Cookbook Challenge

I have a pretty extensive collection of cookbooks. I'd estimate that I own at least 15-20 cookbooks, not to mention a giant binder of magazine recipes and I subscribe to 3 magazines which contain recipes.


So yeah. It's a lot of recipe sourcing.

I also read like 100 blogs (actually) and I'm on Pinterest. The amount of recipe options is out of control.

I often turn to the good old worldwide web, rather than check out my cookbooks for recipes or while meal planning. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but I hate that I have this extensive collection that just doesn't get as much use as it should!

I'm going to change that.

I've decided to make it a challenge. I'm going to pick a recipe from a different cookbook each week and get busy in the kitchen. I'm ashamed to admit that I have some gorgeous cookbooks in which I haven't made a single recipe! While others, I have made numerous recipes (Rocco, I'm looking at you!).

The challenge is actually two-fold in that I plan to choose recipes that are slightly out of my comfort zone...ones that use new ingredients (to me), new flavors. This doesn't mean that they have to be particularly difficult, but I think it will be fun to simply try some new things in the kitchen.

Right now, I have two recipes in the hopper for this week. Why two? Because I planned to make one of them last week and didn't do it. I know...not a good way to start off the challenge! And so this week, I plan to make two dishes. From my Williams-Sonoma Food + Wine cookbook, I plan to make a pork loin with apple chutney, and from my Better Homes and Gardens book, I plan to make a kalamata olive & lemon chicken. I can't wait to try these out and let you know how it all goes!

So that's my self-imposed culinary challenge. Who's with me? If you want to join the cookbook challenge and you have a blog, we could set up a link up day or something for our cookbook recipe posts! If you're not a blogger, I'd love to see some photos that you take of your goods and can share them here on the blog or on the Facebook page! Let me know!

Questions of the Day:

Do you use cookbooks?

Or do you scour the Internet for recipes?

My Cookbook Collection, Part I

I have a problem friends.

It’s just that I have this dirty little secret. An obsession, really, is what it is.

You know how I am semi-obsessed with cooking? Ok, and eating? Oh and remember how I started a Book Club page to track my obsessive reading?

I think you know where this is going.

Well my obsessions don’t end there. In fact, take those 2 things and put them together and you’ll get a reading-cooking-eating obsessed lady. Me. Surrounded by literature about cooking...and eating.

It’s my cookbook collection.

Nerd Alert!

But seriously you guys, I, wait...I LOVE my cookbooks. I love that I have my own little collection of kitchen friends. A resource to always turn to (well them, and my mom). That I can decide which ones I want to serve as my own personal go-to’s (kind of like any collection of friends). That when I want to learn tried-and-true tricks in the old kitch, they’ll be there. That if I have a bowl of bordering-on-rotten ripened bananas, they will be there for me.

Banana Bread Redux

If I want to do a series of apple pie taste tests, they will be there for me.

Two Girls, Two Guys, Four Pies

When I want to whip up a mean plate of meat and potatoes for my man, they will be there for me.

Skillet Roasted Chicken + Potato Wedges

And when I’m in need of a quick, emergency batch of sweets (you know that it happens), they will most definitely be there for me in my desperate, ravaging time of need.

Loaded Butterscotch Blondies + Salted Chocolate Glaze
I’m not crazy.

Since I don’t really have a place to keep my collection in the kitchen (yet), my cookbooks and other recipe materials are scatted throughout our home. Shaun loves this. Almost as much as he loves seeing my shoes scattered under the coffee table and kitchen table, peeking out of my side of the bed and taking up any free corner in our home. That’s a story for another time.

Anyhow, at present I keep my cookbooks in 2 separate places and my magazines (like Food Network and Real Simple) in a basket in our TV console.  First up is the butcher block, which also plays home to our fresh popcorn machine (and 2nd love of my life).

These are my most recent acquisitions from over the last few months.

Dutch Cooking Today
A sweet and thoughtful gift from my sister Kimberly and her boyfriend Nick, brought back from their trip to Holland. I cannot WAIT to break this open and get cooking. I love exploring local cuisine, so I am so excited to get my Dutch cooking on.

Rocco DiSpirito's Now Eat This!
I love this cookbook. No wait...did you get that? I LOVE THIS COOKBOOK!

Penne Alla No Vodka

I love everything about it and every recipe that I've tried from it. It's delicious and healthy, using mostly natural ingredients to eat healthier. I use this as my go-to when I'm stumped on planning dinner. I can always find something from Rocco. Next up, I need (NEED!) to get his follow up, Now Eat This Diet.

Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?
What can I say? She’s my girl. She's brought me so many delicious eats.

Roasted Shrimp with Feta + FennelThough my love for her certainly dwindled significantly since her snubbing incident, you can’t deny her rockage in the kitchen or her flawless Hamptons style. Oh Ina, why can’t you just be a nice person too? And prove that one really CAN have it all and also be nice?

Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book
It’s Bets’ original cookie book and I hear it rocks. I just made my first cookie from this book and can’t wait to share it with you tomorrow!

This book just makes me happy. It reminds me of my mother (since Bets is the only one she trusts) and holiday baking.

