Monday, July 1, 2013

cookbook favorites

Last night I counted up all of my cookbooks:  34 in all.  34!  That's a lot of cookbooks.  But I find that I reach for the same handful over and over again.  I count on them for those tried and true recipes that I know are not only easy to make, but sure to be eaten by everyone at the table.  Today, I thought I'd show you my top 5 favorites and an honorable mention for good measure.  Here they are:

Honorable Mention
 Everyday Pasta by Giada DeLaurentiis is definitely a great choice for a pasta-loving person or family.  Most of her recipes are super simple and quick to make, and my kids love all of her pastas.  But this book doesn't just have pasta recipes (although there are a ton of those with sections on hearty, lighter, quick and easy weeknight, and special occasion pastas), it also includes appetizers, soups, salads and side dishes.  I (we) love her Fried Zucchini, Parmesan Popovers, Ribollita (soup), Gnocchi with Thyme Butter Sauce, Cheesy Baked Tortellini, and Mini Penne with Parmesan Chicken.....just to name a few.  If you're looking to change up your pasta recipes, this might be a great place to start.

 Coming in at #5 is The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman.  With beautiful photos on every page and so many delicious recipes, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this cookbook.  At some point, I will most likely make every single recipe in this book, but the one thing about Ms. Perelman's food is that you need time to make it.  She takes no shortcuts which results in amazing food but more prep and cook time in the kitchen.  I'm absolutely not opposed to that, but I have to plan ahead and be ready.  It's totally worth it though when you can feed your family things like Cinnamon Toast French Toast, Tomato Scallion Shortcakes with Whipped Goat Cheese, Homemade Pizza Dough, Sweet Peas and Shells Alfredo, Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes, or Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake.  Yum. 

If you're a vegetarian or just like to lighten things up every once in awhile, Moosewood Restaurant's Simple Suppers is definitely a book you should check out.  Everything I've ever made from this cookbook is so good and really easy with very few ingredients and not a whole lot of time spent in the kitchen.  My parents gave me this book for Christmas back in 2008, and I've used it over and over again, especially in the summer when we all want something a little lighter for dinner.  Some of our favorite recipes include Creamy Lemon Pasta, Roasted Ratatouille, Nachos Grandes, Southwestern Black Bean Salad, Italian Bread and Cheese Soup, Asparagus Avgolemono, Spinach Cheese Burritos, Easy Egg Rolls, and Greek Antipasto Pita. 

Food Network Magazine collected up all their favorite recipes and made them into a cookbook called Great Easy Meals.  With a title like that, I was a little skeptical - I mean really, could every recipe be great and easy?  And actually, this book doesn't disappoint.  Everything I've ever made has been really great and easy.  Well done, Food Network, well done.  I've given this book as a gift and recommended it to a ton of people.  If you decide to check it out at the library or pick up a copy for your shelf at home, definitely give these recipes a try:  Apple-Cheddar-Squash Soup, Mexican Chicken Soup, Turkey Ruebens, Meaty Quesadillas, Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas, Chicken with Creamy Mushrooms and Snap Peas, Steak with Avocado Sauce and Tomato Salad, Mix and Match Stir Fry, and Pappardelle with Snap Peas.

A while back, I wrote about giving Paleo a try, and then followed that lifestyle (mostly) for one full month.  I learned a lot from that food experiment, most importantly these lessons:  
1) Gluten goes straight to my hips (really)
2) I need to drastically cut back on my intake of gluten and refined sugars (I have)
3) I can't go totally Paleo because I cannot give up bread.  I just can't.  I need my English muffins.  I need them. 

Ok, that got a little creepy there at the end, but regardless, it's true.  I love English muffins, and I won't give them up.  But whether or not you follow the Paleo lifestyle to the letter, there are so many great recipes in this book that I find myself turning to again and again.  My favorites include Swirly Crustless Quiche, Pumpkin Pancakes, Pesto Scrambled Eggs, Coco-Nutty Grain-Free Porridge, Apple Streusel Egg Muffins (recipe in the "Paleo" link above), Citrus and Herb Whole Roasted Chicken, Lemon and Artichoke Chicken, Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Grilled Garlic Flank Steak with Peppers and Onions, Pesto Shrimp and Squash Fettuccini (the squash is the "fettuccini"), and Acorn Squash with Cinnamon and Coconut Butter.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for....

Jenny Rosenstrach has totally hit the ball out of the park with her book, Dinner A Love Story.  This is hands-down my all-time favorite cookbook, and I use it all the time.  But not only is it full of amazingly delicious recipes, it's also a great read that includes fun stories and lessons learned, and happens to be written by busy people just like me and you.  I can't tell you how many times I've turned to this book since I got a copy this past September.  It's sort of become like an old friend...does that sound weird?  Never mind, don't answer that.  I highly, highly recommend this book and hope you'll at least check it out from the library.  And if (when) you do, definitely make these recipes:  Baked Ziti with Sausage and Vegetables, Black Bean Burritos, Back-Pocket Pasta with Herbs and Bread Crumbs, Baked Sausage with Apples, Potatoes, and Onions, Spinach, Tomato, and Feta Frittata, Apricot-Mustard Baked Chicken, Great-Grandma Turano's Meatballs, Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions, Spinach, and Parmesan, Kale, Sausage, and White Bean Stew, and White Pizza with Arugula, Parmesan, Lemon, and Ricotta. Yes, I know that was a lot of recipes, but definitely start with those, and we'll go from there. 

Well, now that I'm completely starving after listing all those recipes, I think it's time for a snack!  Hope you'll check out one (or all!) of these books, and if you do, let me know what you think.  

Do you have a favorite cookbook? 

P.s.  Just in case you lost track, today is the first day of JULY.  Can you believe it?!


  1. My favorite cookbooks are "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman and "Pie in the Sky" by Susan Purdy. I recently purchased "Dinner: A Love Story" but have yet to take the time to try any recipes. I read the first part of the book though and fell in love with the writing and her desire to want to help people like me who are basically clueless in the kitchen when it comes to meal prep!

  2. Will the husbandJuly 1, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    I love them all because you cook so well from all of them :)