Dad of Divas' Reviews

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Book Review - Something Sweet: Desserts, Baked Goods, and Treats for Every Occasion

Something Sweet: Desserts, Baked Goods, and Treats for Every Occasion

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About the Book
Four years ago, Miriam Pascal started her food blog, overtimecook.com, as a creative hobby. Her passion for food and recipes catapulted her to success as she rapidly garnered a large and avid following of eager home cooks who appreciate her blend of approachable creativity. Miriam’s blog is viewed by hundreds of thousands of visitors each month, and her dessert column in a leading kosher magazine has helped Miriam earn a reputation as “the queen of kosher desserts.”

Through frequent interaction with readers, Miriam has gained a unique understanding of what home cooks look for in recipes, and she has incorporated this knowledge into her debut cookbook, creating a masterpiece that has clearly been created with a focus on the user experience. Something Sweet is Miriam’s first cookbook, in which she shares her passion for delectable desserts with home cooks everywhere. The book is filled with user-friendly features such as detailed “plan ahead” and freezer instructions, helpful variations and substitutions, and a comprehensive holiday guide. The author also thoughtfully incorporated reader requests, such as dairy-free recipes, health- and allergy-conscious recipes, recipes using easy-to-find ingredients, and recipes that are quick-and-easy to create.

With the High Holidays and Hanukkah just around the corner, Something Sweet has something for every occasion and every craving. As you plan your holiday dinners add a bit of sweetness with recipes such as:
  • Neapolitan Trifles
  • Chocolate Chunk Honey Cookies
  • Pecan Pie Cigars
  • Bakery Style Cake Donuts
  • Pomegranate Cupcake


Pascal also supplies recipes for basic staples, including Fudgy Brownies, No-Fail Flaky Pie Crust, and Chocolate Chunk Chocolate Cookies. Children will love the kid-friendly goodies such as Chocolate Pretzel Cookies and Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes.
Cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, candy, even drinks…Something Sweet has it all. Featuring:
  • Desserts and treats for every occasion
  • Accessible ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions
  • Detailed “Plan Ahead” instructions for every recipe
  • Dairy and nondairy options for most recipes
  • Baking, Holiday, and Party Guides
  • Every recipe is accompanied by a mouthwatering, full-color photo

Something Sweet was created to become THE dessert resource for anyone who loves dessert, with recipes to sweeten any occasion.



About the Author:
Miriam Pascal is the founder of OvertimeCook.com, one of the world’s leading destinations for kosher recipes, with hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors. A self-taught cook and baker, Miriam shares her passion for recipes, food, and photography on her website, as well as in her monthly food column in Ami Magazine’s Whisk. Miriam has garnered a large and loyal following of home cooks who appreciate her expertise and experience in creating simple, family-friendly recipes that fit the lifestyles of busy cooks who want to feed their families nutritious and delicious meals. Through her immensely popular sweet recipes, Miriam has also gained a reputation as “the queen of kosher desserts.” Miriam’s work has been featured by The Today Show, The Huffington Post, and numerous other national magazines and other media.




Hot Gooey Caramel Pie
Dairy or Pareve Yield 2 pies, each 8-10 servings

In the years that I’ve been developing and writing recipes, I’ve made a number that have been really popular, some of which you can find in this book. None, however, have been as iconic and popular as my Hot Gooey Caramel Pie. When trying to figure out why this recipe took off so well, I thought about how different this dessert is. While other recipes are exciting takes on familiar ideas and flavors, this one was so unusual and different that I didn’t even know what I was making at first. It started with some ingredients in my pantry that I wanted to use up, and ended with a dessert that I could barely even name — but that everyone raved about.

This pie has been made in numerous countries all over the world, graced many special-occasion tables, and enhanced many meals. And over and over again, fans have raved, “It’s just SO good.”


  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter or trans-fat-free margarine
  • 8 oz cream cheese or soy cream cheese
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup caramel chips
  • 2 ready-made graham cracker pie crusts
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional
  • Caramel Sauce for serving, optional

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium speed, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add brown sugar and corn syrup; beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add eggs, baking soda, and vanilla, beating to combine after each addition.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low; add flour. Beat until combined. Stir in caramel chips.
  5. Divide batter between pie crusts. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the center is just set (it will still be jiggly).
  6. Serve warm with ice cream and caramel sauce (optional).
  7. Note As the name suggests, the pie is gooey— and it doesn’t cut into the neatest slices when warm. 

For a fancier presentation, make mini pies (see Variation) or serve it closer to room temperature, when it won’t be as gooey.

Variation For neater serving, bake in mini graham cracker crusts or ramekins for 22-24 minutes.
Plan Ahead This pie freezes well in an airtight container. Defrost and reheat before serving.



