cookbooks, nonfiction, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: Thoughts

sunday salonIt’s been over three months since I last wrote a post. Three brutal months that have left my family and I changed–but for the better. There have been many times that I found myself composing a blog post in my head. Many times that I didn’t bother to write down those thoughts. There was just so much going on and I couldn’t find the energy or desire to be online. Sorry to be so vague, but what happened isn’t just my story but my family’s.

During those hard months, my reading mojo came and left. There were books like The Dresden Files series that helped coax my mojo back for a short while, but overall, I didn’t read much. Now that things are much better, I can concentrate on more than just surviving.

Cooking is one of the things I’m looking forward to doing more of this year. There’s something about preparing a meal with and for your loved ones that is comforting to the soul. It’s also a good way to create memories.

My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl follows her life after Gourmet magazine was shut down. I’ve just started the book, but I already love her conversational tone. The editors of Food52 compiled 60 of their favorite recipes in Food52: Baking. I’ve already gone through the book and picked more than a dozen treats to bake including their cardamom currant snickerdoodles. A girl can’t live on sugar (and coffee) alone, so Besh Big Easy: 100 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes by John Besh is another cookbook that’s on my nightstand. After only a glance through the book, Besh’s Cajun Stuffed Pork Chops are going to be cooked this week.

Forgive me, but I’m going to keep this post short. It’s hard to ease back into writing a post when you’ve been away from blogging so long. Though I haven’t been online much, that doesn’t mean you guys weren’t on my mind. I’ve missed you all so much and look forward to seeing what you all have been up to.

cookbooks, Cooking, nonfiction

November’s Happiness Project: Food and Gratitude

Time: // 7:09 a.m. Monday morning

The scene: // my little sisters are getting ready for school, Spongebob Squarepants is playing in the background, and of course, I’m drinking my second cup of coffee. It’s so nice and chilly outside, a little more than 50 degrees.

Spending October de-cluttering and time management was helpful. I culled and rearranged, repeating the cycle as often as I needed to. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re much better.

One of the things I’m focusing on this month is eating better. After years of being a meat-and-potatoes kind of girl, it’s time for me to have a more rounded, more diverse diet. Thanks to my boyfriend, who loves cuisine from all over the world, I’ve been getting out of my eating comfort zone. I want to step out of that zone even more, so I’ve checked out a number of cookbooks to find inspiration and new meals to make.


L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi. I reviewed this cookbook earlier this year and figured it was time to try some of the recipes out.

Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck

The World’s Best Spicy Food: Where to find it and How to Make It by Lonely Planet

Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-To-Make Salads You Don’t Have to be Vegan to Love by Terry Hope Romero

The Adobo Road Cookbook: A Filipino Food Journey – From Food Blog, to Food Truck, and Beyond by Marvin Gapultos

The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen

Joy the Baker by Joy Wilson

Momfuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi (Because everyone needs sweets once in a while.)

Not pictured: Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes For People who Totally Love Food by Jessica Merchant

It may seem like a lot of cookbooks, but it’s really not. I’ve already started browsing through most of them for meal ideas and there are so many recipes that I can’t wait to try. You can expect me to post my results throughout November.

Be Grateful

There are so many things going on in my life that it’s easy to panic and get stressed out. Instead, I want to enjoy and acknowledge the good around me. Every night, I’m writing down a list of things I’m grateful for while privately participating in #100HappyDays. I may not take a picture every day, but it’s brought a smile to my face several times.

What do you have planned for November?

cookbooks, Cooking, Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Donuts!!

14618917My son, Oliver, begged me for weeks to make donuts. We’ve made cookies, cakes, and even cinnamon rolls before but never donuts. Last weekend, I reluctantly agreed. Oliver downloaded a sample of Jessica Segarra’s Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your “Hole” Day and went to work. Even though he’s only ten, he refused to let me help him. These donuts are so good, I couldn’t help but say “oh my God,” when I took my first bite.

