51Ge1nl-hUL._SL500_AA300_Although I havent taken formal count, I think I have most of Melissa Clark's 29 cookbooks! So it is time to confess – this is one author whom I have had a girl crush on for years. She is a terrific writer and I love her recipes. So one day, I decided to write to her to see if she would review my first book.. this was ten years ago. I was new and no one knew me or had heard of me ( I know no ones knows me now but back then it was worse). I never expected to hear back. But I did. I got the kindest note from her telling me she liked my book. I was stunned. If a writer at her level liked my book, then by golly, I was doing something right. 

Fast forward, nine years. I sent her another email, this time to see if she would meet me for coffee in NYC as we were presenting at the same conference. She did (along with Amanda Hesser.. my other girl crush.) It was one of the best afternoons of my life. To talk with someone who has accomplished so much and is so modest about it. 

And now to her newest book, In the Kitchen With Good Appetite, it is, of course, a great read with all her fun stories but I also adore the recipes and how simple and charming they are. What I really like about her approach overall is how fuss-less and practical her recipes are. So far we have cooked and loved – the chipotle chicken (featured here), Spaghetti with spicy tomato sauce, and the lovely deviled egg salad with hot smoked paprika and tomato.  This is a book you will want to keep in your kitchen. Buy one for every cook you know. Trust me, they will thank you. 


And as always, you can win a copy here. I am keeping my lovely review copy but her publisher is giving away one copy of a lucky LIFE OF SPICE reader. To win -tell me this.. which author do you have a crush on and why?

A winner will be announced on Saturday, October 30th at 10:00 am so get your entry in fast!!

Photos of chicken for Life of Spice by the super fabulous Sala Kannan. 

Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potatoes

Time: 15 minutes, plus 35 to 40 minutes roasting

Serves 6

 Recipe from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with Good Appetite


4 (10-ounces each) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 pounds), rinsed and patted dry

4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Chopped cilantro or basil, for garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potatoes in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and scatter on the bottom a roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the remaining olive oil, chipotles, garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cinnamon to make a paste. Rub the paste all over the chicken. Carefully place chicken on top of the sweet potatoes and continue to roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 25 minutes longer. Serve garnished with cilantro or basil.



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  1. Oh I have a real crush on James Martin the Brittish Chef who does every saturday Morning Kitchen in BBC one. But then i think he is a real charmer and lots of woen have a crush on him 😉

  2. I have a “crush” on Mollie Katzen. I learned to cook using her Moosewood cookbooks and I find her recipes and cookbook writing style so charming. I had a chance to meet her a couple of weeks ago and she was just as lovely in person and so much fun!

  3. Mario Batali is my author crush…

  4. Mario Batali is my author crush…how can you resist a man in orange crocs in the kitchen!

  5. Nice coincidence Monica. I downloaded this book on my kindle, just last night :). Melissa is amazing!

    The sweet potatoes look inviting.


  6. My choice is Biba Caggiano. When I was living in the States in ’94 the conception of real Italian food was extremely vague and she was able to bring the real thing on her tv show called Biba’s Italian kitchen with her touch and competence. She made me feel at home.
    I loved her recipes and bought all her books, her recipes are simple and well explained even the elaborated ones. She was able and still is to transmit the passion we Italians have for our food, ingredients and for cooking.

  7. Nigella Lawson! She’s brainy and literate, and she’s so joyful about food and cooking and just living. I really want to hang out with her over some tea and biscuits.

  8. Anthony Bourdain, of course! He appreciates good food, loves to travel, and is quite a talented writer as well. Did I mention that he’s also smokin’ hot?

  9. Nigella Lawson…she’s peppy and fun.

  10. Author crush: Michael Chabon (just look at him!)
    Foodie author crush: Anthony Bourdain (I’m a sucker for a bad boy!)

  11. Ooh, I’d love to win this! My cookbook crush is Molly Stevens. Her All About Braising has a treasured place in my kitchen.

  12. I have been a big fan of Ina Garten, she has her own show on food network called Barefoot Contessa. I love how she is fearless and at the same time full of love in her cooking, she is not afraid to use that extra butter in her dishes, she loves to entertain and makes even a simple meal to a totally diffrent level. BTW its really hard to pick one..Aready temted to try Melissa Clark

  13. My Author crush is Ramin Ganeshram. Her book Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad and Tobago is such a great read! Her stories are compelling and the recipes I’ve tried have become my favorites. She talks a lot about her experiences in Trinidad, and her family, bringing you into her Caribbean world effortlessly. You can’t help but blend her experiences when cooking her recipes.

  14. I am a big fan of Mark Bittman. I find his style straightforward, honest and easy to follow. I also like all the variations he provides for many recipes.

  15. Anthony Bourdain!! I love his style, he gets to travel to all the cool places and explore the places where a common man can eat!! His writing is plain and simple!

  16. Mmmm … I’d have to vote for Susanna Hoffman, for her “The Olive and the Caper”. I love reading and cooking from this book!

  17. Author crush: Ree Drummond! I absolutely love her personality and how creative she is! Thanks for the giveaway.

  18. Have to say Jamie Oliver.

  19. Food crushes exhibit no monogamy. John Besh, Mario Batali, Rick Bayless, the incredible Molly O’Neill. Perhaps it’s time to give Melissa Clark a chance. Based on the recipe posted here, I think I’m in love.

  20. Nigella Lawson!

  21. Oops! Neglected to say why. Nigella Lawson because she seems like so much fun and I love her midnight fridge raids!

  22. Winner is Sonal. Please email me your addy

  23. The flavors in this dish sound delicious, and I love any meal that cooks vegetables and meat in one pan.

  24. Very nice chicken recipe, looks so good.

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