The hostess with the mostest ~ Bread and Wine review & giveaway!

I’m so excited to be sharing a review of the book Bread & Wine by author and blogger Shauna Niequist.  Bread & Wine is Shauna’s third book following her bestselling books Cold Tangerines, and Bittersweet.  Bread & Wine is the perfect read for those who love food and cherish the community and connection of family and friends around the table.

Bread & Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships and the meals that bring us together.  This book is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table.  It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them.  It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.  Bread & Wine is an honest, vulnerable spiritual memoir that will make you laugh and cry, and hungry for more!!


Where do I start.  How about we start five years ago when I attended a women’s retreat and Shauna was the speaker.  I had no idea who she was, I just knew I needed a weekend away.  I thought to myself if the speaker stinks I’ll just read in my bunk and take lots of naps.  OK let me just say I never opened my book and I got zero extra sleep that weekend.  Shauna was amazing, and I didn’t want to miss a second of her sessions where she shared about life and read excerpts from her book Cold Tangerines.  She wove her love for food and nourishing others into nearly every session.  This girl was speakin’ my language!  At the end I purchased a box of her book and plopped my butt down next to her and said….”you need to write a book about food, or gathering people around food”…er something like that.  She told me she had a book in the works along those lines, but then she wrote Bittersweet.  Which I loved but it was not the book I was waiting for!  So finally 5 long years later Bread & Wine is here.  Hallelujah!  I have to admit I was a little worried of being let down because I had been looking forward to this book for so long.  Was I let down?  Not in the least!!  Oh my goodness!  I loved every chapter, I hated for it to end.

I started highlighting my favorite parts so I would remember what I wanted to share, but I ended up running a highlighter dry on chapter two.  So then I started folding pages over that one made me laugh or cry or two made my heart feel like it was going to burst straight out of my chest.  OK this is the most highlighted dog earred book on the planet.  What to say?! Where to start?  I decided to share the chapter that I felt unearthed me the most, the one that really gave my gut a twist.


The name of the chapter is Happy New Year.  In this chapter Shauna writes about hosting a New Years Eve party…but it’s not on New Years Eve becasue they are always with family on NYE, it’s at the end of January.  Anyway because of the party they decided to have the inside of their house painted….which opened a can of worms and by the end  they had a complete kitchen remodel underway.  From the kitchen remodel being wrapped up the day of the party,  to grossly underestimating the time she needed to prepare the food, to guest canceling, and new guest arriving, people coming late, others leaving their spouses at home because of family issues the night read like a disaster.  Here’s what Shauna writes about the evening:

The night wasn’t even close to what I’d pictured, and the table was a wreck, like musical chairs, with people coming and going and switching seats all evening, but this is the thing:  it was perfect.  It was just as it should have been, and nothing close to what I could have planned.  And that’s what makes a good party– when the evening and the people and the conversations and the feeling in the room are allowed to be what ever they need to be for that night. 


In this same chapter Shauna shares about a friend who likes to entertain, but she wants everything perfect…so much so that her guests feel manhandled, and manipulated and this infuriated  her, but Shauna figured out that it bothered her so much because it reminded her of herself.  Ouch. Isn’t this usually true?  The things that bug us most about our friends and family are the things that if we do some serious self evaluation we would find are exactly who we are!  This is why I picked to share chapter 27.   Being labeled a manhandling host…hit a little to close to home for me too!  I was that friend.  I wanted to have dinner parties, and friends over.  But it had to be my way.  I worried, and obsessed.  Being organized is one thing being manic about every detail is another, and I was never happy with the way things turned out, and worst yet I could sense my guest were uncomfortable.  Yikes.  Over the years I have learned to simmer down.  To let things go.  To let others bring a dish to pass.  To sit and enjoy my guests and let the dishes stack up.  It has been a learning process.  Learning how to read the needs of your dinner guests takes some effort…but it’s work that needs to be done if you truly want to serve and love others around your table.

Shauna goes on to say:

In entertaining , as in every area of life, there are experts and rock stars, people who give us complexes and make us afraid, who load us up with expectations and set impossibly high standards so that most of us give up and the rest of us feel terrible about ourselves when we inevitably fall short.

But entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition.  It’s an act of love, if you let it be that.  You can twist it and turn it into anything you want ~ a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval.  Or you can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not a performance or a competition or striving.  You an decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment not neurotic proving.  You can decide!

Amen again!  I have decided!!!

