FAMILY FAVORITE CASSEROLE RECIPES: 103 Comforting Breakfast Casseroles, Dinner Ideas, and Desserts Everyone Will Love by Addie Gundry


PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin, 4/2017
GENRE: Cookbooks/Main Dish
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: From Cinnamon Roll Casserole to John Wayne Cowboy Casserole, the 103 casserole dishes in this cookbook are simple and stress-free, but each is packed with flavor, making them your go-to family favorites to whip up any day of the week.

In 103 Family Favorite Casserole Recipes, Addie Gundry shows that a dish doesn't have to be complicated to be creative. You don't need multiple pots and pans to find flavor. And with the proper tools, tips and techniques, anyone can cook memorable meals. She teaches you how to whip up everything from Potato Chip and Chicken Casserole to Strawberry Icebox Casserole to Skinny Cheeseburger Casserole.

A casserole is something to be shared--something warm, rich, and worthy of a gathering on its own. Every recipe is paired with a beautiful finished dish photograph that will make readers jump at the idea of casserole night.

Categories: Breakfast, Appetizers and Side Dishes, Chicken, Beef and Pork, Vegetarian, Healthy, Internationally Inspired, Dessert.


THINGS I'VE MADE


NACHO CHEESE CHIP CASSEROLE



I made half of this, omitting the crushed Doritos® that were to be sprinkled on top and layered in-between. I also used crushed tomatoes in place of the salsa that was to be stirred into the beef mixture. I did that because this recipe is almost identical to another one I made that used taco mix and salsa combined and I didn't like that combo, so I used something in place of salsa. I accidentally left out the corn too.




LOADED OMELET CASSEROLE


This is the same as quiche but it has no crust. I made half. It consists of eggs, milk, onion, and I used frozen spinach that was thawed in place of fresh kale and I used ground sausage in place of ground turkey. I left out red bell pepper because I don't like it. My only complaint is that it's too salty and I should have used just half the salt. Other than that it's a good, basic recipe.




CHEESY CHICKEN ALFREDO CASSEROLE


I made half of this. I didn't marinate the raw chicken in Italian salad dressing because I knew I wouldn't like it. I did use the Italian seasonings that was called for but I didn't like it. I added 1/2 c. frozen peas too. I omitted the small amount of cream cheese and used shredded Monterey Jack cheese. I also added some onion that was cooked in butter though none was called for.

This is basically the same recipe I used to make up until a few years ago and this would have been better, more flavorful, had I added a small amount of jarred chicken base (Better Than Bouillon brand.) Overall, this was easy to make though it was a three-step process.



CLASSIC SHEPHERD'S PIE CASSEROLE


This turned out great. I made half in an 8"x8" 2 qt. square baking dish. I used 1/2 c. more mix vegetables, so I used 1.5 c. total that were precooked. I used a 4.1 oz. package of instant potato flakes and added shredded sharp cheddar cheese to them after they were mixed up. If you make the full recipe, you'll need to packs of potatoes. I added a little garlic powder to the meat mixture and it needed twice the flour to thicken it, so 2 T. instead of 1. The salt specified in the recipe was the perfect amount.


BACON AND EGG HASH BROWN SCRAMBLE


I made half of this in a deep 8", 1.5 qt. baking dish and I substituted 1/2 c. cooked ground sausage for the three pieces of cooked, crumbled bacon. This uses frozen hash browns that have been thawed, condensed cheddar cheese soup, egg, milk, and some seasonings. I added onion and garlic powder too. When it was almost finished after 50 minutes I sprinkled shredded Monterey Jack cheese on it and baked it another ten minutes.

The cheese soup is pretty mild and I think it needs some shredded cheddar cheese mixed in with it. Other than that, it's perfect and very creamy. I had a piece of this the next day and it tasted terrible, like most potato dishes do, and it wasn't creamy at all. This is like a frittata and quiche where you can add any precooked meat/poultry and precooked vegetables. This would be good with broccoli and chicken. A+ for this one.





