinach and Roasted Root Vegetable Puree.

The book is a really beautiful hardback with gorgeous pictures.  It is also really well laid out – I see this becoming a staple cookbook in my kitchen as we explore Irish cuisine!

Buy My Irish Table

Buy My Irish Table on Amazon!

  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.


Canvas HQ Artwork {Product Review}

* Disclaimer:  I received free product from Canvas HQ in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

I have been a professional photographer for some time, although I am definitely phasing out of the business.  But it is safe to say that I am well aware of MANY different photo product companies, but I was super excited to try out a new one, Canvas HQ, which unlike other photo product providers, specializes in turning your photos into gorgeous canvas artwork.


Canvas HQ is super easy to use.  You just start by uploading the picture you want to create art with – you can even upload from Facebook with the click of the button.  Then, you begin the fun process of customizing your art.  There are SO many options that Canvas HQ gives you to choose from. You can choose your finish: glossy, semi-gloss, or matte finish.  The other unique feature I love about Canvas HQ is that you can chose from a variety of frame depths from  .75″ to 2.5″.  The thinner canvas prints can even be framed!

I wanted to try uploading a picture from Facebook, since I knew those would be the lowest quality of pictures I had, in order to try our Canvas HQ’s chops.  I uploaded a pretty picture of a sea turtle that I captured in Hawaii.  Ordering was an absolute breeze – I customized my print, and I received a proof to check before approving the order.




I was SO impressed with Canvas HQ.  The canvas is thick and durable, and the colors and bright and vibrant, even though I uploaded my picture from Facebook! Canvas HQ also uses lifelong UV- and water-resistant inks so I know that my family will be enjoying this canvas for years to come.  If you are looking to decorate your home with some more artwork, I highly recommend Canvas HQ!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Treat Yourself – Classic Treats at Home {Book Review}

*Disclaimer:  I received Treat Yourself from Blogging for Books for this review.  All opinions are my own.



About Treat Yourself

If you grew up on corner-store treats, memory lane is paved with Ho Hos, Yodels, Oreos, and Ring Dings. And while your taste buds may have grown up a bit, chances are you still crave these classic flavors. Now you can re-create the lunch-box delights that made you the envy of other kids, with all-natural homemade versions.

After much obsessing and experimentation, Jennifer Steinhauer has cracked the code for 70 iconic treats to re-create in your own kitchen. There are cookies with a perfect crunchy base for cream filling, snack cakes with frosting so thick you can peel it off all at once, candies dipped in chocolate and dusted with sugar, and ice cream pops so juicy that they drip down your arm. A self-taught baker, Jennifer had no interest in complicated techniques or chemical gunk, just easy hacks that break down and remaster these throwback snacks.

So go ahead—treat yourself to your own homemade version of these favorites:
• Samoas, Pecan Sandies, Chips Ahoy!, and other classic cookies
• Nutter Butters, Mint Milanos, Oatmeal Creme Pies, and other sweet sandwich cookies
• Twinkies, Drake’s Coffee Cakes, Devil Dogs, and other snack cakes
• Fig Newtons, Lemon Mini-Pies, Strawberry Pop-Tarts, and other fruity, filled treats
• Soft Pretzels, Pizza Pockets, Funyuns, and other salty, savory snacks
• Cracker Jacks, Goo Goo Clusters, Candy Dots, and other candy favorites
• Orange Creamsicles, Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Pops, Nutty Buddies, and other frozen treats

My Review

So, as I have confessed on many occasions, I am a competent cook but not a great baker.  I needs lots and lots of practice, and this super fun book will give me lots of it! When I got this book, I thought it would be mainly baked goods, but there are tons of fun treats, including frozen treats, snacks (pizza pockets!) and candy!  The pictures are super engaging and Jennifer has really created treats that look like your classic favorites.

I have a recipe for cupcakes that are similar to the Drake’s Coffee Cakes recipe, so I thought I would give those a try.  The directions were super easy to follow and there was no technique that I really struggled with.  The end result cakes were good, although they were much heavier than I expected them to be – they almost had a shortbread consistency to them rather than an actual coffee cake, but they were certainly tasty!  I’m not sure if the consistency was correct, or if I messed up somehow, but either way they were YUMMY!

I highly recommend this book for the snack lover and baker in your life!  They will enjoy making so many classic treats at home!

Buy Treat Yourself

Buy on Amazon for $12.64!

 I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.