Cleggcover_101Get a head start on the holiday season by arming yourself with a good kitchen basics book. Some believe that the general lack of culinary skills, particularly in those aged 18-38, may have a negative impact on health. Others argue that you don’t have to cook to eat healthfully. I think there’s a middle ground, but in general feel cooking is an important life skill, and can have a positive impact on your health, and that of your family’s.

I had the chance to review Holly Clegg’s cookbook Kitchen 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence. Holly’s motto is “real food, real easy, for real people” and there’s no question that her books reflect this. The food is delicious, and the recipes are easy to put together. Most moms I know don’t have a lot of time during the week to put a meal together, and may not have a desire to do batch cooking on Sundays (ah….me). Holly’s recipes generally only require simple ingredients from your pantry, and she utilizes some convenience items such as baking mixes and canned or frozen vegetables.

As you tab through Kitchen 101, the photographs alone with encourage you to get cooking. This book is perfect for the upcoming holiday season when you may have overnight guests or unexpected company. You’ll find several easy go-to dinners and lots of decadent, yet simple, desserts to put together to impress the crowd, or to bring along to family gatherings.

I love that the book includes entertaining ideas such as “sports spread”, “southwestern soiree”, and “fancy foods”. She also includes fun everyday meal planning sections such as “comfort food”, “meatless Monday”, “Mediterranean menu” and “Chinese takeout”.

Finally, the first thing that struck me when I opened this book – the “how to set the table” pictorial on page 6. I love this! Setting a proper table is important and it’s likely that many children (and adults) don’t know how to do it. Learn how to set the table properly this holiday season, and you’ll never be in that awkward “which fork do I use?” situation again, and neither will your children.

Teaser: You’ll find a healthier homemade green bean casserole, homemade slice and bake chocolate chip cookies, chopped Greek salad, crabmeat brie dip, chicken marsala, and oven baked risotto, and much more. Grab a copy for the holidays, or buy one for a friend. Enjoy!