Buon Appetito!

Today I'm participating in Holly Sinclair's Foodie Blog Tour 2014. This is one of my favorite blog hops ever because it lets me share with you another of my passions, which is cooking.

Holly has published a lot of cookbooks! The one I chose is 365 NIGHTS. I've owned the print copy of this cookbook for a few years, and I love it.

One of the reasons I love it is the way it's organized. Complete dinners for every night of the year. I'm not nearly put together enough to follow it through for a full year, but if I were, we would enjoy a totally different dining experience every single night.

Another reason I like this book is there's a back-to-basics section that includes basic recipes like rice, mashed potatoes, etc., plus an excellent substitution list and other kitchen basics.

I asked Holly a few questions, and you'll see those down below with the photos. The questions don't match the photos, but it's a good spot to put them. What? This is the Tiki Hut, LOL!

My final choice of what to prepare came down to a yummy favorite - a Southwestern chicken dish called Santa Fe Chicken with Rice and Beans - and one of my all-time Italian favorites called Spaghetti alla Checca.

Spaghetti won because this dish is pretty, and it's sooooooo easy to make. Even if you don't like to cook, you can make this dish in 30 minutes or so, and your family and/or guests will think you've been hiding your foodie obsession. It's instant gourmet with no fuss, no muss.


Because alla checca is a raw sauce using fresh, uncooked ingredients.

This is a perfect dish to make on hot summer nights, but it's also wonderful in cooler times of the year to bring back the fresh summer tastes we all love. Plus there's a surprise in the preparation that will make you smile :)

So moving along, here's the recipe:
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 8 oz. whole-milk mozzarella, small diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, mozzarella, and herbs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a sautepan until smoking hot. Immediately pour over the tomato mixture. When pasta is done, drain and add to the tomato mixture. Toss until well coated. Cover the bowl and let stand 2 minutes.

See? I wasn't kidding when I said EASY!

I halved the recipe because only Live-In Handyman and I were eating. And I used grape tomatoes cut in two instead of chopping larger ones. This is all you need.

Me: How long did it take you to compile the recipes and dinner combinations for 365 NIGHTS?

Holly: I would love to say just 365 days, but it's more like two years. Many of the recipes were already in my files, but others had to be adapted and tested.

If you think my oregano and thyme looked a little wicked, it's because they were already drying in the pots. But the fresh flavor was still there. Here is everything in the bowl. Looks like the Italian flag!

Me: What's your favorite thing to prepare for dinner, and is the recipe included in this book?

Holly: This tends to be seasonal. In the fall, I love to make soups and stews. My favorite is Minestrone Soup. It goes together so quick and eating it give me a nice energy boost. It is in the book.

Another thing about alla Checca is you can add your favorites like green onions, garlic, black or green olives. You can also add grilled chicken or sliced Italian sausage. Or whatever you wish. And you it with other forms of pasta such as farfalle or penne, etc. But here's how it looks served in bowls after following Holly's recipe. See how pretty!

Me: How did you learn to cook?

Holly: Trial and error. Lots of both.

Thank you, Holly, for such a great cookbook!

One commenter on this post will win a free digital copy of this cookbook. To enter, just leave a comment. If you want to leave a comment but don't want to enter, add "I hate food" to your comment. The winner will be announced on October 31st on Holly's blog.

365 Nights: Menus & Recipes for Every Night of the Year
You can put something different on your dinner table each night for an entire year! The meals in this book are easy to prepare, and they are balanced to provide a variety of taste sensations, ingredients, and nutrients. The flavors will appeal to your family and to dinner guests of all ages.
Cost: $19.95 print | $3.99 ebook

If you buy the print version of the book from Amazon, you get the digital version free.

