Cookbook Review: The Whole30 Cookbook

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My husband will be turning 40 this year and for the past 4 years he has been suffering from a variety of skin disorders that have literally popped up over night and taken over his life. He has been steadily healthy and rarely ever has a sniffle but his skin on the other hand has just been wreaking havoc on his day-to-day activities. He can barely walk without feeling a degree of discomfort. Simple daily tasks are becoming more and more difficult for him especially if it involves his hands being in water or changing a diaper on our 9-month-old baby.

Almost every day there seems to be a discussion between us about his skin and what might be causing these never ending-issues. The topic of our discussions: Food. The relationship between what he eats daily and the reaction his skin has to the various foods he eats.

I love the idea behind the Whole 30. (A big thank you to Penguin Random House for sending over a copy) “ For a full 30 days, you completely eliminate the foods that scientific literature and my clinical experience have deemed the most commonly problematic in one of four areas- your cravings, metabolism, digestion and immune system. During the elimination period, you’ll be completely eliminating these foods for a set period of time, experiencing what life is like without these commonly problematic triggers while paying careful attention to improvements in energy, sleep, digestions, mood, attention span, self-confidence, cravings, chronic pain or fatigue, athletic performance and recovery, and any number of other symptoms or medical conditions.” (Hartwig, 2016) Once the 30-day period is over, you slowly reintroduce the foods you have been missing and carefully pay attention to your body, the changes that occur and how you feel.

The Whole 30 diet involves eating meat, seafood, and eggs, lots of fruit and veggies and healthy fats. There are rules that you need to follow during the 30 day elimination- no added sugar of any kind, alcohol, grains, legumes, baked goods, dairy, etc. (Refer to the book for the rest-she goes in detail). I’ll be honest- I have never been able to stick to any kind of diet ever. I have tried to eliminate sugar in the past and it just doesn’t work for me. I also don’t have any major health issues that would make me want to diet in the first place anyways. That being said, I am always motivated to just eat and be healthier in general. My thoughts: If you can stick to the rules and you are motivated to change your life in some shape or form. This, in my opinion is the best way to do it. I love the idea and it just all makes perfect sense.

For those who are further interested in Whole 30, author Melissa Hartwig’s book The Whole30 talks all about it. This particular book “The Whole30 Cookbook” includes a bunch of recipes to get you started on your Whole 30 journey.

The Recipes

Recipes are easy to follow and most don’t have a lengthy ingredient list. There are a few exceptions of course. Recipes with longer ingredients however are ones with more spices (which only makes a dish tastier right!) Each recipe is accompanied with a description about the particular dish as well as a picture. Also included: Prep time, cook time, total time and serving amount. Some recipes have additional tips at the bottom for the particular recipe. The end of the book takes us to a Basics Section where she includes chicken broth, bone broth, basic mayonnaise, egg-free mayonnaise, Whole30 Ketchup and more. Also included is a list of Whole30 approved companies, cooking conversions and of course an index.

I managed to recreate 3 recipes in the book. You will have to pardon my not so perfect pictures. All were made in the evening when my kids were sound asleep so the lighting and presentation were not the greatest! Also not pictured below: Beef and Sweet Potato Chili. This was my favourite one of them all. I have already made it 3 times! I love this recipe because it has all the flavours of a normal chill minus the beans. I can’t for the life of me come to like beans!

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Smoky Barbecue-Spiced Kale Chips

 

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Pesto-Pepper Frittata with Squash

I have to be honest… I have not completed this 30-day challenge but trust me I can definitely use it and of course my husband would really benefit from it too. Once I can convince him to stick to an elimination diet to find his triggers, I will most definitely update this post and let you all know what the results were! Stay tuned!

A big thank you to Penguin Random House Toronto for sending over a copy of The Whole 30 Cookbook in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own. 

