Saturday, November 21, 2015

Happy Cooking by Giada De Laurentiis (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection - I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

 About the book-

Best-selling cookbook author Giada De Laurentiis is picking up where Feel Good Food left off. Filled with even more fresh recipes and day-to-day living strategies, the Food Network superstar shares her year-round approach to living a healthy and happy lifestyle.

     Giada De Laurentiis, one of the most recognizable faces on the Food Network lineup, invites readers to get to know her as never before. The celebrity chef is back with nearly 200 new recipes and helpful advice on everything from hosting a potluck or open house to what to pack along for lunch every day. Drawing on the time-saving tips and healthy eating strategies that keep her functioning at the highest possible level in her roles as working mom, restaurateur, and tv personality, she has assembled a year-round roadmap to vibrant good health and delicious eating. Readers will be inspired to try new ingredients, new wellness practices, and create a wholesome balance between peak nutrition - and the occasional decadent indulgence. Featuring her New Year's cleanse, homemade Christmas gifts, and ideas for every holiday, special occasion, and casual weekend in between, this is Giada’s 365-approach to cooking up a happy life.

My thoughts- 

One of my favorite pasttimes is watching my favorite chefs' shows on Food Network and the Cooking Channel. I always have plans that I will dvr the episodes and try to knock out the recipes as they show them to us during the show, but it never seems to work out that way so instead I love looking up their recipes on That website is a life saver for me! Especially when I am in a funk and can't think up new recipes to try out. One of my absolute favorite go-to food network chef's is Giada De Laurentiis. Most of the time that I find myself on Food Network's website, I end up making one of her recipes. I was super excited to receive her newest cookbook, Happy Cooking, because it is supposed to be a book full of healthy recipes that are not super difficult to make. I enjoy being in the kitchen, but as the mom of three young kids and of one very busy husband, I find it difficult some days to spend a long time preparing food in the kitchen. Happy Cooking is a great cookbook. It has simply, yet tasty recipes for every meal, as well as sides, snacks, dips, and desserts. Just to make sure all bases are covered there are also fantastic recipes for the holidays included as well. I love the gorgeous pictures of the beautiful food, as well as Giada's tips for well being and health sprinkled throughout the book. Happy Cooking came out at just the right time, I think it would make a fantastic gift for the person in your life that love's to cook! I recommend this cookbook to anyone who enjoys eating well, but also likes to save time where they can.

Connect with Giada De Laurentiis on Facebook

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Will Smith, Concussion is the riveting, unlikely story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who made one of the most significant medical discoveries of the twenty-first century, a discovery that challenges the existence of America's favorite sport and puts Omalu in the crosshairs of football's most powerful corporation: the NFL.

In September of 2002, in a dingy morgue in downtown Pittsburgh, a young forensic neuropathologist named Bennet Omalu picked up a scalpel and made a discovery that would rattle America in ways he never intended. Omalu was new to America, chasing the dream, a deeply spiritual man escaping the wounds of civil war in Nigeria. The body on the slab in front of him belonged to a fifty-year-old named Mike Webster—aka “Iron Mike”—a Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the greatest to ever play the game. After retiring in 1990, Webster had suffered a dizzyingly steep decline. Toward the end of his life, he was living out of his van, Tasering himself to relieve his chronic pain, and fixing his rotting teeth with Super Glue. How did this happen? Omalu asked himself. How did a young man like Mike Webster end up like this? The search for answers would change Omalu's life forever and put him in the crosshairs of one of the most powerful corporations in America: the National Football League. What Omalu discovered in Mike Webster's brain—proof that his mental deterioration was no accident, but a disease, caused by relentless blows to the head, that could affect everyone playing the game—was the one truth the NFL would do anything to keep secret.

Taut, gripping, and gorgeously told, Concussion is the stirring true story of one unlikely man's courageous decision to stand up to a multibillion-dollar colossus bent on silencing him, and to tell the world the truth.

