Why make your own kitchen staples? Check in with Alana Chernila and page through The Homemade Pantry and you’ll get the answers, the recipes and a seat in Alana’s wonderfully messy kitchen. There, you’ll learn how to fill your own pantry with handmade treats from creamy ricotta to ketchup, sauerkraut to salsa, crispy graham crackers and potato chips to spice-mellowed chai. Kicking the packaged-food habit (wholly or partially) will save money and avoid unwanted chemicals and the waste of unnecessary packaging. But, best of all, the food you make at home will taste better. Just compare a homemade corn tortilla, flattened in an inexpensive wooden press, or a cinnamon-and-sugar-filled homemade pop-tart, to the cardboard variety from the supermarket and you’ll know why it’s worth doing. Alana’s instructions are thorough and she’s added problem-solving, “tense moment” tips and handy storage advice.

Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables by Cheryl Sternman Rule, with fabulous color photos by Paulette Phlipot, is organized in a uniquely inviting and liberating way—by color. Cheryl figures that most of us know that we should be eating more fruits and veggies, and most of us understand why. So, her intent is not to preach about a peach, but to use Mother Nature’s vivid paint box to spark your imagination. The photos alone will make you reach for that dark red head of radicchio, green-leafed bok choy or orange-hued papaya. Add recipes with inventive ingredient combos, such as Persimmon Apple Radicchio Stacks, Warm Fava Shallot Couscous, Ginger Cashew Cauliflower, Rhubarb Cherry Mini Crisps and Blackberry-Lime Cornmeal Shortcakes, and you’ll wake up your culinary senses and shake up the way you feel about fruits and vegetables. You’re on your way to easy, breezy, technicolor triumphs.

Jeffrey Saad has a passion for vibrant international flavors, and he’s circled the globe in hot pursuit of the spices that define the special pizzazz in the world’s most intensely flavored cuisines. Saad, a rising star on the Food Network, has gathered the best of the recipes he’s created—personal takes on the regional dishes he’s savored—in his debut cookbook, Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen. After deconstructing the “flavor families,” the unique constellations of ingredients that give the cuisines of Mexico, Asia, India, the Middle East, a trio of European hotspots and our amazing American melting pot their distinct identities, he gets to the real fun—infusing the bold flavors of one tradition into another and coming up with a fabulous juxtaposition that sends your palate flying off on its own magic carpet: Moroccan harissa jazzes up the mayo on an all-American BLT; Indian garam masala makes Chicken Pot Pie sing a new song; Chinese five-spice powder empowers French Toast; and green chile gives Cod Tapas a New World zing. Stay home while your taste buds roam.

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