I want to share a pivotal moment in life for me.  A few years back I hosted a girls night out dinner party, I made all the food, I had special drinks, and appetizers, and table decorations, the house was full of flowers.  It was perfect.  Ha!  Perfect for a magazine.  While the girls where  arriving and munching on appetizers I starting finishing up the dinner I had prepared.  I had made these mushrooms that are amazing…really amazing, can’t keep your paws off them amazing.  Well one of my dearest friends kept snitching them.  And I was worried there wouldn’t be enough so I snapped at her to stop eating the mushrooms, I might have even whacked her hand with a spoon..ugh.  The mood changed.  The fun was over.  Not really I think everyone still had fun and the food was great, but for me I had hurt and embarrassed my friend and my heart sank.  Who cares if the mushrooms are all eaten!  That’s what I made them for right?!  To be eaten!  Sheesh.  There were actually leftovers of those darn mushrooms…serves me right.  I couldn’t barely look at them let alone eat them I felt so bad about how I had treated my friend.  So that was my moment.  The moment I needed to have, to learn that entertaining is not about me it’s about loving others…and if that means letting them snitch all your mushrooms well then gol darn it so be it!!

That New Years Eve party was shaping up to be an epic production on my part(as was my “girls night out” party) – fancy invitations, lobster and champagne, cool new wallpaper.  I felt it coming, the pressure and the performance.  This could have been a show–brittle smile, jangled nerves, pushing and pulling and pressuring people to act perfectly in my production.  But it wasn’t.  Maybe it was the sheer chaos level that brought me back down to table, love, friendship.  Maybe it was years of regrets at the end of a night when I knew the party had been little more than an exercise in control, not true hospitality or soul.

It was a perfectly imperfect night, a sweet and special beginning to a new year ....just a few weeks late.


I am a pleaser.  I want everyone to be happy, everyone to be satisfied, everyone to have the very best time that they can have while they are at my home.  Hows the saying go?….you can’t be all things to all people…er something like that.  The best that I can do is give thanks for the opportunity to serve and love my friends and family through food, and give the rest over to God.  I also need to learn that everyones has a different style of entertaining, and I need to do what comes natural to me and not try and force my hand at entertaining in a way that I think others want me to…the pleaser in me again.  I need to cook what I know, love the best I know how, and fling my doors wide open to all at every opportunity.  This is joy.


Have I mentioned that Bread & Wine is full of really, really amazing recipes?  I have stacks of cookbooks but rarely do I actually cook out of any of them….usually I will read through a new cook book tag a few pages and never use it.  I was cooking the recipes from Bread and Wine before I was even finished with the book…like standing in the kitchen reading and cooking.  Shaunas book is highlighted dog eared and dripped on!  I have made Annette’s Enchiladas three times already, the Gaia cookies once, (they will be made frequently),  Goat Cheese Eggs several times, I have been making Shauna’s Mango Curry Chicken for years I’m not sure if it was on her blog or I emailed her for the recipe, it is a show stopper!  The recipe I chose to share here is the Green Well’s Michigan Harvest Salad.  Shauna lived in my town for several years and this recipe comes from my favorite restaurant in Grand Rapids, which is saying a lot, because Grand Rapids has quite the food scene, there are more than the average number of extraordinary eateries in this town.  This salad has been on their menu since the beginning.  It has a long list of ingredients, but it is simple and perfect.  I could eat it often….like every day often.  The recipe that was in the chapter that I wrote about is Sea Salt Toffee, but since I am still attempting to shed unwanted pounds I thought it best to steer clear of a recipe that is 100 percent sugar, and that I would for sure not be able to stop eating.





This book spoke to me in a way no book has in a very long time.  I loved it.  Every chapter was a new present waiting to be opened and then at the end was an amazing delicious treat of a recipe that had a story behind it.  The most mouthwaterly scrumptious recipes are the ones with storys behind them…recipes with history.  Because I loved this book so much.

I’m going to give away 5 copies!

To win all you need to do  is answer the following question in the comments:

What recipe do you make that is your goto comfort food recipe?

Is it Aunt Betty’s Pumpkin Pie, your grandma’s potato salad, your sisters tacos?  What is the history behind these recipes that makes them comforting to you?

That’s it.  And because I would more than anything love to spread the word about Bread & Wine to the masses if you want to pin this post on pinterest, share it on your facebook , or tweet about it you can come back and let me know that you did for an added bonus chance at winning.  Just make sure you properly link back to this post when sharing please!

One entry per person by answering the above question.

One bonus entry per person by sharing this post on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter, Instagram, or if you want to share about this giveaway by posting about it on your blog that would be great too!

