Cookbook Review: Pure Food

This cookbook could not have arrived at a better time for me! ThPure Food Cookbook Review | Join Us, Pull up a Chaire summer is always at time when I find it easier to eat clean and healthy especially with all the fresh fruits and vegetables. I was excited to have the opportunity to review Kurt Beecher Dammeier’s newest cookbook, Pure Food: A Chef’s Handbook for Eating Clean with Healthy, Delicious Recipes. Kurt is the owner of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and is a chef, restaurateur and editor.

I was really intrigued by his book because it discusses how the additives in our food today has contributed to today’s health epidemic. It’s something I am becoming more and more aware of as I notice the effects of additives my children experience. I really enjoyed learning about the Beecher’s Pure Food Kids Foundation that was formed in 2004 to arm children with the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy choices. This goes along with something I try to instill into my children daily.

The book guides readers on how to take charge of your health and create a pure and additive-free diet at home. I enjoyed the section of the book that focuses on cleaning out your pantry and what was recommendated to rebuild a pantry full of pure, nourishing foods. The book also features more than 80 recipes and I can’t wait to start cooking from it.

The first recipe I want to try is for Bennett’s Burgers. This is one of the staples at Bennett’s in Seattle. It’s a mixture of ground beef and pork and they top it with a slice of Beecher’s Flagship Cheese, quick pickled red onions and crispy prosciutto…all on a toasted brioche bun with a slather of a 50/50 blend of grainy mustard and mayo. YUM!

Bennett's Burgers | Cookbook Review - Join Us, Pull up a Chair

1 ½ pounds ground beef
½ pound ground pork
2 tablespoons The Butcher’s Table Seasoning Blend (see below)

In a large bowl, lightly mix the meats and seasoning until just combined. Divide into 4 portions. Gently shape each portion into loose, ¾-inch-thick patties with rough edges. Make the centers of the patties ½ inch thinner than the edges. Set aside until ready to cook, up to 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Grill (or cook indoors in a skillet) to desired doneness and serve.

The Butcher’s Table Seasoning Blend recipe

This seasoning blend is intended to have some texture to it, so be careful when pulsing the rosemary and seeds in the coffee grinder not to process them too finely.

1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 ½ teaspoons anise seed
1 ½ teaspoons fennel seed
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoons granulated onion
2 tablespoons granulated lemon peel
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons Lapsang Souchong tea (2 tea bags)

Using a coffee grinder, pulse the rosemary, anise, and fennel 3 to 6 times, until most of the seeds are cracked. In a small bowl, combine with the remaining ingredients and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Overnight of the Living Dead French Toast – Cookbook Review

I was excited when I was asked to review another cookbook…this time about how to eat through a zombie apocalypse. Yes, you read that right!

Dead of Winter Blog Tour Survivor | Join Us, Pull up a Chair

I’m the second stop on the “Dead of Winter Blog Tour Survivor” of The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse. A Cookbook and Culinary Survival guide by Lauren Wilson. I was intrigued by the title and couldn’t wait to get a copy in my hands and check out it. Not only do you get great recipes, you’ll learn how to survive on the land. There’s even an entire chapter devoted to making meals with MRES .

I had a few recipes to select from and decided to go with the Overnight of the Living Dead French Toast. It was the perfect breakfast to start a busy Sunday morning tackling laundry and a trip to Costco with the kids…I swear they act like zombies sometimes running around all crazy! I am planning to make Nice Rice Pudding and Mental Fruit Lentil Soup in the near future! I loved the texture of french toast and used almond milk in place of regular milk or cream since I’m trying to eliminate dairy as much as possible. This was a huge success and I’m looking forward to making it again!

Overnight of the Living Dead French Toast | Join Us, Pull up a Chair

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
12 oz. bread, sliced into strips 2–3 fingers wide (I used Italian bread and a multi-grain cranberry walnut batard bread)
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
6 eggs
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of salt

In a small mixing bowl, mix together the melted butter and brown sugar, and spread on the bottom of a 9×12 baking dish. Place a layer of the sliced bread overlapping the gaps and mixing the different breads together. Sprinkle the dried fruit on top and then repeat with another layer of bread and the remaining fruit.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the milk, vanilla and spices until well combined. Pour the custard over the bread and dried fruit. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight for at least 4 hours. If you’re not making in the night before, you can let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and baked uncovered for 30 minutes. Cover the pan with foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Serve it with maple syrup.

