Monthly Archives

July 2017

of interest

Anniversary Giveaway + A Look Back

Last year, I made my first Hungry Bookworm recipe on June 27th for an upcoming book club meeting, where we discussed The Age of Miracles. A few days later, on June 30th, I published my very first post. I was nervous and excited, but clearly, it worked out – and today is my 1 year blogging anniversary!

I can’t believe a whole year has already gone by, but I’m really happy that I’m still going strong. Sometimes you start an endeavor and you’re not quite sure where it will go or how it will turn out. I have definite improvements to make, but mostly, I’m loving blogging. I’ve had the opportunity to make (and eat!) 56 new recipes across the 63 posts I’ve written. Of those posts, 50 have been book reviews and another handful have been wonderful book memes that have connected me with so many other amazing book bloggers.

I decided to take a look back at all the recipes I’ve made and books I’ve read over the past year and choose some highlights. Here they are:

Favorite Savory Recipes

  1. Grown-up Ramen: I don’t always love the books I read. Who does? But, in this case, a crappy book led to an amazing recipe. I had so much fun planning for this one, and I was legitimately excited when my first attempt at a soft-boiled egg turned out picture-perfect. Oh, and by the way, the ramen itself was amazing. It will definitely on my menu when cold weather starts in again.
  2. Breakfast Casserole: This one made the list mostly because it was one of the few blog recipes that I specifically made for people other than Scott and myself (post-holiday brunch with my parents), so it was a big deal at the time. Also, it’s ridiculously easy, ridiculously delicious, and I’ve already made it several other times and, whenever I share it, people love it. Plus, it’s pretty versatile and I’ve discovered that my favorite meat add-in is sausage. Bring on the breakfast and brunch potlucks!
  3. Norwegian Fish Stew: The reason this made my top three was because I was pretty nervous about making this – exuding confidence to Scott, but mostly wondering if it would be something we actually wanted to eat when it was finished. I felt the same way about the book – hesitant in the beginning, but in the end, loved them both. This was just an amazing recipe for fall, a really warming and filling soup that I will be making again. And this time I know to not invite any guests over for about a week afterward due to the smell. 😛

Runners-up: Spanish Bean Stew with Chorizo (Scott’s favorite, for a book we both loved) and Mac and Cheese in a Jalapeno-Chipotle Cream Sauce (both because it was tasty and because Gilmore weekend with Deanna was so much fun)

Favorite Sweet Recipes

  1. Earl Grey Ice Cream: Yes, I just made this, but I’ve already made it four more times because it was such a hit when I brought it to work, so it’s definitely top of mind. (And, despite efforts to get me to start making ice cream full time, I won’t be doing so…) Most of all, it is one of the best ice cream flavors I’ve ever had, and it was way easier than I expected.
  2. Swedish Dream Cookies: This is another recipe I’ve made multiple times since trying it for the blog. I loved the book that brought them to me, and I ended up loving them way more than I expected to (for coconut reasons, which I explained in the original post). They’re pretty foolproof for people who don’t always excel at baking – ahem, me – and absolutely delicious.
  3. Exploding Truffles: I made these in honor of the wonderful Weasley twins last Halloween, and like the two of them, this candy was pure fun. The combination of chocolate truffles and Pop Rocks surprised some unsuspecting tasters and brought delight to those who were expecting a bit of an explosion.

Runners-up: Strawberry Pie (memorable – and not just because I had to bake the crust 3 times to get it right) and Funfetti Cake (easier than I expected, over-the-top and super fun to share)

 

Favorite Dog Recipe

Just kidding, I only made one recipe for dogs, but it was great. Beta loved the little bone-shaped treats and so did all of the coworkers’ dogs that I shared them with. They’ve inspired another pup-friendly recipe coming up soon!

