Cook Books!

Celebrate Fall with This Delicious Italian Recipe
from the Tuscan Village of Montefollonico

Take a delightful culinary trip to Tuscany without leaving your kitchen!

Autumn is a great time to visit Tuscany. The summer crowds are gone, and the opportunity to leisurely explore this magnificent region through the eyes of the locals gives you a more authentic glimpse of Italian life. But if you can’t travel to Tuscany this year, try the next best thing: an easy and delicious recipe straight from the medieval Tuscan village of Montefollonico as provided by Tuscan Women Cook, the premier culinary immersion vacation.

There is nothing better than authentic Italian cuisine. Tuscan Women Cook takes home cooks on a glorious week-long culinary vacation in Tuscany. Nonnas, or grandmas, in the village teach men as well as women how to cook time-honored family recipes in their kitchens.

For fall, tie on an apron and try a delicious and authentic recipe handed down from generations of the best family cooks in Montefollonico.

One of the favorite recipes vacation participants learn to cook is Risotto dell’Orto or Garden Vegetable Risotto, utilizing fresh vegetables of the season.

“The women of Montefollonico are all exceptional cooks. From a Michelin-starred restaurant chef to modest, but incredible home cooks, the women of Tuscan Women Cook delight all who cook with them,” said Coleen Kirnan and Rhonda Vilardo, owners and hosts of Tuscan Women Cook.

The concept of seasonal cooking is not new to the women of Tuscany. Rather, these are methods and concepts that have been passed down and still practiced today. Most of the ingredients used in their recipes are grown in their home gardens with many picked just that morning.

Want a taste of Tuscany without renewing your passport? Try this traditional autumn comfort food recipe from Chef Dania of La Chiusa. This delicious side dish can be paired with any meat or poultry dish or served alone.

Recipe adapted by Tuscan Women Cook
Reprinted with permission of

Risotto dell’Orto
Garden Vegetable Risotto
Makes 6 - 8 servings

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1 small courgette (zucchini)
10 Valerian leaves (optional)
10 green asparagus tips
10 basil leaves finely chopped
4 tender spinach leaves
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
White pepper

Vegetable stock:
2 small courgettes, quartered
2 Swiss chard leaves
Asparagus spears, without tips, peeled

Vegetable stock:
Place the courgettes, Swiss chard leaves and asparagus spears in a saucepan with 4 pints of salted water and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat. This vegetable stock is the cooking liquid for making the risotto and should be prepared first. Keep it simmering constantly.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the onion for 3 minutes. Add all the vegetables and sweat them over low heat. After 10 minutes, add the rice and stir until it becomes translucent.

Add the vegetable stock a little at a time, stirring continuously. After about 18 minutes, add the chopped herbs.

When the rice reaches al dente stage, take it off the heat, taste and correct for salt. Mix in the grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with a few courgettes slices and serve at once.

Coleen Kirnan and Rhonda Vilardo are two inventive business dynamos who decided to take a career risk that changed their lives. In 2016, they took over Tuscan Women Cook, a unique culinary immersion vacation where participants learn to cook authentic Italian meals from legendary women in the Tuscan village of Montefollonico. This change in career has been extremely rewarding, both personally and professionally, for both women.

In spring and fall each year, Coleen and Rhonda welcome guests from around the world to live, breathe, and cook as Italians do. Taking advantage of their years of business experience and knowledge, these master travel planners create an insider’s Tuscan itinerary filled with friendly, knowledgeable tour guides, translators, drivers and private cooking classes that only a local resident could access.

Coleen and Rhonda approach their partnership in running Tuscan Women Cook with enthusiasm, joy, and excitement, relishing the opportunity to jump openhearted into this new chapter of their lives, just as they did in their previous, high-profile careers. Theirs is a story of an extraordinary mid-life dream come true.

When Coleen and Rhonda are not in Tuscany, they live with their husbands and family in Los Angeles, California.

Comfort Cooking for Bariatric Post-Ops and Everyone Else!

By Lisa Sharon Belkin


Bariatric, or “weight loss,” surgery is now considered the most effective way to lose weight for individuals struggling with obesity, and it has the highest rates of long-term success. But among the 750,000 people worldwide who opt for this surgery each year, nearly half will experience significant weight regain five years post-operation. This is because many bariatric patients do not do enough to change their relationship with food, or learn to make food that helps them keep the weight off. In the revolutionary Comfort Cooking for Bariatric Post-Ops and Everyone Else!, author Lisa Sharon Belkin, a bariatric patient herself, offers healthy and delicious recipes designed specifically for individuals who have undergone weight loss surgery and want to avoid the dreaded weight regain, or reverse the regain that’s already in progress.

