Monday, December 10, 2012

Favorite cookbooks and recipes (updated)

To see full blog post, please visit 

(Sneak peek of my #1 pinterest found recipe)

Usually I buy a several cookbooks every year, but this year I have found that pinterest and blogs have provided me with quite a few great recipes, and I have not bought as many cookbooks.  In fact, I think I only purchased two over the past year.  One of them is my new favorite fall/winter cookbook, and the other I have not tested out yet.  

Without a doubt, Slow Cooker Revolution has been my favorite cookbook of the year!  I am a huge fan of slow cookers in the fall and winter – they enable me to put together recipes in the morning or at lunch time, and the meal cooks all day or afternoon and is ready when I get home from hours of driving the kids.  What I love about this slow cooker (or crock pot, as I call my beloved machine) cookbook is that the recipes are much fresher and healthier than so many of the old fashioned crock pot recipes.  I have made quite a few recipes from this book, and so far my favorite is the chicken gumbo.  Some of the recipes require a decent amount of prep as many of the ingredients are fresh, but the prep is done when I tend to have more time to devote to it.  However, other recipes are very easy prep and these are highlighted within the book.  Click here to see Slow Cooker Revolution on Amazon.

Update: many of you have emailed asking for a crock pot recommendation.  The author's of Slow Cooker Revolution tested many brands, and like the Crock Pot programmable touch screen model (seen above).  Amazon has an excellent price on it, click here for link.

My crock pot is made by the Crock Pot brand, but I bought it a long time ago so the model is not made any more.  The size seems to be the same as the one above, and it has the time set and high/low/warm function.  The ability to set the time to the half hour is key.  When the time is over, the crock pot goes to warm, preventing the food from being overcooked.

The second cookbook I bought this year is The Homesick Texan, written by a Texas raised food blogger living in NYC.  I have enjoyed flipping through the cookbook, but have yet to cook anything from it.  Does anyone have a recipe from this book that they could recommend as a starting point? Some of the Amazon reviews rave about the jalapeno mustard roast chicken, chipotle pimento cheese and the Tex-Mex meatloaf.  Click here to see on Amazon.

I checked out the top cookbook section of Amazon, and there are a few that look interesting.

Here is another one written by popular food blogger Deb Perelman (her blog is The Smitten Kitchen), and it has great reviews.  Click here to see on Amazon.

I have tried some of the Pioneer Woman recipes from her blog (crash hot potatoes are a wonderful side dish with steak), but don’t own any of her cookbooks.  Food From My Frontier is her newest one (click here to see on Amazon); her original is The Pioneer Woman Cooks .

There are several cookbooks by food writer Robb Walsh on the best seller list – his specialty is Texas cuisine, and his cookbooks get rave reviews.  Click here to see his Amazon page, which has all of his books listed.

downton abbey cookbook
I smiled when I saw this Downton Abbey Cookbook – the reviews are quite good, and supposedly it has many traditional English recipes updated for 21st century American cooks. This would be a fun gift for the Downton Abbey fan on your list!  Click here to see on Amazon.

Barefoot Contessa has a new cookbook out – I have all of her cookbooks, and really enjoy them.  I love the title – Foolproof: Recipes You Can TrustClick here to see on Amazon.

I like to read cookbooks almost like some people read magazines, so this is making me want to order some cookbooks and get some inspiration!

Last year, I posted about one of my favorite reference cook books, The New Best Recipe  in this post (click here for link).  I use this cookbook frequently as a reference and for recipes, and I highly recommend it. Click here to see on Amazon.

I mentioned pinterest recipes as a great source of inspiration this  year.  Here is my favorite pinterest found recipe – Cilantro lime chicken made in the crock pot – it is so, so good, and extremely easy. I make it with low sodium taco seasoning and Pace regular salsa.  Image and recipe via Pip and Ebby. Click here for the recipe.

I would love to hear about any pinterest found recipes, food blogger recipes, or good cookbooks that you could recommend!  I might be asking for the Barefoot Contessa and The Smitten Kitchen cookbook for Christmas, but would love to know about any others whether new or old.

holly sprig

There are still some wonderful Jennifer Ferris paintings available for immediate shipment!

Yesterday's blog post on Jennifer: 

Designers favorite books: http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/2010/12/designers-favorite-books-and-mine-too.html

2012 books on my Christmas list: http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/2012/11/books-for-my-christmas-list.html

2011 books on my Christmas list: http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/2011/12/my-book-list-christmas-2011.html

Small art, perfect for special, one of a kind holiday gifts or hostess gifts!http://quatrefoildesign.bigcartel.com/category/art

To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store  (newly updated!).
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  1. My hands-down favorite of the year is Dinner a Love Story! Great reading book and fantastic recipes! I recently purchased the Smitten Kitchen (found out about it from the DALS blog); I haven't made anything yet, but the recipes look yummy!

