Get a Sugar Rush and Learn How to Bake! {Book Review}

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



About the Book


Sugar Rush is a complete baking course in a book with everything a home baker needs to confidently turn out 150+ sweets with sophisticated flavors. 

James Beard–award-winning pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini returns to basics, sharing his expert tips on fundamentals such as making caramel and mixing butter cakes, with accompanying step-by-step photographs, before moving on to recipes for Salted Caramels and Sticky Caramel Date Cake. After mastering the simple method for making light-as-air meringues, anyone can make ethereal espresso marshmallows, mile-high soufflés, and chewy French macaron sandwich cookies. Readers can finally expand their cake and ice cream horizons to embrace flavors as thrilling as those in Brown Sugar-Molasses Layer Cake and Bitter Orange Ice Cream. The 250 photographs include both instructive technique shots to reassure bakers at every turn as well as stunning photographs of the ready-to-eat treats. With Sugar Rush, baking at home has never been easier—or more inviting.

My Review

Sugar Rush is the #1 best seller in Pastry Baking on Amazon, and there is definitely a reason why.   This is truly a baking course, which I desperately need!  This amazing cookbook begins, well, at the beginning. Chef Johnny Iuzzini takes you through the process of prepping to make amazing desserts, before you even measure a cup of flour.  He really explains WHY you must do certain things in baking or you risk ruining your dessert, and this is something that I really like! He also takes you through the equipment you need – turns out I am missing a lot of baking equipment (woohoo shopping!).

The book is divided into types of desserts/cooking techniques, i.e Custards, Caramel, Cakes Cupcakes and Brownies, Cookies, etc.  There is an entire chapter on Frosting.  Yup.  Yum.  The directions in the recipes are clear and straightforward, and they don’t have such exotic ingredients that I can’t find them at my local grocery store (some things like almond flour, I have to drive in to the city to find), so that is a huge plus.  I love his series of pictures where he steps through a process a picture at a time.  This is super helpful for a novice baker like me who isn’t always sure that my work in progress “looks right”.

I really just love this book – it is truly a cooking class.  I can’t wait to dig into this book and experiment and get my hands dirty – I know by the end of it I will be a better baker…P.S…Did you know there are more than one type of meringue?  I didn’t!  There is so much to learn from this book, but it is written and laid out in a very easy to understand and accessible way.  This is one of my new favorites, and I highly recommend it for both seasoned and newbie bakers!



One interesting thing that Chef Johnny does that I never even thought about was giving weights for ingredients.  As he explains at the beginning of the book, this gives you more precise measurements – I never knew that it needed to be this precise!

Down South Brings Southern Food to Your Kitchen {Book Review}

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


About the Book

Perhaps best known as the James Beard Award-winning chef behind some of New Orleans’s most beloved restaurants, including Cochon and Herbsaint, Donald Link also has a knack for sniffing out a backyard barbecue wherever he travels and scoring an invitation to sample some of the best food around. In Down South he combines his talents to unearth true down home Southern cooking so everyone can pull up a seat at the table and sample some of the region’s finest flavors.
Link rejoices in the slow-cooked pork barbecue of Memphis, fresh seafood all along the Gulf coast, peas and shell beans from the farmlands in Mississippi and Alabama, Kentucky single barrel bourbon, and other regional standouts in 110 recipes and 100 color photographs. Along the way, he introduces all sorts of characters and places, including pitmaster Nick Pihakis of Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ, Louisiana goat farmer Bill Ryal, beloved Southern writer Julia Reed, a true Tupelo honey apiary in Florida, and a Texas lamb ranch with a llama named Fritz.  Join Link Down South, where tall tales are told, drinks are slung back, great food is made to be shared, and too many desserts, it turns out, is just the right amount.

My Review

Oh, this cookbook takes me home!  While I am no doubt a NY girl through and through, I do miss Southern food!  This book has so many yummy treats – from beer smoked beef short ribs to gulf seafood, to Mississippi Mud Pie this recipe has plays on old favorites and new, contemporary dishes that range from perfect for a fancy dinner to a weekday night family meal.  I also love the collection of recipes perfect for an “old school Southern cocktail party”.   My kids also really like this cookbook – and they REALLY want to try the recipe for Crisp Fried Frog Legs!  There are also many plays on traditional Southern treats, such as Bing Cherry and White Chocolate Bread Pudding (HEAVEN!!!)

