Supermarket Healthy by Melissa d'Arabian {Cookbook Review}

1.21.2015


Here's all you need to know about the approach to healthy food in Melissa d'Arabian's new cookbook, Supermarket Healthy - the cover features beautiful fresh food from the supermarket, including a gorgeous, crusty baguette and a bag of baby potatoes. Carbs and starch, people! She's not afraid of them!

Like d'Arabian mentions in her introduction, I would love to walk into a fancy health food store and buy all my groceries for the week, but my budget doesn't allow me to do that. As a result, I do my best to pick recipes that rely on foods that are unprocessed, fresh, and, whenever possible, local. I don't think of this as a diet and neither does d'Arabian. She says: "I've created every recipe keeping nutrition in mind, but this isn't a diet cookbook and it's not meant to be."

This cookbook includes recipes that are easily adapted to meet food allergies and sensitivities, but it does not focus on that theme. Instead, it is organized by: Breakfast; Snacks; Soups and Stews; Salads, Wraps, and Sandwiches; Veggies Mains; Pasta; Fish and Seafood; Chicken and Turkey; Beef, Pork, and Lamb; Sides; and Dessert. Sprinkled throughout the cookbook are "Blueprints" that teach not just a recipe, but a method to customize recipes like meatballs, salad in a jar, or frittata, to meet the tastes of your own family. You can check out a sneak peek of the cookbook over on d'Arabian's website.

We tried out the recipe for Sizzling Chicken Cordon Bleu on a busy weeknight. I served it with roasted broccoli and buttered whole wheat egg noodles. My family scarfed it up! The entire chicken recipe took 20 minutes from start to finish and included only these ingredients: butter, panko bread crumbs, salt, chicken, pepper, oil, ham, and cheese.

I can see myself reaching for this cookbook when I'm looking for simple and easy weeknight meals and also for something special and a little more complicated for a weekend. I'm looking forward to trying Beer-Braised Chicken Legs with Bacon and Apricots, Filet Mignon with Creamy Dijon Sauce, Chicken-Chile Pozole, and Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan. In all cases, this cookbook takes a balanced and reasonable approach to healthy eating, without reliance on fancy, hard to find ingredients.

Supermarket Healthy is currently on sale on Amazon for 40 percent off, so you can get it for $14.99. Totally worth it!

{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

What I've Been Reading {Quick Lit January 2015}

1.16.2015



Here's what I've been reading over the course of the last month (check out my favorite books of 2014, in case you missed it!):

The Giver (The Giver Quartet, #1), by Lois Lowry - Reviews of this book criticize it for being illogical and irrational, and for having a plot that is unable to withstand scrutiny. While reading it, I thought that was the whole point. Then I felt a little shallow for being pulled along with the story instead of trying to see the connection to Plato's Republic. I loved it an am working on the rest of the series.





The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer- This book taps in to the feeling of "I wonder what ever happened to [fill in name from the past]." It considers how friendships change as you age, shrinking and growing at various times. It was a little dark for me at times, but a good read.






What We See When We Read, Peter Mendelsund - I never would have picked this book up, but I am so glad Quarterly sent it to me as part of my Book Riot subscription. This quick read will make you think about reading like you never have before!







Assassin's Quest, Robin Hobb - My husband teases me for reading books with dragons and space ships on the covers, so here's more fodder for him. I think this was the best one of the series! It can be dicey to read the last book in a series, but this one really wrapped things up and closed some loops in a satisfying way.






Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James - How could I read a book and feel absolutely no connection to Darcy and Elizabeth? Somehow, that's what happened here.  I wanted to love this book because I am not a snob when it comes to Austen Fan Fiction. But no, just don't read this one.







The Witch and Other Tales Re-Told, Jean Thompson - I was pushing my limits on this one in an effort to read everything Quarterly send me (hey, I like a list, alright?). I'm glad I kept at it, but I am not into reading scary or creepy stories. I'm going to give it one more try  with another book from Quarterly on my To Read Shelf - Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, but I think it falls more into the Horror category...




The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2), Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) - So good! I could not put this town. J.K. Rowling takes the classic whodunnit genre, but adds characters drawn in detail and relationships that seem real. I hope these keep coming!







The Sweet Life in Paris, David Lebovitz - If you love a good fish out of water story, you'll enjoy this memoir from food blogger David Lebovitz. But if you love food, too, then this is perfect for you! Reading about French culture, and more specifically, Parisian culture, from the perspective of an American foodie was engaging and fun.





