Cookbook and Food Magazine Addictions, Part Deux, Hardcover

We all have our weaknesses, some a bit more challenging than others. If you read my article on Cookbook and Food Magazine addictions then you’d know about my publicly admitted foibles. Apparently I still cannot show restraint as I have recently added to my growing addiction collection. I’ve come across some truly fantastic cookbooks and entertaining books recently; some are hardcover some are softcover, not that this even makes a difference but for my own increasing insanity of the ‘ever-growing library’ I’ve divided sharing my findings with you into Part Deux, hardcover and Part Trois, softcover. This is completely getting out of hand; I now have an on-going three part cookbook saga!

Let’s start with the most endearing one, Junior Leagues, In the Kitchen with Kids Everyday Recipes & Activities. As you remember from the first article I am a former ‘active’ Junior League member of the Junior League of Boca Raton who with hundreds of other women played an important role in putting together Savor the Moment, Entertaining without Reservations, which ultimately became a James Beard Award Winning Book. Most Junior League Cookbooks have the reputation of being exemplary. And they are, (I have quite the JL collection as well, maybe that is Part Quatre!) because of the time and effort and enthusiasm that is poured into each ‘project’ nothing less than ‘fabulous’ is produced. Hard to understand this? Join the Junior League and you’ll understand.

OK, soapbox! soapbox! I’m off. So with that said, it only stands to reason that I would hail “In the Kitchen with Kids, Everyday Recipes & Activities” as it truly is a great book for kids and their parents. First what makes this book so great is there are pictures on every page showing children making the recipe and what the item looks like finished. There are numbered blocks for each recipe 1-2-3, outlining the preparation steps in order for the child. This is a fantastic systematic approach in detailing how to get from beginning to end for the child cook without it being overwhelming. For every recipe there is a kitchen tools section that lists what hardware items are needed for your child to prepare the dish and most recipes offer a sidebar tip. This book makes cooking with kids fun. It is captivating and easy for both you and your child. This book is a great resource for finding quality time activities to do with children.

It’s been unseasonably cold in South Florida this winter and quite frankly nothing keeps you warm like soup; no matter where you live, no matter how cold you are. I’ve discovered the New England Soup Factory Cookbook. I’m originally from New England and know a little something about cold weather and soup. I’ve had this book now for two weeks, I’ve made five recipes and I’m here to tell you each one is better than the one before it! OK so that’s no surprise because the author is Marjorie Druker the executive chef and co-owner of the New England Soup Factory. Marjorie’s got it going on with her recipes. I’m a soup person, hot and cold. Soup fills you up. Rushed? harried? running here and there? Just take a swig of soup, you don’t even have to chew and voila! you’ve had your nutrition-on-the-go (some people take being busy to the extreme!) The photos are gorgeous, the recipes are easy to follow, the ingredients are easily obtainable in your supermarket and with each recipe Marjorie gives you a sidebar note of tips and useful information. Just a soup cookbook? Yes and every home cook should have one. I finally have mine.

In South Florida we have a vibrant Latin community so it is of no surprise that there are strong Latin culinary influences here as well. When something is different and new it comes with daunting impressions, Latin cooking and its respective ingredients are no different. There is so much more to Latin-American cuisine than chicken, beans and rice and salsa. Daisy Martinez the Food Network Star of Viva Daisy! Introduces you to a flavorful world of spices and ingredients and styles of cooking and preparing food that quite frankly opens doors you didn’t know existed. Daisy’s new book, Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night exemplifies the ease of Latin American Cooking.

Daisy has taken the mystery and apprehension out of preparing Latin Dishes. Daisy teaches you through her book that simple and wonderful is amazing and different and exotic will add a little ‘zip’ to your un-zipped life! I have this book because I am the biggest fan of Grilled Chicken Paillard, black beans and rice, I knew there was a world of Latin American tastes and flavors and styles out there I just had to find it. Daisy shows you how easy it is to make Empanadas and real Chimichurri (a parsley garlic sauce for steak), which by the way mine came out fabulous! But what is so great about this book is the introduction Daisy explains just how the book came to be. It’s always about the stories and how they are told that makes them so compelling. I’m not going to tell you about ‘the trips’ what I will tell you is to go buy the book and explore just like Daisy did, you won’t be disappointed, Morning, Noon or Night!

