The Crabby Cook Cookbook Review & Recipe

Oh my gosh! If you like to sit down and read cookbooks, like I do, this is one you will NOT want to miss! Just the title alone, The Crabby Cook, says a a lot about this book that is chocked full of wonder-half-the-book-dog-eared-must-try recipes! 
The Crabby Cook Cookbook: Recipes and Rants

Paperback , 276 pages  (also available in Electronic book text)
ISBN: 9780761155263 (0761155260)
Published by Workman Publishing
$15.95(US) $19.95(CAN)

Humor is oozing out of this book like an extremely happy Amish Bread Starter. To me, that is what the author, Jessica Harper is, happy!

About The Crabby Cook Cookbook (from publisher)

Introducing a very funny, slightly edgy, winning new kind of cookbook Jessica Harper—that Jessica Harper, star of Minority Report, Stardust Memories, Love and Death, Pennies from Heaven, and more—is a working mother of two who faces the same problems of every other woman who’s the designated home cook: How do you feed a family of picky eaters when you’re not crazy about being in the kitchen in the first place? A natural-born storyteller and terrifically engaging writer, she does what she’s done all her life—entertain us—while at the same time offering 100 not just easy but really easy-to-make, really tasty recipes.

Her stories are filled with charming crabbiness—of cooking early in the day for the two kids who eat only six things, then later for the husband who eats only about eight things, none of which share common ground with those first six; of inviting her mother-in-law for dinner and handing her an apron; of suffering HAS—Hostess Anxiety Syndrome—having the book club over and picking The Good Earth because it matches the neighborhood’s great new Chinese take-out, so no cooking involved! She wants to give a Nobel Prize to the person who invented bagged salad, and she recounts a wonderful story of making homemade turkey pot pie for the very first time—its crust tasted like rosemary-scented Play-Doh—to serve to Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford.

But crabby or not, she’s found a way to make it work, and work brilliantly. The Crabby Cook is about how to change your food-i-tude—no more garnish guilt, for example, and why “sort of homemade” is just as good as homemade (ie, knowing when to go all out with Pain-in-the-Ass Minestrone and when to settle for the almost-as-tasty Lazy-Ass Minestrone). It’s how to identify those Miracle Foods—the stuff that everyone loves, like Gobble-It-Up Turkey Chili and Tony’s Rigatoni. And even a whole survival guide—despite her HAS—to entertaining, including drinks, Whore’s Doorves, Dip One and Dip Two, and My Big Fat Greek Platter.

photo of Jessica Harper

About Jessica Harper

Jessica Harper is a movie actress (Pennies from Heaven, Stardust Memories, Minority Report, Love and Death, and others) and children’s book author. The mother of two college-age daughters, she lives with her husband in Los Angeles.
More about the author

My Take on the Cookbook: This is a fun cookbook! At times, I even forgot that I was reading a cookbook! Her stories had me rollin' in my kitchen. She had to cook for picky eaters, children and husband, which can take the joy out of any cooking experience.  Her witty personality and brutal honesty of not wanting to cook makes this book extremely engaging.  I was so wrapped up into this cookbook that I almost forgot that I had to actually cook from the book, not just read it.  

There are 100 recipes in this book! Listed below are the chapters and a few of the recipes that totally cracked me up reading and some that I plan on making from this book! The book includes "Miracle Food" which are recipes that she was able to get the entire family to eat.

The recipes are quick & easy to make with ingredients easily located at local grocery stores.  This would make a great cookbook for newbies, foodies, college kids, newlyweds, new parents and the like!

*Breakfast, Slow and Fast-Hilarious explanation on "IX-NAY THE ACON-BAY" so if you know pig latin you can figure that one out, "Miracle Food" Killer Pumpkin Pancakes and "Acon-Bay Olls-Ray" or Bacon Rolls

*Mom's Little Lost Lamb (and Other Lunch Options)- Bruschetta with Somebody-Else's-Garden Tomatoes and Tuna Kahuna Panini

*The Cycle of Seven (Burgers, Casseroles, and Other Regulars)-Very touching chapter about her mother and growing up with the 7 rotation cycle of meals.  Tasty recipes include her Eggplant Burgers, Google-It-Up Turkey Chili and Richard Gere's Pot Pie which has a hilarious story behind it.

*A Toast to the Roast-Ham I Am and Leftovers: Short Ribs of Beef Sandwiches

*Let 'Em Eat Pasta- Tony's Rigatoni, Dreamy Veggie Pasta and Shrimpini

*Go, Fish!-Mellow Merlot Salmon and Shrimpesto

*Beside Myself-This chapter was so enjoyable to read. Oh the joy of side dishes!   Bunny's Carrots 'n Snaps, Cauliflower in Disguise and Hot Slaw

*Let Me (Not) Entertain You-The chapter had me rollin' in my kitchen with laughter. I love fun adult drinks and this chapter had some good ones! I'm going to did a separate review on these, soon! Basil Martooni, Holiday Crantini, Famous Hummus and My Big Fat Greek Platter

*Salad Days-My Girls Favorite Salad, Dog-Proof Caprese Salad and George Clooney Chicken Salad

*The Chicken Years-Blue Moon Chicken, Picnic Chicken and Chicken Teriyaki-ish (delish)

*Just Desserts-Criminal Coconut Cake, Boston Cream Cupcakes and My Blondies

I loved her story on Chicken Teriyaki-ish anything thing from scratch. I personally made teriyaki chicken once using a store marinate.  It was sticky sweet and not very tasty.  I'm not one to order teriyaki when we eat out at a Japanese restaurant but my kids do. So I gave her recipe a shot and it was an instant hit! It will be cooked again, trust me!  I served it with Thai Basil Rice, which went with it perfectly!
Chicken Teriyaki-ish (click for printable copy)
This recipe is from The Crabby Cookbook by Jessica Harper. You can find her on Twitter @thecrabbycook or on her blog,


8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thights (about 4 lbs)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Place the chicken thighs in a bowl. Mix all the remaining ingredients together in another bowl, and pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover, and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or as long as overnight.
2. About 1 hour before you want to serve the chicken, preheat the over to 350F.
3. Place the chicken in a baking dish or roasting pan, and bake, basting occasionally, until it is browned and cooked through, about 50 minutes.
4.  Serve the chicken ho or at room temperature.

My tips:
We have chicken snobs in our home so I do not use chicken thighs. I used chicken breast.  Just know that you cook the breast about half the time of the thighs or they will dry out.  We served it with Thai Basil Fried Rice! Perfect combo!

Disclosure: This cookbook was provided to me with the agreement that I would post a review. The words expressed here are my own tasty opinions! 


  1. Sounds like a great book. I will have to see if our library has it and see if it really works for my selective eaters.


  2. Thanks so much for the fabulous review! I really appreciate the support!
    Yours in crabbiness,
    Jessica Harper

  3. Oh yumm - this recipe sounds great - maybe I'll make it for dinner tonight! But I'll use chicken breasts with no skin and no bones - that doesn't go over so well in our house.

  4. Same here, Barbarawr,we used chicken breast without skin & bones. The only time I cook with skin & bones is when I cook a whole chicken/turkey. Yum! lol


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