Happy New Year From Me and Plenty

I hope everyone had a happy New Year. We finished the year with a gorgeous pasta recipe from Plenty, Saffron Tagliatelle with Spiced Butter p.260. It was rich, so don’t go overboard on the sauce, but always satisfying to make fresh pasta…

Given how busy December can be I’m pretty impressed with how many recipes I managed from Plenty. They always looked so involved with lots of ingredients but actually it’s usually just a lot of lovely spices and if you already have them in your cupboard then you will be fine to make these recipes. Most recipes use fresh herbs as well so that could be a draw back for some. Overall, I was pleased with all the recipes we tried. Some have already become serious favourites and have already made them again. Two recipes in particular will make the “weekday meal round-up” for sure, Shakshuka p.87 and Cardamom rice with poached eggs and yogurt p. 240. Both were healthy, hearty and quick to make…I’ve learned how to make the most gorgeous poached eggs as well, very proud of that…

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Cardamom rice cooking

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Cardamom rice with poached egg and plain greek yogurt dollops

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Shakshuka cooking. Doesn’t it look cozy!

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A must it with lovely white bread

The Christmas break helped me to make a couple feasts, one being Spicy Moroccan carrot salad p.14, Sweet Potato Cakes p.32 and Freekeh Pilaf p. 241...All were totally Moorish…

One of the other keeper recipes I’m going to remember that will be great for company is the Surprise Tatin p. 22. It was soooooo simple but looked impressive! It was filled with slow roasted tomatoes, sauteed onions, baby potatoes and goat cheese. The most interesting part was the caramel sauce that baked in on top to give it a wonderful colour and buttery taste…

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Another company crowd pleaser was the Very Full Tart p.84. Roasted sweet potato and eggplant were the star of the show…

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Not oddly, one of the most moorish, wonderful recipes was one of the simplest. The Burnt Eggplant with Tahini p.122 was incredible. I did the “salad” version with mini cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. A must eat with quality Lebanese style pita…

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I’m pleased to have a nice “side” recipe that could be done at a larger meal. The Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes p. 136 would be great with a Sunday Roast or a Full Breakfast…

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For me, (as everyone else loved them) there was one recipe downer this time and that was the Puy Lentil Galettes p. 208. It was cook error though. I messed with the puffed pastry too much and they didn’t puff up and cook through as one would have liked. I should have just ate the lentil mix on it’s own as it was divine…the combo was a bit odd, if honest…

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Finally, the recipe that has inspired my new foray into fresh pasta making was the Lemon and Goat Cheese Ravioli p. 250…

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Everyone knows that fresh pasta is the best but one must remember how incredibly easy it is to make too! If you have the pasta maker it can be done so quickly. Of course ravioli takes longer to put together so not a weekday meal but I challenge everyone to get on with MAKING THEIR OWN PASTA! The tarragon and pink peppercorns in this dish were truly divine as well.

So that’s the cookbook challenge for 2017 done! Wow, what a marathon! I’m so thrilled with all the new recipes accomplished! Our waistlines haven’t suffered too much. Stay tuned for a post about which of the 12 books I tried that I think you need to get as well as my idea for a 2018 challenge. Get cooking everyone!

August Book Done

I’m in serious denial that August is over and school has actually started! I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with myself for how many recipes I was able to do out of Vegetarian Any Day at a cottage on an island, at least 1/2 an hour from a grocery store! It took some serious planning I chose this book for August because it didn’t look like it needed a lot of fancy schmancy kitchen equipment. I was able to get by with a Nutri-Bullet. I would say that most people thoroughly enjoyed all the recipes and I would recommend this book as an intro veggie book. I was not keen on the zucchini wraps but other than that there are a lot of recipes I’d make again. One interesting observation was that there appeared to be a ton of recipes that called for a head of cauliflower! It’s such a versatile veg. I think it’s also becoming a hot ingredient so it was nice to find a few different ideas. There was the standard cauliflower pizza crust that is a bit more popular but I thought that Buffalo “wing” bites were amazing and the halloumi bites, yum!

I think I forgot a few pics but check out the highlights below…

Toasted Baby Arugula and Zucchini Salad P.90

This extremely simple salad was so delicious and refreshing. I already have the lemon dressing memorized.  A simple crowd pleaser for sure! I’ve already been asked for the recipe.

Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites P.40

Hello! This app was so tasty and unique! Faux chicken wings if you will! So simple and tasty. I served it with the suggested Herbed Kefir Ranch Dressing P. 102. It was delightful.

