Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cookbooks Galore


Actually, "cookbooks galore" is kind of an understatement. It's more along the lines of Mr. B's question the other day about whether or not we'll see our dining room table anytime soon. I'm sure the staff at my library and my local library are thinking the same thing: she's addicted. And I can't help it. Cookbooks are fabulous!! All of the amazing, mouth-watering photographs just scream get in the kitchen and make me. Cookbooks are beautiful. I love exploring new dishes, learning what people put on their own tables, and discovering the stories behind why they make the food they make and how each ended up in the kitchen. If I could actually afford my champagne taste, I'm sure I'd have a wall of cookbooks in my kitchen instead of two over-flowing shelves. But since I understand that if I were to buy every eye-catching cookbook that crossed my path Mr. B would demand control of my paycheck, thank God for libraries!

I can peruse as many of these tasty books as I dare, and discover my favorites, which I immediately run out and purchase or add to my every-growing "WANT" list. This past month I have done just that. I've been up to my eyeballs in cookbooks. Ooohing and Ahhhing over the incredible photos and recipes, with many "Why didn't I think to do that?" or "I must make this now" moments.

Giada's most recent cookbook sent me to the bookstore the very next day. Happy birthday to me, I exclaimed as I dragged Mr. B to the checkout counter, after explaining that "yes, I know my gift card is less than the cost of the book, but look! I'm buying you a Fantasy Football magazine, too!" I mean, if I'm putting money on the card I may as well put money on the card. You know, what I mean?

I think Feel Good Food is by far, Giada's best cookbook because it's on the healthier and lighter side, and it features a few personal daily beauty, travel, home, and other tips/secrets as well. The layout is lovely, and I wanted to make [almost] every.single.recipe. Gah! Yes, I had to immediately run out and snatch this up.


Out of this hoard of cookbooks, my other favorites included Chloe's Vegan Desserts and Eat Raw, Not Cooked. I'm not sure where I came across these two, but they were on my "to read" list and the library had 'em, so I requested 'em. Chloe's beautiful dessert-filled book is the perfect gift for my vegan friends. Heck, I'm won over by anything that highlights my beloved coconut oil. I knew I had to make something immediately, and thought the Chocolate Chip Cookies were the perfect place to start. Although, I made a few changes when it came to the sugar, this is by far the best recipe when you want to freeze the cookie dough and snack on it later. OH.EM.GEE. I couldn't stop. I used 85% dark chocolate chunks as my chips, and while Mr. B found it to be slightly "dry" (I took that to mean not as sweet and heavy). It must have been successful, because once he devoured his baked batch of cookies, he intruded upon my cookie dough. While I'm fully aware that "vegan" is not always synonymous with "healthy," with a few substitutions this could be a great go-to cookbook when it comes to feeding my vegan friends.

Eat Raw, Not Cooked is also one I could easily use every day during the summer, when it's way too hot to turn on the stove (if you have one that works), or your grill has been totaled. I was joking with my co-worker that the good Lord might have dropped this very cookbook in my lap for a reason. He knew I was going to need it! However, now I'm convinced I need a dehydrator. And more time. And I'm going to need more money.

I must own both of these very soon.


Stay tuned for my next batch of cookbook reviews because I'm a hoarder and a lover of all things food. I've only scratched the surface of the dining room table.

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Monday, August 25, 2014

Re-Visited: Cooking Club #4

[Original post date Nov. 2011. --Updated 8/25/14: original separate content, with updated photos and/or more details, if available.]


---> Cooking Club is coming up soon, and now that I'm blogging, I want to share these moments but I thought I should play catch-up first. So without further ado, here (and in more posts to come) is what we've been up to. Enjoy!

Jenny and I putting the final touches on the cupcakes.





#4 October: Interpretation of Orange
The Menu:
         Beverage
Orange Dream Delights
         Main Course
Ma Po Tofu
        Sides
Apricot Kielbasa Slices
Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Sauce
Orange Rice Skillet
        Desserts
Mandarin Orange Fluff Dessert


I'd like to announce that Cooking Club now has eight members! Apparently my co-workers love to cook, which is awesome. This month our fellow co-worker, Kelly along with her two teenaged-daughters, Angelica and Rosea, and Jessica's sister Melanie joined. There was so much fun and craziness going on in Jessica's small kitchen. We actually had to make our dishes in shifts, but that just meant more hands to help. 

And this month's theme, not sure where it came from, but it left the guidelines wide open. We could either use an actual orange, or any ingredient that was the color orange.

Remember how I went on and on about peaches and them being my favorite fruit and all in the cobbler Cooking Club post, well guess what I brought this month that was orange?

