Favorite Cookbooks

I love to read.

I like to cook . . . . well, most of the time.

Really, I would like to snap my fingers and have dinner present itself. Since that is not in my near future (magic housekeeper or sometimes cloning myself, anyone?), I read cookbooks for ideas and tips, search online (hello, Pinterest), ask others, go back to my stand-bys, and generally make up stuff.

I am a huge fan of my slow cooker, one pot dishes that are yummy and don’t require a cream of ___ can or Velveeta, and meals that are actually ready from start to finish in less than 30 minutes without a sous chef. (Rachael Ray, I’m talking to you.) A dear friend also reminded me to cook larger amounts to freeze for later. That is so simple, and I have remembered it a few times this month. 😉

I have a binder full of recipes I have put together and a collection of cookbooks. Here are some of them and a few that have been recommended to me.

Some that I own:

Joy of Cooking is a go-to for how to prepare almost everything with classic recipes throughout the 1000+ pages.

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, Sixteenth Edition (Better Homes and Gardens Plaid) is one my mom used for apple pie. I consider it a staple in anyone’s kitchen with all of the information included.

Betty Crocker Cooking Basics: Recipes and Tips to Cook with Confidence is one Mom gave me when I graduated college and was on my own. It has good photographs and descriptions of preparation without being intimidating. A novice cook can succeed with the recipes in this book.

Out of the Sugar Rut
provides recipes that use honey and whole wheat flour instead of heavily refined ingredients. Real food is what you will find in this cookbook.

Fix-It and Forget-It Revised and Updated: 700 Great Slow Cooker Recipes (Fix-It and Forget-It Series) is the first book I used for slow cooker recipes, and it has a little bit of everything.

Recently recommended to me:

For cooking anything Italian, cookbooks by Lidia Bastianich

Cookbooks by Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman

100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love by Lisa Leake

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime by Danielle Walker

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon

Cookbooks by local Junior League groups

Which ones would you add to the list?


French Dip Sandwiches

When you read the words “French Dip” do you immediately taste the juiciness of the roast beef and know the probability of the au jus dripping down your chin?
Here’s an easy recipe using your slow cooker to answer the call from your taste buds.

French Dip (via the slow cooker)


1 3-pound-ish roast, boneless
2 cans beef broth OR 2/3 box of beef broth
1 teas minced garlic
1/2 chopped onion OR a few dashes of dried, minced onion


Put the roast in the slow cooker (3.5-4 quart).  Add garlic and onions.  Pour broth over meat.  Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.  After cooking, remove meat and shred.  Return to pot.

Serve on French rolls topped with some provolone or cheddar cheese, melted or briefly broiled.  Make sure to serve a dill pickle and the au jus in a dipping bowl, too.

Pineapple Chicken (Slow Cooker)

I’m making this tonight. It sounds yummy and different from our typical fare. I’ve added some minced garlic (1 teaspoon) and cut the recipe in half. Here is the link to the original recipe with pictures.

crockpot pineapple chicken

The gist:

The ingredients are: chicken breasts, soy sauce, chopped onion, chicken broth, & a can of pineapple. (I added some garlic.)

Directions: Put it all in the crock pot and cook on Low or High, depending on the time you have.  Serve with rice and a veggie.

My chicken is frozen, so I’m cooking on high for at least 4 hours and may change to low for the last 2 hours.  I hope it’s as yummy as it sounds. 🙂

**a few hours later . . . .

We agree that it is pretty good, but not fabulous.  I overcooked the chicken; I should have just left it on low after the first hour for the afternoon.  Pairing it with sticky rice and broccoli was a good idea.  I added some cornstarch to thicken the sauce a bit since it was very thin.

Also, you know how if you smell something cooking all day, you’re really not hungry for it at dinner time?  Well, this is one of those recipes.  Best to head out of the house for a couple of hours towards the end of cooking.

Will I make this again?  Probably.  Is it on our favorite meals list?  No.

30 Dinner Ideas, a List

What’s for dinner?  That’s a daily question, and there are many ways to easily address it.  The simplest is to plan ahead.  Whether writing a weekly or monthly menu, once the decision is made, it’s much easier.  If you’re not that much of a planner or what you chose doesn’t appeal at all (I have my moments!), then one piece of advice I read that resonated in me is this: Always know what’s for dinner by 10AM.  The stress is gone.  Your mind is free for everything else that day.

Here are a list of meal ideas in no particular order.  It’s something to refer to as needed when your brain is drawing a blank, and someone else can do the thinking for you. 🙂

1. Chicken or Steak fried rice

2. Tacos (beef, chicken, or fish) and beans with toppings

3. Baked chicken with garlic butter, rice, and green peas

4. Spaghetti (slow cook that sauce, Yum!)

5. Cheeseburgers

6. Chili (regular or White Chicken) (slow cooker)

7. Taco Soup with tortilla chips for scooping (slow cooker)

8. Grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, and broccoli

9. Beef stew

10. Broiled, baked, or grilled fish

11. Quiche & fruit

12. Scrambled eggs and all the fixin’s

13. Pancakes or French toast with sides

14. Grilled chicken Caesar salad

15. Beef & vegetable soup with cornbread (slow cooker)

16. Cheddar chicken and broccoli

17. Sour cream chicken, green peas, and corn on the cob

18. Roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, and green beans

19. Chicken, Broccoli, and Pasta Bake

20. Red beans & rice (slow cooker)

21. French Dip sandwiches (slow cooker)

22. Fish tacos with Spanish rice

23. Broccoli Beef & Rice (slow cooker)

24. Tomato soup and Grilled cheese sandwiches

25. Chicken and pasta marinara

26. Pizza (make your own)

27. Honey Sesame Chicken with rice and broccoli (slow cooker)

28. Beef or Chicken and vegetable stir-fry

29. Sandwiches (BLT, deli, fried egg, pb&j)

30. BBQ chicken or pork (slow cooker)

What would you add to this list?

BBQ Pork Sandwiches (Slow Cooker)

bbq pork_web

I love simple.  I love yummy.  I love meals without too much preparation.  This one fits the bill with 2 ingredients and little prep time.


4 pound (ish), boneless pork butt (Bone-in is fine but not as easy to maneuver)

1 bottle of your favorite bbq sauce (We like Williamson Bros.)


Put the roast in your crock pot (3.5 or 4 quart size).  Pour the sauce over and around it.  Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours.  About 20 minutes before serving, take the meat out and shred it.  Put the meat back in pot to mingle with the sauce.

Serve on a French roll with cole slaw, chips, cantaloupe, and a pickle on the side.  Make sure to have extra napkins because it’s messy. 🙂