 

Favorite Books

  1. Small Great Things: This has been my only 5-star book in the last two years that wasn’t in the Harry Potter series. I’ve had some very close calls, but no question, this is the best one since I’ve been blogging. It stuck with me for weeks after reading it, and I’m still thinking about it and recommending it to people. If you haven’t read it yet, do it.
  2. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry: Ah, this novel was just so charming. I was completely immersed in the story of Elsa and her grandmother’s fairy tales. It also led me to the aforementioned Dream Cookies, which I am forever grateful for.
  3. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk: Apparently I love charming novels, because this one falls into that category as well. I was drawn to this book because, like myself, Lillian Boxfish is also a woman of the advertising industry, and it was based on a real person. It made me appreciate where we are today and the women who led us here, though as whole, we still have a long way to go. (Bonus reason: Oreo Cheesecake)

Runner-up: Bridge Daughter, which was such an interesting concept I couldn’t resist and literally went out to get the book as soon as I heard about it from a friend. It also led to my “biggest blog surprise” moment when the author Jim Nelson approached me to be a part of an online cookbook because of my early post about his novel. I was so honored to be asked and have my recipe for Zucchini Pancakes chosen to accompany his work in KP Authors Cook Their Books. It’s one of the few recipes that I made my own (usually preferring to use recipes from people far more gifted at recipe-creation than I am), but it’s also one that I’m proud of. It turned out to be delicious and it fit the story well, which has really been the point of Hungry Bookworm from the start – good books leading me to good food.

 

More than 600 people visited my blog last year, and over 1,000 visitors have already dropped by in 2017! I’m still astonished by and so grateful for the positive feedback I get on my blog on a regular basis. I looking forward to another year of reading, eating, and sharing it with all of you!

And, finally, to celebrate I’m doing an Anniversary Giveaway! You can win a copy of your favorite book from the first year of Hungry Bookworm posts (US only). See details below:

  1. You must be a blog subscriber (if you aren’t already, follow me here!)
  2. Leave me a comment that includes your favorite blog post – this is the book you’ll be sent if you win
  3. Share this post on social media and be sure to tag me – Facebook (@hungrybookwormblog), Instagram or Twitter (@dreammkatcher). One share/tag is plenty, but feel free to share more widely if you like!

The winner will be selected by random drawing on August 11, 2017 at 6 PM Eastern time. I’ll post the winner in my next post on Saturday, August 12 – so come back then to see if you’ve won a free book! 

Thank you all for making my first year as The Hungry Bookworm a great one! Good luck!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

book review, recipe

Jane of Austin + Earl Grey Ice Cream

Though I read Pride and Prejudice in high school and loved it, I haven’t explored Jane Austen beyond that. I own copies of both Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility, but have yet to crack them open! (I know, I know…) So, when I was given the opportunity to read Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility through Blogging for Books, I didn’t want to pass it up. After all, it’s about tea, which I love, and it seemed like it would be a nice modern dip into another Austen classic.

Jane and her sister Celia own a successful, adorable tea shop in San Francisco. But after being forced out, they head to their cousins in Texas with their younger sister Margot in tow, hoping to start afresh and recreate their tea shop magic there. Of course, Texas brings new men and intrigue, triumphs and defeats. I can’t compare it to the original, but I recognized a lot of Austen-style plot points, and of course, the sisterly bond can’t be missed. It was a breezy, enjoyable read, perfect for summer.

Probably the best of all was that this is the novel that finally led me to ice cream, completely unexpectedly. It was sheer inspiration! Definitive proof I shouldn’t try to force it, and excellent news that I can officially-officially forever be done with The Country of Ice Cream Star.  Though the book included several recipes throughout, none of them were exactly what I was looking for. I really thought a tea-based dessert would be lovely, and given the heat of the summer, I settled on Earl Grey Ice Cream.

First, I combined the whole milk, half and half and sugar in a medium saucepan. Once that seemed heated through – but wasn’t boiling, I added my 6 Earl Grey tea bags and allowed them to steep for 20 minutes with the cover on. I stirred it approximately every 7 minutes, though you may not need to be that precise.

