A cookbook review by Linda Kissam and Adrianne Morrison
As I sat in the audience in the Melissa’s/World Variety Produce kitchens in downtown Los Angeles for a book signing and taste of recipes from the new Rachel Hollis Upscale Downhome: Family Recipes, All Gussied Up, I couldn’t help but quickly text my co-reviewer Adrianne Morrison. “Finally, a cookbook that makes sense for the “rest” of us. We have a winner.”
If you have ever attended a potluck, church meeting or shower of any kind, this cookbook will make sense to you. It’s got all the “good stuff” we remember from a time when no one worried about cooking with too much butter, consuming a whole lot of mayonnaise or reaching our monthly sugar count in one meal.
All the flavor we remember is included in the recipes, but with slight updates. The updates aren’t in reducing calories, so don’t get your hopes up in that direction. The recipes have just been “polished” so you’d never know that they come from what the author calls, “lowbrow” origins.
As background, the author Rachel Hollis is an extraordinary blogger and founder of the extremely popular, The Chix Site. Over 600,000 users a month (which she refers to as her “tribe”) can’t be wrong. This woman has some serious culinary stuff to share with readers and Adrianne and I suggest you check her website out. The cookbook is an extension of her journey to fun in the name of good taste, delivering daily comfort food that wow’s.
One of the best things about Upscale Downhome: Family Recipes, All Gussied Up, is that Rachel includes photos of the recipe as it is being made. She wants you to be able to self-check as you create. The photos provide a safety line as you are going through the steps. There should be no reason why your final presentation shouldn’t look exactly like hers. Just sayin’…
This book delivers exactly what it promises in both the hardback (Linda reviews) and eBook format (Adrianne reviews). There’s definitely a Southern/Californian feel to the recipes and advice. Great entertaining tips and check off sheets will ease any entertaining jitters.
We feel it’s the prefect gift it to give to aspiring cooks, moms or dads who prepare family meals, and to the “party” challenged. If you have a friend who is – or has been on – the pot luck or charity circuit, they will especially love this book. With Rachel’s guidelines, “the List,” and a trip to the 99-cent Store, Big Lots, or Home Goods, your giftee is sure to have fun being the host/ess with the mostest!
Adrianne eBook Review
I love to receive a cookbook for review on the day I’m creating my weekly grocery list. I download the digital book immediately to my Kindle iCloud so I can access it on my 3 devices: laptop, iPad (used mainly in the kitchen), and iPhone where I maintain my shopping list. Quickly I skim through the pages using the new Page Flip which makes the first look super easy—-fast forward, or back, bookmark, and enjoy. IMO, this eBook displays best on my phone—technology continues to astound me.
This is a fun cookbook-and-more with fresh takes on everyday meals and entertaining. I found myself thinking, “I make this, but I don’t do that.” For instance, there’s grilled GUACAMOLE, balsamic bacon-wrapped MEAT LOAF, and a HAMBURGER pot pie—What? Many of the dishes are standards in my home already, but I can always use a new technique, flavor twist, or tips on converting to a Slow Cooker version.
I plan to make the BBQ root beer chicken with a side of GARLIC and HERB accordion potatoes with fresh herbs. I’m totally doing this instead of the tired baked potato. Plus, there’s great advice for Leftovers—new recipes like cheesy crispy wontons to use any uneaten dip. Or, BBQ chicken quesadillas from the root beer chicken leftovers—like there would be any left… but… I could make extra just for leftovers. LOL!
A couple words of caution:
- HAMBURGER pot pie was a super big hit with my family. However, I found that 1 pound of ground beef more than filled the 9 inch pie crust—2 pounds, as noted in the recipe, would have been twice the amount needed. I recommend testing any dishes prior to entertaining.
- Watch out for the orange SHERBET church punch. Many moons ago, my friend Judy & I made a lime version for a bridal shower. It goes down so deliciously you may drink way more than you should—I know we did!
Packed with all the forbidden ingredients and flavor of years past, I am impressed the author has the guts to just let the recipes be themselves. No excuses or apologies for giving us the foods we crave but rarely devour in quantity anymore.
The author is wonderfully authentic in her approach to cooking. My wish for each of you is to have the opportunity to attend a live book signing, seminar or cooking class with her. Her straight forward humor and love of her craft is contagious.
What she has created is a cookbook simple enough for a beginner home cook to master, yet complex enough to get two thumbs up from an experienced home chef. What you get with the purchase of this book is great-tasting food, practical advice, gorgeous lead-you-by-the-hand photos and beautiful presentation tips that lead to surefire ways to impress.
Here’s a favorite recipe of our, compliments of Rachel Hollis. Copyright © 2016 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books. It’s got a nice “kick” to it. Enjoy in good taste!
This was one of the first dishes I mastered as a newlywed. When I say mastered it, I mean that I finally figured out the right blend of spices and ingredients necessary to make it delicious. I like to make a big pot on Sunday so that we can eat it throughout the week. As with all chili, the flavor gets better with every passing day.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground turkey
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles (optional)
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in the oil. Once hot, add the ground turkey and cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon until browned and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the onion, garlic, garlic salt, chili powder, and black pepper to the meat. Mix to evenly combine. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the onion has softened.
- In the bowl of a slow cooker, combine the cooked turkey mixture, diced tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, corn, and green chiles, if using. Stir to fully incorporate.
- Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 2 to 4 hours.
- I like to serve the chili with little bowls of sour cream, cheese, chips, scallions, guacamole, and salsa so guests can top their chili however they’d like.
Upscale Downhome: Family Recipes, All Gussied Up
by Rachel Hollis
Paperback about $11.29: http://amzn.to/2fBYZdP
eBook about $9.99: http://amzn.to/2fYdI6R