In my first article I wrote about Betty Crocker. Just starting out, you’ve got to have your basic Betty. Start at the beginning, learn your basics and grow from there. Well, I’ve discovered a new beginning. Didn’t think any book could truly do what Betty’s books have done for beginner cooks until I came across Your Time to Cook, a First Cookbook for Newlyweds, Couples and Lovers. You absolutely do not have to be a Newlywed, a Couple or a Lover to reap the benefits from this book. Pictures, explanations, instructions, substitutions it’s all there and then some. This book is super-fantastic! If I said move over Betty there’s a new game in town, I’d feel like I just drove the mother-ship into an iceberg and I simply cannot do that. The bookstores are plenty big enough for two real beginner cookbooks.

Now let’s entertain. Cooking is one thing and entertaining is another. Put them together and you’ve got a party! The gracious and talented Rosanna Bowles has put together a seasonal guide to creating family traditions titled Coming Home (a seasonal guide to creating family traditions). Rosanna takes you down memory lane with her book of family pictures, stories and provokes recollections of your own childhood memories. Remember May Day breakfasts? Remember when your mom made you lunch for school? What about lazy, warm summer afternoons, just laying in the grass with your friends. Rosanna gets you thinking, she helps you create atmosphere and assists you in finding your lost traditions. This is a great read book. I sat on my patio last Sunday and read it from cover to cover with a few glasses of wine. It was the perfect thing to do on Sunday and when I was done with the book, I called my Mom and talked about May Day Breakfasts and Christmas Cookies. Bravo Rosanna! you’ve done so much more than write an entertaining book, you’ve given the world a little shake up of what’s been lost.

So let my addiction continue, it’s really not such a bad thing after all.

Make-Ahead Food Ideas For Memorial Day and 4th of July BBQ Picnics

Like many folks on Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends, you might be making plans to go camping, or planning a BBQ, or even going somewhere for a picnic.

Whatever the event, if you are the one in charge of the meal planning and cooking, if time allows, please try some of my make-ahead food ideas before, so that you can have more time to relax and to enjoy yourself and your family on the actual day of the event!

Just because you are the one in charge of the planning and cooking, it doesn’t mean you have to be busy doing EVERYTHING food-related that day. Consider these make-ahead food ideas:

Make-Ahead Marinated Chicken and Steak

Adding steak and chicken to the hamburger and hotdog menu is easy.

The prep. time for any of my marinated steak, teriyaki chicken and Thai Chicken recipes is 15 minutes at the most. For days or weeks before, combine the marinade and meat in a freezer bag and freeze according to the recipe’s directions. Remove from the freezer the day before the event and place in the refrigerator to thaw. Or prepare a day ahead, marinate and refrigerate for 24 hours. When your grill is pre-heated, you will be ready.

Make-Ahead Stuffed Beef Tenderloin

For a special, out-of the-ordinary indulgence, how does a beef tenderloin stuffed with spinach, Swiss cheese, garlic and mushrooms and slow cooked on the rotisserie grill sound? Although beef tenderloin is very expensive per pound (check out your local wholesale club for the best price) it is definitely worth a once-a-year Memorial Day event! Estimate ½ lb. per person, and a five pound tenderloin will easily feed about 10 people. My stuffed beef tenderloin recipe includes make-ahead instructions for the stuffing, allowing you to make the stuffing a day ahead.

The day you are ready for the grill, rinse the beef under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut a lengthwise pocket into the side of the beef and fill with the stuffing. Tie the beef tightly with 5 or 6 separate strings to keep the pocket closed. Cut off the excess strings if they’re hanging. Rub the outside of the beef with the minced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Insert a cooking thermometer in the center in the thickest part of the beef (not the stuffing.) Grill on a rotisserie (or bake in the oven at 375°F) until the thermometer registers rare in the center. Do not overcook. The ends will be more done. Let the beef rest for 15 minutes before you cut it. Remove the strings. Cut into ½ inch slices. Your guests will think you labored over extravagant cooking recipes, while you too are sitting and enjoying this delicacy.

