Review of the North American Whiskey Guide

Disclosure: I was given this book to review free of charge.  No other compensation was given to me.  All opinions are my own.


I have never been a whiskey drinker, because I had a bad experience with it when  I was younger.  Let's just say whiskey and I went from being best friends to being lifelong enemies one night at a high school party and leave it at that, ok?  Ever since then, the smell of it made me shudder. 


Lately I've found that a lot of things I used to loathe when I was younger are now suddenly appealing to me.  For example, I used to think coconut was disgusting.  Now?  Now I can't get enough of the stuff.  Peanut butter went from yuck to yum.  And I used to always remove the bread from my sandwiches and just eat the innards. Now, if I could figure out a way to mainline bread, I would be an addict for sure.

However, you will never get me to like cilantro.

Back to whiskey...  

I was given a book to review called the North American Whiskey Guide from Behind the Bar which is a collection of reviews from bartenders on over 250 whiskeys.  The book is set up like an encyclopedia which is perfect for me in my old age. The whiskeys are separated into eight categories: bourbon, Tennessee, rye, Canadian, blended/other, wheat, corn/white, and malt.  Each entry has a small summary of the whiskey including its variety/style, origin, bottle type, proof, price, and a fun fact.  There are comments from all four bartenders who reviewed each whiskey and a fun fact about each as well.  

The best part about the book, in my opinion, is the section on whiskey cocktails because that is how I would probably partake in my next whiskey adventure. I have an awesome bartender friend named Sparkles at Doyle's Pour House in Tuckerton, NJ who told me she would gladly make me one of the cocktails next time I come in.  I think I'll go with this one:


Aero Whiskey Sour 

  • 2 slices lemon
  • 2 oz (60 ml) Fighting Cock Bourbon
  • ¼ oz (7 g) simple syrup
  • ¼ oz (7 g) egg white
  • Ice
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Cherry, for garnish
  • Cinnamon, for garnish 

Muddle the lemon in a shaker, then add the bourbon, simple syrup and egg white. Dry shake vigorously, then add the ice and shake vigorously again. Strain over ice in a rocks glass, and garnish with a dash of Angostura Bitters, a cherry and a pinch of cinnamon.

Doesn't that sound awesome?  

You can check out the rest of the book and purchase it here through my affiliate link, if you'd like.  (By clicking on the link, it will bring you to Amazon and I could possibly get a small commission if you decide to purchase it.)


Recipe and pictures courtesy of The North American Whiskey Guide from Behind the Bar: Real Bartenders' Reviews of More Than 250 Whiskeys by Chad Berkey and Jeremy LeBlanc. Printed with permission of Page St. Publishing


5 Things I love about Ruth Barnes The Petite Gourmande's new cookbook Sharing Morocco

Disclosure: I was given this book to review at no charge.  All opinions are my own.  

I have been given many cookbooks over the years.  They are my favorite type of books because they are always about my favorite subject: food.  

The newest cookbook I have been given to review is Ruth Barnes The Petite Gourmande: Sharing Morocco.  

Sharing Morocco
This book is beautiful from start to finish.  I want to share with you 5 of my favorite parts:

1. The pictures.  I am a sucker for pictures of food.  I love to see what a finished dish will look like so I can compare it with my end result after trying a recipe.  Every recipe in Sharing Morocco is accompanied with a perfect picture that makes the dishes even more appealing.

2. The stories.  Each recipe has a little snippet about one of the more interesting ingredients or Ruth's feelings on the dish.  I feel that gives each recipe a more familiar feel...more comfortable...easier to want to make.

3. The recipes that capture tastes I have yet to try.  I am new to Moroccan cooking, so the tastes and textures mentioned in Sharing Morocco are all foreign to me.  I never knew that adding fruits to meat dishes could be so delicious.  I never knew orange blossom water was even a thing.  I am always happy to experiment in the kitchen and am looking forward to doing just that with Sharing Morocco.

4. The history.  I love how Ruth gives a bit of history about Moroccan food by explaining its roots and how people have enjoyed it through the years.  I was unfamiliar with Moroccan cuisine until reading this book and now I feel less intimidated by it all.

5. The happiness that oozes from every page.  You can tell this cookbook was a labor of love to make.  Every recipe, every story, every picture was places together in such a joyful way.  I love flipping through every page.  I really feel that Ruth is trying to share her love of Morocco with her readers.

