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Making a Mini Cookbook: Recipe Advice Please!

Some of you have probably read that I'm fleshing out the idea of doing a mini cookbook as a wedding favor. I still have to find out how I would get them printed and wrapped, but I love the idea so much I started thinking about what recipes I would put in it. Even if it doesn't work out for the wedding I'd want to give them out for some other reason.

I has evolved into a "A day in the life of" kind of deal. I did one favorite breakfast and lunch dish for each of us, and I tried to make the dinners a full menu:

Breakfast: (her) banana bread and (his) sausage gravy and biscuits

Lunch: (her) Asian peanut sauce noodle salad and (his) mile high Italian sub

Dinner: (her) vegetable minestrone, peppered ribeye, and chocolate cupcakes; and (his) avoglemono soup, braised lamb shank, and flan (or panna cotta).

Cocktails: include two to four of our favorites, since those recipes will be short and easy to fit in. Probably white rum cosmopolitans as a nod to my college girlfriends, a mojito because that's his favorite, and a dry Chopin martini because it's something everyone knows we both love but no one else ever orders.

Does anyone have suggestions for making the "cookbook" more well rounded? I thought I did a pretty good job of not repeating anything (like two chocolate desserts).

Other considerations are that recipes have to be fairly short to fit in a little booklet, and easy enough not to overwhelm non-cooks but interesting enough that even avid cooks will be interested (example: everyone can make banana bread, but have you made my banana bread?)

Ingredients-wise, minestrone and lamb shanks seem similar to me. Is that a problem?

So far the booklet will be: cover photo of us cooking together, thank you to the guest on the inside cover, a wedding program on the facing page, a progression of recipes with some photos or anecdotes (we fell in love with avoglemono at our favorite college date restaurant, bought our first cast iron when we were starving graduates and couldn't afford steakhouses, etc.), and a food/love quote on the back cover.

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  1. To be short and concise, add a bibliography of cookbooks that contain recipes that you particularly like citing the author, title, publisher, year and page. Many public libraries have a cookbook section so people can look up the books that you cite. I live in a 'burb of Philly that has a population under 30K and a library loaded with cookbooks.

    1. A family recipe or two from each of you might be nice, if that's appropriate. Something your parents and/or grandparents made that you loved.

      also, a recipe for something delicious served at your reception.

        1. re: chicgail

          I agree with adding in some family favorites from both sides. A nice addition that could be any dish. If trying to fill space-maybe to include appetizers, snack or sauce favorites.
          Such a great idea-I am crossing my fingers for you to find a way to get printed that doesn't cost a lot! (Maybe check out some of those promotional companys that do personalized items--such as Branders or the like.)
          Best of luck-your guests will love it!

          1. re: dklipscomb

            Good heavens, what a fabulous idea. I wish I could have stolen your idea this time last year...it would also be perfect for the 50th anniversary party I'm doing for my parents at the end of the month.

            I agree w/ family favorites....recipes that your friends and relatives will associate with the two of you.

            1. re: danna

              My mind is still wandering on the how to have printed and not cost you so much.
              In searching the internet have a few sites you might want to look at:
              I live in a very small town-but wonder if those ads on TV for companys to get brochures and booklets made-might be of help

        2. I think you could do more with less - especially if you find the printing costs are high. In the spirirt of your getting married and coming together as a couple, you could give recipes for a meal you would both enjoy - a compromise menu!

          I think you're right to be concerned about how long the recipes are - you hate to have tiny print or to go on for two pages.

          1. I love this idea... I did something similiar as christmas presents one year to my friends and compiled my most requested recipes. After I typed and printed them out, I just took them to Kinko's and had them copied and sprial bound. My thought is that for a wedding, you might want to do something a little bit more sophisticated. I know you can do memory books online through walgreens, kodak or mpix. It might be worth looking into.

            1. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I'll try to think of family recipes--problem is, those tend to be either very long and involved, or very "my grandma said put a little of this...".

              Compromise menu: genius!

              I had wanted to include something from the reception, but we're not finalizing that until a month before the wedding and I want this done before that. Maybe I'll put in something I love and hope we use it. Not the end of the world if it doesn't happen.

              I also thought this morning that the back cover could be a list of our favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, since the bulk of our guests are local. And of course an index of referenced and favorite cookbooks.

              The cheapest route would of course be to do it on glossy photo paper on my computer, but to make it less amateur than a folded letter-sized paper cut it down to be a 5.5x5x5" square booklet, and add a nice paper cover and bind with a ribbon.

              Paperback binding is suprisingly affordable through printmediabooks.com and lulu.com! Thanks for the idea. But it's only affordable in black and white--black and white cookbooks are no fun, but color would double the price!

              4 Replies
              1. re: Pei

                I've produced a couple of books for different fundraising events, found Staples to be a very reliable source. I wasn't sure what the finished size of your book was, but printing multiple copys at a time will save you lots. I found that if you do a really nice cover, front and back, in color, the inside in black and white will look great. I'd also match the wedding colors to the cover. Paper colors don't really add to much to the cost.

                Anyway, I love the idea. I'd love to help out more if you need any, I'm a retired graphic designer and really do enjoy these types of projects. Feel free to email me.


                1. re: Pei

                  I think a B&W cookbook with a few pictures of the two of you cooking together would be fun - maybe get an artist to do some drawings of the final dishes? Or ingredients? B&W food photography is no fun, but you can do a lot with the concept.

                  1. re: Amuse Bouches

                    I paid cartoonist to do a sketch of me as a cook... my friends were quite amused with the cover

                  2. re: Pei

                    Ooooh I love crafty things...and combined with food? SUPER!!! Another type of paper to use to make it look less amateurish would be textured cardstock. You can buy it in a large array of textures and colors - just make sure they aren't TOO thick so it can still fit through your printer. I make handmade invites for people (NOT advertising here, I have chronic health problems that will be preventing me from doing that for awhile to come) and I love it. I also use it to make gift tags and such. No need to pay a printers whatsoever.

                    I just love this idea...another cute idea (to go along with Favorite Midnight Snack...) are things like "Favorite holiday treat" or "Best Haven't Seen Each Other in a week Dinner" - something sweet like that.

                  3. You're missing snacks. And possibly a "what he/she eats when the other's not there" meal.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: piccola

                      Well, snacks these days would consist of driving directions to Milk : )

                      1. re: chaddict

                        Mmmm...MILK. So delicious (for anyone who's in LA).

                        Hm, a midnight snacks page might be cute. With all these ideas, I'm running out of room! Oh well, better to have too many ideas and edit later. Keep them coming!

                      2. re: piccola

                        I love this idea! "what he/she eats when the other's not there" meal.

                        Your guests would get a real kick out it!

                        How many times do you jam the cookie dough down your throat when you hear the front door key jiggling or catch him eating the pizza cold? The deer in headlights moment when you have been caught! It would add a sense of humor and humanity and insight to your guests!

                        1. re: ktcolt

                          These would be really cute side bars! Like in some cookbooks where there's a gray toned box on the side of the page that says "tip #42." Our version could be "His/her dirty eating secrets." His are pork rinds. Mine is ketchup over fried rice. Although, that one's my mom's secret shame. I shouldn't announce in public that a child of hers eats crap like that :)

                          1. re: Pei

                            Perfect! Side notes next to your respective photos! I just thought it was great idea the other Hounder came up with!

                      3. When I put together a cookbook for my children I found that I could have it inexpensively bound on a spiral (with covers) at Kinko.