Wooden kitchen utensils on marble surface overlaid with text: Top 10 Essential Kitchen Tools to Make Your Cooking Efficient

Top 10 Essential Kitchen Tools to Make Your Cooking Efficient

Have you noticed that new kitchen tools have a habit of creeping into your kitchen cupboards and drawers?

Do these fancy doodad gadgets really make your cooking more efficient? Or would you be better off with a minimalist set of essential kitchen tools that do more than one task?Continue reading

American biscuits with jar of honey overlaid with text: How to Make No Fuss American Biscuits

Rise of Humble Homemade Biscuits in the Family Cookbook

The humble homemade biscuit has always had a place at the Southern table. It’s historically been used as an inexpensive quick bread.

But for the last few years biscuits have become less “country” and more universal in appeal. I suspect this might be because fast food burger and chicken chains have added biscuit variations to their menus.

The following homemade biscuit recipe appeared in a little photocopied newspaper called the Troy (Texas) Country Sun and it inspired me to write today’s column.

The biscuit recipe was attributed to George Patterson. George’s “no fuss” approach to biscuit making has probably come from years of making homemade biscuits every morning. He’d no more eat toast for breakfast than forget to shave. Continue reading

Perplexed cook surrounding by vegetables with text: Vegan? Vegetarian? Gluten-free? Surprisingly easy menus!

Surprisingly Easy Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten-free Menus

Since Chelsea Clinton’s wedding reception featured vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, this kind of food is now well on the way to becoming a staple of mainstream American cooking.

But if you thumb through your family cookbook, you’ll probably find more vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes than you might have imagined.Continue reading

tortilla chip scooping salsa with title: Salsa: Food of the Gods for Your Cinco de Mayo Mini-Fiesta

Salsa: Food of the Gods for Your Cinco de Mayo Mini-Fiesta

If you like Mexican food, your favorite holiday will be arriving soon: Cinco de Mayo. What better excuse to enjoy a mini-fiesta and serve the dish I call ‘food for the gods’: Salsa and refried beans.Continue reading

Bowl of salad surrounded by small bowls of other healthy ingredients with text: Top 10 Superfoods in One Nutrition-Packed Meal

Top 10 Superfoods in One Nutrition-Packed Meal

“Why don’t you make a meal out of just the top 10 superfoods?” asked my good friend, Ruth. I had just told her about the article I’d read about the top 10 superfoods and all the nutritional benefits they contain.

Ruth’s idea sounded appealing! I’d already copied down the top 10 superfoods in order to make sure I incorporated them into my shopping list.

All I needed to do was check my list and figure out what I could make!
Continue reading

vintage style photo of baklava and walnuts with title: 5 Indispensable Qualities of Heirloom Recipes & Cookbooks

5 Indispensable Qualities of Heirloom Recipes & Cookbooks

Every year many heirloom recipes and cookbooks are lost. Due to lack of family interest, downsizing a home, or sadly, a family member’s death, these precious links to the past are being broken.

Yet heirloom recipes and cookbooks becoming increasingly valued and valuable. Collectors avidly search for them at estate sales and in old book stores and thrift shops.

But just what makes a basic everyday recipe become an heirloom recipe?
Continue reading

Group of friends at birthday party overlaid with title: Make a Birthday Calendar to Track Important Family Dates

Make a Birthday Calendar to Track Important Family Dates

In our family, birthdays were always very special. The birthday celebrant got to sit at the head of the table, and was honored with a red dinner plate at supper time.

The birthday boy or girl also got to choose the main entree of the night. It could be anything within reason. One birthday I chose ice cream sundaes! Continue reading

Mint ice cream in cone with lime pieces and mint leaves with text Quick Jalapeño Mint Ice Cream Recipe

Quick Jalapeño Mint Ice Cream Recipe

Jalapeño mint ice cream. It sounds kind of odd, doesn’t it? Both hot and cool! But as odd as it sounds, jalapeño mint ice cream is surprisingly good.

Try this quick recipe for jalapeño mint ice cream to startle your dinner guests or have fun at parties!

