Books to Beat Your Dinner Doldrums

Do you ever start to feel like you make the same handful of dinner options week after week?  There is nothing wrong with putting favorites into heavy rotation, but every now and then I find it helpful to break out of my menu planning rut and try a bunch of new recipes.  This time of year I find it especially necessary to come up with healthy and satisfying meals that don’t cost too much or take forever to prepare.  If you’re like me in that regard, these books are for you!

If you have $6.80 lying around, I can’t think of many things you could better spend it on than Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget.  I love the concept of this book – the author set out to find ways to eat well and healthfully on a budget and came up with some really helpful suggestions and great recipes.  I was especially interested to see how she managed to shop on a budget at Whole Foods, which is a grocery store I love but that I tend to think of as too expensive.  If you are into natural/organic/healthy eating and on a budget I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  Some of the recipes that I’m putting into our rotation from this book include Ribollita, Honey Balsamic Chicken, and Sweet Italian Sausage with Apple and Fennel.

When I’m searching out new recipes I look for things that are healthy and quick, but I also look for foods that sound flavorful, interesting, and like they could also work for entertaining.  One of my resolutions for 2011 is to have people over for dinner more often, and so Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers really appealed to me.  What I love about this book is how the author grouped recipes together for entertaining – an hors d’euvres, main dish, and dessert that all go together and can be fixed quickly and presented nicely.  I am so excited about this cookbook, especially recipes like Salsa Verde Chicken with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings, Coq au Vin Blanc, Pork Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes, and Indian Six Layer Dip (which is not actually Indian, but loosely based on Indian flavors).

If you change your menus this time of year, what sort of dishes do you add or subtract from your usual fare?

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