25 June 2016

Weekend Cooking: Eat What You Love: Quick & Easy by Marlene Koch

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Review: Eat What You Love: Quick & Easy by Marlene KochAlthough (knock on wood) we don't have any particular dietary concerns, we are committed to eating healthfully as much as possible. So when I discovered Marlene Koch's Eat What You Love: Quick & Easy at BEA this year, I decided to give it a try.

The cookbook is particularly geared to people who need to watch what they eat because they've been diagnosed with diabetes, but the recipes are so good and easy to make that they should have wide appeal. If you or a loved one has diabetes, then you'll be reassured to learn that Koch is a registered dietician. Her recipes will fit easily into a diabetic meal plan.

The first several chapters contain good information for people just starting out with more nutritious eating,for whatever reason: diabetes, weight loss, or healthful lifestyle. Koch goes into the details of nutrients, ingredients, and equipment. What I love about her ingredient section is that it names brands, which not only helps you in the store but boosts your success rate with her recipes.

Oh and I have to mention the abundance of advice Koch has included in Eat What You Love, such as how to use your freezer, baking tips, and how to adapt recipes for cooking for two. Seriously good information.

Okay so what about the recipes? I haven't yet made any the beautiful desserts (see that book cover!), but I made a pork chili verde that we really liked, a simple cucumber salad, and a savory zucchini pie. The recipes were easy to put together and the instructions were clear. The pork needed to cook for about an hour, so I'm not quite sure how "quick" it was, but the flavor was there. I have a bunch more recipes marked to try.

Some other things to know:
  • Most of the recipes use fresh or frozen ingredients, but some call for store-bought ingredients, like broth, sauces, and pudding mixes.
  • All recipes come with good nutrition information, including food exchanges and Weight Watchers points.
  • People on gluten-free diets should look before buying.
  • Vegetarians should also look before buying.
  • There are beautiful photos for some but not all recipes.
  • Fast applies to your hands-on time and doesn't always mean you'll be eating in under an hour.
I'm impressed with the variety of foods and how they all look like (pardon the expression) real food--that is, food that doesn't signal it's part of a special diet. Whether you're watching what you eat because you need to lose weight, because you're diabetic, or because you just want to eat right, you won't feel even a tiny bit deprived. I mean, Swedish Meatballs with Sour Cream Gravy, Grilled Peach Sundaes with Caramel Sauce, and Shortcut Veggie Lasagna don't sound like sacrifice dishes to me.

Recommendation: If you are looking for some good, reliable recipes to feed the whole family while accommodating dietary restrictions, here's the book for you. If you want to add recipes to your busy weeknight repertoire, here's the book for you.  If you want some delicious lower-in-calorie recipes to help you feel better and lose weight, you'll want to check out Marlene Koch's Eat What You Love: Quick & Easy. To learn more about Koch, visit her website.

Click to enlarge the image to see one of her recipes. I haven't made this chicken and shrimp gumbo, but it looks good to me.

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23 June 2016

Mysteries and Thrillers and Suspense: Oh My!

Help! Teach me how to read in my sleep. I clearly need more time. Here are 6 mystery/thrillers that were published this month that I still haven't gotten to. Have you read any of them? Which one should be at the top of my list? Any I should cross off?

6 mystery-thrillers to read in June

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry is a mystery set in England involving two sisters: one is found dead in the first chapter and the other must learn to cope with loss while trying to find out what happened. Many reviews mention the great tension. (Penguin Books) Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner is suspense set in contemporary Cambridge (UK) and is centered around a missing student and the female detective in charge of finding her. (Random House) One of the characters in 738 Days by Stacey Kade suffers PTSD after having been held captive by a kidnapper for two years. The story is about her meeting the TV star whose poster kept her company until she escaped. But is she really free? This novel has won starred reviews. (Forge)

With Malice by Eileen Cook is about two privileged friends who take a trip to Italy. Only one returns: what happened to the other girl? Was it accident, murder, or something else? This one has gotten mixed reviews (HMH Books for Young Readers) The House of Secrets by Brad Meltzer and Tod Goldberg is a spy thriller involving amnesia, a daughter and father, and a possible history of violence. This is the first in a new series. (Grand Central) Lost and Gone Forever by Alex Grecian is the latest in the really good Scotland Yard's Murder Squad mystery series set in the 1890s. Jack the Ripper may play a part in this one. I highly recommend the other novels in the series. (Putnam)

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22 June 2016

Wordless Wednesday 399


Click image to enlarge. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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20 June 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: What I'm Reading Now

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: What I'm ReadingI'm on my summer schedule of trying to work like a crazy person from dawn until early afternoon and then taking the rest of the day off to walk, garden, read, and laze on the deck. Okay, so I'm doing more reading than I am gardening, but I like to pretend.

It's been the best of times and the worst of times. I've listened to some amazing books lately, yet I've also bailed on more audios (and print books) than usual. I'm not sure why I'm in such a picky reading mood.

Here's what I've been up to in terms of reading.


  • Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel: I went into this audiobook completely, and I mean completely, blind. I was looking for a good audiobook and my friend Heather (@capriciousreader) suggested this. I downloaded it and turned it on. OMG. How to describe? I'm stealing in part from my Litsy entry: Character study, mystery, & sci-fi all rolled into one. It was crazy, improbable, and utterly engrossing. The audiobook, which was full-cast, made me feel as if I were eavesdropping on actual conversations. In print or audio, this book is way too much fun to miss. Can.not.wait for the next installment. (Del Rey, April 2016; Random House Audio)
  • We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge: I have such mixed feelings about this novel about a black family that is asked to participate in an experiment to teach a chimpanzee sign language. The author explores some important issues, such as race, research ethics, and family, and the characters were well developed. On the other hand, the premise is set up in a vacuum and ignores the facts of anthropological research involving language and the great apes. The audiobook was read by Cherise Boothe, Karole Foreman, and Myra Lucretia Taylor, each of whom put in a solid performance. See my review for AuidoFile magazine for more. (Agonquin, March 2016; Recorded Books)
  • The Tibes of Palos Verdes by Joy Nicholson: An emotionally deep coming-of-age story about a teenager, Medina, who struggles to find her place after her family moves from Michigan to a wealthy gated community in southern California. As her home life disintegrates and she becomes familiar with her community's social rules and cliques, Medina carves out a place for herself in the surfing culture. Originally published in 1998, the book is soon to be made into a movie (I didn't see a release date). The audio was nicely read by Jorjeana Marie, who sounded believable as the troubled teen. (St. Martin's Griffin, 1998; Listening Library)

Print Books

  • The Big Picture by Sean Carroll: I'm almost done with this very accessible account of, well, pretty much the entire universe--from time and energy to life and thought. Carroll has a knack of explaining complex issues in down-to-earth (ha!) terms, relying on everyday examples (like spilled wine) and pop culture references (like Star Trek). Plus he humanizes some of the great thinkers of history (Aristotle, Newton) and introduces us to a number of less famous, yet equally brilliant scientists. Highly recommended. (Dutton, May 2016)
  • As Good As Gone by Larry Watson: I think I discovered Watson back in the early 1990s, when I read his Montana 1948. I love books set in the west and that explore family, fathers and sons, and a way of life that is very much connected with the natural world. I'm in the middle of this novel, and it is everything I could have wished for. If haven't read Watson, you should. (Algonquin, June 2016)
  • The North Water by Ian McGuire: I've seen this novel described as mystery and/or suspense. It involves a whaler and a surgeon, each of whom has a dark past. The summary says they will be stuck together on board a ship during an Arctic winter. I'm only on chapter 3, so I can't say much except I like the writing, I have a feel for the characters, and this book is not for the faint of heart (some evil doings right from the get-go). I don't yet know exactly when the book is set, but I'd guess the 1860s. (Henry Holt, March 2016)

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18 June 2016

Weekend Cooking: Cooking with Summer Vegetables

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

2 Winning Recipes: Weekend Cooking @ BethFishReads.comSummer is here and cooking now involves grilling, salads, and my two favorite small appliances: the slow cooker and pressure cooker.

Here are a couple of recipes I made this week that were winners. Not only were they really yummy but both were pretty and relied on the fresh vegetables that are so plentiful at the farmers market right now.

Italian Vegetable Stew

I found the recipe for the vegetarian stew on the Epicurious app, and although it wasn't written for the pressure cooker, I was able to make adjustments. You might wonder about having soup in June, but we had a couple cool(ish) and rainy evenings this week, and the vegetable soup was perfect.

copyright Bon AppetitThe Recipe: Click through to the Epicurious site to find the original recipe on the Web. It's worth looking through the readers' comments for tips, some of which I took into consideration.

My changes: Because the recipe was developed for 6 to 8 servings, I had to cut it down for just the two of us. So instead of using two different greens for the soup, I used just 1 bunch of collards, which I did not precook. I more or less cut the remaining ingredients in half, and threw everything but the bread, beans, and cheese into the electric pressure cooker. I set the cooker for 5 minutes. When the time was up, I let the pressure release naturally. Then I stirred in the beans and let them heat up in the soup for a couple of minutes. This was excellent and reheated in the microwave perfectly the next day.

Snow Pea, Scallion, & Radish Salad

copyright Fine CookingI love Ellie Krieger's recipes and have reviewed several of her cookbooks over the years. The following recipe comes from her The Food You Crave book, and is a refreshing salad that looks so pretty in the bowl and on the plate. I served this with simple grilled chicken breasts.

The Recipe: Click through to the Fine Cooking site to find the original recipe. Again, read over the reviews for some tips, which are really helpful.

My changes: I doubled the number of radishes and scallions called for in the recipe. I didn't have the right salad dressing ingredients so I used unseasoned rice wine vinegar and good olive oil instead. I also omitted the sugar in the dressing, and we didn't miss it at all. This was still good the next day for lunch.

I pinned both recipes to my Pinterest "Recipes: Tried and Liked" board.

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