Glazed Fried Mini Donut

            Yields 26 Mini Donuts and 26 Mini Donut Holes or 14 regular-sized donuts

Prep Time: 2 ½ hours  Cook time: 2-5 minutes

For Donuts

2 tablespoons warm water

1.25-ounce envelope fast-rise yeast

¾ cup warm whole milk

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 large egg

3 tablespoons shortening or lard

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil or peanut oil for frying

For Glaze

2 tablespoons whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if you are going to knead the dough by hand), mix together warm water and yeast and let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Add milk, sugar, salt, egg, shortening, and 1 cup of flour. Mix on medium-low for 2 minutes, then switch to the dough hook. Slowly add the remaining 1 ½ cup of flour, ½ cup at a time. Once you have added all the flour, knead on medium for 2-3 minutes, until dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Turn up the speed to medium-high, and continue to knead dough for 3-4 minutes, until dough is smooth. [Keep some extra flour on hand in case you need it like we did.]

3. Transfer dough to a greased bowl, and cover with a slightly damp tea towel. Place bowl in a warm area (or in an oven preheated to 200˚F and then turn off) for about 1 hour. Dough is ready when it has doubled in size.

4. Transfer raised dough to a lightly floured surface, and carefully roll out until it is ½” thick. Cut out donuts with a floured 2” biscuit cutter, and then cut out the center of each donut with a floured 1” biscuit cutter.

5. Place donuts and donut holes on a lightly floured cookie sheet, and cover again with a slightly damp tea towel. Place in a warm area (or in an oven preheated to 200˚F and then turned off) for about 1 hour. Dough is ready when it has doubled in size.

6. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or a deep fryer to 350˚F.

7. Once oil is hot, working with 4 to 6 donuts at a time, carefully drop donuts into oil. Fry for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown; flip each donut and fry the other side.

8. Remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towel or newspaper. Continue this process until each donut has been fried.

9. Place wax paper under a wire rack to collect any drippings for any easy cleanup. Then, in a small bowl, whisk together milk and vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar, whisking until smooth.

10. While the donuts are still warm, dip the top of each donut and donut hole into the glaze, transfer to a wire rack, and let set for 5 minutes. Serve immediately; donuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days but are best served fresh.

Note: Oliver didn’t like it the glaze, so we ended up dipping the warm donuts into cinnamon and sugar. We used 1 stick of melted butter, ½ cup of sugar and 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon, dipping the donuts into the butter than the cinnamon and sugar mixture. We used a mason jar top to cut the donuts out and the tip of a piping bag (you know, the ones used for icing cakes) to make the donut holes.

cookbooks, nonfiction, reviews

Review: L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi

9780062202635L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food

Roy Choi with Tien Nguyen and Natasha Phan

320 pages

Published in November 2013 by Anthony Bourdain Books, an imprint of Ecco Books

Source: Public Library


Up until that moment, I just didn’t see it. I didn’t realize how much food was a part of my family, a part of me. I was almost too close to it all, too close to the screen to really see the big picture. But the moment Emeril waves those herbs at me, my whole world clicked into place and I saw what had been in front of my face this whole time. Food. Flavors. Sohn-maash. I saw myself in the kitchen. I saw myself at home.

Roy Choi takes readers on a ride through L.A. and beyond with his debut, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food. Born in Korea before immigrating to the United States at the age of two, Choi went through a chaotic childhood as his family moved from place to place. Years later as a teenager with his family settled into Orange County, California, the chaos was really just starting.

Choi is famously known for breathing new life into street food. He’s the owner of Kogi BBQ, which started back in 2008 and has since baptize people with its Korean tacos. Seriously. Food trucks are a huge deal in SoCal and Kogi BBQ has been known to have crowds waiting for its food.

Now back to the book.

L.A. Son is a raw and honest account of Choi’s life from his childhood to right before he started his business. He described his entry into the world as,

a baby with a big Frankenstein head, drenched in his own blood, with more spewing out through his upper cleft like lava erupting from a volcano. Wailing, crying. . . One hell of a hectic entry into this world, huh?


Once in the United States, Choi’s parents tried their hand at a number of businesses from owning a liquor store to running a restaurant. It wasn’t until they started their own jewelry business that they found success. But while his parents were chasing their American dream, Choi was a lost kid who was trying to find where he fit in. Wherever he went he found friends, other misfits, but not his purpose. It wasn’t until years later after hitting bottom that he realized his purpose, cooking, was right there all along.

