How I Create Recipes & My Favorite Cookbooks


I’m asked all the time to create a recipe so I’m sharing my process with you today and some of the cookbooks I reach for each time I am looking for some inspiration.

How to use online recipes and cookbooks to create a recipe that is right for you and your family.

There are a couple of ways I create my recipes. Some are family recipes of course, but most I have created over the years using inspiration from cookbooks and online recipes. I find a recipe I mostly like, plus or minus a few ingredients and techniques. Then my research begins.

I search through my cookbooks and online recipes to see how others are making the same dish. I’ll pull a little from this one, a little from that and create my own recipe with the ingredients I want to have in the dish. Then, countless hours will be spent making it over and over until, in my mind, it’s perfect.

The second, less fun, way I create recipes, is I find one online, try it out and it’s awful. 

This just happened last week. I found a recipe that sounded great. I loved all the ingredients and was so excited to make and share it with the family. As soon as I pulled it out of the oven, I called Colt out from his room to test it with me. We took one bite, made the same “nasty” face, spit it out and I threw the entire batch in the trash. 

I will take that recipe and rework it until I love it and my family praises it. 

Tip: Don’t get discouraged if you try and make a recipe you find online and it doesn’t taste right. It might be them, not you. Have websites and cookbooks you trust and use them as your inspiration. 

Cooking was a slow passion for me. When Keenan were born in 1995 I used jarred baby food. When I had Noah in 1997 I moved from Indiana to Vancouver, BC. They had a much healthier approach to food. I started making as much of their baby food as possible and as they grew, my desire to please their bellies with a homemade meals did as well. Today cooking for my family and friends is my most favorite way to spend an evening. 

A quick phone call letting me know someone in your household is sick means a pot of soup with homemade broth, waiting in the freezer for such an occasion, will show up the following day. As my good friend Jill said, “Cooking is your love language.” It is indeed. 

The very first cookbook I ever bought myself was in 1996. The cookbook was Robin Leach’s Healthy Lifestyles Cookbook. I made Gina Tolleson-Thicke’s Vegetarian Chili. It was delicious and I was hooked on cooking. It was like science class, only interesting.

While you can find anything you want online, I am still a fan of cookbooks. It’s like cooking with a trusted friend.

Below are a few of my most treasured cookbooks. Some old, some new. All full of inspiration.

You can see all of my favorites on our Amazon Storefront.

Join the Conversation

  1. I’ve sent this to my husband, who is the true foodie of our family. Thank you for sharing your process and your favourite books. Keep sharing!

    1. SMullen Author says:

      You bet Sarah! Glad it was helpful!

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