Stop and Smell the Rosemary, by the Junior League of Houston, is the sort of cookbook that takes cooking from a chore to an artful experience. The winner of eight national cookbook awards, Stop and Smell the Rosemary includes myriad color photographs and is designed with a tactful charm that inspires its readers.

The book begins with a section of guides to themed parties and gatherings entitled “Be Our Guest.” To start, each entry lists three full-course menus with alternative dishes. However, the real treasure is in the suggestions for decorating and hosting the meal (captions provide tips on proper etiquette and more creative ideas).

The bulk of the publication is the recipes, which, judging by the many full-page photographs, are winning dishes. There are also informative columns interspersed throughout the recipes on topics ranging from the culture of barbecue to the history of the birthday cake.

Also impressive is the diversity of choices—Oriental Shrimp Dumplings, Veal Scallops With Leeks, Honey Pepper Pecan Salad, Jalapeño Cheese Cornbread Pudding, Strawberry Soup, and Kahlúa Brownies With Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Glaze. Along with the many recipes that are just plain delicious, this cookbook includes 21 low-fat recipes with the relevant nutritional information listed in a chart.