The recipes in L.A. Son coincide with various events in Choi’s life. The dumpling recipe reminds readers of family time every day in Silver Garden, the Choi family restaurant. The comfort of buttermilk pancakes is featured in the same chapter that the author experiences heartbreak. I love that there’s a story behind every recipe.

The diversity of the recipes is also another thing to enjoy. Readers get recipes for horchata right along with recipes for pork fried rice and French onion soup. There’s also a few surprises like ketchup fried rice and windowpane smoothies. You want a homemade recipe, it’s in the book. You want something that’s not strictly homemade? You get that too.

L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food is a fantastic foodie memoir. If Roy Choi writes another book, I’m buying it with no hesitation. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.


Cardamom Milk Shaved Ice

Serves 6

  • One 14-ounce can condensed milk, plus a little more for garnish
  • 3 ½ cups of water
  • One 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons cold brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon roasted and crushed sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Grated zest of 1 lime


  • Fresh or canned lychee
  • Fresh mint leaves

Combine the condensed milk, water, coconut milk, cardamom, coffee, sesame seeds, lime juice, and zest in a big bowl and give it a good whisk. Run the mixture through a sorbet machine or freeze it in a pan, running a fork through it every 30 minutes until frozen.

Scoop and serve the shaved ice in a bowl with the lychees, the mint, and a little more condensed milk drizzled over the top.


cookbooks, Cooking, Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Cinnamon-Sugar-Doughnut Muffins

Weekend Cooking is a weekly foodie meme hosted by Candace over at Beth Fish Reads.

Ever since I bought The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, I’ve been paging through it trying to figure out which recipe to try first. There are recipes such as the Pecan-Chocolate Coffee Cake, the Ham and Cheese Pastry Puff, and the classic Carrot Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting. They all look delicious but I decided to try the Cinnamon-Sugar-Doughnut Muffins.

Cinnamon-Sugar-Doughnut Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

For the Muffins:

  • 3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs

For the doughnut coating

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

To make the muffins: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350◦F. Lightly spray 12 large muffin cups with vegetable oil spray.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cardamom. In a medium bowl, combine the milk and buttermilk.

In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, cream the butter for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the speed to low and gradually add the sugar. Continue to mix until the mixture lightens in color. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until combined. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk mixture, mixing just until smooth; do not overmix.

With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them approximately two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are firm to the touch and lightly golden.

While the muffins bake, set up two bowls to dunk them in. In one bowl you will have the melted butter, and in the other bowl you will have the cinnamon sugar.

Let the doughnuts cool completely on a wire rack. Dunk them in the melted butter, and then coat them with the cinnamon sugar. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Note: I don’t have the print version of the cookbook, just the ebook so this was my first time trying a recipe on my Nook. I found cooking using my ereader to be a little messy. There’s one thing to get sugar on a printed cookbook but it’s another to get it on an ereader. I wish I could have printed the page, (Barnes and Nobles, are you listening?), but I will use my Nook again to make more recipes.

What the cookbook didn’t tell me is that it took more than an hour to make the muffins from start to finish. I didn’t mind but if I had known, I would have made them first thing that morning. Part of the problem is I didn’t keep in mind that my muffin cups are huge! They’re twice the size of regular muffins cups. So it took about 15 minutes longer to bake. Plus, I’m not use to making things from scratch so I didn’t know that putting everything together would take so long (about 20 minutes).

The muffins were moist and perfect. They were cakey and the cinnamon-sugar coating was a great touch. I made the muffins with the help of the kids and it turned out to be a nice kid-friendly recipe to try. Sorry that I don’t have any pictures to show you all. The muffins were too good to stop and take a picture of. Just imagine a muffin with tons of cinnamon and sugar!

Now I can’t wait to try the cookbook’s recipe for Cinnamon-Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

What are you making this weekend?

cookbooks, Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Spotlighting The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme hosted by Candace over at Beth Fish Reads. Have a food-related posted this week, why not join the fun?

One of my goals for this year is to cook something with my daughter every week. She’s ten and has decided that she wants to be a chef when she’s older. So each week, we’ve been in the kitchen fixing some of our favorite meals together.

