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Holiday Gift Guide: How to Roast a Lamb – New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis Cookbook Review

About How to Roast a Lamb…


A rising star in the food world, Michael Psilakis is co-owner of a growing empire of modern Mediterranean restaurants, and one of the most exciting young chefs in America today. In How to Roast a Lamb, the self-taught chef offers recipes from his restaurants and his home in this, his much-anticipated first cookbook.

Ten chapters provide colorful and heartfelt personal essays that lead into thematically related recipes. Gorgeous color photography accompanies many of the recipes throughout.  Psilakis’s cooking utilizes the fresh, naturally healthful ingredients of the Mediterranean augmented by techniques that define New American cuisine. Home cooks who have gravitated toward Italian cookbooks for the simple, user-friendly dishes, satisfying flavors, and comfortable, family-oriented meals, will welcome Psilakis’s approach to Greek food, which is similarly healthful, affordable, and satisfying to share any night of the week.

About the Author…

A long time front-of-house man with no professional cooking experience, Michael Psilakis took control of the kitchen when, as owner of his Long Island restaurant, Ecco, his chef simply failed to show up for work one night. Since then, his star as a chef and entrepreneur has risen considerably. He now owns three restaurants in Manhattan–Anthos, a showcase for his modern take on fine Greek dining; Kefi, a cozier spot that serves the more classic home cooking he grew up on; and, Mia Dona, a new Italian restaurant with a Greek bent. Psilakis lives in New York.

Barbara Kafka is the author of Vegetable

Love, Roasting: A Simple Art, Party Food, Soup: A Way of Life, and the New York Times bestseller Microwave Gourmet. Vegetable Love was winner of the 2006 IACP award for Best Single
Subject Cookbook. She was a regular contributor to the
York Times and has written extensively for food magazines
in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia,
and was recently honored with the
James Beard Foundation lifetime achievement award.

She lives in New York and Vermont.

My Thoughts…

I’m always looking to expand my cooking skills and I have faith that no matter how fancy it is, I’ll be able to pull off some tasty version of a dish even if it may not look exactly like it should. I’m very blessed to have a family that is willing try new things. And again, I’m blessed also to have collection of fantastic cookbooks that make me look like I really know what I am doing in the kitchen!

I’m now a fan of Michael Psilakis cooking. His cookbook How to Roast a Lamb features various Greek dishes that are sure to tickle your taste buds! I enjoyed the in-depth recipes as well as the full color photos of various dishes he’s prepared. In addition I also liked learning more about Micheal through various personal stories include through out the book.

Ten chapters are included in How To Roast Lamb estimating up to over 300 pages. You’ll find all sort of dishes that use more than just lamb but other meats as well as some that have no meat all. I found this cookbook heartfelt, user-friendly, and simple enough to create some pretty fantastic meals for friends and family!

How to Roast a Lamb by Michael Psilakis would a be a fantastic cookbook to add to any kitchen and a great book to think about picking up this Holiday season whether for yourself or someone you know. You can purchase this book at Amazon as well as many other places for around 18.95 (hard cover).

Disclaimer: Thanks so much to Anna, Hachette Book Group, and the Product Review Place for sending me a review copy of this book to review.

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Holiday Gift Guide: Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms Review and Giveaway

frontcovercookbookJane Doiron’s cookbook “Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms” is definitely a cookbook for all families. I recall a time when I could’ve use the recipes and helpful information found in make-a-head meals desperately. The time of which I speak is when I gave birth to my first daughter. Both my husband and I were worn out from lack of sleep and just getting into the swing of things. I was recovering from having my daughter and on top of that working on properly nursing my child on top of pumping. I didn’t even want to think about venturing off to make a meal and whatever I did make had to be quick and fast. My husband with his lack of sleep and his 12-14 hours days, lovingly came home, nurtured my daughter and I, and somehow pulled off a meal. I’m really thankful for such a wonderful and at the time very worn out husband.doiron-j-avatar09a

I know without a doubt, that when our next child comes into the picture, I’m going to have several months worth of meals ready to go in the fridge and freezer. I have resources like  Jane Doiron’s cookbook “Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms” to see to that.

In this fantastic cookbook, you’ll find the following sections: Introduction, Helpful Tips,  Appetizers, Breakfast and Brunch, Dessert, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Soup, Measurements Equivalents, and an index of all the recipe.

