Spring in Colorado kicks off the warm-weather season of abundant farmers’ markets, backyard parties and camping cookouts. From May to September, restaurants and home cooks around the state fill baskets with vibrant greens, sweet-tart cherries and succulent Palisade peaches. As we emerge from the past two pandemic-tinted years, it feels like everyone is eager to get together for cheese-board nights, snacks and seltzers in the park and weekend dinners together — giving us the chance to reconnect over food from our own kitchens . Three Colorado authors — Allyson Reedy, Eliza Cross and Tieghan Gerard — have recently released cookbooks to help jump-start your own delicious summer.
50 Things to Bake Before You Die: The World’s Best Cakes, Pies, Brownies, Cookies, and More from Your Favorite Bakers, Including Christina Tosi, Joanne Chang, and Dominique Ansel
By Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy is not a professional baker. In fact, this collection of researched recipes came out of a seemingly universal experience: the frustrating search for the perfect gift. Reedy was on the hunt for a “greatest hits” baking volume for her aunt for Christmas. When she couldn’t find one available, she decided to compile one herself. “I was like, I wonder if I could ask some of these amazing bakers and chefs if they would share recipes and I could put together what I was looking for,” Allyson remembers. She describes what she has created as a “really diverse group of recipes, from super-easy cookies to more complicated layered cakes and things.”
Diversity not only shines in the recipes’ complexities, ranging from effortless Chewy Brownies (excerpted below from Tessa Arias, the blogger behind Handle the Heat) to more advanced goods like Cookies and Cream Macarons (from Cambrea Gordon of Cambrea Bakes). The variety extends to the creators, too, from the online bloggers mentioned to baking giants like Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame and Duff Goldman — yes, the Ace of Cakes man himself. A few Denver-based sweets even made it in, like the gorgeous Blueberry Galette from Ruby Jean Patisserie and the Blueberry Lemon Pie (nicknamed “The Boy Scout”) from The Long I Pie Shop.
This baking bucket list doesn’t take itself too seriously, though, with categories like, “Things You Eat With Your Hands” and the counterpart, “Things You Probably Shouldn’t Eat With Your Hands.” It’s designed to be accessible for home bakers of all skill levels and is the perfect anthology of vetted recipes to have in your kitchen for when you need to bake something that you just know will be fantastic. Oh, and yes—it does make the best gift.
Extracted from 50 Things to Bake Before You Die by Allyson Reedy. Copyright © 2022 Ulysses Press. Reprinted with permission from Ulysses Press. New York, NY. All rights reserved.
Tessa Arias, baking blogger (Handle the Heat)
I think it’s safe to say that Tessa Arias is a brownie geek. She’s published forty brownie recipes on her blog, Handle the Heat, and she spends her free time doing things like experimenting with cornstarch amounts and egg yolk temperatures. We’re grateful for her efforts, because they’ve yielded us these incredible, one-bowl, so-much-better-than-the-box chewy brownies. (Seriously: one bowl!) We’re talking wall-to-wall chocolate action, where every bite is jammed with fudgy goodness and chocolate chips. And did I mention you can do it all in one bowl? There may be no greater reward-to-effort ratio.
Makes one 8×8-inch bread
1¼ cups granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, cold
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and sugar. Microwave for about 1 minute, or until the butter is melted. Whisk in the eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Stir in the oil and cocoa powder.
3. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Spread the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the brownies are set and a toothpick inserted in the center has moist crumbs attached. Do not overcook. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.
Half Baked Harvest Every Day: Recipes for Balanced, Flexible, Feel-Good Meals
By Tieghan Gerard
If you’re a foodie on the internet, chances are high that you are already familiar with Tieghan Gerard’s work. Maybe you are one of her from her 4.3 million followers from her on Instagram, frequent her from her successful Half Baked Harvest blog, or already own one of her from her previous two cookbooks from her, Half Baked Harvest Cookbook or Half Baked Harvest Super Simple.