Deadline to enter to win a copy of Bread & Wine will be Wednesday, April 17, 2013 11pm EST.


Shauna’s Bio
Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life–friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.
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  1. 1

    Wow I love this and I love that she has the Green Well salad in her book!!! For me it’s always Lebanese food – reminds me of my relatives. 🙂

  2. 2

    Lasagna is my favorite go to meal for comfort!

  3. 3
  4. 4

    This sounds like an incredible book 🙂 My go to comfort food is BBQ, our family and friends all love it and it reminds me of the great times we’ve enjoyed together. And oh my word, this salad couldn’t be more perfect – maple vinaigrette?! I need to make some of that 😉

  5. 5
  6. 6

    Roast chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. Definitely comfort food and instantly brings me back to my mother’s Sunday table.

  7. 7
    michele :

    meatloaf & mashed potatoes.

  8. 8

    My comfort food would be macaroni and cheese. My Grandmother made it for every family gathering. And a friend now requests that I make the M.acaroni and Cheese for her (she has even paid me to make it). I alway think of my Grandmother and my Aunt (who took over the tradition) when make it.

  9. 9

    Shared on Facebook!

  10. 10
    Kirstin :

    Macaroni and cheese for me too–a recipe called Ronald Reagan’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese, from the LA Times.

    Shauna is the daughter of Bill (founding pastor of Willow Creek) and Lynne Hybels.

  11. 11
    Cindy :

    For the record….it was only 2 mushrooms. All the multiple-mushroom nappers that you didn’t see weren’t fessin up either….you know who you are girls…..Carla…… =) =)

    • 11.1
      Sheila :

      Yes…to your defense, you were not the only snitcher you just caught the brunt of my unhostesslike conduct! xoxo love you!

  12. 12
    Mandy :

    I make my famous Chicken Pot Pie!

  13. 13
    Denise Lyons :

    Lasagna is my ultimate comfort food. I love making it and eating it!

  14. 14

    Baked chicken, it was a favorite family meal so it brings back not only comfort but good memories….and smells delicious!

  15. 15
    Kimberly Porter :

    I can relate to so many of these stories…really hit home. Thank you! My go to comfort food is a pot of slow cooked italian beef for sandwiches. Love those things!

  16. 16
    Kimberly Porter :

    I pinned this post. Can’t wait to try the salad!

  17. 17
    LaVonne Hegland :

    A big roast beef dinner with mashed potatoes because it reminds me of what my terrific mom would fix when I was growing up!

  18. 18
    Jill Hartley :

    It’s so easy it’s ridiculous… but my go to comfort is mashed potatoes and crock pot pot roast with the lipton soup mix… i love it… my hubby loves it… its just homey

  19. 19
    Kim B :

    My comfort food is roast & mashed potatoes!

  20. 20
    Kim B :

    I pinned this 🙂

  21. 21
    Linda :

    My go to comfort food is homemade meatballs and spaghetti. My mom made the best meatballs and I have a handwritten recipe she wrote for me. She is no longer here and the memories of this meal touch my heart.

  22. 22
    Judith M. :

    Baked spaghetti and garlic bread dripping with butter. If all else fails nothing beats Hersheys recipe for chocolate cake with chocolate icing.

  23. 23
    Linda :

    This is a wonderful post Sheila. It has all the emotion we experience. I had not heard of Shauna before and am happy to be introduced; thank you.

  24. 24
    MaryB :

    My favorite comfort food is mashed potatoes! Love them – but mac and cheese is a close second.

  25. 25
    julie K :

    Beef stew like my Mom used to make! I must read this authors’ books, she sounds amazing!

  26. 26
    Bobbie :

    My comfort food is two part: what I cook: chicken pot pie. it is so easy to make, always delicious. quick and my go to good home coooking dinner. my second choice what my husband cooks: a big pot of Gumbo. My husband makes it, so I can sit back and watch him mess up the kitchen… I mean… be blessed by his cooking skills, and there is nothing better on a cold evening! I am also putting this giveaway on my blog. this book sounds wonderful and I REALLY REALLY want to win it!!!

  27. 27

    lately we have been making jalapeño poppers!

  28. 28
    Laura D :

    Peanut butter chocolate chip banana bread 🙂

  29. 29
    Demetria Friberg :

    Love this post and I CAN NOT wait to dig into this book now. My go to comfort food is anything with a Mexican flare (ie authentic, tex mex, guacamole, chips and salsa, tres lache cake, etc.) I really don’t have one dish because I haven’t found a mexican dish recipe yet that I find offensive. I pinned, I shared on FB and I retweeted on twitter. Now to figure out how to instagram…hum?

