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Category Archives: My Bookshelf

New Year’s Eve and a Cookbook Review

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Ahhh, New Year’s Eve. Parties, glittery nails, sparkly dresses, glasses of champagne….basically, not at all what my NYE looked like. Mine was more along the lines of staying in, cooking a massive feast, drinking wine, and getting into bed by 12:45. Jelly? You should be.

Instead of going out this year, we decided to stay in and do what we never ever do – spend too much money at Whole Foods, and too much time in the kitchen prepping and cooking a totally decadent meal. We hadn’t really decided on what to make, when I got an Amazon package yesterday from my mom with a new cookbook in it, Plenty. PERFECT timing, Mom! The book is INCREDIBLE, and I’ll get into more details later, but all there is to know now is that it’s filled with amazing vegetarian recipes that are both simple yet unbelievably tasty. We picked three recipes from the book, then set off to Whole Foods to stock up on supplies.

It took us about three hours to prepare and eat (inhale) everything but it was so, so worth it. Our menu consisted of:

– Fig, goat cheese and arugula salad

– Marinated bufala mozzarella and sliced tomatoes (photo below)

– Stuffed portobello mushrooms (with melted tallegio cheese, parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes. Photo below)

– A MASSIVE cajun rubbed steak (for Brian, obv.)

– Hazelnut S’Mores for dessert (photo below)

We also finaaaally opened a bottle of wine we picked up during our trip to Italy. It was delicious.

Now. Back to the cookbook. THE COOKBOOK. It was as if this book was MADE for me. It revolves entirely around vegetables, with a touch of dairy thrown in here and there. The book is split into chapters by family of vegetable – mushrooms, root veggies, beans, peppers, squashes, etc.  The photos are beautiful, instructions easy and (my favorite part) the recipes aren’t complicated. They each contain ingredients you have in your kitchen (garlic, salt, onion, oil, pepper), and all focus on the taste of the vegetable itself versus hiding it behind complicated sauces and spices. I can’t recommend it enough. GET IT!


My BookShelf: Vegan Brunch

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I’m so excited for this post, because I LOVE this book – Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s “Vegan Brunch”. It’s been my Sunday morning bible for the past few months and everything I’ve tried from it has been GREAT.

The Good

First of all, the book itself is PRETTY. I’m big on cookbooks that contain pictures – how am I supposed to make it if I don’t even know what it’s supposed to look like?! Lucky for me, this one not only has ’em, but has a ton of them and they’re all beautiful. (Yes, that’s right. I used the word “beautiful” to describe a picture in a breakfast cookbook. You try staring at a heaping plate of pumpkin french toast topped with powdered sugar and raspberries and tell me it’s not “beautiful.”)

The recipes in the book cover the classic well-known and loved brunch basics. They’re easy to follow, and (this is a big one for me) have a short ingredient list made up of simple ingredients – nothing that I have to run around the city to find. On a Sunday morning who has the energy to schlep (two blocks) to the grocery store for that weird, never been heard of mystery food? Not I.

So far I’ve tried (and loved):

Tofu Scramble

Banana flapjacks

Perfect Pancakes

The Bad:

Um….nothing?! Well, as I said, I’ve only tried a handful of the recipes, so who knows, perhaps there are some flops in the book (although I’m guessing not. Isa Chandra is the bomb, every cookbook I own of hers is fantastic.)

Enough with the rambling, already. Should I get it or not?

YES! If you’re anything like me and love pancakes, french toast, home fries and other greasy Sunday morning fare AND you’re on the hunt for an easy to follow cookbook, pick this up.

Anyone else..? Thoughts?

My Bookshelf: Skinny Bitch In The Kitch

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Alright, before I get into this post, I should make it very clear that I LOVE Skinny Bitch. I read it for the first time a few years ago, and while I totally “got” a lot of what they were saying, when I finished reading it I sort of flung it to the side never to be thought of again. Last year, when I was reading everything I could get my hands on about Veganism, our food, factory farming etc, I gave the book another read and this time it stuck. Rory and Kim are real, practical, to the point, and don’t bother boring you with too much research or statistics. It’s great. Really. If you haven’t read it, you should.