Gerard is well loved for her meals that are equal parts family-friendly and flavorful, often inspired by global cuisines (an attribute that landed her in some cultural appropriation-related controversy in 2021 after publishing an ill-received “Weeknight Ginger Chicken Pho Ga” recipe). Her recipes from Ella tend to be weeknight-focused and healthy-ish, with plenty of fresh ingredients.
According to a Radio Cherry Bombe podcast interview with Kerry Diamond, Gerard comes from a family of ten — including her brother, Olympic snowboarder Red Gerard. They all packed up and moved from Ohio to the mountains around Breckenridge when Tieghan was age fourteen. In 2012 (when she was just nineteen years old), she started her blog. Half Baked Harvest gained almost-immediate traction within the first year (and no, it’s not a weed joke). Her blog-turned-brand de ella has also earned Gerard collection partnerships with companies like Anthropologie and Etsy.
Gerard’s most recent book, published in March of 2022, stays true to its title with flavor-packed recipes that are flexible enough for a Tuesday night — like her Sweet Potato Nachos With the Works or Pizza Pasta With Pepperoni Bread Crumbs. She calls out recipes in the book that are thirty minutes or less, gluten-free and refined sugar-free to make the book an approachable tool for cooks, regardless of diet or circumstance. If you’ve been wanting to add more pizzazz to your dinners at home — or if you just want a cookbook that guarantees meals that are as delicious as they are Insta-worthy — this is the one for you.
Hot Diggity Dog: 65 Great Recipes Using Brats, Hot Dogs, and Sausages
By Eliza Cross
“Colorado is such a wonderful place if you love to cook because we have such great produce and so many great ingredients available,” says Boulder native Eliza Cross. Her first book of her, The Food Lovers’ Guide to Coloradowas published in 2003 and reflects this deep-rooted appreciation for the food producers, restaurants, wineries, breweries and festivals of our state.
hot diggity dog is Cross’s fifteenth cookbook. Other titles in her repertoire de ella include The Quinoa Cookbook, Pumpkin It Up! and Berries: Sweet and Savory Recipes. She also has a collection of 101 Things to Do With titles for bacon, pickles, pumpkin and (in true Colorado fashion) beer. Even a short conversation with Cross will prove to you that she is committed to being an expert on the ingredients she chooses to write about. “It’s a fun way to wrap your arms around something and explore all the different ways it can be used,” she explains.
When she to do a cookbook based around sausages, she and her publisher decided to include hot dogs and bratwursts as well. She succeeded in finding exciting and unique ways of cooking with these seemingly “ordinary” ingredients and includes recipes for every meal — including Breakfast Dogs, which are composed of bacon and chopped up hot dogs, scrambled eggs and a cheese sauce on grilled buns.
One of Eliza’s favorite recipes from the book is Bratwurst, Havarti and Caramelized Onion Flatbreads, which sound like the perfect backyard meal paired with a crisp beer or cider. She also loves the Summer Sweet Corn Skillet With Sausage and Peppers (excerpted below), inspired by the sweet corn from the Western Slope that should start popping up at farm stands in late June.
At first glance, hot diggity dog may seem like a delightful novelty. Look beyond the first impression, though, and you’ll find that there are as many fun options for kids (or kids at heart) as there are mouthwatering mains for your next dinner party. The recipes are unfussy in the best possible way, allowing the flavor of the dishes and the people with whom you enjoy them to be the highlight, rather than the process it took to get there.
Recipe from the cookbook Hot Diggity Dog, by Eliza Cross. Used with permission from Gibbs Smith Books.
Summer Sweet Corn Skillet With Sausage and Peppers
Makes 6 to 8 servings
8 ears fresh sweet corn, husked and cleaned
1/2 pound kielbasa sausage
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
1/3 cup diced orange or yellow bell pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
In a large bowl, slice the corn off of the cob and scrape each cob into the bowl to release the milk; set aside.
Cut the kielbasa in 1/4-inch-thick slices and cut the slices in half. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large deep frying pan. Add the kielbasa and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook until tender, about 7-8 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook 1 minute more. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.