To mark a new edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, we asked four of its fans why the Red Plaid rules in their kitchens.
When this Portland, Oregon, reader began college four years ago, she had a lot to learn in the kitchen. "I was a neophyte cook," she says. "In fact, my stir-frying spoon once caught fire." With the guidance of Pink Plaid (a version of the Red Plaid) and a great deal of passion, she soon made her way through college not on burgers and pizza, as one might expect, but on Grilled Halibut with Blueberry Jam, couscous, spaghetti squash, and other healthy fare.
Snappy Asian Couscous: "Snappy" refers not only to the fresher-than-fresh flavor of this pretty side dish, but to its super-short preparation time as well. Try it alongside teriyaki-marinated grilled chicken for a healthy warm weather meal.
Roasted Vegetable-Basil Pasta: One trip to the garden or the farmers' market will provide you with nearly everything you need for this light, refreshing Italian-inspired salad. If you like, add a bit of chopped cooked chicken to make it a main dish meal.
"Anytime anybody is having a baby or getting married, they want me to host their shower because I prepare such delicious spreads," Crystal says, giving credit to her Pink Plaid cookbook, a gift from her sister. This London, Kentucky-based family photographer turns to cooking and baking as a form of self-expression. She's always looking to try new recipes or perfect old ones -- like the quintessential Southern biscuits her grandmother baked. "Cooking," Crystal says, "is how I show people how much I love and care for them."
Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce: Thrifty cooks have transformed leftover bread into delightful puddings for centuries -- and won rave reviews for doing so. Cube and freeze less-than-fresh slices of bread until you have enough to make a batch. With this sensationally-rich sauce, you'll have a luxurious dessert for next to nothing.
For Sara Bennett, Red Plaid memories are sweet. She grew up watching her mother bake Red plaid cookies. Time spent in the kitchen creating cookies and other yummy foods is a tradition that she wants to pass on to her 13-month-old daughter Paige. Thanks to Red Plaid's breads and cookies -- especially its banana bread -- the stay-at-home Michigan mom has already earned a reputation as an excellent baker. Although cooking is more challenging for her, she depended on Red Plaid to hold her hand through her very first Thanksgiving feast -- a feast that was perfect right down to the gravy.
When she turns in an outstanding performance at work, Rachel Bredemus does't expect a promotion or raise. Instead, she receives a "Cook's Parade"-- her kitchen staff marching through the dining room with colanders on their heads, beating on pots and pans to appease the demands of an audience of 200 raucous young eaters. Rachel -- director of Camp Birchwood, a girls-only summer camp in northern Minnesota -- believes feeding campers well is just important as showing them a good time. And for 10 years, the Red Plaid cookbook has been a part of that effort. All of the recipes Rachel loved as a child came straight from the pages of Red Plaid, so when it was time for her to start feeding 200 children of her own, the cookbook paved the way. Red Plaid Sloppy Joes are a first night menu tradition. "When all of those hungry girls tumble out of the busses to smell our Sloppy Joes," she smiles," they know they've found a home away from home."
Blueberry Raspberry Tart with Lemon Cream: Celebrate the late spring and early summer berry season by taking a trip to the Farmers' Market, and then share your "pickings" in this simple, but elegant dessert.
Whole Grain Chicken with Harvest Fruits and Veggies: Who says that enriching your diet with whole grains is like eating diced cardboard? These juicy, mouthwatering chicken breasts -- enhanced with naturally sweet fruits and veggies -- turn that notion on its head.