Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Gift Giving Guide–Gifts for Cooks/Bakers–Great, New Cookbooks for Every Taste (Review)




Southern Living Big Book of Cupcakes:  150 Brilliantly Delicious Dreamcakes

Little cakes that will make you happy!

It’s official: The cupcake craze has taken the world by storm. No longer are cupcakes solely for children—these handheld treats now must pass muster with taste-discriminating adults equally ravenous for the little frosted jewels. Big Book of Cupcakes sets a new standard with recipes for cupcakes that actually taste as great as they look. In addition to the traditional favorite flavors everyone craves, such as red velvet and carrot cake, this book offers fun, new flavor twists like Maple Bacon and Caramel Sea Salt Mocha, as well as easy decorating and serving ideas, from classic to creative. In this book, which is organized by season and the events readers want to celebrate with home-baked cupcakes—from New Year’s to Christmas, birthdays to “just-craving” days—author and cupcake-bakery owner Jan Moon shares her secrets and most requested recipes. Whether you’re making the perfect batch of cupcakes for a child’s birthday party or satisfying a very adult comfort-food craving, the nostalgic treats that fill this book are sure to delight and surprise. Plus, Jan’s creative tips on how to serve and display cupcakes for parties are sure to be crowd-pleasers.

About the Author:

With over 10 years of experience in the Test Kitchens of Southern Living magazine, author Jan Moon has embarked on a venture of her own and opened a bakery in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to wedding cakes and custom-made treats, Dreamcakes Bakery specializes in delectable cupcakes, and Jan’s unique creations keep her loyal customers coming back for more.



Southern Living Off the Eaten Path

Favorite Southern Dives and 150 Recipes that Made Them Famous

Take a tasty tour along the highways and unique back roads of the South with author Morgan Murphy as he uncovers the best eateries and unique recipes this region has to offer. Part cookbook, part delicious journey through the South, Southern Living Off the Eaten Path is a discovery guide for people who love Southern food.
Readers will accompany former Southern Living travel and food editor Morgan Murphy as he winds his way through the South to discover the restaurants and watering holes that showcase the true flavor of the region. Full-color photography takes readers inside these community landmarks. Prized recipes are pried out of secretive restaurant cooks and vetted in the Southern Living Test Kitchens so they can be replicated at home when readers can't hit the road for their roadfood fix.

Helpful tips accompany each recipe and explain how to up the flavor ante of classics like mac-n-cheese or country-style coleslaw the way the best diners do. Recollections and reflections from owners, patrons, and employees of these "off the eaten path" spots round out this book of travelers' tales and delicious food finds. Southern Living Off the Eaten Path features:

  • 75 "dives" in 18 Southern States: from Texas to Florida to Maryland, and all points in between
  • A feature on each restaurant, including two recipes, location information, fun facts, and a "Don't-Miss" tip about their signature dish
  • Rubbernecker Wonders: reviews of kitschy roadside attractions worthy of gawking, such as Solomon's Castle in Ona, FL, and South of the Border on I-95 in Dillon, SC, where Dixie meets...Old Mexico
  • Food Finds: blurbs about food purveyors along the route (cheese shop, dairy, sausage processor, etc.), local products produced in the area (honey, barbeque sauce, dressing, spice blend, etc.), and more

About the Author:

Morgan Murphy is the former travel and food editor for Southern Living magazine. He has also written for Forbes, Vanity Fair, and Harper's Bazaar. Morgan's diverse background includes an M.B.A. from the University of Oxford and a love of vintage American cars. This passion led to his lauch of the world's first online social network for classic car enthusiasts, He lives in Mountain Brook, Alabama.




Cooking Light The Ultimate Kid-Approved Cookbook

Delicious Food Kids Will Eat, Nutritious Meals Mom Will Love

Following on the heels of First Foods comes Cooking Light's first cookbook that gives moms fun, great-tasting, and healthy recipes they know their kids will love. Parents want their kids to be healthy, and this book, geared toward kids ages 3-12, shows them how. Cooking Light provides the facts about kids' nutrition-what kids need and what they don't need. But it's not just about "kid" foods and "adult" foods-it is about foods suitable for the entire family.

More than 100 kid-tested recipes show parents (and kids) they don't have to become short-order cooks when mealtime rolls around. In this easy-to-use, spiral-bound book, parents will learn how to get their kids involved in healthy cooking-teaching those skills that will prepare them for a lifetime of healthy habits and healthful, delicious meals.
The Ultimate Kid-Approved Cookbook is brimming with these fun features to enhance time spent in the kitchen:

  • "Kitchen Classroom" and "Nutrition Notes" teach moms and kids about nutrition and interesting food facts.
  • "Meals Made Easy" provides information about easy pairing of dishes to complete a meal.
  • "Young Chefs Can" and "Older Chefs Can" boxes with each recipe list the tasks kids of all ages can help with, allowing the entire family to be involved in getting dinner on the table.
  • Quotes from the Kids Tasting Panel throughout the book tell why they liked a particular dish, their serving suggestions, and ideas for extras.

About the Author:

Cooking Light, America's leading epicurean magazine and authority on healthy cooking, is dedicated to helping its more than 12 million readers make healthy taste great.




Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast: Weeknight Meals

Over 280 Incredible Supper Solutions

Dinnertime stress is over! Enjoy over 280 all-new 5-ingredient, 15-minute recipes guaranteed to come together easily from start to finish—fast. With options for 2, 4, or 6 servings, households of all sizes can share a homecooked meal. These Test Kitchens-approved recipes are tailor-made for hectic lifestyles and health-conscious families.
More than recipes…

This must-have collection offers over 160 full-color photographs, detailed nutritional analyses, ways to streamline prep so dinner is ready even faster, easy make-ahead options, assorted 10-minute side dishes, and suggestions for turning leftovers into tasty lunches-to-go.

