Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Book: John Bloom and the Victory Garden; The Bite: Buttered Noodles!

The Book!
The book, John Bloom and the Victory Garden, is a fun middle grade read that tells the story of three neighborhood friends, all aged ten, that create a 'Boys Club' in hopes of helping the wartime effort after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. You can read my full review by clicking onto the link here. John Bloom and the Victory Garden was written by indie author, chef, baker, and culinary arts instructor Leigh Shearin.

John Bloom and the Victory Garden: "John Bloom and the Victory Garden is the rollicking tale of 3 boys at the dawn of America's involvement in WWII. John Bloom, and his best friends Joe and Chewie live, play, and get into adventures in 1940's era Appleside, NJ. Because children are generally joyful and tend to put more importance on the goings-on of their own worlds than those of grown-ups, the events of the war are woven into the boy's daily lives. Along the way, a bitter and cynical old man is drawn into their hijinks, and contributes his own joy to the lives of these 3. 

Chapter One invites the reader to join John and his friends in Appleside, NJ on the afternoon of December 6th, 1941. Through newspaper headlines and radio bulletins, the boys learn about the incredible events of the war- beginning with the attack on Hawaii by the Empire of Japan. As the story moves along, John and his friends learn that everyone- not just soldiers- can make a difference. They learn that commitment leads to ultimate success and that taking a seemingly insurmountable task one step at a time will make that task simple. John, Joe and Chewie learn about where their food comes from, and how important good food is to the Allies overseas. 

John Bloom and the Victory Garden is not just a story of Homefront USA during WWII. Its about faith, endurance and sturdy values that transcend time and cultural differences. It's about accepting tough times, struggle and adversity and overcoming them anyway. It's about seeing the humor in life, and helping others to see the humor too. 

But mostly, they just have a gut-busting great time!"

Book Stats:
Genre - Middle Grade, Fiction
Page Count - 195
Target Age Group - 9 to 18
Theme(s) - Friendship, Historical, War, Food

The Bite
Nonna's Buttered Noodles!
I love a book that not only provides a good read, but also offers a great recipe at its conclusion; and John Bloom and the Victory Garden doesn't disappoint. The book offers a total of five recipes at its conclusion and the recipes range from main dishes to desserts. I opted to try the recipe labeled Nonna's Buttered Noodles since I had most of the ingredients on hand. The noodles were fast, flavorful, and super simple to make. My five year old and I loved them! Since I did not have fettuccine noodles in my pantry, I opted to substitute angel hair pasta instead; which I did have. Also, with the 2 tsp. black pepper, it was a tad bit on the spicy side. To cut down on the spiciness, simply reduce the amount of black pepper by half. Here is a pictorial step by step guide to making your own. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Nonna's Buttered Noodles:
1 pound Fettuccine Noodles (or pasta of your choice)
4 Tbsp Butter (1/2 stick)
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese (plus more for garnish)
1 tsp Salt (plus salt for water to boil noodles)
1 to 2 tsp Black Pepper

Boil pasta as directed on package instructions in salted water.
(Note: I boiled the angel hair pasta for approximately 6 minutes.)

Drain pasta, but Do NOT rinse. The heat/steam from the pasta will help melt the butter.

Add the butter, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
(Note: To cut down on the spiciness, only add one teaspoon black pepper instead of two.)

Add the Parmesan cheese.

Mix well to incorporate. 
Add a little shredded Parmesan cheese on top, and Voila!
Buttered Noodles! 

Nonna's Buttered Noodles!

Nonna's Buttered Noodles!

Nonna's Buttered Noodles!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Book: Unbroken; The Bite: Orangeade with a Sparkling Mango Twist!

The Book!
At the end of this month on December 25th, the movie "Unbroken" will be released in theaters nationwide. The film, produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, was adapted from the book, Unbroken, the biography of the life of Louie Zamperini and how he persevered and survived against incredible odds. The book was written by author Laura Hillenbrand and published by Random House (November 16, 2010).

Unbroken: "#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and the Indies Choice Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year award

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and
Now with a new cover
starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit."

Book Stats:
Genre - Adult, Non-Fiction
Page Count - 473
Target Age Group -
Theme(s) - Military, Historical, Biography, Inspirational

The Bite
Orangeade with a Sparkling Mango Twist!
The drink, Orangeade, has been around since the 19th Century and usually consists of a mixture of orange juice, sweetener, and water. Original versions of the drink were carbonated. I got the idea to make Orangeade as it was a drink that Louie Zamperini ("Unbroken") drank while participating in the Olympic Trials. I also added a twist to the original drink as I wanted to add carbonation with a hint of the tropical flavor, mango. To make that possible, I added one 17 oz bottle of Sparkling Orange Mango flavored water. So step back in time to make this super simple drink; it will be a winner with the kids! Here is a pictorial step by step guide to making your own. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Orangeade with a Sparkling Mango Twist:
8 Oranges (roughly 2 cups of juice)
1 Lemon
1 cup White Sugar
1 plus 5 cups of Water
Fresh Mint Leaves
 1 to 2 - 17 oz bottles Sparkling Orange Mango Flavored Water
2 to 3 cups Ice