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Black Quinoa and Cauliflower Halloumi Cheese Balls, P.44. We had these twice because after the first time Dad asked me everyday to make them again! I served them with BBQ sauce and Frank’s Red Hot but you easily eat them on their own.

Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Pizza with Brie and Maple P.131

This pizza was incredibly delicious. First of all the Cauliflower crust is amazing. (Use any toppings you want though.) I’m not convinced I tasted the Brie. I think other cheese would  have been fine.

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Horrible  picture! But this is a gorgeous Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Bake that I’m definitely making as a side for Thanksgiving dinner! P. 157

Caramelized Onion with Gruyere and Sauerkraut P.132

This sandwich was so moorish! This was a hilarious meal because we got my mom to eat sauerkraut! My dad and I love it but mom wouldn’t normally eat it; I think my dad was feeling hard done by that I got her to eat it but he couldn’t!

Coconut Chili Lime Collard Green Wraps P.123

These wraps were a pleasant surprise. I’ve been been meaning to use collard greens for wraps for some time now but just haven’t gotten around to it. DO NOT MAKE MY MISTAKE! Simply, they rock. The red lentils in this dish were cooked in coconut milk, stroke of genius. If you buy this book, try this recipe please.

Lentil Cake Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Feta P.110

This was just ok for me. The cakes needed more seasoning but I liked the idea. The dressing and fixings were nice. The overall appearance was a tad sketchy though!

Chipotle Sweet Potato Tacos with Grilled Pineapple Salsa P.124

For me, this was a book winner! The pineapple salsa was so simple and delish. I love the sweet potato idea as well. Definitely try and find corn tortillas too. I like the Casa Mendosa ones that have shown up Zhers recently.

Zucchini Wraps P. 118

Ok these…too much work for not many wraps and they did not taste that great in my opinion! Mom liked them though. As you can tell I was totally not convinced.

Portobello and Pepper Fajitas P.126

PLEASE DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THESE! The marinade was sub-par. Please use the Oh She Glows recipe for this same idea. It’s in her first book, Oh She Glows. She has a recipe for the same thing and the marinade for the mushrooms is a zillion times better. Fact, true story!!!

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Ripe Peach and Pistachio Butter Lettuce Wraps P.120

Weird little recipe but with fresh Ontario peaches you got to get going! I made these until the blue cheese ran out. They were fantastic! Such an odd combo of ingredients but somehow they totally worked. I had a honey white balsamic in the cupboard so used that instead of the suggested white balsamic. A hit!

Slow Cooker French Onion Miso Soup

I made this after we got back from the cottage. Funny enough it was the reason I bought the book because I LOVE French Onion soup but it always has a beef broth. Try it!

On to September…

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I knew September was going to be busy with school starting up so I wanted to pick another simple book where I knew I’d have most of the ingredients lying around. Thus, the second Oh She Glows book. I love her first book and recommend it to everyone that asks for a go to Veg book! (She’s also vegan but whatever.) It was the first book that introduced me to cashew cream (a heavenly substance). I have to admit I was extremely disappointed by the second book. Many of the recipes looked recycled from the first book, just changed a bit. I also immediately tried a few smoothie combos and was disheartened. That being said…I loved the first book so much that I feel it is only fair to give the second one a proper go. So here goes…

May is A Modern Way To Eat

May is over and that means 4 more weeks of school, I mean time for another cookbook! I love, love, love a modern way to eat by Anna Jones. I wanted to eat every recipe. It’s just how we like to eat. Lots of fresh ingredients and different flavours. Not too crazy though, real, everyday eating. Not to mention the simple white theme for the cover and pics, love the style. I will definitely be using this book again and recommend it to buy if you need a new cookbook treat.

Breakfast: We tried the…

  • Overnight Bircher with Peaches (we used strawberries)
  • Morning Smoothies (Go To Green, Avocado and Toasted Coconut and the Sesame Date
  • Lemon Maple Granola
  • Huevos Rancheros (Super yum and could eat for any meal
  • Banana, Blueberry and Pecan Pancakes (Cooking these was a disaster. It was basically fried oatmeal. Tasty though!)
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The Sesame Date Smoothie was the perfect combo. I’m adding tahini to all my smoothies these days! Ugh, that counter top needs to go soon!

