Sweet Potatoes by Mary-Frances Heck

SPBeing born and raised in the South, sweet potatoes for me came in the form of two recipes: sweet potato pie and candied yams. I never looked beyond the sugary goodness that sweet potatoes would turn into around the holidays, until I got my hands on Sweet Potatoes by Mary-Frances Heck.

Heck explores the variations of the sweet potato beyond the traditional uses, and provides a culinary experience which gives you a new outlook in the kitchen when cooking with sweet potatoes. The most interesting fact about the sweet potato is all of its parts—stems, roots, leaves—are edible, and the different flesh colors tells you how much moisture the sweet potato has.

Besides coming in a variety of colors and sizes, the sweet potato is high in nutritional value, and is complementary with many ingredients including, but not limited to nuts, proteins, fruits, herbs and spices, etc.

The book slowly drives you through basic recipes such as sweet potato puree, sweet potato fries and chips, and gradually builds to more hearty recipes such as Thai style curry noodles, bakes potatoes, rolls and breads, etc. All the recipes are short in terms of the list of ingredients for each recipe which makes it easy for the novice cook or anyone just starting to cook with sweet potatoes.

My favorite recipe of all to prepare from the book was the Huevos Rotos. It put a new spin on late night dining, and is the perfect hangover meal for the heavy partygoers. I don’t eat hot peppers; therefore, I decided to substitute the padron peppers for bell peppers instead: A lighter pepper, but with the same quality taste.

Sweet Potatoes is a delightful surprise which I wasn’t expecting at all. Not only does Heck shine a new light on sweet potatoes and cooking methods for them, she provides basic recipes that are easy to prepare at home with a professional finish.


How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich

HowweloveI have come to a point in my life, which usual everyone comes to, some sooner than others, where I am finally in a place where I can fully invest myself in a monogamous relationship. I was intrigued by How We Love because I wondered if it was similar to another book I read about love languages.

Although the book seems to be written specifically for married couples, after reading the book I came to the conclusion that this book will work for any relationship. The premise of the book is mainly about how we love and how our earlier experiences in life has shaped the way we both give and receive love.

As I was reading the various personality types, I was surprised to find that I share a few common traits with different love types. Apparently I am both an avoider and people pleaser. It’s not until part 4 of the book where you’re guided on how to change how you give and receive love, and there are a lot of strategies and suggestions to help you overcome the hurdles and setbacks which prevent you from finding a healthy, loving relationship.

This version of the book is the expanded edition, and since I didn’t read the original I can’t really compare the two books; however, the main thing I noticed about this book is that is based on religious teachings. Therefore, I’m not sure how that would affect someone who is an atheist or come from a different religious background. Again, the information about relationships is good, but I don’t know how some who didn’t grow up in a religious family will feel about the religious undertone of the book.

Foundations of Drawing by Al Gury


This by far is the best fundamental books on drawing that I have had the pleasure of reading; unlike other drawing books that begin with illustrations without the author telling or showing you how they came to the finished product.

Gury sets the tone of the book by telling his readers anyone—no matter what skill level they’re at—can learn to draw with proper tools and instruction. From there, he proceeds to go into a brief history about the origins of drawing dating far back as prehistory to modern times.

Drawing materials and how to use them are thoroughly explained, however, I wish there had been exercises included at the end of each chapter to further build upon the knowledge given. There are plenty of examples of drawings throughout the book, and some have a step-by-step detail of the definitions; however, I just felt that in order to build on what is being taught then the appropriate exercises should have been included.

I can definitely say this was one of the few books I was able to read from cover to cover with pure enthusiasm for the subject of art and drawing. Gury proves why he is such a great art teacher, and his passion for art and drawing comes alive within the pages of this book.


The Power of Broke by Daymond John

The Power of BrokeI was really looking forward to reading The Power of Broke, but it ended up falling flat for me overall. Daymond John is the epitome of a success story with a wealth of both business and life knowledge; however, the book was just regurgitated information that I have read in previous business/self help books.

For those who don’t know who Daymond John he is the founder of the urban clothing line FUBU (no longer in production) and one of the sharks on the ABC entrepreneur show called “Shark Tank.” He has a wealth of both life experience and business savvy, so if there was a brain to pick about anything that falls under those two categories, it would be him.