One recipe that really caught my eye and will be hitting my kitchen this week is one for Honey Pastry Cigars with Almonds.  Here's the recipe: Honey Pastry Cigars

Honey Pastry Cigars with Almonds or Briouats bil Looz ul Ashul

from Sharing Morocco 

  • 1 pack phyllo dough (20 sheets), thawed if previously frozen
  • 1 stick melted butter, at room temperature (for brushing phyllo dough)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten

The nut filling

  • 1 pound ground blanched almonds
  • 2⁄3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick melted butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the nut filling: Place all the filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Set aside while you prepare the phyllo. Unwrap the phyllo dough and place it on a flat surface. While you are working with a phyllo sheet, keep the rest of the block covered with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. Use a pair of scissors to cut the sheets into 3 inch-long strips. Take a strip of phyllo dough and brush it with butter. Place another strip on top of the first and brush it with butter. Repeat until you have a four-sheet layer.

Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of the nut mixture onto the phyllo layer, one inch from the edge of the side nearest you. Fold the corners over the mixture to seal, and roll it away from you to form a cigar shape. Brush the end with a small amount of egg yolk and press to seal. Repeat until you have used all the phyllo and nut filling. Coat a large baking pan with butter and lay the phyllo cigars in it lengthwise. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. 

The syrup

  • 1 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons orange blossom water

While the phyllo cigars are baking, make the syrup: Put the honey and the orange blossom water into a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

When the phyllo cigars are done, remove the pan from the oven. Dip the cigars, one by one, into the honey syrup and place on a serving platter.

Don't those sound just delicious?  I can't wait to try them.

If you have a foodie in your life or you want your own  gorgeous hard cover cookbook , I highly recommend The Petite Gourmande: Sharing Morocco.  You can check it out here through my affiliate link (If you purchase through my link, I could receive a small commission.)


Food Truck Road Trip cookbook review and a recipe that will knock your socks off!

Disclosure: I received this book to review free of charge.

How awesome are food trucks?  I mean, really.  Those little portable restaurants have really come a long way from the ones I remember in my drunken college days.  Back then, you were lucky if a food truck had a selection that didn't have something deep fried or that required copious amounts of ketchup simply to tolerate it.  Those days, food trucks were there simply out of necessity for late night cravings.

But now, you can get anything from a food truck.  Lobster, sushi, gazpacho, you name it! And the best part is that the food is GOOD.  No more of that slop from the places we used to call Grease Trucks.  I just love food trucks.  

Book-cover (1)
I just looked over a new cookbook written by Kim Pham & Philip Shen from (named the Best Culinary Travel Blog by Saveur magazine) called Food Truck Road Trip.  The cookbook not only tells the story of how certain food trucks from across the country made their way in the business, but it also contains recipes of some of the country's most delicious food truck treats.  After looking through the book, my stomach is telling me I need to take a Food Truck Roadtrip myself and check out some of these foods!

One recipe that really caught my eye is actually not even a food at all.  It's a coffee drink that just screamed food truck to me... the Post Bender from HubBub Coffee Company in Philadephia.  The drink is supposed to help you feel a bit better the morning after a night on the town.  Considering that's the main reason I've always gone to food trucks in my earlier years, I felt it was appropriate to post the recipe here for you as a little sampler of what Food Truck Road Trip has to offer.


The Post Bender

from HubBub Coffee Company

    • 1 tbsp (22g) molasses
    • 1 tsp zested ginger
    • 1 ½ tsp (6g) sugar
    • ¼ cup (60ml) water
    • ½ cup (118ml) freshly brewed coffee, at room temperature
    • 1 (12-oz [340ml]) bottle porter beer (has strong chocolate presence)

To make the simple syrup, combine the molasses, ginger, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to make sure all the ingredients are combined and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Pour in the coffee and 2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60ml) of the simple syrup and shake vigorously. Strain into 2 cocktail glasses and top with about 3 ounces (90ml) of porter each.

 Food Truck Road Trip is available on  You can go through my affiliate link right here, if you would like.  I certainly would appreciate it as that means I could receive a small commission from your purchase.  


