“Sweet Mornings” Cookbook Review

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“Many of the recipes in this book reflect a time when folks lingered over their breakfast tables, rapt in conversation” Patty Pinner speaks in the introduction of her new book, “Sweet Mornings”. I love this. I have to admit that although I used to hate mornings, I am slowly becoming a morning person. Although I am so extremely exhausted first thing in the morning due to being a new mom all over again, I really look forward to sipping my coffee slowly. In fact my husband constantly teases me for being a really slow coffee drinker. I think part of me secretly does not want my mornings to end.

I love what this cookbook is all about. Family gatherings, reminiscing good times, bringing people together and socializing all over breakfast. These are the kind of cookbooks that genuinely warm my heart.

The beginning of the book takes us to a brief chat about what every baker needs as well as indispensible baking tools, then goes right into recipes (which I love). Recipes are divided into the following chapters:

  • Sweet Beginnings
  • Morning Savories

The Recipes

The recipes are so easy to follow its ridiculous. Not a ton of ingredients listed and definitely suitable for the beginner baker. I love that some recipes also call for some premade stuff. Now I would not have said that say 3 years ago prior to being a Mom, but now time is more precious than ever and some days call for shortcuts! (actually most days really!) You can also expect a ton of homemade recipes as well, which is equally as fantastic. The index is cross-referenced which makes it super easy to find your go to recipes in the book. The only downside…not a ton of pictures. This would normally turn me right off from the entire book but surprisingly it didn’t. Thankfully the recipe names are so delicious that they caught my attention right away, no picture needed! (Trust me on this one!)

Some of my favourite:

  • Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes
  • Tuesday Morning Blueberry Loaf
  • Mama’s French Toast Casserole (I can’t wait to try this one)
  • Mama’s Brown Sugar and Pecan Coffee Cake
  • Stuffed Pecan Pie French Toast
  • Morning Apple Crisp
  • Cream Cheese French Toast Bake and soooo many more!!

In our little family of four we have been making an effort to make Saturday mornings fun and memorable. We call Saturday morning breakfasts “Family fun breakfast” and my 3 year old daughter absolutely loves it. We purchase maple breakfast sausages, taters or any kind of frozen hash brown. My husband makes killer scrambled eggs and bacon and slathers toast in tons of butter (I’ll complain to him about having to lose my baby weight but secretly love it). Nothing about our fun breakfasts is really “homemade” but we don’t care. Its fast to make, tastes good and they are so so fun! We all sit there for a long time eating. Or let me rephrase that..my daughter sits there for roughly 2 hours eating..and demanding more.

While I was reviewing this book I was super excited to take over one family fun breakfast on Saturday and I chose to recreate the Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Bun Ring. This recipe included 2 tubes of refrigerated biscuit dough and I was super excited about it. I’ve never really cut corners before but as I mentioned above, it’s about time I do with 2 small children! Let me just say it was perfect. Delicious, fast and easy to make and my daughter loved helping me out.

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Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Bun Ring

Makes 10 Servings

  • Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
  • All-purpose flour for dusting
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons breakfast syrup (I used Maple Syrup)
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 (10-count) tubes refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough, separated (I could not find any with buttermilk and purchased Pillsbury biscuit dough)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan with the cooking spray and dust with some flour. Sprinkle the pecans and breakfast syrup into the pan.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/3 of the sugar mixture into the prepared pan.
  3. Split each round of biscuit dough in half and arrange the halves horizontally in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture on top of the rounds of dough.
  4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the ring is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Invert onto a serving platter and serve warm.

Overall this recipe was fantastic and I would definitely do it all over again. The only little issue I had was time in the oven. I had to keep it in the oven about 3 times longer that the stated time in the recipe. I am not sure why other than perhaps because the biscuit dough I purchased was a little different. I am not sure. Regardless, other than the impatient taste testers waiting, it was super fun, easy and delicious!

Click here to view a special Q & A with author Patty Pinner.

Many thanks to Agate Publishing for sending over this beautiful book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You may purchase Sweet Mornings: 125 Sweet & Savory Breakfast and Brunch Recipes” by Patty Pinner on Amazon.ca for the current price of $33.06 CAN. Price is subject to change

Christmas Cookie Swap! Cookbook Review

Christmas Cookie Swap!  More than 100 Treat to Share this Holiday Season

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I’ve never actually organized a cookie swap before but if I do in the future I think I would probably make every single cookie in this book…and eat them all before swapping time!

With over 100 tasty treats packed in this adorable book I don’t even know where to begin! Spritz Cookies, Iced Cookies, Filled Cookies, you name it, it’s in there.  The book is divided into the following chapters:

  • Cookies for Santa
  • Decorated Cookies
  • Christmas Classics
  • Brownies and Bars
  • Confections

Also included is a small section on Christmas cookie basics, tips on assembling a cookie platter (super cute!) and metric equivalents. The recipes are SUPER easy to follow and directions are short and simple. The ingredients are also very accessible and easy to find at your local superstore. Each recipe begins with a short description of the particular cookie as well as a picture of the cookie (yes! Love it). If you’re a cookie junkie like me, you will love this book to pieces and it’s a must have in your baking library.

