Review: The Keto Reset Diet

The Keto Reset Diet

The Keto Reset Diet: Reboot your metabolism in 21 days and burn fat forever by Mark Sisson with Brad Kearns

This is a diet plan for those who are looking for a way to lose weight and aren’t shy about eating a very specific selection of types of foods. The idea behind this plan might sound familiar – it’s designed around eating high protein and very-low-if-any carbs. You follow this extremely strict plan for three weeks and then gradually ease up on those restrictions. This book includes both general guidelines and detailed meal plans for those 21 days. It also provides charts outlining grams of carbs, fat, and protein and total calories for the ingredients/portions used in the meal plans. All the recipes using those ingredients are also provided, so you can make all the items on the meal plans. I’m not good at restrictive diets myself – I tend to go overboard and then get mad at the world when I’m unsatisfied – and I’m not a medical professional or scientist, but I’ve heard from other folks that it has worked well for them. Your mileage may vary!

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook

The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook

The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook: Fresh and foolproof recipes for your electric pressure cooker by Coco Morante

Instant Pots are all the rage these days! We don’t have one (yet) but since K does virtually all the cooking in our household, it’s up to him to want one enough to actually get one. So I haven’t actually tried these recipes myself, but they look pretty good. The recipes cover a wide variety of things: breakfast dishes, bean and grain-based recipes, soups, meat-specific meals (poultry, pork, and beef), veggies and side dishes, and desserts. It also includes basic info on operating this piece of equipment, troubleshooting for common problems, a list for stocking your pantry for cooking with it, and how the pressure system works. There’s also a chapter on converting other recipes to work with an Instant Pot. The book is divided into chapters by type of dish and is indexed for easy reference.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: Road Food

Road Food

Road Food: An eater’s guide to more than 1,000 of the best local hot spots & hidden gems across America by Jane & Michael Stern (10th edition)

Fans of The Splendid Table will recognize these authors as regular guest experts in finding and reviewing food across the United States. This book divides the country into regions and focuses on a dozen or so eateries in each state in each region. Michigan’s entries include some of the most famous places you’ve already heard of such as Lafayette Coney Island, Northside Grill, and Zingerman’s Deli. Most of the Michigan restaurants are either up north or in Southeast Michigan, with a few exceptions on the west side – disappointingly nothing at all inland between Ann Arbor and Traverse City. Still, it’s a good guide for someone traveling and I have no doubt that the food at all of these places is excellent.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: One Pan & Done

One pan & done

One Pan & Done: Hassle-free meals from the oven to your table by Molly Gilbert

I am a lazy, lazy cook and the idea of using just one pan to cook a full meal is very appealing to me. This book, by the author of Sheet Pan Suppers, takes the same basic notion – using one pan – and expands it to a variety of styles of pans. These recipes each use one of the following: sheet pan, cast iron skillet, dutch oven, 9×13″ baking dish, muffin tin, pie pan, loaf pan, or bundt pan. Virtually all types of meals are covered, including breakfast, brunch, starters/snacks/sides, sweets, and main dishes featuring veggies, poultry, fish, or meat. I will say that while many of these dishes truly are a whole meal in one dish (radish and ricotta frittata; turkey sausage, eggplant, & tomato penne) a lot of them really don’t cover enough of the food groups for me to be considered a full meal (it’s difficult for me to consider a meal complete without at least something green involved). They do appear to be pretty simple in terms of ingredient lists and prep time, and most of the recipes serve 4-6 people, so a couple like us would for sure have leftovers (a bonus in my book).

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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Review: Something to Food About

somethingtofoodabout

Something to Food About: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs by Questlove

Anyone who’s watched some episodes of Jimmy Fallon’s show will be familiar with Questlove, drummer and band leader of the Roots, and chances are you may have seen one of his food-related segments. In this book, Questlove has conversations with ten chefs about food, geography, music, and plenty of other topics. The photographs are beautiful – many feel like fine modern art museum pieces – and feature much more than just food. The book concludes with a modernist cuisine meal, including Questlove’s thoughts and descriptions as well as photos of the 13 dishes. Even the way this book is designed and bound feels like an art book more than a food book – it’s beautifully curated and feels good in one’s hands. The thing that gets me, though, is that all but one of these chefs are white men. I feel like someone with Questlove’s wherewithal ought to be able to do better than that.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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plated

Plated

Plated: Weeknight Dinners, Weekend Feasts, and Everything in Between by Elana Karp & Suzanne Dumaine

This is a cookbook designed to work as building blocks as you improve or develop your cooking skills. It was written by the purveyors of a food-delivery company (also called Plated), which was founded with the goal of helping anyone be able to create meals they could be proud of without having to do the meal planning and shopping themselves. These building blocks start out with the equipment one should have on hand (with second and third lists detailing nice-to-have and awesome-to-have items), lists for stocking one’s pantry, info on knife skills, and a short list of rules for the kitchen. After that, the book moves on to basic recipes for components including spice rubs, marinades, dressings, sauces, condiments, and infusions. I can see these component recipes being quite handy. Finally, we hit the actual recipes for meals, starting with weeknight dinners. These ostensibly take less time to prepare. Then comes a chapter called Great for Leftovers, which gives not only the initial recipe but instructions for how to use the leftovers. We move on from there to make ahead meals, weekend feasts, dishes appropriate when serving a crowd, side dishes, and desserts. There are a lot of great-looking recipes here and the book itself is put together to be aesthetically pleasing. It reminded me a little of the Mana Fast Slow Food restaurant, with their many colorful dishes. Not every recipe however includes a photo of the finished product – many offer an artful photo of an ingredient instead. This may be frustrating for some cooks but it makes for a cookbook that feels different from many others.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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Review: Sweeter Off the Vine