  30. 30
    LaVonne Hegland :

    My comfort meal would be a beef roast dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy like my wonderful mom made when I was growing up!

  31. 31
    Lisa Mize :

    Ok, Sheila, I was planning on buying Shauna’s new book anyway…. my niece in Philly told me about it. She loved it too! So I sent Shauna a self addressed stamped envelope for her to autograph a couple of book plates for my niece! Cool huh?! Ok… my favorite comfort food is probably my homemade chicken and rice soup. I made some yesterday. Boiled all the ugly chicken feet and everything! My kids eat it up as soon as its ready to be slurped! And I feel good because bone broth soup is like good medicine for my kids! Your blog touched me too! I’ve been known to throw a party or two and have found I can also get too caught up in the preparation and everything looking just perfect thereby forgetting to ENJOY my guests and the evening. So, not too long ago I vowed to back off my perfectionistic tendencies and have FUN with my friends!!! I’m so glad I did. Am I really good at it yet? Probably not, but I’m gonna keep trying! Love you girl!!!

  32. 32
    Janey :

    Tonight – after a final hectic day at the office (April 15th tax deadline) – ‘you forgot to tell us about___! So we have to rerun your return??” – we need comfort food ! Meat Loaf and scalloped potatoes is our go to comfort menu. I am going to google Shauna and find her other books, too.
    I also enjoyed reading about your experience with your ‘girls night out’. We are having a gathering at our home Saturday evening and I guilty of planning EVERYTHING, and then I get uptight because I want everyone to enjoy the food and I’m a mess! I am going to rethink my strategy.
    Thanks, Sheila – love your blog – you are making my world a brighter place.

  33. 33
    Tammy H :

    Beef stew with cheddar dumplings!

  34. 34
    Amy :

    I love this post. It definitely rings true to this girl who strives for perfection. My comfort go-to is African Ground Nut Stew. It always reminds me of my childhood in Zaire and is filled with flavor.

  35. 35
    Shelley :

    Fresh bread — rolls, pita, french, banana, zucchini…
    I have my fingers crossed that YOU will put together a book someday soon!! 🙂

  36. 36
    Heather Baker :

    I like to make my momma’s tostadas, they never taste as good as hers, but I still love em’. I can’t wait to read the book. Tweeted, facebooked, pinned. Love you lady!!

  37. 37
    Jason Stursma :

    My go to comfort food is always home made Mac and cheese. It is so good with four different types of cheese and bacon!!

  38. 38
    Joan Pratt :

    Homemade Chicken noodle soup. My nieces & nephews ask for this all the time.

  39. 39
    Michelle Porter :

    I love pot roast.

  40. 40

    Oh Shiela, where do I begin? There is so much I can relate to in this post! I had the privilege to work with Shauna for a short time when she lived here. I was honored when she asked me to lunch one day. I could talk to her for hours, or I should say listen to her, I could probably talk to anyone for hours. LOL. I love her books, and I cannot wait to read this one. It is so up my alley! Of course, being the good dutch girl I am… I’d love to win it. 🙂 Food is all about the community and gathering. I am so passionate about this, unfortunately my family (siblings) is not so close knit. 🙁 I know my mom was really the one who held us together, and isn’t that the way it goes. When I was 15 my mom went into a depression in which she never came out of. I would have loved to learn from her in the kitchen. Due to the circumstances, she just wasn’t physically or emotionally available to me. Much later she was diagnosed with ALS and passed away 1 month to the day before my wedding. (sniff). I hope to share my love of food, cooking, entertaining, fellowshipping, etc., with my kids, and leave a legacy for them as well as fond memories of being around the table together.
    But, where was I? Are you still actually reading this? Ok, so my favorite comfort food that my mom made was her roast, we simply called it Beef, Carrots and Potatoes. My favorite comfort food I make would have to be guacamole, and chicken pot pie is a close second.

  41. 41

    Pinned this post! 🙂

  42. 42

    I just shared it on my face book! Hope you have a great night!

  43. 43
    Lauren :

    Pie of any sort is my go to,..takes me right back to my Grandma’s house when I make the pie crust from scratch.

  44. 44
    Jeanne :

    I love to make broasted chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy,. But my kids ,if asked, would say that my Mexican food, especially Tostadas, are always what they request. I just love to love my family and friends with food.

  45. 45
    Judith :

    I think anything related to cheese is my biggest comfort. Good old grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches come to mind first but my mom used to even make chicken noodle soup better by adding a slice or two of Jarlsberg to the top. Melty deliciousness!