I really appreciated the helpful tips section as I learned many new things! Did you know that they make buttermilk in a powder format? I had no idea! Knowing this, I can make more recipes I love when I want to without having buttermilk going bad in my fridge!

Most of all the recipes found in this book tell you what you can do to prepare most if not all of it a day ahead. found the recipes that featured freezing directions to be the most helpful to myself! I have not tried any of the recipes this yet but there are so many tasty selections to choose from. Next week I’m probably going to try the pumpkin pie recipe out and freeze my pies to cook later! I recall helping my own mother the day before Thanksgiving and being nearly worn out on Thanksgiving Day due to all the cooking and cleaning of the house. If things like pies and casseroles can be frozen and taken out to cook on the day when you need them, so much rush, stress, and anxiety can be lifted so you can enjoy your time with family and friends. That is of course unless the kitchen is your stress free safe haven. Whatever the case may be, I really encourage everyone to pick up Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms, you won’t be sorry!

If you’d like to purchase this cookbook, you can find it at and for about $16.00.

Win It!

Jane has generously offered a copy of  Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms for giveaway to one of my readers!

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Jack Daniels Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook Review

_225_350_Book.100.coverJACK DANIEL’S
Author: Lynne Tolley & Pat Mitchamore

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson Inc (Oct 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595553010
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595553010

The rich tradition of country cooking, the distinctive taste of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, and the heritage of rural America are all elegantly captured in Jack Daniel’s The Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook. Included are more than 350 recipes, stunning full-color photographs, and stories of the people, places, and traditions of Middle Tennessee.

My Thoughts…

Being from the south, I appreciate the JACK DANIEL’S THE SPIRIT OF TENNESSEE COOKBOOK quite a bit. Nothing say southern hospitality like a home cooked meal from the heart. This  book is   full of stories about Lynchburg, TN which is the birth place of Jack Daniel’s Distillery featuring photos that are historic as well as contemporary. I’m proud to say that after reading through this book that I learned more about southern culture being that I was born and partially raised in the deep south myself.

Be warned that this cookbook is not to be read on an empty stomach, I know I was completely hungry and my mouth was about watering as I flipped through the various Appetizers, Soups & Salads, Vegetables, Breads, Entrees, Outdoor Cooking, Desserts, Cakes & Pies, and Accompaniments. I found a biscuit recipe in this book that I’ve been making for my own family for years thanks to my own southern roots!

If you decide to pick up this book, you’ll find as I did  that not all recipes in this book call for Jack Daniels Whiskey. For instance a recipe in this book called “Outside Burgers” which my husband and I threw together contained no alcohol at all. Thrown together, that’s the best phrase I have because most of the recipes you shouldn’t have to look much further than your own pantry to make a delicious foods, that is  minding that you are already cultured and a have a taste for southern foods.

Real people, easy to make meals, and a bit of southern heritage…it’s doesn’t get much better than that. This cookbook would make a wonderful addition to any kitchen and a fantastic gift to give around the Holiday season!

I received JACK DANIEL’S THE SPIRIT OF TENNESSEE COOKBOOK for free to review from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers

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FIRST:Let’s Walk the Talk!by Danae Dobson

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Let’s Walk the Talk!

Tyndale House Publishers (September 3, 2009)

***Special thanks to Katie Anderson of Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Danae Dobson is the author of Let’s Talk!, a popular inspirational book for teen girls. She has an active speaking ministry addressing women at church-related events such as banquets, teas, and conferences. She is also involved in seminars for teens as well as speaking to children at Christian schools. Danae was born in Southern California and published her first children’s manuscript at the age of twelve. The book was entitled, Woof! A Bedtime Story About a Dog. She received her BA in communications from Azusa Pacific University. She has authored 22 books to date, which have sold a combined total of over 400,000 copies. Danae resides in Southern California. She is the daughter of Dr. James and Shirley Dobson.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (September 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414308108
ISBN-13: 978-1414308104


How to Be a Winner

Check it out: Proverbs 3:5-6

Would you like to know the secret of success? I’m not talking about how to acquire cash, cool cars, and designer clothes. If success were defined by the things we own, then Paris, Nicole, Lindsay, and Britney would all be respectable role models. No. When I mention success, I’m referring to a genuine sense of fulfillment that comes not from the outside but from the depths of the soul.

