If you’re a regular Food Network watcher, you have undoubtedly caught Alex Guarnaschelli on any number of shows in which she hosts or judges. She has a no-nonsense manner and a warm smile, and although I’ve enjoyed watching her I have never cooked one of her recipes until now. Cook with Me is her third cookbook, a nod to her upbringing with her cookbook editor mother and her foodie father.

Reading Cook with Me feels warm and friendly, as if you’ve gone Alex’s house for a visit, and while she prepares a meal for the two of you, she gives you cooking tips and regales you with stories of making this same dish with her father when she was just a little girl. It’s comfort food for all of us, at a time when we need more than ever to share meals with our own families and create memories and traditions.

I was intrigued to see this on Amazon’s list of gluten-free cookbooks. I have a family member who has Celiac Disease so I’m always on the lookout for new recipes that all of us can enjoy together. This is not exclusively a gluten-free cookbook, but there are a good number of recipes that are naturally gluten-free, and the pasta in some dishes can easily be swapped out with a good gluten-free pasta. There are a handful of gluten-free dessert and cookie recipes, but not everything can be converted. In all, it’s worth picking up if you have someone who requires a gluten-free diet.

I tried three recipes from the book, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars, Gluten-Free Vanilla-Raspberry Muffins, and Spatchcocked High-Heat Chicken. The Peanut Butter Bars turned out beautifully, not too sweet, with a sexy chocolate glaze on top. The muffins didn’t turn out as well. Gluten-free baking is not like regular baking, so I knew they weren’t going to be fluffy, cakey muffins. They were pretty flat and a little undercooked, but the flavor was really good. The chicken was so easy to prepare, if you’ve never cooked a chicken this way, well get to it! Make sure you use good poultry shears and it won’t take long to get your bird ready for the oven. Tip: If you’re trying to impress a date, there’s nothing like smashing a chicken until you hear its bones break!

The last chapter of the book is devoted to drinks, which I’m normally terrible at making. I’m the person they make all those cocktail blends for. Here there’s a wide assortment of both boozy and alcohol-free drinks for any occasion including Melted Coffee Ice Cream Latte, which sounds like heaven itself, the absolute perfect drink to bring inside your blanket fort when 2020 gets to be too much. Whip one up and snuggle in.

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