Tag Archives: cookbooks

Cookbook review (Giveaway closed): Fresh Tastes

It’s Tuesday, it’s way too cold outside, and therefore (by the rules of logic) it’s time for another cookbook review. With a giveaway! To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below by Tuesday February 13th at 9am Central. If you need inspiration about what to say, here’s a question: what is your ultimate comfort food? I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner, and you’ll get a free copy of this lovely cookbook zipped off in the mail to you.

{Update: GIVEAWAY CLOSED. The winner is . . .

. . . comment #4! TWINKY! Congrats, Mama.)

Now: why do you want this cookbook? Let’s get down to it.

This cookbook is Lee Clayton Roper’s second. Here’s what I love about Fresh Tastes: it feels like a hug from your mom. Which makes sense, considering a lot of Lee’s recipes are from her mom.

To me, there’s a huge comfort food factor here. A blurb I read describes her recipes as “timeless classics,” and I couldn’t agree more. Her 170 recipes include all kinds of familiar dishes that I imagine on the table of a gracious, older Midwestern woman who has perfected the art of hosting and has prepared a spread to Feed Them All. What kind of offerings might you find on her table? Think Pimento Cheese Spread, think Chicken Pot Pie, think Potato Salad–all recipes Lee has included in her book.

(Also, I want to be this woman. At ease, confident, hospitable, and with plenty of food for everyone, always.)

A lot of her recipes include mayonnaise. Luckily, I love mayonnaise. Bring the mayo ON.

This soup looks particularly lovely:

Want to make it? You’re in luck, because I have the recipe right here in a nice printable format:

Italian Sausage Spinach and Orzo Soup

Also, though there’s no image to go with it, the mere name of this recipe speaks to me: Banana Caramel Baked French Toast. (Click to access the Word doc, and if you make it before I do, let me know how it turns out.)

Whenever I review a cookbook, I always try to make a recipe first, because that’s the proof in the pudding. For this go-around, I decided to make Lee’s meatloaf recipe, which if I remember correctly, came from one of her mother’s recipe cards. The ingredient list looked nice and traditional–milk, breadcrumbs, eggs, ground beef, sage, grated onion, with a ketchup-based sauce on top. And I was in the mood for traditional. Nothing fancy, nothing terribly innovative–just nice, plain, meatloaf.

And that’s exactly what it tasted like. And I mean that in a good way. Standard, good, meatloaf. I love a cookbook that has standard, good stuff in it.

On a side note, has anyone figured out how to photograph meatloaf in an attractive way? I have not.

As you can probably tell.

There’s something about comfort food that is just . . . ugly.

Ugly and delicious.

Anyway, I served it with brussel sprouts and potatoes.

Yum. I went back for seconds.

Now brussel sprouts–there’s a food that photographs well. Let’s have another look.

They almost make the meatloaf look good.



It’s a lovely cookbook for anyone who enjoys cooking traditional American fare. The recipes are simple, the ingredients easy-to-find, and it’s just one of those cookbooks that makes me feel warm inside. Because, as much as I sometimes want to make a complicated curry recipe with about a million steps to it and a level of spice that will burn a half dozen holes in my tongue, sometimes I just want a nice, warm spinach dip with crackers.

Or meatloaf with ketchup on top.

Here’s a link to the cookbook on Amazon:

And good luck to those of you participating in the giveaway!

Cookbook (giveaway closed): Designed for One! (Diabetes-friendly)


Giveaway closed: winner announced–commenter #2–congratulations Tammy!


All images and recipes in this post: ©2017 by the American Diabetes Association. Designed for One is available at ShopDiabetes.org, in bookstores nationwide, or by calling 1-800-232-6733. Food Photography: Mittera

Hiya hello, all y’all. I recently agreed to take a look at a newly-released cookbook called Designed for One! – 120 Diabetes-Friendly Dishes Just for You.

You may be asking, now why in the heck would you be interested in cooking for one? Last I recall you were popping babbies out right and left?

(that’s right–babbies)

Well. See, every now and then, on the rare occasion when I’m alone, cooking can be zen. Therapeutic-ky. Especially when it involves simple salads (which my kids are not capable of eating and/or will not eat) or avocado toast (does that count as cooking?). Anyway, I like the idea of being indulgent in that way–towards myself. Cooking a meal just to please me? Wow. Yes. (Now I just have to arrange to be alone for a night. Hmm. Maybe next decade.)

You also may be thinking, but you don’t have diabetes!

Maybe not. However, it’s clear that you don’t have to have diabetes to like the sound of Sweet Hot Chicken Thighs. Or the Chunky Mango Gelato from the healthier desserts section. Or the Knife-and-Fork Turkey-Corn Tortillas (just click for the printable recipe).


Here’s the deal (i.e. my unfettered opinion) on the cookbook:

+ There are mushrooms on the cover. Okay, I’ll admit this was a huge part of the initial draw for me. I LOVE MUSHROOMS. They’re a fungus, so yay! I know, that sentence makes no sense. But that sentence does segue us into one of the coolest things I learned from this cookbook, which is why my mushrooms get slimy. Apparently I shouldn’t store them in plastic! Huh. The writer recommends paper bags. Noted! (And thank you. I hate slimy mushrooms. They’re a real downer.)

+ Each recipe includes complete nutritional information (calories, calories from fat, cholesterol, sodium, etc.). Like, I’ve never seen so much nutritional information together on one recipe. So way to go, author Nancy Hughes, for doing a hella-lotta math. (Like that? ‘Hella-lotta’? Yeah, me too.)

– There aren’t a lot of pictures in the cookbook itself, so if you’re a super visual person, this may not be for you. But the pictures it does include are lovely!

– / + There aren’t long stories to go with each recipe. For someone like my husband who views recipes as a functional part of his life, this is perfect. For someone like me (used to reading the personal musings of Nigella Lawson who accompanies every recipe with a lavish paragraph or three), well, I could’ve used some more musings from the author about why they named their third dog Willison and why the game Parcheesi is called Parcheesi.

+ / – The recipes themselves are quite simple. I’m imagining that would make this book good for a novice cook or someone who simply doesn’t like to cook so much but feels they need to do it for budgetary or health reasons. This would not be the right book for your accomplished chef friend who trained in Italy and interned at El Bulli.

In conclusion: I would describe this cookbook as functional, not lavish.

I am personally drawn to this recipe for Slow-Cooker Chuck and Veggies (click for the printable recipe).


Very drawn.

Very, very drawn.

Probably because of the mushrooms. Again.

Anyway, if you think you might like this cookbook or you have a friend you might want to gift it to, guess what? I’m giving one away! WHOOOPDEEDOOOO! Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve done a giveaway on this blog?

(don’t answer that question)

So! Leave a comment below. On Thursday December 21st, after 9am Central, I’ll use the random number generator to pick a comment, and whoever left it gets the cookbook shipped to them for free, badabing badaboom.

Please feel free to share this post with any friend you think might need this cookbook in their lives. And of course, you can always purchase it for yourselves or said friend on the Provider-Of-All-Things Online Emporium that is Amazon.com.

Good luck and I’ll announce the winner on Thursday!