My thoughts- 

I saw a preview for the movie version of Concussion awhile back and I knew right away it would be a movie my husband and I would go and see together. I was even more excited when I found out that it was based on a book. I am not one of those people that has a problem seeing movies based on books. I think it expands the experience and sometimes offers a new perspective on the content.

Concussion was an interesting book from the get go. I found Bennet Omalu's whole story fascinating. I enjoyed that first half of the book that told us about his roots and growing up in Nigeria and about his family. It also laid out the reason he came to America and why he was  put on the career path he was. I found that interesting without the aspect of him bringing forth the information about the damage repeated blows and concussions cause to football players, but his research on these brains of football players and the trouble he had trying to bring attention to it, make this book a page turner. Omalu is an intriguing character both in his daily life and in his career. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading biographies of interesting people.

Concussion will be available on November 24. You can pre-order your copy today!

Concussion, the Major Motion Picture will be released on Christmas day. Enjoy the trailer below-

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Happy Herbivore: Holidays & Gatherings by Lindsay S. Nixon (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

Bestselling vegan author Lindsay S. Nixon brings “healthy” and “holidays” together in her new book, Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings, filled with easy recipes that celebrate and define our favorite occasions throughout the year. Whether you’re planning an elaborate Thanksgiving, a no-fuss dazzling New Year’s Eve party, an omnivore-approved potluck for Super Bowl Sunday, or a lazy Sunday brunch with friends, this is the only cookbook you’ll need. Including more than 130 recipes with new and old favorites, Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings guarantees you’ll have a healthy, festive, deliciously memorable meal—whatever you’re celebrating!

Twelve different special occasions are covered in detail with more than two dozen menus and detailed, step-by-step instructions, so your party planning is easy and effortless. Nixon’s fuss-free, fast recipes are also weeknight practical, so you can enjoy all her hearty main dishes, savory sides, and sweet treats all year long.

True to Lindsay’s beloved “everyday” cooking style, Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings focuses on using only whole, unprocessed plant foods with no added oils or fats, or wacky, hard-to-find ingredients. She makes it easy to impress guests while also celebrating health—and without breaking the bank.

Say yes to Portobello Pot Roast, Thanksgiving Loaf, Hot Chocolate Muffins, Mini Corndog Bites, BBQ Sliders, Cauliflower Hot Wings, Cherry Tart Brownies, Lemon-Rosemary Meatballs, Beet Salad, Banana “Cake” Pops, Mini Soy-Free Quiche, and more. With Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings, your healthy, hearty dishes will be the life of the party!

My thoughts-

By the sheer amount of cookbooks I review on this blog, you have probably caught on to the fact that I love to be in the kitchen. October kicks off my absolute favorite time of year. The holiday season is filled with family and friends, joy and cheer, celebration and lots of great food! I love to host guests at my house for the holidays and I also have a very large family that gets together for *the* biggest food holiday, Thanksgiving, and we each bring several dishes. Many of my aunts have their signature thing that they always have to bring (one brings coconut pies, another pumpkin pies, we have one person that always brings pea salad and another that always provides the mashed potatoes). Since I am of the younger generation, I do not have an assigned food so I like to try out new things. This year I am particularly interested in offering a healthier version of whatever I bring, but that still brings the great flavor we expect this time of year. I have many of the Happy Herbivore cookbooks so I was really excited to see that there is one focused on just holidays and gatherings. All of the recipes are mouthwatering. Even though they are vegan, they all sound like they would be fantastic and I know from experience making some of Lindsay Nixon's other recipes that they will be well received by carnivores and herbivores alike.  There are veganized versions of Thanksgiving and Christmas staples, but there are also sections devoted to New Year's eve and the super bowl, as well as an entire section on appetizers in case you want to change things up. There are so many delicious sounding recipes, I don't even really know where to start. I think that I may make the magic cookies first. They DO sound magical (and super tasty). I would recommend Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings to anyone looking for a new spin on classic recipes or who will be serving vegetarians or vegans this holiday season.
Connect with Happy Herbivore on Facebook

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nashville Eats by Jennifer Justus (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

If it seems like Nashville is everywhere these days— that's because it is. GQ recently declared it “Nowville,” and it has become the music hotspot for both country and rock. But as hot as the music scene is, the food scene is even hotter.