“One of the biggest myths out there today about weight loss is the idea of ‘everything in moderation,’” Belkin explains. “This might work for some people, but for those of us who grew to 300-plus pounds, moderation is what was lacking in the first place. If we continue to eat the same foods that brought us to the operating table to begin with, we will certainly regain and see little success after bariatric surgery. Learning to rethink our relationship with food, and create an arsenal of go-to healthy meals is key to maintaining weight loss.” Comfort Cooking for Bariatric Post-Ops and Everyone Else! provides readers with over 90 mouthwatering recipes such as blue cheese dip and pumpkin pie mousse, as well as:

• Best holiday recipes for bariatric post-op patients
• Valuable information, strategies and tips that will keep post-ops on track for life
• Cooking lessons that will get readers off the weight gain rollercoaster forever
• Tips for staying healthy and satiated after bariatric surgery
• Advice for fighting food addiction, and avoiding extra carbs and sugar

“The number one challenge of bariatric surgery is avoiding regain, and as research has shown, it is a challenge that many have succumbed to,” adds Belkin. “This book offers a solution to combat the weight regain by teaching new techniques to prepare delicious foods that will not trigger cravings and will keep people satisfied so they never feel they are missing out and therefore will not fall off track, which leads to regain. This book will help bariatric post-ops become successful long term after their surgery, and is also a great resource for anyone looking to eat healthy and delicious meals.”

Lisa Sharon Belkin is a teacher by profession with a background in counseling for addictions and substance abuse. She underwent bariatric surgery in 2011 and has struggled with lifelong obesity and food addiction. She has decades of experience in preparing delicious food and began reimagining these recipes after undergoing weight loss surgery. She has found unique and creative ways to make her recipes both bariatric and family-friendly, which she shares in her new book, Comfort Cooking for Bariatric Post-Ops and Everyone Else! She is also author of the bestselling and highly regarded The Cosmetics Cookbook, which gained national and international attention after being featured in several issues of Woman’s World Magazine. Lisa belongs to several bariatric support groups both on and offline. In addition to being a cook and author, Lisa is a successful visual artist whose solo exhibitions have garnered strong media attention. She credits being an artist with giving her the skills to become a great cook.

Comfort Cooking for Bariatric Post-Ops and Everyone Else! is available on, Barnes & Noble, and

For more information, visit

For the Home Cook:
The Mexican Food Diet Cookbook

Mexican food and diet – three words we don’t usually hear in the same sentence, but Harvard educated, Integrative Nutrition Health, Coach Maru Dávila has cooked up amazing, yet healthy Mexican dishes (including a killer guacamole) that make losing weight and detoxing your body a no-brainer!

Dávila’s exciting new cookbook, The Mexican Food Diet, is filled with nutritious, filling dishes that actually feel like cheat meals. She’d love to share with your readers how to cook up yummy, yet healthy recipes from her delicious new cookbook. We can also share before and after shots – she lost 60 lbs. on this diet. Maru says, 'More yummy, less tummy!'

Hip Pressure Cooking Shows Home Cooks How to Save Time and Create Flavorful Meals Using a Pressure Cooker

HIP PRESSURE COOKING: Fast, Fresh, and Flavorful
By Laura D. A. Pazzaglia
St. Martin’s Griffin
September 2014/Hardcover/$26.99
ISBN-13: 978-1250026378

The once-lowly and maligned pressure cooker is making a comeback! This relic of your grandparents' kitchen is not only improved and safer than ever before, but it saves time, creates more flavor, and conserves energy. Cookbook author and cooking teacher, Laura Pazzaglia, wasn't thinking of all this when she tried pressure cooking for the first time. But after watching a friend make dinner in 10 minutes, Laura knew she had found the solution to her time-crunched life.

In her groundbreaking cookbook, Hip Pressure Cooking, Laura provides over 200 sure-fire recipes designed to work in all types of cookers such as the Instant Pot, electric pressure cookers, multi-cookers with pressure programs, and stove top pressure cookers. The recipes in her book were tested across multiple pressure cookers types and brands to ensure delicious results no matter what you have in your kitchen.

As pressure cooking became more popular Laura created a website ( providing home cooks with instructional videos, recipes and advice, becoming THE expert in pressure cooking.

