Lockdown Cooking

Lockdown Cooking

by Jennifer Lee, Kathy Moore, Melanie McDonald, Roxanne Wyss
Published by Crestline Books, Page Street Publishing, St. Martin's Griffin

Way back in the before times or the beginning times or whatever we are calling that time in early April when everything started to shut down, I read an article about cookbooks.  I don’t remember where it was now or even really what it was about, but I started browsing my library’s cookbook collection.  I put *a few* things on hold.  Then I forgot about them because they were actual physical books instead of ebooks so I wasn’t able to pick them up from the library until the end of July.

Turns out that I must of been hungry that day because I had stacks and stacks of books.  I flipped through most of them without nearly as much enthusiasm as I had back in April.  But there are three cookbooks that I have renewed over and over.  I just need to go ahead and order copies for myself.

Lockdown CookingVegan Comfort Cooking: 75 Plant-Based Recipes to Satisfy Cravings and Warm Your Soul by Melanie McDonald
on July 9, 2019
Pages: 208
Published by Page Street Publishing

Hearty Plant-Based Indulgences for Every Day of the Week

When Melanie McDonald first became a vegan, she was disappointed in the lack of vibrant, flavorful vegan recipes available—so she created her own. Now, she shares all her favorite homey recipes, ensuring that everyone can enjoy tasty plant-based dishes.

Pump up your mornings with Black Forest Breakfast Crepes or Rustic Skillet Potato and Greens Hash. Gather around the dinner table with family and friends to enjoy favorites like Soul-Warming Stew and Dumplings, Sticky Sweet-and-Sour Tofu and Rich and Saucy Bolognese. And satisfy all those between-meal cravings with sweets and snacks like Bangin’ BBQ Cauliflower Wings and Sky-High Apple Pie.

No matter the meal or occasion, Melanie’s recipes prove that the vegan versions of familiar favorites leave you feeling nourished and satisfied.



I consider myself pretty well versed in the all the tips and tricks of vegan cooking.  What really impresses me at this point is a vegan cookbook with recipes that are made using actual vegetables, fruits, and grains.  No fancy ingredients required.

I started looking through this book and immediately wanted to make everything in it.  That’s super rare for me.  So far, I’ve made the BBQ meatloaf several times.  It is made mainly of mushrooms, oats, and breadcrumbs.  Sometimes you just need a good loaf to be a vehicle for BBQ sauce.  I made up a bunch and froze them to pull out and make as needed.

I made the roasted garlic alfredo which was pretty good.  That’s high praise because I don’t even like alfredo.  See how tempting this book is?  It made the dish so tempting that I flat out forgot that I didn’t like it.

I haven’t even gotten into the desserts or breads yet.  I feel like before I cook more out of it and make a mess I need to be working with my own copy and not the library’s.

This one is definitely a keeper.  These are standards that I’ll be coming back to time and time again.  Nothing fancy but everything is solid.

Lockdown CookingDelicious Dump Cakes: 50 Super Simple Desserts to Make in 15 Minutes or Less by Roxanne Wyss, Kathy Moore
on May 3, 2016
Pages: 128
Published by St. Martin's Griffin

Now anyone can bake rich, wonderful, and comforting desserts and get out of the kitchen in lightning-fast speed. Quick and convenient dump cakes are perfect for families with children who always want to help, for home cooks on the go and for anyone who just wants to keep their cooking simple. It's the answer to the constant barrage of "bring a dish" events and the balm that calms dessert cravings.

Inside you'll find a wide array of cakes and desserts that require minimal utensils to prepare. For nearly all of the recipes, simply open readily available cans or a package of cake mix and layer in the pan. Never again will you have to struggle with complex steps or deal with lots of dirty dishes.

Simple, filling, and comforting, these cakes are timeless, reminiscent of grandma's house or that scout troop cookout. Discover decadent Pumpkin Bourbon Nut Cake perfect for fall picnics, classic favorites like Upside Down Pineapple Cake, or Easy Peasy Peach Cake for those nights you have a sweet tooth but not much energy. Other recipes feature new, innovative flavor combinations, from decadent chocolate and salted caramels, to fresh tasting fruits: the array of flavors is nearly endless. Delicious Dump Cakes from Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore is your ticket to a fast dessert whenever you crave it!


Is it weird that dump cakes are a new thing for me?  I feel like this is one of those things that everyone else probably knew about and I didn’t.

I went on a shopping spree for cake mixes and instant pudding to make a bunch of the cakes in this book.  I don’t usually make cakes at home but using these ingredients made it super easy to have a dessert on a week night.

I was thrilled to find that despite everything I’ve ever been told instant pudding mixed with non-dairy milk worked just fine in these cakes.  I started with a black forest cake made with chocolate cake and canned pie filling.  Definitely not super gourmet but also definitely the kind of food I grew up on.  It was yummy.

I did make one other substitution that didn’t turn out so well.  I was making the mango cake and it needed 1 cup of orange juice.  I didn’t have any of that.  I figured a tropical cake could have a bit of rum in it.  I was right.  The rum lightly flavored the cake.  It was delightful.  However, I probably should have done maybe a 1/4 cup of rum with 3/4 cup of water instead of just dumping a whole cup of rum over the cake.  The cake part was fine.  The mangos on the bottom of the cake pan probably could have walked under their own power.  Just a touch strong.

Lockdown CookingQuick and Easy Mug Cakes: Over 75 Yummy Microwave Cakes by Jennifer Lee
on May 7, 2019
Pages: 160
Published by Crestline Books

Don't think you can make a warm, gooey homemade cake in under five minutes? Think again!

Quick and Easy Mug Cakes is the perfect gift for anyone with a mug, a microwave, and a dream. With over 75 delectable recipes for cakes, brownies, cookies, and more, every single recipe can be made in an ordinary, microwave-safe mug in just a few minutes. Author Jennifer Lee, creator of the food blog Kirbie's Cravings, guides you through simple recipe favorites like:

2-Ingredient Flourless Nutella® Cake Salted-Caramel Chocolate Cake Funfetti Cake S'mores Cake Strawberries & Cream Cake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Red Velvet Cake Lemon Dream Cake and dozens more! Featuring special chapters like Skinny Mug Cakes (all under 200 calories!), Gluten-Free Mug Cakes, and even 4-Ingredients-or-Less Mug Cakes, there is no excuse for eating tasteless, packaged desserts anymore. Every recipe in Quick and Easy Mug Cakes is simple, fast, and delicious. The best part? If you mix your ingredients right in your favorite mug, there is next to no cleanup!


I’ve ignored the whole mug cake phenomenon for two reasons:

  1.  Cakes aren’t my go-to snacks
  2.  I didn’t have a microwave for years

I have a microwave again so I tried out this book.  Now I feel like one of those people who wander around a few years too late accosting people to ask if they knew that you could make a single serving cake in your microwave?  I’ve tried a few of these and am still not over thinking that it is magic.  If I wasn’t trying to eat a bit healthier (i.e. not trying out EVERY mug cake recipe) I’d be making one of these a day – for purely educational reasons of course.  


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