SOUTHWEST BREAKFAST BAKE


This is really good and tastes like chili. I made half in a 10" round baking dish. It uses a lot of stuff- shredded hash browns, egg, milk, cheese, onion, ground cooked sausage (I used ground beef), canned chili with beans, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, ground canned tomatillos (I used fire roasted tomatoes), and mild green chiles. I used milk in place of the small amount of sour cream and didn't use bell pepper since I don't like it.

The hash brown/liquid ratio is off and it took almost double the salt. The mixture is a little too wet and clearly needed more hash browns or less liquid. I don't think it needed ground canned tomatillos at all because the added moisture wasn't needed for this amount of hash browns. When I make this again I'll omit it. I like the beans that are in the canned chili. Flavorwise this gets an A+. Mine doesn't look anything like the one in the photo.




MY THOUGHTS: Everything I've made has turned out really good, or close to it. I'm truly impressed with this book. It's in full color with a large full page photo of each prepared recipe. The recipes are simple and not fancy which suits me well. Some recipes need more flavoring, including the Chicken Divan, which is only flavored with onion and a small amount of mustard, which is why I'm not going to review it but I will try it, adding whatever I think it needs to enhance the flavor.

My two favorite things out of the book are the Bacon and Hash Brown Scramble and the Southwest Breakfast Bake. This is my first time using hash browns in a frittata mixture and I look forward to trying those two recipes again, and fiddling with them to maybe suit me more. There's another one in here called Sausage Fajita Frittata that uses shredded hash browns, breakfast sausage links, strips of red and green bell pepper, and poblano peppers. I didn't make and review it because I don't like any of those peppers and would have to leave them out but I will make this recipe omitting them and substituting chopped kielbasa for sausage links.

Most of the pasta dishes are completely made on the stove then transferred to a baking dish and put into the oven to melt cheese that's on top. That's just not necessary because you can melt cheese by putting the lid back on the pan for a few minutes to. But it does look better if the food is photographed in a baking dish.


I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.




EVERYDAY DINNER IDEAS: 103 Easy Recipes for Chicken, Pasta, and Other Dishes Everyone Will Love by Addie Gundry


PUBLISHER: St. Martin's, 11/2017
GENRE: Cookbooks/Main Dish
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: With plenty of one-pot meals, dinners ready in under half an hour, and innovative flavor combinations to spice up your go-to proteins, Everyday Dinner Ideas author Addie Gundry has the answers. This third book from the RecipeLion collection is poised to become a go-to resource for singles, couples, and families. Driven by the recipes home cooks search for most on the web like lasagna, salmon, pork chops, and ground beef, this book presents 103 great everyday dinner ideas that real people are searching for daily.






Catagories: Appetizers and Salads, Soups and Stews, Poultry, Beef and Pork, Pasta and Vegetarian, Side Dishes, Grilling Made Easy, Dessert.


THINGS I'VE MADE


DANIEL'S MEATLOAF


I made half the recipe using 1 lb. of ground beef. I divided the mixture in half and added diced green pepper to half. It cooked in 45 minutes. The meat is too firm for my liking. It needed some moisture added to the raw meat, like ketchup, tomato sauce, or milk. Flavorwise it's fine. I wouldn't make this one again or recommend it because it's not as good as the other one I make.


AU GRATIN POTATOES


These are made with three russet potatoes, salt, pepper, whole milk, one egg, and two types of cheese. I used a 10" baking dish instead of a 9" one. I added a very small amount of finely chopped onion too, and dried parsley. I omitted cooked bacon. 

I'd grade this recipe a B because it needs improvement. It's a little too dry and needs more cheese. I'll try it again using more cheese that's melted into a 12 oz. can of evaporated milk and omit the egg and I'm sure they'll be perfect. 



EXTRA CHEWY DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES


Bitter, bitter, and bitter is what these are because they have too much cocoa powder in them. I knew they did and still made them anyway. I had to use double the salt and double the vanilla. They're made with equal parts butter and vegetable oil and a small amount of flour. They're fully cooked but are sticky and gummy, and are just horrible. I had to dust the tops heavily with powdered sugar just to add some much needed sweetness only to end up throwing them in the trash after eating just one. Thank goodness I didn't waste chocolate chips in the batter for waste money on frosting that was supposed to go on top.


