Growing up in the South, I’ve definitely got a soft spot for good, southern food. While good, greasy southern cuisine is undoubtedly delicious, I just can’t eat like that all the time. Then I found Lighten Up, Y’all, a gorgeous new cookbook by Virginia Willis. This book is chock full of lighter versions of southern classics, from Southern Style Shepherd’s Pie with Grits to Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pie and everything in between. In her recipes, Virginia stays true to her southern roots while also putting her own healthy twist on things. (Oven Fried Okra, anyone?)
The book itself is gorgeous. The recipes were beautifully photographed and the pages are well-designed, it’s a fun cookbook to dive into. It’s definitely a reader-friendly cookbook, for anyone who enjoys paging through their cookbooks. Does your mother/grandmother do that? I definitely inherited that hobby from both my mother and my grandmother–a beautiful cookbook such as this one is perfect for the likes of us. I had a tough time deciding on a recipe to try out first: The Makeover Broccoli Mac and Cheese sounds perfectly sinful, and I’m dying to try our the Brown Sugar-Strawberry Shortcakes, too!
I decided to give her Hot Mess Spinach and Feta Dip a whirl, because why not?! It certainly sounds delicious, right? The recipe calls for all sorts of tasty things including freshly toasted pine nuts (she includes a note on toasting them without burning them), fresh grated carrots, and so much cheese, y’all. Bless it, this dip just didn’t photograph well, but S. and I ate it tonight with some BBQ chicken breasts for dinner and we loved the flavor. It didn’t come out as creamy as the spinach dip we southerners are used to, but I’m confident that you could easily adjust the recipe to your liking. Once we finish making our way through this dish of Hot Mess Dip, I think I’ll have to come back and try out another lightened up recipe.
**I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own.**