I first met Karen Peek, author of “Be Your Own Chef” Cookbook in December 2011 at the Annual  Christmas Open House held at Cokesbury Christian Store.  They had advertised that there would be a local girl who had written a cookbook and she was going to bring some samples from her book.

Karen walked in carrying a bowl of Salsa, homemade Potato Chips and a pan of her Chocoholic Paradise Pizza.  And I was hungry!  Karen shared with us about her illnesses and why she had written the cookbook.  She could not have known that I am battling an ongoing illness and won’t be able to return to work either.  I sampled the Salsa first and it was better than any I have tasted, even in restaurants.  Hint:  I bought the cookbook just to get this recipe.

I’ve tried a lot of the recipes and everything is easy and wonderful.  Have you ever made homemade sausage, it’s in the book and it is so easy and delicious.  How about applesauce, in the book.  Egg salad without using mayonnaise, in the book.  Peanut butter and honey roll ups, perfect in the cooler for a day at the beach.

This book is loaded with substitutions and hints.  Ever needed buttermilk for a recipe calling for ¼ cup then you end up throwing the rest of it away because you don’t drink buttermilk.  Karen tells us how to make an alternative buttermilk out of white vinegar and soy or milk products.

Karen really gave us a great cookbook .. but what she also gives us is inspiration to overcome life’s obstacles .. and to “Be Your Own Chef”.

Judy DeLauder


I was very excited to meet Karen, from Inspired Art Of Cooking a few months ago.  She and I have a lot in common in our personal lives and after emailing back and forth about some of our similarities, I knew I would have a great time picking recipes from her cookbook, Be Your Own Chef.  But I didn’t realize that I would have such a hard time picking.

Her cookbook is great-lots of down-to-earth and homemade comfort foods, but what I love the most about her cookbook is the endless alternative options she puts in her recipes.  Are you a vegetarian?  No problem-she’ll tell you what to substitute for the meat.  Are you a vegan?  Even better-she tells you what to sub to make the recipes 100% vegan friendly.  On top of that, she gives little tricks of the trade along the way: how to store certain ingredients, how to remove the garlic smell from your hands, what cooking with alcohol actually does to the food-it’s a wonderful resource to have alongside you in the kitchen.

I ended up choosing her French Onion Hot Dogs to make.  It’s obvious that I love anything with the name “French Onion” in it, and the smell of caramelized onions alone in my kitchen is enough to make me get hungry.  Her recipe was straightforward, easy to follow, and totally delicious.  I loved the combination of the traditional French onion flavors with my veggie dog.  I ate two they were so good and then ate another one the following night for dinner.  This is, in my opinion, a fancier way to enjoy your summer hot dog.

~ Shanon Lacy, The Curvy Carrot


Many people in this world do not really know what it is to eat healthy nor do they know where to start.  I have been dieting for many years and I understand completely what it means to eat healthy.  It’s taking that road less traveled by many consumers.  It’s more often than not, choosing a different dish than the one more desired.  There are so many people in this world who have serious issues with their weight and there are just as many in this world who have issues with eating right.  The isles of grocery stores can be really intimidating.  Many people want to live a healthy lifestyle but don’t know where to begin or what to buy.   Be Your Own Chef will help you get a handle on cooking for a healthy lifestyle.

Be Your Own Chef helps you try new ways to cook your favorite dishes.  New ways so you don’t feel like you have made an unfortunate compromise to eat healthy.  This book will help you formulate meal plans for many types of diets.  I for one can attest that with a special needs child,  Karen Peek’s book really helped me plan different meals to cook for my son.  Lastly, this book will help you discover new dishes you didn’t know you loved.  You will never get tired of cooking the same dishes because they’ll be different every time.  You will feel much healthier while undertaking the healthy alternatives from this book and your family will enjoy the new culinary lifestyle you have in store for them.

Let me be the first to recommend this book for you and your family.  I have known Karen since the summer of 2011.  She and I immediately became good friends.  Having mentioned to her my weight loss journey that I was on myself.  She recommended her book to me and I incorporated it to my diet.  Since having met Karen and embracing this book, I was able to continue my weight loss journey with new found success.  With the amazing literature stored in this book and my continuous diet and exercise plan, I have been able to lose a total of 109 pounds.   You wont be disappointed.  Try the egg salad, it’s my favorite.

~ Candice Kneipp