If you’ve read my About page, then you’re pretty much caught up on my personal life as well as the history of how I came to love cooking. I told you how I watched FoodTV to learn different techniques, discover great recipes and learn valuable tips – but I neglected to mention the other major influence during this time of my life: Recipezaar.
I stumbled upon ‘zaar quite by accident one chilly winter evening. I needed a recipe for soup and was coming up zilch. I didn’t have many ingredients in my cupboard and it was beginning to look as if I’d never find the recipe I was looking for.
Then I clicked on Google’s link to Recipezaar, and it was love, love, LOVE at first click. So many recipes, so many reviews, and so much great advice for a novice cook like me.
Games like ‘zaar tag, food friends & fun, pick-a-chef, and ‘zaar world tour had me hooked. Looking up recipes by ingredient? Being able to ask questions to seasoned chefs in the forum? I knew it would never get better than this!
Recipezaar has gone through many changes over the past few years. They’ve added new features and changed the look of the site several times. In 2007, Recipezaar was purchased by Scripps, the company that owns Food Network, HGTV and DIY, among others.
When I first learned of this I was not happy at all. I was convinced that the small community feel that I – and many others – loved about our beloved ‘zaar would be lost forever. ‘Zaar assured us that nothing would change, not to be alarmed. And I’m happy to say that once again they didn’t let me down; there have been no noticeable changes in the way they operate, and it remains my top go-to recipe site for just about every occasion.
(Updated to add: Recipezaar no longer exists. But read on to find out why this site was so special and how the big food and recipe sites can learn from it.)
So what makes this place so darn special? Here is a list of the top ten reasons I love it so much:
- The Recipe Sifter Tool – need a breakfast dish with meat, that’s good for kids but you don’t like pork? I just used the sifter tool and found 62 recipes for you – in about 20 seconds. I once found a recipe for muffins using cantaloupe – that’s right, cantaloupe muffins – using this tool, and they were some of the best I’ve ever made. I should post that recipe here soon! Wait, you don’t need me – you’ve got the recipe sifter tool!
- The camaraderie between ‘zaar members. This cannot be stressed enough. Whenever I’ve needed a question answered, a recipe suggestion, or even support with something completely unrelated to cooking, my ‘zaar friends have always been there.
- The GAMES!! There are so many of them and anyone can jump in at any time. Sometimes I’m too busy to play (and truth be told, it’s been a long time since I’ve had time and I miss it!), but I highly suggest taking a look around and joining in the fun. It’s a great way to make friends and expand your cooking repertoire!
- The recipes! There are currently 355,000 recipes to choose from!
- The ability to review recipes. This feature is certainly not unique to Recipezaar, but what is unique is the number of reviews you’ll find. ‘Zaar members take pride in their site and most members love seeing their recipes reviewed and almost always return the favor. I’ve often changed the way I’ve prepared a recipe solely based on posted reviews, and I’ve picked up some great tips, too!
- The ability to read through the most recently reviewed recipes. I love this feature! It’s so much fun to read through what other members have recently made and if they enjoyed it. I’ve prepared food I otherwise never would have, and it’s really improved my cooking.
- The ability to save my recipes in “cookbooks”. I can’t possibly make all the delicious recipes I find all at once, so being able to organize them for future reference is really nice. When I need something that’s fun for kids or I’m just craving chinese, all my favorites are right there for me whenever I need it.
- Post photos of your recipes for everyone to admire and enjoy! Not only that, but you can sort recipes to show only those recipes with photos first. Nice!
- Plan a menu, post it for public viewing if you desire, and browse other member’s public menus, too. A great way to find inspiration if you have a special dinner or event coming up.
- Chef of the Day – formerly called Featured Chef. Yes, that’s me below in the summer of 2007 on the “cover” of Recipezaar. I was pretty darn excited to see my mug up in lights! It’s a lot of fun to read the profile for the current Chef of the Day, and I’ve found some great ‘zaar friends that way!
The bottom line is that you really need to check out Recipezaar for yourself. They’ve been an amazing resource for me and I have a serious soft spot for them. No matter how much experience I gain over the years to come, I know that I will always return to my ‘Zaar. Nothing else will ever compare!
Here’s a picture of my most recent dinner creation from ‘Zaar, borrowed from Kittencal (who always has fantastic recipes):
I’d love to hear about your favorite recipe site and why you love it!