So, what is Hip Pressure Cooking? Laura explains that “hip pressure cooking is about taking advantage of the latest pressure cooker technology and accessories, so you are able to preserve freshness and maximize the nutrients of ingredients without wasting time.”

In fact, Laura loved pressure cooking so much she began offering recipes and advice on a website she created as a resource for cooks like her who wanted to learn more about using pressure cookers. At the time, pressure cooking recipes didn't emphasize aesthetics and while the food might be delicious, it was often unappealing in presentation. But Laura not only figured out how to make pressure cooked food appealing, she gained a large following for her recipes and techniques while doing it!

A culmination of Laura’s experience, Hip Pressure Cooking offers everything from tasty recipes featuring fresh ingredients to special cooking techniques perfected over the years to basic tips on operating your pressure cooker where she walks you through every step of the process. Some of her delicious recipes found in the book include:

- Corn Chowder
- Summer Rice Minestrone
- Veal-Stuffed Artichoke Halves
- Sloppy Lasagna
- Indian Veggie Pullow
- Risotto with Mixed Shellfish
- Chinese Lemon Chicken
- Moroccan Lamb Tagine
- Filipino Oxtail Stew
- Farro Risotto with Radicchio and Gorgonzola, Potato-Stuffed Onions, and Peas and Mint
- Bread Pudding with Brandy Sauce
- Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake
- Hazelnut Chocolate Pots de Crème

The secret is out―and now home cooks can discover the potential of this super appliance with Hip Pressure Cooking, the revolutionary guide to cooking with pressure! If you can boil it, steam it, or braise it, you can pressure cook it!

“Authoritative, concise and creative, Hip Pressure Cooking is the final word on using your pressure cooker to full effect. The harried, modern home cook can benefit immensely from a press cooker’s ability to get an elegant and delicious meal on the table in short order.” John Becker (Irma Rombauer’s grandson) and Megan Scott, Joy of Cooking editorial team

Laura Pazzaglia is the founder of the Hip Pressure Cooking website and consultant to pressure cooker manufacturers in Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and Spain and performing demonstrations for them in various cities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg. She is sought after by manufacturers like Fagor America and Instant Pot to work behind the scenes assisting in the development of new products, developing custom recipes and content to use on their websites and in their recipe booklets. Laura is credited with starting the pressure cooking egg craze in 2011- when she figured out the cooking time and technique for steaming eggs in the pressure cooker and found that it made them easy-to-peel. Her experiments brought many pressure cooker-first recipes and techniques including al dente pressure cooker pasta and sauce, potato salad that holds its shape, chicken and rice that are perfectly cooked, an instantly hot Tabasco sauce and many more.

Laura does more than just write and test recipes, her books and articles explore the mechanics of pressure cooking, how ingredients react under pressure and the nutritional benefits of pressure cooking- one of her articles is cited in scientific literature. Laura is the author of The Everything Healthy Pressure Cooker, Hip Pressure Cooking: Fast, Fresh & Flavorful and is currently working on her third book. She also is a sought-after contributor for several high-profile culinary websites. She has appeared in several infomercials and pressure cooker demonstration videos. But, mostly, she really enjoys giving classes and live product demonstrations where cooks can taste the benefits of pressure cooking. She produced a free video series, Pressure Cooking School, to reach and teach more cooks the ease of pressure cookery.

Currently, Laura lives in Italy near Rome and travels frequently to the United States and Europe to share her passion for kitchen technology. For more information on Laura, her pressure cooking school videos, recipes, and more, visit

"Due to their safety and convenience, electric pressure cookers are rapidly replacing age-old stove-top pressure cookers. However, no one has tackled writing quality recipes for them until now. This is the only book that covers this appliance with new knowledge in a practical and lively manner. Highly recommended.”
―Robert J. Wang, CEO, Instant Pot Company

Fresh Tastes Cookbook Provides Uncomplicated, Sophisticated Cooking for Everyday and Entertaining Inspiration

Award-winning cookbook author, Lee Clayton Roper, shows home cooks how to explore their culinary creativity with her award-winning, delicious cookbook, Fresh Tastes. This beautiful book delivers over 170 flavorful recipes, essential cooking tips and delightful stories to spark inspiration in your kitchen.

Lee takes the “complicated” out of timeless classics, simplifying the process while ramping up flavors, using fresh ingredients when and where possible. She shares personal reflections on lessons she has learned in the kitchen from those who have inspired her, along with 65 beautiful food photos, along with process shots of key preparation steps.

