Cookbooks You Need For The Holidays And Tips To Stay Healthy

Hey all you domestic little home makers! I put together a list of my fav new holiday cookbooks that you will want to check out before you start making your menu for Thanksgiving.

european cookiesEuropean Cookies for Every Occasion

Allright first of all, I love cookies. That said, it would be hard to find me a cookie cookbook I didn’t like. This one appeals to me though because of all the gorgeous pictures! I like pictures in my cookbook because then I know what to aim for and I like having a visual in mind when I’m trying a new recipe. My professional chef brother in law prefers his cookbooks without pictures but poo poo for him. I like me some pretty pics to look at. (Yay Pinterest!)

Secondly, of course, the recipes in here are amazing and easy to follow instructions make this book great for beginners (or busy, distracted moms!). If you want to wow your friends and family this Christmas with fancy baked treats then this is the book for you. The book by itself would obviously make a great gift, but I personally prefer to bake things as gifts and then put together “food baskets” as Christmas presents. Yes, I’m “THAT” person!

From Chocolate Crescents and Lemon Bars to Jam Blossoms and Cherry Kisses, European Cookies for Every Occasion includes cookies for every skill level. Each recipe includes easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions to make sure you succeed in making the perfect cookies for the holidays as a special treat for your guests or to give as a hostess gift.

Along with more than 200 full-color photographs, the book also includes tips on setting up your kitchen and techniques for working with marzipan, melting and molding chocolate, and handling dough so that your cookies will come out perfectly every time.

Price: $15.99 ($9.99 Kindle Version)

Buy It:

new england recipesChef Daniel Bruce Simply New England: Seasonal Recipes That Celebrate Land and Sea

Being from New England and having grown up here my whole life, I think this cookbook is pretty dang cool. Just in time for Thanksgiving too! With 125 original recipes and 158 color photographs, you will be baking away from now until Christmas.

In this beautiful cookbook, chef Daniel Bruce of the Boston Harbor Hotel highlights food that is deeply rooted in New England soil with dishes that are respectful of their ingredients and simple to prepare; dishes that he enjoys cooking at home and sharing with his own family and friends.

“Great food doesn’t have to be complicated,” says Bruce. “These are dishes that I make over and over again because they taste good and they work. I hope they will become part of your personal culinary history as well.”

Price: $24.80

Get It:

deliciously holistic book coverDeliciously Holistic: Healing Foods Recipes And Lifestyle Tips To Help Increase Your Energy And Immunity!

Some people think to themselves “Oh, it’s the Holidays! To hell with my diet! I’m going to enjoy myself!” Ya know what I have to say to that?! HAHAHA! How much are you going to “enjoy” yourself when you find yourself 10+ pounds overweight come January 1st? How much are you going to “enjoy” yourself when you have to spend $50+ month on a gym membership instead of treating yourself to a nice pair of shoes? Hmmm????? I stuck to my diet so well last year during the holiday season that I actually LOST 3 pounds over the holidays AND I still got to taste EVERYTHING.

Why not try something different this year instead of the same old vicious circle? Learn how to eat healthy foods that make you feel good and you’ll be less likely to let loose and eat junk for the next 2 months.

In “Deliciously Holistic”, holistic chef and certified healing foods specialist, Shelley Alexander, provides everything needed to prepare delicious, healthy foods that nourish, strengthen, energize, and helps heal the body. Deliciously Holistic demonstrates with 154 mouth-watering recipes that good nutrition never has to be at the sacrifice of great taste! This beautiful, colorful cookbook includes a comprehensive shopping guide; seasonal meal plans; vibrant color photos of prepared foods; and recommendations for useful online resources. This book also provides information about how to use healing superfoods; tips to improve digestive health; how to stock a holistic kitchen with the best proteins, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, natural sweeteners, healthy oils, and beverages; along with a bounty of recipes using healing foods.

Price: $22.31

Get It:

Tips For Staying Healthy During The Holidays

shelley alexander

Shelley Alexander

Wondering how you are going to bake all those delightful treats and Holiday meals and still stay healthy? No worries! Holistic chef and certified healing foods specialist Shelley Alexander, author of “Deliciously Holistic,” (, a new, full-color cookbook featuring more than 154 of her favorite healing foods recipes and 50 pages of holistic lifestyle tips to increase energy and immunity, offers six tips for quick and convenient healthy eating during the holidays.

