8 Things Every Home Cook Should Know From Joanna Gaines' Cookbook

Honestly, I don’t know how we survived before Magnolia Table. 

Magnolia Table Cookbook

Photo courtesy of Harper Collins

Photo courtesy of Harper Collins

Some days you feel like you might have this “life” thing all figured out.Then, you look at Joanna Gaines and realize you’re more like a major slacker. She can turn an old barn into a luxurious farm house in the morning, write a best-selling book in the afternoon, and have dinner on the table for her adorable family by 5 p.m. 

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How this woman does it while looking like she hopped out of a magazine, I’ll never know. 

Thank goodness Queen Gaines is a benevolent ruler. She’s been kind enough to share some of her wisdom with us regular people. We poured over Magnolia Table, her beautiful new cookbook, and picked out a few of Gaines’ best kitchen-related tips.

"No kitchen tools are more important than good knives."
Particularly, a good chef’s knife. It’s worth the splurge, according to Gaines, because “a well-made knife that holds a sharp blade will last years and will certainly prove itself to be worth every penny.”

Everything doesn’t have to be homemade...
Gaines lists refrigerated pie crusts and pancake mixes on her list of essential ingredients to keep in your pantry and she’s all for simplifying a could-be complicated meal with store-bought bread. Complicating things unnecessarily can ruin a perfectly enjoyable time in the kitchen. 

...but some things are just better made-from-scratch.
“Good salsa is so essential to me that I don’t think I’ve ever served tacos or enchiladas at our home without also making fresh tomato salsa to go with it,” Gaines writes before revealing her recipe for homemade salsa. If a particular food item is important to you, like salsa is important to Gaines, you just can’t beat homemade. 

You can never prepare too many appetizers. 
“When entertaining, it’s a safe bet to assume that your guests will arrive hungry.”

Having plenty of appetizers ready before your guests arrive will ensure everyone stays happy, and that you have plenty of time to finish up your main course. 

Use what you have in a pinchyou never know what could turn out great. 
Gaines says she created one of her favorite dips in a crunch, when friends called unexpectedly to say they were stopping by. Using what she had in her pantry, she made one of her new favorite party dips. Now, she always has that recipe in her back pocket. 

Think of dinner planning like designing a house. 
We may not all be as adept at interior design as Joanna Gaines. Who is? But I still think this is solid advice.

When she designs a space, Gaines writes, she thinks in terms of adding layers and colors until the room looks and feels right. She applies the same method in her cooking: “First, I choose the main course, this is what anchors a meal. I imagine it on the plate and then consider what other flavors, colors and textures the plate needs so that the meal is well balanced.”

Don’t be afraid to have some fun with tried-and-true recipes. 
While Gaines doesn’t think a traditional pecan pie recipes necessarily needs improving, she puts her own spin on the dessert by adding a bit of ground ancho chile. This tiny addition “creates a sweet-and-heat pairing that sends this pie into another stratosphere.”

“If you mess up, there’s always pizza.”
Joanna is actually quoting her husband, Chip, when she writes this advice. Don’t fret if your biscuits don’t turn out Magnolia-worthy. In the end, Gaines writes, cooking is all about “owning and enjoying the experience.” If all else fails, it never hurts to order in. 

This article first appeared on My Recipes.