You Can Never Have Too Many Cookbooks!

The following article is excerpted from Healthy Aging® Magazine. To continue reading this article and more like it, subscribe to Healthy Aging® Magazine, the lifestyle magazine that is all about following your passion and what you can do rather than what you can’t.


By Carolyn Worthington

If you are a serious cook like I am, you can never have too many cookbooks. Of course, some may disagree because they are downsizing, decluttering, or relying on the internet for their ideas.

Not me. I love the real thing … the hardcover version with beautiful photography and professionally written recipes with ingredients in order of use. My books are filled with handwritten notes of recipe results, who I served it to and thoughts of the day (Served to guests? Leaves at their peak? Kids off on adventures that day? Stuck at home thanks to the pandemic? Etc.) How could I part with any of these?

The Secret Ingredient Cookbook

A new book for my collection is The Secret Ingredient Cookbook.

When you think there cannot be a new twist to a cookbook, this book by Kelly Senyei, the founder of the Just a Taste. a food site with millions of fans, comes along.

Senyi is a professional chef, television host, and mom who appears regularly on Food Network Kitchen and Hallmark Channel. She previously worked at Condé Nast on the Gourmet Live app and then Epicurious. She lives in San Diego, CA, with her family

Senyei’s twist is to add one readily available “secret” ingredient to each recipe. The secret ingredients, highlighted by a medallion at the top of each recipe, are often unexpected but make the recipe special.

The cookbook features easy-to-follow 125 recipes, paired with her notes and many with beautiful photographs.

You will be surprised and delighted with Senyei’s twists like Vanilla Bean Drop Doughnuts made with Greek yogurt and Sweet, and Tangy Baked Chicken Wings made with blackberry jam. Kale takes a twist in Kale Panzanella made with croissants. Try the Healthy White Chicken Chili made with hummus or the Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas made with cocoa powder.

The book includes recipes from breakfast, snacks, soups, and salads to entrees, sides, desserts, and drinks. Senyei shares ideas on essential ingredients to have on hand and fun tips, her “not-so-secret kitchen secrets.”

We can all learn some new culinary tricks, such as her ideas on proofing bread in the dryer, quickly ripen bananas, and how to freeze fresh herbs.

We like Berry Breakfast Pastries with Cardamom. The easy-to-make pastry uses store-bought puff pastry, mixed berries, and the earthy flavor of cardamom. The result is a pastry that looks like it came straight from the local bakery.

Store-bought puff pastry doesn’t get the credit it deserves,” Senyei said. “With a few simple tricks, it transforms from a humble freezer item to a breakfast indulgence worthy of your local bakery’s display case. While I’m all for making things from scratch, when it comes to puff pastry, store-bought is one shortcut I always take. . . Ground cardamom lends an earthy richness to the tangy vanilla cream cheese filling and pairs perfectly with whatever fruit is currently hitting its peak—pears in winter, rhubarb in spring, berries in summer, or apples in fall.”

Let’s face it, we all love onion dip but have most likely ditched the packaged soup mix recipe a long time ago. Senyei brings back our favorite dip as Caramelized Onion Dip, made with sautéed yellow onions, caramelized with a bit of sugar, mixed with cream cheese, seasonings, and her secret ingredient of soy sauce.

Edamame is the secret ingredient in Confetti Corn Succotash, an easy-to-prepare kaleidoscope of corn, red, and orange bell peppers seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, and pepper.

Three of the recipes are featured in a Healthy Aging Magazine feature article. Here is one excerpt from the article:


Confetti Corn Succotash. Photo: (c) Robert Bredvad

Confetti Corn Succotash

Makes 6 servings

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
2 cups shelled edamame
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup diced orange bell pepper
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cook the bacon in a large skillet set over medium heat until all of the fat has rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate and discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from the skillet.

Add the garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the corn, edamame, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, soy sauce, and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the peppers have softened slightly, about 5 minutes.

Return the cooked bacon to the skillet and stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Excerpted from THE SECRET INGREDIENT COOKBOOK © 2021 by Kelly Senyei. Photography © 2021 by Robert Bredvad. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
The above article is excerpted from Healthy Aging® Magazine. To continue reading this article and more like it, subscribe to Healthy Aging® Magazine, the lifestyle magazine that is all about following your passion and what you can do rather than what you can’t.
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