In honor of our Books, Spice, and Everything Nice theme (and spice club!), we’ll be doing a monthly round-up of our cookbooks. We have a really nice and extensive collection, but it’s easy to get lost in the sheer number of them. Hopefully these posts help! For September, we’ll be focusing on cookbooks that help you get dinner on the table when you’re pressed for time and ideas.
If you need cookbooks that cover the basics:
Renee Schettler’s Real Simple Meals Made Easy (2006)
Easy is the name of the game with this book. Full of photographs, the book features no-cook and no-shop options, as well as recipes for one-pot dishes, freezer ingredients, shortcut dishes, and easy side dishes. It’s not tailored for calorie counters, but the solid, no-fuss recipes include classics like chicken pot pie, baked fish, chicken cacciatore, beef stew, and more.
Rachael Ray’s Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book (2008)
Rachael Ray’s claim to fame is thirty-minute meals, and this compendium is a ten-year anniversary celebration of her thirty-minute meals. This book offers holiday and weekday ideas, as well as vegetarian dishes, kosher recipes, and an entire chapter devoted to burgers. Other chapters include starters and snacks and recipes that take a little longer than thirty minutes.
Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime: Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-Minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper! (2015)
Ree Drummond has always drawn on her experience as a wife and mother for her cookbooks, and this one is no different. It’s all about dinner, featuring over 100 recipes for everything from stroganoff to meatballs to oven barbeque chicken to vegetarian chili. Recipes include extra-fast sixteen minute and freezer food options, as well as sides, breakfast for dinner ideas, and more.
If you want a break on dishes too:
Brooke Dojny and Melanie Barnard’s A Flash in the Pan: Fast, Fabulous Recipes in a Single Skillet (2003)
If you’re in a hurry, you’re probably not looking forward to doing the dishes any more than you are finding something to cook, so this cookbook offers simple recipes you can make in one skillet. Recipes include pasta dishes, corned beef hash, fish and chips, and more. Chapters are organized around the main protein used: beef, lamb and veal, poultry, pork, fish, shellfish, and meatless.
If you want to be fancy (in a hurry):
Robin Donovan and Juliana Gallin’s The Lazy Gourmet: Magnificent Meals Made Easy (2012)
If you want to cook to impress without the stress, this is the book for you. Unlike a lot of the other books in this post, which are especially concerned with main dishes, this one also includes recipes for appetizers, desserts, and sides. Simple recipes with straightforward ingredients lead to everything from chocolate mousse to five-spice roast pork to orange spiced pecans.
If you’re trying to be fast and healthy:
Devin Alexander’s I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening!: Over 150 Ridiculously Easy Recipes for the Super Busy (2010)
Some of the cookbooks in this post aren’t particularly user-friendly if you’re trying to watch your weight, but this book prioritizes making quick meals that are still healthy. The author’s own weight loss journey has inspired her cooking philosophy about eating right, and she offers up low-calorie recipes for chicken parmesan, apple-butter-topped pork chops, turkey burrito pockets, spicy tuna salad, and more.
If you’re trying to be seasonal:
Mark Bittman’s Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less (2010)
Mark Bittman’s approach to cookbooks can be a little intimidating for some cooks because his recipes are very flexible regarding measurements and ingredients. If that’s okay with you, you’re in for a real treat with this cookbook that provides recipes appropriate for spring, summer, fall, and winter. Not only does he focus on seasonal ingredients, but he also tailors the cooking techniques and methods accordingly (no braising in the summer or grilling in the winter). For maximum flexibility, he also notes which recipes can easily be repurposed and how.
If you’re using a slow cooker:
Phyllis Pellman Good’s Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook: 1,400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes! (2008)
Slow cookers are a great way to simplify dinner plans, and this cookbook is packed full of recipes, with many featuring a range of variations to give you maximum flexibility. Recipes include things you’d expect (stews, chili, etc.) and ones you may not (desserts, breads, and breakfast dishes).
If you’re using an Instant Pot:
Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough’s The Instant Pot Bible: More than 350 Recipes and Strategies: The Only Book You Need for Every Model of Instant Pot (2018)
No matter which model or size Instant Pot you have, this cookbook will work for you. Recipes include dinner favorites (like sloppy joes, curries, and pulled pork), as well as breakfast dishes, sous vide recipes, sides, and desserts. The book also features periodic road maps that offer all sorts of suggestions for how to customize favorites (oatmeal, mac and cheese, chili, risotto, etc.) with unique add-ins. The book also includes vegetarian, vegan, keto-friendly, and gluten-free options.
What’s your favorite cookbook for quick and easy meals? What’s your favorite recipe to make on a busy day? What are you cooking in September? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.