Where to get it:
Amazon (print) [http://www.amazon.com/365-Nights-Menus-Recipes-Every/dp/1479103926/]
Kindle [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009K7W5W0/]
Smashwords [https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/295730]
ibooks [https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/365-nights-menus-recipes-for/id661949989?mt=11]
Barnes & Nobles [http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/365-nights-holly-sinclair/1114863722?ean=2940044378773]

Holly Sinclair, who goes by Southpaw on the Interwebs, finds cooking cathartic. The recipes she's created and collected grew into cookbooks. Holly's trying her hand at fiction and food seems to creep into most of her books.
Holly Sinclair Cookbooks, the website [http://www.iamhrsinclair.com/cookbooks/]
HR Sinclair, the blog [http://www.iamhrsinclair.com/]

Join Holly on the rest of her Blog Tour [http://www.iamhrsinclair.com/cookbooks/foodie-blog-tour-2014/], each stop features a different cookbook and a chance for a free ebook!

You can join in the fun by signing up for the End of Tour Foodie Blog Hop!
Talk about a fond food memory, describe your disasters in the kitchen, post your favorite recipe or pictures of food, or do anything food related. Sign up here. [http://www.iamhrsinclair.com/cookbooks/foodie-blog-tour-2014/]

This is the last week to push the big WIN button at the top of my right sidebar for a chance to win Susan Swiderski's two books:
They will make fantastic Christmas gifts for readers on your list!


A meal for every day of the year. That's cool. And probably took a lot of effort to put together.
Your presentation is restaurant perfect, Carol. Want to come cook for me?
L. Diane Wolfe said…
We love pasta at our house and Monday is always spaghetti night. Now I have a recipe to try.
Jemi Fraser said…
Sounds delicious! And definitely easy :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Alex - Putting any cookbook together would probably send me around the bend. Too long a commute - y'all will have to visit :)

Holly - My pleasure. It was fun making this and taking pictures of what I did.

Diane - You'll like this one!
Carol Kilgore said…
Jemi - You could ALMOST do it one-handed :)
Julie Flanders said…
I'm the world's worst cook and would love to hire you to cook for me LOL. I'm totally starving after reading this post and looking at these yummy pics!
Very cool! That dish sounds awesome. I'll take mine with green onions, garlic, and chicken. Hold the olives (gross!).
Bish Denham said…
That looks SO good.I wish I could eat tomatoes... maybe I could do with red peppers... hmmm.

Holly's cookbook sounds like a winner! Who doesn't need a meal for every night of the year?
A Beer For The Shower, I think you made the olives so sad.

Bish, peppers would be good.

Carol Kilgore said…
Julie - Move to San Antonio and we'll talk :)

It's easy for a novice, too.
Anonymous said…
Looks really appetising thanks for sharing this,
Stephen Tremp said…
I'm going to download this book. I could use a few new recipes.
Liza said…
Gosh, it's hard to read this when I'm starving. What a wonderful, healthy looking recipe!
Lexa Cain said…
365 days of recipes? That reminds me of the movie "Julie & Julia." The pics of the dish you featured look YUMMY!! I must go eat something NOW!!
Jennifer Shirk said…
Holly's book sounds great!

And your recipe looks yummo!!
Helena said…
I'm trying out the spaghetti recipe. And Yes, I'd definitely like to be considered for this cook book because I need all the help I can get, and hers sounds fabulous.
Leandra Wallace said…
Mmm, you can never go wrong w/spaghetti- and that looks like such a nice light and yummy one!
Mason Canyon said…
A cookbook that features a meal for every day of the year sounds like a must have for our household. Great photos Carol. Great cookbook Holly.
Carol Kilgore said…
Yvonne, Liza, Leandra & Jennifer - This is one of my go-to meals when I'm in a hurry.

Stephen - Yay! Holly has some great ones in here.

Lexa - I loved "Julie & Julia"! Glad you liked the pics.

Helena - Yay! It's a great recipe, and the book has many more. It was hard to choose.

Mason - It's great. You don't have to think about sides. Glad you liked the photos.
A great tool--someone providing an idea and recipe for a meal 365. I do worry about leap year though.