  46. 46
    Adele Browne :

    My favorite comfort food is French Onion Soup with toasted rye bread and melted mozzarella on top.
    It is not simply delicious, but medicinal, too! Thank you for offering this opportunity to win Shauna Niequist’s new cookbook/storybook, BREAD & WINE. It sounds like a perfect combination (not that
    I strive for perfection…)

  47. 47

    Chicken & Dumplings is a favorite comfort food. Even though the ones I make are delish, mine don’t quite stack up to my sweet Granny’s…never could duplicate her recipe.

  48. 48
  49. 49

    I just tweeted about this review & giveaway.

  50. 50
    RaDonna Lanterman :

    I love to make steak (brisket) pizza, the taste, the smell, and, it attracts teen children to the table!!!
    Steak pizza and fellowship. That’s my goto♥

  51. 51
    Deb A. :

    Thank you for a wonderful post. I am looking forward to reading Shauna Niequist’s new book, BREAD & WINE. My favorite comfort food is Meatloaf and Mashed Potatos.

  52. 52
    shauna :

    Oh, Sheila, this post is amazing–thank you! And your photographs are beautiful. You’ve made my day, really. XO

    • 52.1
      Sheila :

      So happy you like it. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read. I didn’t say it in the post but I think my girlfriend and I will be doing the bookclub/dinner club this summer with our sisters…should be delicious!!
      Many blessings to you,

  53. 53
    Kristi :

    What a great post! Meatloaf is my go to comfort meal, it makes me think of my dad.

  54. 54

    My go to comfort food – for my daughter – is ” Weeds and Sausage” from the Mario Batali cookbook! she loves the stuff! Thanks for the chance to win

  55. 55
    Sheree :

    My favorite go to comfort food for my entire family is my Mac & Cheese Casserole. I’m always expected to bring a huge dish of it to all family gatherings and there is never any left over. My grandmother use to make it for me until she died. Since I didn’t have her recipe, developed my own that reminds me of her each time I make it.

  56. 56
    Susan Christy :

    Best memories of my grandma, who didn’t cook except for making Sunday dinner, fixing us chicken & noodles and mashed potatoes that were beyond delicious.

  57. 57
    Whitney :

    Anything Tex-Mex – enchilada bakes, taco’s, breakfast burrito’s, etc. Or a simple bowl of cereal on Sunday morning.

  58. 58

    Oh gosh, I’m not sure what my favorite comfort food would be. Let’s see… how about Katsudon, a pork, egg, mushroom, onion and rice meal in a bowl. We have loved that since living in Japan during the early eighties. I plan to make Annette’s Enchiladas this Saturday for a potluck at the Senior Center. It sounds delicious.

  59. 59
    Linda Drath :

    Great post friend! This hits home for me…like you wouldn’t believe. Thanks for your words!

  60. 60
    Linda Drath :

    Oh and my go to comfort food is French Onion soup. Mmmmm good!

  61. 61
    Teresa :

    My comfort food? warm bread and butter, paired with tomato basil soup.

  62. 62
    rachel :

    Hot chocolate, kettle corn and the most chocolately food I can think of

  63. 63

    Sheila, I just love your story about the time Shauna spoke at your women’s retreat. And about the stuffed mushrooms! And when I say “loved,” I mean I relate all to well to chiding a friend who’s snitching the food that she’s supposed to be eating!

    I first met this gorgeous Michigan salad after my inlaws lived for one short year in Michigan. I’ve loved it ever since (although I always made mine with balsamic vinaigrette). That was over 10 years ago, and I so enjoyed Shauna’s story about the salad, the way she fleshed out why the ingredients really hummed, and as it turned out, I read the book just before the start of salad season. I haven’t made it yet but it’s time. 🙂

    Your photos are gorgeous!

    • 63.1
      Sheila :

      I so appreciate your taking the time to stop by my blog. I love that you’ve been to my “neck of the woods” so you kinda know where I come from ; ) Hope your paths cross again soon! Have a great day, Sheila

  64. 64

    Yummy looking salad! And I need to check out those books. Where should I start?!
    Brenda @ a farmgirl’s dabbles recently posted..Creamy Herby Summer DressingMy Profile


  1. […] made this incredible salad from my friend Sheila’s website. It is seriously one of the BEST salads I have ever had. You […]

  2. […] & Wine by Shauna Niequist – I’ve heard of this book from Sheila and Kim among other bloggers for months now and couldn’t wait to finally read it. This book […]