Dinner411: How to Get Dinner on the Table in 30 Minutes or Less- review

Dinner411 Cover FINAL
OK, you guys know how horrible I am at grocery shopping.  I just go and buy what looks good at the time with really no plan in mind.  Sometimes that works out OK, if I'm in a cooking mood that week.  But usually I just end up making some sort of weird concoction and not really using my groceries to their fullest potential.

So I was very glad when a fellow member of the Philly Social Media Moms and the NJ Digital Moms Christina Hitchcock (from the blog It's a Keeper) came up with this helpful ebook called Dinner411: How to Get Dinner on the Table in 30 Minutes or Less .

It is chock full of tips so that you can plan and execute 7 days of great meals for your family without wandering through the grocery store and then throwing some sort of meal together at the last minute like I usually do.

My favorite part of the book is the printable meal plan pages.  My biggest problem is figuring out what I need to buy in order to make the meals I want to make.  Having a print out is a great way to hold myself accountable in the store.  

Dinner 411 also has some really great recipes and tips on how to prepare foods ahead of time so that you aren't scrambling to shove some food down your kids' throats before soccer practice.  One recipe that looks easy and tasty is the One Pot BLT Pasta.  

  • 12 slices of bacon, divided
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12 oz uncooked linguine pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley,chopped
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Halved cherry or grape tomatoes

1. Slice the bacon cross wise into strips.

2. Cook in a large skillet with high sides for 8-9 minutes, or until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels.

3. Drain skillet, leaving 1 tbsp of bacon drippings in the skillet.

4. Add onion and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until tender.

5. Add garlic and cook for 10-20 seconds more.

6. Add broth and tomatoes to the skillet and bring to a simmer.

7. Add pasta, salt and half of the cooked bacon.

8. Simmer, covered for 9-10 minutes or until pasta is almost cooked by still firm. Stir occasionally.

9. Remove skillet from heat and add cubed cream cheese, tomatoes and parsley, reserving 1 tablespoon of parsley for garnish.

10. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes or until pasta is tender and sauce is thickened. Serve with remaining bacon, grated Parmesan cheese and reserved parsley.

I hope you'll check out Christina Hitchcock's ebook Dinner411: How to Get Dinner on the Table in 30 Minutes or Less available at

 This post contains affiliate links.  I received this ebook complimentary in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.

Easy Gourmet by Stephanie Le - review and recipe for chicken wings with honey & sriracha

Guess what? I got another cookbook in the mail to review!

This one is called Easy Gourmet by Stephanie Le from 'i am a food blog'.

The name Easy Gourmet is perfect because it is just chock full of recipes that look like they should be hard, but just aren't!

On Friday, I tested out her recipe for chicken wings in honey & sriracha and they were perfect. They were a little spicy and sweet at the same time. They got that beautiful crispy outer coating that I always look for in a chicken wing. My only regret in making them was that I didn't make more. Here's the recipe: Easy gourmet chicken wings

Chicken wings in honey & sriracha

  • 1 Tbsp oil (I used avocado oil)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sriracha (adjust according to spice tolerance)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 lbs chicken wings
  • oil as needed

In a large bowl, mix together the first 7 ingredients.  Add the chicken wings and mix well.  Marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.  Remove the wings from the marinade, reserving the marinade.

If you're cooking indoors, heat a bit of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the chicken wings, cover and cook, flipping every so often until cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.  Remove the lid, add the remaining marinade and turn the heat up to high to reduce the sauce.  Enjoy immediately.

If you're cooking outdoors, when ready to cook, set the grill at medium to medium-high heat.  Brush the grill with oil and grill the chicken wings brushing with the remaining marinade and turning every so often until charred and cooked through, about 14-18 minutes.

Some notes on the recipe:

- I didn't have sesame oil, rice vinegar or (forgive me) sriracha.  So instead, I used more avocado oil, apple cider vinegar and Frank's hot sauce.  The recipe worked perfectly.

- I knew I wouldn't have time to make the marinade and soak the wings in the afternoon, so I did it in the morning and let them soak all day.

- If you are planning on grilling your wings, I would suggest making a double batch of the marinade and reserving it separately to use for basting.  You don't want to use the same marinade that the raw chicken was sitting in as it could introduce bacteria to your cooked chicken.

