Saturday, November 29, 2014

Book Thoughts - JoJo's Num Num's by Joanna Baltzly

JoJo's Num Num's by Joanna Baltzly
published 11/13/14
154 pages

Synopsis from Amazon -

This is a cookbook like no other one on the market!!! Included in this delightful book is a complete 8 week (2 month) menu plan section at the back with menu lists with grocery lists for that week that you just copy, check off pantry items you already have and take the rest of the list with you to the grocery store to purchase remaining ingredients needed!!! Easy to use! This book is also filled with 150+ recipes to use for your loved ones!

My thoughts -

I'm just going to be honest at the beginning and say that I know this author - her sister was in my class from kindergarten through 12th grade; her mom was one of the piano teachers in the music club I was involved in; we went to church together, I spent nights at her house - she's one of the people I feel like I've known all my life. Needless to say, when I found out that she was publishing a cookbook, I was pretty excited.

Not only was I excited in the general sense - Hey, someone I know is publishing a cookbook! I was also specifically excited because I have tried some of her recipes in the past that she has posted on her blog, and they have been delicious! So the idea of supporting someone I know, while also getting a bunch of new, yummy recipes was pretty fantastic. And I'm happy to say the cookbook has been well worth the investment.

I've had the cookbook for a little over a week, and have tried 5 recipes - Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells; Grandma Jeanie's Swiss Steak; S'mores Bars; Salted Caramel Mocha; and Creamy Cocoa. There has not been one that hasn't been delicious. In fact, when I pulled the stuffed shells out of my oven, I honestly couldn't believe that something that delicious had been baked at my own house. This lady can cook, and the recipes she shares are incredible. Now, I should note that these are not diet recipes, or "clean eating" recipes, so if you have a specific diet there might be some difficulties. This is good, old comfort food at it's finest, and we've been loving them.

This cookbook is self-published, so it does not have the lovely staged food photos that you would find in a cookbook from a famous author or restaurant. What it has that makes it special is author notes - at the end of at least 2/3 of the recipes in the book, Joanna tells a story about the recipe's origin, or when she remembers trying it for the first time, or how she came to develop it. This makes the book seem almost like sitting down and having a cup of coffee over a yummy treat at a friend's house, and is a delight to read.

I should also briefly mention the meal-planning section in the back. Joanna has taken the recipes in her book and divided them in to 8 weekly meal plans, giving grocery lists and recipe page numbers for each week. So you could just print out the list, hit the grocery store, and have 5 days of suppers already planned out for you. This is basically a genius idea, and I can't imagine the time it would save.

Joanna has graciously agreed to let me share a couple of recipes - I've personally tried both recipes, and they were hits with everyone in my family. If you are looking for a new cookbook filled with comforting, family-friendly recipes, it would be hard to go wrong with JoJo's Num Num's. Highly recommended!

S'mores Bars

1-12 oz box Golden Grahams
1-10.5 oz bag miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
1/4 c. corn syrup
5 T butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. miniature marshmallows (separate from above)

Butter or coat a 9 X 13 pan GENEROUSLY!! Melt all but 1 c. marshmallows, chocolate chips, corn syrup & butter in a microwave safe bowl until melted together completely. Immediately add vanilla, and stir in completely. Pour over the Golden Grahams and coat completely. Stir in the last cup of marshmallows. Spread in buttered pan refrigerate! Wait at least 30 minutes until they are cooled before eating.

Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells

1 package (12 oz) jumbo shells
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cubed
2 T olive oil, divided
1 egg
1 carton (15 oz) ricotta cheese
3 1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
1 c. (4 oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tsp parsley
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 c. butter, cubed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 c. heavy whipping cream

Cook pasta al dente. In a large skillet, brown the chicken in 1 T olive oil. Remove and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, ricotta, 1 1/2 c. parmesan, mozzarella and seasonings. Add the chicken and stir again. Stuff each shell with this mixture. Lay each of these stuffed shells in a 9 X 13 greased pan. If there is extra stuffing, spread it over the top. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic, cook for another minute. Add the cream. Cook another 5 minutes. Add the other 1 1/2 c. parmesan cheese and stir until it has all melted and the sauce thickens. Pour this sauce over the top of the shells. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 c. parmesan cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover, then bake an additional 10-15 minutes until it starts to bubble.


Beth F said...

Oh I love the idea of the meal plans already made up ... meal planning can be so time consuming. Thanks for alerting me to JoJo's blog and her book. Nothing wrong with good ole comfort food.

Laurie C said...

Sounds nice! It's always good to support local authors, too!

Winnie Hayes said...

I love you Joanna!! So, proud of you & all you have accomplished!! May our Lord continue to bless you & your family!!

Momma o' two said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erin H. said...

Joanna, I am so happy for you! I have personally had the pleasure to sit and eat at her table. Everything has been fabulous! May the LORD continue to bless you and your family!

Cynthia said...

Those recipes look delicious! Too bad you didn't share the recipe for Salted Caramel Mocha. That one sounds delish. Guess I may have to buy the cookbook.

Trisha said...

From the recipes you've mentioned, it sounds like this might be a cookbook with actual, "real" food in it, meaning I can make dinner instead of a fancy meal. That's always something I look for in a cookbook. Thanks for the suggestion.