Food

Cookbook Review: The Kitchn Cookbook

Posted by on Nov 29, 2014 in Feature, Food, Reviews | 0 comments

Cookbook Review: The Kitchn Cookbook

I stumbled upon The Kitchn via Facebook and found myself constantly saving links to various recipes everyday thereafter. I’ve made things like slow cooker burrito bowls, slow cooker chicken tikka masala and my ultimate favorite which very recently disappeared in a 48-hour-period – cranberry cake! I absolutely love the site – I love how you can search for things by diet (low sodium, vegetarian, low sugar, etc), meal, a certain holiday and I really just love the recipes they have. So, when I got the chance to get The Kitchn Cookbook, I couldn’t help myself.

 

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THE REVIEW:

The Good:

What I really love about this cookbook is that is truly covers your whole kitchen. From the best work flow, what tools you should have and even how to stock your pantry – it has everything. It’s also written in a non-condescending and useful way. Sometimes I find cookbooks to either expect you to know everything or are condescending (oh, you can substitute regular milk for almond milk? COME ON GWYNETH.) but Kitchn really balances the informative parts well. Since I just bought my first house with A in April, I’ve been working really hard to figure out the best setup for the kitchen. I’m lucky because I have a really beautiful work space and lots of cabinets for all of my cookware – but ever the organizer, I loved digging into this book. This is definitely the first cookbook I’ve sat down to really read. THERE IS EVEN A DAILY PLANNER FOR CLEANING YOUR KITCHEN. Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love to clean (and how often I clean…) so this really appealed to me. I know some may think this is a book for an “inexperienced” cook – but really, I think anyone could benefit from a book that has a lot of the basics in it – even if just for reference.

The Not-So-Good:

My only major criticism is the recipe portion seems a bit crowded. I don’t like having more than one recipe per page when I’m in the kitchen going back and forth between things – it’s hard to see them when they’re in the little columns. It’s hard to stop to find your place on the page – I wish they each had their own page and that the font was a bit bigger.

Overall, this is a great addition to my growing cookbook collection and with winter heavily upon us in the Northeast (HELLO SNOW!) I know I’ll be in the kitchen experimenting for many months to come!

Coming Up in Blogland:

  • A tour of my 1970s themed kitchen!
  • A DIY of my adorable end table
  • CRAFTS AND RECIPES!
  • Some features from two of my friends who are also doing some great things – Veronica who is making her own body butters and salt scrubs, and the other Francesca, who has her her very own lifestyle blog!

 

 

*This book was provided to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review!
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Cookbook Review: Skinnytaste Cookbook

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in Feature, Food, Reviews | 0 comments

Cookbook Review: Skinnytaste Cookbook

THE BACKSTORY:

Along with my newfound love for cooking has come a love for cookbooks. Prior to learning to cook the only cookbooks I owned were a 1970s cookbook on how to microwave anything (microwaved steak anyone?) and another 1970s cookbook devoted entirely to fondue. I mean those are both amazing in their own right, but one could not terribly useful. Or appetizing in the case of the former. Something had to be (fon)done.

The newest cookbook to arrive at my doorstep is the Skinnytaste Cookbook*, written by GinThe Skinnytaste Cookbook- Light on Calories, Big on Flavora Homolka, author of Skinnytaste.com. I chose this book more out of curiosity than anything. I’m not terribly calorie conscious when it comes to meals whatsoever. And I don’t believe in diets or this whole “low-fat” mindset. I eat full fat everything – yogurt, cheese, butter. And I try to use fresh, local ingredients (farmer’s market forever!) when available and try to stay away from processed food as much as possible. As long as a recipe adheres to those basic tenets, I’m all for it.

 

However, recently I’m been becoming more and more aware of the fact that there are two things in my diet that there definitely should be less of:

  • sugar
  • sodium

I’m a sugar junkie. I have been since I was a kid. My mom always called me a “junkfood junkie.” Luckily, she kept me in check. However, as an adult I suddenly realized,

I CAN EAT AS MUCH CAKE AS I WANT TO AND NO CAN STOP ME. AND IT CAN BE A MEAL. OR ALL MEALS.

Followed by,

I CAN TOTALLY EAT FROZEN PIZZA OR PASTA WITH CHEESE FOR DINNER EVERY NIGHT.

