A couple of months ago, I wrote about my new dinner plan: my personal challenge to try one new recipe each week this winter, focusing on one of my more neglected cookbooks for a month.

Well. It’s time for me to report back on this month’s selection . . .

It’s Ina Garten’s latest cookbook, Go-To Dinners. This cookbook . . . is NOT one that’s been sitting on my shelf for long (it was only just available in October this year), but I am a true Ina-fan, and I couldn’t resist snapping it up as soon as I saw it in the bookstore. So. I’m defeating my own purpose from the get-go . . . but . . . it’s my-game-my-rules. (This book is available at bookstores everywhere. I did notice that Amazon has it available for $20.98, should you be interested.)

As I mentioned, I am a big fan of Ina Garten. I have her entire collection of cookbooks in my kitchen library, and I use each of them regularly. (I have favorite recipes marked in each cookbook, and I’m always trying new ones.) I have never had a mishap or a bad result from an Ina Garten recipe, and I consider her one of my tried-and-true “kitchen mentors” when it comes to cooking and baking. I was eager to crack open her newest cookbook (full of her “most satisfying and uncomplicated dinners”) . . . and get cookin’!

So. What did I cook?

The first thing I tried was “Weeknight Spaghettoni with Tomatoes and Pancetta.” I chose it because . . . we were just a few days past Thanksgiving, and I was craving something Not Turkey. This looked like a quick and easy option — and it would make use of the pancetta I had leftover when I made my Thanksgiving stuffing (also an Ina recipe; just sayin). This was . . . all I hoped it would be. Tasty. Quick. Easy. It will definitely become part of my regular dinner line-up (in fact, it’s what’s for dinner tonight). (The pancetta was great — but this would be good with leftover ham or chicken or . . . with no meat at all.) I added meatballs . . . because I had them.


Next up . . . I tried the “Overnight Mac & Cheese.” I chose it because . . . I’d been thinking about it since first opening the cookbook. I’m also kind of a sucker for mac & cheese. Plus . . . Gruyère. (Yes, please!) (I had this on my Thanksgiving menu this year, but at the last minute, opted not to make it. I will definitely include it next year.) This . . . absolutely lived up to my expectations. It was delicious and decadent, and easy to prepare. The biggest trick is remembering that you need to make it the night before.


Then I tried the “Creamy Chicken Thighs with Lemon & Thyme” with delicious results. I made it exactly as directed in the recipe. It was easy, although pretty hands-on. We really enjoyed it for a weeknight dinner, but it would be divine if you have dinner guests/an occasion, too. I did make a note that this would be best served with a green vegetable or a salad . . . rather than the sweet potatoes I served. (This dish is served over rice, so extra carbs – like sweet potatoes – aren’t what you want, but I had ’em so I cooked ’em.) I’ll definitely make this one again, too.


Last, those sweet potatoes I just mentioned? They’re from this cookbook, too . . . the “Glazed Sweet Potatoes.” And they are fabulous! The best sweet potatoes I’ve ever eaten. Super easy. Very tasty. As in . . . we couldn’t stop eating them. These may become my (ahem) Go-To sweet potato recipe.


So. There you have it! I’m really excited to have this cookbook in my collection. There are so many more recipes I want to try.

Wondering what’s next?
I think post-holiday/January will be a perfect time to (finally) open up . . .

After all, it’s been in my collection for a year now . . . and I haven’t tried one thing!
Time for . . . bread!
I’ll check back in a month, and let you know how it goes.

In the meantime . . . have you tried any good recipes lately?


In full disclosure . . . one thing about Ina Garten’s cookbooks has always given me a headache: I can never remember which cookbook contains the particular recipe I want to make, so I end up pulling each of them off the shelf and doing a mad scramble to find what I’m looking for. Finally, though, I discovered (thanks for the tip, Sarah!) that the Barefoot Contessa website has a searchable (and printable) index of all the recipes in the cookbooks. You do still have to know what the recipe is actually called, so it’s not perfect . . . but it does help. (It also hasn’t been updated to include the new Go-To Dinners cookbook yet, just sayin.)

Past cookbooks I’ve unpacked:

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (Mark Bittman) – November 2022