In Nashville Eats, more than 100 mouthwatering recipes reveal why food lovers are headed South for Nashville's hot chicken, buttermilk biscuits, pulled pork sandwiches, cornmeal-crusted catfish, chow chow, fried green tomatoes, and chess pie. Author Jennifer Justus whips up the classics—such as pimento cheese and fried chicken—but also includes dishes with a twist on traditional Southern fare—such as Curried Black Chickpeas or Catfish Tacos. And alongside the recipes, Jennifer shares her stories of Nashville—the people, music, history, and food that make it so special.

 My thoughts-

 I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Nashville. I took several vacations here in my younger days with some of my cousins and aunts that I am rather close to and those are still some of my best memories. And yes, the food there is a part of those memories! I live in Texas and generally I think we have better food than everyone else, but I absolutely loved the food in Nashville. There are certain things that you just associate with the south and I think food is definitely one of them. Nashville Eats is full of Tennessee comfort food. You will find in this book exactly what you may expect: recipes for buttermilk biscuits, fried chicken, bread and rolls, and a plethora of desserts. You will also find sides and salads among other amazing foods. The thing about southern food is while it is full of bold flavor, it almost always requires simple ingredients and isn't too difficult to make. I find that to be true of Nashville Eats. This cookbook has me itching to go back and explore the culinary side of the capital of Tennessee. In the meantime I am thrilled to have these awesome recipes to try out in my own kitchen as I reminisce once again about one of my favorite vacation spots.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Amish Christmas at North Star: Four Stories of Love and Family (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own. 

About the book-

One night four lives entered the world by the hands of an Amish midwife, just outside North Star, Pennsylvania.
Rebekah’s Babies, as they are called, are now grown adults and in four heartwarming novellas each young person experiences a journey of discovery, a possibility of love, and the wonder of Christmas.

Guiding Star
by Katie Ganshert

Curiosity gets the best of Englischer Chase Wellington when he investigates the twenty-five-year-old disappearance of an Amish baby. When he finds adventurous Elle McAllister in Iowa will his discoveries upend her world?

Mourning Star
by Amanda Flower

Eden Hochstetler slips from her parents’ fudge shop to investigate the death of her friend Isaac.  Who is guilty? Isaac’s handsome great nephew Jesse, an angry Englischer, or someone else?

In the Stars
by Cindy Woodsmall

Heartbroken Kore Detweiler avoids North Star after Savilla Beiler rejects his love.  But when he is unexpectedly called to return home, he and Savilla must join forces to keep a family together.

Star of Grace
by Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark

Andy Danner left North Star to join a new Amish settlement in Mississippi. His little brother devises a scheme to bring Andy home for Christmas and unwittingly unleashes the power of forgiveness in a reclusive widower’s life.

My thoughts-

Around October, I start itching to immerse myself in all things holiday related. I love the joy and spirit of the holiday season and I want to make it last as long as I can! One of the ways I like to do that is by reading Christmas themed books. I am not generally a fan of short stories, but there is something about Christmas short stories that I can't get enough of! The draw to this book is that one of my favorite authors, Katie Ganshert, wrote one of the stories. Amish fiction isn't her normal genre, so I was even more curious to read it and see how she did. Not surprisingly, her story was my favorite in the book and loved that she was the anchor to the stories (her story was the first one in the book and she wrote the epilogue). The book was about several babies who had been born on the same day by the hand of the same midwife 25 years prior. We get to find out where they are now in life and enjoy reading about their romances. The stories stand well alone but are tied together because the main characters were all born on the same evening. While I really liked the stories and would recommend the books to friends looking for a lighthearted read, something about them didn't feel like traditional Amish fiction, so that may rub some people look for traditional Amish fiction the wrong way. I still think it is worth a read and full of innocent romance. I recommend Amish Christmas at North Star to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction or Christmas themed short stories.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