Pomegranate Cupcake
Pareve | Yield 1 dozen

Pomegranates are beautiful fruits, loaded with health benefits and delicious flavors, so it’s a shame they aren’t used more in baking! These easy-to-make and unusual cupcakes have a delicate fruity flavor and pretty pink appearance, thanks to the glaze.

  • ½ cup oil
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ cup pomegranate juice

POMEGRANATE GLAZE
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons pomegranate juice, divided
  • Pomegranate seeds, for garnish, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard (12-cup) cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium speed, beat together oil and sugar until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add vanilla, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and eggs. Beat until combined.
  4. Alternately add half the flour and half the pomegranate juice, beating after each addition until incorporated.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each cup about three-quarters full.
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the tops are set. Remove from oven; cool completely before glazing.
  7. Prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice; mix until smooth. Gradually add an additional 1-3 teaspoons juice if needed to form a thick but spreadable glaze.
  8. Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into the glaze, allowing excess to drip back into the bowl. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if desired.

Variation The flavors of pomegranate and chocolate go really well together, so you can frost these with Chocolate Fudge Frosting (page 188).

Plan Ahead These cupcakes freeze well in an airtight container. For best results, freeze them without the glaze and add it just before serving, but you can glaze them before freezing if necessary. Be sure to let the glaze set before you cover the cupcakes.



My Take on the Book
This a beautiful cookbook. The recipes range from cookies and cakes, to muffins and pastries, and candy. You will find many recipes for frosting and toppings. There are recipes for drinks and frozen treats. The color photographs which accompany the recipes will entice you to begin preparing one of the delectable treats immediately.

Miriam Pascal provides the reader with more than a recipe. She has a plan ahead section which will assist you in preparing a recipe prior to the occasion. She provides information about ingredients, substitutions, how to melt chocolate, and more. Each main topic has specific helpful tips for the recipes in that section. I am sure you will learn some new and valuable facts.l am also confident you will decide to add this cookbook to your kitchen library.


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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Book Review - The Brilliant World of Tom Gates

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates
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About the Book
Meet Tom Gates. When his teachers don’t have their beady eyes on him, he likes to draw pictures and write about stuff, like last summer’s worst camping vacation ever (five merits!), or how much he hates sitting next to nosy Marcus Meldrew, the most annoying boy at school. All Tom really wants is to score tickets to see the best band ever, Dude3, when they come to town, and to impress Amy Porter, who is very nice and smart (but is currently ignoring him). Tom’s teachers think he is easily distracted and "lacks focus," but that’s a bit harsh — can he help it if his grumpy big sister, Delia, made him late for school (again), or that last night’s homework had to be sacrificed to stave off a vicious dog attack? Master of excuses, creative storyteller, and middle-school comedian extraordinaire, Tom Gates is guaranteed to get kids turning the pages — and keep them laughing.





My Take on the Book
This is very funny book. The text is written in such a way that the reader will feel like he/she is talking/listening to Tom Gates. Included are illustrations with hilarious speech bubbles. The character Tom Gates has a very vivid imagination. The reader will see that throughout the pages as they read the story.

The reader will feel like they are in Tom Gates' mind. He makes positive and negative comments about his home life and school life, his family and his friends. Everything that is happening in his life you will "hear" about through his writings.

At the end of the book is a step by step drawing guide for the reader to produce a drawing of his sister Delia.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for an older child who loves humor. It may encourage the child to write a journal and illustrate it too.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book Review - You Choose Stories: Scooby-Doo: The Ghost of the Bermuda Triangle

You Choose Stories: Scooby-Doo: The Ghost of the Bermuda Triangle
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About the Book
In this You Choose mystery, Scooby Doo and the gang are on a cruise, right through the Bermuda Triangle! Suddenly, a ghost interrupts a costume contest, sending everyone running. Readers choose which characters to follow. Will your path lead to dangerous criminals, confused passengers, or a real ghost? Solve the mystery again and again!


My Take on the Book
Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang are on a special magical mystery cruise. If you know Scooby -Doo and his friends they always get involved in a mystery and some type of a ghost appears..

The story includes suspense, laughter, and adventure. The author included many colorful illustrations to accompany the text.

As you read the story, there is often written at the bottom of a page two choices. The reader chooses which page to turn to next and keeps reading. Each choice brings the reader to a new part of the story which means if the reader chose the other choice , a different adventure would occur. Because of this feature, the reader will be able to reread this book often and always end up with a new version of the story.

The book was fun to read . If your child enjoys Scooby-Doo, I believe this book will bring hours of enjoyable reading.


