'The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays' was published last fall - I missed it somehow, but I had the opportunity to check it out this month. The author is Ree Drummond, whose show on Food Network, "The Pioneer Woman" is all about her life on a ranch in Oklahoma, her cowboy husband, lovely children, floppy-eared dogs, and of course her food. I haven't seen a whole episode - just a snippet once when she was making some Pico de Gallo. Though I don't know much about the show (snippets are so tiny,) I do very much enjoy her blog (ThePioneerWoman.com) and her cookbooks.
For every step by step, there is a photo to illustrate - even when she is just holding up a jar of grated Parmesan. Her captions and comments throughout, usually humorous make clear that her approach to cooking is casual and relaxed. The many photographs make a great format for blog-reading as they break up the content to be read, but they're even more stunning in book-form where you can see the photos for each recipe gleaming in a two-page spread.
This combination of the abundant and lovely photography plus her sense of humor really pull me in.
The recipes are delicious and her cookbooks are fun just to read through.
'A Year of Holidays' holds collections of recipes for the biggies we think of when someone says 'holidays', and also Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, Father's Day... even the Superbowl gets a section! It is full of the gorgeous pics I've already gushed about including scenes from her home on the ranch. Once quote from the book really sums it up for me: "Holidays really are just one enormous excuse to eat."
I enjoy the recipes she shares because they are uncomplicated, big on flavor and indulgence, and conveniently use a lot of the same ingredients and flavors that I really love.
Beef and Chicken Fajitas for Cinco de Mayo. The Cheese Ball of Death (love that one) for Halloween. Maple Bacon Scones for Mother's Day (hint hint, family.)
One recipe that I tried from this cookbook was for Chocolate Valentine Cookies, and we opted for the Christmas cookie cutters instead of hearts. Everyone loved the deep, chocolatey flavor (amazing how chocolatey they were with only 1/4 c. of cocoa powder in the dough) and they were soft with just a teeny bit of chewiness. The cinnamon in the dough is an unexpected but distinct addition. The dough was very sticky to work with, and I worried that I was adding in too much flour to make it workable, but they came out great. And were eaten quickly!
A surprise with this recipe is that the prepped crackers - half with brown sugar, half with Parmesan, all with smoky, bacony bacon, have a cook time in the oven of two hours! But that gave me time to do other things, like taste-test all the wines.
The bacon cooks evenly and slowly squeezes the crackers, while the family circles around the oven asking when those bacon things are going to be ready. They are quite tasty!
On both occasions the savory crackers with Parmesan proved most popular, but there were no leftovers of either sort.
The true goal of this cook and probably every cook is to treat, and even more to impress the friends and family they're feeding. Mission accomplished!
Find a copy of this cookbook and check it out! Ree Drummond has two others in the 'The Pioneer Woman Cooks' series: 'Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl' and 'Food From My Frontier'. Her website is ThePioneerWoman.com. My review of her 2015 cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime is here!