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27.12.14

A Few of My Favorite Things | 2014 Edition

Before the year is up, I wanted to take a moment to discuss some of the lovely things I discovered in 2014.




While I will be uploading a video soon with my top 10 favorite books of the year, I thought I would make a broader post covering some books, beauty and skincare products, and other random things.




I also attended the Romantic Times Convention (RT14) in New Orleans this year which really pushed me forward with inspiration and ideas for this blog and helped me make wonderful friendships. You can see my blog post for RT14, here.



This year I also discovered The Body Shop, LUSH, Kat Von D tattoo eye liner, and MAC's Rocky Horror Picture Show lipstick line.

I like almost anything from LUSH. If you're unfamiliar, LUSH focuses on fresh, handmade vegan cosmetics. I particularly enjoy their face masks, bubble bars and bath melts... and their shower gels. :)
The Body Shop carries a lot of skin care and beauty products but I just really love their body butters (which I use on a daily basis). It's incredibly thick and keeps my skin hydrated all day long - which is extremely necessary in these wintry months in NYC.
I am also a huge fan of Rocky Horror Picture Show and when I saw that MAC was coming out with a whole set of the movie-inspired products (with special RHPS packaging), I ran to buy the lipstick FrankNFurter. *throws Melba toast at the computer screen*

All in all, it's been a pretty awesome year. I had set some goals for myself and I followed through on most (if not all) of them. 

I hope you all were able to accomplish any goals you had set for yourself for 2014 ; I can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for us.


See you soon!

&& here is where you can find me on the interwebz:
Vampire Book Club: Vampirebookclub.net
Book Depository Affiliate: bookdepository.com


Until next time-


-Jannelle


12.12.14

Cookbook Review | The Cuban Table by Ana Sofia Pelaez

Hello and happy Friday!
I can't believe how fast time seems to be moving & how incredibly fast December and 2014 is coming to an end.
I'm getting ready for some 12 days of blogging & I realized that I needed to update the blog with some reviews I had written up and hadn't posted - shame on me, I know.
Today I am going to be posting my review of The Cuban Table by Ana Sofia Pelaez.


Now for those of you who know me (and my family) would know that I'm Cuban. If you didn't know.. well, now you know. :)
When it comes to Cuban food, I'm overly harsh and judgmental. It just is what it is. I grew up eating the stuff - duh - and almost nothing can beat out my grandmother's authentic recipes and my mother's delicious renditions. Since I cannot cook absolutely everything out of this cookbook, I was honestly focusing (for the most part) on authenticity based on ingredients the author chose for certain recipes and her method of cooking - be it braised, stewed, fried, etc.

Here is the description provided by the publisher:
The Cuban Table is a comprehensive, contemporary overview of Cuban food, recipes and culture as recounted by serious home cooks and professional chefs, restaurateurs and food writers. Cuban-American food writer Ana Sofia Pelaez and award-winning photographer Ellen Silverman traveled through Cuba, Miami and New York to document and learn about traditional Cuban cooking from a wide range of authentic sources. 

Cuban home cooks are fiercely protective of their secrets. Content with a private kind of renown, they demonstrate an elusive turn of hand that transforms simple recipes into bright and memorable meals that draw family and friends to their tables time and again. More than just a list of ingredients or series of steps, Cuban cooks' tricks and touches hide in plain sight, staying within families or being passed down in well-worn copies of old cookbooks largely unread outside of the Cuban community.

Here you'll find documented recipes for everything from iconic Cuban sandwiches to rich stews with Spanish accents and African ingredients, accompanied by details about historical context and insight into cultural nuances. More than a cookbook, The Cuban Table is a celebration of Cuban cooking, culture and cuisine. With stunning photographs throughout and over 110 deliciously authentic recipes this cookbook invites you into one of the Caribbean’s most interesting and vibrant cuisines.  

 Pelaez did a fantastic job of capturing the essence of the Miami Cuban culture through the various recipes she shared along with the brief history of certain dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and while I have my own family recipes that I go to, it was interesting to see some slight deviations (while still keeping the authenticity in tact) as well as recipes for certain items that we don't have in our family - like Mermelada de Guayaba... sooo good. #TeamGuava
So if you're interested in Cuban food and how it's made (but most importantly-how it tastes) then you need to pick up The Cuban Table.


Basic info. about this book:

Name: The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History
Author: Ana Sofia Pelaez
Review Source: Provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publishing Company: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Genre: Cookbook, Cooking, Food & Wine
Rating (out of 5): 4.0

Recommend? Yes!

Where it can be purchased: The Book Depository 

Author online: goodreads 


This makes me realize that I should probably post more of my family recipes... I'll be sure to get on that for 2015 :)


See you soon!

