Pinterest is great for searching and saving recipes. It’s also great for falling into a time-suck rabbit hole trying to re-find said recipes. Two hours later you’re even hungrier and have nothing to show for it. Yet, because Pinterest and Google are convenient- I rarely buy cookbooks anymore...
...it has to be pretty damn special, with more than one or two great recipes, for me to buy a new cookbook.
In the past 3 months, I've purchased four.
Forget wasting hours on Pinterest, these four cookbooks are all you need- regardless if you can barely boil an egg or you're Top Chef ready.
I would never consider myself a great cook. I make a killer carrot cake, and can usually make a plate look appealing, but I often forget ingredients (even with recipe in front of me) and I can never tell if something needs more salt.
So, any cookbook I choose has to have four things...
- amazing pictures
- ingredients that are accessible
- no fake crap
- room for error
Cooking doesn't have to be complex and overwhelming. Each of these cookbooks build on the intense flavors of simple, fresh ingredients...and each of these four cookbooks make me feel like a pro.
Hot Mess Kitchen (Gabi Moskowitz & Mirnda Berman): You've already heard me rave about the My Boss is a Bitch Banana Bread, even after making it several times it's still a favorite in my house. If the kitchen isn't your happy place, Hot Mess Kitchen will quickly make you comfortable.
Seriously, how can you go wrong with Fudgy as Fuck Brownies? Aside from entertaining names, the recipes are simple to follow and offer plenty of alternative suggestions for ingredients.
How simple are the recipes? My 15 year old son tackled and mastered How to Cook a Chicken Breast that Doesn't Suck.
Kids making dinner may be reason enough to pick up Hot Mess Kitchen for you and a friend!
Half Baked Harvest (Tiegan Gerard): The pictures alone make this book purchase worthy, but the surprising recipes make it a fast favorite. It's not surprising that the recipes are good, but rather that they're simple to make. The insanely gorgeous photos are a little intimidating, but when the dishes turn out exactly like them...you feel a little bad-ass.
Don't be nervous that some recipes have 15-20 ingredients- they're truly simple staples you likely already have on hand (mainly seasonings and Greek yogurt).
Not sure where to begin? Try the Healthy Chipotle Turkey Sweet Potato Skins. Even my son who doesn't particularly like sweet potatoes has claimed this as one of his new favorite dinners.
Earl Grey Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel (made mine minus the Earl Grey and walnuts) are a delicious on-the-run breakfast or snack.
Next on my list to try... Cuban Mojo Pulled Pork Tacos.
Happily Homemade: Cooking with Love (Rachel Schultz): If you've known me for more than five minutes you know I love potatoes. A lot.
That's why it's not shocking that the Loaded Skillet Fries was one of the first recipes that caught my attention. Potatoes, bell peppers, onions, and flank steak? Yes, please!
I like to think of leftovers as little sous-chefs hanging out in my fridge prepping ingredients for tomorrow's dinner. And, when there's peppers, onions, and shredded chicken ready for me- we're having Chicken Tortilla Soup (don't have everything on hand? Trader Joe's tomato-less corn salsa is a fantastic substitute).
Next on my list to try... Blueberry Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast.
The Self-Care Cookbook (Dr. Frank Ardito): This one was an amazing accidental find. My sister is a chef at Marcel's Culinary Experience and told me there was an upcoming cookbook signing that seemed like something I'd love. I hadn't heard of the book, but a couple hours to myself on a Saturday and food tastings...sign me up!
You know how sometimes you arrive somewhere you feel like you were meant to be there? That was my Saturday.
Before the event I did a quick book look and found that the recipes were created by Stacey Ballis- sweet!- already a fan.
Turns out, Dr. Ardito and Stacey Ballis didn't write a typical wellness cookbook. Usually most "healthy" cookbooks are filled with recipes packed with "low-fat" or "sugar-free" ingredients...suggestions that make me, as a nutritionist, cringe.
That's not happening here.
The Self-Care Cookbook is divided into 10 wellness categories from physical to environmental to social to financial. It goes beyond body-mind-spirit to encapsulate a multidimensional balance. Yes!!
"It's about understanding how to eat "well" based upon your goals, your plans, your aspirations." -Dr. Ardito
Each category contains thirteen recipes, including new ideas using leftovers (that little magical sous-chef!)...and we got to try three of them.
Admittedly, flipping through the book, the recipes sounded a little intimidating: Peppercorn Crusted Filet (look closer- there's 4 ingredients)... Chickpea and Pumpkin Stew (yep, I already have every ingredient in my kitchen).
Our first taster was Chilled Pea Soup. There are two vegetables I hate: green beans and peas. Great.
- This is not your grandmother's pea soup.
- It was surprisingly refreshing.
The vibrant color is vastly different than the murky sludge typical of pea soup. And it's literally two ingredients: frozen peas and water. They added a bit of creme fraiche (you could use Greek yogurt) and celery leaves (never thought to use those!) as garnish, optional but they did add creaminess and texture. I'm not going to say I'm a pea convert, but I did pick up a bag of frozen peas on my last grocery trip.
Next up- Savory Vegetable Crumble with Oats. Again, sounds complicated, but it's a brilliant- and delicious- way to use up leftover cooked vegetables from the week.
As Stacey Ballis said...sometimes, around 7pm, you decide you just need cake. Thus, the Dark Chocolate Pantry Cake was created. No eggs. No butter. Just standard pantry ingredients to recreate this deliciousness.
While the recipe makes two 8" round cakes, you could enjoy one sprinkled with powdered sugar and freeze the other for later. Or, layer them with preserves in between (as the recipe suggests). Or, you can do as my sixteen year old daughter did this week for a friend's birthday...add a layer of ice cream between the two!
So, what do all four of these cookbooks have in common? Simplicity.
We tend to believe that cooking at home is more difficult, more time-consuming, and more expensive than quick take out. When really, most meals can be made faster than delivery...and you control ingredient quality. Healthy isn't complicated- it's real. In all of my classes you'll hear me say that food isn't "bad." Sure, there are more nutrient-dense options, and some choices aren't doing your body any favors...but they aren't "bad."
Yes, even cake.
Want to make cooking at home even easier? I love these organic, non-GMO seed pouches for fresh herbs and tomatoes. No garden space necessary!
Ready to learn more simple ways to live a healthier lifestyle?
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