Those two things pretty much sum up how I ate through most of my 20s. Now that I’m (ugh I can barely type this) nearing 30, I’ve realized it’s probably not the best idea to eat as much salt and sugar. And when I started looking up how much sodium and sugar are in so many unexpected things, I was a floored. So, when I saw skinnytaste, I thought it interesting to try out some lighter recipes and mix them in with copious amounts of avocado toast eaten regularly. MODERATION, MAN. MODERATION.

THE REVIEW:

The Good: It’s a gorgeous cookbook. It’s absolutely enormous and has recipes for every meal. I was really excited about that – I like to play around with breakfast on weekends especially so I love cookbooks that cover everything. It also has a sandwich section. I love sandwiches. I love sandwiches as much as Liz Lemon and Joey Tribbiani combined. Sarah’s favorite food: SANDWICHES.

I also really dig that every recipe has all the nutritional info on the bottom of the page, including sodium and sugar. This saves me an exorbitant amount of time throwing my recipes into a recipe calculator to try to get nutritional facts for sodium and sugar.  And I was excited to see that most of the recipes contain really reasonable amounts of sodium, instead of 1000s of milligrams!

Also, the recipes are all easily to understand – there is nothing in there that is so complicated that you want to toss the cookbook into the garbage disposal. And the ingredients are all accessible – you won’t have to hunt various grocery stores for that special type of cheese. And she also uses a ton of fresh ingredients – lots of vegetables!

The Not-So-Good: I had assumed the cookbook was going to be healthy recipes. Which in my mind doesn’t necessarily mean light on calories – it means fresh ingredients. I was wrong. A lot of ingredients I wouldn’t use: light mayo, fat free yogurt, fake peanut butter, canola oil. Like I said, I’m not about cutting fat, but I guess I should’ve known that “skinny” was going to be cutting calories however possible. On the flipside, I do appreciate that she advocates for real sweeteners and real dairy products (butter, cream.)

While the recipes are decent, none of them are terribly imaginative. My favorite cookbook (which I’ll be going into detail about soon!) has recipes that I see and think,

OH GOD I CAN’T LIVE ANOTHER DAY WITHOUT HAVING THIS IN MY MOUTH.

While a lot of these sound good, like the Chicken Pasta Caprese or the Butter Squash Lasagna Rolls, a lot of the recipes are just common meals “lightened” up, like chicken parm, spaghetti and meatballs, mac and cheese etc Don’t get me wrong – I like a new spin on an old classic, but these aren’t really new spins as much as classics with less fat. I was hoping for new, inventive recipes.

I’m going to try out a recipe or two this weekend and I’ll document the journey, so check back for updates! (It will probably include a sandwich, FAIR WARNING!)

Have you picked up any new cookbooks lately?

 

*This book was provided to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review!

 

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Domestication.

Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in blogging, Feature, Food, Life | 1 comment

Domestication.

I find that when you hit the late 20s of your life, you have a variety of crises that often manifest in strange ways. In 2013, it was the year of the fitness crisis. I went from sedentary-Sarah eating pasta with butter and cheese while watching Gossip Girl,  to running 7 days a week and training for a series  of (READ THAT: MORE THAN ONE) 5K races around the county.

Me, or Robot Me, finishing the Fall Foliage 5K while wearing my 1980s running leggings..

Me, or Robot Me, finishing the Fall Foliage 5K while wearing my 1980s running leggings..

Once running lost my interest a bit, I dove into my next fitness/spiritual venture: YOGA. 10 pairs of yoga leggings and many expensive classes later, I was getting myself into shoulderstands and other precarious poses and feeling pretty peaceful in general.

But then we bought a house.

Hi House!

Hi House!

Besides all of the obvious reasons your life completely changes when you buy a house, YOUR LIFE COMPLETELY CHANGES WHEN YOU BUY A HOUSE. You suddenly have all this space. And a yard. And stairs. And several porches. And a pool that needs a new liner and FUN FACT has the remains of two dead squirrels embracing one another in it. (I am so sorry squirrels, it was before my time here, it won’t happen again. And please, stop going in our attic space at night as revenge, you’re really, really upsetting Ham.)