Some of my favourite recipes:

  • Pretzel-Toffee-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  • Coconut Macadamia Shortbread
  • Snickerdoodle Spritz Cookies
  • Maple-Praline Cookies
  • Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Shortbread Squares
  • Hazelnut and Brown Butter Biscotti
  • Hidden Kiss Cookies
  • Frosted Mocha Espresso Brownies
  • German Chocolate Cake Truffles
  • Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Pretzel Bites

And so many more!!!

I managed to recreate the Pretzel Toffee Blondies and they were deee-licious! Perfectly salty and sweet and they were a huge hit at work. Check out the recipe below and if you make them, let me know how it goes and post below!

PRETZEL-TOFFEE BLONDIES (pic below)

Hands-on time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Makes: 16 Blondies

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 22 small pretzel twists, chopped
  • 12 chocolate-covered small pretzel twists, chopped
  • 4 (1.4oz) bars chocolate-covered English toffee candy, chopped (I used Skor)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. Stir together the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl with a spoon until blended. Add the vanilla, salt, and egg; stir with a wire whisk until blended. Stir in the flour until blended. Stir in the pretzels and toffee candy. Pour into the prepared pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 24 to 26 minutes or until set and a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store loosely covered.

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All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. A huge thank you to Time Inc Books for generously sending over a copy of Christmas Cookie Swap! in exchange for an honest review. Christmas Cookie Swap! is available to Amazon.ca for the current price of $23.68 CAD. 

“Fish & Seafood” By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen Cookbook Review

 

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I was super thrilled when I was asked to participate in the “On The Table” Blog Tour from The Canadian Living Test Kitchen (Simon & Schuster Canada). If you read my blog post on Canadian Living’s “The Ultimate Cookbook”, you know how much of a fan I am of The Canadian Living Magazine!

Canadian Living recently released a series of Cookbooks all highlighting various themes including the following:

  • Essential Salads
  • Pasta & Noodles
  • Make it Ahead
  • 400 Calorie Dinners
  • Sweet & Simple
  • Fish & Seafood

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Canadian Living recipes, let me tell you they are some of the absolute best! Each recipe is Tested-Till-Perfect, which means little to no errors when you reproduce it in your own kitchen with zero professionals around you. Each recipe is tested using the same ingredients you find in the grocery store yourself and the same household appliances you use at home. This is precisely why I love Canadian Living recipes. The Canadian Living test kitchen puts us readers first and thinks about convenience, availability, and practicality for the average person at home.

I have been fortunate enough to review the “Fish & Seafood” Cookbook, which features 110 of the tastiest recipes in this category. The beginning of the book takes us to some Fish and Seafood Basics then jumps right into to recipes with the following categories:

  • Appetizers
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches & Wraps
  • Pastas & Noodles
  • Rice Dishes
  • Fried & Seared
  • Broiled & Grilled
  • Steamed & Boiled
  • Stews & Curries
  • Baked Dishes

The Recipes

Recipes in this book are super easy to follow with most recipes having a decent and doable amount of ingredients. Directions are simple to follow and appropriate for the beginner home cook. Each recipe includes hands-on time, total time, amount the recipe produces, nutritional information, tips from the test kitchen as well as serving recommendations. Recipes in the index at the back of the book are cross-referenced making it super easy to locate your favourite recipe. If you can’t remember the name, just look up a main ingredient. Perfect!

I managed to recreate the Cioppino Soup recipe on page 34. I can’t lie, I called my mother over to help me out a bit with this one as I am 9 months pregnant and was afraid the scent might have bothered me. To my surprise, it smelled AMAZING as it was simmering away on the stove! My husband absolutely went nuts for it and the recipe was ridiculously simple to make. It has already become a staple recipe and thanks to its simplicity, I have made it twice! Scroll below to find the recipe and pictures from my experience recreating it. I think the only tweaks I would have made would be to add a bit more salt and pepper. I ended up using Haddock as my white fish. Be sure not to skip or replace the clam juice. This gives the dish A LOT of flavour.

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CIOPPINO SOUP

Hands-on time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Makes: 4 servings. (or if your husband or yourself or anyone you are making this for is anything like my own husband the serving is probably for 2….or 1)

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup bottled strained tomatoes (passata)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 225 g jumbo shrimp (21 to 24 count), peeled and deveined
  • 225 g skinless firm white fish fillet (such as cod or halibut), cut crosswise in strips

How to make it:

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Pour in wine; cook, scraping up browned bits, until liquid is slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, oregano, pepper and clam juice; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in shrimp, scallops and fish; cover and cook over medium heat until shrimp are pink, and fish and scallops are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes.

TIP FROM THE TEST KITCHEN

If your scallops are more than 1 inch (2.5cm) thick, halve them horizontally to ensure they cook in the same amount of time as the shrimp and fish.

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Cioppino Soup cooking
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Cioppino Soup completed

Overall this book was fantastic as are the rest of the books in the newly released series mentioned above. You may purchase Fish & Seafood” By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen at Amazon.ca for the current price of $19.73 CAN (price is subject to change). But better yet, you could win all the books in this series thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada!! Click on the link below to enter!

CONTEST LINK:   http://www.simonandschuster.ca/pages/on-the-table

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A huge thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending over this fantastic cookbook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own.