I recently found out about The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day. I love looking through cookbooks but I love cookbooks that focus on sweets more, so I was pretty interested. The book is expensive and my library doesn’t have a copy, so I decided to wait before I bought it. My waiting paid off because the cookbook was featured as a Nook Find just a few days ago. I hurried and bought a copy.

I’ve been reading the cookbook and there are many recipes that I want to try like the Cinnamon-Sour Cream Coffee. Or maybe I’ll try the couple’s Ham and Cheese Pastry Puffs. What I really like is that in the beginning of the book, the authors explain the importance of temperature and gives readers a list of the spices used throughout the book. Readers can easily go from one recipe to the next without worrying if a certain spice is in stock. Another great thing about this cookbook is that a picture is included with each recipe. I hate trying to figure out whether or not my creation looks like it’s supposed to.

Have you discovered any new cookbooks this week?


children's books, cookbooks, Cooking, nonfiction, reviews, Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Books for Young Foodies

Weekend Cooking is a meme hosted by Candace at Beth Fish Reads. Anyone with a food-related post can join.

My kids love books about food. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cookbook or a picture book, so lately we’ve been going out of our way to find more books with kid foodies in mind. It’s been a little hard finding fiction with recipes for kids but what we’ve found so far has been pretty good.


Written by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

Illustrated by Janet Stevens

48 pages

Published in 2005 by Voyager Books

Source: Library

Big Brown Rooster is tired of eating chicken feed all day, every day. As the great-grandson of the famous Little Red Hen, he decides enough is enough. If the stories are right and Little Red Hen was as great a cook as people say, then he can cook too. With the help of a few friends, Rooster decides to try and make his great-grandma’s strawberry shortcake. But will the shortcake turns out the way it’s supposed to?

What I really like about this book is that the authors illustrate beautifully that not everything you make will turn out well but the key is to keep trying until you get it right. Kids will laugh at the animals as they try to figure out Great Grandma’s instructions while learning how to measure, sift flour, and other things.  Included at the end of the picture book is the recipe the characters use. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Pizza: How to Make and Bake More Than 50 Delicious Homemade Pizza

Written by Carla Bardi

128 pages

Published in 2011 by Reader’s Digest

Source: Library

If I were to describe Pizza, I would say “cute”. The book is shaped like a pizza. Bardi includes recipes for making pizza dough from scratch including whole-wheat and gluten-free dough. There are plenty of pictures for step-by-step instructions for the dough and for the various types of pizza the author included. As a mom with three picky eaters, there aren’t many recipes in this book that I could make and my kids would eat.  These aren’t your typical pizza recipes instead there’s eggplant pizza, bell pepper pizza, and even pizza with apple and Gorgonzola. There’s nothing wrong with the recipes but this isn’t a book I can really use. I’m still recommending it for those with a more “sophisticated” palate. My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Easy as Pie

Written by Cari Best

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

48 pages

Published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Source: Library

Jacob loves watching his favorite TV chef, Chef Monty, makes his famous recipes. When Jacob decides to make a peach pie, it’s a good thing he remembers all of Monty’s rules about cooking. There are a few mistakes and setbacks but Jacob’s determined to make his pie.

I thought this was a lovely book about making a goal and seeing it through until the end. With illustrations by Melissa Sweet, (A River of Words and Carmine), Easy as Pie is a book that will leave young foodies hungry for more. My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Have you read any of these? Are there any books you would recommend for young foodies?

children's books, cookbooks, Library Loot, meme., Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: The Library Loot Edition

Today I’m combining two of my favorite memes together: Weekend Cooking and Library Loot to share a few cooking-related books that I recently checked out from the library. Both books were on the “new books” shelf at the library and I hurried to grab them just in case someone else decided to!

Crazy about Cookies

Krystina Castella

Sterling Publishing

304 pages

Don’t you just love this cover! My daughter and I have been going back and forth searching through the book’s 300 recipes to figure out which cookie to make first. I’m torn between the Sugar-Free Carob Oatmeal Clusters or Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies while my daughter is thinking about Explosion Cookies which are cookies that look like comic book captions. If you ever see this book at your library or bookstore, at the very least just glance through it. The pictures are beautiful.