Fresh Tastes epitomizes Lee’s culinary tastes, balancing an innovative approach with uncomplicated preparation techniques. Sophisticated in flavor and beautiful to present, the recipes in Fresh Tastes are prepared with the best quality, readily available ingredients designed to maximize flavor. Some of Lee’s delicious recipes include:

Prosciutto, Fig and Goat Cheese Tarts
Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup
Tomato and Peach Salad with Lime-Balsamic Dressing
Layered Salmon Salad with Avocado-Lime Yogurt Dressing
Grilled Rosemary-Dijon Chicken Breasts
Spicy Pork Chops with Argentine Chimichurri Sauce
Halibut with Celery Root Puree and Tomato Garnish
Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with Tomato Mango Salsa
Roasted Root Vegetable Pot Pie
Peruvian Artichoke Tart
Pear Kuchen
Fresh Fruit with Brandy Custard Sauce

Drawing from her decades of experience, Lee provides readers with helpful advice on what is best for the dish, the flavor and the cook, considering such essential variables as seasonality and availability. Recipes in Fresh Tastes were evaluated by a team of volunteer testers across the country. Only the best, most flavorful, eye catching dishes made the cut. Fresh, flavorful and inspired, this collection of hand selected recipes in Fresh Tastes transcends the kitchen, reminding us all that every meal can and should be a simple yet sophisticated celebration of life.

“My approach with this cookbook starts with the confidence that, with the right preparation and a pinch of creativity, every dish can be extraordinary,” Lee explains. “I have intentionally kept recipes and ingredients easy to get, often providing alternative substitutions.”

From A Well-Seasoned Kitchen
By Lee Clayton Roper
Southwestern Publishing Group
ISBN-13: 978-0984116362

Try these fresh and delicious recipes from Fresh Tastes:


The British have known for years that apples and Stilton cheese are a wonderful combination. In this delicious salad, they’re mixed together with spinach, walnuts and a walnut-flavored vinaigrette. I like to serve this salad with any grilled meat or alone as a meal.

1/4 cup raspberry balsamic vinegar*
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup walnut oil*
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
10 ounces mixed baby greens (spinach, arugula, lettuce)
2 large Gala or other red apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
1 cup (6 ounces) chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1 1/2 to 2 cups (6 to 8 ounces) Stilton cheese, crumbled**

*If you can’t find raspberry balsamic vinegar, use regular raspberry vinegar and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey. If you can’t find walnut oil, substitute olive oil and add a few more walnuts.

**There are 2 types of Stilton cheese: blue and white. Either will work in this recipe. If you can’t find Stilton, you can substitute Gorgonzola or other forms of blue cheese.

In a medium glass jar with fitted lid (an empty Dijon mustard jar works well), whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice and oil until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together mixed greens, chopped apple, walnuts and cheese. Just before serving, toss with just enough dressing to coat the lettuce (you may have some dressing left over). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

VARIATION IN PRESENTATION: If you want to have a more formal, individually plated salad, then instead of chopping the apples, core and slice them. Toss the greens with part of the dressing and divide among six individual salad plates. Arrange the apple slices in a circular pattern over the spinach. Sprinkle the walnuts and cheese crumbles over the top. Drizzle with remaining dressing.


This dish comes together quickly and is delicious paired with green beans and roasted potatoes. It’s a bit on the rich side, so I suggest using fillets no more than 5 ounces each. If using one large fillet, you may need to increase the cooking time by a few minutes.

While the general rule of thumb for cooking fish is 10 minutes per inch of thickness, I’ve included the option to cook these filets for 12 minutes per inch. I find that with the crust on top, it can take a bit longer. It’s really to your taste — just remember, it will continue cooking after you take it out of the oven and let it rest.

6 (4- to 5-ounce) skinless Chilean sea bass fillets
1 cup salted, dry roasted pistachio nuts, very finely chopped (can chop in a food processor)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Place sea bass fillets in prepared pan. In a small bowl, combine the nuts, sugar, lemon juice, dill and pepper. Spoon the mixture evenly over each fillet, pressing down to adhere.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes per 1-inch of thickness of the fillet, or until fish reaches 140 to 145 degrees when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

MAKE AHEAD: Fish with topping can be prepared but not baked up to 4 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated.

