I’ve been talking a lot this year about cookbooks – it all started when I finally got the Cravings cookbook by Chrissy Teigen… and ordered her second one while I was still reading the first one. I’ve been following cooking blogs for a while for recipes and Skinnytaste has always been on my radar, so I also ordered the One & Done cookbook. From there… it’s been a slippery slope! I’ll talk more about each cookbook and how I came to acquire them below but basically I’ve turned to them more so than Pinterest. It’s been fun to get into something new and meal plan from them instead!
I came up with the idea that in general, I’ll pick one cookbook each week to pick 6-7 recipes from and use as the basis for our meals (I’ve done similar things in the past with Cravings and Skinnytaste). I’ll rotate through all of them to make sure everyone gets used and enjoyed! I posted some polls on Twitter and Instagram for which to start with and ended up picking Half Baked Harvest Super Simple from the results. I’ll probably share more about this experience later, but for now – I thought it would be fun to give you guys a rundown of the recent cookbooks I’ve acquired and my thoughts so far as if these are book reviews.
First, what do I personally want in a cookbook?
(1) I want recipes that are unique and interesting enough where there aren’t a million of the same thing on Pinterest I could find “for free”
I don’t need anything overly basic where every person out there has already made it and shared on their blog. I don’t mind riffing on classics (I’m a big fan of having a ton of different taco recipe ideas with various meats or vegetarian options, so I don’t mind that!) or sharing simple recipes (like guacamole – all of those recipes seem different! haha), but for the most part – I want something that sounds delicious and often like something I haven’t seen before.
(2) I want recipes that are moderately simple to prepare but are challenging enough to hone my skills further in the kitchen
I’m a huge fan of a dump and go recipe, especially if that’s the point of the cookbook (see later in the Skinnytaste section!). I like when a cookbook has a theme so I know what appliances to use too. However, I like when recipes add in new methods too. Why not learn something new when cooking from a cookbook? Overall, the cookbook should provide me with new ways to use things I have in the kitchen. I usually just make salsa chicken in my Instant Pot – it’s way more fun to learn what other kinds of recipes can go in there. I love a good cast iron skillet recipe for a new meal or dessert.
Best of the Best
Yes, Chrissy’s cookbooks are still the best of the best. They’re what pushed me down this cooking-related path in the first place and remain my favorites. I need to dive back into them soon, actually. I think they strike the perfect balance of what I personally want in a cookbook, better than almost any other out there. She has new cooking techniques, riffs on classics, and fusion-style recipes that use unique ingredients (for most people – fish sauce and oyster sauce are always in our fridge haha). I just love reading her stories along with each recipe too.
Close seconds to the Cravings cookbooks are new to me – Half Baked Harvest. I kept seeing Tieghan Gerard’s books mentioned a month or so ago and decided to order both. Whoops. Both are so excellent! I think they’re similar to Chrissy’s, where the recipes are somewhat familiar or have new riffs on old favorites. She does a lot of different kinds of recipes. Cravings can skew toward Asian fusion, which is perfect for me, but Tieghan does that and a few more. She has more classics, I think. The Super Simple book also has basic recipes for easy breads, which is great! Definitely something I’ve been wanting to get into.
Excellent and Simple
I’m working through collecting all of the Skinnytaste cookbooks – the Meal Prep one is on my Christmas list and the original is still not in my hands. I couldn’t resist the One & Done cookbook when I first saw it. I’ve followed her blog and meal plans in the past, and the idea of a “one pot” cookbook super appealed to me. That one features super easy recipes that you put in your pressure cooker, slow cooker, air fryer, sheet pan, skillet, or Dutch oven. You do some prep work and then boom, it cooks in one pan. Fast and Slow is another great one, slightly less of a favorite than One & Done – this one features slow cooker recipes and “fast” recipes that can be prepped and ready, on your table, within 30 minutes. I think some of them were a little TOO simple or easy for me and that’s the only drawback.
Unique But Less ~For Me~
I was super intrigued when I saw Time to Eat – she promises a lot of meals that you can prep ahead, freeze, or get on the table quickly. I’m into it! And definitely want to watch her show – apparently she was on GBBO. Anyways, this book was interesting for me. I think both of these cookbooks feature very British recipes, which is fun and different for me, but had a lot of recipes I couldn’t see myself making. I love that these recipes are meant to be doubled and frozen or halved if needed. It makes things super flexible and had unique formatting. For example, there’s a breakfast trifle recipe with a yogurt layer. If you double that layer, you can turn the other half into chia and yogurt popsicles. It’s a really fun for a cookbook to give you multiple recipes at once by simply doubling things and repurposing. Some recipes are easier than I would have expected, which is awesome too. However, there are a lot of recipes for things I’m not familiar with (which is cool!) and very little photos. I really love when cookbooks have pictures of everything inside them – I need it haha. The Gordon Ramsay one came from the publisher and has some cool recipes I hope to try at some point!