Most of my favorite cookbooks sit in a place of honor in my kitchen. Some are my favorites of all time and have recipes loved by myself, my husband, and the whole family. In this article, I review my top five favorites for this year and also include links to online recipe collections, plus suggestions on how to create a personal cookbook of your own. You’ll find celebrity cookbooks, cooking for two cookbooks, air frying, cast iron, and diet cookbooks. There is variety in my collection!
There is just something about colorful, not-too-fancy, looks easy to use with ‘normal people’ ingredients type of cookbook that makes me extremely happy and gets me excited to go shopping for ingredients! My #1 Favorite Cookbook below by Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) affected me in that way. It’s one of those that I won’t be able to stop myself from raving about. I love that book, and I think you will too! Make sure you read my review below.
All the newly published, full of colorful photos, cookbooks, apps, and websites with features to help with the planning, shopping, and preparing can’t compare to a loved, stained, passed-down from your mom or grandma cookbook. Not only are those cookbooks full of the tasty recipes of your childhood. They’re also full of memories. ❤️
Past Favorite Cookbooks and Fond Memories
Cookbooks and recipes were such a valuable part of my upbringing. My mom used her Joy of Cooking Cookbook until it was falling apart! I wish we still had that dog-eared, butter, and flour-stained book. It lovingly represented our Owens family dinners which were always served at the kitchen table. That table was set with salt and pepper, bread and butter (margarine in those days), and plates and silverware.
Mom would ensure my hard-working pipe-fitter dad had a meat and potatoes meal with a green salad and cooked vegetables every night. In the summer, we’d have her homemade lemonade (see Recipes on QH for ‘My Sweet Mama’s Lemonade‘). We loved her pot roast, fried chicken, and meatloaf, but her holiday meals were over the moon!
Not a cookbook, but my mom’s recipe box is also a fabulous collection of memories and tasty meals. Now that she’s not around to cook those family meals, the hand-written directions keep her and her cooking close. My favorites from that collection are her Homemade Noodles (see Recipes on QH) and Swedish Pancakes, plus many cookie and dessert recipes.
After doing a little research, I discovered the most popular and favorite cookbooks from 1900 to 2000. The list is from Taste of Home. The Good Housekeeping Woman’s Home Cook Book by Isabel Gordon Curtis (1909) was the most popular. Check out the link if you’re curious about the rest of the list.
There are several categories of cookbooks to search for online. You can look up just about any style, diet, or special interest, and you’ll find that type of cookbook out there. Google and Pinterest are your friends if you’re looking for something unique. Some examples are vintage, celebrity, basic/beginner cooking, diet/health management cookbooks, and those with quick meals for the super busy. There are cookbooks for methods of cooking. My favorites are air fryer cooking, cast iron cooking, and cooking for two.
I spent an extended visit to the library and considerable time on Amazon looking for cookbooks which I’ve discovered are close to the number of stars in the sky!
Here are My Five Favorite Cookbooks, plus some Honorable Mentions for this year. These are the ones I use most often in my kitchen. I’ve included a recipe or two from each of my favorite cookbooks to give you an idea of what’s inside. Enjoy!
My #1 Favorite: The Pioneer Woman Cooks SUPER EASY!
Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) is my current favorite Food Network celebrity. I love her show, style, family, cookbooks, and recipes. And I LOVE her newest cookbook! This one is the most colorful of all my favorite cookbooks. It’s full of information on how to cook ‘super easy’ and what you need to have on hand to do that! Kind of like my favorite thing…’pantry cooking’. (See post below.)
I counted all the recipes I want to try in this fun, easy-to-follow, full-of photos book. The total is almost 30 recipes! It will take a very long time to make it through all of those, but I am excited to get going because they look delicious, easy, and quick. Who doesn’t want to get involved with that kind of cooking?
We have tried the Fish Stick Tacos (oh.my.gosh.) on page 282 and the Taco Tots on page 281. Tex-Mex yumminess right there y’all. 🤠 This cookbook is a masterpiece that makes you WANT to cook!
Check it out >
My #2 Favorite: The Joy of Cooking
The Joy of Cooking is like the bible of cooking for several generations of American cooks. It has to be on the list of my favorite cookbooks!
How would I know how to make Roast Chicken on page 465 or Mock Mince Pie on page 604 (I love Mincemeat Pie!) plus, so many basic recipes you need to keep your family happy and fed. Like Skillet Corn Bread on page 578 and Split Pea or Lentil Soup on page 153. They’re all in here. All the recipes and explanations for how to make them.
There are also other tools you need for cooking. There is a whole chapter on Entertaining with illustrations. Of course, things have changed a little since my version was written. There are tons of Menus listed to get you started with your planning.