&& here is where you can find me on the interwebz:
Vampire Book Club: Vampirebookclub.net
Book Depository Affiliate: bookdepository.com


Until next time-


-Jannelle

5.12.14

December 2014 TBR

Hello & TGIF!

This post was originally going to be a video upload on YouTube. Due to technical difficulties, however, this video is now a blog post. :)

My goal in December is simply to finish reading any books that I may have started earlier on in 2014... and to read the books I plan to review for the VBC.

Here is my list (the names and authors will be linked!) :
















7 Books! I hope I have the time and energy to get through them now that my school trimester has kicked off & I've started working #thestruggle

Anywho, I'm wishing you all a safe and wonderful weekend & I'll be seeing you soon.


What books are you planning on reading in December?


&& here is where you can find me on the interwebz:
Vampire Book Club: Vampirebookclub.net
Book Depository Affiliate: bookdepository.com


Until next time-


-Jannelle

3.12.14

November 2014 Wrap Up + 1 More

Hello all and welcome back to Jannelle Reads.
After quite a busy couple of weeks, the last of my family has left back to their home in FL and while feeling a bit sad for missing them already, I decided to pick myself up and take a look through at all of the books I was able to read in November - 7! I started some others but these were the ones I finished... so here is a brief overview of those books:




Name: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publishing Company: Penguin
Publication Date: February 8, 2011
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery

To keep it simple, I fell in love with A Discovery of Witches. For an in-depth review, you can see a previous blog post dedicated to his novel, here.

Rating (out of 5): 4.5
Recommend? Yes
Where it can be purchased: Book Depository 
Author Online: goodreads 




Name: Spice (Sugar and Spice #1)
Author: Seressia Glass
Publishing Company: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance

Thoroughly enjoyed Spice and am excited to read the next installment in the Sugar and Spice series. For an in-depth review, you can check out a previous blog post of mine, here.

Rating (out of 5): 4.0
Recommend? Yes
Where it can be purchased: Book Depository 
Author Online: goodreads 




Name: The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires (Half Moon Hollow #1)
Author: Molly Harper
Publishing Company: Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Have I mentioned how much I look Molly Harper? Because I do. Her prose is witty and outright hilarious. She also writes smart and (more often than not) sarcastic protagonists who are surprisingly relatable.
In The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires, we meet Iris who has her own "Daytime for Vampires" kind of business. She [literally] stumbles over Cal and soon ensues a sexy romance, an interesting mystery and some chaos. I enjoyed all of it.
Pick this up if you haven't already!

Rating (out of 5): 4.5
Recommend? Yes
Where it can be purchased: Book Depository 
Author Online: goodreads 




Name: A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses (Half Moon Hollow #2)
Author: Molly Harper
Publishing Company: Pocket Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Continuing the Half Moon Hollow series is A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses. In book 2, we meet Nola who is a witch and visiting from Ireland. While in Half Moon Hollow, she begins to investigate for some family artifacts hidden by her (now dead) grandfather.
Nola is also dealing with her sexy and mysterious neighbor, Jed, who has a few secrets of his own.
While I enjoyed this next installment in the series, I think I enjoyed Iris' story better. Still a good read, though!

Rating (out of 5): 4.0
Recommend? Yes
Where it can be purchased: Book Depository 
Author Online: goodreads 




Name: Undead Sublet (Half Moon Hollow #2.5)
Author: Molly Harper
Publishing Company: Pocket Books
Publication Date: February 13, 2013
Genre: Paranormal Romance

This was a Half Moon Hollow novella. Here is the blurb:
In "Undead Sublet" by Molly Harper, executive chef Tess Maitland is banned from her five-star kitchen in Chicago to recover from "exhaustion". Choosing a random rental house in Half-Moon Hollow to spend time in, she's unaware that the house comes with a strange man.

Even though Sam Masden's ex-wife has rented the house out from under him, the divorce settlement allows him access to it for another ninety days. With Tess unable to go anywhere else, and Sam unwilling, a war of epic proportions is declared - and romantic sparks and heavy pots fly.
Short and to the point, I enjoyed Tess and Sam's brief story. I also liked that it was a novella - the story didn't feel rushed in the slightest and was paced perfectly for a novella.
If you have read any books in the Half Moon Hollow series, make sure you don't skip over this one!

Rating (out of 5): 4.0
Recommend? Yes
Where it can be purchased: Amazon 
Author Online: goodreads 




Name: I'm Dreaming Of An Undead Christmas (Half Moon Hollow #2.7)
Author: Molly Harper
Publishing Company: Pocket Books
Publication Date: November 17, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Like every other book/novella in the Half Moon Hollow series, I enjoyed this one. For an in-depth review, you can check out my review at the VBC, here.