Make-Ahead Cole Slaw and Pasta Salads

My cookbook contains some easy make-ahead cole slaw and broccoli slaw recipes. Whether its broccoli salad, Hawaiian cole slaw, or healthy broccoli slaw, it is simple to make these a day ahead. Make the dressing a day ahead and refrigerate. Assemble the other ingredients and refrigerate. To avoid a soggy cole slaw, add the dressing and toss your cole slaw right before your BBQ.

My Italian sub and macaroni pasta salad recipes can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, and these will taste delicious the day of the event.

Make-Ahead Desserts

Dessert breads are a great finger-food for a picnic or an after BBQ treat. Many of my easy dessert bread recipes like banana bread, cinnamon bread, blueberry bread or strawberry bread, allow for making ahead and freezing.

After baking two loaves of bread (many of my bread recipes will yield two loaves) wait until they are completely cooled. Next, wrap them in plastic wrap before placing them in a vacuum bag to freeze. Take them out of the vacuum sealed bags to thaw, this way the breads are already wrapped and ready for you to serve in about 4 hours.

Kids always go for the cookies, even big (adult-sized) kids! Homemade cookies are simple, make-ahead desserts that are a great finish to any picnic or BBQ.  Making Ahead is easy when you flash freeze your cookie dough.  Use the flash freezing method for my cookie recipes and you will have fantastic results.  These cookie recipes include:  big ginger cookies, brownie cookies, macadamia nut cookies, oatmeal cookies, peanut butter chocolate chip crackles, peanut butter kiss cookies, snickerdoodles, and everyone’s favorite, chocolate chip cookies.  You can find these cookie recipes, as well as, all of the above mentioned recipes and my make ahead directions in my Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms Cookbook.

The more prep. work you do in advance, the more fun you will have at your BBQ.  You want to be in the fresh air and sunshine NOT in your kitchen!

How To Make Your Own Dog Food Treats Business

Are you worried about the nutritional value your dog is receiving from his current brand of food? If so, you may want to explore a new option: make your own dog food. That’s right: you can make your own dog food; and it isn’t even time consuming or expensive. Not only will it be fun, but it will also help rover by giving him something that isn’t loaded with potentially-harmful chemicals.

Right now is perhaps the best time to get started, too, since many other pet owners are looking for alternatives to commercial foods in the wake of the imported dog food scare. Indeed, if you wanted to, you could not only cook food for your own dog, but you could also start a business that sells to many dog owners who wish to keep their pets safe.
But before you get carried away, you may want to start with a somewhat smaller project to determine whether or not there is an easy-to-access market for your home-made dog food: try making and selling some dog cookies. In order to do this, you will need the following items at a minimum: some cookie cutters, a recipe for dog treats, an oven, and some attractive packaging. Once you finish your cookies, you can then try to market them to local grocery stores and even neighbors.

I suggest you try the following recipes. I think you will find that they will more than satisfy the appetite and the tastes of any dog:

1. Waffle Treats. These are easy and inexpensive to make and dogs absolutely love them. All you need is 4 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 egg, 1 and 2/3 cups of water, 2 tbsp of vegetable oil, and ½ a cup of cornmeal. Once you have assembled these ingredients, pre-heat your oven to 325F, and start mixing everything in a bowl. Knead the dough as you normally would until it is roughly ½ inch thick. Last, cut it into squares, put it in the waffle maker (just to get the grill lines); and then pop it in the oven for more than an hour. Once the treats finish cooling, wrap them up; and you’ll be ready to drop them off at the local supermarket.

2. Honey Cake Dog Treats. The dogs will come running whenever you cook these treats. All you’ll need is 2 cups of whole wheat flour, ½ cup of soy bean flour, 1 tbsp of honey, some canola oil, sea salt, and 1 cup of water. Start by mixing the dry ingredients thoroughly. Once you are done, add the water and honey, mix again – and then bake them in the oven on 400F for about a half hour.

3. Frozen Fruit Treats. Not all treats have to be cooked. In fact, one of the things you’ll find dogs love most is a frozen applesauce treat. All you have to do is take applesauce, mix it with some vanilla yogurt, and then freeze it.

So get started on your dog food treats business today. All you need to do is get some easy-to-make recipes; and keep your furry customers in mind throughout the entire process-and, in no time, you should have a top-notch doggy treat business.