Buy.  This.  Book. 

Why?  Because I think it will give you some nifty tricks and deceptively simple morsels to serve to friends or family.  Because the recipes are recognizable favorites, stripped, for the most part, of their processed components, and yet still do-able for most home cooks.  This book is a good example of what I tend to preach and practice, which is: there are many things that you can make from scratch requiring little or no additional effort over the store-bought version.  Take salad dressing for example.  I grew up on Wish-Bone but salad dressing is one of the easiest, most versatile and cheapest things you can make yourself and really won’t take you much longer than opening a bottle.  Folks, it’s oil and vinegar.  And Pam’s method is even easier: drizzle your greens with the oil, salt and pepper, toss, then drizzle with the vinegar. 

Roasted Almond and Cream-Cheese-Stuffed Green Olives

I love that the recipes are organized into complete meals including appetizers and dessert and they all work together.  So no guess work as to whether you’re getting yourself into two major cooking projects at once or whether everything will be done at the same time.

Tamale Pie

There are pictures of every main dish and many of the sides as well.  And for those with even less time or confidence some even shorter-cuts are given for many of the dishes.

My husband, who will tell you himself that he is not an accomplished cook, tackled a full meal from this book with great success.  And even more telling: he chose to make another recipe all on his own because he likes the the way these recipes are composed and presented.  A cookbook that can satisfy an accomplished home-cook and one with basic skills is truly worth your bookshelf space.

These are user-friendly, approachable recipes designed to gather ’round.  They will look good on your serving platters, will satisfy your hunger and give your home that pleasant “foody” aroma that says to one and all: dinner is being cooked here and don’t be late!