After trying the wings and loving them, I flipped through the rest of Easy Gourmet with eager fingers. The book has so many great recipes like:

  • Carrot Pancakes
  • Pea and Bacon Risotto
  • Tomato Basil Spaghetti
  • Miso Cod
  • Dijon Mushrooms
  • Haloumi Caprese
  • Raspberry Pistachio Pavlovas

I think Easy Gourmet is the perfect cookbook for people who want to make exciting dishes but may be afraid to try. Stephanie Le gives very easy directions with each recipe so even the most exotic dishes can be made by anyone. 

I hope you'll check it out!


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  I was given the cookbook to review free of charge.  No other compensation was given to me.  All opinions are my own.


OATrageous giveaway!


Remember a few weeks ago I shared a recipe for OATchata from Kathy Hester's newest cookbook OATrageous Oatmeals...?  It's an absolutely delicious drink made from rice, oats, almonds and cinnamon...?  No?  Don't remember?  Well, here's a picture and a link to help jog your memory.


Anyway, I now have some EXCITING news for you!  

I'm giving away one of Kathy Hester's new cookbooks OATrageous Oatmeals right here on my blog.  Kathy's book is filled with so many different awesome recipes like Chocolate Hazelnut Granola, Not-From-A-Box Mac and Oat Chez, and (you might want to sit down for this one) Oatmeal Cookie Crusted Apple Crumb Pie.  Yum all around!

In an effort to help Kathy spread the word for her book I'd like to do this giveaway in a very easy way.  All I want you to do is comment below with an answer to this simple question:

How much do you want this cookbook?!

 Iwill choose a winner using at noon EST on 9/25/14. Best of luck to you.  

But don't worry, if you don't win you can still purchase Kathy Hester's book OATrageous Oatmeals through Amazon.  Here's my affiliate* link:


 *If you click and buy through my affiliate link, I could receive a commission from Amazon from your purchase.  I received a copy of OATrageous Oatmeals free of charge.  No other compensation has been given to me.  All opinions are my own.

Dumplings All Day Wong by Lee Ann Wong - book review and recipe!

I received the book Dumplings All Day Wong free of charge.  All opinions of the book are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

I have always loved the idea of dumplings.  Little bits of tasty foods secured together in a soft shell and then steamed, boiled or fried to perfection.  Mmmm... so good.  If you love dumplings, you will want to check out celebrity chef and TV personality Lee Ann Wong's new book Dumplings All Day Wong.  

I was given this awesome cookbook to review and have been having a lot of fun with it!  I have learned so much already and I haven't even scratched the surface.  The book is filled with so many different recipes, styles and techniques for making dumplings.  It also has a lot of side dish and sauce recipes to complete any dumpling meal you may want to have.

So far, I have successfully made the recipe for Toasted Almond Cookie Dumplings, and they were DELICIOUS.  Yes, I meant to have my caps lock on with that word.  THEY WERE DELICIOUS.  

As you know, I never, ever have all the right ingredients in my house for any given recipe.  But I made an exception with this one and took a specific trip to the grocery store to purchase every ingredient exactly.  

...Well, so I thought.  When I got home, I realized I didn't have almond extract so I had to borrow it from my neighbor friend Kate.  But otherwise?  I was golden.  Here's the recipe: Toasted almond dumplings

Toasted Almond Cookie Dumplings

  • 8 tbsp (115 g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes 
  • 3⁄4 cup (100 g) confectioners’ sugar 
  • 3⁄4 cup (75 g) almond meal or almond flour* 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1½ tbsp (15 g) cornstarch 
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) almond extract 
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract 
  • ¼ tsp salt 
  • ½ cup (85 g) lightly toasted sliced almonds 
  • 40 round or square dumpling wrappers 
  • Oil for deep frying 
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter on low speed until soft and whipped. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on high for 30 seconds. Add the almond meal and beat for 30 seconds more. Add the egg, cornstarch, almond and vanilla extracts, and salt. Mix on low speed until well incorporated, about 1 minute. Fold in the toasted sliced almonds using a spatula. Cover and refrigerate the filling for at least an hour.
Place 1 tablespoon (12 g) of filling in the middle of a square wrapper and wet the edges of the wrapper using a pastry brush or your finger. Bring the two opposite corners together over the filling, using water to pinch the two corners together. Bring the remaining two corners to the center and seal all the edges together with a gentle pinch. You may use this technique with round wrappers also to achieve either a square (four seams) or a triangle (three seams).
Preheat a few inches of oil to 340°F/170°C in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the dumplings a few pieces at a time. Gently turn the dumplings in the oil, cooking until all sides are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain the dumplings on paper towels.
Make sure the heat of the oil stays at 340°F/170°C while frying the dumplings, and return the oil to this temperature before adding new dumplings. Serve warm, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

 Because I am new to dumpling making, I followed every direction exactly and didn't go off on my usual tangent when making anything in the kitchen.  Delicious. Dumplings

If you'd like to check out the book for yourself, here's a link for ya:   


Thanks for checking it out!  