One of my favorite things about this cookbook is the gorgeous photography – there are pictures of SO many of the recipes, which I love for plating purposes!  The only thing I don’t like is there are some recipes that are pretty far out there (at least for me) in terms of ingredient availability (where can I get frog legs?) but I can’t wait to try and find them!




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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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.




My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz {Book Review}

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


About My Paris Kitchen

A collection of stories and 100 sweet and savory French-inspired recipes from popular food blogger David Lebovitz, reflecting the way Parisians eat today and featuring lush photography taken around Paris and in David’s Parisian kitchen.

It’s been ten years since David Lebovitz packed up his most treasured cookbooks, a well-worn cast-iron skillet, and his laptop and moved to Paris. In that time, the culinary culture of France has shifted as a new generation of chefs and home cooks—most notably in Paris—incorporates ingredients and techniques from around the world into traditional French dishes.

In My Paris Kitchen, David remasters the classics, introduces lesser-known fare, and presents 100 sweet and savory recipes that reflect the way modern Parisians eat today. You’ll find Soupe à l’oignon, Cassoulet, Coq au vin, and Croque-monsieur, as well as Smoky barbecue-style pork, Lamb shank tagine, Dukkah-roasted cauliflower, Salt cod fritters with tartar sauce, and Wheat berry salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate. And of course, there’s dessert: Warm chocolate cake with salted butter caramel sauce, Duck fat cookies, Bay leaf poundcake with orange glaze, French cheesecake…and the list goes on. David also shares stories told with his trademark wit and humor, and lush photography taken on location around Paris and in David’s kitchen reveals the quirks, trials, beauty, and joys of life in the culinary capital of the world.

My Review

I have never been to Paris, but I lust after it like a 16 year old girl..well, nevermind.  I want to go to movies set in Paris, and I LOVE French food.  So I was super excited to review this cookbook.

First of all, I didn’t even have to open the cookbook to know that I was going to love it.  The hardback book is slick, smooth, and heavy – in a word, it is beautiful.  The paper is thick and luxiourious, and frankly, the book smells amazing.  Book lovers will know that how a book smells is important, and this book is gorgeous and classy.  It would make a perfect gift for the chef in your life.

This book is everything you could hope for in a French cookbook – filled with charming anecdotes and gorgeous photography.  And we haven’t even touched the recipes.  Oh, the recipes.  You are going to find a little bit of everything yummy in this book.  You will find classics like French Onion Soup and Croque Monsieur.  I also found recipes that would be easy to use or adapt for every day cooking and things I have in my fridge, such as Poulet A’ La Moutarde (Chicken with Mustard).  There are so, so many recipes that I am dying to try.

And then there is dessert.  I’m just going to leave this here:  Salted butter caramel-chocolate mousse.  Yeah.  If that doesn’t get you going, you might not be  human.  There are a host of yummy French treats like Almond Cakes with Brown Butter and a whole bevy of tarts – you are sure to find something for your sweet tooth.

I can’t go on enough about how beautiful this book is – this is a serious contender for a Christmas present for your favorite chef!

Scalloped Potatoes Recipe from The Hundred-Foot Journey #FoodieFriday



Do you love to cook??  I do, and I can’t WAIT until Disney’s latest film comes out, because it definitely caters to foodies!  In DreamWorks Pictures’ “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” the opening of a new Indian restaurant in the south of France, next to a famous Michelin starred eatery, is nearly cause for an all-out war between the two establishments until Le Saule Pleureur’s icy proprietress Madame Mallory recognizes her rival’s undeniable brilliance for preparing masterful meals.

 I can’t wait to see Helen Mirren bring on the sass and ice!  And not to mention the amazing fusion food ideas we’re going to get!  Here’s the trailer to whet your appetite!


And for those of you who love to cook, check out this awesome recipe for Scalloped Potatoes from The Hundred-Foot Journey & Le Cordon Bleu!  YUMMMM!


Get Your Slow Cooker into Gear with The Great American Slow Cooker Book {Book Review}

“I received The Great American Slow Cooker Book from Blogging for Books for this review.”



About The Great American Slow Cooker Book

The ultimate in slow-cooker books–with 500 recipes, each adapted for three sizes of appliance. From breakfast to soups, mains to grains, vegetables to desserts, this guide is the only book you’ll ever need to master your slow cooker or crockpot.

