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Pleasant Hill Grain Blog

Helping you achieve your culinary dreams.

The Best Make-Ahead Recipe – Cookbook Review

The Best Make-Ahead Recipe – Cookbook Review featured image

Title: The Best Make-Ahead Recipe

Who Wrote it: The editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Published By: America’s Test Kitchens

Type of Recipes: 300+ Make-ahead recipes for all occasions!

Baking/Cooking Level: Beginner to Advanced


Recipes we’ve tried: Beef Hash with Root Vegetables and Poached Eggs

Cover: Hardback

Pages: 435

Highlights: This cookbook is practical and useful, a must-have for every busy cook! If you love to entertain or want all of your weekday dinners stored in advance, this book is the perfect tool. We love that the editors wrote it for both everyday meals and holiday dinner parties in mind. They experimented with each recipe to find the best way to make, store, and prepare for serving while preserving the best taste and texture. 

This cookbook is laid out like your mom’s favorite old cookbook, with a modern twist. There are tips and tricks throughout, from choosing canned, jarred or frozen ingredients, to scaling recipes up or down, to slicing techniques, storing, conversions and so much more. There are helpful black and white illustrations showing techniques and photo instructions, as well as a section of colored photos picturing a sampling of the final dishes. The book is separated by recipe type: appetizer, sides, slow-cooker favorites, casseroles, breakfast, etc. Each section also includes a table of contents at the beginning showing the recipes and each variation.

The wide variety of recipes make this book helpful to just about anyone. Although there are no diet-specific recipes, many are easily adaptable or fit several diets. With such a large selection, there’s something for everyone! We use this cookbook in our PHG kitchen from time to time, and have found the recipes to be easily adaptable and delicious! We believe this book would become a quick favorite for you too.

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Bread Revolution – A Cookbook Review

Bread Revolution – A Cookbook Review featured image

Title: Bread Revolution

Author: Peter Reinhardt
Publisher: Random House
Recipes: 50 recipes and formulas for whole grain breads
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Cover: Hardcover
Pages: 256

Highlights: Bread Revolution is a fitting title for Peter Reinhardt’s narration of bread baking methods. Although an enthusiastic beginner who wants to dive deep into artisan bread baking would find this book useful, it’s probably best suited for those who already have some bread baking experience.

Reinhardt laid out the book in a helpful, instructive way, helping readers understand the science behind baking, sourdough, shaping techniques, sprouted grains and more.

Following an in-depth introduction of the past bread trends and the adaptive changes bakers made to follow the needs of consumers, a comprehensive tutorial in chapter one meticulously covers necessary tools and techniques for home bread baking. If you don’t have all the tools suggested, Reinhardt often offers an idea for a simple substitute that you probably do have. 

You’ll find step-by-step directions, and many how-to photos for shaping dough into artisan, sandwich bread, baguettes, boules and more. Chapter one is complete with a glossary to help you understand bread baking phrases and lingo.

Reinhardt filled this cookbook with exceptionally detailed recipes and tips for excellent sourdough primer, sprouted grain flour, and whole-grain flours. He covers nutritional values, the science of the trade, variations for flavors in muffins or bread, and gluten-free recipes. You’ll find delicious recipes for focaccia, pizza crust, sandwich, artisan, bagels, challah, croissants, brioche, and so much more! We loved the variety of recipes, grains, and techniques Peter showcases in this book. It’s a pleasure to read, and a book that will inspire you to bake delicious recipes without being afraid to explore all the possibilities! By all, we really do mean all!

Reinhardt concludes the book with a section on where he believes the bread revolution is headed, with a look at prebiotics and experimentation with types of sourdough starter.

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The Pizza Bible – A Cookbook Review

The Pizza Bible – A Cookbook Review featured image

Title: The Pizza Bible

Author: Tony Gemignani
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Recipes: Pizza! Dough, sauces, toppings and baking techniques!
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Cover: Hardcover
Pages: 310

Highlights: We’ve probably all made an easy homemade pizza dough topped with store-bought pizza sauce, cheese, and slices of pepperoni before. Sometimes it gets fancier, but most people don’t know how to make pizza that has the amazing taste and texture as the pizza places of Chicago or New York. What if you could create the flavors and texture of pizzeria-style pizza right at home? The Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani is for just that! With this book, any novice or experienced pizza baker can craft delicious pizza in a home or commercial oven.