PEACHES. Yes. 

Again, I spent hours going through cookbooks (I have a plethora; I guess it's something I collect) trying to find the perfect "orange" recipe. Nothing satisfied, and I remembered that I had marked some recipes online. Enter Peaches 'N Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes.

Another thing you need to know about me: I.LOVE.CHEESECAKE. There aren't even the right words in our English language to describe my love for this sinful dessert. Every year on my birthday, instead of cake, I get CHEESEcake. I'm so in love. Mr. B understands. I love cheesecake like he loves pretzels. However, I never keep it in the house because I too will devour it in its entirety.

Cheesecake + peaches = perfection.

So imagine my disappointment when these failed. Jessica said she thought they were great and was planning on making them again the following week, but I disagreed. I know cheesecake. And there was just something about the way these set up that wasn't cheesecake-worthy.

My recipe looks yummy.
Ugh.

Everything else was tasty, except the Mandarin Orange Fluff Dessert. It had pineapple. I hate pineapple. I can detect it in anything. [Trust me, my family has tried to pull one on me here and there. But I always know.] Alas, that is another Cooking Club rule: You must take at least one bite of every dish. (However now, after my strong fight to worm my way out of tasting, we all know who doesn't like what and we adjust our recipes accordingly. Of course, this excludes any allergies, or insensitivities, which we aim to avoid any way.)
This month my favorite recipe was the Apricot Kielbasa Slices that Rosea made. Quite tasty, and I think my hubby would even approve. Also, we had our first Cooking Club mishap. Apparently Andrew's pan was a little too hot, and when he added the chili oil, the kitchen was engulfed in spicy fumes. We were all gasping for fresh air!

Andrew's Ma Pa Tofu cleared the kitchen.
The spicy fumes were so much, we all ended up outside gasping
for fresh air. My lungs were burning!

*I hope you enjoyed these Cooking Club snippets. There are many more to come as I try to play catch-up before this month's meeting. I hope these themes, and even Cooking Club itself, inspire you to gather with your friends and family in the kitchen, and make sweet moments (and delicious food) of your own.

**I've only included the recipes to the dishes I made. Only because I'm unsure of where everyone got theirs...and hey, we gotta give credit where credit is due. If you have any questions about the other dishes, I'll ask the other members where they got their recipes and pass it along!



Check out our previous meetings!
Cooking Club #1
Cooking Club #2
Cooking Club #3

[Update: I've included the link to Jessica's homemade pumpkin ravioli recipe, and (soon!) a few more pictures of my favorite tasty dishes recreated at home.]

Pssst...In honor of National Peach Month, here are a few of my favorite peach dishes, including a great morning smoothie, a family favorite cobbler, and a mouth-watering tart. What's your favorite peach dish?

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Week of Food

A photographic stroll through this week's eats. YUM.



Frozen {vegan!} cookie dough is a great snack when forced to endure loud noises resulting in crazy migraines. I found this fabulous chocolate chip cookie recipe in this mouth-watering vegan desserts cookbook. <--- my latest must-own-right-now item.


It's National Eat a Peach Day, and I've had my share of this juicy heaven's nectar this week, believe you me. Nosiree, I can't stop. Peach-aholic, right here!

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Monday, August 18, 2014

Re-Visited: Cooking Club #3

[Original post date Nov. 2011. --Updated 8/18/14: original separate content, with updated photos and/or more details, if available.]


---> Cooking Club is coming up soon, and now that I'm blogging, I want to share these moments but I thought I should play catch-up first. So without further ado, here (and in more posts to come) is what we've been up to. Enjoy!

Look at that tasty fall stew. Yum-0

#3 September: Ingredient Apple
The Menu:
           Main Course
Braised Pork and Apple Stew
Mango Apple Curry      
           Desserts
Spiced Apple Stir-Fry

Cooking Club is expanding! Our new member is actually Jessica's boyfriend and a fellow co-worker. Welcome, Andrew!

It was Jenny's turn to decide on a theme and she chose apples (because of their abundance lately), which means we must have that ingredient somewhere in our recipe. This month I chose to make Giada's  Israeli Couscous with Apples, Cranberries and Herbs and Spiced Apple Stir-Fry (<--- not sure where I found this recipe; it was just on a piece of scrap paper, hiding in my box of to-make-soon dishes). I couldn't decide which one I wanted to make, so I brought both.

Check out my new apron!

