Genre: Cookbook

The Make-Ahead Kitchen by Annalise Thomas | Cookbook Review

Posted June 15, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Cookbook Review / 3 Comments

The Make-Ahead Kitchen by Annalise Thomas | Cookbook Review

The Make-Ahead Kitchen by Annalise Thomas | Cookbook ReviewThe Make-Ahead Kitchen: 75 Slow-Cooker, Freezer, and Prepared Meals for the Busy Lifestyle by Annalise Thomas
Published by Front Table Books on June 14, 2016
Genres: Cookbook
Pages: 176
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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2.5 Stars

Skip the hassle of last-minute meals and leftovers and replace them with simple, healthy, delicious, and easy-to-prepare make-ahead dishes! Your family will love these comfortable meals, new favorites, cozy drinks, and tantalizing desserts--all of them prepared ahead of time so you don't have to worry! Enjoy simple, soul-filling foods without the chaos of preparing them at the last minute.

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Annalise Thomas’s new cookbook, The Make-Ahead Kitchen, hosted by Cedar Fort! I don’t get many opportunities to review cookbooks, but I enjoy them a lot and always have fun looking over recipes and mouthwatering pictures of yummy food. I’m reviewing the PDF version of this cookbook, so I won’t be talking about print/image/paper quality like I usually do, but that’s ok. I’ll be talking about the recipes, the layout of the book, and any other details that I think you might be interested in.

The author provides a set of general notes at the very beginning of the book to help readers understand how she measures certain ingredients, and to provide more information on the kinds of ingredients she uses. For example, if the recipe calls for butter the author always means salted butter. She also touches on how to tell if her recipes are gluten free and notes that she offers gluten free options if she can. I thought this was a nice touch. We then move into the introduction, where the author enthusiastically pushes this idea of planning ahead and having meal options already made either in the freezer or the fridge the accommodate busy lives and particularly busy days. She claims that all of the recipes in this book can be made ahead of time and frozen and refrigerated for later consumption. I really like this idea!

The rest of the book is broken down into 7 sections of recipes: breakfasts (15 recipes); soups and salads (9 recipes); appetizers, snacks, and sides (9 recipes); main dishes (13 recipes); cookies and bars (14 recipes); desserts (12 recipes); and drinks (3 recipes). There is an index at the end. All recipes have accompanying instructions that explain how to save the meals for later. The recipes do not seem to be very difficult to make, and the instructions are detailed and make sense to me. I was a bit disappointed that 14 of the 75 recipes in this book centered around cookies/bars (most cookies can be made ahead and frozen already), especially when the book’s sub-title claims that this book contains recipes for 75 meals. Technically, the book only contains 37 recipes for make-ahead meals (if you count soups and salads as meals instead of side dishes/appetizers).

Each recipe (except 1) is accompanied by a large, colorful photo of the dish. Many cookbooks I’ve looked at over the years only have pictures here and there of a few of the star recipes, so I love having a picture of each dish. So often I decide I’m hungry for something by seeing it instead of reading about it, so this is a huge selling point for me. Many of the photos looked very appetizing and delicious, but there were also several food photos that looked a little crusty and old, like they had been sitting out for a long time waiting to be photographed (this was the case with the cashew chicken and brown rice casserole, the rich & creamy fully loaded make-ahead mashed potatoes, and the easy baked mac & cheese, among others).

There is a large assortment of recipes, but I quickly noticed that the theme here is sweet stuff. 26 of the 75 recipes are cookies, bars, or desserts. Only one of the breakfast recipes is not sweet (the roasted veggie & ham overnight egg bake), and all three drink recipes are sweet. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it’s worth noting. I eat sugar very sparingly and tend to like more savory foods (especially for breakfast), so this book would not be one that I would buy for myself. If you love sweet foods, though, it’s got some very unique sounding recipes, such as easy cardamom sweet cream biscuits, sour cream pumpkin bread, peanut butter & jelly puffs, and freezer-friendly salted carmel corn. There are savory recipes that sound good as well including make-ahead pepperoni pizza rolls and slow cooker french onion beef soup. There are just fewer than I would have liked to see.

Overall, I love the idea for this cookbook. Planning ahead by making meals and saving them for later is becoming a huge thing in my neck of the woods, and I think it’s a great idea. It saves you from having nothing for dinner when you just don’t have time to cook that day. I did have a few issues with the selection of recipes and the ingredients used (there’s several recipes that use coconut and/or curry, and I’m allergic to both of those), but that’s just a personal thing on my part. It does, however, affect my rating. I was also not overly impressed with the book’s layout and would have liked to see a little more creativity there.