Continue reading

Vanilla sticks on bowl of custard with text: Anything But Plain: 5 Little-Known Facts About Vanilla

Anything But Plain: 5 Little-Known Facts About Vanilla

I always laugh when I hear the term ‘plain vanilla’. Vanilla is anything but plain! It has a pleasantly complex, yet distinctive flavor and aroma.

Add vanilla, to improve whatever you’re eating or drinking. Nothing quite beats fine quality French vanilla ice cream with little black specks of vanilla seeds!

Continue reading

Blueberry muffins with mint sprig and text: Low-Calorie Applesauce Muffins Recipe

Low-Calorie Applesauce Muffins Recipe

Some years ago I came up with this low-calorie Applesauce Muffins recipe to replace the very tempting, calorie-laden cupcakes that are available seemingly everywhere.

All it took was reading the label on one giant muffin to convince me that making my own low-calorie Applesauce Muffins would help me practice better portion control.Continue reading

Red pen resting on printed sheet of text: 8 Proofreading Tips for a Perfect Family Cookbook

8 Proofreading Tips for a Perfect Family Cookbook

You want to create the perfect family cookbook, right? But you’re afraid that you’ll overlook some glaring error.

You dread the pain and embarrassment of someone finding a typographical error smack dab in the middle of the family cookbook!

And you just cringe at the thought of those snide comments from folks in the family who think there’s a prize for finding fault (but didn’t help when they had the chance).

Don’t worry, you’re not alone in your fear! Every cookbook author shares this fear. And luckily, it’s not that difficult to overcome.

Here are some ways to boost your confidence and help you create a family cookbook to be proud of:Continue reading

Photo of spinach and garbanzos on dark plate with title: Spinach and Garbanzos - the Perfect Combo! Who Knew?

Spinach and Garbanzos – the Perfect Combo! Who Knew?

I was in the mood for vegetarian one day last week, so I peeked into the fridge and found a big bag of fresh spinach. Then I checked my canned goods pantry and found a big can of garbanzo beans in the back. (Probably intended to make hummus with them, but, well, that never happened.)

So, on to the fresh spinach and garbanzos dish I was about to create. What would make that taste good, I thought. How about adding some garlic, onion and tomatoes for some extra flavor, and a little lemon juice for sparkle? This spinach and garbanzos dish was beginning to remind me of some Mediterranean-style foods I’ve enjoyed.Continue reading

open grilled cheese sandwich on red checkered cloth and wooden table with text: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Remain Triumphant

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Remain Triumphant

Have you noticed that grilled cheese sandwiches just never go out of fashion?

Whether it’s a basic version sold at a fast food restaurant or a bistro menu item marketed as a trendy retro dish, or a kiddy comfort food, this food is still as popular as ever.

Grilled cheese sandwiches are so popular in America that April has been designated Grilled Cheese Month. Continue reading

Tea party table with text: "3 Salad Recipes for the Tea Party Hostess with the Mostest"

3 Salad Recipes for the Tea Party Hostess with the Mostest

I was in a tizzy over what to make for the ladies. It was my turn to host the monthly tea gathering and I wanted to make something different to see if I could be the tea party hostess with the mostest.Continue reading

Woman's hand putting paper in recyling container with text: Spring Cleaning Your Family Recipe Card Box

Spring Cleaning Your Family Recipe Card Box

Springtime is an inspirational time to clean, dust, and renew all the nooks and crannies and other crevices that have been neglected during the winter months. It’s also a good time to weed out those extraneous recipes and notes in your family recipe card box or recipe file box.

Spring cleaning your family recipe card box or recipe file box doesn’t have to be a big chore. It can be done while watching your favorite TV reality show (all you multi-taskers take note), waiting for your hair-color to reach maximum tint, or riding in a car during a lengthy trip. All you really need is a bag for discards, and a small surface for sorting.Continue reading

gourmet chocolates on white paper overlaid with text, "Try before you buy, visiting a gourmet chocolate show."

Try Before You Buy: Visiting a Fancy Gourmet Chocolate Show

I’m always fascinated by fancy gourmet chocolate shows.