You have to make this couscous. Please make this, you will be so happy you did. Seriously. This was my first time ever eating this new food, and now I'd eat it every day if I could.  Actually, I enjoyed this recipe so much that I make it about three times a month. Everyone loved it; so the next time I made it, I brought it to work to share with my co-workers. A tiny mistake on my part. They all love it so much, that now if they find out I made some and didn't bring it in they give me a hard time. It's so good I don't even want to share. haha. I want to keep it all to myself. And every time I make this dish, I thank the Lord that Mr. B isn't into trying new foods.

The funny thing is, my best friend Jessica, not the co-worker and Cooking Club member, my other Jessica (I know, it's hard to keep up sometimes), called me up a week after I made this at our meeting. She was going on and on about this couscous recipe she recently made and just knew that I would love. After she finished describing it, I realized it was the same recipe.

Yes, my friends, it is that good.



It's so good that it's listed on the menu for my last meal ever. (You know, the question: What would you eat if it was your last meal?)


Anyhoo, having another member in the kitchen was fun and a new learning experience all over again. I love learning about people and what they bring to the table, literally. This was another great meeting, and next to my couscous, Jenny's Braised Pork and Apple Stew was killer. However, my second dish, Spiced Apple Stir-Fry was quite tasty, and I'd love to have this every time I eat vanilla ice cream.

Spiced Apple Stir-Fry

Serves 4-5

3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/3 c sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/3 c apple cider
1 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp butter

Cut stacked apple slices into fourths; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and spices; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk cider with cornstarch; set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add apple slices and ginger and stir-fry, about 2 minutes. Stir in sugar-spice mixture and stir-fry another 2 minutes. Stir in cider mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil and is slightly thickened. Serve warm over vanilla ice cream.


[I apologize for not being able to provide a photo along with this recipe. It was so good, by the time we finished filling our bellies there wasn't any left to photograph.] <--- I'll post a photo soon. I have plans of making this again as soon as I stumble across some delicious cider.



*I hope you enjoyed these Cooking Club snippets. There are many more to come as I try to play catch-up before this month's meeting. I hope these themes, and even Cooking Club itself, inspire you to gather with your friends and family in the kitchen, and make sweet moments (and delicious food) of your own.

**I've only included the recipes to the dishes I made. Only because I'm unsure of where everyone got theirs...and hey, we gotta give credit where credit is due. If you have any questions about the other dishes, I'll ask the other members where they got their recipes and pass it along!
Check out our previous meetings!
Cooking Club #1
Cooking Club #2

[Update: I've included the link to the French Apple Tart, a new photo of the pork stew from last week, which Mr. B devoured with a side of buttered noodles, and I'll be adding some dessert photos.]

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In Need of Inspiration


It's been one crazy, albeit delightfully chill, summer over here. Draining, discouraging, hectic, and frustrating are a few words I'd used to describe these past few months.

BUT GOD IS GOOD!


I am blessed with more than I deserve, I'm sure. To remind, encourage, and motivate me on this dreary Wednesday morning (and, I promise you, I don't mind the rain at all), I'm sharing a few pins from my Inspiration boards on Pinterest. You know, to get the juices flowing. I have a huge Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs interactive movie program coming up; I need to get my creative butt in gear!





I pray your Wednesday has been inspired :)


With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Monday, August 11, 2014

Re-Visited: Cooking Club #2

[Original post date Nov. 2011. --Updated 8/11/14: original but separated content, with updated photos and/or more details, if available.]

---> Cooking Club is coming up soon, and now that I'm blogging, I want to share these moments but I thought I should play catch-up first. So without further ado, here (and in more posts to come) is what we've been up to. Enjoy!





#2 August: Cobblers

The Menu:
Blueberry Peach Cobbler
Chocolate Pecan Cobbler
Ice Cream Cobbler Cake

This month's theme, "Cobblers," was inspired by the upcoming season. With fall approaching, changing leaves and chills in the air accompany my FAVORITE time of year. Warm cobbler is the perfect dish on crisp, fall days. Plus, I LOVE cobblers.

Peach Cobbler = All-Time Favorite!

Jenny and Jessica preparing their cobblers.

By the way, my husband and I spent our vacation in Georgia this summer (well, actually it was still spring), and we went to The Lady and Sons. Paula's Peach Cobbler is the best dessert I've had. Ever. Like THE absolute best. Even though Mr. B didn't want his dessert, I insisted he pick out the peach cobbler, and then I promptly devoured it, again. I didn't care that it was a hot-Georgia-nearing-a-100-degrees day. I wasn't missing out on Mrs. Deen's cobbler!

For this love of all things peaches, this month, I brought Blueberry Peach Cobbler to the menu. (Again, FoodNetwork.com; I need to crack open my cooking books from home.)

I cannot find the words to describe how AMAZING this biscuit topping is!