Millions of people are turning to slow cookers for their weeknight meals yet often can’t find recipes that match their exact machine. Adapting recipes meant for a different-size cooker doesn’t work–getting the right level of spice in your Vietnamese soup or keeping pulled pork tender requires having ingredients in the right proportion. But now, Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough have decoded slow cookers, and each of their recipes includes ingredient proportions for 2-3 quart, 4-5 quart, and 6-8 quart machines, guaranteeing a perfect fit no matter what machine you own. Each recipe is labeled for its level of difficulty and nutritional value, and they cover every kind of dish imaginable: delicious breakfast oatmeals, slow-braised meats, succulent vegetables, sweet jams and savory sauces, decadent desserts. This is the slow cooker book to end them all.

My Review

The Great American Slow Cooker Book is a must have for those of you (like me) who often rely on your slow cooker to get you through a busy week, but want something a little more than dumping some chicken and cream of mushroom soup in!  There are some spins on old favorites, like Smoked Turkey and Wild Rice Soup, but they are kicked up a notch with fresh ingredients like scallions, fresh rosemary and vermouth.  I also love that there are recipes that really elevate the food you can make.  For example, there is a Rabbit Cacciatore recipe that sounds AMAZING.  Now, I don’t have rabbit at my local grocery store, but I have picked them up at the Broadway market  here in Buffalo, and recipes like this are a great way to introduce new foods to your family.  There are also veal recipes, but I have to admit I’m a little skiddish about putting such an expensive cut of meat in the slow cooker, but I’m going to give it a try!

What I really love is that there are recipes in this cookbook that you would NEVER imagine that you would cook in a slow cooker!  For example, I would never have thought that you could make Banana Pecan Coffee Cake in a slow cooker!  You bake it and slice it right out of your Crock pot.  The Great American Slow Cooker Book has definitely expanded my view on what my slow cooker is good for!

I also love the little tips and tricks that this cookbook incorporates.  For example, with each recipe, it tells you whether it will “Keep on Warm” meaning that if you start it before work like I do, but it then shuts off because the cooking time has been reached, if the food will still be good.  I’ve come home to soups that were less than appetizing and other meals that just didn’t work because they were only on warm for part of the afternoon.  I LOVE this feature.

Another feature of The Great American Slow Cooker Book that I love is the sections with Testers’ Notes – these are the little hints and tricks and OMG moments that you have while cooking that you scribble in the side of the margins.  I love how they are already right there for you!


Extra Virgin Cookbook {Book Review}

* I received this Extra Virgin cookbook for free from Blogging for Books for this review.


About the Book

EBI MAZAR and GABRIELE CORCOS are ambassadors of contemporary Tuscan cooking. In Extra Virgin,food, family, and style come together in a celebration of the pleasures of the rustic Italian table with 120 recipes for simple yet exquisite meals that are accessible, full of fresh flavor, and easy to prepare. Gabriele is a traditional Italian with a big heart, and Debi is an outgoing, brash New York City girl. Their sassy and playful exchanges illuminate what’s important in everyday life: good food and a lot of love.

Ranging from traditional antipasti and soups to their spin on entrees, pizzas, and desserts, recipes include Pecorino and Honey Dip, a sweet and salty way to start a meal; tangy, luscious Grilled Apricots with Goat Cheese Ricotta, inspired by wild Tuscan apricot trees; and Sausage and Beans, which offers hints of fennel in a Tuscan red sauce. Here, too, are Braised Artichokes softened in guanciale-infused oil, Breakfast Pizza, and Coffee Granita just as Italians make it.

So flag these recipes, get sauce on them, let splashes of olive oil mark the pages—and invite Debi and Gabriele’s charisma and passion for cooking to spill into your kitchen.

My Review

Anyone who knows me knows I love food.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I love Italian food most of all.  Rich, sexy, and flavorful, Italian food is like falling in love for me – well-done it’s exquisite and sumptuous – poorly or cheaply done and it’s a total disaster.  As such, I love this cookbook, because it is definitely well done.  I adore Debi Mazar and if you haven’t seen her show with her hunky Italian husband (Extra Virgin) on the The Cooking Channel, you’re missing out!

When I get a new cookbook, I usually gravitate towards trying recipes that are somewhat familiar to me.  As such, the first recipe that I have to try out of Extra Virgin is the Seared Scallops with English Pea Puree.  I love scallops, and I can sear a mean one!  You should hear me curse at the TV when chefs on a certain reality TV show absolutely FAIL at searing scallops.  The scallop searing in Extra Virgin’s recipe is not unique, but what IS unique and what is a new skill for me is making the pea puree.  I absolutely love that there is a trick to this that I didn’t know (hint:  potatoes!), and I love that you make your own broth with fresh celery, carrot, and onion – no shortcuts here!  This is billed as an appetizer in Extra Virgin, but this would fit the bill for an easy weeknight supper at my home!