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Eggs steaming for the Huevos Rancheros

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Mmmmmm a Mexican morning feast

Dinner:

  • Maple Peanut California Wrap (Tempeh is not my fav but the marinade was good and all the other ingredients helped to mask/complement the flavour of the tempeh)
  • Chickpea and Preserved Lemon Stew (This was a huge hit! Will make again for sure)
  • Sweet Tomato and Black Bean Tortilla Bowls (Can’t decide if I liked this or the preserved lemon stew the best, love a preserved lemon)
  • Lemony Lentil and Crispy Kale Soup
  • Caramelised Leek and New Potato Salad
  • Spiced Carrot and Cashew Salad With Fresh Coconut and Coriander (This looked VERY impressive)
  • Lemon-Roasted Feta with Traffic-Light Tomatoes (If you like feta, and who doesn’t, then you have to try this)
  • Raw Thai Citrus Crunch Salad
  • Dhal With Crispy Sweet Potato and Quick Coconut Chutney
  • Proper Chilli
  • Any Night of the Week Pizza (with a cauliflower crust)
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      Preserved Lemon stew. I used store bought preserved lemons.

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      The Lemon stew was topped with arugula, pine nuts and saffron yogurt. The yogurt was a must, so simple to whip up, if you have saffron laying around.

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      One of my favs, tomato and black bean soup/stew. Fresh and tasty.

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      Roasted carrot salad was a dinner party delight! It looked really Ottolenghi worthy 🙂

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      Roasted Feta salad, the mint was a lovely addition rather than the more traditional basil.

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      Hello tasty Dahl! Who can resist a roasted sweet potato topper.

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      Sorry, horrible picture but I love me a vinaigrette potato salad. The radishes and celery gave a nice crunch.

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      Worth the cutting Thai Slaw. Could not have tasted more fresh.

Sweet Endings: there were actually a ton of dessert recipes I wanted to make but it’s almost bathing suit time everyone, what’s that…only 4 more weeks of school, that’s right! I’m dying to try Cardamom and Carrot Cakes with Maple Icing, but they will have to wait a bit…we did try…

  • Strawberry Poppy Seed Crisp (great little crisp recipe, the lemon and orange zest is a must)
  • Salted Caramel Crack Brownies (Yes, the name is justified, so good)
  • Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Blondies (Wasn’t impressed, really, too cakey for me)
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These really were probably the best brownies I’ve ever made. You make your own caramel and then once it’s hardened you crack it on top and then bake. As it cooks the caramel oozes in.

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Strawberry and Rhubarb crisp. Really nice with the almond flour.

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Blondies. Not my fav but some liked the cakiness.

So, if you’ve been following along with my New Year’s challenge to pick one of my cookbooks a month to cook from then you will be wondering what’s next…

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I’ve been saving this baby for closer to the summer when we can get more fresh produce. June…close enough I’ll say. Every recipe in this book looks like it uses simple, fresh ingredients which are usually the best recipes. I need to start flagging meals…

Goodbye The World Of The Happy Pear

April got a whole lot healthier with the choice of The World of the Happy Pear by Stephen and David Flynn. Despite April being filled with spring cold and flu I managed about 23 recipes. Most were amazing with only one nasty failure (Elsie’s Super Smoothie-I love bizarre smoothy combos but this one was beyond me, I just couldn’t do it, yuk.) I would definitely recommend this book or the original The Happy Pear for anyone wanting to add some extra whole food, healthy meals to their week day standbys. Also, if you fancy some tasty raw desserts. I did find the recipes a bit wordy but I think that’s because it incorporated what I would think are the author’s voices. Use your brain when you make some of these items so that you don’t make things more work than they need to be e.g. for the Amazing Chocolate, Nut and Caramel Bars just grab them with tongs and dip them in the chocolate don’t fuss with putting them on a knife over a bowl while pouring chocolate over with a spoon.

As always here are some of my fav recipes…

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Chocolate Cookie Dough Balls – Soooooooooo easy to make and honestly taste like cookie dough. Don’t be worried though they are filled with healthy ingredients like oats, dates, cashews and coconut oil.

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Courgette (Zucchini) Fritters with Tzatziki and Beetroot Salad – Gorgeous and fresh. The fritters were really difficult to cook because they kept falling apart. I think you could easily add an egg to help.

This Three-Colour Quinoa Protein Salad – will be my new go-to summer salad I think! It went down a treat at a staff pot luck.

This Citrus, Goji and Chia Marmalade – was a fav of John’s. I even liked it (marmalade is not my friend!) I’m happy I could make him a no refined sugar option.

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Carrot, Original and Beetroot Humous – Gorgeous, these will all be made again. Especially, the beet.

These Super Fudgy Almond Brownies were pretty good but I like the cookie dough balls better!

Breakfast options – Green Power Bowl, Quinoa and Flax Pancakes and Nut and Seed Loaf.  The Loaf was a personal fav. It was soooooooo quick and easy to make and tasted healthy and satisfying. It rocked with almond butter and fresh raspberries on top!