I said it was like a bible…it’s also like a security blanket from the past. Knowing my mom and maybe hers used this cookbook to get their start is reassuring. But it also gives a beginning cook support before a section of recipes. On page 659, there are three paragraphs entitled “About Refrigerator Cookies”.
It’s an invaluable resource and my #2 favorite!
Check it out >
3 More Favorite Cookbooks
Air Fryer Cookbook
Are you new to air frying? This cookbook is perfect for the newbie and the seasoned pro alike. Do you see that there are 600 recipes to try?! Wow. There is lots of information to help you get comfortable with air frying. That appliance has been a God-send during the hot summer months in Texas. Not using the big oven helps the AC do its job more effectively and keeps the kitchen cool.
The recipes are so tempting. And I particularly love the Quick and Easy section. Perfect Air Fryer Eggs are amazing. We also love the Classic French Fries!
(I have been very pleased with my Power XL Air Fryer Grill. I’m not sure how we’ve survived without it! )
When you make Joanna’s recipes from this book, you can imagine yourself eating at a restaurant of the same name. We’ve eaten there a couple of times, and since we’re only 40 miles away, I’m sure we’ll be eating there again! As you can imagine, the food was amazing, as was the restaurant itself.
A couple of favorites from this cookbook are JoJo’s Biscuits on p.18 (so flaky and delicious) and her Cinnamon Squares on p. 65 (Yum!) There are many step-by-step photos of Joanna doing the cooking in this cookbook, along with color photos of the finished products. I’m slowly and happily working my way through this book!
Joanna has another cookbook, “Magnolia Table, Volume 2: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering“. It’s also on my counter!
the 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook
30-Minute’ is my newest favorite cookbook. I’m reading ‘Brain Food‘ right now (listed on the Books I Love page), which references the Mediterranean diet. Think pasta, whole grains, fresh fruit, roasted veggies, seafood, and maybe some crusty bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Oh, and a lovely glass of red wine! I recommend this cookbook if you’re leaning toward a healthy Mediterranean diet.
Baked Chicken Caprese is on page 143, with ingredients like balsamic vinegar, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil leaves. It’s a keeper!
Some of My Favorite Cookbooks Online
With the advent of the internet, there are now tons of websites and blogs dealing specifically with food and recipes. There are also many Facebook pages and groups. I only listed a few here for you. Again, you can Google or Pinterest search to your heart’s content.
Check out these hot spots for tons of great recipes, videos, and ideas for meal planning. Have fun!
Creating a Personal Cookbook
Next, if you’re more of a ‘create your own cookbook’ type, there are several practical ways to keep track of your favorite recipes. The recipe box is probably the oldest and most basic, where you copy each set of directions onto a 3X5 card and organize them within the box.
More popular today is the copy, print, and save to a hard copy notebook method. Or copy and save the recipes into a computer file. Organize your notebook in whatever fashion makes the most sense to you. You can add colorful photos and ongoing notes as well.
The last method I’ll suggest is the one I use and love. It’s a website called Plan to Eat. It incorporates a web clipper to save your favorites with the ability to categorize them as you save. Other helpful features are Menu Planning and the Shopping List. There’s a yearly subscription after a 30-day free trial. It gets 5 stars from me!
Last of all, when we moved to Texas, cookbooks and recipes jumped up as one of my top new interests. Maybe it’s the creativity, the joy of blessing others with your finished products, or the tastiness of that yummy recipe; I’m not sure which! Hopefully, sharing my favorite cookbooks, memories, and ideas about putting together your own collection has been helpful and even inspiring.
Of course, if you have a favorite cookbook or website with great recipes, please share it below. Or come join us on Facebook at Our Next Chapter Community. We’re a friendly group of women, and we’d love to hear from you!
Happy Cooking 🌺
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Finding a new purpose in living and joy in the day-to-day was the goal when author Kathy Rowland and her entire family (adult kids and grandkids) moved from the PNW to Texas several years ago. The focus of Quiet Hollow is to encourage ‘next chapter women’ – those who are retired, empty-nesters, or have found themselves without a spouse to jump back into life. And, she shares multiple tips, ideas, and possibilities toward that end. Kathy completed her almost 30 years as an elementary teacher and hopped into over a decade of volunteer work, side hustle-type businesses, and grandchild care before discovering her unique and fulfilling purpose for the next chapter of life. What you read on Quiet Hollow is a large part of that calling. Another part is the happy life she’s leading in Central Texas in the same neighborhood as the 3 big kids and her 5 grandkids. She and her college sweetheart husband made sure to add a pool to their new Texas home, so there are lots of noisy, splashy days in their little oasis of a backyard. Come join her on Quiet Hollow in a conversation about finding and living the life you were created to live in this later stage. The chats will be full of laughter, support, faith, and inspiration to create.