Magnolia Bakery 13 – Cracked Sugar Cookies

Last weekend was full of baking! It began with the Harvest Apple Cupcakes which were a big hit! However, the baking bug was not satiated, so I had the urge to make cookies. Plus, what else is there to do on a gloomy fall Sunday afternoon?

I knew cookies would be far less time consuming than something like cupcakes. Plus, leftovers are much easier to transport since they can be easily packaged and I wouldn’t have to worry about frosting getting messed up. So, thumbing through the MBC, I decided on the Cracked Sugar Cookies.

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Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 4

  • Name of Recipe: Zucchini Bread
  • Cookbook: Come and Get It
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 5.0 out of 5

Every year my family plants a garden in the spring and in the late summer and into the early fall we reap the harvest. Tomatoes of various sizes, eggplants, peppers, zucchini, string beans, cucumbers, the list could go on. While many of our plants are very prolific (this year, especially, the cherry tomatoes), our zucchini plants this year did not do as well as usual. While we still were able to eat some home-grown summer squash, the numbers were far fewer than in years past.

One day, our fridge was overloaded with some large zucchinis, so I figured it’d be a good idea to whip up some zucchini bread. You know, kind of like April 2020 when everyone had those bananas that were beginning to turn brown and the whole world started baking banana bread.

I was a little hesitant to try Ree’s zucchini recipe. After all, I love the one that we use in our family from my grandmother. So, PW had big shoes to fill! And guess what? It did!

This recipe came together quickly and the bread baked beautifully. I also like that it makes two loaves. It was smart on Ree’s part. The first loaf didn’t last very long so it was good that we had a second one to eat through. The bread was super moist and flavorful — the addition of cinnamon really makes the flavors pop.

This is definitely a recipe I will be making again!

I have some progress pics below…

Magnolia Bakery #9 – Billionaire Brownies

It’s been a minute since I baked something out of the Magnolia Bakery Handbook, no?

The last recipe I made was the fabulous Blueberry Jamboree which I still have dreams about!

This time, I was in the mood for brownies but I wanted something a little bit fancier than your usual brownies. So, I decided to make the brownies fit for the rich: Billionaire Brownies. A shortbread crust drizzled with some caramel then topped with a lush fudge brownie sounds like heaven, right?

Well, it didn’t turn out exactly the way I thought it would. Here’s what happened.

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My New Favorite TV Show

For some reason, I never seem to be able to hop onto the latest “trend” at the time in which it is a “trend.” For example, I started watching Downtown Abbey after it ended. I recently purchased HBO Max to finally start watching Game of Thrones. See what I mean?

Well, my latest favorite TV binge-watch is no different. Granted, I’m not as late to the party as I could have been. As you may have noticed, I started to complete more baking-related recipes over traditional “cooking” ones. Recently, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of baking. So it was only a natural progression for me to begin watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix.

And let me tell you: I LOVE it! I don’t know what took me so long to watch, but I’m happy that I finally allowed this show to enter my life. I love that the contestants are amateurs instead of seasoned professionals. Unlike American culinary competition shows, the judges are more polite, everyone is more polite actually.

I can’t wait to watch more!

Barefoot Contessa Recipe #34: Banana Rum Trifle

The recipe is from Modern Comfort Food, page 208.

A number of weeks ago I purchased a quart of heavy cream for a recipe that I wanted to make. However, plans changed and it didn’t happen. Soon, I realized that the expiration date on the cream was nearing and I didn’t want to throw it out. So, I started searching for recipes that would use a decent amount of the cream. Enter Ina Garten’s Banana Rum Trifle.

This is Ina’s take on banana pudding and let me tell you, it’s one of the best desserts I’ve had in a while! I will say, I did omit the rum from the recipe. I also chose not to “decorate it” with the whipped cream. However, this wonderfully light and sweet dessert can easily serve a crowd. In fact, I can see it going over very well at a summer picnic or holiday.

You begin by making a plain pudding….at that moment it is unflavored, just quite sweet. Once that chills for a while, you whip 3 cups of cream with vanilla and vanilla bean seeds. Then you add in the pudding and whip some more. Then the building phase begins.