“The Everyday Baker” Cookbook Review

The Everyday Baker: Recipes & Techniques for Foolproof Baking” By Abigail Dodge Cookbook Review

This is Abby Dodge’s 10th Cookbook, yes 10th! For those of you who are not familiar with her work, Abby is an award winning baking expert and pastry chef. She also has a fantastic blog with the most scrumptious recipes that I frequently retweet. (http://www.abbydodge.com) Flipping through this wonderful cookbook, I recognized some of the recipes right away. I am a huge fan of the Fine Cooking Magazine and Abby is a long time contributer to this awesome magazine. (go figure I like it so much!)

I was delighted to get my hands on her latest book, “The Everyday Baker: Recipes and Techniques for Foolproof Baking”. This book is gigantic and filled with tons of recipes! The first chapter takes us to everyday baking basics discussing everyday baking ingredients and what you should have in your pantry, equipment and tools (with pictures of each tool), as well as some important points to assist with your baking experience. I know many of you skip this section but ever since I started to review cookbooks, I have been reading these sections in each book I review. Despite being an avid baker myself, I have learned a bunch! Don’t skip these valuable sections!

The recipes

The recipes are divided into the following chapters:

  • Morning Food
  • Quick to Make
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Pies & Tarts
  • Puddings & Custards
  • Yeast Breads
  • Pastry
  • Flatbread
  • Fruit Desserts

Included are a variety of sweet and savory recipes. Some recipes include step by step instructions with pictures as well as occasional essential techniques (with pictures) throughout the book. Plenty of pictures of the recipes are included in the book. They aren’t anything fancy but they are still great! Recipe pictures are grouped together in each chapter as opposed to accompanying the corresponding recipe. With each recipe, there are little boxes to the side discussing things you can make ahead, twists on the recipe and other valuable information. Ingredients are listed in order of use and directions are simple enough to follow for the beginner baker. Most ingredients are also easily assessable at your local supermarket. Your favourite recipe is super easy to locate in the index at the back of the book as they are cross-referenced.

Some of my favourites that I have all tabbed up: White & Chocolate Mousse Cake, Salted Caramel-Toffee Icebox Cake, Rustic Country Bread, Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart, Sweet Potato Bread, Ciabatta Bread, Espresso-Hazlenut Meringue Cake with Espresso Buttercream & Milk Chocolate Ganache..and many more!

I am familiar with a handful of the recipes in this book, as I mentioned previously Abby is a contributer to Fine Cooking magazine and I am a huge fan. During the review of this book, I managed to recreate the Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart and it was absolutely scrumptious! Find the full recipe and pictures below.

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Store bought puff pastry. So I may not have cut it the way she mentioned but I managed to  make it look pretty 🙂
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The tart all complete! I made the mistake of putting the basil on too early but it still tasted great!

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Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart

For the filling:

  • ¼ cup (2 oz/57g) sun-dried tomato paste. (* I used sun-dried tomato pesto)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes (1 lb./454 g total) (multicolored is pretty but not mandatory)

For assembly:

  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 tsp water
  • Store bought puff pastry, thawed if frozen (* She gives the option for homemade puff pastry with the full recipe as well but being a busy mom, I opted for store bought and therefore will give the directions for store bought puff pastry)
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, for rolling
  • Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. ground Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 Tbs. finely sliced basil leaves

Make the filling:

Put the sun-dried tomato paste and garlic in a small bowl and mix until well blended. Core the tomatoes and cut crosswise into thin slices. Arrange on several layers of paper towels and let drain while the pastry is being prepared.

