culture   //   August 10, 2016


best cookbooks for summer

From left: Lela Rose: Prêt-A-Party // Hemsley + Hemsley: Good + Simple // Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

I spend quite a bit more time cooking during the summer than I do any other season. I think it has to do with the slower, more relaxed mood that comes with summer. I always feel less rushed to get something on the table which makes the whole thing a lot less stressful – not to mention, pushes me to be a little more adventurous with my cooking and try new recipes.

While I’m certainly no stranger to Pinterest recipes (I pin more of those than anything else!), cookbooks are still my go-to source of inspiration in the kitchen. This summer, there are three cookbooks that have emerged as the clear favorites. Whether it’s just a meal for the two of us on a Tuesday night or a weekend dinner for a party of eight, these are the books that I find myself reaching for the most.

1. Prêt-A-Party

While you’re probably well-versed on the design talents of Lela Rose (I mean can we just talk about this skirt?), what you might not know is that she’s also a master in the kitchen and an expert hostess, too. As someone who has attended several of her soirées, I can attest that this lady knows how to throw a fab party. And that’s why her book is the first one I reach for when I’m in need of festive inspiration. Each party featured in the book has a theme and comes with helpful tips and tricks (creative place card ideas, using wine bottles as candleholders) along with step-by-step recipes for what to cook. This summer, I’m particularly fond of her margarita recipe (it’s called “Brandon’s Margarita” so technically it’s her husband’s recipe), and her “Chicken Fry” event (crispy fried chicken, gingham napkins, the works!) served as inspiration for our own dinner party a couple of weeks ago.

2. Good + Simple

One thing I really love about summer food is how light and fresh it is. Everything just tastes healthier. The recipes in Good + Simple, though, don’t just taste healthy, they actually are healthy. I’ve been a huge fan of Hemsley sisters since I fell in love with their first book. Good + Simple has all the same good-for-your-body deliciousness as the first book, but the recipes in this one are just a little more simplified. (Think: classic carbonara with spiralized vegetable-noodles instead of spaghetti.) I use this cookbook a lot for weeknight dinners when we’re in that pre-weekend healthy mode and want something light, but delicious.

3. Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

Would it even be summer without an ice cream cookbook? We are huge ice cream fans around here. While we’re more likely to pull out a pint of Blue Bell (have you tried the new flavor? If not, run, don’t walk, to your nearest grocery store and grab some. It’s amazing.) in the fall or winter, we love to make our own ice cream at home during the summer. Making it has become one of our favorite summer activities – and thanks to this book (and our new ice cream maker), it’s gotten even more fun. The ice cream recipes (100 of them!) range from the classics like vanilla, chocolate, and rocky road to more unique flavors like Ceylon Cinnamon. The recipes are well-written and very easy to follow. One thing I also love about this book is that there’s an entire section devoted to dairy-free flavors! No matter what your flavor preferences are, this book has it all.

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