Every girl desires to feel good about herself, but what happens when she bases her contentment on something temporary like physical attractiveness, popularity, money, or fame? Well, it’s no secret that money can’t buy happiness, and as far as good looks are concerned, the Bible teaches that “beauty is fleeting” (Proverbs 31:30). Fame and social status are shaky too. I could give you a list of celebs, beginning with Marilyn Monroe right up to Anna Nicole Smith, who discovered that fame didn’t bring the satisfaction they craved. In fact, the success of those two beautiful women was short-lived, ending in tragic drug overdoses.

A friend and I were shopping in a clothing store recently and couldn’t help but feel disturbed about some of the products that were on display. The store featured drinking games, sexually inspired books, and T-shirts with disturbing messages on the front. One read “I Live for Kicks” and another, “Pleasure Victim.” Think about it. Those messages encourage you to believe that life is all about getting satisfaction from the world through fun and pleasure, but that’s a straight-up lie! Living for “kicks” won’t amount to anything substantial. It’s just short-term gratification—a way to feel good for a little while.

The world will tell you to rush after your passion to find happiness, but after you’ve obtained it and the fairy dust settles, you will still have emptiness of soul and spirit. Having money in the bank, credit cards, and a hot body won’t give you a real sense of purpose. The only way you can obtain lasting fulfillment is through someone who is not of this world—the Lord Jesus Christ! Only He can help you achieve the kind of success that endures.

You may have heard of the ’90s rock group Nirvana. The lead singer was Kurt Cobain, and if anyone appeared to have it all, it was this former teen idol. Cobain had screaming fans around the globe, and his albums sold millions. He’d won awards and Grammys, and had earned more money than he could spend. In addition to all this fame, he had an adorable baby daughter. There wasn’t one thing the world had to offer that Kurt Cobain hadn’t obtained. Yet in 1994, he ended his life with a gunshot. Why? From a worldly perspective it didn’t make sense, but from a spiritual viewpoint, it came into sharp focus. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, Kurt Cobain didn’t have peace and contentment. He might have felt the temporary rush of newfound success, but once the excitement wore off, he was still surrounded by everything he despised, including himself. He was so discontented, in fact, that he chose to abandon it all and take his own life.

Obviously, not every person who’s not a follower of Christ will become suicidal, but there’s something to be learned from Kurt Cobain’s horrific death: a person can have everything and nothing at the same time.

Jesus said in John 10:10 (NKJV) that He came so you could have life and have it abundantly. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to suffer trials and times of sorrow. You may have already been there—I know I have had my share of tough times. But what sets you apart from people like Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith, and Kurt Cobain is that even in the midst of heartache, you can experience the peace that passes all understanding (see Philippians 4:7, RSV). Your life can have meaning and purpose, regardless of whether or not you have everything you desire. That’s the promise Jesus has given you!

In my own life, things haven’t always turned out the way I planned or hoped. I know what it’s like to suffer anguish and broken dreams, as I’ll describe in a later chapter. But through my tears, I’ve clung to the knowledge that my sense of value isn’t dependent on people or circumstances. During those difficult moments, I remembered that I belong to the Lord and my identity is rooted in Him. That assurance gave me strength to move forward and trust God’s plan for my future, even when things weren’t going my way.

Let’s return to the question I asked at the beginning of this chapter: “Would you like to know the secret of success?” The answer is revealed in one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11: “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” If you’re completely surrendered to God and if you follow His will, as revealed in the Bible, you cannot fail because He has already established the master plan for your life. Your obligation is to live it out. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

To adhere to God’s calling is to discover His purpose for your life. I can’t suggest what His plans might be, but I can promise you they’re more significant than anything you could envision on your own. And the best part is that whatever accomplishments you enjoy in life will bring glory and honor to Him.

Do you want to be a winner? Then “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). That’s your formula for success!


DUSTY SANDERSON (student, age 17): I think success is living your life according to God’s plan and feeling like you’ve given all you can to Him. If you make God happy and please Him, then you please yourself. As far as my future is concerned, I’m considering becoming a pastor. I enjoy sharing the love of God with people who are lost—telling them what He’s done for me and how He’s changed my life.

MATT GODSHALL (student, age 14): I heard a pastor say that we sometimes think of our lives as our own story, with God just kind of thrown in. In reality, we are part of God’s story.

