Cookbooks to Inspire You in the Kitchen

Now that the holidays are over and we're in the long stretch of frigid and snowy winter doldrums, I'm spending considerable time in the kitchen trying out the new kitchen gadgets I got for Christmas and experimenting with different techniques, seasonal ingredients, and herbs, spices and aromatics. More often than not, I need a little inspiration before I get started (I also need someone to clean up the dishes when I am done!). I'm a cookbook junkie—my own personal bookshelves contain well more than 200 cookbooks, yet I'm always seeking out the newest cookbooks for fresh kitchen inspiration.

When I'm looking to entertain a crowd, I like turning to Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Her latest book takes you through the holidays and gives step-by-step color photos for every recipe. Whether you're looking for Super Bowl Sunday snacks or inspiration for your own Cinco de Mayo celebration, The Pioneer Woman has got you covered. Heads up though—most of her recipes yield quite a big batch, so they're great for a crowd or for having plenty of leftovers.

Amy Thielen's The New Midwestern Table has also been a source of great inspiration. The Minnesota native's recipes are characteristic of the region, and she incorporates ingredients native to the Midwest. The book is loaded with drool-worthy photos of many of the dishes Thielen serves up.

Fire up your food processor, check out these great cookbooks and join me in finding your own kitchen inspiration. Chef's kitchen helpful but not required.

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