I figured, naturally, that if I liked Skinny Bitch then I would totally love their next book, Skinny Bitch In The Kitch, right? I wanted to love it. I REALLY did…

The Good:

The same no nonsense writing that I liked so much from the first book, sticks around for this version. There’s a super brief recap in the  beginning of the book on meat, dairy etc, and I appreciate that. Er….okay, I wish there was more “good” to this post, but unfortunately it’s time for:

The Not So Good:

I’m of the belief that with the saturation of Vegetarian and Vegan cookbooks out there, in order for any cookbook to be a true standout and earn a place in my heart forever, every recipe I make has to be good! I’m not saying they have to excellent/out of this world/earth shattering, but come on, they have to be GOOD.

I’ve made two recipes from this book and both have been “meh”s. Not that impressive of a track record, let me say. Makes me wonder if I want to bother with trying others…

I tried:

Macaroni and Four Cheeses: This was one of the first Vegan recipes I ever tried making and it called for not only a TON of Vegan cheese (this was pre Daiya days…so I suppose I should have known better) but a TON of nutritional yeast (something I hadn’t yet built up a taste for.) Needless to say, noodles + vegan cheese + nooch resulted in something that I literally could not take more than one bite of. (Seriously. No exaggerating!) Brian was kind enough to pretend to like it, for my sake, but after one bite, I pouted, pushed the plate away from me, crossed my arms over my chest like a five year old and resigned myself from this so called “Mac and Cheese.” I was heartbroken that I didn’t absolutely love it, because I wanted to! Sad. Sad Sad.

Spaghetti Squash, Greens, Raisins and Pine Nuts: This was one of those that was just “okay.” It has a slightly funky flavor (could have been the chipotle peppers in the adobo sauce) and I wasn’t a fan of the raisins in my pasta (too sweet, almost?) This didn’t taste exceptionally healthy, and….well, yeah. Not my favorite dish.

Enough with the rambling, already. Should I get it or not?

I haven’t given up hope on this one entirely. I’m going to give a dessert recipe a shot, (“Bitchtastic Brownies”, perhaps?) and then decide once and for all if me and this cookbook have run our course. Tear!

Anyone have any thoughts on Skinny in The Kitch? I can’t possibly be the only one out there that hasn’t been impressed with it thus far…right?! RIGHT?!

My Bookshelf: The Thirty Minute Vegan

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Okay. SO. When I first got hardcore into Vegan food, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I hardly knew how to cook, let alone cook Vegan food. So I started looking into cookbooks – which ones were good, which ones weren’t, which ones I HAD to have, etc. Turns out there are a LOT of Vegan/Vegetarian cookbooks out there. A LOT. I ended up buying a bunch…some have been awesome, others….not so. I thought it’d be helpful to share my take on a few of the cook book purchases I made and hopefully steer in you in the right direction, should you be in the market for a new cookbook.

First up: The 30 Minute Vegan. I knew it would be easier to fully get into Vegan food  if I were making meals for myself. Unfortunately, I don’t have 3 hours each night to dedicate to preparing multiple course feasts, so I snapped this one up because, well, 30 minutes to make dinner? Yes, please.

The good:

I’ve had GREAT luck with this book so far. I’ve used it to make three recipes, each of which came out amazingly. One thing that I look for in cook books are ingredients that I either have/am familiar with/won’t have to spend a fortune on. This is (aside from the pretty pictures) one of THE top things I look for. This book fits the bill. I’ve tried and loved:

Basil Pesto

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Tempeh Veggie Enchiladas

And, true to form, they only took about 30 minutes to make! Ha! Who would have thought?!

The Not So Good:

So, in case you haven’t been able to tell by my disproportionate number of dessert posts to regular food posts, I’m a dessert girl. Love it, can’t live without it, must (and do) have it every night. Usually when I pick up a cookbook I jump to the back of the book to check out the dessert recipes. I guess I was so blindsided by the first 3/4s of this book that I didn’t pay much attention to the back of it. The desserts? Meh. Not so impressed. A lot of them are “Raw”, and nothing against raw food (which I am actually a big fan of) but if I’m going to have dessert I want chocolate….a lot of it. I’d rather save the fruity stuff for breakfast.

Enough with the rambling, already. Should I get it or not?

This is a keeper, for sure. It’s my “Tuesday night, got home from work late, I’m starvation central and need food NOW NOW NOW!” book. I know I can have something made and in my belly in 45 minutes tippy tops. So if you’re not looking for anything too fancy (or anything with an extensive dessert collection) pick this up!

Already have it? What do you think?