There are also plenty of recipes to tempt the foodie in me – for example, I can’t wait to try Pappardelle with Duck Ragu, which promises duck meat falling right off the bone – YUM! 

I highly recommend this cookbook for fans of rich, yummy Tuscan food, as well as fans of Extra Virgin!


Buy Extra Virgin

Buy Extra Virgin on Amazon for $20.54

Follow Debi Mazar on Twitter

Follow Gabriele Corcos on Twitter


Memorial Day Recipe from Disney’s The Hundred-Foot Journey!


Happy Memorial Day everyone!  Memorial Day is a time for remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and for holding our families dear with food, fun, and time spent together.

Disney is celebrating Memorial Day as well, and in honor of their new movie, The Hundred-Foot Journey, they have passed on a wonderful recipe that is perfect for Memorial Day get-togethers.

In “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. Displaced from their native India, the Kadam family, led by Papa (Om Puri), settles in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. Filled with charm, it is both picturesque and elegant – the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai. That is, until the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren), gets wind of it. Her icy protests against the new Indian restaurant a hundred feet from her own escalate to all out war between the two establishments – until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine and for Mme. Mallory’s enchanting sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), combine with his mysteriously delicious talent to weave magic between their two cultures and imbue Saint-Antonin with the flavors of life that even Mme. Mallory cannot ignore. At first Mme. Mallory’s culinary rival, she eventually recognizes Hassan’s gift as a chef and takes him under her wing.

“The Hundred-Foot Journey” abounds with flavors that burst across the tongue. A stimulating triumph over exile, blossoming with passion and heart, with marjoram and madras, it is a portrayal of two worlds colliding and one boy’s drive to find the comfort of home, in every pot, wherever he may be.

As a foodie who LOVES to eat and cook, I will definitely be watching the Hundred-Foot Journey – and trying out this YUMMY Tandoori Chicken Recipe!

What yummy foods will you be eating this Memorial Day?


Win a 26 week Meal Planning Subscription from Meals by the Week! {Review & Giveaway}

As my regular readers will know, I’ve been attempting to make healthier choices regarding my diet and my lifestyle – i.e more exercise, less channel surfing.  Never fear – a new update is coming soon!  One of the huge difficulties with making this change is MEAL PLANNING.  Now, not only do I have to worry about planning a meal that my entire family will like, but also a meal that accommodates my daughter’s dairy allergy, AND is low-calorie for me.  I’ve been working hard come up with dinner menus that are between 400-700 calories – and let me tell you – it’s isn’t easy.  Fortunately, I’ve been lucky enough to get to try out an AWESOME new meal planning tool called Meals by the Week!

Meals by the Week is a menu planning service that has completely knocked it out of the park!  It is so easy to sign up and get started – and there are a TON of options.  You can sign up for a 13-week or 26-week subscription, and you “choose” a menu.  For couponers, it will design a menu that is based on the sales ad of your grocery store – HOW COOL IS THAT!!  The only grocery store that was available for my area was Super Walmart, and I don’t shop there, so I was a little bummed – UNTIL I found that they have a 400 calorie weekly menu plan!  Yup, that’s right – I can get a whole week’s worth of menus planned out and all of them (including side dishes) are under 400 calories.  SCORE!  And the recipes sound so yummy – like Thai Basil Chicken and Rosemary-Mustard Pork with Peaches!  They look amazing too!

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial; Meals by the Week provided me with a 13-week subscription in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

The best part about Meals by the Week is that they are flexible.  You can “Keep It”, “Skip It”, or “Double It” with the click of a button, so I can easily ditch dairy recipes or ones that I know my girls wouldn’t like.  I can also adjust it whether I am feeding the four of us, or just me and my fiance when the girls are with their dad!  Then, with the click of a button, you can print an organized shopping list.  How awesome is that?

And here’s the best part!  Meals by the Week is giving one lucky Mama Games reader the chance to win a 26 week subscription!  Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, and don’t forget to come back daily to enter!

Enter to Win a 26 Week Subscription to Meals by the Week!

US Only. 18+.  The Mama Games is not responsible for prize fullfillment.

Contest runs 5/13/14-06/02-2014


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