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Dinner Inspirations

Mason Public Library recommends a variety of cookbooks with recipes to refresh your everyday dinners.

The holiday season is fast approaching, and as we find ourselves busier than usual, taking time to cook a healthy and delicious dinner every night becomes challenging. The Mason Public Library offers a variety of cookbooks that can help you put a satisfying and uncomplicated meal (plus a little treat) on your dinner table. We worked with Library Director, Sarah Brown and Library Assistant, Mary Amoroso who recommended a few favorite cookbooks that just might provide the inspiration needed for your next family dinner and dessert. Be sure to check out these titles as well as many others, all available at your local public library.

Salad for Dinner: Complete Meals for All Seasons 

By Jeanne Kelley

A salad can almost become a piece of art with its contrasting colors, textures and flavors. A well-prepared salad can serve as an appealing side dish as well as a healthy main dish. “This book is a favorite. The beautiful, fresh flavors and ingredients inspire you to eat more vegetables,” Mary shares. The opening chapter includes a primer on types of greens, washing and storing them and also discusses salad pantry ingredients. Several chapters help you think about dinner differently by including full-meal salad recipes. There are vegetarian salads as well as super-hearty salads that include a variety of seafood, meats and poultry. Intriguing dishes such as Indonesian chicken salad with pineapple slaw and Korean barbecue beef salad are imaginative and filling. The author has also released a newer single-subject vegetarian sequel with more recipes for salad as a main course meal. Surprise your family tonight with a healthy, colorful and delicious salad as a complete meal.

Gordon Ramsay: Quick and Delicious

By Gordon Ramsay

The subtitle for this book, “100 Recipes to Cook in 30 Minutes or Less” states all the inspiration needed for the busy home cook! Spending less time in the kitchen while creating chef-quality food is always a win-win. Mary notes, “The pictures included with each recipe will entice you to try them all.” Her favorites include Roasted Hake with Saffron Mayonnaise and Mustard and Herb Meatballs with Balsamic Glaze and Parmesan Cheese. Super-star chef Ramsay shares his appetizing recipes and straightforward tips that help you prepare savory food fast. These are recipes that can be used over and over without compromising taste or quality. Mary points out, “This cookbook will help you break out of the weeknight cooking routine."

Go-to Dinners: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook 

By Ina Garten

Author and best-selling home cook Ina Garten is referred to as the Barefoot Contessa, which to her means embracing both the earthy and the elegant. Cooking every night during the pandemic resulted in this collection of uncomplicated but tasty recipes. “All the Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks are informative and easy to follow. Her newest cookbook, which I added to my favorites list, is filled with beautiful photos and fantastic recipes. Good cookbooks make you want to try everything in them and help you enjoy cooking,” Mary relates. Her family enjoys the Tuscan White Bean Soup and the One-pot Oven Risotto. This is a go-to cookbook that includes make-ahead, freeze-ahead and simply prepped and assembled recipes that are crowd pleasing and satisfying.

Dorie’s Cookies 

by Dorie Greenspan

After a delicious dinner, who doesn’t enjoy indulging in a sweet ending? This James Beard Award-winning baking and dessert cookbook offers cookie recipes for every taste and occasion. Mary tells us, “Dorie Greenspan has put together an extremely comprehensive, yet highly approachable collection of cookies for any imaginable situation.” She begins the cookbook by sharing her experience and wisdom on techniques, ingredients and equipment that will practically guarantee your baking success. Recipes include treats for company, healthy breakfast cookies, choices for holiday cookie swaps, a variety of brownies and many more. Two of Mary’s spotlighted recipes are Friendship Cookies and Coconut Lime Sables. Mary adds, “Most recipes have a picture of the finished cookie which can be both helpful and inspirational.”