The 2021 Cooking Plan

I love cookbooks and can never have enough of them. Particularly themed cookbooks. But I never use them as much as I should. That changed about five years ago when I went through them all, recipe by recipe, and wrote down every entrée, side, dessert, or drink that I was interested in trying. While knocking out new recipes got a little sidetracked a few years ago, we are finally getting back to it, adding new cookbooks, jotting down new recipes, and trying new things (as you could have guessed, The Disney Princess Cookbook got used the most this year).

“Please do not worry, Tiana; we will get to your Baked Caramel French Toast sometime this year.”

We added a lot of new cookbooks this year (with the girls gone, I got a little bored over the summer) and removed a few from the inventory. Empanadas, American Cookie, World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook, Hello, Cookie Dough, and Heroes’ Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook got added to the shelf, while Dulce: Desserts in the Latin-American Tradition, The Great Big Cookie Book, and the Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook got sent to the library donation bin. I mean, I have to make room for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook somehow, right?

“Goodbye, books; we hardly cooked from ye.”

While most of the recipes are for me, the girls will undoubtedly like a few of them, especially the desserts (I would be pretty proud of them if they enjoy Churrasco-Style Steak with Chimichurri, but I am not holding my breath on that one). But a lot of them are specifically with the girls in mind, as the goal is to get them to try new things so that we can expand our meal rotation. Below are some of the highlights from this year’s list of new recipe additions.

Yep. I own this cookbook and am not the least bit ashamed of it.

Stirring Up Fun with Food, by Sarah Michelle Gellar and Gia Russo, was the big winner this year. When I was purchasing cookbooks this summer, this one came up in my recommendations (thanks to Amazon for recommending a cookbook based on a 16-year old purchase of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven). If there was a way to get your children to eat healthy food while they enjoy looking at what was served to them, this was it. The book is laid out by months and themes, which won me over with snacks for both Shark Week and Star Wars (her husband, Freddie Prinze Jr., voiced Kanan Jarrus in Star Wars Rebels after all). The girls will certainly enjoy the recipes for Quiche Cupcakes, Waffle Fondue, and Garlicky Pull-Aparts.

Work smarter, not harder, right?

Some cookbooks you get because you want them (see the above World of Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons Cookbooks), while some you get out of necessity; The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook, by Coco Morante, fit the bill for the latter. With time being at such a premium, it is pretty amazing to have a meal waiting for the family when you get home, so I need to start using the Instant Pot a little more. Lemon-Poppy Seed Breakfast Cake, Chicken and Dumplings (Elaina’s new favorite meal), and Irish Root and Vegetable Stew were some of the recipes that the girls would enjoy and would help me out in the kitchen before or after work.

Baking cookbook mimicking the name of one of my favorite (and historically inaccurate) movies?… sold!

While not a new addition, BraveTart, by Stella Parks, is my second favorite cookbook in the entire collection; for those keeping score at home, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery is first. The reason it is included here is that I added many more recipes that the girls will want to make with me. Snickerdoodles, Homemade Nilla Wafers, Homemade Oreos, and Homemade Nutter Butters looked just too amazing to not include. So that is exactly what we are going to be doing the next few weekends.

Where most cookbooks are filled with stuff you would never cook, about 95% of the recipes in this look amazing.

As with the previous entry, Chinese Soul Food, by Hsiao-Ching Chou, is not a new cookbook, but one that has seen a resurgence with the girls’ changing tastes. I was lucky enough to attend her cooking class about four years ago, even before this book had come out, so it was nice to be able to learn to make dumplings and dim-sum by hand from the expert herself. Since potstickers, dumplings, rice, and noodles are the girls’ favorites right now, it seems like the right time to bring these recipes to the forefront. Beef and Celery Meat Pies, Vegetable Fried Rice, and Stir-Fried Noodles are just some of the many recipes from this book that we are going to be cooking together this year. This book will soon be joined on the shelf by her sophomore book, Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food, that comes out tomorrow.

Now they are all grown up… and making their own cookie dough… *cries*

While the girls are finally starting to try new foods, they are also becoming much more active in the kitchen, so this update to the recipe list comes at the perfect time. Last weekend we all made cake pops together. Yesterday, we made Madeleines and chocolate chip cookie dough together (safe to eat), while Gabriella took the lead on making her shells and cheese. They are growing up so fast and I am so happy that they are finally getting old enough to try “adult food,” but also taking an interest in helping me prepare it. 2021 is already looking to be a great year for cooking and baking with my family.

Looks like we have a lot of cooking and baking to do…

Thanks for checking in on us.


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