Peaches are my favorite fruit in.the.world. Put them in a cobbler, and I'm first in line. (Huh.Who am I kidding? I'm usually first in line for desserts. I have a little bit of a sweet tooth.) And see those biscuits on top, with that beautiful sugar dusting? Holy goodness. Click on the above link, make the recipe, and thank me later. [Actually, thank Emeril, it's his recipe. I'm just reviewing and sharing.]

On a side note: I really enjoyed Jenny's Ice Cream Cobbler. I love cherries, also. The chocolate one (courtesy of Paula Deen) was okay, but I'm a fruit-in-my-cobbler kind of gal.

My cobbler, Ice Cream Cobbler Cake, and Chocolate Pecan Cobbler.


*I hope you enjoyed these Cooking Club snippets. There are many more to come as I try to play catch-up before this month's meeting. I hope these themes, and even Cooking Club itself, inspire you to gather with your friends and family in the kitchen, and make sweet moments (and delicious food) of your own.

**I've only included the recipes to the dishes I made, or the links to the recipes I know the location. Only because I'm unsure of where everyone got theirs...and hey, we gotta give credit where credit is due. If you have any questions about the other dishes, I'll ask the other members where they got their recipes and pass it along!

Check out our previous meeting!
Cooking Club #1

[Update: I've included the ice cream cobbler's recipe link. It's funny, looking back I used to be a huge sweets person. Proof that your tastes can change with self-discipline, fasting, and surrounding yourself with healthier choices. However, I do remember this being to-die-for delicious. I might have to buy a bushel of peaches to make this cobbler again.]

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Nutty Chocolate Breakfast Shake


I know it's been a little shake/smoothie/beverage overload on here lately this summer, but I am not at all sorry. As the months get warmer, the more I crave something fast and cold to jump start my mornings. Today I'm sharing my new morning obsession favorite, and a heads up(!) I'll be sharing another smoothie favorite next week. I.cannot.stop.drinking.this. It's the perfect shake for me. It's all about the peanut butter taste with half the calories, made possible by PB2. I love PB2, and you can read/purchase more about it here, but basically it's powdered peanut butter. Regular PB2 has 23 calories, 1 fat, 1 sugar. Compared to one of my favorites, Trader Joe's raw almond butter, which has 95 calories, 9 fat, 1 sugar.

The product recommends mixing a tablespoon of PB2 with water, but ewwww. Yuck. Instead, I throw it into my shakes. I know a few people who have used it in baked goods, which is next on my list, but for now I'm inhaling it by the glassful. I kid you not, my friends. I've been enjoying this Nutty Shake every morning for days now. Even when I ran out of protein powder, I blended on. Alas, I ran out of PB2. This has made for a very sad Brindi.

While at work, Mr. B called to let me know he was heading to the store and asked if I needed anything. I squealed "YES!" and began to describe my PB2, what it looked like and where in the store it was located. "Umm, yeah. Anything normal?"

I did not get my PB2.


The day after I purchased my first PB2, I received a message from my co-worker telling me about this awesome product she stumbled upon at Target (love Target), and knowing I enjoy smoothies and peanut butter, needed to tell me about it. It was PB2. Seriously. This stuff is awesome.

Mixed with vanilla protein powder and coconut oil, this makes for one satisfying breakfast shake. I drink half when I get up, and place the other half in the freezer to chill while I get ready for the day.  I grab it as I head out the door, and finish it on my way to work. It keeps me full and energized until lunch. Love it. Love it. Love it. Obsessed? Definitely. In need of purchasing the bulk size for sure.



Nutty Chocolate Breakfast Shake

Serves 1

1 c unsweetened almond milk
1 T chia seeds
2 heaping T PB2 (with cocoa)
1 heaping T raw coconut oil
1 heaping T cottage cheese (<--- makes it delightfully creamy)
Pinch of xanthan gum
5-7 ice cubes
Optional: when I have it on hand, 1/2 frozen banana, sliced (for a little added sweetness)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until desired consistency is reached, adding more ice or water if needed.

Nutritional information (without banana): 283 Calories, 24 Fat, 11 Protein, 8 Fiber, 4 Sugar


With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Insta-Lately

In case you aren't on Instagram, or don't follow me, here's a peek at my Insta-Life lately.
[*All photos are taken from my Instagram account.]

Love discovering my favorite athletes in my favorite magazines :)







Looking at my Instagram account, it's easy to see I like my beverages. I usually occupy all of the cup holders. Mr. B does not understand.





Finally! A BINGO!

One day it was so hot in our house my coconut oil melted.....







With Love and God Bless,
Brindi