I come from a family of nine—and a big family means big meals. In an effort to control some of our mealtime chaos and get dinner on the table before ten p.m., when I was thirteen years old, I began to help my dad with the cooking. Within a few months, I was cooking dinner for the entire family every single night—I loved it immediately. I have always been a creative person, so I started expressing my artistic side through cooking. I had fun dreaming up my own recipes, experimenting with new types of cuisines and ingredients, and putting my own twist on classics. At nineteen, I decided to capture the process in photographs and began to document my favorite recipes on Half Baked Harvest. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but fast-forward several years and Half Baked Harvest has become a full-time career that keeps me extremely busy. In fact, my mom, my dad, and one of my brothers work for the company!
When I first started out, I was young, still living in my parents’ house, and I had all the time in the world to spend in the kitchen creating elaborate recipes. But I’ve had to adapt to a much busier lifestyle. My life now encompasses so much more than recipe development and photography. There’s travel, management of my team, and the demands of trying to grow the business. Like most everyone else in the world, I need simple, quick, everyday recipes that come together in a flash but still taste delicious. As my own cooking began to veer more into the territory of simplicity, I began sharing them and—surprise, surprise—they quickly became pretty darn popular.
I’m willing to bet you’re just as busy as I am, if not more so. The first thing to go when life gets hectic is meal planning and cooking, right? You get home at the end of the day, you didn’t plan ahead, you don’t have what you need, and you’re too tired to think. Well, I’m going to help you with all of that. In fact, this idea was born solely from the feedback I received from you guys. Your emails, Instagram messages, and comments on Half Baked Harvest said it loud and clear: more recipes that are delicious but EASY, too. This book is exactly that: my go-to super simple recipes. My purpose in creating Half Baked Harvest has always been to help readers get into the kitchen and create tasty, healthy(ish) recipes any day of the week. This cookbook is another tool for you to do just that.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Here's what you need to know. Within this cookbook I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes. They are flavorful, colorful, and easy. Some of them are healthy . . . and some have a good amount of cheese. It’s all about balance.
Just because these recipes are super simple does not mean they lack flavor. While these recipes are straightforward enough for everyday cooking, they do not fall exclusively into the ten-ingredients-or-fewer and made-in-under-thirty-minutes categories—though there are plenty of both! Flavor has always been and will always be paramount to me. Of course, I want to share the easiest version of a recipe, but I will not sacrifice taste to make a dish with only five ingredients. That said, some of the recipes included here have more than ten ingredients and some take longer than thirty minutes, but that doesn’t mean the recipe is not “super simple.” If you can throw ingredients into a slow cooker, use an Instant Pot, dump them all in one skillet, or simply pick up a few items from the grocery store to assemble something quick, you can handle these recipes. You’ll definitely be adding these recipes to your weeknight lineup.
You can, of course, still expect all my special “Tieghan touches,” which can range from including an unexpected ingredient or garnishing with herbs or edible flowers. I’m still me—I’m just shorter on time! The extra flourishes not working for you? Skip ’em! Really, you have my permission. Making recipes beautiful and pleasing to the eye is what I’m all about—it’s a priority for me—but, please, take or leave these “extras” as you wish! (I will say, though, if you are looking to up your Instagram game, an edible flower or two is always a good start.)
I’ve organized the book by types of meals and popular main ingredients: breakfast, appetizers and sides, salad and soup, pizza and pasta, vegetarian, poultry and pork, meat, seafood, and last (but certainly not least, not here!) dessert. So, all your basic and most loved food groups, right? I have also included a chapter on my favorite super simple basic recipes because homemade still tastes better—and making meals from scratch doesn’t have to be difficult or a time suck. On these pages, you’ll find slow cooker dinners, Instant Pot recipes, one pan goodness, recipes made with exclusively pantry staple ingredients, recipes with fewer than ten ingredients (not including salt, pepper, or olive oil), recipes that take thirty minutes or less, and some of my best tips and tricks for easy cooking. Whenever possible, I have given slow cooker, pressure cooker, and stovetop options to make the recipes completely adaptable for your needs. Look for the icons at the right throughout the recipe pages.
There is something for everyone here . . . and a photo to go along with it, too.
Copyright © 2019 by Tieghan Gerard. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.