I removed the tea bags and turned the heat up again. In a small bowl, I whisked together 5 egg yolks and vanilla extract. When the milk mixture was warmed, I took 2 Tablespoons and added it to the eggs, whisking constantly. After about 10 seconds, I added another 2 Tablespoons, whisked and repeated. After the ratios were roughly equal (or four times), I added the milk mixture into the eggs and whisked until it was all combined.

Then, I returned the mixture to the saucepan, cooking it over medium heat, while stirring constantly. I was slightly terrified it would burn, but with constant vigilance (and scraping the bottom and the sides), it all worked out. Once it thickened somewhat – and could coat the back of a wooden spoon – I poured it into a large, wide bowl through a fine strainer. I set the bowl in the fridge to cool, uncovered.

After it had sat for a little while and was no longer steaming, I added plastic wrap. It might not be necessary, but I didn’t want to create condensation.

This was the first time I got to use the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer – woo hoo! The directions require you to have it freeze for at least 15 hours beforehand, which I maybe should have read prior to letting my custard mixture chill for 8 hours. Good to know for next time!

Once the ice cream bowl was frozen enough, I set to work. (You should follow your own ice cream maker’s instructions from this point forward.) I turned the mixer to Stir and began adding the custard-y liquid to the bowl, which was a little more complicated than I would’ve liked, but luckily, spilling was minimal.

The whole process after that was very easy. I let it Stir and work itself into ice cream over the next 30 minutes, only checking in on it out of curiosity and for pictures.

Once it was finished, I scraped the ice cream into my insulated ice cream container and allowed it to freeze for another 2 hours. (Seriously, ice cream making is not for the impatient… If you want ice cream in a hurry, run to the store instead.)

It looked pretty good coming out of the freezer after (almost) two hours (if I’m being honest), but my patience was undergoing a major test, and after two days in the making, I was ready to dig in!

I took two scoops and couldn’t be more excited to give it a taste. It’s definitely tea-flavored, so if you’re not a fan, this probably isn’t for you. But I loved it! The ice cream did my favorite tea justice, and I think Jane Woodward would be proud.

Earl Grey Ice Cream

  • Servings: 3-5
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups half and half
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 6 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, warm the milk, half and half, and sugar over medium-heat, stirring occasionally. Once the milk is steaming (but not boiling), remove pan from heat. Place the tea bags into the pan, cover and steep at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove tea bags, then return to medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla until frothy. Once the milk mixture is rewarmed, add 2 TBSP of the hot milk mixture to the eggs, and quickly whisk in until combined. Repeat 2-3 more times with more of the milk mixture, then gradually pour in the remainder of the milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisk quickly until combined.
  3. Return the new milk/egg mixture to the saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly until the mixture thickens to a custard and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Immediately strain through a fine-mesh strainer, and then refrigerate until completely cooled (at least 6-8 hours).
  5. Freeze with an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

From: Gimme Some Oven

I prefer Twinings Earl Grey flavor, but feel free to use whichever brand of tea you like best. If you’re unable to make the ice cream within 6-8 hours of refrigerating the custard, it will last for up to 2 days. Be sure to keep it tightly covered.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

book review, recipe

This Is How It Always Is + Simple Orange Salmon

Often, I read a book that has been the talk of the town (so to speak), a book that everyone loves, a must-read, and I’m so excited to dig into it, convinced I will feel the same way, and then I’m disappointed. I’m sure I’ve written in the past about tempering my own expectations, though I know I’m guilty of it too – if I love a book, I can’t recommend it enough. I’ll talk about it constantly and push it on unsuspecting friends. I don’t think Laurie Frankel’s novel This Is How It Always Is falls into the disappointing category, but I think I might have liked it more had I stumbled upon it on my own – and not read it so closely behind the real life saga of a similar family in Becoming Nicole.

That being said, it’s an important novel – tackling controversial issues head on, causing you to examine how you feel and why you feel that way, but doing so in a relatable, enjoyable story – and I liked it for those reasons. The story centers around Claude, the youngest brother in an accepting, open-minded family of five boys. He wants to be a girl when he grows up – inside he feels more like Poppy than like Claude. Though Poppy’s family is fully supportive, the sacrifices they must make to keep this secret affects each of them in unique ways.