And if you’re me, when you buy a house. YOU NEST. Oh, lord do you nest. And while a lot of my nesting is scouring Goodwill and used furniture places for things to DIY, the other major part is COOKING. I started out with Plated, which I’ve since ditched because I now own these big strange things called cookbooks. And I have 4-5 types of flour, at least 5 different vinegars, several types of sugar, and enough spices to fill the entire middle shelf of one of my cabinets. I cook! REAL FOOD! I make things like tofu stir fry! Tikka masala! Baked oatmeal! Peanut butter and Nutella brownies! AND THEN I EAT THEM.

For some reason it took me years to understand that once you learn how to cook, you can make delicious things that you really like…and then eat them. It took until 2014 for me to understand this and begin my food crisis. I’m not quite sure why I had such a disconnect. But now I cook things and then I get the enjoy the hell out of them. Who knew this was a thing? I’m currently pretty obsessive with making sure we aren’t eating a lot of processed food. A and I both came from bachelor & bachelorette lifestyles – cooking for me was the microwave and for him was the toaster oven. It’s taken a while, but we’ve got this down. We rarely eat out, we don’t have any frozen or quick meals, and we usually cook dinner together 5 nights a week.

These are the current two blogs I’ve been cooking from HEAVILY:

  •  How Sweet Eats (and her cookbook Seriously Delish – if you don’t own it, JUST BUY IT) Jessica’s recipes are always delicious, creative, full of flavor, and easy to make. Her blog is fun to read and A and I have been amazed by every single thing I’ve made. He made me the vanilla funfetti cupcakes from her cookbook for my birthday – I ate them for breakfast. For a week.
  •  

  •  The Kitchn was an accidental discovery – one of those weird things that pops up in your feed that someone you know liked a link of a boyfriend of their second cousin on Facebook. They lured me in with slow cooker recipes (burrito bowls anyone?) and I have been hooked since. Latest dish: sausage and blistered tomato gnocchi skillet. Simple and delicious.

 
So, I’m going to start talking a lot about cooking. And experimenting with recipe, ranging from simple to a bit more complicated. And of course, DIYing, decorating and my true love, thrifting. I hope you join me again, because it feels really nice to be typing on my laptop and not doing something for work.

 

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So, tell me, what are you cooking?

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Hey I can cook! (Sorta.)

Posted by on Dec 17, 2013 in Feature, Food, Life | 1 comment

Hey I can cook! (Sorta.)

Since A moved in and I ceased my bachelorette lifestyle after 3 glorious years of eating over the sink and spooning my dog, I’ve started cooking. Well to be fair, WE have been cooking, as A is a very good sous chef. Unless you ask him to chop something. He’s an incredibly slow chopper. Like so slow it’s almost painful. But he’s always more than willing take on the raw meat, which is my least favorite activity.

So A also came off of the life of bachelor – except where as I was eating yogurt sundaes over the sink, he was eating frozen chicken from the toaster oven.  Combine a bachelor and bachelorette and he began eating yogurt sundaes (except he defiles them with peanut butter) and I was eating frozen pizza (because I refuse to eat frozen chicken.) Overall, it was a bit of a disaster. Enter Plated.

A Facebook ad was constantly advertising Blue Apron, which is a food delivery service that delivers all the ingredients for 3 recipes a week. No grocery shopping, no recipe hunting…so I sent A the link and we tried it. As lazy people that have no experience cooking, we LOVED the concept. But the food was mediocre at best, and the options were limited. I started googling similar services and we found Plated – and have been hooked ever since.

Every week we pick out 3 meals for the following week, everything arrives on Tuesday and we cook together three nights a week. My friends like to tell me that I’m not cooking, that I’m cheating, but we still have to prep and cook every meal – we just have all the ingredients at our finger tips, down to pats of butter. We joined in August and have only skipped one week – so according to plated we’ve plated 84 dishes (or 42 meals!) I mostly like plated because they have really innovative recipes – we’ve made everything from sliders to chicken en papillote. A lot of the other services I’ve looked at seem pretty boring or lack options.

So, tonight we made salmon burgers (slideshow below!):

If you want to check out Plated, you can get free plates with your first order and it’s totally worth it! It’s $12/plate (though we’re grandfathered in at a lower price point because we’ve been doing it for so long now) and you can do it with or without a monthly membership. The membership gets you the cheapest price per plate, which is what we do.

Have you tried Plated or a similar service? What did you think?

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