Rating (out of 5): 4.0
Recommend? Yes
Where it can be purchased: Amazon 
Author Online: goodreads 




Name: Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1)
Author: J.R. Ward
Publishing Company: Penguin
Publication Date: September 6, 2005
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

OK. I know what most of you are going to say about this one so I am going to go ahead and say it first: WHERE HAVE I BEEN WITH THIS ONE?!
I know. I'm in love, guys.
And this seriously messes up everything. Now I have to play catch-up which is both a joy and a curse because I have way too many books to read already for the end of 2014 and 2015.
In-depth review to come! In the meantime, here's the blurb:
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.

Rating (out of 5): 4.5
Recommend? Yes
Where it can be purchased: Book Depository 
Author Online: goodreads 


What did you read this November?

+ 1 more thing..

Rachel from Parajunkee is hosting a "12 Days of Blogmas" on her blog &


”doingit_blogmas”

I'm doing it!




&& here is where you can find me on the interwebz:
Vampire Book Club: Vampirebookclub.net
Book Depository Affiliate: bookdepository.com


Until next time-


-Jannelle

27.11.14

Thanksgiving Menu 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! And if you don't celebrate, then happy Thursday!

I just wanted to take a minute to wish you all a happy day. I think Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. I know it would seem kind of obvious as it is THE foodie holiday but I appreciate the time it forces us to take to think about all we are grateful for. 
This past year has been the most... trying for me. And for my family. So focusing on the positive is something I should probably think of doing more often. haha

Anyways! I'm going to share my Thanksgiving Menu with you. It's nothing incredibly special and then to some of you it may seem excessive (especially in the desserts department) but I sincerely just want to satiate every kind of palette we might find from our guests today... and I might be a bit excited as my mom and sister are arriving today from Miami! *happy dance*

We were thinking of breaking the traditional Thanksgiving menu this year, but.... no. That just couldn't happen because my anxiety might have acted up (and maybe my sister's and mom's would, too) so we just decided to slightly deviate from tradition for the turkey and leave the accompaniments and desserts as traditional as we are used to having them, any way.


Thanksgiving Menu 2014

Appetizer
Assorted Cheese Display featuring Brie en Croute with local honey and sliced almonds, Seared Halloumi Cheese, and a creamy Turkish Goat's Milk Cheese
Served with an accompaniment of homemade pita crisps, pomegranate seeds and a sweet walnut and grape candy

Main Entree
Turkish Dried Beef Sausage-Stuffed Turkey with a Lemon and Herb Marinade

Sides
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Caramelized Brown Sugar and Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole with Roasted Mushrooms and Fried Shallots
Traditional Dressing with Mushrooms, Beef Sausage and Sauteed Celery
Black Pepper Drop Biscuits

Desserts
Creamed Cheese Flan
Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Pie
Deconstructed Cheesecake with Macerated Strawberries


What are you cooking/eating for your Thanksgiving feast (or are eating on this lovely Thursday) this year?


If you're interested, I've been uploading a ridiculous amount of pictures from my cooking and baking adventures so I'll link it below if you want to check it out.


&& here is where you can find me on the interwebz:
Vampire Book Club: Vampirebookclub.net
Book Depository Affiliate: bookdepository.com


Until next time-


-Jannelle

26.11.14

Holiday Recipe | Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Hello & happy Wednesday!

Like I am assuming some of you have been doing, I have been getting myself and our NYC apartment ready for a Thanksgiving Feast. While I will not be posting any of my Thanksgiving recipes this year (aside from my flan recipe that I posted earlier this year and will be featured as one of my desserts), I was skimming through The Pioneer Woman's blog and found this fantastic pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe. 

While it's not for Thanksgiving, I made it and froze it to heat up for the morning after. Because after the craziness of Thanksgiving, I just wanted something simple and delicious - and what's better than homemade cinnamon rolls that were made ahead of time?

I have followed the recipe almost exactly, except for some minor adaptations :)

And so as not to confuse you with pictures and the recipe written in between, the full recipe is at the end of the post - but you are more than welcome to use the pictures as reference - they were posted in the order of the recipe!

























Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 24 rolls

Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you - most of the ingredients are repeats within the different components of the cinnamon roll making process. They are also ingredients that you will (most likely) have on hand.