Assemble and Bake:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400 F (200 C/gas 6). Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a nonstick liner. Put the egg and water in a small bowl and, using a fork, mix until well blended.
  2. Unfold store bought puff pastry. Using a sharp chef’s knife and a ruler, trim the edges using short crisp cuts (dragging the blade will pinch the pastry layers together) (*I used two separate puff pastry dough packs that once unrolled were already quite neat and did not need trimming) to get a neat 12-inch (30.5 cm) square. Using your hands or a rolling pin, move the pastry to the prepared pan so that one side is facing you.
  3. Using the back or dull side of the knife, mark a 1-inch (2.5 cm) border around the inside of the square, beginning 1 inch from the the top right corner and ending 1 inch from the bottom left corner, and cut through the dough. (*I used a pizza cutter) This will release the bottom right corner. Repeat with the other two sides of the square, beginning 1 inch from the bottom left and ending 1 inch from the top right. Both the bottom right and top left corners will be released but the 1 inch pastry border will still be attached at the top right and bottom left.
  4. Brush a little of the egg wash around the edge of the center square, being careful not to let any drip off the edge as this will seal the pastry layers. Holding the outer pastry border at the top left corner, lift the border over the centre square and line it up with the bottom right corner of the centre square, making sure the right and bottom edges are also lined up. Repeat with the outer border at the bottom right corner and line it up with the top left corner of the centre square. The two corners (top right and bottom left) will still be attached and overlap each other. Using the tines of the fork, prick (or dock) the centre square all over.
  5. Scrape the tomato paste mixture onto the centre square and spread evenly. Arrange the tomato slices over the paste in one layer, slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, the Parmigiano. Brush the top of the raised border with the egg wash (be careful not to let the egg dribble over the edge or the pastry won’t puff).
  6. Bake until the pastry is puffed and deep golden brown and the tomatoes are tender, 39 to 43 minutes. Move the sheet to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using two offset spatulas, carefully move the tart to a cutting board or flat serving plate and sprinkle the basil over the tomatoes. The tart is best when served the same day and can be warmed slightly in a 300 F (150 C/gas 2) oven if desired.

 

Twists:

Instead of the sun-dried tomato paste, use one of the following: ¼ cup olive tapenade or ¼ cup basil pesto and omit garlic.

Instead of adding the Parmigiano, after baking, top the tart with one of the following: ¼ cup crumbled feta, ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese or crumbled blue cheese.

Instead of adding the basil, top the tart with one or two of the following: 1 tsp fresh thyme, rosemary, fresh oregano, or 1-2 Tbs, reduced balsamic vinegar.

Make Ahead:

The dough can be prepared, covered, and refridgerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.

The dough can be shaped, pricked, covered with plastic, and stored flat in the fridge for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 1 month. To finish and bake, thaw the pastry, if frozen, spread the filling, and top with the tomatoes.

Overall, I loved this cookbook! Although it will take me a century to get through it entirely (yes it is THAT big and I love it!) It will definitely be used regularly in my family kitchen and become dog-eared over the years! For more information on this cookbook and where to purchase, please see below.

Happy Baking! XO

I received this cookbook from the most generous Taunton Press to give an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. For more information on this cookbook and to purchase The Everyday Baker head over to The Taunton Press online store http://www.tauntonstore.com/the-everyday-baker-071473.html

Abby Dodge Social Media:

 

 

Cookbook Review: The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook

I was so incredibly excited to learn that my favourite local cupcake hotspot, Prairie Girl Bakery located in Toronto, Ontario was coming out with a cookbook with all the recipes of their cupcakes! I have been a huge fan since its opening back in 2012 and an even bigger fan throughout my pregnancies! For those of you who do not live anywhere near a Prairie Girl location, this is your chance to make these phenomenal cupcakes right in your own home.

The cookbook begins with a section outlining a couple pantry item staples to recreate these recipes, baking tools and equipment. If you want to create quality cupcakes and have the best outcome possible, I would highly recommend reading these sections as there are some very helpful tips. Recipes are divided into the following:

  • Everyday Cupcakes
  • Everyday Icings
  • Treats of the Week
  • Fruity Treats
  • Decadent Treats
  • Adults-Only Treats
  • Seasonal Treats
  • For the Kid at Heart
  • Gluten-Free Cupcakes
  • Vegan Cupcakes & Icings

The end of the book takes us to a useful mini section on toppers, favors and gifts, and displays all appropriate for the home baker.

The Recipes

Recipes are easy to follow and well organized. Ingredients are listed in order of use. All of the icings are made with brick cream cheese. (which I love!) My husband hates cream cheese (childhood trauma) but I just wont tell him it’s in the icing and he likely wont even know the difference. Ha!