OATrageous cookbook review, a great recipe AND a giveaway for some OXO kitchen tools!

Disclosure: This post contains my Amazon affiliate link which means I may gain a commission from your purchase.  I am truly grateful for your support.  I also want to make it known that I received a copy of OATrageous free of charge for review.  All opinions are my own.

If you've been following along, you know that I'm a recipe junkie.  I may not always have the ingredients exactly right and I may take some liberties when it comes to directions, but I LOVE a good recipe.  That's why I was so excited when I was given the opportunity to have a sneak peek at Kathy Hester’s new book, OATrageous where she comes up with some new takes on good ol' oats:

Kathy Hester has recipes to show you oats in a whole new light. Think Italian Veggie and Oat Sausage, Veggie Oat Tacos and Oat Pizza Crust Topped with vegan sausage crumbles made from Steel-cut oats. But don’t worry she includes new takes on traditional favorites like Banana Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes and Strawberries and Cream Overnight Refrigerator Oats too. From now on it’s Exciting Oats for Every Meal!

 Flipping through Kathy's book has given me some really great ideas on how to use those oats I have in my pantry - other than making a million batches of oatmeal raisin cookies (although my family would not protest that, I have to say).  In fact, I made something I probably would never had even thought to try if I hadn't seen it in her book - Oat-chata.  

Horchata is a traditional Mexican drink made with homemade rice milk, cinnamon and sugar.  Kathy's take on it adds oats and almonds to give this horchata, or oat-chata as she calls it a more complex flavor.  It was so different and exciting to me, I HAD to try it.  Check it out! Oatchata


  • 4 cups (946 ml) water, divided
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) steel-cut oats
  • 1/4 cup (27 g) skinned almonds, whole or slivered
  • 1/4 cup (46 g) long grain brown rice
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3⁄8 teaspoon stevia

Put 2 cups (473 ml) of the water in a 4-cup (946-ml) sealable glass container along with the oats, almonds, rice and cinnamon. Soak overnight or between 8 to 24 hours.  

Once the soaking time is up, remove the cinnamon sticks and pour the mixture into a blender.  Blend for 1 to 2 minutes or until most of the particles have broken down.  

Strain through a small mesh strainer into a bowl with a pour spout. Rinse the blender and strainer.  Strain the mixture a second time into the blender. Add the other 2 cups (473 ml) of the water, agave, vanilla and stevia and blend well.  Store leftovers in the fridge. Serve over ice.

*Of course I was missing a few ingredients.  (What else is new?) So instead of soaking almonds (which I had run out of the night before) along with the oats, cinnamon, and rice in water, I substituted the soaking water with almond milk.  I also did not have any stevia, so I just used plain granulated white sugar.  It tasted divine!*

Here's some good news for YOU...  Kathy has teamed up with OXO to bring you a fantastic giveaway for a copy of her book AND some great OXO kitchen tools.  OXO kitchen tools are awesome.  If you have ever used an OXO product, you know they are built to last, are beautifully made and are a great addition to any kitchen!  You can enter here to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 But don't worry... if you don't win the giveaway, you've still got a chance to get some really awesome gifts if you pre-order Kathy's book OATrageous.  Here are the details: 

1. Pre-order Kathy's book OATrageous from $15.06 through this Amazon link and have a chance to get over $25 worth of extras:

2. Just be one of the first 100 people to email your OATrageous purchase receipt to it should include your full name and mailing address (for delivery purposes only).

Kathy has some other surprises for everyone who pre-orders including an OATragous newsletter with not-in-the-book oat recipes and special coupons.

 Best of luck in the giveaway!  I hope you will check out Kathy Hester's new book OATrageous!