I love cookbooks. I love reading cookbooks. Reading recipes in cookbooks and magazines is one of my most favorite things to do. It's inspiring, relaxing, and informative all at once. Most of the time I look at a recipe and can quickly determine that my girls won't eat it, but sometimes I make it anyway. They'll happily munch on raw fruits and veggies while Jason and I eat Thai Curry chicken. I'm okay with that.
Over the holidays, I regularly used three cookbooks that made my life happier and more delicious. Just for kicks, I thought I'd review them.
The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking. Technically, I got this book years and years ago at a Books are Fun kiosk, but only have been using it loyally for a few months. I LOVE it. Added bonus: the girls love it because they love bread. If you bake bread or if you want to start baking bread, this is a great recipe resource. If you click through on the link above, Amazon has a "look inside" feature that will give you a good idea of what's in this baking book. I've made many of the recipes in here, and they always turn out yummy. The one I make most often is a classic apple bread that has applesauce in it. For Julianne's birthday I made Chili Cheese Bread (savory with a bit of spice), Parmesan Corn Bread (perfect with soup), and Apple Eggnog Bread.
The Apple Eggnog Bread is amazing. Even if you don't like eggnog, you'll like this bread. I promise.
In fact, here's the recipe for a 2-pound loaf:
- 3/4 cup eggnog (quick! before it's out of the grocery stores!)
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup chopped peeled apple
- 1 egg
- 3 T butter
- 1/2 t rum extract
- 4 cups bread flour (DON'T use regular flour, and if you don't have a sifter then spoon the flour into the measuring cup, leveling it off with a straight edge)
- 3 T sugar
- 1 t salt
- 1/2 t ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 t active dry yeast
Add all the ingredients to the machine in this order, and bake on the basic white bread cycle. You can drizzle with an eggnog glaze--1 cup powdered sugar and 1-2 T eggnog--but I never do because the girls don't need to know that's an option. And frankly, neither do I.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks. The word on the Amazon street is that there aren't any new recipes in here that PW hasn't already featured on her cooking blog. I wouldn't know because I don't read her cooking blog. I read her Confessions blog, her Photography blog, and her Home & Garden blog, and that keeps me busy enough. Plus--and here's my little confession that I've never told anyone--I hate looking at recipes on the Internet.
As a general rule, I won't make a recipe that's on the Internet, no matter how good it is. I have a long and complicated reason for this, but it boils down to this: I want recipes on paper and printing from my laptop is annoying. I do use the Internet as a search engine in order to help me find a printed version in my cookbooks, and that's about it.
Back to the cookbook though...I pre-ordered it last fall since so many people were raving about PW's recipes, and I was not disappointed. I think it's charming and fun, and a lovely addition to my cookbook collection. The tomato soup is AMAZING. I made it three times in one week, and consequently gained 3 pounds. I sat in Sarah's kitchen as she made the pico de gallo and guacamole and ate it up as fast as she could make it. The creme brulee? OH. MY. SWEET. GOODNESS. The book alone was worth the money just for that recipe. And tonight I made the chocolate sheet cake, which smells very delicious but I have a tummy ache from eating too much of the icing, and will have to wait to try it tomorrow. I'm not usually a fan of chocolate cake, so we'll see.
My only complaint is that Ree isn't always very specific on her directions. I like things very laid out for me: melt over low heat? medium heat? what size baking sheet should I use? a pound of powdered sugar measures how much (4 1/2 cups, thank you Internet). So, she's a bit vague, but I can usually figure it out with some help.
Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. On my Christmas list was a crockpot cookbook. I've discovered that I really enjoy using my crockpot, but didn't have too many recipes to pull from. I had looked at lots of books, but was never really very happy with any of them. My dad, the fabulous shopper that he is (no sarcasm), found this one and gave it to me for Christmas. Even though it doesn't have any pretty pictures (which is usually a requirement for me), this is a great crockpot cook book. GREAT! I have made several of the recipes, and they have all been quite wonderful. If you click through on the link, Amazon will let you look inside the book at the table of contents, which will attest to the fact that crockpots can be quite handy for dessert and drinks too. Added bonus: the author follows a gluten-free diet, so all the recipes can be tailored that way (or not). Added bonus for someone, just not me: Evidently, the cookbook is a printed version of O'Dea's blog.
A few days ago, I made the Thai Curry chicken and it was quite scrumptious, albeit not quite the flavor I was hoping for (but I have in mind a flavor from a Thai restaurant in Salem). Next time I'll add basil. And maybe some pineapple. The azorean spiced beef stew was delicious, though. And the clean-out-the-pantry minestrone soup.
So, there you have it. Three of my new favorite cookbooks that I've grown quite fond of and will be regularly used throughout this next year. Since my parents also got me a zester, a flour sifter, and an awesome cast iron cookbook holder, my year of cooking and baking is off to a great start.
How about you? Any cookbook recommendations you can pass along? I can always make room on the shelf for more! ♥