  2. i need the crockpot and foolproof books stat!

    i find reading cookbooks to be an utterly relaxing activity and even devour them while in the tub!



  3. I rely on my crockpot! This looks like a great cookbook.

    By the way, my crockpot just broke after 10 years of hard work. Do you have a crockpot recommendation? I need to get a new one this weekend, and the first recipe I will make is the cilantro lime chicken. Looks yummy.

    1. Funny you should write this, I am getting a crock pot for a friend who just had a baby, as a baby gift, complete with a meal cooked in it. So I need to look into what is recommended these days. My crock pot is crock pot brand and is old, but it still works. It has a timer, which is key, and goes to the warm setting when the time is done. I think the crock pot cookbook has recommendations, I will look into it.

    2. Just read this comment. Is a slow cooker the same as a crock pot?

    3. Hi Loi!

      Yes, a slow cooker and a crock pot are the same thing. Thirty (or more) years ago, slow cookers were made almost exclusively from crockery. Now they're made from various materials. But they all make wonderful meals!

  4. Nothing makes me happier than cooking or reading cookbooks! It is my stress reliever…seriously! All of these look fabulous and I will definitely be purchasing several of them! I actually wrote a cookbook last year for my family because of something I'd seen on Pinterest and now I actually have friends ordering it! It was quite fun!

    1. I would love to hear more about your cookbook - sounds great! Often my favorite recipes come from personal collections from my kids' school, or church, or junior league collections, or families who have gathered their recipes together.

  5. I love this topic and I'm happy to see that you included some Texas cookbooks. I've lived here for 24 years and never get tired of the food. I definitely recommend Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook by Rob Walsh.

  6. This is scary your timing is so good.

    Have been asking all my 'cook' friends for their best & easiest. My mission is to have 2 weeks worth of go-to recipes by jan. 2013!

    A friend calls 1 of her credit cards the 'Library Card', she only orders books with it.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  7. Hi, Holly ~
    Thanks for sharing your book list. I'm really interested in Slow Cooker Revolution.....sounds perfect for our busy schedules. (Unfortunately, we don't have time for complicated recipes.) Have never owned / used a slow cooker. Do you have a recommendation for a slow cooker you like?

  8. Thanks for sharing this list! I was stressing about what to get for a lovely friend who just adores cooking. Now I will look no further:-)

  9. I have been thinking about getting a crock pot for a while. With our busy schedule, it seems like the perfect solution for making delicious dinners.
    I look forward to any crock pot brand recommendations!

    Thank you for sharing your cook book finds.


  10. Hamilton Beach has many models(44!) to choose from. Although I don't personally own one YET, I've seen the higher-end model that a cousin uses and I'm quite impressed. The lid clamps down for easy transport. I recently made a crock chicken recipe with spaghetti sauce adding mushrooms and green peppers (& carrots) that was yummy! You know, crock cacciatore!

  11. You sure got my attention with this title....food, cookbooks, some of my favorite things, Waiting for my copy of Smitten kitchen to arrive any day, love Ina and Pioneer Woman and use their recipes frequently. I love cookbooks, and like design books, believe you can never have enough!
    I am almost afraid to start looking at Pinterest for recipe ideas, because I am afraid I might get addicted!

  12. Holly-
    I have found wonderful recipes on Pinterest! My favorite is the recipe for the Red Lobster cheese biscuits.
    What did we do without Pinterest?
    Anything Ina is a favorite at my house. I will have to try the crockpot cookbook.
    I will have to take apeek at all fo these.
    Have a nice weekend.

  13. I've found that I never use books anymore... all pinterest. I like it because you can search by specific food allergies, which I have. Miss you!

  14. I too am always on the lookout for yummy crock pot meals. Here's are recent favorite from pinterest for pork tenderloin
    Will definitely look into the book you recommended.

  15. I bought the New Best Recipe last year on your recommendation and everything I've made was very good! I think all your picks look good. Next year you will have to post them in November (haha) as I already have my Christmas shopping done! I just adore Ina Garten but don't have any of her cook books. Too much butter in everything on the show - are the cookbooks really good?! I cook a lot from our Cooking Light magazines actually, so I like healthier choices. I will check out your slow cooker one. We use ours a lot!! xo Terri

  16. I need the latest Ina Garten cookbook.. I've heard it's a good one! The Smitten Kitchen is also on my list. I have a slow cooker and don't use it as much as I used to.. so convenient for the working mom!


  17. Yum yum yum...thanks for sharing. You can't go wrong with a slow cooker!

    Love, Jamie Herzlinger


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