“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

“3 Times a Day” Cookbook Review

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“3 times a day” is written by Marilou and Alexandre Champagne, a husband and wife team who are also the creators of a blog called “Trois Fois Par Jour”. Marilou created this blog after overcoming a recent battle with anorexia in which she named her blog after eating 3 meals a day. Alexandre has a passion for photography and as Marliou begun her blog, he started taking beautiful pictures of her creations. If you have not had a chance to check out this blog, I would suggest you do so now. It is just lovely! http://www.troisfoisparjour.com/en/accueil There are plenty of easy to follow recipes, videos, and more all in a clean layout.

This cookbook is simply beautiful. The introduction is touching and the food photography is stunning. As you read it, you can feel the passion and the love that has gone into every recipe and every word on each page.

One of my favourite parts of this wonderful cookbook is the introduction, which speaks of Marlilou’s struggles and passions in life. She went from being a popular pop sensation in Quebec to food blogger and author. I think that a lot of us can relate to her words, which I absolutely love. How many of us want to change careers and are too afraid to do so?! How many of us don’t listen to what we want and listen to what other people want for us? Marilou speaks about finally following her heart rather than other people and what others wanted her to do and thus begun her journey and passion for cooking.

In the beginning of this cookbook you will find a page dedicated to tips and tricks for cooking, as well as recipe categories. Each recipe has a couple categories listed underneath so that you can easily identify and anticipate what type of recipe it is or what it can be used for. Categories include: economical, entertaining, gift, gluten free, indulgent, lactose free, quick and easy, raw and vegetarian.

This cookbook is beautifully laid out with pictures for every recipe. I absolutely love this! I know some people argue that pictures are deceiving and “it doesn’t always turn out like the pictures!” But for me it is what lures me into recreating the meal and I don’t care what it looks like in the end when I make it, as long as it tastes good.

Contents of the book are divided into the following:

  • Breakfast & brunch,
  • Snacks & small bites,
  • Lunch & salads
  • Soup & stews
  • Fish & seafood
  • Meat
  • Pasta, rice & pizza
  • Desserts

I can’t lie, my favourite recipes in this book all fall under the “indulgent” categories, mainly the pasta, rice & pizza section (which is probably the Italian in me). Everything just looks so succulent I couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen! The recipes in this cookbook are simple enough for a beginner and only require tools that you likely already have in your kitchen. One of the dessert recipes even uses mason jar lids as a mini tart pan with a removable bottom. Genius! (This particular recipe is actually the pie you see on the front cover of the book but in mini form.)

I managed to recreate the ricotta gnocchi (which were out of this world!) and the Oatmeal, espresso and dark chocolate cookies. I have made Martha Stewart’s ricotta gnocchi before but they definitely did not taste like these! I am of Italian decent so please trust me on this one…they were phenomenal. My 2 year old and my husband devoured them. The recipe says prep time is 25 min but they took me 10 minutes and I’m generally a slow cook. They were super simple and this recipe will definitely be a staple in my house. Since the gnocchi were my favourite of the two, I have provided the recipe below.

RICOTTA GNOCCHI

Quantity: 30-35 gnocchi

Prep time: 25 min

Categories: economical, vegetarian

Ingredients:

1 cup ricotta

1 egg

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg *I used the dry spice as that is what I had in the pantry.

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients until the flour is fully incorporated and a smooth dough forms.
  2. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  3. Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour. Set aside.
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half.
  5. On a floured surface, roll one portion of the dough into a rope, about 1 inch diameter. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  6. Cut the ropes into ½-inch pieces and place them on the floured baking sheet. Using your thumb, make a small indentation in the centre of each gnocchi.
  7. Freeze the gnocchi for later, or cook them immediately in a pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Serve with the sauce of your choice. *I served with my homemade tomato sauce and fresh basil and it was perfection.
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Ricotta gnocchi dough (step.1)
Step.6 , Cutting the ropes into 1/2-inch pieces.
Step.6 Cutting the ropes into 1/2-inch pieces.
Ricotta gnocchi in tomato basil sauce.
Ricotta gnocchi in tomato basil sauce.
Oatmeal, espresso, & dark chocolate cookies dipped in 70% Lindt chocolate.
Oatmeal, espresso, & dark chocolate cookies dipped in 70% Lindt chocolate.
Oatmeal, espresso, dark (Lindt) chocolate cookies... perfect with a cup of coffee!
Oatmeal, espresso, dark (Lindt) chocolate cookies… perfect with a cup of coffee!

I made 2 batches of these since my tub of ricotta was 500 grams. (and thank God I did because the family devoured them) I accidentally used Pecorino Romano cheese for one of the batches. Initially I panicked but they ended up being just as tasty!

If you purchase this book, please take the time to read the acknowledgements. I know most of you probably bypass this section but it really was so beautifully written. Marilou and Alexandre’s note of thanksgiving to each other was so sweet and endearing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it really just validates how much heart and soul they put into the making of this cookbook.

**I received this book from the generous House of Anansi to give an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You can purchase it from chapters.indigo.ca or amazon.ca for $25.

**Stay tuned to my social media accounts as I recreate more of the recipes in this book. Pictures will be posted!