Gemignani starts out the book with a master class on pizza-making techniques and the best ingredients and equipment to use. Much of the equipment you may already have in your kitchen, but you’ll want to pair this book with a quality pizza stone or steel for the best crust turnout (this combo would make a great gift!). 

Every pizza style you can think of is included: Chicago, Sicilian, California, Regional Italian and more! Also included are instructions for grilled pizza, wrapped and rolled pizza like calzones, and focaccia bread recipes. Chef Gemignani is a world-renowned pizza baking champion, and his expertise is apparent with “pro-tips,” step-by-step photos and instructions, and notes from his personal teaching experience.

Flipping through the pages of The Pizza Bible you’ll feel like you’re looking at the recipes of a retro pizza diner, with a crisp, red and white colorscheme. You’ll discover how to make famous Chicago deep dish, nutrient-rich multigrain dough, grandma’s pizza, and even hand-crushed tomato sauce and homemade mozzarella! Chef Gemignani will open your eyes to all the possible topping combinations and delicious flavors! You’ll also learn how to bake the pizza for each style, like using a wood-fired oven (including how to build your own and troubleshoot) or home-oven broiler for regional Italian pizza. 

Who would enjoy this cookbook? A novice home baker who wants to save money and perfect a new craft, or an advanced pizza maker searching for new techniques, homemade ingredient recipes, and flavor fusion ideas! Although Chef Gemignani does not include a gluten-free recipe, he does include a  GF flour blend suggestion. Many of the techniques, toppings, and sauce recipes are adaptable to several dietary needs. 

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10 Recipes to Make This Winter

We all end up in a rut of making the same dishes over and over again, so here are fresh ideas to spruce up your recipe rotation this winter. We’ve included recipes that utilize in season ingredients that can boost your immune system for combating illness this winter.

Buying in-season foods helps save money on groceries, as well as gives diversity to your cooking throughout the year. Seasonal foods also have the best flavor and value for your money. Some recipes may be written for specific appliances or tools we offer, but feel free to adapt them to your appliances if needed, or find the product we suggest using linked at the bottom of the recipe.

Examples of seasonal winter foods:

  • Root vegetables: beets, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, radishes
  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Winter Squash
  • Citrus fruits: grapefruit, orange, lemons (good sources of Vitamin C!)
  • Pomegranates
  • Dark, leafy greens, such as kale

Hearty Breakfast Porridge

Here are two variations of a nutritious and filling breakfast porridge. Both of these recipes are gluten-free and are simple to prepare. Both the amaranth & steel-cut oats and soaked buckwheat & chia porridge recipes are packed with fiber, protein and vitamins.

Winter Carrot Salad with Cranberries

This sweet and beautiful side dish is full of winter ingredients. Serve this simple winter carrot salad with cranberries alongside a hearty stew, brisket, or pork loin.

Roasted Winter Squash with Maple-Soy Glaze

This roasted winter squash with maple-soy glaze is the perfect way to use seasonal produce for a nutritious and comforting side dish. The glaze recipe can be paired with any winter squash.

Quinoa & Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

One of our most popular recipes, this quinoa & maple roasted brussels sprouts couldn’t be easier! It’s tasty, simple, filling, and nutritious. Oh, and its gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan-friendly too! What more could we ask for in a wintry dish?

Ukrainian Borscht

It wouldn’t be winter without a proper round-up of soups. This traditional Ukrainian Borscht recipe is full of nutritious root vegetables, and boasts a beautiful deep red color. The recipe is written as vegetarian, while some add sausage or other meat for an even heartier dish.

Buckwheat Soup with Cauliflower & Turmeric

This buckwheat soup with cauliflower and turmeric recipe is a truly comforting soup, perfect for winter sick days. It includes vegetables, whole grains, healing turmeric, and chicken. This soup is gluten free and with the omission of chicken, it’s also vegan-friendly!

Slow Cooking Wine Stew

Slow cooking wine stew is a tasty twist on the American classic, “meat and potatoes” dinner. This recipe is designed for the Zojirushi Gourmet d’Expert electric skillet, but may be easily adapted to cooking on a stove top or in a pressure cooker.

