Check off shopping list with a cookbook

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If you have a cook on your Christmas shopping list, I have some suggestions for you.

This fall, I received a number of new titles and have enjoyed thumbing through the pages and trying a few recipes.

‘Valerie’s Home Cooking’

I was especially happy to receive a copy of Valerie Bertinelli’s new cookbook from Oxmoor House. I watched Bertinelli on “One Day at a Time” when I was a teenager and now watch her show on Food Network.

I like her fun style and easy approach to cooking. She also is loyal to her roots and often mentions food from her childhood or recipes she learned from her mom.

The cookbook is a nice collection of some of her favorite recipes. Each recipe comes with a short narrative, making it fun to read. Make sure to read her comments on slow-cooker sloppy Joes (recipe included here), Mom’s risotto (sorta) and chicken pot pie.

The cookbook will carry you through the day with chapter such as “Rise and Shine,” “Happy Hour” and “Finishing Sweet.”

This cookbook retails for $30, but I found it for much less online.


If you spend any time looking at cookbooks, the odds are good that you have seen one of Phyllis Good’s “Fix-It and Forget-It” books for slow cooking. These books have circulated for years, and I have one or two in my own collection of cookbooks.

This latest book includes 100 “must-have slow-cooker recipes” along with 200 variations. The pretty photographs make you want to try such recipes as lasagna in a soup bowl and stuffing in a slow cooker.

In this book, Good includes directions for making recipes gluten-free, vegan or paleo-friendly and adds suggestions for alternative ingredients. For instance, the recipe for honey baked chicken calls for 3 tablespoons of mustard. For the swap, Good suggests using either brown or whole-grain mustard to give the chicken a bronzed finish.

Buy this cookbook, which retails for $21.99, for your adult kids who are learning to cook!


I love this cookbook from Oxmoor House featuring more than 100 recipes made on a baking sheet. The cover photo of roasted chicken surrounded by veggies makes my mouth water every time I see it!

The recipes vary from orange, pumpkin seed and smoked almond granola to salmon packets, tomato and corn pizza and ribeyes with veggies and blue cheese butter.

I’ve made the roasted green beans several times adding new potatoes. We love this side dish.

We love the taste of roasted vegetables at my house and love the convenience of cooking a meal on a baking sheet!

For a gift suggestion, purchase the book (retails for $19.99) and add a new, 1-inch deep baking sheet.


The focus of this cookbook by Page Street Publishing is few-ingredient meals that don’t require a lot of prep work.

Author Chrissy Taylor includes a variety of recipes including chicken marsala, chicken pot pie stew, shrimp fajitas, caramel apple oatmeal and even green bean casserole.

This is another good one for someone who is just learning to cook.

The book, retailing at $19.99, and a new slow cooker would make a very nice gift!


The editors of Food & Wine are responsible for this lovely, hardback book that retails for $34.99.

The beautiful photos will tempt your sweet tooth with such delights as icebox chocolate cheesecake, tangerine curd tart, vanilla-almond ice cream and miracle peanut butter crunch.

If you buy the book for yourself, you can make soft apple-cider caramels or bittersweet truffles rolled in spices for your holiday treat table.

This is an excellent resource for the adventurous cook who likes to bake and is looking for recipes for special occasions.

Slow-Cooker Sloppy Joes

Valerie Bertinelli shares this favorite recipe in her cookbook “Valerie’s Home Cooking.” For a party or treat, she suggests serving on sliders.

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 1/2 pounds ground sirloin

3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup lemon-lime soda

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

8 hamburger buns

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add the beef, and cook, stirring to crumble, until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper, celery, onion and garlic; cook; stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Drain well.

Transfer the beef mixture to a 5-quart slow cooker. Stir in the tomato sauce, soda, ketchup, mustard, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, salt, oregano, black pepper and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Cover and cook on high until slightly thickened, about 4 hours, or on low about 8 hours. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar. Serve the beef mixture on the hamburger buns.

“Valerie’s Home Cooking”