Cookbook Review: The MD Factor Diet & Giveaway

The MD Factor Diet: Review & Giveaway | Join Us, Pull up a ChairI was excited when I was asked to participate in another review of a cookbook – The MD Factor Diet. Perfect timing especially with the new year and everyone making resolutions – including myself! The book is written by Dr. Caroline J. Cederquist, who is an expert in the field of weight loss and metabolism. The book focuses on a proven diet for metabolism correction and healthy weight loss.

I know I’ve said “why is it so hard for me to lose weight?” After having my son, I dropped the pregnancy weight and then hit a plateau and tried numerous things. Dr. Cederquist found that after treating patients for twenty years, weight problems are not just about overeating or under-exercising – but metabolic changes. I definitely noticed the switch that flipped in my metabolism and it was harder and harder to lose weight. She calls this the MD Factor. Your metabolism changes when you gain belly weight for any reason, you have hormonal changes, and as you age. Makes sense!

The book is broken down into four parts –

  • Part I – Discover your MD Factor
    • This section has a quiz that will help determine if you have the MD Factor. You’ll also be introduced to three people along the way who have shared their struggles with weight.
  • Part II – Understanding the MD Factor
    • The second part is goes into really explaining the MD Factor – what causes it, triggers, what you need to be eating and what you need to watch.
  • Part III – The MD Factor Action Plan
    • The action plan gives you a detailed meal plan focusing on reclaim days, transformation days, and stabilization days to reach your goal weight. Also included are stabilization and maintenance phases plans.
  • Part IV – Recipes
    • What’s a lifestyle change without recipe suggestions? In the book, you’ll find recipes for main courses, sides, sauces, toppings, salad dressings, and snacks.

For the recipe review, I decided to go with a breakfast frittata. It was a great excuse to use my new cast iron skillet too! I made a few modifications to the recipe just based on what I had in my pantry. I used shallots instead of onions and couldn’t find chicken sausage, so I had to substitute it with turkey breakfast sausage. The recipe below is directly from the book. The frittata was really good and my kids loved it! I’ll definitely be making again and trying out different types of veggies.

Breakfast Frittata - The MD Factor Diet | Join Us, Pull up a Chair

1 (10-ounce) package chopped, frozen spinach
spritz of olive oil
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 teaspoons raw onion, minced
4 fully cooked chicken sausage links, diced into small pieces
2 whole eggs
1 cup egg whites
1 cup cheese, reduced fat

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thaw spinach and drain the excess water. Spritz a pie pan with olive oil. In a small skillet over medium heat, heat the teaspoon of olive oil, then add in the onion, sauté until translucent, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and egg whites. To the eggs, add the onion, sausage, spinach, and cheese. Pour mixture into pie pan and bake for 20–30 minutes until the eggs set.

I’m excited to offer you the opportunity to win your own copy of The MD Factor Diet! Click on the link below to enter!

Enter Giveaway

Check out the rest of the blog tour and the bloggers who are reviewing The MD Factor Diet book.


Fall for Greek with Debbie Matenopoulos: Cookbook Review & Giveaway

 I was asked to participate in a blog tour of Debbie Matenopoulos’ new cookbook, It’s All Greek to Me, and let me tell you, this cookbook is a winner! Plus you have a chance to win a copy for yourself at the end of this post!

Greek food is a little greek to me. Yes I know about gyros, though always pronounced it wrong and was taught to say it correctly by an owner of a Greek restaurant in Detroit while I was traveling a few years ago.

This cookbook is a great introduction for me to all the different types of food and the meanings behind them. Debbie shares more than 120 of her family’s recipes, with a little twist to make them healthier and easier to prepare. I love how much family tradition went into this book; it’s one of the reasons why I started my blog. Debbie says that her “favorite part about putting this cookbook together was gathering all of the recipes from my family and translating them into English. There is so much history in these recipes. It was very nostalgic.  My mother  gave me my grandmother’s hand written recipe books that were written in Greek along with her own. There were pages that were coming out that were obviously worn by the years of being referenced time and time again. I felt as if I was holding our most valuable family heirlooms in my hands. I feel very honored that my entire family was willing to share their treasured recipes with me and allow me to share them with the world.”

After going through the cookbook, I chose the recipe for Kolokithopites (aka zucchini fritters). I have bags and bags of frozen, shredded zucchini waiting to be use and this was a great way to use it! I had to make a substitution when I made my fritters because I couldn’t find brine-packed feta. The fritters turned out great and my husband I both loved them. One care when you’re frying them. I had one stick and when I flipped it, some oil splashed up and hit my forehead…I’m ok!