If you’re searching for recipes for dishes that will hold up after refrigeration or freezing, or if you’re looking for some unique recipes to try, perhaps this cookbook is just what you’re looking for. However, it will not be my go-to recommendation for friends and family.

2.5 Stars

The Recipe Hacker by Diana Keuilian | Cookbook Review

Posted January 26, 2015 by Jana in Book Review / 5 Comments

The Recipe Hacker by Diana Keuilian | Cookbook ReviewThe Recipe Hacker: Comfort Foods without Soy, Dairy, Cane Sugar, Gluten, and Grain by Diana Keuilian
Published by Cedar Fort on December 9, 2014
Genres: Cookbook
Pages: 200
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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Break the recipe code for your favorite foods! Free of grains, gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and soy, The Recipe Hacker is a mouthwatering collection of your favorite comfort foods with a healthy twist. Learn to use easy ingredient substitutions to transform traditional dishes into real, healthy comfort food masterpieces, without sacrificing any of the flavor! Enjoy healthier, whole-food versions of Key Lime Pie Crispy Orange Chicken and Banana Pancakes Step-by-step photos, dozens of recipes, and delicious flavors will keep you coming back for more. Enjoy all the comfort foods you crave and keep your body (and skinny jeans) happy at the same time!

Recently I’ve started considering the fact that several of my health issues might be alleviated by giving up certain foods that typically cause allergies. I’ve got a lot of inflammation in my body, and I’ve read that food allergies can manifest themselves in less noticeable ways, or can disguise themselves as other problems. Needless to say, I was super excited to try out this cookbook because it lines up with a lot of the foods I’ve been thinking about giving up.

The contents of the cookbook include breakfasts, appetizers, main dishes, sides, and desserts. The author has come up with some very creative workarounds, and her recipes sounds amazing! Before I get into the recipes, though, I’d like to touch on the information the author provides for her readers. There’s a short note where she introduces herself and explains why she think healthy eating should be an important part of our lives, followed by a small list of healthy ingredients. She pushes organic eating and her favorite flour substitute is blanched almond flour (although people allergic to almonds can used ground sunflower seeds or gluten free oats instead). She also lists other flour, cane sugar, milk substitutes.

Now, to get into the foods! There are 100 recipes in all, most are accompanied by a sizable photo that looks so yummy I could eat it! I’m going to mention just a few that I think sounds interesting, but I’ll have to do a little more tweaking because I’m allergic to all nuts and seeds. It appears my gluten substitutes are limited!

Starting with breakfast, there’s a recipe for a donut breakfast sandwich, which sounds really yummy. It’s got a fried egg and bacon in it, and the donut is sweetened with pure maple, almond, and vanilla extracts. Sounds so good! There’s also a recipe for bagels, and I LOVE bagels. The author has included tweaks to make several different kinds, including blueberry and cinnamon (I’ll skip the raisins! Not a fan.).

Moving on to appetizers, the first recipe is onion rings–one of my guilty pleasures for sure! There’s ground almonds in them, though, so I’ll have to get a little creative. How does this sound: teriyaki spiked, tender rib eye-wrapped asparagus. Sounds crazy to me, but I’m intrigued! There’s also a recipe for pretzel bites, garnished with sea salt. Yum!

Ok, dinner time! I’m a sucker for pizza, and there’s a recipe for pizza dough made from almond flour, coconut flour, and arrowroot starch (and some other stuff) that I’d love to try. There are a few recommendations for toppings as well. Beef brisket and crispy orange chicken sound good, too! To go with dinner there’s recipes for cauliflower rice, almond bread, and egg white biscuits. I’m kind of a carb addict.

Finally, we’re on to my favorite: dessert! The chocolate fudge cake, sweetened with coconut oil and raw honey, looks amazing in the picture. Angel food cake, my favorite! And hello apple pie (topped with dairy-free vanilla ice cream, recipe included). There’s a bunch of cookie recipes, some brownies, and even cheesecake bites (no cheese included). I think the author might love dessert the most, just like I do!

All in all, I’m super excited to try some of these recipes! It seems like Keuilian is very creative, and has thought about pretty much all the comfort foods that are so hard to give up when you’re trying to avoid certain ingredients. I really appreciate that the author avoided sugar substitutes, which are so much worse for you than regular sugar is. My only qualm is that these recipes use ingredients that are higher in fat than the foods they are substituting (nuts and coconut milk are commonly used ingredients), but if you’re going for avoiding allergens over losing weight you won’t have to worry. It’s nice to have some alternatives to gluten, dairy, and sugary foods you love! The cookbook is very well-designed, of good quality, and the photography is wonderful!