The layers of cream and Nabisco wafers and bananas blend so well together and make this dessert taste like it came from heaven. A tip: follow the recipe and actually WAIT the time stated in the recipe before digging in. I know it will be hard, but it will be worth it!

The only downside to this dessert? It’s addicting! Be prepared to go for a jog afterward…for like an hour.

This one is going on the Favorites list!

January Cooking Round-Up

This past January, I made a number of Ina Garten recipes. I covered soup, chicken, Mexican, and vegetables. I really made a dent in January, with eight recipes. I think that is the most I’ve made in a month so far. I even made some dessert recipes!

Click on the links below to read the recipe reviews.

I started off with one of Ina’s favorite foods: chicken. But, I was feeling the need for comfort food, so I scoured her latest cookbook Modern Comfort Food for a worthwhile recipe. Boy, did Ina’s Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas hit the spot!

Read about the recipe here!

As a side dish for the enchiladas, I wanted to keep the Mexican theme going. So, I found a corn recipe that paired wonderfully with the enchiladas. Confetti Corn was so tasty and so easy to make! You can read about it right here.

Next, I made a dessert recipe. Ina Garten’s Ultimate Ginger Cookie really is something that should be tasted! I crystallized ginger adds a not-so-subtle flavor and “bite” to the cookie. Though these were tasty, they are not my favorite cookie. But, they can definitely be used as a wonderful fall dessert. If you want to read my review of the recipe, click here.

You know me and desserts! I can’t get enough of them!! So, I stayed with the dessert theme for the next Ina recipe I made in January. This time, it was Chocolate Chunk Blondies. This was a cross between a cookie and brownie. Filled with chocolate chunks, these will definitely satisfy any chocolate craving. These are for sure to be added to my recipe repetoire. Wanna hear more about these wonderful blondies? Here is the link.

The next recipe? More veggies! Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips introduced me to a new cooking method and I couldn’t be more pleased. Parsnips are totally an underrated vegetable. They can do more than just jazz up your mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving and Christmas! Read about braising and how these carrots tasted at the link.

Ina’s Lemon Chicken Breasts are a wonderfully light dinner than can be made any night of the week. With hints of Italian and French herbs, this recipe cooks up fast!

To go with the Lemon Chicken, I made a vegetable dish. Roasted Broccoli with Panko Gremolata looks elegant but it couldn’t be any easier to make. In fact, roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out the great flavor of vegetables without slaving over the stove. Read about the broccoli was dressed up right here!

To close out the month of January, I made a soup. Snow was predicted (and arrived) so having soup on hand was a must! Ina’s Winter Minestrone and Garlic Bruschetta filled us with tasty veggies and wonderful plant-based protein. Read about this flavorful soup here.

Let me know if you try these recipes! Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments below!!

My Go-To Plant-Based Cookbooks

Even though this is an Ina Garten cook-through blog, I have been broadening my recipe stash and blog posts since the beginning of 2021. Every so often I take a break from Ina’s recipes and when I do, I try to go plant-based. Over the years, I’ve toyed with going vegetarian or full-on vegan. As of yet, that has yet to happen…just look at a few recipe reviews posts.

However, I am still trying to include more plants in my diet on a regular basis. Thus, I have amassed a collection of cookbooks — both in print and on my Kindle e-reader — that have come in handy over the last couple of months.

Below, I have included photos of some of my favorites. You’ll notice that many of them are “general cookbooks.” The huge tomes that cover the gambit. Think Joy of Cooking but for plant eaters!

This book was one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I purchased! It is still a great reference and resource for me. Plus with Bittman’s extensive knowledge of all types of culinary escapades, I feel good making one of these recipes since I can trust them.

This book has a much different tone than that of Mark Bittman’s book. The author’s humor and love for food easily comes across on each page. There are some great recipes in here, and Dragonwagon’s approach to plant-based meals is much more loosey-goosey than other authors. This makes it a great book for beginners!

I call this one the “Vegan Bible.” It literally has every recipe you could ever want as a vegan. I highly recommend this book, especially since many of the recipes are approachable, even for those starting out on a vegan journey. If you are looking to buy a vegan cookbook, make it this one!