Other dinners included No-Fry Falafels, Blistered Grilled Veg, Feta and Pine Nut Stuffed Peppers, Mexican Salsa with Mixed Beans and Coriander (soooooo yum!) and an Easy Indian Biryani (sorry not a great pic). 

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We finished the book off last night with a lovely Pad Thai – can’t go wrong there.

As I’m seeing, each month there are still loads of great recipes still left to make. I’m going to eventually try them but I’m happy to have completed so many new recipes. I found more than a few go-to recipes that I know will be enjoyed by family and friends for years to come.

If I was thrilled to give Happy Pear a go in April I’m over the moon to be getting on to Anna Jones’ a modern way to eat. I believe I got this book in the UK the summer it was released and haven’t made a thing, ugh, typical me, I read it loads though! The pictures are stunningly styled and are exactly what I do and imagine eating every day. There seems to be a lot of flexibility in the recipes too. Wish me luck in May!

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March Cookbook Done

The Moosewood Cookbook was the perfect choice for this month’s dreary Southern Ontario weather. Think comfort food for vegetarians! Pies and casseroles with lots of cheesy goodness. At some point, every veggie probably needs to host a dinner for hardcore meat eaters and I for one refuse to cook meat for them. I’m not totally cruel though I have an arsenal of hearty, filling recipes that should satisfy anyone. Moosewood is chalked full of these recipes. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a cake recipe call for a pound of butter, yikes right!

This is what I got through this month…

Cauliflower-Cheese Soup P. 16
Ginger Marinated Chick Peas P.64
Marinated Mushrooms P.67
Balkan Cucumber Salad P.69
Beet Puree P.86
Feta-Walnut Dip P.101
Greek Pilaf P.148
Stuffed Grape Leaves P.149
Zuccanoes (Stuffed Zucchini) P.154
Spinach-Ricotta Pie P.156
Swiss Cheese & Mushroom Quiche P.157
Cauliflower-Cheese Pie (with Grated Potato Crust) P.159
Zucchini-Crusted Pizza P.166
Samosas P.170
Satyamma’s Famous Cauliflower Curry P.173
Vegetarian Chili P.176
Date-Nut Cake P.187
Lemon-Blueberry Pound Cake P.190-91
Banana Bread P.193
Cardamom Coffee Cake P.195
Apple Strudel P.196
Apple Custard Pie P.202
Moosewood Fudge Brownies P.213

Wow, when you write a list like that it doesn’t look like I even made a dent in the recipes but I sure felt busy cooking!

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We started with this Mezze dinner. The Feta Walnut dip was a fav for sure. The marinated chickpeas were good too. There were a lot of leftover chickpeas so I roasted them in the oven to make a delightful chickpea snack.

Take a look at some of my other book favs for dinner…

I even made Samosas from scratch. Don’t know why I haven’t done this before, it couldn’t have been easier. I’d like to find a different filling though or add more spices to this one.

I probably tried too many desserts from this book for my waistline but hey, it helped get through this drizzly month! The Pound Cake recipe was definitely a must do. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can create as many variations as you can imagine. Of course, start with lemon-blueberry!

As you may know, I’m quite the Banana Bread connoisseur and I heartily approve of this one…

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Butter, butter, butter! I love the addition of walnuts and the sesame crust layer underneath. I also appreciated the orange zest and the coffee soaked bananas, neat eh.

The Brownies and Apple Strudel were also a hit…

Strudel really does look impressive, doesn’t it, like you worked all day on it! Aside from the lovely Apple Custard Pie, it was the easiest recipe in the book.

As much as I loved Moosewood, I’m ready to move on. Most of the recipes I tried were heavy and dairy laden which is not the kind of vegetarian food I really like to eat. I’d say they are a bit old-fashioned/traditional compared to today’s vibrant use of veg, grains, nuts and seeds, whole foods right! I’m thrilled to have these recipes in my back pocket now but April’s book is just more me!

I’ve decided on the second Happy Pear Book, The World of the Happy Pear

I’ve made a few things from the first Happy Pear book and they were all extremely tasty and fresh. Check these guys out online here. In a nutshell, they are 2 brothers who started a bit of a veg food revolution in a small town in Ireland with their Heart Healthy recipes and education. They also have some fun, short videos on how to make quick, healthy veg meals. I’m looking forward to lightening up in April with some of their amazing looking salads and snacks. Stay tuned…