Majority of the fruit icings require freeze-dried fruit in powder form. Since I am obsessed with the raspberry icing I went on a mission to find out where I can purchase it. It was a little more challenging than I had expected. I did seek out the recommended site in the book, nuts.com, which did carry all the powders. The downside- the shipping costs almost the same as the amount of product I was going to purchase and I just couldn’t justify it. (Cost of products:$16, shipping: $13) However, if I do have a special occasion to bake for, I would definitely consider purchasing…or better yet I’ll just call the bakery for the exact same price! I have also had issues finding malted milk powder in the past and likely wont attempt looking again as tasty as those Malted Milk Cupcakes look! One last ingredient that may be a challenge for the home baker to locate- all the extracts mentioned in various icings including natural coffee extract, toffee extract, caramel extract, maple extract.

That being said, you must know that Prairie Girl Cupcakes are among the highest quality, best tasting cupcakes you will ever have. These ingredients all attest to that and if you go out of your way to grab them, you will recreate the best cupcakes you have ever had in your life!

I managed to tackle the Dark Cocoa Cupcakes with Classic Vanilla Bean icing. Recipe and pictures below! The outcome was PHENOMENAL. They tasted EXACTLY like the famous Prairie Girl Cupcakes and they were ridiculously easy, which is why I only ended up taking pictures of the finished product. Comment below if you try.

DARK COCOA CUPCAKES

Yield: 36 minis, 18 regulars or 12 Prairie Girl-size cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the guar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Blend on low speed for 1 minute or until well mixed.
  3. With the mixer stopped, add the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla, then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer twice during that time to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. With the mixer stopped again, pour in the boiling water. Blend at the lowest speed until combined, stopping the mixer once to scrap down the sides of the bowl. This batter is fairly thin.
  5. Place cupcake liners into the cupcake pan(s). Using a large measuring cup with a pouring lip, pour the batter into the liners. If making mini or regular cupcakes, fill each liner three-quarters full. If making Prairie Girl-size cupcakes, you can fill each liner right to the top (the “crown” in the pan allows the cupcakes to rise and not overflow)
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes for mini cupcakes, 17 to 18 minutes for the regular size, and 21 to 23 minutes for the Prairie-Girl size cupcakes. When done, the cupcakes will be rounded and the tops will spring back when lightly touched. If there is a raw circle in the centre, the cupcakes need a minute or two of additional baking time.
  7. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes until they can be easily removed to a rack. Cool the cupcakes completely on the rack before icing them.

 

CLASSIC VANILLA BEAN ICING

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz (3/4 of a 250g package) brick-style cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp whipping cream (35% fat)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod
  • 6 cups icing sugar

Directions:

  1. Place the butter, cream cheese, cream, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds, and 3 cups of the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat on low speed until all of the ingredients are combined, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  2. With the mixer on medium speed, add the rest of the icing sugar 1 cup at a time. Stop the mixer twice to scrap down the sides of the bowl, folding from the bottom until everything is blended together. This should take about 5 minutes in total.
  3. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the icing for an additional 4 minutes.
  4. Frost or pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and enjoy.
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Dark Cocoa Cupcakes with Classic Vanilla Bean Icing. I love that the vanilla bean seeds are visible!
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Dark Cocoa Cupcakes with Classic Vanilla Bean Icing

Overall, I absolutely loved this cookbook and I was super pleased with the quality of ingredients that go into each cupcake. I think The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook would be a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the baker in your life..and if you live in Toronto, pick up a box of cupcakes, attach this cookbook, wrap in cellophane and voila, you have the perfect Valentine’s Day gift!

**All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. I received a copy of this cookbook from the most generous Appetite by Random House to give an honest review. You can purchase The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook by Jean Blacklock from Chapters.indigo.ca for $17.75 CAN. Price is subject to change.

To learn more about Appetite by Random House and other books they publish:

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/imprints/appetite-random-house

Prairie Girl Bakery: