The Kitchn Cookbook {Cookbook Review}


If you are looking for a great cookbook to gift a beginner cook (or for a bridal shower or housewarming gift), I have the cookbook for you! The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens & Tips to Inspire Your Cookingis a new cookbook that could be the textbook for a college course called Kitchen 101. It's from Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand, two of the folks at the very popular cooking blog The Kitchn, which is affiliated with the also-very-popular home blog Apartment Therapy.

This beautifully photographed cookbook begins with, well, the kitchen. There is an in depth analysis of what makes a good kitchen tick, how to design one if you are building or remodeling, and how to organize an already existing kitchen. Next is a tutorial on the basic skills needed to be successful in the kitchen, then the recipes take up the last half of the book.

The recipes here are not overly complicated, but some have ingredients that you might have to hunt around for (green papaya, creme fraiche, and green cardamom pods, to name a few). The recipes are organized by Morning, Small Bites, Drinks, Main Dishes and One Bowl Meals, Sides and Salads, and Desserts. A few that jumped out at me as I flipped through: Roasted Chicken Thighs with Squash over Polenta; Pan Seared Rib Eye Steak with Pan Sauces; Easiest Beef Stew; and Jam Hand Pies.

I tried out the recipe for White Bean and Roasted Tomato Chili. It felt very fancy to roast the tomatoes in the oven before adding them to the chili. That unique step created a very different flavor without adding much time or complexity to the recipe. It tasted even better the next day.

With all of that being said, if you are an expert cook and already have your kitchen running smoothly, this probably isn't a good fit for you.

{I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

What I've Been Reading {Quick Lit December 2014}


One of my favorite blogs, Modern Mrs. Darcy, hosts an event called Quick Lit (formerly known as Twitterature), where bloggers share the books they've read lately in short, concise reviews. This month was out of the ordinary because I hated books that have been very popular (Wild, What Alice Forgot) and I've been working through books that were part of my Quarterly Book Riot subscription, but were languishing on my shelf! 

Here's what I read this month:

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

I lost my mom around the same age that Cheryl Strayed lost hers. I was worried the book would bring up some tough emotions, but I felt almost no connection to Strayed. In fact, my most common emotion during this book was annoyance. The parts about the actual hiking were interesting , though....

What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty

I hated this book. There, I said it. I found it so annoying that the people in Alice's life just let her flounder around, that no one sat her down and just explained everything,  and that people who knew she lost her memory would get mad at her when she didn't remember things. Gah! It just drove me bonkers.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz, A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz was just a little too dark and seedy for me. I can do dark and seedy as long as the story is set on a spaceship or some faraway world. Dark and seedy in Pennsylvania is just too close. (I got this from my Quarterly Book Riot subscription.)

Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin

It's not really fair for me to review anything by Gretchen Rubin because I am a crazy super fan. I thought my husband was going to ban her name from our home because I quote her so much! If you loved The Happiness Project, you'll love this and the reverse is true, too. The Happiness Project was seriously a life changing book for me, so I loved the in depth look at applying it at home.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon

This was a fascinating, if agitating, read. It won't be too much of a spoiler if I tell you it is written from the perspective of an autistic teen. This was the first book I read on my new (to me) Kindle Touch and I couldn't tell if it was the device or the fact that every paragraph for pages started with "And then...." that had me feeling so flustered!

The Vacationers, Emma Straub

If you were in Mallorca, would you spend almost every day hanging out in the pool at the house or would you be in the ocean? This thought distracted me throughout, although I did enjoy some of the insight into and thoughtful consideration of imperfect relationships, but this one was a bit boring. (This book was included in the boxes of some, but not all, Quarterly Book Riot subscribers. I didn't get it, but it looked interesting enough to pick up from the library.)

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

I found this first book in Mantel's Thomas Cromwell Trilogy to be completely engrossing. It humanizes Thomas Cromwell to the point that I almost hoped history would change his fate. The only problem was that I kept imagining the actors from Showtime's The Tudors. And I had to look up the Man Booker Prize to see what that little sticker on the cover meant.

The Salinger Contract, Adam Langer

I love a book about books, but this thriller wasn't very thrilling. There were some clever, quirky moments that made it worth a read, but I can't highly recommend it unless you are a huge Salinger fan. (It was included in my Quarterly Book Riot subscription.)

Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel

How strange to read a book when you know exactly how it is going to end, but you just get completely sucked in! The characters to this famous story are viewed entirely from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, so the events and the personalities are different than I have ever considered before. This is the second in the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy.

Currently Reading

What We See When We Read, Peter Mendelsund (another Quarterly Book Riot pick)
Assassin's Quest, Robin Hobb

Next up, I have one left book from Quarterly Book Riot (The Witch and Other Tales Retold), but then I have to catch up on my Quarterly Riot Read subscription! Book Riot is Quarterly, but Riot Read is monthly. I know. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but books show up in boxes and I get to read them.