Chicken Mac ‘n Cheese Bake

This baked More Cheese Please Mac ‘n Cheese  is the perfect comfort food this winter. This recipe is made simpler by using fully cooked, and excellent tasting, Keystone canned chicken. If you don’t have any on hand, use about one pound of cooked chicken breast or rotisserie chicken. You may also omit the chicken entirely for a vegetarian dish. Try mixing in your favorite veggies for added nutrients!

Healthful Orange-Chocolate Cake

This popular orange-chocolate cake recipe has so many hidden and healthful ingredients that you could eat it for breakfast! 😉 The cake is made with beets for color and for an interesting (and delicious!) flavor profile that pairs well with the chocolate.

Cinnamon Rolls

As Nebraskans, we simply have to include cinnamon rolls as a staple recipe for the winter. Cinnamon rolls and chili are a classic Midwestern combo. Some eat a spoonful of chili and then a bite of roll, while others may go as far as smothering a cinnamon roll in chili! It might sound bizarre, but is delicious! Try the whole wheat variation for a more nutritious option.

There you have it! Ten delicious wintry recipes that are sure to keep your family full and cozy during the winter months. Peruse our Recipe Index for more ideas and even submit your own. We wish you a warm and healthy winter!

Bonus: If you happen to enjoy winter camping, read our winter camping food guide for recommendations of meals and ingredients to make in the great outdoors!
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Pleasant Hill Grain Christmas Gift Guide 2019

Snowflakes have fallen outside our windows here in Nebraska, and the cold weather and shorter daylight hours remind us the holiday season is just around the corner. While we adore this significant time of year, it’s easy to let the busyness of the season overwhelm our lives, and we’re guessing it may be the same for you. We want you to be well prepared for the holidays this year, so you’re able to enjoy them to their fullest!

We understand Christmas shopping can be difficult, so we’re here to make your life easier and to put the fun back into this often-stressful undertaking. So slow down, grab your cup of cocoa (or hot tea), switch on your favorite music and peruse our gift guide. From the Happy Camper to the Busy Parent, and Coffee Fanatic on your list, we assure you, there are unique gifts here each of them will be excited to open Christmas morning!

~ Pleasant Hill Grain Christmas Gift Guide ~

Breakfast Lover

Some people wake up early enough to sit and leisurely enjoy their first meal of the day. Treat those bright-eyed, breakfast loving sweethearts to a Skeppshult Cast Iron Egg Pan. Hopefully, they’ll wait until after 7:00 am to call and tell you how much they love it.

Little Munchkins

Help your child feel a part of the mealtime conversation with an OXO Tot Nest Booster. This booster safely straps to multiple styles of chair and keeps your little one secure from 9 months to 50 pounds. Opt for a booster rather than a bulky high chair if you’re low on space, want one to keep at grandma’s house, or to bring along on travels.

Fast Food Junkie

Well, “junkie” might be an exaggeration, but who doesn’t love some crispy french fries? Consider the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven for that friend who’s trying to eat healthier, a college student in their first apartment, for an RV or camper kitchen, or a busy parent who wants to make chicken nuggets for their hungry toddler quickly.  A full-sized convection toaster oven, this appliance doubles as an air fryer by using extremely hot air to “fry”  without needing extra oil. As a convection oven, your food will bake faster than your full-sized oven and preheat quickly, so you can prepare hot and delicious food in a pinch.   

Manly Man

Your flannel-wearing bearded beast can always be a little tricky to shop for. Suppress your desire to buy him hair gel or cologne (which he won’t use) and get him something he will be equally excited about like Canned Bacon (complete with a camouflage can) or really knock his wool socks off with a TSM 5 lb Sausage Stuffer.


Doting Grandma

Doesn’t she relish having your kids join her in the kitchen? Whether it’s to bake Christmas cookies or teach them to make a grilled cheese sandwich, what grandmas care about most is to have their precious grandchildren next to them. Let the little ones join in the fun with the Step-Up Kitchen Helper. They’ll love being right in the middle of the action and you might even end up with a passionate dish washer!