Some books that I have on my Kindle e-reader include:

Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor, the creator of the food blog Cookie + Kate. It has many wonderful recipes that are whole food and plant-based. One added benefit is many of them include ways in which to make the recipe vegan or gluten free.

American’s Test Kitchen The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by the Chefs at America’s Test Kitchen. While I know that the Mediterranean Diet is not vegetarian or vegan, it is plant-based. It uses animal protein to supplement the plant-based proteins. Even if you ignore the meat-based chapters, there are still some wonderful, tried and true recipes in this book!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into a small section of my cookbook shelf.

Until next time…

Ok, I’m Obsessed With Discovery+

Have you heard of it? No! Well then…

Discovery+ is a streaming platform that has past and current television shows and specials from a variety of Discovery-owned networks. These include the Food Network, HGTV, Animal Planet, and more! It also has a preview of what will be available on Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network, which will be launching soon!

Photo by Nothing Ahead on

One of the reasons I love Discovery+ is its large library of content. I have really only poked around the Food Network options (are we surprised by that?), but there is so much there alone. Lately I’ve been watching the original Barefoot Contessa episodes. This was before the Back to Basics sub heading was added. These episodes are from the early 2000s (2003 and on). They also have a much different artistic style than the later Barefoot Contessa episodes.

I have also been watching old classics from my younger days. Sandra Lee’s and 30 Minute Meals starring Rachel Ray. There is also the entire back library of Pioneer Woman and the streaming even includes some episodes from the latest season of the show!

But there is so much besides Food Network content. Like Animal Planet’s The Zoo and Mega Zoo. Also you can find episodes of Dr. Pimple Popper if you’re into that sort of thing.

If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend getting it. You won’t be sorry!

P.S. This is NOT a sponsored post, I just really LOVE this platform!

My First Pioneer Woman Recipe

In September of 2019, I created a different blog that I have since made private. However, I did want to share this recipe with you all since I will most likely not be doing any other cooking this week. This recipe was made in February 2020, before COVID hit the United States. This post appears as it did when it was originally published.

In a future post, I will talk about my love of all things Ree, but for now, here’s the recipe review. Enjoy!

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Cookbook Review: The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook

Welcome back, Readers!

It’s time for another Cookbook Review post! And I am so excited to share this one with you. This is one my all-time favorite cookbooks!!

I discovered The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins a few years ago when I stumbled upon online articles discussing the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. The book sounded wonderful and I had to rush out to a bookstore to get it! Luckily the Barnes & Noble near by college campus had one in stock.

This cookbook continues to be one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever read because, to me, it reads like a novel. Jenkins does a great job of creating an Eat, Pray, Love style narrative about her family’s time in Italy.

Whether romanticized or not, I fell for it and wanted to be her! (Okay, I’ll be honest: I re-read parts of it to write this review and I STILL want to be her!)

One of the other aspects of this book that I like is that it is not just a cookbook. It also explains what the Mediterranean Diet is and how you can “Make the Change” to the lifestyle. Only after around 40 pages do you see any recipes.

But when the recipes do come, let me tell you…YOU WILL LOVE THEM!!

We all experience headnotes in cookbooks. These are the little paragraphs that precede the recipe that sometimes tell how a chef created the recipe or how it can be served. Headnotes in this book are no exception, but Jenkins includes beautifully written paragraphs that also teach the reader how to cook the recipe’s main ingredient, for example. Other times the headnotes are filled with wonderful anecdotes about her time in the Mediterranean region.

One of the positives of this cookbook is in the vegetables section, Jenkins takes the time and space to break down commonly used vegetables in the Mediterranean Diet. Each vegetable has 1 to 3 recipes that feature it, ensuring the budding Mediterranean chef how to incorporate them into their new diet.

Believe it or not, the Mediterranean Diet is not a big fan of the dessert course. I know, right? But this book does include more than a dozen sweet treats to satisfy your sweet tooth. While many are fruit-based, they will almost surely satisfy any sweet-tooth.

Writing this review has made me fall in love with it all over again. I’ll have to make something out of it soon!