After four boys, Poppy’s mom desperately wanted a girl. On the day Claude was conceived, Rosie went through a complicated ritual concocted of random wives’ tales and legends, doing everything in her power to have a baby girl. Claude was born. I’m not entirely sure the result was what she had in mind, but ultimately, Poppy was also born, and their family was complete.

As part of her ritual, Rosie made salmon for her and her husband’s lunch, served alongside chocolate chip cookies. I decided to make the salmon as well, though without the cookies for dessert, and in honor of the orange peel on the cover, incorporate the fruit into the recipe as well.

To start, I patted my two salmon fillets dry on both sides and seasoned them with fresh ground black pepper and salt.

I heated some olive oil in a medium skillet and laid the fillets skin side down to begin cooking. After about 5-7 minutes, I flipped the fillets and added half an orange to the pan to grill alongside the fish.

The salmon cooked for another 4 or so minutes, until it was opaque throughout. I plated it with some sautéed zucchini and a wedge (or two) of orange. We squeezed the orange over the salmon just before eating.

Simple Orange Salmon

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients

– 2 salmon fillets with skin, 4 to 6 oz each – 1 orange, halved – salt and freshly ground black pepper – olive oil

Directions

  1. Pat salmon fillets dry with a paper towel. Season each side generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Add 2-3 turns of olive oil to a medium or large skillet (depending on size of salmon fillets) and allow to heat through. Add salmon, skin side down. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until skin is a nice golden brown.
  3. Flip fillets and add orange half to skillet. Allow salmon to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until fish is opaque throughout. Watch orange and remove when it begins to char.
  4. Serve salmon immediately with orange wedges. Squeeze orange over fish before eating.

 

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

 

book review, recipe

The Sisters Chase + Powdered Donuts

I’m a sucker for stories about sisters. I love the relationship between Elizabeth and Jane in Pride and Prejudice. Little Women is, of course, sister-centric and wonderful. I’ve never read the book, but whenever I watch In Her Shoes, I cry. So, it will come as no surprise that for my June BOTM I chose The Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy. I probably would’ve chosen it on the name alone, but it had the added benefit of coming highly recommended in my online book group as well.

Mary and Hannah Chase grow up in a small beach motel owned by their mother, Diane. When a car accident leaves the sisters on their own, eighteen-year-old Mary becomes Hannah’s guardian and takes it upon herself to do anything in her power to protect her. While Mary is at ease living a life in flux as they travel the country, Hannah aches for a real home where she can attend school and make friends. All Mary wants is for Hannah to be happy, but giving in may mean exposing a long-kept secret and risking an unbearable loss.

As an older sister, I definitely related to Mary and her willingness to do anything for her little sister, even if it seemed to be to her own detriment. Healy’s pacing and familiarity with the characters – they felt so real – resulted in a well-crafted story that wasn’t at all what I predicted. When I finished, it had me wanting to go back for a re-read.

Instead, I made some powdered donuts, like those the sisters’ mother piled high on a plate each morning for the motel’s guests. I wanted to bake them, since it’s less messy and somewhat healthier, so it gave me the perfect opportunity to use the donut pans I’ve had since two Christmases ago (thanks to my new sister-in-law, Kelly!).

The last time I made donuts was in middle school home ec class, and I remember being freaked out by splattering oil and the cleanup being such a process. This was MUCH easier. So much so that I may start making donuts more often.

First, I mixed the dry ingredients together – flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, a combined the egg, milk, vanilla extract and melted butter. I added these to the dry ingredients and mixed together.

Then, using a spoon, I added the batter into my greased donut pans, filling them about halfway.

I popped them into a 425-degree F oven and let them bake for 12 minutes. I let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.

Then, I dropped them into a paper grocery bag two at a time with some powdered sugar and shook and shook until they were well coated. Honestly, this happened really quickly (a few shakes at most). It was the most fun part of donut-making by far.

