[Photograph: Jessica Merchant]

We all have that one friend. The one with the spirited attitude and tireless enthusiasm. The one that seems to glow with energy, the one that turns the dullest occasions into an occasion. Jessica Merchant is one such person. As the author of highly popular food blog How Sweet Eats, Merchant chronicles her kitchen mess-ups and successes to a large, and deservedly adoring, audience. Now, she brings her infectious zest for all things edible to an honest-to-goodness book. It's called Seriously Delish, and that's exactly what's inside.

As Ms. Merchant states herself, she has no culinary training. What she does have is a lifelong passion for food, and she doesn't discriminate. She waxes poetic on the beauty of Brussels sprouts, and is just as generous with her praise for peanut butter and chocolate. The same amount of affection is showered on slow-cooked pineapple pork as a vegan bean and quinoa skillet. It's rare to find a cook, home or pro, with such widespread appreciation. Not only that, but she has made an art of conveying her zeal to convert skeptics into followers. Open, honest, and nose-crinklingly funny, Seriously Delish is as much a kitchen companion as it is a cookbook.

The book cover boasts "150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food." That's a lofty promise, but after paging through the entire thing multiple times, I can claim that it's an accurate estimation. The dishes are familiar, but not trite. Such is the case with Mocha Coconut Tiramisu, which uses full-fat coconut milk and coconut rum alongside classic mascarpone and espresso, topping it with toasted shaved coconut. It's a new flavor that doesn't feel out of place, and that's what makes it, and many of the other recipes, so appealing. Sometimes things can get wild, like Banana Split No-Bake Greek Yogurt Cheesecake. It looks and tastes like a birthday party. Recipes like that showcase the fact that Merchant is unafraid of using more "trendy" or "healthy" ingredients, but to powerful effect that erases the eye-rolling in favor of eye-widening. Of course, she is perfectly capable of turning out simple, down-home desserts (with a twist): Olive Oil & Lemon Skillet Cake is beautifully uncomplicated in preparation and flavor, but it stays interesting with the addition of rich olive oil, lightened with lemon.

Seriously Delish is a fantastic example of what can happen when passion and a disregard for perfection meet. There are recipes for every night of the week, special weekend dinners, daily desserts, and once-in-a-while indulgences. All the while, the fervor for good food made simply never wavers. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy, or enter the contest below.

Win A Copy!

Thanks to the generous folks over at Houghton Mifflin Harcout, we are giving away five (5) copies of Seriously Delish this week. All you have to do is tell us which fall dessert you're most looking forward to.


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