My family loves Food Network, and one of our favorite chefs is Valerie Bertinelli. We appreciate how down-to-Earth she is, and love when she updates classic traditional recipes we all grew up with, but would like to make for our family today. We’re often really busy nowadays, too, so we often just don’t have time to make things the old-fashioned way. So, we are really loving with Valerie’s Home Cooking!

There’s lots of wholesome meals that are also simple to prepare. The Quick Rotisserie Chicken Gumbo is turning into a family favorite — so quick and easy, but with lots of flavor and a great recipe for using up leftover rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. The Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes are another dish my whole family loves, especially served on crusty, fresh-baked rolls with a fresh salad (fruit or veggie) on the side.

The Four Cheese Crab Mac & Cheese is my husband’s favorite, and my kids LOVE the S’mores Popcorn. I appreciate how easy and quick the recipes are — and how suitable they are for our family, especially for fast weeknight meals. The book is really nicely printed, with beautiful photography throughout, I think this cookbook would make an excellent gift for anyone who cooks and would like to bring some added flavors to their kitchen.

Here’s some of the delicious recipes that are included in Valerie’s Home Cooking:

1. All-in-One Breakfast Smoothie
2. Arugula, Apple, and Fennel Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and Three-Cheese Crostadas
3. Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Shrimp with Cherry Cola BBQ Sauce
4. BLT Pasta
5. Individual Blueberry-Nectarine Crumbles with Honeyed Lime Yogurt
6. Brown Sugar Sriracha Bacon Bites
7. Hamburger Helpa
8. Lobster BLTs
9. Mom’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
10. Roasted Eggplant Pesto Pasta
11. Scalloped Potatoes
12. Slow-Cooker Pasta Bake
13. Slow-Cooker Sweet-and-Sour Chicken
14. Spicy Arrabiata Penne
15. Steamed Clams with Spicy Garlic Bread

Check out this excerpt below from Valerie’s Home Cooking, which also includes a recipe for her very own “Hamburger Helpa”:

“Don’t laugh. This dish might give you more insight into my culinary history than almost anything else. It’s a throwback to my childhood and it speaks directly to my more-than- occasional desire for quickness and efficiency, in that I love a good casserole or one-skillet dish. No fuss, no muss, easy cleanup, and get-right- to-it dinner. I made this for Wolfie and his friends when they came home after soccer or Little League practice. I can still picture everyone at the kitchen table, doing homework, while I simmered the beef in the mélange of spices and added macaroni, cheese, and breadcrumbs, and then announced to a sea of smiling faces, “Dinner’s ready.” Years later, I whipped out this dish when Tom’s kids entered the picture and everyone came home from college during breaks. We all know the store-bought mix; this homemade version is even better than the classic, I promise.”

Hamburger Helpa
Serves 4 Hands-on 10 minutes Total 35 minutes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound ground 90% lean beef
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cups whole milk
1¼ cups warm water
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
11/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped American cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives
1/4 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
1 scallion, green part sliced

1. Melt the butter in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add the beef, black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; cook, stirring to crumble, until browned, about 5 minutes.

2. Preheat the broiler with the oven rack 3 to 4 inches from the heat. Reduce the stovetop heat to medium, and stir in the macaroni. Add the milk, warm water, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

3. Bring to a low simmer; cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is tender, about 12 minutes. Add the cheeses, and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheeses melt. Stir in the chives. Sprinkle the
panko over the macaroni mixture. Broil until the panko is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with the scallion, and serve immediately.

Variation: Add some slices of jalapeño for extra kick.