The message of the book is when you feel like you are down and out, and your back is against the wall that’s when the best moments/inspiration/ideas take place because you essentially have nothing to lose. I appreciated the message, but it wasn’t something I am a stranger to because I have had my back against the wall plenty of times and came out swinging and winning. The information wasn’t anything new to me because I have previously read books with the same information/message just restated differently.

For those who are feeling like they are down and out, you may find inspiration within the words written in this book; however, for those of us who have been there and done that, it’s almost like passing a college class and being forced to take it a second time.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review


Amaro by Brad Thomas Parsons

BoBIn Amaro, Brad Thomas Parsons brings attention to an old world tradition of creating interesting and new flavors of cocktails to a new generation eager to wet their taste buds with something foreign, yet familiar.

Amaro is the simple production of removing flavors from herbs, spices, and other edible foods, and then injecting those flavors along with sugar syrup (or simple syrup as most home cooks and bartenders/mixologist) in alcohol either consume immediately, or to sit while it develops flavor. The production of amaro has a long standing history in Europe, but has increasingly gained popularity in America and countries throughout the world. If you don’t believe me, just head over to Youtube and type in “Tipsy Bartender.”

I loved the history Parsons weaved together in this book because even though it is a tradition founded in Italy, it has made its way here to America in the manner of taking every day alcohol, and adding different flavors such as candy, fruits, spices, or whatever else we can use to spike and add flavor to our mundane vodka or tequila. Not to mention, amaro alone has changed the way alcohol consumers define or want their drinks to be made.

There are plenty of cocktail recipes included throughout the book, but I wouldn’t recommend taking them on unless you have a GOOD grade of alcohol and not the cheap stuff sold in grocery stores. If you are someone who enjoyed the television show “Mad Men” then you will definitely love the look and appeal of this book.

Gluten-Free for Good by Samantha Senevirantne


I never really had a desire to prepare gluten-free dishes until I met some new friends a couple of years ago who suffers from celiac disease. Celiac disease is when someone consumes wheat products, and their small intestine cannot absorb the proteins found in wheat properly; therefore, their immune system attacks their small intestine.

I am always on the lookout for gluten-free books, so when I am having dinner parties I can include dishes that are gluten-free. Gluten-Free for Good by Samantha Senevirantne is a book I really love because even though it is a gluten-free book, the recipes are not made of mainly vegan and vegetarian recipes; all the recipes included covers a wide range of dish categories such as breakfast, soups, pizza, and desserts.

One of my greatest fears when it comes to preparing gluten-free dishes is knowing what substitutions I can use in place of wheat products. The author includes a small list of flour substitutions, but I wish she would have included an entire list of gluten free products that can be used since the marketplace now offers gluten-free products such as pasta and beer. I found the substitution list to be too limited and thus can affect the quality of a gluten-free dish if all a person knows is to simply use gluten-free flour.

Beyond that, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the recipes because it does not lock someone with a gluten-free diet into a vegetarian or vegan diet. There are plenty of hearty recipes such as “One-pot chicken thighs with wild rice and leeks” or my favorite desserts “Chocolate and orange cheesecake” and “Raspberry cream tart with pistachios.” One part of the book I found to be limited was the soups category. It was just two vegetarian dishes, and even though I like those types of dishes too, I didn’t want to be limited to preparing those types of dishes.

The food photography is wonderful and the recipes are easy to read and follow along with. The ingredients are not anything you could not find in your local grocery store which is what I like about it. The majority of the recipes take about an hour or less to make which is also a good thing, especially if you are short on time in the kitchen.

Gluten-Free for Good is a good resource to find inspirational and creative gluten-free recipes; however, the background information about gluten-free foods and diet is sorely lacking, and there was absolutely no mention of celiac disease which I think is important for people to know because most people I encounter believe gluten free and celiac disease are two separate entities and they are not which can lead to a lot of misunderstandings. Other than that, it is a good cookbook to keep handy in the kitchen.