Artisan Baker

Dough Proofing Basket, roundArtisan bread, pizza, and pastry bakers are a busy and often nocturnal bunch. They live by the rule that many new parents live by, “sleep when your baby sleeps”, or rather, “sleep when your dough sleeps.” In order to get a proper rise and fermentation (for sourdough), the dough must rest for hours, often overnight. Frieling Bread Proofing baskets are a comfortable and safe place for bread to rest, holding its shape well. Your artisan baker friend may have a few proofing baskets already, but more baskets for them means more bread they can bake… and share ;).

Does your baker friend truly have enough proofing baskets? See our full Artisan Baking category here for other supplies they might need.

Aspiring Foodie

We all have a truly lovable, Instagram-worthy food snob in our lives.  Help them stylize their photos with an Olive Wood Cutting Board. It’s perfect for preparing and presenting their mouth-watering creations. How gorgeous would a charcuterie spread look on this?!


Beautiful color options and excellent performance combine in the Excaibur Dehydrator and would be the perfect surprise for your loved one who always finds the time and energy to waste not. It may even benefit you because, from our experience, preservers love to share.



new_millennium_PRI-G_gasoline_stabilizer_175For the ever-prepared, add to their ready-for-anything collection with a bottle of PRI-G Gasoline Stabilizer Fuel Treatment or PRI-D Diesel Fuel Treatment. PRI fuel stabilizer dramatically extends fuel storage life, and enhances overall performance. PRI is an industrial grade product and is far more concentrated than competing brands. They’re sure to be thrilled with its capabilities and wonder why they haven’t thought of needing it before!

If your prepper has already thought of fuel treatment, here are more gift ideas for them.

Happy Camper

Everyone has an avid hiker in their realm. They already have pants that zip off into shorts, trail mix and athletic sandals. How awesome would it be if they could safely drink water right out of a pond or stream on a long camping trip? You can give them this gift with the Sport Berkey Water Bottle! The Berkey exclusive filter element is impregnated with proprietary absorbing media that promotes ionic absorption of pollutants within the micro-porous element, such as aluminum, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, and other dangerous heavy metals. The “tortuous path” structure of these pores gives it its unique characteristics. The Sport Berkey achieves 99.9% contaminant reduction.

The best part? The Berkey Sport Water Bottle is on sale this year!

The Whole Family 

Choose a gift the whole family will enjoy, a pizza oven! Ooni pizza ovens bring your homemade pizza night to a whole new level. With temperatures up to 932° F and a stone baking surface, pizza goes from average to a professional pizzeria in a matter of minutes. These ovens are only to be operated by adults, but kids are expert pizza topping arrangers, making Ooni pizza ovens the perfect family-night gift. Plus, Ooni pizza ovens can be used for all sorts of recipes!

Coffee Fanatic

2014_coffee_fanaticIt’s likely your caffeine-fueled friend already has every conceivable way to make coffee. They also probably already have a favorite travel mug, but it really isn’t as amazing as the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Insulated SlickSteel Mug. Elegant and compact in design, this highly durable all-stainless vacuum bottle offers superior thermal retention. Though its unique slim body is designed to occupy minimal space, it features a wide mouth design that can accommodate standard size ice cubes. Other features include a flip-open lid with a lock and a stick-resistant polished stainless interior. They will never settle for a lukewarm drink again whether it started out hot or cold!

Expert Gift Bundles

We’ve created gift bundle sets for those that love making delicious homemade bread and apple pie (or want to start!). These sets include the necessary tools and recipes to make apple pie and whole wheat bread, again and again—a gift that keeps on giving! This is the perfect idea for “Secret Santa” exchanges, school giveaways/fundraisers, a teacher or boss, a family gift, or that relative that’s hard to shop for.

Browse here for a Popcorn Party, Cinnamon Rolls, Cookie Essentials, Ice Cream & Artisan Baker’s gift bundles!

Let Them Choose

Looking for a last-minute gift or still just can’t find the right item for someone on your list? Gift cards to the Pleasant Hill Grain kitchen store might be just what you need (and what your friends will love)! The cards won’t expire and are available in amounts of $25.00, $50.00, $75.00, $100.00, $250.00, and $500.00. Print or email, it’s up to you.

Find affordable stocking stuffers of great quality at Pleasant Hill Grain! They’re the perfect add-on to any order if you need a few more dollars to reach free shipping!


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