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Book Review - Food, Football, and Fun!: Sports Illustrated Kids' Football Recipes

Food, Football, and Fun!: Sports Illustrated Kids' Football Recipes

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About the Book
Whether you're throwing a football party, tailgating at the stadium, or playing in the game, these recipes have you covered. Hand off a pizza pocket football at home, grill up some Thai peanut chicken kabobs at the game, or celebrate with a chocolate-banana smoothie after a big win. With more than 60 recipes, Sports Illustrated Kids' Food, Football, and Fun will keep your hunger in check this football season!



My Take on the Book
The table of contents of this cookbook is quite large and will give the reader many choices in food for a sport party. There are major sections in the table of contents: football party, tailgating party, and football fuel. Each major section has appetizers, dips, entrees, desserts and drinks.


As I looked through the book I noticed each recipe page had a color photograph of the finished product. All the ingredients, tools, and instructions were well written. The author included how long it would take to prepare the food item. On many pages was some kind of a tip for the reader which I found quite helpful. For example: if the food item was prepared with meat, the tip included how to make it vegetarian.


I believe you will find this book to be a good resource for party foods that are easy to prepare.
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Book Review - DC Super Heroes Origami

DC Super Heroes Origami
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About the Book
What happens when you combine Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League with the art of origami? You get the most incredible collection of paper-folding projects ever assembled. These 46 models, meticulously designed by internationally renowned origami master John Montroll, are guaranteed to amaze. With clear, step-by-step diagrams and instructions, simple squares of paper transform into Batarangs, S-Shields, Invisible Jets, Green Lanterns, and so much more. Also included in the back of the book are 96 sheets of specially illustrated folding papers to make your DC creations truly come to life. When you fold these models, your friends will believe youre the one with super powers.




My Take on the Book
John Montroll has written a book that combines the popular superheroes with an art project using origami.Each superhero is colorfully illustrated with a paragraph describing their powers or talents. Next to the superhero is an origami project that pertains to the superhero. For example, after reading about Wonder Woman, your child will use the provided origami paper to construct her symbol.


The directions for the projects are well written and illustrated. The author provides both visuals and written directions along with arrows to show what direction to fold the paper.
Another nice feature of each project is the difficulty labeling the author provided.


I believe this book will provide hours of fun and some challenges too.
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Book Review - Twisters Numbers & Shapes

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About the Books
Numbers
Little ones will love learning their numbers with this fun board book that's perfect for pint-sized hands. Each page has a twisty picture to turn and match. They'll love counting their numbers from 1 to 10 twisting the page to find out: How many spots on the lady bug? How many splashes on the piggy? Bright, colorful illustrations, lots of new things to learn, and bendy pictures make this book an all-time favorite.

Shapes 
Little ones will love learning their shapes with this fun board book that's perfect for pint-sized hands. Each page has a twisty picture to turn and match. Tiny tots can match up the diamonds on the dinosaur's back, circles on the little boy's glasses, and more. Bright, colorful illustrations, lots of new things to learn, and bendy pictures make these books all-time favorites that they'll want to come back to over and over again.




My Take on the Book
These two books are perfect for a young child beginning to learn their numbers and shapes. The books are colorfully illustrated with large shapes. The child has opportunities to manipulate the shapes to find the "correct answer". For example in the numbers book on a set of pages is a lady bug in the middle that is attached and can be twisted . On one side of the lady bug is one dot and on the other side is two dots. The child moves the lady bug so the correct lady bug picture matches the number. An example in the shapes book is learning the shape of circle and half circle. There is a face of a child wearing glasses.On one side the child wears glasses in the shape of a circle and the other side the child wears semicircle glasses. The child manipulates the face to match it with the words circle and semicircle.

These are books that your young child will "grow into". I can see a parent helping the child in the beginning stages of learning. Once the child learns to count or understand the shapes concepts, I can see the child use the book independently.



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Book Review - Heather Has Two Mommies

Heather Has Two Mommies

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About the Book
Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, and two pets. And she also has two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, but Heather doesn’t have a daddy. Then something interesting happens. When Heather and her classmates all draw pictures of their families, not one drawing is the same. It doesn’t matter who makes up a family, the teacher says, because "the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love one another." This delightful edition for a new generation of young readers features fresh illustrations by Laura Cornell and an updated story by LeslĂ©a Newman.



My Take on the Book
"The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other."

This is a quote directly from this must read book. To say that it is the theme is accurate. So is the fact that the author does an excellent job in showing through her text and the excellent illustrations by Laura Cornell, that families come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and genders.

Our families today are divergent. We have a mother and father, single parents, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and two mommies or two daddies. Of course we also have children in foster care to consider. I believe the teacher in the story does such a great job helping all the children to see how important their families are. In the story you will see how each child's family is different too.

I was surprised to find out this story was written 25 years ago. It is wonderful it is still available. I so hope parents and teachers will buy a copy to read to their children.


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