With its bright, beautiful photography, unique food styling, and just the right amount of personality, Tieghan Gerard’s Half Baked Harvest Cookbook: Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains is a well-balanced collection of recipes that will bring fun and creativity to your kitchen.
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Half Baked Harvest Cookbook
As one would expect, Tieghan Gerard’s first venture into cookbook writing – Half Baked Harvest Cookbook: Recipes from my Barn in the Mountains – is a lovely publication, full of gorgeous photography, inside and out. Bright and colorful, the fonts and floral graphics are playful and inviting against carefully orchestrated food styling, with layers and layers of ingredients.
I’ve long admired Tieghan and her incredibly gorgeous food blog, Half Baked Harvest. Even before I started blogging myself, I found inspiration in her beautiful photos, bubbly and personable writing style, and fun, easily replicated recipes. Showing talent that belays her age, Tieghan has proven herself to be a force to be reckoned with in the food writing world.
As her first publication, the Half Baked Harvest Cookbook came highly anticipated by her avid followers. Updated versions of her most popular recipes are featured alongside brand new recipes made specifically for the publication. Every recipe has a short story and a mouth-watering photo, displaying the colorful food in Tieghan’s signature style. Tieghan has a knack for displaying food in a way that can look messy, but still gorgeous – It’s exactly the kind of food I want to eat every day.
In her relatively short time blogging, Half Baked Harvest has been featured by some of the biggest names in the food writing business. Tieghan has won several accolades, including Readers’ Choice Favorite Food Blog by Better Homes and Gardens (twice, in 2014 and 2016), and the 2016 Bloglovin’ Best Food Blog Award. She’s known for her creative and inspiring dinners, as well as her luxurious desserts.
Contents & Recipe Review
Since I picked up the Half Baked Harvest Cookbook, I’ve had the opportunity to try a number of recipes. Most are incredibly straightforward, without too many steps or extra components, making the dinners perfect for a weeknight meal.
Of everything I made, my favorite recipe in the cookbook came as a surprise: Braised Mediterranean Lentils with Roasted Spaghetti Squash (p. 236). This meatless meal is far outside my usual comfort zone, and even my incredibly carnivorous husband enjoyed the end result. Packed with flavor and low in calories, this delicious dinner is full of juicy fresh tomatoes and sweet, roasted carrots, salty olives and marinated artichokes, and a hearty lentil stew over a bed of roasted spaghetti squash. This recipe is definitely being added to my normal meal rotation.
We also enjoyed the Shrimp and Mango Summer Rolls (p.58), the Al Pastor-Style Beef Enchiladas (p. 202), and the Fig and Cider Pork Chops (p. 116). All were simple to make and introduced me to new flavor combos with short lists of ingredients. Overall, I truly enjoyed the dinner recipes.
My least favorite recipe – and probably one of the most disappointing desserts I’ve made in some time – was the One-Bowl Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (p. 275). While it may certainly have been user error – I’m far from perfect – I believe I followed the recipe exactly, but still ended up with a very dry result with little flavor. Even dunking these cookies in milk didn’t really help, and sadly most went to waste. If you have better luck than me, please let me know your secret!
Other dessert recipes in the book look gorgeous, and I can’t wait to try the Death By Chocolate Ice Box Cake (p. 288) and the Gooey Chocolate Coconut Caramel Bars (p. 291). I get hungry even looking at the photos!
The Half Baked Harvest Cookbook is certainly an achievement, full of helpful tips and creative inspiration you’ll make use of in the kitchen. Just flipping through makes me want to cook.
While I enjoyed the recipes I made, I have to admit the final outcomes were often a bit lackluster. Tieghan is best known for her more indulgent recipes – both cheesy pastas and decadent desserts – which don’t make the best weeknight meals in a household looking to watch what they eat. Perhaps my expectations were high, or I just didn’t try the right recipes, but I often wanted to tweak something slightly or expected a little more flavor once I was finished. Nevertheless, I look forward to excuses to make more of her beautiful creations, and expect I will continue to find inspiration in Tieghan’s food writing for years to come.
Intended Audience: The Half Baked Harvest Cookbook is full of approachable recipes and new twists on classic comfort foods. While I wouldn’t recommend it for the novice home cook, it’s recipes are approachable and easy to follow for anyone with some knowledge in the kitchen. It’s a great addition to the libraries of aspiring food writers, adventurous home cooks, and lovers of food photographed beautifully.
Previous Cookbook Reviews:
- Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark
- Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu
- Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard
- Peppers of the Americas by Maricel E. Presilla
- The Dumpling Galaxy by Helen You