ERIN DIEFENBACH (student, age 17): I’m trying to focus on what God wants me to do rather than on what I think I’m good at. If I parallel my life with His purposes, I believe I’ll be successful. Right now I think God’s will for my future might be to become a marriage counselor because I enjoy encouraging my friends who come to me for advice. But I’m trying to stay open in case He has other plans. I think the best way to discover God’s will is to talk to Him about everything and to read the Bible to find answers. God wants to be incorporated into our daily lives, so if we’re paying attention to our circumstances and really trying to listen to Him, we’ll eventually get a sense of direction.

CHRISTIAN TURNER (student, age 16): I want to be part of something bigger than myself, so I’m excited to discover the plans God has for me. One of these days I’m going to be standing in eternity, and I’m going to have to answer for what I did with my life. I want to hear God tell me that I was a faithful servant. I wouldn’t want Him to reveal the wonderful things I missed because I was too busy following my own ambitions. I want to have peace in knowing that I was faithful to my calling.

PAUL HONTZ (student, age 19): Success is the direct result of our obedience to God. Through Him we are made complete.

ALYSON THOMAS (student, age 16): As far as my future is concerned, I’m still in confusion mode. Right now I’m devoting a lot of prayer to this issue. I wish God would send me an e-mail with the words, “Thou shalt do this for thy future,” but it’s not that easy. I’m trusting that He will reveal His plan for my life at the right time.

MARY SPAGNOLA (student, age 16): So far, a lot of things I’ve wanted haven’t turned out the way I’d hoped, but in hindsight they turned out better than I could have planned. I have faith that God knows what He’s doing and that His ways are so much better than my own.

SARAH UTTERBACK (student, age 16): I really want to become a chef. I’d like to go to a four-year college for hotel and restaurant management and then to culinary school. Eventually I’d like to open my own restaurant and catering service. As much as I want this dream for my life, I’m willing to submit to God’s plan if it’s different from my own. I’m trying to keep my heart and mind open to His will.

MR. AUSTIN SEFTON (youth leader): As far as my career is concerned, I don’t know where God is going to use me. Right now I’m attending a community college, but I’m not sure what I’ll major in. I’m spending a lot of time reading my Bible, praying, and asking God to reveal His plan for my life. Every Christian has a specific calling, and it’s different for everybody. Once we discover where God wants to place us, then it’s up to us to live it out in total surrender. The definition of success is to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Success is striving after His will and discovering our place in His Kingdom.

PASTOR AUSTIN DUNCAN (youth minister): Life may seem out of control for you at this stage of your life—your hormones are raging, you’re making friends, you’re losing friends, you’re having issues with guys. But God is on His throne [Psalm 115:3], and if you love Him, then He is using every single circumstance—both good and bad—for your good and for His glory. Every one of us has issues with discontentment, but discontentment is really the temptation to complain against the sovereignty of God. He is in control of the universe and of your life, so you can draw comfort from the fact that where He has you today is exactly where you’re supposed to be.

MR. MATT NORTHRUP (high school dean): I think the definition of success is to look more like Christ today than you did yesterday. It’s learning to sacrifice as Christ sacrificed, to serve as He served, and to love as He loved. *

What Say You?

1) What is your definition of success?

2) How do you think God defines success for your life?

3) What is the promise that Jesus has given you in John 10:10?

4) How can you discover God’s plan and purpose for your life?

My Thoughts…
From what I’ve read, this is a fantastic book so far! I was so excited when picking this book up as I’ve read the Wolf series written by the author when I was growing up. It was quite encouraging to know this author has broadened her horizons in writing books geared toward helping the spiritual growth of teen age girls everywhere!

I love that thoughts on every day issues and even the tough ones are addressed by spiritual leaders, school teachers, and girl presubly the same age as the reader. I feel this book would be a great encouragement to teen girls everywhere.

4 stars ****

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Holiday Gift Guide: Joy Berry Books Review


SER_OVR_FEW_1(1)Raising kids is hard, I have a 17 month old and I already know this first hand. Though this age can be very challenging in teaching my daughter certain issues, other life skills can already be will instilled into her by watching mommy and daddy’s actions. I try not think too hard about the future and enjoy the now. Though, I am always looking for great resources (especially books) in helping to raise a well mannered and responsible child.

I was asked by Debbie Bookstaber from Joy Berry Books if I was interested in reviewing and checking out their books for myself and I am very glad that I did!