Ugly Pie

Written by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Heather Solomon

Harcourt Children’s Books

32 pages

I love picture books that feature food and Ugly Pie is no exception. Ol’ Bear has a craving for ugly pie but has only one ingredient. So he goes around his neighborhood to see has anyone else made the pie that he’s craving. When he sees that his neighbor has made everything but ugly pie, Ol’ Bear knows it’s time to make it himself. It’s a really cute book. The bonus is that it includes the recipe for ugly pie which is an apple pie with red raisins and walnuts. My family doesn’t really eat pie but I’m still going to give the recipe a try.

Have you read any food-related books lately? What does your library loot look like?

cookbooks, meme.

Weekend Cooking: Gourmet Today

Hosted by Candace over at Beth Fish Reads, Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post toshare: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.


Gourmet Today

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Sept. 2009

Life has been so busy this month with school piling on homework and all the kids getting sick. It was practically impossible for my daughter and I to try out any new recipes. Yesterday with the wind blowing and rain pounding, my mother had a craving for roasted chicken. I was happy to make it for her but I couldn’t find my recipe or remember where I got the recipe from. I decided to try out Gourmet Today’s recipe for Salt Roasted Chicken.

Salt Roasted Chicken

Serves 4

Active Time: 15 minutes

Start to Finish: 13 hours for overnight salting


1 (3 ½ pound) chicken, rinsed and patted dry

2 ¼ teaspoons of fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

3 ( ¼ inch thick) lemon slices

Sprinkle chicken inside and out with sea salt and pepper. Set in a shallow dish, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 500◦F.

Pat chicken dry. Rub skin with butter and put lemon slices in cavity. Place chicken in a small roasting pan, transfer to oven, and reduce oven temp to 425◦F. Roast chicken, basting occasionally with pan juices, until thermometer inserted 2 inches into fleshy part of thigh registers 170◦F, about 50 minutes.

Let chicken stand for 15 minutes before carving.

*Because I didn’t have much time before I had to cook the chicken, I only brined it for a few hours instead of twelve. Next time I would do it for the full twelve hours because the chicken didn’t have much flavor but it still came out almost perfect. The skin was crisp and the meat was juicy.

I can’t wait to try more recipes from Gourmet Today.

cookbooks, meme., reviews

Weekend Cooking: Thoughts on Jane Yolen’s Fairy Tale Breakfasts

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Fairy Tale Breakfasts: A Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters

Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, and Philipe Beha

Pages: 32

Publisher: Windmill Books

Publication Year: 2010

Source: Library

Every year my daughter decides she wants to try a new hobby. When she was seven, she wanted to become a fashion designer. So I bought her fabric, needle and thread, and plenty of books. For most of the year she made clothes for her dolls, drew outfits for hours in her sketchbook, and put on fashion shows.

When she was eight, she decided to that she was tired of designing clothes and wanted to become a scientist. So once again I bought books about different areas of science, gave her my old biology textbooks, and searched for science-y things online. The whole family participated in the various experiments she tried.

I call my daughter’s interests expensive. Her fourth-grade teacher calls them part of my daughter’s schema.

Now that Pip (pronounced Pipe), is nine, cooking is her newest interest. For the past six months or so, we’ve checked out dozens of cookbooks from the library, coping some of our favorite recipes. We’re making our own personal cookbook and one of the things we’re doing is cooking one new recipe every week. Some weeks have been better than others. With most of the family suffering from colds, we haven’t been cooking much.

I wanted to share with you all, one of the books we’ve checked out a few weeks ago: Jane Yolen’s Fairy Tale Breakfast. The book is the perfect combination of fairy tales and recipes. It contains four fairy tales such as “The Runaway Pancake” and “The Magic Pot of Porridge”, followed by a recipe that relates to the story. Each story is entertaining and each recipe is simple enough for a young child to understand and try with an adult’s help.

We haven’t tried the recipes in the book yet but the fairy tales have kept us entertained enough that I would definitely recommend this book.

Also written by Yolen and company:

  • Fairy Tale Lunches
  • Fairy Tale Dinners
  • Fairy Tale Desserts
  • Fairy Tale Feasts