Add 1 cup of sugar to a pot. 
Add 1 cup of water to the sugar. 
Stir on medium high heat until sugar dissolves.
Once sugar dissolves, stir in a few mint leaves.
Set aside and let cool. 
While syrup is cooling, slice oranges in half. 
Using a juicer, juice oranges. 
...and lemon. 
The 8 oranges and 1 lemon should produce roughly 2 cups of juice. 
Once syrup has cooled, remove mint leaves. 
Through a strainer, add juice to the cooled syrup.
Squeeze out any juice still left in the pulp.
Add 5 cups of cold water to the juice mixture. 
Stir to incorporate all ingredients. 
Add about 2 to 3 cups of ice. 
Pour into a pitcher for serving.
Viola! Orangeade! 
I opted to add a 17 oz bottle of Sparkling Orange Mango flavored water (or opt to add 2 bottles for more fizz, or to suit your taste). Turned out great! Just the right amount of fizz and tropical taste for my liking. 
Orangeade with a Sparkling Mango Twist! 
Orangeade with a Sparkling Mango Twist!
Orangeade with a Sparkling Mango Twist!
Orangeade with a Sparkling Mango Twist!
Orangeade with a Sparkling Mango Twist!
Orangeade with a Sparkling Mango Twist!


Wondering what to do with the leftover orange peels? Try boiling them in a pot of water with a dash of cinnamon. This homemade air freshener recipe will make your home smell wonderfully fresh!

Place leftover orange peels in a pot of water. Add a dash of cinnamon and bring to a boil.  
Allow peels to boil and fragrance home (about 15 to 20 minutes).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Book: Sweet Potato Pie; The Bite: Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!

(POST 3 OF 3)

The Book!
There is nothing stronger than the bond of family in this children's book, "Sweet Potato Pie" where a family joins together to solve a problem faced when a drought sweeps across their county. Thoughtfully written by author Kathleen Lindsay and published by Lee & Low Books (September 1, 2003).

Sweet Potato Pie: "The summer a great drought sweeps across the county, the only crop Sadie's family is able to save is the sweet potatoes. Money is tight, and if Papa doesn't pay back his loan soon, the bank will take away the farm.
Suddenly Mama comes up with an idea — sweet potato pies! The family can sell her pies at the Harvest Celebration that starts the very next day. There's not much time to get ready, but as Sadie and her brother enlist the cooperation of their old cow, squawking chickens, and half-blind goat, the family rises to the challenge. And in the end it's Sadie who comes up with just the right recipe for success.
Sweet Potato Pie is a delicious affirmation of strong family ties and creative problem solving. This lively story will capture your heart, as well as your taste buds. Loosely based on Lindsey's memories of her great grandmother's stories, the story took shape in Lindsey's mind as she sewed a quilt called "Sweet Potato Pie."

Book Stats:
Genre - Children's, Fiction
Page Count - 32
Target Age Group - 5 to 8
Theme(s) - Family, Food

The Bite
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
This year for Thanksgiving I was tasked with bringing some of the vegetable side dishes. Besides a couple of savory vegetable sides I will be cooking, I decided to also bring something sweet; but still use vegetables. The sweet potato. I thought about bringing the traditional sweet potato pie, but my niece Jurnee does such a wonderful job at making them, I thought it best not to even try to attempt to steal her thunder...besides I think she would win that challenge hands down! So I thought I would try something different using sweet potatoes--Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies. Moist, flavorful, and delicious; they might not last long enough to make it to Thanksgiving dinner! (Ummmm, yeah, I had to make a second batch the next day because my family wouldn't stop eating them, LOL). Try them, they are sure to be a hit! Here is a pictorial step by step guide to making your own. Enjoy!
Note: Unfortunately, I ran out of time to make the Pecan Cinnamon Crunch Coating (listed below), but I still wanted to keep the ingredients on this post for future reference.  :(

Pictured: Ingredients for the Whoopie Pie Cookie
Ingredients for Sweet Potato Whoopie Pie Cookie:
2-1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour 
3/4 cup White Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
3 tsps Cinnamon
1 tsp Allspice
1/2 cup Butter (1 stick), softened
15 oz can Sweet Potatoes (drain syrup)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Egg

Pictured: Ingredients for the Maple Cream Cheese Filling
Maple Cream Cheese Filling:
1/2 cup Butter (1 stick)
8 oz Cream Cheese
Approx. 4 cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsps Pure Maple Syrup

Pecan Cinnamon Crunch Coating:
(Note: I unfortunately ran out of time to make the coating)
Graham Crackers (about 5)
1/4 cup Butter (1/2 stick butter), melted
1/4 cup Pecans (chopped)
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 Tbsp White Sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Place flour in a bowl.
Add the cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Mix flour mixture well, then set aside.
In a separate bowl, place butter (if still hard/cold, then microwave for about 15 seconds). 
Add sugars.
Mix sugars and butter well.
Drain syrup from sweet potatoes, then mash potatoes with a fork or spoon.
Add mashed sweet potatoes, egg, and vanilla to the sugar/butter mixture.
Mix well.
Incorporate flour into sweet potato mixture.
Continue to incorporate flour.
Your cookie dough should look like the picture above.
Spoon cookie dough onto pan. 
Spray or place oil on back of a spoon and use the spoon to shape dough.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Make sure not to overbake!
Remove from oven and cool completely. Set aside.
Ingredients to make the maple cream cheese filling. 
Soften butter and cream cheese; blend together.
Mix in vanilla and maple syrup.
Then gradually stir in powdered sugar.
Mix icing until you attain the correct consistency.
Spoon icing between two cookies.
Sprinkle tops with powdered sugar.
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!