Five Cookbooks You Need in Your Kitchen This Spring

Spring has sprung! I don’t know about you, but about this time of year I have about had it with comfort food and crock-pots. I’m ready for fresh, grilled, get-on-the-table-so-we-can-head-outside-again meals. Every season I like to shake the dust off of my cookbook collection and my weekly menu. This spring, I’m focusing on quick and easy whole foods to feed my family. To earn a spot in my cookbook addiction collection, these authors have consistently accurate and delicious recipes that include ingredients I already have in my pantry. Take a look at my current Top 5 and see if you can’t find something new and fresh for your table this spring.

best cookbooks for spring, using whole ingredients that I already have

Slim and Scrumptious

Nutrition expert Joy Bauer’s website tagline is ‘Life is hard, food should be easy.’ Preach. Her cookbook Slim and Scrumptious has been in my collection for the last eight years, and the tomato-stained page with the Easy Marinara Sauce proves it! I love the bright flavor that the splash of balsamic vinegar adds to this simple sauce without the added sugar and salt that comes from store-bought versions. Other favorites in this book include her Upside-Down Deep Dish Pizza Bake and Hoisin-Glazed Salmon on the grill.

100 Days of Real Food

You’ve likely heard of the 100 Days of Real Food blog. While I don’t subscribe to the “real-food only” life 100% of the time (because, Chick Fil-A), I do try to make most meals at home with “real” ingredients. One of my favorite spring/summer salads is the classic Caesar, but I can’t always justify the calories of the rich, anchovy dressing. Lisa’s 100 Days of Real Food cookbook has a “Shortcut Caesar Salad” recipe that is a really delicious alternative! My family favorite dinner in this one is the BBQ Chicken Quesadillas–a great way to use up leftover grilled chicken from summer grill nights.

Smitten Kitchen Every Day

best cookbooks for spring, using whole ingredients that I already have

Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen is one of my all-time favorite food blogs. Her new cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day, passed my test of truly easy meals to throw together without sacrificing flavor and interest. If you’ve been to Oyama Sushi and love their salad dressing, Perelman’s Sushi Takeout Cobb Salad nails it! This is also a great vegetarian meal with plenty of protein for your next lunch on the go. And, while it’s still chilly enough in the morning to crave a muffin with your coffee, make her Perfect Blueberry Muffins that call for 1 1/2 cups of blueberries. All the blueberries.

Well Fed Weeknights

best cookbooks for spring, using whole ingredients that I already have

While I don’t follow the Paleo lifestyle, I do have a handful of Paleo-inspired cookbooks that are simply delicious and have better-for-you options than the carb and dairy-rich meals that have weighed me down (literally) all winter. Melissa Joulwan is one of my go-to food bloggers in this niche. She passed the ‘Can I get my Iowa-born and bred hubby and kid to eat this?’ test with Well Fed Weeknights. My favorite recipe right now is Fried Chicken Meatballs. Make a batch to take to the park for a weeknight picnic–they’re good room-temperature with some coleslaw! BONUS: Download a free sample of her book here!

The Mom 100

best cookbooks for spring, using whole ingredients that I already have

Katie Workman of The Mom 100  really gets cooking for kids. Her Mexican Tortilla Casserole in The Mom 100 Cookbook had me at hello, but two favorites for spring are her taco seasoning blend for Taco Night and the Classic Italian Deli Sandwich that your pepperoni pizza-lovin kids will love to help put together. The vinaigrette will make it taste just like a deli sub but much less expensive than actually taking everyone out to lunch. I quadrupled the recipe to have enough for a week’s worth of sandwiches and salads!

What are your favorite recipes for your Spring menu?


Sherri is a transplant from Oregon who came to be a Hawkeye in 2006 and stayed for the sweet corn...and for the Iowa boy she met along the way! She and her husband (Kyle) have a 9 year-old daughter, Aissa. Sherri earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs at The University of Iowa and works for Ruffalo Noel Levitz as an Enrollment Marketing Consultant for colleges and universities. When she's not working, you can find her with her family, enjoying Iowa City and cheering on the Hawkeyes.



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