When John and I were first married I knew how to cook a little, but not great. I could usually follow a recipe, but it took all my concentration and I had to follow that thing exactly or dinner would turn out terrible. Timing was my greatest struggle. I couldn’t figure out how to get all the sides done at the same time as the main dish so it would all be hot and ready at the same time. I wasn’t great at budgeting for meals either – mainly because I had to follow each recipe exactly so I never just substituted things for what I had on hand (or left unnecessary ingredients out.)
I remember several times that we had canned soup for dinner because what I had tried was inedible. I also remember the kitchen being a total disaster after every meal because I hadn’t learned the art of cleaning up as you go. I got married really young. I went from my parents’ house to the dorm back to my parents’ house to my new home with my new husband. I was 21 with very little cooking experience when all of a sudden it was my job to feed us. But those learning years were a lot of fun and I stuck with it through lots of trial and error because I really do love cooking.
I only have a handful of actual cookbooks because, well, pinterest. But I recently bought a new cookbook that I love and have already made several recipes from. Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food released a cookbook that I’ve found to be really useful. I think what I love most is that her recipes are just normal recipes that can be used for everyday. They don’t require hard to find ingredients, and they are a healthier take on a lot of traditional recipes. She also has two children so the recipes are already geared for a family of four – perfect for us!
Also, it’s fall, and there are ton of soups in this cookbook. So I’ve made a few and each one has been delicious. I mean really, really, really good AND super easy to make. What’s easier than the crockpot? Last night I tried her potato soup recipe.
One of the things I’ve learned over the last decade of cooking is how to change up recipes to suit our likes and what’s actually in our pantry. I did follow this recipe pretty close with a few minor changes. We don’t like the skin on our potatoes so I peeled them, we also prefer things to be vegetarian whenever possible so I used veggie broth rather than chicken broth. I also rarely measure things anymore… I kind of just eyeball them and can tell if it needs more or less of a certain item. The soup was absolutely delicious and our home smelled amazing as it simmered in the crockpot all day.
We can also vouch for a few other recipes in this cookbook: the corn chowder, the tomato bisque, the pumpkin muffins, banana pancakes, the black bean tostadas, the eggplant parmesan, and the whole roasted chicken (in the crockpot!!) Next up on my list of things to try is the cinnamon raisin quick bread.
I should also add that Lisa Leake has no idea I’m writing this post. I didn’t get the book for free or receive any other compensation for this — I just really loved the book and wanted to share with you! Plus I keep tweaking her recipes, so she probably wouldn’t love that. If you want to order a book you can find it here!