My cookbook gift guide & Bite this Book 2012 recap

In my opinion, the gift of a cookbook – to yourself or anyone – is about the best present to unwrap on Christmas morning. Today’s recommended gift guide is a collection of cookbooks that were all featured in my monthly Bite this Book feature.

This is not a ‘best of’ list, by any means, but these are the ones I can vouch for, believe in, and cook from. I have cracked their covers and spilled flour on them. I’ve left them stacked up on the kitchen counter, within arms reach because of recipes between their pages that are calling me.

These are the books I am gifting to a bunch of my girlfriends – the vegetarian, the novice home canner, the new mom, the dessert queen, and the gluten-free girls. Ready to see my picks? Pour yourself a coffee and hit the jump.

Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday

This latest cookbook from Canadian food writer Julie Van Rosendaal has a special place in my kitchen. In it she collaborates with long-time friend Sue Duncan to produce a straightforward and thorough book on beans that also manages to be utterly elegant. It recently won ‘Best Single Subject Cookbook’ in the Taste Canada Awards!

Joy the Baker Cookbook

Joy’s goal was to arm home bakers with simple, delicious, and absolutely sharable recipes and she does just that with a cookbook that is colorful, quirky, and fun. Joy’s recipes are simple with a sophisticated edge, and most are suitable for that special occasion.

Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round

Packed with full-page color photos and engaging anecdotes, the Food in Jars cookbook is a fresh approach to home preserving. It holds a wonderful assortment of over 100 recipes from pickles to jam, fruit butter to salsas and much more. The small batch recipes make them accessible for the novice, and yet there is enough variety in the recipes to entice the more experienced home canner.

The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life

Kelsey’s recipes are home-style with a decidedly upscale twist and will leave you wondering “Now, why didn’t I ever think of that?”. She has a no-nonsense style of cooking that helps instil confidence in the most timid of cooks and bakers. A great cookbook for busy moms of small children.


Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats that Shine

Shaina’s recipes are playful, like the Peanut Butter & Jelly Parfaits, but traditionalists need not to worry, you’ll spy classic peach cobbler and bread pudding here too. Whether creme brulée, pudding or cheesecake tops your list of favorite desserts, you’ll find creative interpretations of them all between the covers of Desserts in Jars. Shaina’s photography has an understated elegance that effectively shines through on every page. The images are enticing and the recipes so compelling, I predict that you will be making a run for the nearest Crate & Barrel and stocking up on pretty jars.

Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables

Organized by produce color and scripted in Cheryl’s whip-smart and entertaining voice, the book first comes across as playful and light. A deeper look, however, unveils recipes that truly honor the produce, and stunning photos (by photographer Paulette Phlipot) that show off the fruits and vegetables’ best side. With winter produce such as cranberries and grapefruit given the same prominence as their summer counterparts, this is a book you will crack open to find inspiration no matter the season.

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

With gorgeous, colorful photos taken by Alice herself, Savory Sweet Life reads much like your favorite magazine, full of completely ‘doable’ suggestions for your next special event or holiday. Practically organized into sections by occasions, like “Snow Day” and “Game Night” as well as holidays like “Mother’s Day” and “Christmas Morning”, the cookbook packs plenty of inspiration between its covers for every sort of celebration.

The Vegetarian Kitchen Table Cookbook

Whether you are looking for creative ways to cut back on meat or you admittedly have a crush on vegetables, there’s a wealth of everyday inspiration to be found in the 275 recipes of The Vegetarian Kitchen Table Cookbook.

The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods

With a tagline promising “a tastier take on whole foods”, this gorgeous cookbook serves up 100 creative recipes that feature fresh produce, whole grains and natural sugar alternatives that deliver just exactly that. Recipe creator, Sara and her photographer husband, Hugh, of the blog Sprouted Kitchen, have teamed up on a lovely cookbook with truly tempting, seasonally-based recipes.

Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook

Jessica’s thorough and well-written cookbook boasts 200 solid recipes, as well as a host of tips on subjects like creating a freezer cooking plan, buying a deep freeze, and Christmas cookie production. This cookbook is perfect for any busy household trying to eat a real food diet without spending hours in the kitchen each day.

Small Plates and Sweet Treats: My Family’s Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking

The recipes in Aran’s first cookbook are so compelling and the images entirely enticing, it’s hard to resist cracking it open every single day for inspiration. Then again, why resist? Winter is the perfect time to string together a few hours in the kitchen, preferably with someone you love.

I am easily seduced by cookbooks which are divided up into seasons, because that is exactly how we eat.

The Picky Palate Cookbook

Jenny’s cookbook is full of delicious, down-to-earth home cooking and baking that is stunningly styled and photographed by dynamic duo of Adam Pearson and Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites. Long has Jenny earned our respect by rigorous recipe testing and development on her blog, Picky Palate; now you can bring her favorite, family friendly recipes right into the kitchen with you!

Look for a brand new year of my Bite this Book series in 2013. It’s bound to be another stellar year for cookbooks.

Which of these cookbooks is on your wish list?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. First on my list would be The Picky Palate Cookbook and a very close second would be Food in Jars.

  2. Thanks so much for including my book in this great round-up. I’m honored.

  3. This is an awesome list! I still have some holiday shopping to do and I think my friends would love some of these books. Take care!

  4. What a great collection of books! I’m sure any home cook would love to find one of these under the tree this year.

  5. I want joy the baker’s cookbook! I never noticed before that the Food in Jars book was about smaller doses of canning. Love that idea! Want.

  6. Thanks for the guide! My relatives will undoubtedly receive some of these books.

  7. in my wishlist: The Vegetarian Kitchen Table Cookbook! i love vegetables and would like to learn how to cook them!

  8. Oh Aimee thank you!! I just put 5 of these cookbooks in my amazon cart. (It would have been six but I recently purchased ‘Not your mother’s make ahead and freeze’ book which I am enjoying (ginger soy porkloin is very good)) I have two shelves for cookbooks in my kitchen so I am going to have to cull some out to make room!

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