This Week's Meal Plan {December 14 - 20}

After weeks of illness, I am back to meal planning! I pulled out a whole bunch of cookbooks this weekend and hunkered down to do some meal planning. Every once in awhile it's fun to step away from the old computer, you know?


Every-Week Roast Chicken and Roasted Vegetables {Martha Stewart}
Baguette - gotta have something to mop up those yummy juices!


Mini Corn Dog Muffins {Momables member exclusive, these from Iowa Girl Eats are similar}

Coconut Curry Chicken {Keepers cookbook via Philly Inquirer}
Basmati Rice


Overnight French Toast {Momables member exclusive, but your favorite french toast recipe would do}

Creamy Tomato Basil and Italian Sausage Soup {Picky Palate, after I saw a similar recipe in her Picky Palate Cookbook}
Garlic-Rubbed Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Tomato {Tracey's Culinary Adventures} - Although, I plan on making it without the bacon and tomato. But the cheese mix and the garlic rubbing is perfection.


Hawaiian Puff Wheels {The Best Homemade Kid Lunches on the Planet cookbook via Quarry Spoon}


I have get to make 3 dozen sugar cookies for various parties this week and my Grandma Mary's Sugar Cookies recipe are the absolute best.


Happy Bunny Sandwich {Momables member exclusive}

Braised Pork Chops with Citrus Glaze {Keepers cookbook via}
No Fuss Roasted Potatoes {Keepers cookbook}

I'm in charge of the Parent Snack at school, so I'm making Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf from Sweet Pea's Kitchen.


Mango Coconut Sushi {Momables member exclusive}

Homemade Wonton Soup {Allrecipes} - I was craving this when sick, but didn't have the energy to make it! I make a bunch of changes - no mushrooms, no shrimp, and lots of soy sauce and sesame oil in the broth.


Eat Out

Star of Last Week

Did I mention I have been sick? So yeah, no taking food pictures lately. However, I was so excited about the dinner I made last night (see Sunday above) that I had to share it right away. The recipe for Roast Chicken with Roasted Vegetables was from the now defunct Everyday Food by Martha Stewart. Man, I miss that little magazine. This is my go-to Roast Chicken recipe and making it all in one pan with the veggies makes it easy, too.

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.}

Subscription Box Directory Update {December 2014}


My subscription box addiction is still going strong. Even if I don't subscribe to as many boxes as I used to, I still love to see all the new boxes that are hitting the market. Here are the new boxes I added to the Subscription Box Directory over the past few months:

Bean Box (subscription/gift box featuring freshly roasted coffee from Seattle's top artisan roasters)

Boodle Box (beauty products and accessories for girls 5-10 and 11+)

Christian Crate (monthly gear and swag club for people and families that live the Christian lifestyle)

Formio (unlimited boxes of accessories and clutches to members each month)

From Thai with Love (hand-picked selection of unique and delicious candy & snacks from Thailand)

Gourmet Spotting (4-6 gourmet food products, based on a theme)

Kiwibop Postcard Pals (kids will receive four vibrant, fact-filled postcards in the mail each month from a rotating crew of inspiring characters)

New England Sack (unique, artisan products from all over New England)

SaucePack (hot sauce)

Taste Japan (two British guys in Japan, offering a Japanese snacks subscription box)

Wardrobe Wake-up (fashion for women)

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

This Week's Meal Plan, The Thanksgiving Menu Edition {2014}


This week's menu is a little different because IT'S THANKSGIVING, PEOPLE! My favorite holiday of the year! Today is the day I start cooking and I won't stop until the meal is on the table. Pulling of the perfect Thanksgiving takes a great deal of planning, so try out my Thanksgiving printable, which I gave a little update so that you can use it every year (it used to say 2013 on it). Check out last year's menu, too.

Having a house full of guests means planning to feed a bunch more people, too, so I picked recipes leading up to the main event that are easy to make and easily feed a crowd. Wish me luck!


Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish {Amy Thielen via Food Network}




Quick Creamy and Tomato Soup {Rachael Ray}
Garlic-Rubbed Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Tomatoes {Tracy's Culinary Adventures}


Eat Out!

Thursday - Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Butter {Bon Appetit}

Apricot Gorgonzola Cheese Spread {Sweet Little Bluebird}
Baked Camembert with Cranberries {Food Network Magazine}

Butter Glazed Turkey {Real Simple}
Chili, Garlic, and Rosemary Baste {Real Simple}
Ultimate Gravy Recipe {Real Simple}
Simon & Garfunkel Stuffing {Rachael Ray}
Cornbread, Chorizo, Cherry, and Pecan Stuffing {Bon Appetit}
Green Bean-Cheddar Casserole {Good Housekeeping}
Julia Child's Garlic Mashed Potatoes {Saveur}
Sweet Potato Puree {Bouchon via Saveur}
Brioche Rolls {Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day}
Dinner Rolls {Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day}


Baked French Toast {The Pioneer Woman}

Potato and Turkey Soup with Parmesan Dumplings {Rachael Ray}


Stuffing Hash {Bon Appetit}


Star of Last Week

You guys, this Chicken Pot Pie from last week's menu was so good we were restraining ourselves from licking our bowls. The Easy Pie Crust recipe from Martha is easy to make, so don't be intimidated by that part!

