Are cookbooks still a thing?
I don’t care what the internet or Pinterest or all the end-of-traditional-publishing alarmist say, I’m still in love with cookbooks and use them regularly.
There’s just something that feels really good about cracking open a well-worn cookbook, flipping to a page you’ve used again and again, noticing the little dried bit of butter or olive oil on the corner, and feeding your family a tried-and-true meal.
Sure, I use the internet for dinner ideas or something quick-and-easy to take to the pitch-in, but it won’t ever take the place of a book full of recipes, food crumbs, handwritten notes on measurements, and love.
I will hear no arguments about it.
Okay, since we’re all on the same page about cookbooks being amazing, here are my favorites for your viewing pleasure. Add them to your collection, give them as gifts, or just nod your head in agreement as you read. And try not to get hungry.
Skinnytaste Fast and Slow by Gina Homolka
I love Skinnytaste Fast and Slow, and I love Gina Holmolka; I follow her on Instagram and buy all her cookbooks. She does healthy-ish recipes but none of them taste healthy, if you know what I mean. I make the Slow Cooker Korean-Style Beef Tacos (pg. 140) often, and it’s a big hit with Chris Graham. The slaw topping she has you put on top of the beef is delicious as a stand-alone salad too. I had a hard time narrowing down only one recipe from this book to tell you about if that tells you anything.
Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines
This is a new one for me, I bought it with some birthday money last year after borrowing it from the library. Listen, I like the Gaines. I like their show. I like their style. I like their line at Target. But I’m also leery of celebrity books because as long as you have a good following, you can publish a book–it doesn’t have to be good. I’ve learned that the hard way. So I borrowed Magnolia Table from the library to test it out, and it passed all my tests. (I’m a teacher so realllllly good at making hard, impossible-to-pass exams.) For Christmas morning, I made the Overnight French Toast (pg. 41) for my family, and it was so decadent and delicious. Some of the recipes are more intense than I normally do, but it’s still worth a buy. I’ve got the Cinnamon Squares marked (pg. 65) for this weekend so I’ll let you know how it goes, but I’m anticipating success and lots of sugar highs.
Classic Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals
Is it showing my age to say I used to binge-watch 30-Minute Meals on the Food Network when I was in college? I don’t know what she’s doing today, but Rachel Ray in the early 2000s gave me the courage to just throw stuff in a pot without measuring, eat new foods like polenta, and try scary recipes like risotto. I still use Classic Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for dinner inspiration. We really like her soups and stews, things that can be made in one pot. The Chile Verde (pg. 127) is delicious with some tortilla chips, sharp cheddar cheese, and green onions.
Cooking Light: Fresh Food Fast
Okay, so it’s obvious I like things that don’t take too long to make. Who really does? Cooking Light: Fresh Food Fast isn’t fancy, but it’s full of normal food my family will actually eat which makes it a win in my book. Being able to make a sandwich feel like a full meal (like the Grilled Chicken Reuben [pg. 81] or the Sloppy Skillet Beef Sandwiches [pg. 69]) will always make me happy. There’s lots of good soup recipes in here too. I’m a big fan of the Spicy Poblano and Corn Soup (pg. 26).
The Taste of Home Cookbook
This is a classic in my humble opinion. Growing up, my mom subscribed to and used often The Taste of Home magazine. I remember this from-scratch pretzel recipe that I loved to make. Throwing that pretzel dough around pretending I knew had to twist it into pretzel shapes was so much fun. When I moved out, my mom gifted me my own The Taste of Home Cookbook and I’ve used it ever since. It’s a good reference for traditional recipes and things you’d never, ever make, but I still love it. It also has lots of conversion, substitution, and cook time help in it. It’s not just recipes, but an actual how-to book for the kitchen. It might be a little outdated (my link is to the 4th edition while I have the original), but I’m loyal to it regardless.
Reader’s Digest Kitchen Secrets
This one is good but also a little silly? It’s not aged well, but there’s good stuff so don’t be thrown off by the ugly cover or the how-to for a cheese mold. *gag* Because recipes like the Bayou Red Beans and Rice Casserole (pg. 119) or the Steak with a Spicy sauce (pg. 234) are delicious. Reader’s Digest Kitchen Secrets is also entertaining to look at. It’s got a lot of general how-to and recipe help in it, but the pictures are gold and worth a peruse.
America’s Test Kitchen: The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs
Ellie got this one for Christmas and it’s been in heavy rotation ever since. She’s used it for desserts and breakfast food at least once a week since our kitchen has been operational again. I love America’s Test Kitchen: The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs because it talks about the science behind cooking and baking so kids are learning how to make things, but also the theory (if that makes sense…) so they could then transfer that knowledge to other things they want to make. Plus, this stuff is just good. It’s not silly kid stuff that is super easy and insulting, they have to follow real recipes and actually work for the yummy food they’re creating. Ellie loves to be in the kitchen, and she absolutely loves this cookbook.
Skinnytaste One and Done by Gina Homolka
I told you I loved Skinnytaste. This is me submitting documentation. Skinnytaste One and Done is her most recent cookbook. Quick, fast meal options are my love language. That and leaving me alone with my books. But mostly fast meals. These recipes are filling, good for the whole family, and easy-ish. I’m really feeling the one sheet pan meal idea, where you throw lots of different things on one pan and then bake it so the Roasted Sausage, Peppers, and Potatoes meal (pg. 89) was a home run. I used turkey sausage because it’s what I had on hand, but I’m sure chicken sausage is delicious too.
Let Me Feed You by Rosie Daykin
I don’t own this one (yet). I just got Let Me Feed You at the library this week. I’ve wasted enough money on cookbooks I don’t end up liking to know if the library has a copy, I’ll try it through them first. I’ve never heard of Rosie Daykin, but she has a dog on the cover of her cookbook so I think we’re going to be best friends. I’m hoping to make Butter’s Granola (pg. 20) and, when my garden is ready to harvest, the Zucchini and Couscous Salad (pg. 145). I predict I’ll ask for this cookbook for Christmas. Stay tuned.
What about you? Do you still love a cookbook sitting on the shelf in your kitchen? Could you spend the afternoon looking through cookbooks like me? What cookbook can you not live without?
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