Okay I must admit I'm a darn good cook, but I hate cooking. Can we still be friends?
Complete dinners for every night of the year. Definitely a handy book! Imagine, no more stressing over WHAT to cook? Sounds like bliss. The greatest problem is WHAT to cook. Once you've established that, then half the battle's won. (in my opinion...)
(Btw, yours was the winning definition in my Fun With Whacky Words over at my place...)
Melissa said…
Both this recipe and the book sound great!
I've been rather uninspired lately with my cooking. This sounds like just what I need. :)
so glad you went with the spaghetti dish since I'm vegetarian--this sounds so good and SO easy--can't wait to try it!
L.G. Smith said…
Holly's cookbooks are great. I own a couple of them. Perfect resource for holidays and special occasions. :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Teresa - I hate cooking, too, if I'm preparing the same things over and over and not being creative. As long as I fix new things or change up standards, I'm cool. I hate cleanup. We're still friends :)

Michelle - I totally agree about the WHAT. How cool about the wacky word! I'll be over. I don't remember what it was LOL!

Melissa - Both are great.

Beth Ellyn - Perfect! I hope you like it.

L.G. - I agree!
Stephanie Faris said…
I like the idea of that cookbook. I get so tired of making the same stuff all the time!
cleemckenzie said…
I'm constantly on the hunt for fast and good and fresh. This is it! Thanks!
Christine Rains said…
That looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing.
Tara Tyler R said…
what a great and deliciously fun hop! that recipe sounds scrumptious!
Carol Kilgore said…
Stephanie - So do I!

Lee - Enjoy!

Christine - It is yummy!

Tara - Fast, easy, and scrumptious...win/win/win :)
Mark Noce said…
Looks tasty...so when can I come over and try it? ;)
Loni Townsend said…
This is one I'm going to need to pick up for myself. I'm horrible at planning meals, but I think this would give me some great ideas to prep for. And that spaghetti looks gorgeous.
Carol Kilgore said…
Mark - That pasta is history! I'll be making it again in a couple of weeks.

Loni - Thanks. The cookbook is great.
Pasta is one of the great loves of my life :)
Anonymous said…
Such a cool concept for a cookbook.

I'm a pasta fiend and this has made me hungry.
Your spaghetti looks absolutely mouth-watering! I'll have to try to make your recipe sometime, though I don't think my version will turn out as delicious!

Carol Kilgore said…
OE - Mine, too :)

Medeia - Join the club!

Julie - Holly's recipe is so easy. Yours will be just as good.
Sounds good!!! Happy Halloween!
Crystal Collier said…
Oh my goodness, that looks SO delicious. I've totally enjoyed Holly's blog tour. Super fun. (And hunger-inducing.)

Unleashing the Dreamworld
Val Poore said…
This sounds delicious! I wish I enjoyed cooking, but I'm afraid I don't. Maybe I'll get the book for someone who does :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Cathrina - Happy Halloween back!

Crystal - Totally agree about the hunger :)

Val - Smart woman :)
I love the idea of a meal for each day! What a great concept. Love the photos, too - that one truly does look like the Italian flag!
Dee said…
Dear Carol, thanks so much for this informative posting and for the recipe. I've been a vegetarian for 34 years and this recipe just whets my appetite for pasta! I'm going to make it. Peace.
Carol Kilgore said…
Dawn - It's a great cookbook!

Dee - My pleasure. I hope you'll enjoy it. I did :)
Anonymous said…
Looks great! Big fan of spaghetti.
DMS said…
This sounds like a great cookbook and I do agree with you that the recipe you shared sounds easy! It also sounds delicious. :)
Sound like a terrific book! I'm a cooking fool, too, and have a LOT of cookbooks and recipes. Even an old book set up with menus for every day of the year. But none by this author...I'll have to check her out. Thanks!
Carol Kilgore said…
Jess - Yummy!

Susan - I've found several really good dishes in this cookbook.