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Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Chocolate: A Love Story...Review

About the book:
With gigantic vats of churning chocolate, desserts like their famous chocolate pizza, and 12 varieties of hot chocolate served in custom mugs, Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man has turned their line of hip, colorful themed restaurants into an international sensation.

Chocolate: A Love Story is a vibrant new cookbook that includes 65 original recipes narrated in the quirky, captivating voice of Max Brenner, the restaurant's visionary founder and "bald man." Bold original illustrations inspired by Art Deco poster graphics, full-color photographs, easy-to-follow, delicious recipes, and a serving of Max's unique vision for spreading "chocolate culture" around the world make this book a must for every chocolate lover.

For all my love of chocolate, I was not familiar with Max Brenner before I received this book. And, it's a lovely book. All the recipes are rather avant-garde and fancy. No simple, everyday cakes or cookies here. Many recipes begin with a short anecdote from Max. In one, he's sitting outside a cafe in Paris; in another, he recalls a childhood experience at an amusement park.

While, technically, a cookbook with recipes, this is really more of coffee table art book. There are few photos of the finished recipes. The artwork is very retro 60s and is fascinating. While this isn't one that will most likely end up in my kitchen, it nevertheless would be a terrific book for any Max Brenner fan, or a true Chocolate connoisseur.

Thanks to Anna Balasi of Hatchette Book Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Max Brenner here. You can purchase the book here.

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Comfort Food: Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are just a good meal. I often wonder where the name came from, but I've never done a search. We have an old family recipe that is called Western Burgers, but is basically a sloppy joe. It cooks up nice and thick and can be eaten like chili. Your house will smell delicious, as it cooks all afternoon.

It's perfect for a cold, windy, fall day. It's also made with ingredients you probably have in your pantry. It's sweet and smoky, more than spicy. But, for true comfort food, give it a try! You can find the recipe here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Conversation at our house

Picture warm chocolate chip cookies, fresh out of the oven. A neighborhood boy (who is like my third son, and whose mom is my good friend) wanders into the kitchen.

Me: "There's a cookie here and it's calling your name!"
Boy takes a bite of the cookie: "Thank you. Holly, your cookies are the best."
Boy walks towards the door and turns around: "Don't tell my mom I said that, ok?!"

Want a yummy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe? Look no further. This one is delicious, and my go-to cookie recipe. Crispy and chewy!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Sometimes a simple, toasted tuna sandwich on white bread is just perfect. White bread, tuna with mayonnaise and a little butter in the pan. Nothing fancy. Just filling.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Family Favorites: Pasta Rustica

If I ask my boys what they want for dinner and the answer isn't pizza, chances are it's this:

Pasta Rustica.

My sister gave me the original recipe and it's become a family favorite. It's not low-fat or healthy, but it's yummy and super easy. It's also a meal that I can guarantee will have no issues or complaints and will be eaten by everyone. Of course, one boy picks out the red peppers and the other boy picks out the mushrooms...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pretty Peppers

I love the vibrant colors that we find in nature, and in cooking.

I was chopping peppers for Teriyaki Chicken and Sauteed Pepper and Mushrooms and they were just so pretty, I had to take a photo!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Muffins

Printable Recipe

So, when I made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies, I got to thinking. How would they be in a muffin tin?

I made a batch of cookie dough and a batch of brownie dough, although I eliminated adding the chocolate chips to the brownies. You can certainly use your own brownie and cookie mixes or boxed ones. I just happen to like mine!

Then I just did a marbleized mix: a drop of brownie and a drop of cookie dough. Bake the mini muffins at 350 for about 12 minutes and the large muffins at 350 for about 20 minutes.

You could frost them with yummy Chocolate Buttercream frosting, but they were pretty rich and I think they were just fine without.

Definite thumbs up from my boys and their friends.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

I Need Chocolate: Chocolate Mint Sticks

Craving chocolate? Craving chocolate and mint? Want an easy, delicious recipe that will make your mouth water and satisfy those cravings?

Chocolate Mint Sticks.

The original recipe came from one of my church cookbooks and is one of our favorite treats. If you like chocolate and mint together, you will love it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Comfort Food: BBQ Pork Chops in the Slow Cooker

Do you ever need a quick and easy recipe that can simmer in your crock pot all day?

Here it is: BBQ Pork Chops.

This one take 5 minutes to put together and makes your house smell divine. Serve it with a baked potato and you will think you've died and gone to heaven! It's good for summer time cooking, but it's wonderful for fall and winter. True comfort food!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Favorites: Church & Community Cookbooks

Raise your hand if you love church or community cookbooks? You know, the ones that your mom has had for ages and ages. Some families put together their own as well.

Some of my favorite memories are thumbing through my mom's old cookbooks. She had several that were done by church ladies and it was fun to see my Grandma's name in there and lots of women I knew as I was growing up.

While I haven't managed to get her to give me any of those old cookbooks, I have managed to acquire a few of my own. Check out the tags on the side.

I'm even in one of them!

I love these kinds of cookbooks. Two of the books I have, give little tidbits about the women who contributed recipes: favorite songs or scriptures, favorite flowers or colors, tips and tidbits and hints. These are tried and true, good homestyle recipes that you know work. Notice the water stains and my own note.

What about you? Do you like church/community/family cookbooks? How many do you have?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Comfort Food: Baked Beans

It's cold. It's fall. Do you want a warm, comforting meal when it's cold outside? I do! How about if that warm, comforting meal was easy too? If you agree, then try this one:

Baked Beans.

This is our favorite side dish for barbeque, but it also makes a delicious, almost meatless, meal on its own. Serve it with some cornbread and enjoy! Hearty and filling and delicious.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms Cookbook...Review

About the book:
Make Ahead meals are not just for Moms who work outside of the home. It's a way of cooking that helps all families, big and small. It all comes down to a little planning. Make a meal or two in advance when you have some extra time. Then you'll be rewarded with quick, delicious home-cooked meals when you really need them!

I really liked the layout of the book: each section is alphabetical, which makes it easy to find a recipe you want. All the recipes feature ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, which is something important to me, especially if I'm not planning ahead. The directions include bold highlighting to show what needs to/can be done a day ahead. While many of the recipes can be made ahead of time, they don't need to be. These are recipes you can simply make on the spot, but you have the option of freezing.

There are no photos, but the book is easy to read. I would have loved it to have a spiral binding so it would lay completely flat, but once open, there wasn't any flipping of pages, so it worked.

I think this would be a terrific, all-around cookbook for anyone, especially cooks looking for some good, go-to recipes.

Thanks to Tracee at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Jane Doiron here. You can find additional reviews of this book, and additional tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, October 5, 2009

Autumn: Soup and Stew

Autumn has arrived in Idaho. The irrigation water gets turned off this week, so we definitely know it's Fall! The leaves are starting to change and the weather has grown colder. We had our first frost and it's rained for the last three days. Snow has fallen in the higher elevations, and I put flannel sheets and extra blankets on all the beds today.

With Fall, at least in our home, comes soup and stew. If you want to try a delicious beef stew recipe, you need to check out this one.

We had it tonight with cornbread. I cooked it on the stove top, as I didn't decide early enough in the day to use the crock pot, and it was delicious. Perfect for a cold fall evening!