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It’s always so much fun to see what’s in the big envelopes and slim boxes that get delivered to my office this time of year. Recently, it’s been cookbooks. Lots of cookbooks!
If you’re making your own Christmas list or shopping for someone else, here are a few book suggestions for you:
• If you’re looking for a local cookbook, I suggest “Sharing Our History Through Legacy Recipes” by Hornes United Methodist Women.
The 184-page book is filled with recipes so many of us in this region enjoying cooking — and eating!
If you want to make sausage balls for Christmas gatherings, there are at least two versions — one that uses Cheez Whiz.
New cooks and seasoned cooks will enjoy seeing recipes for salads, casseroles, main dishes and desserts. It’s an excellent resource for someone who likes variety and enjoys Southern cooking!
Recipes that caught my eye include Rhonda Bottoms Jones’ Stuffed Peppers, Jeannie Lyndon’s Teriyaki Chicken and Ellen T. Jones Gray’s recipe for Aunt Maggie’s Microwave Roasted Pecans.
If you’d like to purchase this cookbook, call Ellen Gray at 252-291-6340 or Betsy Davis at 252-237-0623.
• “Cook Like a Pro”: Food Network Star Ina Garten’s 11th cookbook is a guide for home cooks who’d like to cook like a professional.
In the cookbook, she shares tips and techniques for making meals more special.
You’ll see “pro tips” in the recipe margins, including the best way to cut eggplant and other rounded vegetables, how to make sure the sugar dissolves in meringue and how to test an instant-read thermometer to make sure it is accurate.
In addition to recipes such as Roast Duck Breast with Dried Cherries and Port, Chicken and Spinach Waldorf Salad and Triple Chocolate Loaf Cakes, Garten includes recipes for her “pro basics” including vegetable, chicken, beef and seafood stock, as well as homemade vanilla extract and ricotta.
A few of the recipes that caught my eye include Chocolate Chevron Cake that Garten notes she has made for decades, Buttermilk Herb Mayo and Chicken Thighs with Creamy Mustard Sauce.
“Cook Like a Pro” is published by Clarkson Potter and has a list price of $35.
• Milk Bar founder and pastry chef Christina Tosi shares a variety of recipes in her cookbook “Milk Bar: All About Cakes.”
The recipes vary from two-minute mug cakes to sheet cakes, Bundt cakes, cupcakes and truffles. Lots of truffles!
If you like to experiment, you can find plenty of ideas here including Popcorn Layer Cake, Corn and Blueberry Sheet Cake, Mint Chocolate Chip Molten Microwave Mug Cake and Cherry Cola Bundt Cake.
“Milk Bar: All About Cakes” from Clarkson Potter Publishers has a list price of $35.
• Allison Miller offers a new spin on sweets in “Untraditional Desserts” from Page Street Publishing.
If you like to experiment with desserts, this could be the book for you with 100 unique sweets, including Lemonade Puppy Chow (for humans) and Italian Cream Cookie Salad.
How about Coconut Caramel Cookie Bundt Cake, based on the popular Girl Scout Samoa cookies? This pretty cake is coated with toasted coconut and a chocolate drizzle.
Cheesecake lovers can have fun making Blueberry Muffin, Apple Crisp, Oatmeal Cream Pie or maybe Boston Cream Pie cheesecake. The photos that accompany the recipes will make your mouth water.
The cookbook offers plenty of cupcake recipes as well as cookies, bars and such treats as Cherry Pie Taquitos, Overnight Cherry Cheesecake Oats and Fruity Pebble Churros.
This book would be a fun addition to a baker’s Christmas stocking! The retail price is $21.99.
• If you’re shopping for a vegan cook, I recommend “The Vegan 8” by Brandi Doming. The book features 100 recipes made with no more than eight ingredients.
Breakfast kicks off the book with Double-Chocolate Fluffy Pancakes and Orange-Vanilla Waffles. It continues with lunch ideas — think pizza quesadillas or Southwest Lime Salad — on up to main dishes such as Ultimate BBQ Bean Ball Sub and My Favorite Savory Meatball Bean Balls.
Doming includes desserts, sauces, salad dressings and more in her book. I admit, my mouth waters just thinking about My Favorite Barbecue Sauce.
“The Vegan 8” from Oxmoor House has a list price of $25.99.
• Cooks enjoy new products designed to make their lives easier. Currently, the small appliance of choice is a pressure cooker, or multicooker.
I have received a number of cookbooks specifically designed for instant cookers.
“Instantly Southern” by Sheri Castle can help you make Indoor Brunswick Stew, Chicken and Fluffy Dumplings and corn pudding. The book, published by Clarkson Potter, even has a recipe for Country Ham and Red-Eye Gravy made in the instant cooker.
Kristy Bernardo offers 100 no-thaw recipes in “Cooking From Frozen in Your Instant Pot.” The Page Street Publishing book can help you get Pork Tenderloin in Garlic Sauce to the table quickly, even if the pork loin is frozen. Frozen chicken drumsticks can also be used to make Crispy Asian Drumsticks.
In “The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook,” author Coco Morante not only includes 200 recipes, but she also offers lots of helpful information on how to use your Instant Pot. Once you feel confident using the device, you can make Cheddar-Black Pepper Breakfast Grits, Cincinnati Chili, Chicken Soup, or how about Mini Lasagna Bolognese? This is a Penguin Random House book.
If you enjoy Indian Food, check out Achana Munde’s “The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook,” also from Penguin Random House.
If you’re looking for comfort foods, buy “Comfort in An Instant” by Melissa Clark. This book, with 75 recipes, is from Clarkson Potter.
• Gina Homolka goes for variety in “one-pot” cooking methods with “Skinnytaste One and Done.” The 300-page cookbook from Clarkson Potter offers recipe options that suit the cook’s preference. The book’s chapters are divided by cooking method: skillet, sheet pan and baking dish, air fryer, Dutch oven, slow cooker and grill pan and grill. I am especially drawn to this book because of the variety of options she offers. I’m intrigued by a number of recipes here, including Mom’s Skillet Chicken Pot Pie and Honey-Mustard Chicken Bake. Mini Turkey Meatball Vegetable Soup and Creamy Cheddar Broccoli Soup cooked in a Dutch oven both sound delicious. And not only do I want to try Lazy Day Lasagna, I want the skillet she cooked it in! I’ve seen the $30 book for under $20 on Amazon.