SLOW COOKER CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP


I made half of this in a 2 qt. pot on the stove, not in a slow cooker. I left out the rosemary because I don't like it and left out lemon juice because I didn't want to use it. I used 3/4 c. medium egg noodles and two baked and shredded chicken tenderloins. I used 1 1/4 t. salt since no amount as given. This is alright, nothing special and a little bland. It's very simple to make.


MY THOUGHTS: This is a large, full color paperback. There's a large photo of each recipe too that takes up a whole page. There are a few other things in here I'd like to try, like macaroni and cheese, but they'd take some tweaking and when reviewing recipes you shouldn't really change much of anything so reviewing four things is all I'm comfortable with.

I'm not really happy with this book. The title is very accurate with calling these recipes "ideas." You can pick out a meat/fish/poultry dish and pair it with something else in here. I guess I'm more of a casserole/one pot meal-type person so I don't find this book particularly useful.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


MOMMIE DEAREST by Christina Crawford

PUBLISHER: William Morrow, 10/1978
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A++

FROM PUBLISHER: Mommie Dearest is a memoir and exposé written by Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of actress Joan Crawford. Published in 1978, it described the author's upbringing by an unbalanced alcoholic mother, whom she judged unfit to raise children.

Christina Crawford is an internationally recognized, best-selling author and advocate for adoption reform, the rights of women and children, and a pioneer in making family violence an issue of national concern.











MY THOUGHTS:  Joan was an incredibly sick and controlling woman, a true Jekyll and Hyde- she was an alcoholic pill-popper, sadistic, spiteful, jealous, paranoid, cold and unconcerned, emotionally and physically abusive, and an all-around piece of garbage to her two oldest adopted children. Just out of control. In an interview Christina said that her younger brother Christopher got abused more than she did. As cruel as she was to Christina, Christina still loved her and was there for her whenever she was needed, especially during Joan's final years when she was stumbling and bumbling around drunk and couldn't make television appearances because of it. Joan got so bad off that people had to line her bed with chairs so she wouldn't fall out of bed onto the floor.

I don't see how this book could have been any better and I have nothing negative to say about it. Christina's a straightforward person and I really like that personality type. I like her even more after watching old interviews with her. She opened herself up to strangers, let them into her personal life and took a whole lot of criticism for it since many people, those who knew Joan and the public and even her younger twin sisters, say Christina fabricated the abuse.

I'll leave you with this, which either came from Joan, her mother or brother (I can't remember which) and was told to Christina during her childhood: When Joan was a young child living on a farm in Kansas she squeezed multiple chicks to death.

Christina has written a novel and several other nonfiction books which you can read about here.

Here are a few television interviews she gave in 1978 to promote the release of the book:

Bill Boggs

The Mike Douglas Show

The Phil Donahue Show




HAMILTON BEACH® ICE CREAM MAKER (Model 68881Z)







PURCHASE: Official site, Amazon, Walmart




THINGS I'VE MADE

VANILLA ICE CREAM PIE




CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM




LEMON SORBET



PINEAPPLE SORBET





CHERRY ICE CREAM





ORANGE SHERBET






PEACH ICE CREAM







MY THOUGHTS: This is a basic electric ice cream maker. You have to freeze the metal bowl, which is filled with some type of liquid solution between the metal bowl and plastic outer part, for at least 12 hours before you use it. Whatever ice cream/sorbet mixture you use, you usually have to heat them in a pot on the stove to dissolve sugar and other ingredients then you have to chill that until it's very cold before you put it into the bowl, which takes hours. Do not use more than 4 cups of liquid so that it has room to expand as it's whipped up. You then place the bowl on the base, put the plastic paddle down into the mixture, then place the clear cover over the bowl, which locks the paddle into place, and turn the machine on. It's that simple. The base turns the bowl and the paddle stays stationary, mixing the liquid mixture and keeping the sides scraped. It will take about 20-40 minutes. If the machine turns off before it's ready simply turn it back on. I can't remember but it may turn off after 30 minutes. If you're adding things like fruit, nuts, cookie bits, add them at the end and let it mix in for about 10-15 seconds. The machine is very loud. When it's finished transfer ice cream into a lidded container since the bowl doesn't come with one.