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.}

The Best Recipes from the Thanksgiving Issues {2014}


Christmas comes early to my house every November in the form of the Thanksgiving issues of my favorite food and lifestyle magazines. I went through all of them and whittled the recipes down to the ones I consider the absolute best. Here they are! I also have a Thanksgiving Pinterest board if you would rather see them there.



Baked Camembert with Cranberries {Food Network Magazine}
Smokin' Hot Cheese Ball {Every Day with Rachael Ray}
Blue Cheese and Fig Cheese Ball {Every Day with Rachael Ray}


Roast Turkey with Gravy, Onions and Sage {Ina Garten via Food Network Magazine}
Dry Brined Turkey and Gravy {Every Day with Rachael Ray}
Fresh Herb-Brined Turkey {Taste of Home}
Butter-Glazed Turkey {Real Simple}
The Turkey: 3 Ways (Chipotle-Cinnamon-Orange Glaze, Southern BBQ Rub, or Lemony Herb Butter) {Good Housekeeping}
Good Eats Roast Turkey {Alton Brown} - Not included in a magazine, but this recipe has a five star rating with over 4,800 reviews!

Green Sides

Taters and Pasta

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes {Ina Garten via Food Network Magazine}
Sweet Potatoes and Marshmallows {Sunny Anderson via Food Network Magazine}
Smashed Potatoes with Garlic Oil {Food Network Magazine}
Mashed Potatoes with Herbed Butter {Food Network Magazine}
Nutty Sweet Potato Casserole {Every Day with Rachael Ray}
Cheesy Parsnip Potatoes {Every Day with Rachael Ray}
Julia Child's Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes {Saveur}
Bouchon Sweet Potato Puree {Saveur}
Bouchon Macaroni au Gratin {Saveur}
Bouchon Pomme Puree {Saveur}
Buttery Mashed Potatoes {Real Simple}
Italian Sweet and Sour Potatoes with Rosemary {Real Simple}

Gravy and Sauce



Classic Cornbread {Food Network Magazine}


Turkey Posole {Bon Appetit}
Stuffing Hash {Bon Appetit}
Potato and Turkey Soup with Parmesan Stuffing Dumplings {Every Day with Rachael Ray}
Turkey and Spinach Stuffing Casserole {Taste of Home}
Cobb Salad Sandwich {Martha Stewart}
Turkey Monte Cristo {Martha Stewart}

Now I just have to decide which ones to make!!! Which ones grab you?

Inside the Test Kitchen by Tyler Florence {Cookbook Review}


Tyler Florence's newest cookbook, Inside the Test Kitchen, has a great concept. Tyler went into his test kitchen and worked like crazy to perfect 120 recipes. The cover price is a spendy $35, but Amazon has it for $22.14 as of this writing.

This cookbook carries its the test kitchen experimentation theme by looking and feeling like a notebook. It's got a black cover and a stretchy band on the outside to keep it closed. Inside, the book continues the theme with handwritten notes, pictures that look like little slips of paper, and in depth descriptions of the process used for testing. It is organized by unique categories: Burgers & Meatloaf; Cheese, Fresh Cheese, & Cheesecake; Chicken & Turkey; Eggs and Souffles; The Five-in-One Baking Mix; Pasta; Pork Chops; Pork - Larger Cuts; Pork Carnitas Tacos; Potatoes; Risotto; and Sides & Vegetables.

I tried the recipe for Meatloaf with Tomato Relish, which was accompanied by a handy dandy recipe for what to do with the leftovers (Meatloaf-Avocado Sandwich, in case you were wondering). How thoughtful, right?  To say this meatloaf was a hit was a major understatement. A tomato relish made from scratch was mixed in to the meat and was poured along the top for baking. The loaf was baked on a cookie sheet rather than in a loaf pan, which provided way more crusty bits for munching.

This recipe was, by a mile, the most flavorful meatloaf I have ever tried. We loved the quick sauce made from the pan drippings blended with ketchup. The result was a tangy flavor that made my Dad ask: "What else can we pour that sauce over tomorrow?" When mixed with the tomato relish in a forkful, the result was heavenly.

The recipes in this cookbook look stunning, but not many of them appealed to my particular palate. I have a few cookbooks that I want to make almost every recipe in (Keepers, Look + Cook), but I had to really hunt around to find one that I knew would be a winner. I'm not normally going to make fresh pasta and Seared and Chopped Chicken Liver Toast just doesn't sound appealing. But Five-in-One baking mix is a great idea and I'd love to make a Slow Cooked Bolognese Sauce or a Super-Crisp Roast Chicken.

Before purchasing this one, I'd try to get my hands on a copy to flip through to see if the majority of the recipes appeal to you. If the Meatloaf with Tomato Relish is any indication of the quality of the recipes when executed, you are in for a treat.

{I received this book complimentary from Blogging for Books for review. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}