Tips you can trust…

Helpful shortcut kitchen techniques show you how to shave minutes off your prep time, while simple ingredient pairing tips teach you to effortlessly craft a variety of mouthwatering meals from just a few flavor-boosting items.
Serving wholesome, homecooked meals on busy evenings just got easier thanks to Cooking Light® Fresh Food Fast: Weeknight Meals. Family meals return with these ready-in-minutes recipes for healthy, delicious, satisfying dishes.

About the Author:

Cooking Light, America's leading epicurean magazine and authority on healthy cooking, is dedicated to helping its more than 12 million readers eat smart, be fit, and live well. With a staff of registered dietitians and culinary professionals-and over 20 years of experience-Cooking Light is unrivaled in identifying emerging food trends and providing flavorful and healthful recipes as well as detailed information about healthy cooking techniques and tips.



Gooseberry Patch Big Book of Home Cooking

Favorite Family Recipes, Tips & Ideas for Delicious Comforting Food at its Best

There’s nothing better than sharing a home-cooked meal with family & friends. That’s why we’ve filled the pages of this cookbook with more than 450 of our most treasured recipes. Take a peek inside and discover new favorites you’ll hand down for years to come!

About the Author:

Back in 1984, we were next-door neighbors raising our families in the little town of Delaware, Ohio. Two moms with small children, we were looking for a way to do what we loved and stay home with the kids too. We had always shared a love of home cooking and making memories with family & friends and so, after many a conversation over the backyard fence, Gooseberry Patch was born.

We put together our first catalog at our kitchen tables, enlisting the help of our loved ones wherever we could. From that very first mailing, we found an immediate connection with many of our customers and it wasn't long before we began receiving letters, photos and recipes from these new friends. In 1992, we put together our very first cookbook, compiled from hundreds of these recipes and, the rest, as they say, is history.

Hard to believe it's been over 25 years since those kitchen-table days! From that original little Gooseberry Patch family, we've grown to include an amazing group of creative folks who love cooking, decorating and creating as much as we do. Today, we're best known for our homestyle, family-friendly cookbooks, now recognized as national bestsellers.
One thing's for sure, we couldn't have done it without our friends all across the country. Each year, we're honored to turn thousands of your recipes into our collectible cookbooks. Our hope is that each book captures the stories and heart of all of you who have shared with us. Whether you've been with us since the beginning or are just discovering us, welcome to the Gooseberry Patch family!


My Thoughts:

For the past 10 years I have been an avid reader and subscriber to Cooking Light and Southern Living Magazines.  And, at times, I will buy their annual cookbooks to add to my ever-growing cookbook collection.  So, when I recently read about the above books being released, I knew that they would be a great addition to my collection. Now with two children the age of 2 at home, it is hard to cook up elaborate meals like I used to. Instead, I am looking for quick and easy recipes that will not only taste great, but are also healthy for my family.  This is why I love Cooking LIght so much.  They offer wonderful recipes that any cook (no matter your experience level in the kitchen) can create, and know that they are serving their family healthy and delicious meals. 

As for Southern Living, I have a soft spot for the South and all the wonderful soul food restaurants they have.  So, when I saw this book, Off the Beaten Path, I had to see if they listed some of my family’s favorite places to dine in the South.  And, as an added bonus, each establishment featured in the book, offers up one to two of their most popular dishes for you to recreate at home.  After browsing throw the book, a handful of the places we have dined at were included, as well as providing me with recipes of dishes that I had fallen in love with and continued going back for.  I was amazed at all the wonderful restaurants in the South, and enjoyed reading their stories and checking out (and trying) their favorite recipes. 

In addition to this cookbook, I also reviewed the Big Book of Cupcakes cookbooks.  As many of you know, I have a sweet tooth, and am always looking for excuses to get in the kitchen and bake.  With two girls, I am looking forward to the day that they will want to roll up their sleeves and bake with Mommy.  And, when that day comes, I know a popular sweet to bake up will be cupcakes.  So, I want to get my practice in now with making wonderful and delectable buttercream frostings and different flavored cupcakes.

And, who is not a fan of Gooseberry Patch.  Before they discontinued their online store offering of country gifts and accessories (now they only sell cookbooks), my mother and I would spend the day after Christmas shopping their online store for great deals, snatching up baking kits, calendars and so much more.  I can’t tell you how many Gooseberry Patch cookbooks my mother and I have between ourselves.  My favorites are their crock pot cooking and jarred mixed ones. So, when I received their new cookbook, Big Book of Home Cooking, I couldn’t wait to read this cookbook from cover to cover and mark up the pages of the recipes I wanted to try out with my family.  It was hard not to mark each page, as all the recipes in this cookbook looked and sounded amazing and tasty. Since receiving this cookbook, I have tried out over 30 of their home cooking recipes to the delight of my family.  I especially love their side dishes, which my daughter just eats right up.  Each week, I continue to pull 2-3 new recipes from this book to add to my weekly meal plan.  In time, I can’t wait until I try each and every recipe from this and the other books I was sent by the publisher. 

So, if you are a fan of cooking or baking, or know someone who is, why not pick up one or all of the above titles today. They would make for a great gift this holiday season.  I should know, as I usually request a handful of cookbooks from Santa each year. Smile


Disclosure:  I was sent copies of the above books from the publisher in order to write up honest reviews.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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