Check out more Quick Lit posts over at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

This Week's Meal Plan {January 4 - 10}

1.05.2015


Meal planning this week started in the freezer - I am cleaning that puppy out! Oh, and back to the lunch grind fun. Despite the fun and cute lunches I lovingly make, my daughter is begging to get hot lunch at school on Wednesday because she heard the chicken nuggets are awesome. Whatevs. Here's this week's meal plan:

Sunday

Dinner:
Chicken and Root Vegetable Dinner in a Pot {Keepers Cookbook}
Baguette

Monday

Lunch:
Hawaiian Puff Wheels {From The Best Homemade Lunches on the Planet cookbook by Momables founder Laura Fuentes, via The Quarry Spoon}
Berries
Apples

Dinner:
Beef Lo Mein {Mom's Dish}
Potstickers {Damn Delicious}

Tuesday

Lunch:
Grilled Cinnamon Raisin Goodness {Momables Member Exclusive Recipe, but this one is similar}
Carrots
Pretzels

Dinner:
Chicken Wild Rice Casserole {Pinch of Yum}
Green Salad

Wednesday

Lunch:
Hot Lunch

Dinner:
Leftovers

Thursday

Lunch:
Mini Corn Dog Muffins {Momables Member Exclusive Recipe, but this one is similar}
Amazon

Dinner:
Sizzling Chicken Cordon Bleu {from Melissa D'Arabian's new cookbook, Supermarket Healthy, review coming soon!}
Buttered Egg Noodles
Roasted Parsnips and Butternut Squash {Using the method from Keepers cookbook}

Friday

Lunch:
Asian Samurai Skewers {Momables Member Exclusive Recipe}
Carrots
Pretzels

Dinner:
Lemon Garlic Pork Chops with Green Beans and Parmesan Tater Tots {Food Network Magazine}

Saturday

Dinner:
Eat Out!

Star of Last Week

If I were a real blogger, this would be a much better picture, but I'm not. I'm someone who takes pictures of her dinner!

I mentioned last week that I had taken a close look at my Pinterest boards and noticed that I pinned Daddy Wu's Pan Fried Chicken no less than four times. My instincts were right! This was so darn good I could have eaten all week. I went back and updated the post to add that white rice on the side is an essential, too. Make this!

Here's the site I use for meal planning and creating grocery lists:

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

 I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday!











{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Quarterly Book Riot #5 {November 2014 - Spoilers}

1.02.2015

I have really cut back on my subscription boxes, mostly because I realized I was swapping more than half the items in many of the boxes. Now, I still love getting mail, but that's just silly! I am starting to feeling like I might be too old for their target demographic, so there might also be some denial there, too....

However, one subby box that I will never abandon is Quarterly's Book Riot! This is a great sub from the folks over at the popular bookish blog, Book Riot. Here are the details on this sub:


{The Box} Quarterly Book Riot

{The Price} $50/every three months

{The Contents} This box always includes books, book-related items, and a letter from Book Riot explaining the items in the box and why they were selected.


Here's what was in the latest mailing, Book Riot #05:

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi, 
$10.52 on Amazon as of this writing, 
with accompanying frameable essay
by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, 
$10.51 on Amazon as of this writing, 
with an accompanying handwritten (and copied) 
note from G. Willow Wilson
I'm looking forward to reading this one, especially after reading Understanding Comics on the recommendation of Gretchen Rubin.

My set included: The truth is rarely pure and never simple (The Importance of Being Ernest); Brevity is the soul of wit (Hamlet); I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading (Pride and Prejudice). These are up for swap. I don't do tattoos.

I'll keep these lemon flavored hard candies in my nightstand for late night snacking while reading. Seems appropriate.

Custom BOOKS Beanie - estimated value of $25
I swapped it. I just know I'd never wear it (not because it says BOOKS on it, but because I never wear beanies). It is well made and unisex, but just not for me!

If you are trying to get your hands on bargain books, this is probably not the right subscription for you. However, if you are interested in books you might not otherwise read, learning about trends in the book world, and getting a few bookish goodies every few months, I can't recommend this box more! The value is still respectable, with a value of around $60  for a box that costs $50. You can sign up here if you'd like to get one, too!



{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Favorite Books {2014}

12.30.2014


I did a whole lot of reading in 2014. I challenged myself to read 50 books this year, but I have read 75! Now I have to come up with a goal for 2015.....