Sweeter Off the Vine

Sweeter Off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season by Yossy Arefi

Organized by season, this book offers recipes for using fruit – and the herbs and vegetables that go well with them – to make delicious sweet dishes. Within each season, multiple recipes are provided for each of the author’s favorite ingredients. Spring features herbs, rhubarb, strawberries, and cherries; summer highlights apricots, berries, melons, stone fruits, raspberries, and figs; fall includes grapes, persimmons, pomegranates, apples, pears, quince, squash, and pumpkins; and winter wraps up the year with cranberries, citrus, and dates. The book concludes with a list of essential recipes and components that are perpetually useful, such as pie crust, crème fraîche, and puff pastry. As we have planted two apple trees already and will be planting peach, pear, and plum trees in the near future, I am super excited by these recipes. Many of them appear to be fairly complicated (baking usually is, at least from my newb perspective) but the instructions read clearly and seem quite straightforward. I’m so excited to have our own fruit growing right in our own yard. I have visions of bushels of fruit dancing in my head, and now some lovely images of pear pie with crème fraîche caramel to go with them!

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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Review: The Mexican Slow Cooker

The Mexican Slow Cooker

The Mexican Slow Cooker is a book of “recipes for mole, enchiladas, carnitas, chile verde pork, and more.” I am all about Mexican flavors and foods, and the slow cooker is becoming our go-to meal prep tool (I say we and I am totally guilty of using the royal we – K does almost 100% of the cooking in our house right now), so this book seemed a natural fit. I will also admit that my expectations for slow cooker meals are that the prep time is going to be very minimal and the meal will, almost totally, make itself while we are at work or doing other things. Sadly for us, this book doesn’t follow the same philosophy, as many of the recipes require a lot more prep time than we are interested in doing or have available. It is laid out in a sensible way – there are a lot of basic meal components and recipes that build on those components. Unfortunately, a lot of the components themselves take hours, and then the recipe that includes two or three of those components takes another hour or more. This is just way beyond the amount of time we have available and are willing to devote to preparing food. To sum up: a lot of these dishes look delicious but require so much time to prepare that we will never make them.

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books.

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crock pot faux rotisserie chicken

I’ve been wanting to cook a whole chicken lately, I’m not sure exactly why but I am guessing it’s because of the cold winter weather and craving hearty food. I asked a few friends for recommendations on how to cook a whole chicken with a minimum of fuss and Carolyn recommended this recipe for Make Your Own Rotisserie Chicken.

Making crock pot faux rotisserie chicken

This recipe uses a spice rub, which was pretty easy to make. We thought we had garlic powder on hand but I think we may have left it at Susan’s when we moved out, so we threw in some Italian Seasoning instead. Totally not the same thing, but we thought it would go okay flavor-wise.

Making crock pot faux rotisserie chicken

K stepped up to do the dirty work, knowing that I was not going to be a fan of touching the raw chicken. He dutifully placed the spice rub all over the chicken.

Making crock pot faux rotisserie chicken

He did not, however, actually do that – he only pretended to give himself salmonella.

Making crock pot faux rotisserie chicken

We ended up cooking it for a little over five hours on low, and the temperature was well over 180 throughout, so we called that good enough.

Crock pot faux rotisserie chicken

It turned out to be quite tasty, though I think that adding actual garlic, probably along with some lemon and maybe some oregano would make the flavors more intense.

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easy as chicken noodle soup

Last winter I discovered how easy it is to make hearty chicken noodle soup in the crock pot. Since we’ve had such cold temperatures lately I thought it was a perfect time to make it again. The basic recipe I used the first time is from Cooks.com, but I have since altered it a bit to suit my preferences.

Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

My recipe:

2 large chicken breasts, frozen
2 packages of diced/cubed ham
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 bag frozen corn
1 bag frozen cut green beans
1 teaspoon chopped chives
12 oz. whole wheat noodles
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt (season to taste)
64 oz. water

Excluding the noodles, put all ingredients into the crock pot.
Cook on high for 4.5 hours.
After this, use a wooden spoon to stir it up, taking care to break the chicken breast into bite size pieces.
Add noodles and continue cooking for an additional 1 hour.

Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

If I had thought to get broth/stock ahead of time, I might substitute that for the water, as I think it would enhance the flavor (I could probably cut out some or all of the salt if I did that). I’m thinking that next time, I’ll add some frozen carrots, too. As you can probably tell from these photos, this soup is really hearty and does not end up with much liquid/broth – just a little bit. These ingredients really fill up our 6 quart crock pot, or else I’d add a larger portion of liquid at the start. As it is, when you add the noodles, it is a little precarious trying to get them mixed in without splashing liquid over the edges.

Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

This time I made the soup with ham instead of bacon. I found that with bacon, it tasted delicious the first time but ended up feeling too fatty on subsequent reheatings. I think that by substituting ham, that issue has been fixed. Huzzah! This recipe makes enough for K and I to share several meals – I’m guessing maybe four or five, possibly six? It makes a lot, anyway, and it’s really easy to reheat in the microwave. It’s so filling and delicious! I love that chopping the potatoes is the only real work involved – the rest is just dump and let cook. Given how easy and satisfying it is, I really should use the crock pot more often. What are your favorite slow cooker recipes?

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