I got a fantastic response to my last post, with a number of friends saying “teach me!” “I am overwhelmed by cooking, where do I start?!” So, I wanted to share some of my very favorite cooking resources and ways to take the “scary” out of cooking if you’re new at it. Each of the sites below have inspired and educated me in some way throughout my cooking journey. I love them each for different reasons I’ve explained below and I encourage you to check them out.
Cooking really doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. The key is to approach it with creativity and calm. I love to cook with the lights dimmed listening to a jazz station on Pandora. Sure, Daisy is in her high chair next to me throwing food on the floor, but, when I’ve added some element of serenity to my environment, I feel more at ease.
“Mise en place” is a French term for “everything in it’s place” and in the culinary world, it is the paramount first step to cooking. Laying out all of the ingredients you will be using, bringing necessary items to room temperature, chopping, slicing and dicing as many things as you can ahead of time makes following a recipe much more fun. When you’re flying through a set of instructions step-by-step, trying to chop three onions while your shrimp sautés, you’re going to overcook your shrimp. Taking the time at the beginning to prepare makes the process of cooking a more enjoyable (and successful!) experience.
Finally, don't overshoot. Know your limits: what you're good & not good at, what seems out of your comfort zone or what seems too messy or time-consuming. Cooking will never be fun if you feel like it's a tedious or exhausting chore. Choose recipes that fit your skill set and use shortcuts when needed. For example: if you don't have good knife skills or you always seem to skim part of your finger off when you're grating cheese, use a food processor.
I hope you find these resources helpful, inspiring & fun - let me know what you’re cooking!
My number one favorite cooking magazine and favorite online source for recipes. You can’t go wrong with B.A. Their recipes are easy to follow and always very on-trend. They range from easy comfort food to gourmet world cuisine.
Food & Wine
I love the way F&W categorizes their recipes. For example, “Salads with Chicken” and “Easy Fish Recipes” - sometimes I can plan two or three weeks’ worth of meals just by sorting through their clever categories.
Candice Kumai's Blog
Candice Kumai is a supermodel-turned-classically trained chef who specializes in clean and green eats to keep the body healthy and beautiful from the inside out. In our house, we love any and all Asian-inspired food and she cooks with some amazing Asian elements like soba, matcha, soy and miso that we adore.
Gwyenth Paltrow’s lifestye site has some delicious recipes for macrobiotic and clean eating. Gwyneth and her team are obsessed with the spiralizer and they have come up with some fabulous recipes using veggie noodles (zucchini Puttanesca?! yes please!). Check out their Noodle Pot Lunch Recipes.
After I had Daisy, I needed a little help shedding baby weight. One of my best friends was using Weight Watchers with great success so I jumped on the bandwagon and loved it. Using their daily tracking app helped me learn a lot about the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of everything I put in my body. This site is a wealth of recipes that fall into almost every diet category out there - from Paleo and gluten free to low carb or Weight Watchers. These recipes pack a lot of flavor without a lot of calories.
Bread & Ginger
This site is particularly special because it’s written by my dear friend, Meghan, who is a caterer and personal chef in Boston. She is a spectacular, very funny, writer and her food is amazing. I love her blog because it’s equal parts storytelling and cooking. Her sense of humor comes through in her writing and her entire blog is endearing to read. Please, for me (and for you) try her Fish Tacos, Street Corn Salad and Sesame Noodles, among all the other things. Chrissy Tegan tweeted the noodles recipe and featured it on her own blog because she'd eaten Meghan's food at a party. CHRISSY TEGAN PEOPLE. If you read through all of her new site and want to read more, her old blog goes back to 2009 and it's a treasure trove.
Oh She Glows
While Nick and I are not strictly vegan, I like to try to incorporate vegan recipes whenever possible in our diet. I love the author’s salads and she has some great twists on traditional dessert that are delicious and super healthy.
I use the Food Network site to find online versions of recipes I see on TV or read in cookbooks. I primarily use recipes from Barefoot Contessa & Giada deLaurentiis. Though I enjoy watching Food Network shows, I don’t actually like to recreate most of what I watch - it’s all so, so, so unhealthy :(
Nick and I are determined to raise children who love food as much as we do - learning about it, growing it, preparing it and eating it. I will be so disappointed if I end up making PB&J and buttered noodles for dinner every night. So, we are constantly introducing Daisy to new flavors and tastes. This site is all about introducing adventurous food to kids from day one. Their recipes are simple but sophisticated for the fancy mini-foodie. Salmon and Sweet Potato with Apricot and Sage puree? Peach and Cauliflower with Ginger? Yes please!