Staff Picks: Meals Made Easy For the New Year

Posted by Aaron on

I love to cook, especially for friends and family, but I don’t believe that good food has to be complicated or take me away from spending time with my guests. As I plan for the new year, I’m revisiting some of my favorite cookbooks for accomplishing just that—delicious, yet simple recipes that are good for special events.

The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook 
Not only is this cookbook filled with fabulous recipes that all take under 45 minutes to prepare, prep to serving, but as always “America’s Test Kitchen” provides valuable information about what tools and brands work well. I also like the 3-ring binder format and tabbed sections for ease of use on the counter top. This is also a great cookbook for any day of the week. Favorite appetizers include Crab Rangoon and Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus.

Rachael Ray’s Open House Cookbook

As with all of Rachel Ray’s cookbooks, her recipes focus on being fast and pretty simple and this book has about 200 recipes that make entertaining easy. I can’t recommend all of her recipes—it seems that her recipes either work really well for my family or not at all—but enough work well that I can recommend checking out her books to find those that will become favorites for your family. Favorite meat dish is Baked Ham cooked in apple cider and basted with a mixture of maple syrup, apricot preserves and bourbon.  (Disclaimer, the ham does simmer for about 4 hours, but this is still a very simple, easy to manage recipe.)

Barefoot Contessa At Home
Whenever I have watched Ina Garten on her television show, The Barefoot Contessa,  I’m amazed at how serene she seems to be about her cooking. I’m not sure I am quite so tranquil as I prepare dishes, yet this is another cookbook with some good everyday dishes that are suitable for a family or special dinner. Two favorite side dishes are Orange-Honey Glazed Carrots and Broccolini and Balsamic Vinaigrette, both are quick and easy.  The carrots can be made ahead of time and reheated and the broccolini can be served warm or cold.

Everyday Italian
Who hasn’t seen the smiling face of Giada de Laurentiis preparing to take a bite of something scrumptious she’s just pulled out of the oven or plated from the pot? Her smile and her recipes are famous. I’ve read criticisms of her recipes as not really traditionally Italian, but I find her simple approach to cooking an easy way to create delicious food. “Everyday Italian” is the basis for two of my family’s favorite desserts—Fruit Salad with Cannoli Cream and Chocolate Zabaglione with fresh strawberries—both can  be made ahead of time.

For these and other wonderful recipes check out the cookbook section at the library–641.5.

Happy New Year!

Dawn, Library Administration, Warrenton central library

Book listsreviews from our book clubs and favorites from library staff are great resources when searching for your next book. Or stop by the reference desk at your local library.



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