MEASUREMENTS: The box it comes in is 10" x 14". Amazon says shipping weight is 8 lbs.
Base: 4.5"H x 9"W, 1 1b. 13 oz.
Canister/bowl- 6.5" x 7". Inside of bowl is 5.25"W. It's pretty heavy and is over 3 lbs. Doesn't come with lid.
Plastic Paddle- 6"H x 5.25"W, 2.3 oz
Clear cover- 7"L x 8"W, 12.7 oz.

This comes with a 31-page instructional booklet that's in English (11 pages long), Spanish and French.

This includes six recipes for: Old-Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream (contains egg), Easy Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Ice Cream, Strawberry Sorbet, Peaches and Cream Ice Cream, and Cappuccino Gelato. I made a pie using the Easy Vanilla Ice Cream recipe, jarred fudge sauce and graham cracker crust, ground toasted almonds, and also made the chocolate recipe and both were great, especially the chocolate, which uses unsweetened cocoa powder and tastes just like a Wendy's Frosty but needs one less tablespoon of cocoa powder.

This has a 1-year warranty in the U.S. and a 5-year warranty in Canada.

One big tip I can give you is to make sure your house is cool if you're using this during warmer months or the mixture won't mix up right and you'll have to put the bowl with the paddle in it into the freezer for a short time to make it cold. I speak from experience when I say this.

I purchased this myself from Walmart in 2016.



ABBA: The OFFICIAL PHOTO BOOK: 600 Rare, Classic, and Unseen Photographs Telling the Complete Story by Petter Karlsson

PUBLISHER: Max Ström Publishing, 9/2014
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: This is the first complete and authorized official visual history of ABBA, one of the greatest pop groups of the 20th century.

ABBA has sold a stunning 400 million records, and in some markets has even surpassed the Beatles. This first and only official book on ABBA was created with the full cooperation of the band members themselves and containing more than 600 rare and heretofore unseen images from throughout the band’s career. Publishing with the 40th anniversary of ABBA winning the Eurovision Song Contest, which is what put the band on the map, publication is being synchronized worldwide to great media attention. With a foreword and commentary throughout the book by the band’s four members, this is truly the complete story of one of the most popular bands of all time.


MY THOUGHTS: It's hard to tell how many of these photos were new to me but it's safe to say I've probably not seen a good portion of them. There are photos of all four member from before they were a group, during ABBA, and after, up until 2013, the year before this book was published. There's minimal text in it, a little on every other page or so, but it's enough and contains old quotes here and there from all group members.

This book weighs close to 7 lbs. and is 11.5" square and isn't the most comfortable thing to hold unless you lay it flat on your lap. Book book itself is printed on, front and back, and looks just like the dust jacket except the front doesn't have the book title over the group photo.

ABBA have been my favorite group for almost 23 years and I never get sick of photos of them and having them compiled in a book is the greatest.




CRAWLSPACE by Herbert Lieberman

PUBLISHER: David McKay Company, 1971
GENRE: Fiction/Suspense
SETTING: "northern suburb", USA
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: D

FROM PUBLISHER: Albert and Alice Graves live a normal, if monotonous, domestic life. They’ve never had children; they spend their days tending to their home and enjoying their time together. One day, when the oil man, Richard, is refilling their furnace, Alice invites him to dinner, never suspecting that a casual act of charity will lead to a horrifying, morbid discovery in the crawlspace underneath their beloved house.

The Graves take Richard into their lives, becoming attached to his presence as though to the son they never had. Their town, though, is not nearly so welcoming. When the locals lash out against the Graves and their strange houseguest, the contented household is irrevocably drawn into a darkness they could not have imagined.




MY THOUGHTS: This takes place in the USA but the state isn't given. It's a very dull and boring story that had so much potential. None of it makes any sense and there's no point to it. Richard's an odd character, eighteenish, and for some unknown reason lives in their crawlspace and even poops in there like an animal. He doesn't seem to have much social skills and is just strange. I neither like nor dislike him.

What I don't like at all is how the Graves, who are near sixty years old, take him in and treat him like a son, like he's someone they've known forever. They know he's odd as hell and still let him into their home to live? Only in fiction.