Writing this list of my favorites is so tough. I second guess myself and wonder if I should exclude one and include another, but I tried to go with my gut instinct. Skip ahead if you just want the list and read on if you want to know HOW I read this much while having two small kids, a part time job, and a generally busy life.

Here's how I fit reading into the madness of life:

  • Audiobooks, Kindle, and the library - At any given moment, I have a book going on audio through Overdrive from my local library, and a book on my Kindle (usually checked out via Overdrive or purchased from a Kindle Daily Deal) or a hardcover or paperback book from the library. This way, I can listen to books while cleaning up the house or driving, then read another one when it's convenient (usually at night when the kids are in bed or lying next to me in my own bed!).

  • I make it a priority - After reading The Happiness Project, I realized that books make me happy and help me to feel that I've accomplished something, while TV makes me feel zoned out and sorta lazy. These feelings are certainly not universal, and I know that, but this is what works for me.

  • I keep track of what I am reading, have read, and want to read - Yeah for Goodreads! Having a system to track all this has really helped me to stay organized and to pick a great "next" book from my "to read" list. This way, the momentum never slows down (except when I get behind on magazines and my husband starts nagging me about the pile of them).

So here are my favorites in no particular order! These are not necessarily books published in 2014, it just happens that I read them in 2014:

Guardians of Ga'Hoole Series, Kathryn Lasky

This was an unexpected find. Had I not been trying out audio books on the amazing Overdrive app, I never would have found it!


Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks

A friend loaned this to me and I read it in two days (which is a feat when you have two small children!).

Wildwood Chronicles, Colin Meloy

This series only gets better with each book. I was sad to see it end.


The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

This Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner is one of those book that I didn't totally love while reading, but it stuck with me for weeks and really got me thinking. In fact, I STILL sometimes think about it!

Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman

I haven't read much by Neil Gaiman, but this book inspired me to read more by him. It was just enchanting.


Signature of all Things, Elizabeth Gilbert

Holy cow, what an epic this was! It surprised me in so many ways and I am glad to see it has so many good reviews on Amazon. Gilbert is better known for her bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, which I have never read.


The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty

I thought this was written by the same Moriarty that wrote The Husband's Secret, Big Little Lies, and The Last Anniversary, but she is her sister! If you've read any of my monthly book posts, you know that I prefer this Moriarty over that one.


Quiet, Susan Cain

This book completely changed how I parent my introvert. It gave me a new understanding of how she views the world (and how differently that is from the way I view it as an extrovert). I seriously bugged everyone I know for months after reading this book, sharing some of the amazing insights I gleaned from it. The Kindle version is only $2.99 right now!


The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith (but really J.K. Rowling)

A whodunnit is completely outside of my usual genre of books, but I loved it and can't wait to read the next one in the Cormoran Strike series, The Silkworm.


The Farseer Series, Robin Hobb

I stumbled across this one on Overdrive, too, but got completely sucked in. I plan on reading other books by Hobb (someday). They are all less than $6 each for the Kindle version today (for some reason, Amazon doesn't sell the paperback or hardcover versions?).

Honorable Mention

Honorable mention to and just missing the list are The Giver by Lois Lowry and the Thomas Cromwell Series, by Hilary Mantel. The Giver was just enthralling! What a well written and interesting book.  The only reason it didn't make the favorites list is completely related to me and not to the book - I feel like I have read a whole bunch of books like this lately.

As for the Thomas Cromwell series, Historical Fiction is a new genre for me, but one my Mom really loved, so it has sentimental value. This series about Thomas Cromwell has been outstanding. So well written and fascinating, even though you know what the ending will be!


Least Favorites

The only problem with reading books outside of my regular genre (years have passed where I only read Fantasy, Sci Fi, and Chick Lit) is that I ended up reading a few books that were not a good fit. Here are my least favorite books read this year, although I am glad I gave them a try:

Wild, Cheryl Strayed
I could not get past my annoyance with her terrible decision making skills.

The Astronaut Wives Club, Lily Koppel
Had so much potential, but read like a primer.

The Husband's Secret and What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty
I put them both together because I disliked them for the same reason - I can't stand when one of the characters is left in the dark about some very important thing when the other characters could so easily fix the problem.

The Vacationers, Emma Straub
Such a waste of great potential for a book.