Everyone at work loved them, and I can’t wait to try new and different flavors. I always love when a book leads me a recipe I can use over and over again 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

Baked Powdered Sugar Donuts

  • Servings: 10
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups cake flour (see notes)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, for coating baked doughnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly grease doughnut pan; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add all of the dry ingredients (cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt). Stir until well mixed.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla extract, melted butter and heavy cream.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients; stir until just mixed.
  5. Spoon or pipe the batter into the greased doughnut pan. (Tip: Fill each doughnut circle about half full of batter.)
  6. Bake at 425°F for 12-14 minutes, or until doughnuts begin to turn golden brown on the edges.
  7. Let doughnuts cool in the pan.
  8. Place powdered sugar in paper bag. Once doughnuts have cooled, shake doughnuts (one at a time) in the bag with the powdered sugar until well coated. Tap off any excess powdered sugar. Repeat with remaining doughnuts. Serve immediately. (Note: If you plan on serving these doughnuts later, store them uncoated in an airtight container. Shake them in powdered sugar just before serving.)

From: Spiced Blog

If you don’t have cake flour, which I didn’t, and don’t want to buy some just for this recipe, it’s easy to make your own with all-purpose flour. For each cup of flour you need, take 1 cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 TBSP and replace with 2 TBSP of cornstarch. Mix well to ensure it’s combined. I used 1½ cups flour with 3 TBSP for this recipe (and discarded the remaining ¼ cup).


This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest

Show Us Your Books – July Edition

It’s another edition of Show Us Your Books! This last month has been a pretty busy one, so you’ll see that my book list is much shorter than the first time I did it, which also really included about a month and a half (from beginning of May until mid-June) since I sort of arbitrarily chose a start date.

What have I been up to that’s been delaying my book-devouring, you ask? Well, obviously last week was the Fourth of July, which in Michigan means almost everyone goes up north, me included. Scott and I spent a handful of days camping (sort of) outside of my family’s cabin and enjoying all the things that come with lake life, which included some reading in a hammock but mostly hanging out and catching up with family. But before that long weekend, on the First Day of Summer, Scott and I got married (yay – I’m a Mrs. now!) and then celebrated with a trip to Mackinac Island, which is also up north, but farther.

All exciting things! But let’s get to the books…

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, August 8, 2017.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post
3. Please visit a few other blogs who’ve linked up and get some book talk going!

Last Month’s Edition

 

Engrossing Reads (sort of…)

This time, sadly, I didn’t have any standout amazing reads. All of these may have suffered a bit from high expectations, and for me, were almost 4-stars but not quite.

The Sisters Chase – I’m happy I picked this as my Book of the Month selection for June. It was a quick read with a twist I didn’t see coming. Plus, it’s all about a big sister who does everything for her younger sister, and I can always get behind that. (Review coming Saturday!)

Beartown – Hockey hockey everywhere. I didn’t really get into this book until about 40% in, which is why it didn’t get outstanding marks for me. The character building was definitely needed and paid off in the end, but it didn’t stick with me the way Backman’s other books did.

This Is How It Always Is – This novel seemed like a fictionalized version of Becoming Nicole, which I talked about in my June edition of Show Us Your Books. I’m not sure if that colored how I felt about it at all, but I think it may have. It’s still a very important read, and I would recommend it.  

 

Passed the Time Just Fine

Jane in Austin – I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility (I know, I can hardly believe it myself), but I liked this modern adaptation. It was about tea, which I love, and I finally get to make ice cream, so I couldn’t be more excited.

 

Not Worth It

None this month!

 

Did Not Finish

The Country of Ice Cream Star – Guys, it didn’t work out with this one. I ended up getting 15% in and literally couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to stop torturing myself. This reminds me why I don’t buy books before I read them.

 

Currently Reading

Cloud Atlas – Phew, I’m almost done with this one! At about 500 pages, with a new location, time period and main character every chapter, it’s been a marathon. There are definitely parts of this book I’ve enjoyed and parts I’ve enjoyed less, but I’ll hold all judgments until I finish.

Until next month!

Life According to Steph

 

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.