Although your humble correspondent and She Who Must Be Obeyed continue to purchase cookbooks – Giada De Laurentiis’ Giada’s Family Dinners is the most recent such purchase – we find ourselves increasingly finding great recipes and entertaining ideas on food websites and blogs.

I’ll occasionally find an outstanding recipe on an obscure blog or site that I’ll never visit again, but there are four sites that I return to time after time when I’m looking for something special to prepare for dinner.  Two of the sites are quite well known and are no doubt familiar to some of you; the other two are a bit less renowned but each is developing a strong and well justified following…

Epicurious

Epicurious logoThis venerable site offers beginner and gourmand alike an astonishing array of information.  Beyond the recipes – organized by several broad categories – there’s information about how to cook, kitchen equipment, wine, travel, and even instructions on how to grow an herb garden.

The recipes are the centerpiece, however.  The site’s 16,000 recipes are primarily from Bon Appétit and Gourmet, and range from the simple to the sublime.  Users (registration is free & fast) can save recipes to their personalized “Recipe Box” and of course recipes can be printed in a variety of formats.

There’s also a thriving Epicurious community with an active forum and member recipe section.  All recipes – in the member section & on the main site – are rated by members (from 1 to 4 forks!)  Finally, the site itself is beautifully designed; the three main sections (Recipes & Menus; Articles & Guides; and Community) are color coded for easy navigation.  Epicurious is owned by CondeNet, the online division of Conde Nast Publications.  Click on the Epicurious logo to visit the site; Alexa rank:  2,777

A favorite from Epicurious:  Balsamic-Blackberry Crème Brûlée

All Recipes

All Recipes logo

Now eleven years old, All Recipes bills itself as “the world’s largest social network of food and entertaining enthusiasts.”  The site is the ultimate recipe swap: over 52,000 recipes have been contributed by thousands of cooks and homemakers worldwide. Begun in 1997 as “CookieRecipes” by a group of web developers and anthropology grad students at the University of Washington, the site is now part of the Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. food and entertaining division.

Lacking the slick interface and forum that Epicurious boasts, All Recipes more than makes up for it with two stellar assets:  the depth of its recipe vault, and the extensive user reviews and ratings.  Popular recipes will feature up to hundreds of ratings and comments; it’s not hard to figure out which are the very best recipes. One example:  I searched for “pulled pork;”  the site returned 15 recipes, one of which, “Sarge’s EZ pulled pork BBQ” had received 395 ratings for an average of 4.5 stars (out of 5.)

Really neat features:  adjust any recipe for any number of guests – in seconds! An ingredient search function lets you input the ingredients you have on hand, and returns suitable recipes.  As with Epicurious, recipes can be printed in a variety of formats including recipe card formats.  Click on the All Recipes logo to visit the site; Alexa rank:  740

One of my all time All Recipes favorites:  Molten Chocolate Cakes with Sugar-Coated Raspberries

And now for something completely different, two favorite food/recipe blogs. Both are a bit similar to one another in approach and to a degree, tone.  One is a relative newcomer that’s off to a great start and the other is a highly rated blog that’s attracted a good deal of attention and accolades.   That both feature terrific recipes goes without saying…

The Hungry Mouse

the-hungry-mouse-a-visual-guide-to-food-and-cooking-tasty-fresh-content-from-jessies-kitchenNo, this is not a site about rodents, rodent food or anything remotely rodentesque.  “Mouse” or more accurately “Miss Mouse” happens to be blogger Jessie Konopa’s nickname.  A copywriter from Boston, Jessie has worked in the food industry, penned restaurant reviews, and edited a handful of books; she also happens to be a very talented chef.

Less than a year old, The Hungry Mouse has attracted a lot of followers and has quickly vaulted into the top 100,000 websites as ranked by Alexa.  Recipes range from decadent baked goods to rib-sticking dinners to exotic drinks; there’s even a “rib of the week” feature for rib-lovers – and if you don’t love ribs let’s face it, the terrorists have won.  A visual archive helps you sort through all the tasty recipes, and of course there’s a standard search feature.  A caveat:  printing Jessie’s recipes at present requires that you print the entire blog entry, photos and all.

Jessie’s writing is inviting and whimsical, and as the blog has developed she’s added more and more step by step photo-illustrated recipes.  What’s not to love about a food blog featuring Miss Mouse, The Angry Chef (Jessie’s husband) and a “Barking Sous Chef?!”

Click on The Hungry Mouse logo to visit the site; Alexa rank:  99,923

A favorite from The Hungry MouseChicken and Apple Sausage Sub With Carmelized Onions, Peppers, and Brie

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

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Ah, the best laid plans.  About a dozen years ago Ree Drummond was all set to study law in Chicago upon completion of her undergraduate work in marketing at U.S.C.   During a trip home she met Ladd Drummond, a member of one of Oklahoma’s most prominent ranching families.  The two married shortly thereafter and Ree traded her plans for Chicago and a career in law for jeans, boots and life on a sprawling ranch in Oklahoma.

The Pioneer Woman.com is Ree’s story – her love affair with her husband, her conversion to life on the ranch, the story of the ranch and the Drummonds’ ongoing work on “the lodge,” Ree’s photography, and her adventures in homeschooling her kids.  And the recipes.

I came to the site via one of the recipes, and admittedly haven’t strayed from the Cooking section much at all.   Begun a couple of years ago, the blog features dozens and dozens of recipes which can be navigated by category (Appetizers, Breakfast & Brunch, Main Courses, Cowboy Food, Cowgirl Food… and so on).  There’s also a handy index of all recipes.

The recipes themselves:  each is illustrated with beautiful step by step photographs.  The writing:   Ree’s ability to effortlessly segue from a breezy, slightly ironic tone to straightforward directions is a thing to behold; I’m jealous.  As with Jessie’s blog, printing some of the recipes provides a Charles Atlas-type workout for your printer cartridges, but Ree is adding a printer-friendly feature on more and more of the recipes.

Finally:  the site is a visual delight.  You owe it to yourself to check it out by clicking on the logo above; Alexa rank:  25,141

A favorite from The Pioneer Woman Cooks! – Crash Hot Potatoes Honorable Mention:  Onion Strings. Both recipes are mind numbingly good and extremely low-cal (I made up this last part.)

Thanks for being here and reading this; if you have a favorite food or recipe site or blog, please share it by commenting.

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