Williams-Sonoma Pie + Tart
My best friend Lindsey gifted me with this for Christmas along with a sweet pie plate, baking cups and other baking tools. With recipes like Strawberry Rubarb pie, Sweet Potato Pie, Mint Chocolate Truffle Tart, and Deep Dish Plum Pie, I cannot wait to break into this guy.

Bobby Flay’s Throwdown Cookbook
A Christmas gift from my parents (one that Mom insisted she almost kept for herself), the book includes a sampling of Bobby’s throwdowns - his own recipes and those of his competitors. Yum. I hope there's some brunch items on the menu...

Brunch at Mesa GrillLaurent Tourondel's Fresh From the Market
I purchased this on a whim. Do I ever plan to roast a whole suckling pig? Not so much. Especially once I found out what a suckling pig was. But I feel cultured owning this one, and sometimes that is enough in life.

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef
Also ordered on a whim when I thought I wanted to try going gluten-free. I’m still not opposed to it and I’m sure that this is a fantastic book. I just haven’t been particularly inspired to make anything from it just yet.

The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook 2010-2011
This is one of Shaun’s favorite cooking shows (it’s that Alton Brown-ness that he’s got going on) and his aunt gifted me with this book for Christmas. So far, I’m in love.

Loaded Butterscotch Blondies + Salted Chocolate GlazeIt’s become a fantastic go-to in my avid kitchen and I can’t wait to keep trying new dishes from it.

50 smoothies ‘zine via Food Network Magazine
I tore this out of a recent FN Magazine and have been loving it. Some of them are wacky (adding a crumbled cupcake to your smoothie?!) and some of them eye-opening (peanut butter-apple smoothie, circa third grade after school snack? Um yes please!).ο»Ώ

So there you have it. Part 1 of my cookbook collection. I have lots more, but realized that this post was growing a bit out of control. I'll be back next week with Part 2! So what do you think? What are your favorite cookbooks? What are your go-to's?

This post is part of my What About Me Wednesday series. If you have a question for me, please send it along and I'll try to answer it in a future post! For more WAMW posts and other general tidbits, check out my FAQ page or About page!

Cookbook Realization + Italian Goulash

Good news friends! I can walk this morning! Hooray! It's a Friday miracle! :)

I'm exaggerating. Sort of.

I'm still having trouble walking.

I'm so happy that it's Friday and that the weekend is just a few hours away. Shaun and I don't have much planned aside from a 5K walk down the Jersey Shore on Sunday morning. I love having open weekends!

So today I want to share a new recipe that I tried earlier this week. I have a pretty large cookbook collection and admitedly, many of them do not get much love. Not because they aren't fabulous, but because there is only so much time for meal planning!

This is just a sampling of the cookbooks I received this past Christmas

So I often overlook a lot of them, knowing that someday I will have the time to go through them and pick out recipes to try. Then I realized that someday should be now! There may be my next favorite recipe just sitting untouched on my bookshelf. So my new plan is to make an effort to really make a go of it with all of my cookbooks. I'm not going to get overwhelmed and try to make a new recipe from each one every night, but instead, pick a new recipe from a different book each week. What do you think? How do you handle cookbook overload?

In the spirit of working with new cookbooks, I broke out a book that I got at my bridal shower: Jamie and Bobby Deen's Y'all Come Eat. My mom, sister and aunt had gone to their book signing and even got us a signed copy, which is so sweet! And I love all the Deen's, so I knew this one would be a winner. Some of the recipes even seem significantly lighter than Mama Deen's butter-filled ones (not that there's anything wrong with that).

I found Bobby's Goulash and knew I had to give it a try. It not only looked easy and delicious, but also...dare I say it...healthy? Or adaptable to be made healthy at least. This recipe made a big batch that we had all week. It was a perfect Sunday dinner...and weekday lunch, and post-gym dinner on Wednesday. I changed the name of the recipe along with a few tweaks because, well...there is nothing about this recipe that says traditional goulash (which is a heavenly beef stew-type dish). It's really more of an Italian pasta dish. I don't mind. It's fabulous regardless of what you call it.

Italian Goulash
*Adapted from Y'All Come Eat
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey breast
1 large onion, diced
1 29oz can diced tomatoes
1 29 oz can tomato sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 C uncooked (!) whole wheat elbow macaroni
kosher salt
olive oil

In a large pot/stock pot, heat a bit of oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, about 10 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Once cooked through, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, soy sauce, basil, oregano, and garlic. Stir together, reduce the heat to simmer and cover for 20 minutes. Stir in the uncooked elbows, recover and simmer for another 20 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes and serve.

This dish was seriously SO good and SO easy! Shaun has already asked me to make it again! The key to this entire recipe? The soy sauce. It just gives an extra depth of flavor that is unbeatable in this dish. I highly recommend giving it a try today! Oh and the best part is that you can absolutely add vegetables to this dish as well! Next time I plan to add some spinach or even asparagus.

So there you have it. A dish worthy of Sunday dinner, and I hope that you try it and like it as much as we did! So what are your plans for the weekend?