February Cookbook

I don’t know where to start…First of all, how is it the end of February and I’m amazed I packed in so many yummy recipes this month. Recall, I chose Rebar-modern food cookbook for this month’s challenge. I was able to complete 25 recipes and I don’t feel like I even scratched the surface of this awesome book. I barely touched brunch and didn’t even make 1 soup recipe. Not feeling failure though because the recipes are more involved than most. E.g. for the Buckwheat Crepes you need to make the crepes, the marinated portobello mushrooms from p. 23 and the caramelized onions from p. 36; yikes right! Take a look at these babies though…they were probably my fav recipe…

You should know that I do NOT think this is a book for complete rookie cooks. E.g. the gorgeous Shiitake Tofu Potstickers on P. 63 have you soak the dried mushrooms, drain, cool, finely chop and set aside but no where does it say to add them to the filling mixture. I figured it out but “poor John” was stumped more than once with the recipes in Rebar. I ended up frying the potstickers because I didn’t really understand the cooking instructions but man were they good anyways…

I also don’t think it’s a book for those that want to drool over the gorgeous food photography; there isn’t any! I’d love to see a reprint of this book with updated pics. It would be to die for…that said…

We sure had fun with this book…We had one extremely funny event that I like to call the Great Tart Malfunction. John decided to tackle his first tart which should have been the first red flag but whatever…First, while he was making the Apple and Spinach Tart P. 72 I heard him whining from the kitchen “grrrrrr, so how do you just “wilt” spinach!” Me: Oh John…thank goodness for the internet! Then this happened…

Me: That’s the oven timer…oh, the tart is really wobbly still. Let’s leave it in a bit longer.

John: Ok

Me: (After almost double the baking time…) Hmmmmm, John this really is liquidy. What’s going on? Surely there is enough eggs in there.

John: Oh ya?

Me: ya eggs, John. Did you put all three in? (I was thinking it looked awfully white from the double cream instead of more yellow.)

John: Huh, what do you mean all three. It said 1. It also said 3. I did ask you why it had eggs twice but you didn’t answer.

Me: OMG, eggs are pretty important, JOHN. Why didn’t you keep asking until I answered. The 1 egg is just the egg white that you brush on top of the apples before baking but the 3 whole eggs are to puff up the tart and hold it together. HAVEN’T YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT EGGS ARE FOR IN A RECIPE! (Now I’m upset because I’m starving and it’s been cooking for ages now.)

John: No, I don’t know what eggs are for.

Me: UGH, just go sit down and I’ll try to salvage it. (Then I felt bad because he’d tried really hard and tarts are advanced and I should have gone over the recipe more with him). Ok, sorry John but this is pretty funny right. Love you!

Don’t stress everyone, I was able to whip up 2 more eggs, remove the apples and mix it up again. It didn’t look as pretty but you know what, it tasted awesome…who doesn’t love apple and blue cheese…”Poor, John”

Below are some pics of the other recipes we tried. All were spectacularly tasty, except the banana bread (it was totally fine just not out of this world). I still maintain that The Best of Bridge “Going Bananas” is the best (in the green book).

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Apple Pecan Bars P.206 were a huge hit.

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Szechuan Noodle Salad P. 11 so worth it! The dressing flavour is too tasty.

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Thai 3 Cabbage Slaw was also too good. You could easily make a double batch of veg for a left over salad bag, there was enough dressing.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes. Not too sweet. They were a bit too “cakey” for me but the White Chocolate, Cream Cheese icing was gorgeous and I’d use it again on other bakes.

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Oops! Could have got a better pic of these Mushroom Pecan Burgers P. 114 but they looked too good to waste time taking photos. The Horseradish Mayonnaise recipe on the same page goes amazingly well. It’s just mayo and horseradish but I could have eaten it with a spoon. Not fattening at all.

Rustic Bread Salad P. 21 with Basil Vinaigrette. It was a winner with John and Mom. I found it a bit too garlicky, but that’s just me.

Pumpkin Millet Muffins P. 222, a total go-to muffin now; Peanut butter Squares P. 214

A huge thank you to the friends who recommended recipes from Rebar for us to try. I didn’t make them all but I have them marked for the future. When January was finished I felt ready to move on from Skinny Bitch but I wish I could do Rebar for 2 months. There are still so many things I want to try. March calls though. I was really torn for which book to do next. In the end I decided to go with a true vegetarian classic Moosewood Cookbook.

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Mollie Katzen is hailed as one of the first real cooks to champion the veg recipe! I have made many recipes from her other cookbooks but for some reason have not made anything from the original Moosewood. I feel kind of embarrassed by that and intend to rectify the situation this month. Also, this book is having it’s 40th anniversary this year. It was written in 1977 and I truly believe that that was the BEST YEAR ON RECORD! (Not that I want to admit it’s my year…eekk…yikes…how did this happen…)