Ingredient List
DOUGH:
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 package (or 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (from the can is great)
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup (additional) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (heaping - so overflowing the teaspoon) of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
FILLING:
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 (hefty) cup of chopped pecans
FROSTING:
  • 8 ounces (one package) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 pound powdered (confectioner's) sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk 
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • dash of salt
*extra flour, for rolling out the dough
*extra milk, for thinning the frosting
*extra butter, for lining the baking pans

*extra 1/4 cup chopped pecans to sprinkle on top of the finished cinnamon rolls

Prep
The Dough:
  • Combine the 1 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, and 1/2 sugar in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. You will be using this pan to mix all of the ingredients for the cinnamon rolls so you want to be sure that it is large enough to hold everything.
  • When the mixture is hot (but not boiling), remove the pan from the stovetop and let it cool until the mixture is warm to the touch but not hot. 
  • Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the warm mixture; wait 5 minutes and stir in the pumpkin puree so that it's well-combined.
  • Mix together the 4 cups of flour with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon of ginger; combine this mixture with the pumpkin mixture in the saucepan until it just comes together. Cover it with a kitchen towel and set it in a warm spot in your kitchen where there is no draft for 1 hour.
  • After the hour, the dough should have doubled in size. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/2 cup of flour until it is totally combined. Set aside to get started on the filling.
Making the Rolls:
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F,
  • Drizzle some of the melted butter on to 2 9-inch cake pans and spread so that the sides of the pans are well-coated. I only had to use 2 9-inch cake pans but you can expand it to 3 9-inch cake pans (which is what the Pioneer Woman originally suggested) to give the cinnamon rolls some space in between... I just like them snug and pretty close together.
  • Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and press into a rectangle shape. Make sure you flour your rolling pin and the top of the dough, as well, with the flour. This will help prevent the dough from sticking.
  • Roll out to approximately 10 inches x 30 inches.
  • Once rolled out, drizzle the stick of melted butter along the surface of the dough. You can also help spread it out easily by using your fingers to make sure it is spread evenly.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar and the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Once well-combined, sprinkle the mixture evenly along the top of the rolled out dough.
  • Then sprinkle the cup of finely chopped pecans along the surface (evenly) and lightly press it down into the dough.
  • Using a light hand in a typewriter method, slowly roll the dough onto itself in classic cinnamon roll fashion, towards you, until it is completely rolled up. I also pinch together the ends with the rest of the dough and roll it so the seam is down (makes it easier to cut). You can see my video on Instagram for an in-depth look at how I rolled it, here.
  • Slice 1/2-3/4 inch slices and place them in the buttered pan,  Cover with the kitchen towel and allow the rolls to rise in the pan for 20 minutes.
  • Place the rolls (uncovered, of course) in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until the rolls have a light golden brown color.
Making the Frosting:
  • Simply combine all of the frosting ingredients and whisk until there are no lumps and you have created a light, fluffy mixture. IF you feel like your frosting is too thin, add a teaspoon of milk at a time until you have reached your desired consistency.
  • Once the cinnamon rolls are cooked and out of the oven, ice them with the frosting mixture while they are still hot. Make sure to split the frosting mixture evenly among the pans you have used. 
  • Sprinkle with the remaining chopped pecans and  you are done :)
Since I cooked mine ahead of time, I let them cool down completely (after I placed the icing and pecans on top) and then covered it in plastic wrap with toothpicks sticking up to prevent the plastic from sticking to the icing, and froze it.

I will be serving the pumpkin cinnamon rolls the day after Thanksgiving as a sweet breakfast treat so I will just place it in a 350 F oven uncovered for approximately 30 minutes until they are heated through (I'm not trying to cook them here, just warm them through).


I hope you enjoyed my Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll adaptation - I baked one roll on the side to taste it and oh man is it delicious. Let me know if you will be cooking anything special on Thanksgiving or the day after!



&& here is where you can find me on the interwebz:
Vampire Book Club: Vampirebookclub.net
Book Depository Affiliate: bookdepository.com


Until next time-


-Jannelle

23.11.14

Spotlight Sunday #3: Doughnuts at Dough in New York, NY

Hello & happy Sunday!


In the spirit of celebrating another glutonous Sunday, I found myself surrounded by the most deliciously decadent doughnuts NYC has to offer.


After an extremely thorough look through the Manhattan shop of Dough Donuts, my friend Michelle and I decided on these eight flavors - 


chocolate salted caramel, passion fruit*, pumpkin, early grey*, hibiscus*, glazed, lemon ginger* and a dulce de leche filled donut with chocolate ganache and toasted coconut.

*denotes a favorite


We created a sample of the four I selected along with the four she selected and had a mini donut party at the table in the shop... THIS IS HEAVEN.


If you take a trip to this lovely city -or happen to live here - you need to pass by Dough. They have a shop in Brooklyn and the newest shop is in Manhattan.


Restaurant Info.:
Name: Dough
Specialty: Doughnuts :)
Location(s): Brooklyn - 448 Lafayette avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205
Flatiron District - 14 W. 19 ST New York, NY 10011



Any other restaurants/cafe's you think I need to try?


&& here is where you can find me on the interwebz:
Vampire Book Club: Vampirebookclub.net
Book Depository Affiliate: bookdepository.com


Until next time-


-Jannelle


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