When Calls the Heart: Follow Your Heart

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the dvd via Edify Media in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About When Calls the Heart-

From celebrated author Janette Oke (The Love Comes Softly series) comes a rigorous and romantic adventure as epic as the wide frontier. Erin Krakow (Army Wives), Daniel Lissing (Eye Candy), Jack Wagner (Melrose Place) and Lori Laughlin (Full House, 90210) star in When Calls the Heart, "a beautiful story with roots in relationships, self-empowerment, and the enduring power of love" (Common Sense Media).

While Jack and Elizabeth's relationship has cooled following their arguments in Hamilton, Jack is hot on the trail of a counterfeiter right in Hope Valley! When he finds the culprit, a two-fisted brawl ensues as Jack apprehends the man. Seeing Jack in danger prompts Elizabeth to confront her feelings and seek him out...but she inadvertently sets Rip, Jack's dog, loose at the same time. As a violent storm bears down on Hope Valley, Jack and Elizabeth search for Rip and take shelter in an old mineshaft together. But the storm won't be escaped so easily, and the unstable shaft begins to collapse...

My thoughts-

These last two episodes were so full of drama and intense story lines. Of course, the main focus is on Jack and Elizabeth. They have definitely had their ups and downs this season and I was unsure of how the season was going to end...without giving anything away, I will definitely say there are some things hanging up in the air! I couldn't believe the shock of the last scene and I will be looking forward to season 3 to see what happens! I think my favorite story from these last couple of episodes of season two is the budding romance between Rosemary and Lee. I loved watching the scenes play out. It was super cute! Sorry to be vague, but I don't want to ruin the fun! If you haven't watched When Calls the Heart yet and you are a fan of historical fiction, you are missing out. Tune in to Hallmark Channel or purchase these dvds and settle in for a bing watching session. This is the perfect show for it!

When Calls the Heart is inspired by a series of novels by Janette Oke. You can find these novels on

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook by Pearl Barrett & Serene Allison (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

In their debut cookbook, the Trim Healthy Mama’s share hundreds of delicious, healthy recipes to help readers successfully slim down while eating well.  This companion cookbook to the bestselling Trim Healthy Mama Plan is just what readers have been waiting for. It features simple, mouthwatering, recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner—including slow cooker and one-pot meals, hearty soups and salads, omelets and waffles, pizzas, breads and more.  No Trim Healthy Mama should be deprived, so there are also favorite snacks, delectable desserts, and the smoothies, sippers and teas fans love. With  pantry-stocking advice, time-saving tips, and information on how to cook for the entire family, the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook offers a delicious and nutritious way to make trim and healthy meals with less stress—so you have more time with your loved ones.

My thoughts-

The Trim Healthy Mama way of eating is quite popular among my circle of friends. I always see Facebook posts mentioning it and while I got the general gist of things ( sugar free, refined grain free, lots of clean eating) I never read the original book. I was happy to find an overview at the beginning of the book written for someone like me who hadn't read the original book or for someone who needed a refresher course. The Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook offers a wide variety of healthy yet tasty recipes ready to satisfy the palette while also feeling up your belly. I love that there are a wide variety of offerings to make sure there is truly something for everyone. I don't think I really noticed a recipe in the book that I wouldn't try at least once. I also love that although this book is about keeping healthy and trim, there is a section on indulgences at the end. The desserts are modified using sweeteners like stevia and they all sound delicious. I can't wait to test some of them out. I recommend this book to any woman trying to eat right and feel great about her choices. It's called Trim Healthy Mama, but this book is for everyone from all walks of life. I am definitely glad I picked this one up. I know it will get a great deal of use in my kitchen!