15 Cookbook Recommendations

Over the course of the year a large stack of new cookbooks has grown in my kitchen. Some have been sent my way from publishers, others I’ve purchased on my own. It’s a big stack.

On more than one occasion I’ve had a friend ask me for a cookbook recommendations for a birthday or other gift, and now with the major giving season upon us, I’d thought I’d share a selection of the cookbooks that are tempting me right now. Many of these books are by personal friends of mine, who have poured their hearts onto the pages. I can see each personality shine through, as if a part of them were bound right into the book. It’s so fun to see their work in print.

This is a long post, but I hope it helps you find a new cookbook to add to your collection, or give as a gift. And while there have been so many wonderful culinary books published this year, these are just a few that I personally own and have enjoyed so far (in no particular order):


Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals:
Recipes and Techniques for Part-Time and Full-Time Vegetarians

by Pam Anderson from Three Many Cooks

Whether you eat meatless every day or are looking for a few meatless options to add to your repertoire, Cook Without a Book Meatless Meals is definitely a book to have on your cookbook shelf. Pam never fails to deliver real-life tested recipes. Pam is down to earth and so relaxing to be around, and that translates right into her cooking style. All of Pam’s books that we own are well used and sprinkled with stickies. This one is no exception. Pam offers a wide selection of dishes that can be prepared meatless, with her handy notes and tips to accompany each section. Pam has a knack for teaching the basics of a recipe so you learn forever and ever how to prepare them without having to refer to a recipe every time. In Cook Without a Book Meatless Meals she shares the “master formula” for dishes like cheesy grits, savory breakfast pizzas, and vegetable pot pies that enable you to get creative and add your personal touch.

What I’d like to try first:
Skillet Potatoes and Eggs, Vegetable Pot Pie, Classy Vegetable Risotto, Pad Thai


Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders

by Jeffrey Saad

I’ve had the pleasure of cooking with Jeffrey on a few occasions and his passion for cooking and vibrant personality shine through this book. Jeffrey breaks down the book into flavor profiles from around the world, sharing the herbs and spices prevalent in each cuisine. Begin the journey through Global Kitchen with the “World Pantry Primer,” a rundown of essentials and key points that Jeffrey highlights before getting started. “Flavor secrets” are found throughout the book offering tips and ingredient options. Thinking about beginning a foreign food night at home? This book would be the perfect passport. Jeffrey guides us through the flavors of Mexico, the Middle East, Italy, France, Spain, Asia, India, America.

What I’d like to try first:
Seared Scallop Tacos with Green Chile Chutney, Bouillabaisse, Ginger-Spiced Chicken Tikka Sandwich with Cumin-Tomato Mayo


Cooking Light The New Way to Cook Light: Fresh Food & Bold Flavors for Today’s Home Cook

by Editors of Cooking Light

I’ve enjoyed Cooking Light for many years. They always inspire me to find ways to cook a little on the lighter side without sacrificing flavor, so when this big book of fabulous recipes arrived at my door I was more than excited. This book makes me hungry. It holds a wide selection of 25 years worth of tested recipes from Cooking Light magazine, along with tested tips and tricks for tasty cooking on the lighter side. This one is a keeper.

What I’d like to try first:
Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata, Cilantro-Jalapeno Latkes with Chipotle sour Cream, Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce


Cake Pops Holidays

by Bakerella and Angie Dudley

My friend Angie, of Bakerella, delivers another sweet book full of precious ideas for creating holiday cake pops. After her first book, Cake Pops, I didn’t think cake on a stick could get much cuter, but Angie surprises me with her creativity every time. Angie teaches us how to make cake pops with step-by-step pictures, as well as a section on troubleshooting, and another on tools and techniques. With this book at your side, you’ll be creating the cutest holiday cake pops in no time. I can totally see these cake pops being made for class parties and other winter events, and can only imagine how many grandparents out there who could spend a day making these with their grandchildren over the holiday break. How fun that would be! Also, if you’re looking for a gift idea for that little baker, check out the Cake Pops Kit too.

What I’d like to try first:
Sweet Soldiers, Red-Nosed Reindeer, Colorful Cardinals, Frosty Friends


The Picky Palate Cookbook: 133 Recipes for Even Your Pickiest Eaters

by Jenny Flake from Picky Palate

I haven’t figured out what to make first from this tasty book from Jenny of Picky Palate. It’s chock full of so many delicious recipes that our whole family would enjoy. Jenny has such a joyous personality and it flows through this book of tasty recipes. Jenny is a temptress of the culinary kind, for sure. I have a picky eater and I’m going to be handing this book to him with some stickies to mark what he wants to try. I think he’ll find plenty of options to tempt his taste buds. Not to mention the recipes being simple enough for him to help in the preparation of them too, which I always think helps picky eaters to be more apt for trying something new.

What I’d like to try first:
Mona’s Mini Corn Dogs, Bacon-Wrapped Honey-Mustard Chicken Tenders, Peanut Butter and Jelly Skillet Monkey Bread


Decorating Cookies: 60+ Designs for Holidays, Celebrations & Everyday

by Bridget Edwards from Bake at 350

If you missed it, I recently shared about Bridget’s new book. I actually made my first batch ever of decorated cookies all by myself … well, with her book at my side. If you’ve never made decorated cookies but want to, this is the book to have. Bridget walks you through everything you need to know for creating cute cookies for all occasions. The simple step-by-step photos for each cookie design are very helpful, as well as the sections she shares on tips and troubleshooting. Decorated Cookies don’t get much cuter.