About Joy Berry…

Joy Berry, pioneering educator, trusted child-development and parenting specialist, is the bestselling author of Joy Berry Classics for children with more than 250 titles and 85 million copies of her books sold. Joy Berry’s lifelong mission is to help kids help themselves by providing the information and motivation children need to lead responsible lives. Simply put, Joy Berry knows and understands children. Read more about Joy Berry

My Thoughts…

I was sent a book or two from each of the six series offered at Joy Berry ranging for children ages 1-12. The series are as follows;SER_OVR_TMA_1(1)

  • Teach Me About, for Ages 1-3
    (basic concepts of responsibility through simple and fun books, read-alongs and songs)
  • Let’s Talk About, for Ages 4-5
    (Learning to handle and manage emotions)
  • Help Me Be Good, for Ages 5-7
    (promotes good and responsible behavior).
  • A Fun and Easy Way, for Ages 7-10
    (tools and methods that help kids handle the responsibilities that come with school, friends and family life at this age)
  • Winning Skills, for Ages 11-12
    (focuses on responsible behaviors that lead to success.)
  • Good Answers to Tough Questions, for Ages 6-12
    (an open and honest approach to  difficult circumstances and ways to turn negative experiences into positive ones.)


The two books I sent from the “Teach Me About Series” are “Teach Me About Bedtime Board Book” and“Teach Me About Mealtime Board Book”. I like the fact that each of these books comes with a companion CD which includes songs and a read-along of the story read by Joy herself!

I’ve been reading the Bedtime Board Book before bedtime each day and my daughter and she seems to really enjoy it. She points to the pictures of the little girl in the story brushing her teeth, and when she sees the little girl in her bed my daughter lays down on her pillow. It’s too cute. I am hoping that with the determination of myself and the encouragement of this story, that  my daughter will adjust to a bedtime routine as  for the last month or so, bedtime has been anything but scheduled making it hard to peacefully sleep and rest in the evenings.

I’ll be starting potty-training soon and am looking into Joy Berry’s book on potty training called, Do-It-Yourself Potty Training Kit For Big Girls. This fantastic resource includes; Potty Book, CD, Instructions, Helpful Hints, Progress Chart, Progress Stickers, Diploma, & Push ‘N’ Play Sound Button that sounds of words of encouragement when your little one does her duty! ( note that this kit is also available for boys too!).

SER_OVR_GATQ_1(1)I give these books a mom rating of 5 stars!

Joy Berry books would be great additions to any families home, school, library, and even church! I can’t help to think that these would be great gifts to give during the Holiday season as well!

You can purchase Joy Berry’s Books directly from the website or online at Amazon Joy Berry Books: Great For Children.

Disclaimer: I was givenseveral books for review from Joy Berry’s Books . This review is 100% my opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.

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Radio Theater:The Screwtape Letters (audio-drama on CD with DVD Documentary)

973244: Radio Theatre: The Screwtape Letters (audio-drama on CD with DVD Documentary) Radio Theatre: The Screwtape Letters (audio-drama on CD with DVD Documentary)

By C.S. Lewis / Tyndale House

Wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s masterpiece is one of the most engaging accounts of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written. In this audio dramatization, original music and a full cast bring the correspondence of the worldly wise demon Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood to life. Includes 10 new songs inspired by the classic book, four behind-the-scenes video documentary featurettes and a 5.1 surround sound mix. Four CDs, approx. 4 hours total.

My Thoughts…

I am a big fan of   Radio Theater: The Screwtape Letters audio-drama. If you are at all familiar with the works of Author CS Lewis, there is no doubt in my mind you’ll really enjoy this drama.

Screw Tape Letters is a series that was written to shed light on spiritual warfare in showing how easily people can be led astray from God. And though this series was written over sixty years ago, much if not all that is mentioned can be applied to our lives today.

The actors did an excellent job in placing you in the lives of the characters, the effects and noises were top quality, and the music was quite fitting in every scene. The sheer quality of it all  really kept me hooked once I started listening.

Note that you may not want to listen to this with little ones around. There can be some frightening situations and sounds thus there is a warning that it is for ages 12 and up on the packaging.

I’m a fan of seeing how things likes films were created so after I had finished listening, I found myself captivated by the  behind-the-scenes video documentaries on the bonus DVD that was included.

I believe that everyone would benefit from listening to Radio Theater: The Screwtape Letters audio-drama. 5 Stars and props from me to Focus on the Family for putting this great series together into such a eye opening and convicting audio drama!

Disclaimer: I was given a Radio Theatre: The Screwtape Letters (audio-drama on CD with DVD Documentary) to review from Tyndale. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.

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