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Valerie Bertinelli dishes on life behind the scenes of her cooking show

The actress-turned-Cooking Channel host has plenty of tricks of up her sleeve to make family friendly meals that are also insanely delicious.
/ Source: TODAY

For some cooks, dainty and difficult is synonymous with delicious.

Not so for actress-turned-chef Valerie Bertinelli, whose culinary mantra is more lively (and approachable!) than perplexing.

Her recipes don't call for hours behind the counter — or plenty of time slicing and dicing and sautéing. To that end, she's penned a new how-to guide, "Valerie’s Home Cooking: More than 100 Recipes to Share with Friends and Family." Her latest recipe tome is out Tuesday, Oct. 10.

Now married to her second husband, Tom Vitale, Bertinelli actually has the hots for someone else altogether. And that lucky guy, and the source of much of her culinary inspiration, is the author of "The Food Lab" and the managing director of Serious Eats, J. Kenji López-Alt.

"His book is my go-to. Anything you think you do know or don't know, just go to that book," Bertinelli told TODAY Food.

As for other culinary crushes, "I have so many, women and men. I admire all of them."

Fancy dishes that take up your entire night and gunk up every pot and pan? No, thanks, says Bertinelli. She is more about quick gumbo — using store-bought stock! — and bacon-rich lobster BLTs. Yum!

Over the past few season, she's had many famous names on her show, but Bertinelli is the true queen of her range.

"I don't let any of them cook. They're there to have fun and eat my food. There are some who want to learn stuff, so that's always fun," she says.

Her at-home meals are equally no-frills and you won't find an super-crazy, nice items in her fridge.

"My BLT pasta came out of the fact that we had no bread and Tom loves BLTs. We had so many tomatoes that were starting to go bad from our plants. So we made a BLT pasta," she says, adding that for now, her evening meals are a work a progress. "Lately, I don't know. I get home, take my makeup off and go to sleep. I've been working feverishly on my show.

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