Recipe(s)/photo(s) reprinted with permission from
Fresh Tastes by Lee Clayton Roper

Professional Chef Shares Simple and Delicious Recipes in Simple Real Food Cookbook

Most of us feel we don’t have time to shop and cook. At the end of a busy day why bother? Culinary instructor and chef Amanda Cushman believes cooking can be an easy and creative experience. To that end she wrote SIMPLE REAL FOOD, a contemporary collection of multi-cultural recipes that are delicious, yet simple to prepare using fresh ingredients.

“The recipes in my book provide the basics, you can change the recipe and make it yours. If you don’t like cilantro use parsley, if you don’t like salmon use halibut,” Cushman says. “Relax and enjoy the process of making tasty and healthy meals that take very little time and can be as creative as you want it to be.”

SIMPLE REAL FOOD provides home cooks with make-ahead tips as well as alternatives suggestions for each recipe, many accompanied by beautiful food photographs. Cushman’s recipes cover, appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, sides and desserts as well as a chapter with vegetarian dishes.

The recipes in the book reflect Cushman’s years of culinary exploration around the world and brings these flavors and tastes to home kitchens. Recipes include:

Hoisin Ginger Chicken with Mango Mayonnaise
Thai Shrimp Salad with Asian Dressing
Warm Beet Salad with Chèvre and Candied Walnuts
Seafood Chowder with Cilantro
Tuscan Meatloaf Braised in White Wine
Chicken Souvlaki
Sesame Coated Salmon with Indonesian Soy Sauce
Pork with Honey-Balsamic Glaze
Tempeh Sauté with Miso Dressing
Chocolate Amaretto Cake
Ginger Cake with Tropical Fruit Salad

Cushman also gives home cooks a guide to setting up their kitchen and the essential ingredients to keep stocked that make cooking quick and easy. She believes that simple food that is delicious and easily accessible is worth the effort.

“I hope readers come away with the desire to get in the kitchen and cook, to try new ingredients, and to realize that cooking can be easy, creative, and fun.”

Amanda Cushman is a sought-after culinary educator who has cooked professionally for over thirty years. She teaches a wide range of cooking classes in North Carolina as well as private, in-home classes. Her corporate team building classes have featured clients such as; Hugo Boss, Experian, Exxon Mobile, Google, Yahoo, Fitness Magazine, DirecTV and Toyota.

Her career in food began in Manhattan where she worked with some of the top NYC caterers: Glorious Food, Panhandlers and Martha Stewart Catering. She became the lead chef for Panhandlers Catering where she cooked for parties of twenty to three hundred people Chef Cushman then began testing and writing recipes for Ladies Home Journal and Food and Wine magazine. This led to her contributing to Cooking Light, Self, Fine Cooking and Vegetarian Times. She was also a private chef for the C.E.O. of American Express and the Editor of GQ magazine.

She has developed hundreds of recipes for cookbooks as well as food magazines and web sites. Some of her accounts have been, Minutemealscom and the Time/Life Fitness Series. She and her husband live in Durham, North Carolina.

Visit her websites: and

Recipe(s) may be reprinted with the following credit:

Recipe from SIMPLE REAL FOOD: Delicious Clean Food Prepared Simply
By Amanda Cushman

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Parsley Walnut Pesto

Serves 4


2 acorn squash, halved, seeded
3 cups Italian parsley, washed, stems removed
1/2 cup walnut pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 Tb. grated parmesan, garnish

Heat the oven to 375.
Place the acorn squash, cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes until tender. Allow to cool. Reduce the oven to 350. Scoop out most of the pulp, leaving a 1/4 inch with the shell intact. Cut the halves into half again there will be 8 wedges.
Transfer the pulp to a food processor. Add the parsley, walnuts, garlic, cheese, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. If the mixture is too thick, add water to adjust the consistency.
Scoop the pesto into the squash shells and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the filling is hot. Serve warm garnished with grated parmesan.

Braised Provencal Chicken with White Beans

Serves 4
8 chicken thighs with skin and bone
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. thyme, chopped
1 Tb. rosemary, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
6 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, chopped
1 16 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
3 Tb roughly chopped basil, garnish

1. Combine the chicken in a medium bowl with the oil, salt, pepper and herbs and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
2. Heat a large high sided skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken again with salt and pepper and brown on all sides turning often, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to a plate.
3. Pour off most of the drippings from the pan and add the garlic and shallots and sauce for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and increase the heat to high, deglaze the pan and reduce the wine to about half. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and chicken and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in the olives and white beans and heat through.
4. Transfer the chicken to a large serving dish and spoon the sauce over, garnish with basil and serve.