Back by request, round two of Five on Friday, wherein I occasionally post five links on a certain theme. This week’s theme is recipe sites.

The sad fact is that I’m severely lacking in kitchen skills, which means that while I have collected many beautiful recipes from a variety of cookbooks and websites, I rarely have the time, talent, or courage to follow through. I’m an optimist, however, so if a recipe website exists, I’ve probably visited it. Even when I don’t collect any promising recipes, I can feel as if I’ve gotten something accomplished, merely by ruling out possibilities and thinking about cooking for a while.

My shiny array of kitchen appliances adds to this delusion. (Three cheers for wedding showers!) If I can’t cook it (and I probably can’t) it’s not for lack of machinery. Have waffles to iron? Food to process? Need to whip, blend, juice, chop, steam, or mix? I’m your gal — or, rather, my kitchen is; you’ll probably want to do the actual cooking yourself. And you can find the recipes to do so at the following sites. If you have an RSS reader, you can even stay up-to-date on new recipes, as many of them offer feeds.

1) Recipe*zaar gets top billing because it is my all-time favorite recipe site (although All Recipes, a similar site, deserves an honorable mention). Search their database of thousands of recipes by ingredient, course, required appliances, and almost any other criterion you can come up with. Compile an online cookbook, add your own recipes, and visit the forums to ask a pressing question or just browse the questions and answers already posed.

2) Sometimes directions alone just aren’t enough, which is where a site like Visual Recipes can be helpful. As the name implies, each step in the recipes is illustrated with a photograph.

3) For me, it’s never enough to know that something is a particular way. I want to know why. Which is why I so totally dig The Science of Cooking. For more information, watch the webcasts or visit their forums.

4) Cooking by Numbers is for those desperate moments when you’re down to a can of tomatoes, a bottle of vinegar, and three eggs. Fill in the ingredients you want to use, and it will spit out cooking suggestions.

5) Ahhh. Bread. One of my favorite things in all the world. I’ve long admired those who can make the perfect loaf of bread. I have yet to reach that point, but The Fresh Loaf, a site entirely dedicated to bread-making techniques, has given me some hope.

What about you? How are your cooking skills? Have any favorite recipe sites or cookbooks?