The Dim Sum Field Guide


The Dim Sum Field Guide is probably the worst choice I could have made when it came to choosing a cookbook. I’m familiar with the Field Guide books, and have found them useful when it comes to identifying ingredients; however, this book was nothing like that and proved to be a great disappointment.
The Dim Sum Field Guide is basically a dictionary of various dim sums. Background information is given for each dim sum such as origins and identification, but nothing of real interest. In the identification section, it tells you what’s in the dim sum, but no real preparation or measurements are given. 

In previous Field Guides, ingredient uses and recipes were included, but nothing of the sort was included in this book; even the reference material was mundane. To say this book was disappointing is saying the least, and I would not recommend this book to anyone. I found it useless and better information about dim sums can be found on internet for free.

I Amost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

What do you get when you combine a successful woman on a journey about self-discovery, love, a little drama, and some amazing friends? A Terry McMillan novel.
In I Almost Forgot About You, we’re introduced to a successful optometrist named Georgia. She has two adult adults, successful in their own right, two successful practices in Sam Francisco, and a great group of girlfriends. Feeling as if she is in a rut, Georgia comes to discover an old flame of hers died in a car, and decides she will reach out to every man she was in a relationship with and tell them what they meant to her.
Even though Georgia is much older than I am, I still found her and her story relatable. We all share that journey of self-discovery, and correcting past wrongs, and trying to figure out what drives us in life. Georgia definitely undergoes major change as the book progresses, and I thought she and everyone connected to her were better for it.

The Productivity Project

9781101904039When I heard about Chris Bailey’s The Productivity Project I was extremely excited to get my hands on a copy of the book because I had heard a lot of great things about it; however, once I actually had the book in my hands and began reading it my mood quickly turned lukewarm.

My hopes before I started reading The Productivity Project was to discover some new tips or skills when it came to being more productive; however, the information was more of the same of any productivity book I have read in the past: Discover your purpose, write your goals down, do the hardest task first, create a to-do list, etc.

Each chapter is set up at the beginning to give you a brief synopsis about what the chapter will be about to get your mind thinking as you read, followed up with questions at the end of the chapter to help reinforce what you have learned. The questions were fine, but because they were the usual run-of-the-mill type of set up that I didn’t even bother answering the questions.

Although the book was written in an engaging matter that kept me reading, I found myself reading just for the sake of reading and not learning anything new. I would, however, recommend this book for those who have never read a productivity book before and are struggling to get things done in their life; on the other hand, if you know what to do to get things done and you’re not doing them, then you’re just a procrastinator and this book is just distracting you from getting things done.

America’s Best Breakfasts

9780553447217With the publication of America’s Best Breakfasts, I can now consider myself a breakfast junkie and fanatic. I grew up with the notion that breakfast can be consumed anytime of the day, and some of my best dinners consisted of an egg or French toast casserole, or what I recently discovered—the strata. Other than Ramen noodles, my college diet consisted of breakfast items. An article written about the Horseshoe sandwich by Jane and Michael Stern reinforced my desire to explore the world of early morning eating even more.

If I could have a culinary travel experience, my choice of dining would be breakfast. Breakfast is one of those universal meals that is highly neglected, and yet so rich in diversity, creativity, and flavor; America’s Best Breakfast brings all those things together by creating a breakfast menu from restaurants all over the country to be recreated at home.

I’m a southern chick, so I appreciate a classic southern breakfast recipe; however, it was nice to learn what other people’s ideas of breakfast is as well as the many spins on traditional breakfast dishes. A lot of the recipes I was able to recreate at home with no problems because I already prepare them now, the only difference was maybe a substitution here or there. My favorite to prepare was the Oeufs En Meurette, a Swedish dish. It was sort of a hybrid of breakfast and lunch/dinner, but my goodness was it good. I literally had to hide a plate from my family otherwise I would not have gotten seconds. The recipe includes a sauce which made me nervous because me and sauce do not work well together—to this day, I still have problems making hollandaise sauce whether it’s on the stove or a blender—but the step-by-step instructions helped me feel more comfortable making it, but not by much. Sauces hate me.

I liked the combination of traditional breakfast dishes and nontraditional dishes because I think, like with mixology, breakfast is one of the cuisines you have total freedom of creativity; the creativity with some of the dishes in America’s Best Breakfasts has definitely left its mark on me and my kitchen.