The creativity is cutting edge. And it’s so much fun to speak with the proprietors who striving to please the public with their signature chocolate creations.

Best of all, at these chocolate shows, I have the luxury of taste-testing some very expensive chocolates that I’d never get to try otherwise.

Continue reading

Two horseshoes on wooden background with title: Lucky Home-Made Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Lucky Home-Made Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

In most every family cookbook there is a special recipe for corned beef and cabbage. It’s a true American invention to celebrate the Irish roots of many immigrants who fled to the United States after hard times.

Corned beef and cabbage: perfect for St Patrick’s Day

Few Irish actually could afford to eat corned beef, and if they did, it was a rare occasion.

Whether a real or make-believe tradition, having a nice slice of corned beef with a little cabbage and some boiled potatoes surely is not a bad thing. After all, the corned beef and cabbage meal ranks right up there with the turkey and stuffing tradition at Thanksgiving.

I like to make my corned beef and cabbage in a slow cooker. It is juicy and tender, and has a wonderful flavor. Plus, it is very easy!

I call my dish Lucky Corned Beef and Cabbage.

Lucky Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 pound carrots, cut into chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 head cabbage, cut into wedges

Directions

In a large hot skillet, sear the corned beef brisket a few minutes until brown on both sides. This helps seal in the juices and adds flavor to the meat.

De-glaze the pan with the water and add it to the slow cooker’s crock.  Place browned corned beef brisket into the water and top with contents of the spice packet (press the spices into the meat if you can).

Add the onion, potato, and carrot chunks. Add garlic, bay leaf, sugar, vinegar, pepper (use more or less as you prefer). Arrange cabbage wedges on top of everything.

Cover and slow cook for 8 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are tender.

Remove bay leaf before serving with whole grain mustard or creamed horseradish.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Add a nip of Irish Whiskey and whipped cream to some coffee for your dessert, and you’ve really got something almost Irish. After all, everyone in America is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy Cookbooking,

Erin

Dishes on table overlaid with text: 10 Tips for Taking Better Food Photos for Your Family Cookbook

10 Tips for Taking Better Food Photos for Your Family Cookbook

I know. I’ve tried it. Food photography is one of the hardest types of picture taking. It can make taking photos for your family cookbook more of a trial than a pleasure.

Many of our cookbook software customers have written to ask how they can improve their photo skills when taking pictures of their recipes to include in their family cookbook.

Below I give you the best tips I’ve learned over the years for taking food photos for your family cookbook.Continue reading

assorted cooking utensils on a floury table overlaid with text: Organize your kitchen with a recipe binder

Planning to Get Organized This Year? Start in the Kitchen with a New Recipe Binder

A recipe binder might not help you keep all your New Year’s resolutions – but it’s a great start!

So many of us start the year with good intentions, only to get overwhelmed before the first month is out. When it comes to organization in the home, it can be hard to know where to begin. If you’re anything like me, that feeling starts when you look around your kitchen.

Recipe Binders

Cooking for family and friends can be a joy, but it can result in your kitchen looking like a hurricane blasted through it.

If your recipes are scattered across your kitchen counter, getting lost in the mess, cooking your favorite recipes gets extremely difficult. One thing that can save you from having to look through heaps of disorganized notes is a specialized recipe binder.

There are various types of recipe binders that can work in your favor – whether you’re a big time chef or someone who is new at cooking up meals. Full page recipe binders can hold 8.5″ x 11” paper as well as 4″ x 6″ and 5″ x 7″ recipe card holders. You can easily organize these binders with divider tabs to group recipes by type.

If you or someone you know is getting the hang of cooking and needs a little extra help, why not try a mini recipe binder? These binders are small enough to stack on a tiny shelf for safekeeping. Each binder comes with protective sleeves that will guard your precious recipes from the grease splatters and sauce spills.

A handy-dandy recipe binder in any size will carry on the family tradition of home cooked meals for generations.

If you’re not sure which kind of binder will best keep your recipes well- organized, contact us! We’ll help you find the perfect binder for all your cooking needs!