What I’d like to try first:
Monogrammed Houses, Edible Coupons, Fourth of July Firecrackers


Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats that Shine

by Shaina Olmanson from Food for My Family

Shaina is as sweet as the treats in this book and she has created a tempting selection of individual dessert servings perfectly packaged in jars. Whether you’re planning a party or a picnic, I can see all kinds of occasions where these sweet treats would be handy to have in jars. Shaina tells how to choose the correct jars, and explains how to bake and freeze in jars, among other tips for making these tempting treats. A fun book for any dessert lover.

What I’d like to try first:
Pumpkin Cheesecakes with a Gingersnap Crust, Lemon-Blueberry Bread Puddings, Frozen Mudslide Pies


Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion

by Alice Currah from Savory Sweet Life

Alice is a gem, and a sweet friend. She not only shares enticing recipes, but also, her heart. Her food is approachable and family-friendly without being boring. I like the way Alice has organized this book by recipes for different life events and occasions, from a Tween Birthday Bash, to Family Game night, and everything in between. One section, titled “Caring for Others” is specially appealing as I’m often at a loss for what to take for those in need of a meal. Another thing about Alice, is that she used to be a full-time cake decorator. She’s included a section on “How to Frost a Cake,” which is as thorough as it can get. Handy tips for sure.

What I’d like to try first:
Thai Marinated Frilled Chicken Skewers, Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cookie Frosting, Smoky Corn Chowder


Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones: 90 Recipes for Making Your Own Ice Cream and Frozen Treats from Bi-Rite Creamery

by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker and Dabney Gough

Anyone who has visited Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco understands why I had to buy this book. Their Salted Caramel Ice Cream changed my view on what ice cream should be. It’s become my favorite flavor of all-time now. The recipe for it is in this book, along with a slew of other frozen treats that will have you churning away in no time. The book explains basic ingredients and techniques for getting the best frozen results. You’ll also find recipes for perfect ice cream companions, like cookies, cakes and sauces.

What I’d like to try (other than the Salted Caramel, of course):
Malted Milk Chocolate Ice Cream, Pumpkin Ice Cream, Caramelized Banana Ice Cream


Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home: More Than 100 Addictively Good Artisanal Recipes

by Jeni Britton Bauer

I’ve been wanting to visit Jeni’s in Ohio for a few years. I thought her book could tide me over until I get the chance to visit. Jeni breaks down the ice cream process she uses to create her unique artisanal ice cream recipes, with step-by-step photos to help you along the way. This book is a fun approach to ice cream making, encouraging (and sourcing) the use of the freshest ingredients, many that you wouldn’t think of using in ice cream. There are also recipes for push-ups, techniques for making ice cream terrines and some fabulous sundae combinations. If you’re an ice cream lover or know one, check this one out.

What I’d like to try first:
Savannah Buttermint Ice Cream, Sweet Basil & Honeyed Pine Nut Ice Cream, Gucci Muu Muu

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier

by Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Woman

If you know Ree you know you can depend on her for belly-pleasing food, and belly-shaking laughs. I love Ree’s fun-loving wit and style. She’s one a kind and as genuine as a friend could be. Ree’s recipes are no fuss, and with her step-by-step photos for each recipe, how can you go wrong? Her cookbooks are one happy page after another, full of vibrant photography and tasty recipes.

What I’d like to try first:
Cowgirl Quiche, Mushroom Swiss Sliders with Spicy Fry Sauce, Billie’s Italian Cream Cake


Southern Living Heirloom Recipe Cookbook: The Food We Love From The Times We Treasure

by Editors of Southern Living Magazine

I grew up with Southern Living magazine. It seems like it’s always been a part of the coffee table, and undoubtedly the recipes have been part of the dinner table. This big book is a collection of 200 recipes published over the years, highlighting many of the vintage photography originally published in the magazine. It’s a fun book to flip through, and certainly one that will get your appetite going.

What I’d like to try first:
Southern Cheddar Spoon Bread, Beef Wellington, Pecan Peach Cobbler


Cooking Light Real Family Food: Simple & Easy Recipes Your Whole Family Will Love

by Editors of Cooking Light Magazine and Amanda Haas

This is a book I wish I would have had when my children were young. It not only contains healthy kid-friendly recipes, but adult pleasing too. And with a picky eater in our family, Amanda’s “one family one meal plan” is so appealing. It’s not always easy to plan one meal that will please all family members. Most of the recipes are pretty simple and quick, but tasty too!

What I’d like to try first:
Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad with Wonton Chips, Caribbean-Spiced Chicken Kabobs, My Favorite Lemon Bars


Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrees

by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali

I’ve always enjoyed Lidia’s PBS cooking show. Her recipes tease me into the kitchen and she always makes me feel like I can succeed. Each recipe in this book, co-authored by Lidia and her daughter, looks like the perfect comfort food, and is accompanied with thorough instructions and tips for successful results. If you enjoy Italian food or know someone who does, I think they’d enjoy this collection traditional Italian favorites.

What I’d like to try first:
Ziti with Sausage, Onions and Fennel, Baked Polenta Layered with Mushroom Ragu (oh my!), Limoncello Tiramisu


Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables

by Cheryl Sternman Rule and Paulette Phlipot

Talk about a book bursting with colorful foods! This is one pretty book, arranged by color, it’s a walk through a rainbow of fruit and vegetables. It would make such a lovely gift for a culinary-inspired friend. Each fruit or vegetable in the book is featured in a recipe, along with mentions for other simple uses for that particular fruit or vegetable. Ripe certainly creates a craving for fresh fruit and vegetables and helps think past the boring routine use of them.

What I’d like to try first:
Clementine Creamsicle Milk Shakes, Spinach Smoked Gouda Frittata with Tomatoes, Cardamom Roasted Plums with Coconut Ice Cream.


Phew … I know that’s a lot of information, but I sure do hope it helps you find some cookbook treasures to own or gift to a culinary friend.

As always, happy cooking!