3 pounds medium zucchini, washed and stemmed
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 ounces brine-packed Greek feta (about 1 1/2 cups), crumbled small
2 tablespoons finely grated kefalotiri or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Olive or vegetable oil for frying
1 recipe Tzatziki (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Cut the zucchini in half down the center into half cylinders. With a small teaspoon or a grapefruit spoon, hollow out the zucchini skins by scooping out all the pulp, leaving about 1/8 inch of zucchini intact next to the skin. Leave the bottoms intact so that you are left with a “zucchini cup” that can be stuffed later.

Take care not to crack or puncture the skins. Cover the zucchini skins and reserve in the refrigerator to make Kolokithakia Gemista me Kima. Transfer the pulp to the bowl of a food processor or high-performance blender and pulse a few times to chop finely. Place the finely chopped zucchini pulp into a colander and toss with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

Cover the zucchini with a plate and put a weight on top (such as a large can of tomatoes). Drain for 10 minutes, briefly rinse, then squeeze as much moisture as possible from the pulp with impeccably clean hands.

Whisk the flour, eggs, mint, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl until
smooth. Gently fold the drained zucchini pulp into the flour mixture along with the feta and kefalotiri or Parmesan cheese (if using). Stir until the mixture resembles a thick batter.

In a deep skillet or Dutch oven set over medium heat, heat about 1/2 inch of the oil until it shimmers. Working in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding, scoop out heaping tablespoons of
the batter and carefully drop into the oil. The fritters will naturally flatten out. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until golden brown, flipping them over carefully, just as you would a pancake. Remove the fritters from the oil and drain on a large, oven-safe plate lined with paper towels. Keep fritters warm in the preheated oven as you continue to fry the remaining fritters in batches. Serve plain or with Tzatziki.

Now here’s your chance to win your own copy of Debbie’s cookbook!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cookbook Review: 100 Days of Real Food

I’ve mentioned before how I’m in the process of eliminating as many processed foods as I can from our house and the stars aligned when my copy of Lisa Leake’s 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook arrived on my door step! You might have heard of Lisa before through her blog, along with her husband and two kids, they went 100 days without eating highly processed or redefined foods. It was a great insight for me to see how it can be done with kids…and it’s simple once you understand it all.

That’s what I love about this cookbook! Everything is laid out for you – how to shop at the grocery store, reading food labels, example meal plans, 100 recipes, and so much more! I know this is going to be go-to cookbook when I’m meal planning. 
There’s a great section of the book called “Lunch Box” that has different options for kids lunches. I find I struggle with sending Madeline with different items for lunch every day. I’m sure I’ll be using this section frequently. 
The first recipe I’m planning to make is the Veggie Corn Chowder. It’s perfect timing because next week the temps are supposed to return to “normal” early fall weather (no more 90+ days) and it will make enough for leftovers while I’m traveling to Atlanta next week. 
Some of the other recipes I have my eye on include:
  • Spiced Nut Mix
  • Asian Lettuce Wraps
  • Super-Easy Whole-Wheat Biscuits
  • Homemade Chicken Nuggets
  • Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites
I could go on and on!
If you’re thinking about reducing the amount of processed food your family eats, definitely check out 100 Days of Real Food cookbook!

Photos credit: Carrie Vitt

Cookbook Review: Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays + Giveaway

Welcome to the second month of the Cookbook Club Reviewers FB group! Last month was so much fun, and I was looking forward to this month! We reviewed Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Women Cooks: A Year of Holidays. I knew I would have a hard time narrowing down recipes to make because the entire book is so good! The book includes 140 step-by-step recipes for 12 different holidays throughout the year. I had this cookbook on my wish list since it was released and was thankful our review gave me a reason to buy it!

After drooling over all the pictures, I settled on two recipes, Grilled Corn Dip and Peach Cobbler. I know I’ll be making the recipe for yogurt, brown sugar and berry parfaits next time we have guests over for dinner. The chimichurri shrimp looks amazing too! I don’t think you can wrong cooking from this book!

Grilled Corn Dip: I was excited to try this recipe – grilled corn mixed into a creamy, cheesy mixture. The recipe made a lot and I was glad to have enough left over to use it for filling in quesadilla for lunch. I took half of the recipe to a family picnic, it was a huge hit and I just served it with tortilla strips.

Peach Raspberry Cobbler: I had a bunch of peaches and raspberries ready to use and it was perfect timing to make a cobbler. I loved the topping, it was really good and the cobbled came out great. We all loved it and I love that the recipe is versatile that I could use any type of fruit and it will come out great! 

We’re also excited to offer a chance to win a copy of this cookbook! Enter below!! a Rafflecopter giveaway