Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Favorite recipes of 2013 and 2 cookbooks

Usually around this time of year, I post on my favorite cookbook find of the year.  I wasn’t planning on doing this post this year, as I find most of my best new recipes on Pinterest these days.  However, I have received quite a few emails from readers who have enjoyed my cookbook recommendations from the past, and have asked if I have any new recommendations for this year.

When I was visiting my sister in Washington, DC this summer, I spent some time looking through her large cookbook collection, and there were two cookbooks that really appealed to me – Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent cookbooks My Father’s Daughter, and It’s All Good.  I was taking so many pictures of the recipes with my iphone that it got to be ridiculous, so I went ahead and ordered both cookbooks.

I must say, I really love both of these cookbooks.  They reflect the way I like to cook now – with fresh, healthy ingredients, and dishes that are simply prepared but are very flavorful. My Father’s Daughter has more of the family friendly recipes that work well when cooking for my kids and husband.  This book also contains many great recipes for soups, which are a staple of my winter meals, and great salad dressing recipes, which are a staple of my summer meals.  I have tried some of the main course dishes with great success, and next on my list is the ten-hour chicken (which pretty much roasts in an oven set at 200 for 10 hours) – this dish receives rave reviews online.   Perhaps my favorite recipes from this book are the side dishes.  There is a recipe for carmelized brussels sprouts that is so good, I make it once a week now, and my kids have become big brussels sprouts fans due to this one recipe! 

I pulled out this cookbook when writing this post (I keep it easily accessible in my kitchen – it can be seen here on my antique Swedish sideboard, along with Colorado Classique, another great cookbook), and have earmarked a dozen recipes that I would like to try when the schedule relaxes over Christmas break.

It’s All Good is the newest Paltrow book, and the food is much more focused on healthy, clean eating.  Most (if not all) of the recipes are gluten free and dairy free.  This might not be the kind of cookbook for everyone, but it the kind of cookbook I was looking for, as I had gained quite a bit of weight in 2012 due to issues with my achilles tendon, and not being able to walk or exercise (and, to be honest, that glass or two of wine every night wasn’t helping!).  I suspected that the extra weight was making my achilles tendonitis and my knee issues worse, so 2013 has been a year of making big changes to our family meals.  It’s All Good has been a tremendous help in inspiring healthy, flavorful recipes that are made with fresh ingredients. For the most part, the preparation of the recipes is quite straightforward – especially when you have access to grocery stores like Whole Foods that have a wide range of fresh vegetables, fish, and poultry.  I have mainly focused on the fish recipes and salad recipes in this cookbook.  My 15 year old daughter uses this cookbook when she makes dinner for the family (which happens every once in a while), and she loves the smoothie and juice recipe chapter. 

As a side note, with a combination of restructuring the way that I eat, and this DVD and this DVD from Ballet Beautiful (which I swear by for their low impact but challenging approach to strengthening  the muscles), I am back to my normal weight and feel great, with no achilles tendonitis issues or knee pain – 2013 has been a good year for healthy living for me.

The cookbook I recommended last year in this post - Slow Cooker Revolution – is still a staple for meals.  As far as online recipes, this recipe for kale salad with pinenuts and parmesan (the key is lacinato kale, which is also called Tuscan kale or dino kale – it’s different than curly kale) is my favorite recipe find of the year that I found online, as is this marinated salmon, which I bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes instead of grilling.  This is the only way I have been able to get 2 of my kids and my husband to eat salmon!
For all of the great recipes I have found on Pinterest, I have also made some that were not very good.  If you have any online recipes  (or cookbooks) you could recommend, please post the link in the comments!  Email subscribers, click here to comment.

As a reminder, if you would like to order one of the new Melissa Payne Baker paintings, please place your order by 10 am on Wednesday, December 18th in order to get delivery by Christmas!  Click here to see all paintings available.

6”x12” petite landscape, $325, click here to see in store.

Favorite art and design books of 2013: http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/2013/12/books-from-2013.html
2013 books on my Christmas list: http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/2013/11/books-for-my-christmas-list-2013.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

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  1. Like your recommendations and have the cookbooks, as well as hundreds of others, but as a struggling cook I have noticed all my friends who are marvelous cooks say they can't live without the never fail recipes of Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. Now I'm a believer and am tossing quite a few of those books on the shelf gathering dust. Bon appetit!

  2. Eager to try the kale recipe! Lacinato kale is the backbone of my increasingly plant-based diet. I massage good olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt into it until it softens, then top with kimchi, leftover grilled veggies or last night's salmon... it's deeeeelish and good for me! But the comfort-seeking side of my brain that would still rather have a creamy spinach-gruyere gratin than a sprouted quinoa salad votes with causer659 for Ina Garten rather than Gwyneth. Have you tried one of Ina's margaritas? You will see stars! Best wishes.

  3. Holly, the recipes for veggies sound so delicious! We love brussel sprouts and I will try the caramelized version right away!

    Scalamandre Giveaway!


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