My Inspiration

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Food Network, and by the cookbooks I own, you can definitely tell.

I love to dine out, but the flavors you can experience while experimenting in the kitchen are endless and just thinking about all the ingredients I’ve yet to cook with makes me want to run to the market and travel the world.

These are my favorite cookbooks. I use some more than others, but each one contains a favorite recipe and serves a different purpose.

Of all my cookbooks, these two are my go-to sources, both awesome for entertaining. I have planned entire Christmas dinners from my Taste of Home cookbook. It all started with an $11 yearly subscription to Taste of Home magazine. In my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, you’ll find my favorite recipe for Key Lime Cheesecake Pie, a real winner. It also has an essential section for substitutions that I adore.

I’m a huge fan of Paula Deen. I love her story. She’s real and the woman can flat-out cook. Period.

Barefoot Contessa. Where do I even begin? Her class of style is on point. Even though many of the dishes she makes use ingredients I’ve never even heard of or much less have access to, I’m always intrigued by her recipes and her execution–maybe it’s her ease of entertaining and simplistic approach. Among my favorite recipes found in the above cookbooks: Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing and Sticky Buns. Because of her, I want to visit the Hamptons.

Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has some of the most practical recipes I’ve ever seen. This cookbook is chockfull of sensational down home food you’ll make again and again. What I love about it is that most of the ingredients are things I’m familiar with and have on hand. I can relate to everything she cooks and man alive, her food is Some Kinda Good.

Homemade…such a desirable, feel-good name for a cookbook. I purchased this one while visiting a friend in Denver, Colorado at the popular Anthropologie retail store. I’ve made an Authentic Italian Lasagna out of it that my family still raves about, as well as an Apple Pie Sunday and Vanilla Cupcakes. I could look at the pictures featured in it for hours and not get bored.

“Giada is hotta.” That’s what my brother likes to say. Not only is she beautiful, she’s an awesome cook! I really enjoy making her pasta dishes and she’s taught me what an incredible difference acidity makes in recipes ranging from sauces and fish dishes to desserts.

Finally, Julia Child, a legend. Julie and Julia is one of my all time favorite movies which inspired this Christmas gift. It’s spilling over with knowledge any cook would benefit from reading, discussing topics like skimming off the fat and the perfect way to roast a chicken.

Updated 1/20/2014

wpid-20140120_115916.jpgI had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Martha Nesbit when I volunteered at the 2013 Savannah Food & Wine Festival. Her recipes are reminiscent of the food I grew up eating in Southeast Georgia. Her Coconut Pound Cake was devoured at an Alabama funeral I attended, and I served her delicious Vidalia Onion Quiche at my New Year’s Day Brunch.

wpid-20140120_120126.jpgMeet 726 pages of culinary school. This book will take me years to comb through, but I will savor every page. I also got to meet Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart at the Inaugural St. Simons Food & Spirits Festival in 2012. Great folks!

wpid-20140106_203254.jpgVirginia Willis is a story-teller. Her recipes speak for themselves, but her stories ask you to sit down and stay. I bought this book because of the picture on the cover, and because sweet potato grits intrigued me.

wpid-20140120_120012.jpgI recently won this cookbook by John Besh, and what a pleasant surprise. I have a lot to learn about New Orleans style cooking and French cuisine, and John’s “Cooking from the Heart” will be a great teacher.

wpid-20140120_120331.jpgMy aunt got me a subscription to “Cook’s Illustrated” for my 30th birthday. It is the most educational cooking material I’ve ever read. You won’t find glossy pages or color photographs here, but there is wisdom among its pages and resourceful cooking tips included. I can’t wait to make the mussels from the November 2013 issue.

wpid-20140120_120322.jpgSouthern Living is a classic and timeless magazine. I’ve never been disappointed with a recipe I’ve cooked from it, and there have been many. I often make the recipe featured on the cover for holiday get-togethers. Among my favorites? Southern Living’s Spicy Cheddar Cheese Straws.

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