Monday, December 7, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Cookbooks

We get asked A LOT about our favorite cookbooks. But how could we pick just one? That's like asking us to name our favorite child; honestly, it depends on the day.

Yet we know you have holiday shopping to do. You might want to pick up a cookbook for the foodie in your life or to drop some hints on the titles you'd like to unwrap. So today, dear readers, we offer up some of our faves.

Amy, Andrea and Erin

Disclaimer: These reviews are simply the opinions of the ladies at Hot Dinner Happy Home. No publishers asked us for endorsements or compensated us for writing about their cookbooks.

Amy's Picks

Great Food Fast
Despite having the ugliest cookbook cover of all time, this is a good introduction to the pressure cooker. I got a pressure cooker this year -- a gift to myself --- and these easy-to-follow recipes came in handy. After I made Chicken Noodle Soup, it was easy for me to figure out the quantities and timing for my own soups, such as Potato Soup like my mom makes and my Midwestern Vegetable-Beef Soup. For a kid-friendly dinner, try the Pizza Joes. If you are tired of the endless stirring involved in making risotto, then I direct you to the Cajun Crab Risotto.

The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes
This book combines two of my loves -- cooking and France. And it's the prettiest cookbook ever with delicious photos of food and Paris. Consider this a great gift for cooks and francophiles as well as those who would appreciate culinary inspiration or a gorgeous cookbook to adorn their kitchen. A word for those who do cook, the recipes are simple, classic French dishes, some with a little twist. For example, there's Coq Au Vin  On Skewers. I once  made our entire Easter meal from this cookbook and it consisted of Lemon an Lavender Chicken, Parisian Asparagus, Creamy Potato Bake and Creme Brulee. Recipes are listed in French and English. --Amy

The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out
Is healthier eating a goal for 2016? Blogger Angela Liddon's book is my go-to for healthy plant-based meals. This is a collection of both lighter fare and surprisingly filling dishes. Some of my family's faves: Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich, Our Favorite Veggie Burger and Glowing Strawberry-Mango Guacamole. I also like Liddon's smoothies, such as the Classic Green Monster Smoothie, and the On the Mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup. For this year's Super Bowl, in which our Carolina Panthers might (knock on wood) be playing, I plan to whip up some Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip. --Amy

Product Details
This cookbook lived up to its title and revolutionized how I think about slow cooking and how often I use my slow cooker, which is all the time. I have lost count of how many people I've given this cookbook to, but I know Andrea is one. I also have the second volume -- the easy prep edition, which is full of recipes that don't take as long to prepare or cook. But I like this one more because more of its recipes require eight hours or more in the slow cooker, which means dinner can cook away while I'm at the office. Some of my family's faves: Barbecued Beef Brisket, North Carolina Pulled Pork, Easy Barbecued Ribs, Classic Thanksgiving Stuffing and Big-Batch Bolognese Sauce. --Amy

Andrea's Picks:

America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
So I love to bake, but baked goods aren't always so healthy. Same with the Mexican-inspired dishes my family loves. Thanks to a recommendation from a neighbor, I've found healthier versions of these recipes. I'm still working my way through it, but the Better For You Banana Bread and Layered Tortilla Tart are excellent! --Andrea

A Family Christmas Cookbook
My brother gave me this cookbook nearly a decade ago and despite the title, I use it all year long. Many of the recipes are very similar to meals and goodies I grew up eating, like Ricotta Cookies, Pesto Sun Dried Tomato Pate, Country Chicken and Spiced Red Cabbage. Best thing about this book? It offers numerous recipes for the same dish, which makes it easy to customize to your own tastes. --Andrea

Indian Inspired Gluten Free Cooking
My husband and I love Indian food. Our old Cincinnati neighborhood boasted at least five Indian restaurants. This cookbook demystifies the cuisine and the recipes are surprisingly easy to prepare. Try the Spinach with Lentils and Coconut, Spinach Lentil Rice and the Broccoli with Red Onion and Ginger. I've given this cookbook to several friends. -- Andrea

Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy Prep Edition
The original Slow Cooker Revolution made me fall in love with my slow cooker all over again. I find that I use the easy-prep version more often these days because our family life is increasingly busy and I don't often want to take the time required for lots of crock pot preparations. The Cuban-Style Pork Roast with Mojo Sauce and the Mexican-Style Pulled Pork Tacos are favorites in our house. --Andrea

The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon
Blogger Sara Forte's newest cookbook is my favorite of the year. Bowl + Spoon is filled with simple, wholesome and delicious meals, sauces, sides, dressings, sauces and desserts. Many recipes are vegetarian, which is helpful as I'm always looking for non-pasta meatless meals. And the photos are simply gorgeous.

Erin's Picks

America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
This list clearly demonstrates our love for America's Test Kitchen. This cookbook is my go-to for the "standards" and has inspired many of the recipes on this blog. Skillet Broccoli with Toasted Garlic and Lemon, All-American Meatloaf, and Pan-Seared Steaks with Red Wine Pan Sauce are some of my favorites. I also love the buying guides and helpful tips scattered throughout the book. --Erin

An Occasion to Gather (The Junior League of Milwaukee Cookbook)
This book was a gift from my friends Jill and Kelly when we lived in Milwaukee. I love how it represents the city and my time there. Everything I've tried from this cookbook has been delicious. Plus there are great regional insights, like how to organize a beer tasting, a list of necessities for tailgating, and the perfect menu for a Bunco party. Milwaukee will always have my heart and so will this cookbook. --Erin

Everyday Food: Great Food Fast
The title says it all...this book is full of great food that you can get on the table fast. It's full of 30-minute meals, and you'll have most of the ingredients in your pantry. I love how it's organized by season, because, "a change in weather affects how we cook as much as what we cook." --Erin

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