This book is filled with the type of characters I hate; small town police officers who like to cause trouble, troubled youth who get away with causing mischief and harassing others, and they all speak with horrible grammar, that is everyone except the main characters.

The end was puzzling, with the appearance of Richard's father. No clue why he showed up since he's been a deadbeat dad Richard's whole life. It would have made more sense to have inserted him into the story midway. Maybe then it would have done something for the plot, maybe would have made us sympathize with Richard more. I don't like having to wait until the end of the story to get some background information on Richard. Now I know why he has abandonment issues.

The 1972 made-for-TV movie is more boring than the book but that was to be expected. The three main characters were older than they should have been.




STRANGERS ON A TRAIN by Patricia Highsmith, Book vs. Film


PUBLISHER: Harper and Brothers, 1950
GENRE: Fiction/Suspense
SETTING: USA
WIKI: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A-

FROM PUBLISHER: Guy Haines is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, and Charles Anthony Bruno, a conniving psychopath who manipulates a chance encounter with Guy into a sadistic plot to swap murders. “Some people are better off dead,” says Bruno, “like your wife and my father, for instance.” As Bruno carries out his twisted plan, Guy becomes trapped in Patricia Highsmith’s perilous world, where under the right circumstances anyone is capable of murder.








MY THOUGHTS/SPOILERS:

Guy's from Texas but lives in New York. He has dark hair and is 29. He's been separated from his 23 year old wife for three years and she's in Texas. She's pregnant by her boyfriend, Owen Markham.

Charles Bruno, who goes by 'Bruno' throughout the entire book, is a 25 year old blond and slightly overweight alcoholic who has wealthy parents, with the money being from his mother's side of the family. He's from New York. He dropped out of Harvard during his second year and doesn't currently work. He hates his father for not giving him money and for cheating on his mother multiple times. His parents may own Bruno Transforming Company, and they make AC-DC gadgets. He's drunk in most of the novel.

Needless to say Bruno is seriously disturbed. He admitted to himself that he likes crises and creating them. He thinks the planning of Miriam's demise gives him a sense of purpose and will fulfill a desire once she's gone. He's even thought about suicide. He misperceives things and believes that Guy is his friend early on when they barely know each other. When Guy wants nothing to do with him he says he was 'used' by Guy, when he wasn't at all. When he feels he's been rejected by Guy he seems to have a mental breakdown. His character's so much more fleshed out in the novel. He's more whiny too, and has outbursts. It's assumed by some, myself included, that he's gay, based on his obsession with Guy and always wanting to be near. Bruno's a character who definitely needed his backstory told and I don't know why it wasn't. We only know he's a mama's boy who likes to stay drunk.

Guy really tried his best to cut Bruno out of his life but in the end, gave in. Oddly, he began to see Bruno as a friend near the end of the novel when before, he couldn't stand to be around him. He got real loose-lipped too, which made no sense.

Anne is blonde in the book and brunette in the film. She's extremely bland. There's a scene where Bruno sends her an anonymous letter telling her that Guy knows more about Miriam's death than anyone knows. She asks Guy about it and doesn't seem at all concerned when Guy denies it. She's pretty nonchalant in regard to Bruno and I feel she should have been suspicious of him always showing up uninvited or inviting himself places. Anne is different in the film, brighter. Based on not much of anything other than similarities in her sister's eyeglasses and Miriam's, she figured out Miriam's murder. Someone else figured it out in the novel, a detective named Arthur Gerard.

After Miriam's death in the film, the similarities between book and film pretty much end. I wish I knew why the film was so different. The film doesn't show how much Guy cares for Anne. It doesn't delve into Bruno's obsession with Guy, with not letting him go after the bad deeds are done. In the film Bruno's cigarette lighter plays a part but not in the novel. The film has nothing at all on the novel. Novel spans over 1 1/2 years.

I haven't been real excited while reading a book in awhile. I loved this except for the last twenty pages. I had no thoughts on how the story would end and I'm not happy with it at all. A little more thought should have gone into it and one of the two things wasn't believable.

Film spoilers here.
Novel spoilers here.