The One & Only, Emily Giffin
Terrible plot. Just terrible.

Go read more lists of favorite books this year over at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

This Week's Meal Plan {December 27, 2014 - January 3, 2015}

12.29.2014


I did some clean up on my Pinterest Boards this week. Check out my updated Pin Accomplished Board to see what recipes I have loved and which ones I wish I had skipped!

Sunday

Dinner:
Hot Brown Soup {Food Network Magazine} - This is a rollover from last week, using up the last of the turkey leftovers.

Monday

Dinner:
Queso Smothered Chicken {Plain Chicken}
Oven Roasted Broccoli {Rachael Ray Show}

Tuesday

Dinner:
Sausage and White Bean Gratin {Keepers Cookbook via Delaware Online}
{Updated 1/4 to add that this recipe is great, but I should have had something on the side to go with it like a green salad, some crusty bread, or buttered noodles}

Wednesday - New Year's Eve

Dinner:
Leftovers - Sad, I know, but my daughter has class that evening right at dinner time
Ice Cream Sundae Bar - this will make it a more festive night, after class!

Thursday - New Year's Day

Dinner:
Egg Drop Soup {The Kitchn}
Slaw with Carrot Dressing {Rachael Ray Show}
Daddy Wu's Pan Fried Chicken {Rachael Ray Show} - When I was cleaning up my Dinner Recipes board, I realized I had pinned this no less than four times! So, I figure it's time to actually make it.
{Updated 1/4 to add - White Rice is also essential to this meal!}

Friday

Dinner:
Twice-Baked Potatoes with Bacon and Eggs {Food Network Magazine}
Green Salad

Saturday

Dinner:
Eat Out!

Star of Last Week



Could the Star of last week be anything but Christmas Dinner? No! It was a treat, with everything turning out really well. That Maple Apple Bacon Gravy is just to die for. The recipe didn't call for it, but I put the pan drippings from the turkey in, too, then added the chicken stock so that the total amount of liquid was 4 cups. It worked to add even more flavor and we loved it!

Here's the site I use for meal planning and creating grocery lists:

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

 I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday!











{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

This Week's Meal Plan {Christmas 2014 Edition}

12.22.2014



Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Here's how I plan to eat too much this week:

Sunday

Dinner:
Scavenge through the pantry and fridge!

Monday

Dinner:
Eggplant Parmesan {Table for Two}
Green Salad
Garlic Bread from the Freezer

Tuesday

Dinner:
Leftovers

Wednesday - Christmas Eve

Dinner:
Traditional Mandarin Fried Rice {Ming Tsai via the Food Network}- the absolute best fried rice recipe I have ever made! I had to kiss a whole lot of frogs to get to it, but it was worth it.
Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken {Life in the Lofthouse}
Cream Cheese Wontons {Blog Chef}

I also need to remember to make the breakfast casserole and the dough for the rolls tonight!

Thursday - Christmas Day

Breakfast:
Holiday Brunch Casserole {Taste of Home}
Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring {All Things Delicious} - We start with this, along with mimosas and coffee, then have the casserole when it gets a little later in the morning.
Mimosas
Coffee

Appetizers for Lunch:
Corn Chip Chili Cheese Dip {Taste of Home}

Dinner:
Maple-Apple-Bacon Turkey {Every Day with Rachael Ray}
Maple-Bacon Gravy {Every Day with Rachael Ray}
Rach's Cheesy Parsnips-Potatoes {Every Day with Rachael Ray}
Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup {Taste of Home}
Herb-and-Cheese Rolls {Martha Stewart}

Friday

Dinner:

One-Pot Cheesy Turkey Tamale Pie {Half Baked Harvest} - turkey leftovers!

Saturday

Dinner:
Hot Brown Soup {Food Network Magazine} - more turkey leftovers!

Star of Last Week




When we were all sick last week, I was craving this Homemade Wonton Soup so badly, but did not have the energy to stand in the kitchen for half an hour folding wontons (although an audio book is perfect for this situation!). So, having it this week was a real treat. I put my own spin on this recipe, omitting the shrimp, mushrooms, and water chestnuts, then adding a ton of soy sauce and sesame oil to flavor the broth. Yes, it takes a great deal of time to fold the wontons, but it is so nice to go back to the pot and throw more in your bowl. You can't do that in a restaurant!

Here's the site I use for meal planning and creating grocery lists:

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

 I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday!










{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.