In yesterday’s post, I mentioned my fondness for cooking.
It’s an activity I’ve learned to enjoy, although I must admit I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. I don’t like cleaning up, and I mostly don’t like getting up off the couch to go make dinner. That’s the hardest part.
But once I’m in the kitchen I’m fine.
Rachael Ray taught me how to chop an onion, but I’m mostly a self-taught cook. Learning to make delicious food is a skill that simply takes practice. The more you do it, the better you get. Since I’ve been preparing meals for my family for 17 years now, I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I love trying out new recipes and the pride that comes from eating something I made with my own two hands.
I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t mention some of my favorite sources for recipes that are no-fail, delicious, family pleasers. I’ve read and owned lots of cookbooks over the years, and they are not all created equal.
So I’ve compiled a list here of my favorite go-to cookbooks. These recipes simply work, every single time, and I’m thrilled to share them with you.
Favorite Cookbooks to Help You Whip Up Something Yummy
This is a huge cookbook, but it’s chock full of way more than recipes. This book is from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, and they try lots of versions of every recipe until they find the “best” one. So you get a little history behind each recipe. . . what they tried, what worked, what didn’t, and how they tweaked it to get it just right.
Every recipe I’ve tried from this book has been a winner. These aren’t necessarily easy or quick recipes, but they are — hands down — the best.
And the good news is that you can get a used copy of this (previously quite expensive) cookbook for super cheap.
Cook’s Country is the sister publication of Cook’s Illustrated, and both are products of America’s Test Kitchen. So just like with the cookbook above, these are recipes where every version available was tested and tried until they came up with the best recipe possible.
In contrast to The New Best Recipe, this cookbook offers simpler, quicker meals that you can get on the table fast. And yet every single recipe is a winner. This is the most used cookbook in my kitchen by far.
3. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime by Ree Drummond
This book is a new addition to my kitchen and I absolutely love it. You just can’t go wrong with Pioneer Woman. This is my favorite cookbook of hers because it’s all about dinner, and let’s face it. Dinner is what plagues most home cooks. It’s easy to throw together simple breakfasts and lunches, or even baked goods here and there. But dinner comes around every night and people are hungry, grouchy, and tired.
I love that Ree gives so many solutions and tips for getting delicious meals on the table quick. And the photographs in this book are superb.
This is the first cookbook I ever owned and I still use it frequently. If I need basic cooking information (how to blanch green beans, which cut of meat to use for a certain dish, how to make a simple pan gravy), this is the book I use. It’s a perfect starter book for the beginning cook, but it’s an invaluable resource for the seasoned cook as well.
5. The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn
I know. One of these things is not like the other.
This is an unusual choice, I admit. Especially since I’m a huge proponent of making meals from scratch without any packaged or processed ingredients.
But I have four kids. And for every birthday, I make a cake. Plus I’m a total cake snob.
I can say with all honesty — these recipes have never once failed me. All of them start with a basic cake mix and they have all turned out beautifully. If you want to make a cake that tastes like scratch, but still have the ease and convenience of a boxed cake mix, you need this book.
My copy is literally falling apart.
If you don’t live in the South, you might not know about Southern Living. It’s the quintessential magazine about all things southern, including lots and lots of food. Some of favorite no-fail recipes have come from the pages of Southern Living. This volume is a collection of some of the best.
Favorite Cooking Blogs
In addition to my favorite cookbooks, I rely heavily on some food blogs that I’ve come to know and trust. These are the blogs I love:
Mel’s stuff is good and my Plan to Eat database is chock full of her recipes. Not a week goes by that I don’t make one of her dishes. Simply fantastic.
Annie’s food is sometimes more elaborate, but it’s all delicious. I especially love her recipes for baked goods.
This is the food blog of Michelle Tam, and if you’re trying to do a Whole 30 or eat a paleo diet, she’s your gal. Her recipes, her blog, her cookbook — they’re all fantastic. Plus, the design of her blog is so fun and cheery, you’ll want to stick around and peruse the whole site!
This one’s new to me, but I’m loving it so far! Chungah Rhee is the blog’s author, and she has so many delectable recipes on her site. Can’t wait to try out more of her dishes!
This blog is chock full of fresh, wholesome recipes that will satisfy your whole family. A fantastic resource for fantastic recipes!
And now it’s your turn! I’ve shared my favorite sources for recipes — some of the best cookbooks and blogs that help me to whip up yummy food. What about you? What are your go-to cookbooks? How about your favorite food blogs?
Tell me about ’em in the comments section! I can’t wait to hear from you!