I have to admit I love buying cookbooks. As a self-professed “Foodie”, I read about all this amazing food and imagine myself cooking up a storm in my humble kitchen. I enjoy the thrill of shopping for cookbooks on line and waiting for those packages in the mail, and thinking about all the cool things I will make! However, reality is never quite the same thing. . . .
Sometimes I get exactly what I expected – an amazing cookbook that has at least a few top-notch recipes that join my favorites list and become part of my meal planning. Despite my great love of food, I am a basic chef with no special skills. I need cookbooks that make me shine and make up for my limited kitchen skills. Some books do just that.
Other cookbooks, not so much. The majority of the books end up being something other than what I expected. That doesn’t mean they are necessarily bad, but they are just not the right recipes for me, anyway. I end up donating these books somewhere, hoping they find good use with another cook.
The cookbooks on this list are currently my top 7 picks of cherished cookbooks. They standout as the books I turn to for inspiration on those nights I just don’t know what to make. They are the books I turn to when company is coming and I need to make a great meal. And they are the everyday elements that make up my meals – trusted recipes that bring comfort and joy to my life.
Now that’s not a guarantee you’ll love them too, of course. But at least heading in you know that a real person has actually made and loved the recipes. . . . .for what’s that worth.
[Please note this post does contain Amazon affiliate links. The images are linked to amazon.ca and the highlighted text to amazon.com for convenience. Affiliate marketing does not affect the price you pay, but it does generate much needed revenue for the farm. Thanks in advance!]
- The New Soup Bible – 200 classic recipes from around the world, shown step-by-step in 750 gorgeous photographs – by Anne Sheasby
Can you say: “Soups on!”. I cannot say just how much I love this book. I was never very good at making soup, which sounds silly to say, but was true. My soup was always just weak or barely passible, until I got this book. Now I can make meal-worthy soups that I am happy to serve to friends and family. My most favorite recipes, to name only a few, include:
- Tortilla Tomato Soup (which I like to add chicken to),
- Corn and Potato Chowder, and
- Kale, Chorizo and Potato Soup.
2. The Skinnytaste Cookbook – by Gina Homolka
The recipes in Skinnytaste are just spot-on for me. They are pretty simple to make and the results are company-worthy dishes that I make again and again. This book stands out as great value for its price. My favorites include:
- Loaded “Nacho” Potato Skins (hint: I like to BBQ the potatoes instead of baking them and then finish them in the oven for extra flavor in the summer),
- Petite Baked Crab Cakes which are mouth-watering and restaurant-worthy,
- BLT Salad with Avocado for a fast any-time meal,
- Chicken Cordon Bleu Meatballs that are so good I wonder if I will ever make regular Cordon Bleu again!,
- Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken,
- and for dessert, Pina Colada Chia Pudding which is amazing!
There are more Skinnytaste cookbooks that are on my wish list (maybe I will get them for Christmas?) that you may want to go ahead and try. My list includes Skinnytaste Meal Prep (2020), Skinnytaste One and Done (2018), and Skinnytaste Fast and Slow (2016). These are on my radar given how much I love this first one, but I am not sure if there is repetition among them or not. I’ll let you know if they end up rounding out my cookbook favorite list!
3. Easy Whole Vegan – by Melissa King
Now who would guess that a farmer who raises chicken, ducks and beef would have a vegan cookbook on her top books list? But here it is! I am inspired by these terrific recipes that take vegetables to a whole new level. And as a die-hard OMNIVORE – that’s right, someone who eats both plants and meat – I think it is great to explore the plant side of the equation with as much passion as I do the animal side. This book makes vegan cooking easy.
My favorite recipes include:
- Apricot Almond Energy Bites
- Black Bean and Sweet Potato Hash
- Black Bean and Corn Breakfast Burritos
- Coconut Whipped Cream, and
- Strawberry Salsa
4. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook – by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes
I simply LOVE Italian food! This book is still new to me, but I am loving it. The first 42 pages, which includes the section “Keys to the Pantry” are inspiring. The recipe for “Soffritto” changed my Italian cooking forever. The book is filled with recipes and insight into Italian culture that bring the meals into focus. I can’t wait to work my through the recipes and learn more!
5. Itsu -The Cookbook – 100 low-calorie eat beautiful recipes for health and happiness – by Julian Metcalfe and Blanche Vaughan
What I love about this cookbook is it’s simplicity. The recipes are easy to follow and the wide variety of flavors and foods it draws upon allow me to make restaurant-worthy dishes easily in my own kitchen. The step-by-step illustrations for making Sushi are excellent. Whether you are looking to make some teriyaki steak strips, sear some tuna, or create a California roll, this book delivers in portions that are suitable for a healthy diet.
6. Company’s Coming Chocolate Squared – by Jean Pare
Now if you are looking for a great dessert book, look no further! It’s hard to go wrong with any of the Company’s Coming Cookbooks. I have a LOT of them and love them all. But this handy little compilation of chocolate recipes is the cat’s meow for a chocolate lover. The very first recipe – Turtle Squares – tastes JUST like a chocolate bar only so much healthier (if a chocolate bar could be healthy anyway). AWESOME! Try making it with condensed coconut milk for a slight variation!
I am still baking my way through this one, but love, love, love it already!
7. The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book – A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking – by Laurel Robertson with Carol Flinders & Bronwen Godfrey
While plenty of diets vilify bread, few things bring such satisfaction as the making, baking and sharing of bread.
For me, baking bread by hand is a tradition that should not be lost. And yes, I do own and use my bread maker all the time. But I know how to make bread by hand. It is an art to knead dough to perfection and wait while it raises and bake it the right amount of time. The smell of baking break takes me back to my childhood, when my mother baked all the bread for our family each week. There are few finer resources out there for bread than this classic cookbook from Laurel’s Kitchen.
And then I had to laugh because in trying to find a link to share with you for my classic version from 1984 I discovered the current price variation on this book comes up as $162 Cdn on one search but only $6.45 US on another. Go figure! I mean I know the exchange rate can vary but – too funny! Such is buying online. . . .
Anyway, while I have and love my classic copy, there are newer versions of the book. I cannot vouch specifically for those, but perhaps will put them on my book wish list for another time. I am not sure why the newer book (2004) is still priced way higher in Canada than the US, but I guess some things are a mystery.
Happy Cookbook Shopping and Happy Cooking! What’s not to love about turning all that great food into healthy meals right at home.
Be sure to check out the books under “Best Chicken and Livestock Books” for books with great recipes listed there too! Favorite titles include Milk Cow Kitchen and One Hour Cheese!
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