  • When shopping, check labels and avoid foods with a long list of ingredients. The best whole foods have one or just a few unprocessed or minimally processed, easily recognized ingredients, Alexander says. Among ingredients to avoid: chemicals, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, MSG, genetically modified ingredients and preservatives (indicated by the initials BHT, BHA, EDTA and THBQ.)
  • Set aside a few hours each week to prep foods to eat in the days ahead. Cut up produce and store it in airtight containers. Lightly wash produce before using with natural vegetable wash or use one part white vinegar to three parts water. Make several homemade vinaigrettes or dressings to last all week so you can make leafy greens and vegetable salads in minutes. Clean and marinate enough meat or poultry for dinners over the next few days.
  • Start your day with a green smoothie. Cut and freeze organic fresh fruit to use in green smoothies. You can also buy frozen fruit that’s already cut up. Add organic kale or spinach, coconut water or nut and seed milks plus natural sweeteners such as dates or stevia for an energy-boosting beverage.
  • For your holiday dinners, plan on making at least three to four dishes that are both delicious and nutritious. Good examples are pasture-raised, wild turkey with sage and garlic, baked wild salmon with lemon and herbs, steamed greens, roasted heirloom root vegetables drizzled with balsamic glaze, pureed winter squash soups, and desserts made with seasonal fruits, spices, and healthy sweeteners like coconut sugar or raw honey.
  • Invest in a dehydrator. Dehydrate fruits and vegetables and raw nuts or seeds that have been soaked in unrefined sea salt water (which removes anti-nutrients, kick-starts the germination process, and increases key vitamins), and you’ll have plenty of on-the-go snacks with a long shelf life. Dehydrators are convenient and easy to use; Alexander recommends Excalibur.
  • Make batches of fermented vegetables twice a month. Alexander recommends eating fermented vegetables every day to keep your digestive system healthy. They’re loaded with probiotics – the good bacteria your intestines need. Mix a variety of organic vegetables such as carrots and celery into brine with warm filtered water, unrefined sea salt, and cultured vegetable starter or liquid whey, and mix with shredded cabbage heads. Pack the mixture into sterilized glass jars and allow the vegetables to ferment for five to seven days. Once done fermenting, store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Food For Thought…

“Stick to whole, healthy foods this holiday season, and you’ll feel so good, you won’t want to go near the buffet table at your office party,” Alexander says.

Good Reads: Books To Read This Summer


Books We’re Reading This Summer

  1. The Art of Cake Pops: 75 Dangerously Delicious Designs
  2.’s Dining Out At Home Cookbook 2: More Recipes for the Most Delicious Dishes from America’s Most Popular Restaurants
  3. The No-Cook No-Bake Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes for When It’s Too Hot to Cook
  4. The No-Cry Potty Training Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Child Say Good-Bye to Diapers
  5. Savory Bites From Your Cake Pop Maker: 75 Fun Snacks, Adorable Appetizers and Delicious Entrees

Now if I just had time to sit down and actually get through a whole book, I would be a happy, happy girl!

[Read more...]

Interview with Hollis Wilder, Celebrity Chef and Author of Savory Bites

Hollis Wilder headshot

Hollis Wilder

We interviewed Celebrity Chef, Food Network Champion Hollis Wilder who recently authored the new book Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan that will be released this Saturday – April 6th!

I can’t wait to see her new book because I’ve heard of making cool recipes in cupcake pans but I haven’t had the chance to try any out. I think the kids are going to love this too!

Here are the questions we had for Hollis Wilder…

1. What veggies are the best ones to “push” onto your kids and what’s the best recipes you know of that will get kids to eat their veggies?

I don’t think of it as “pushing” as much as I think of making it my child’s idea to eat and enjoy vegetables. When my children come home from school they are starving. I have a crudité of fresh green beans, carrots, peppers, red and yellow tomatoes, and hummus waiting for them. I can get them to eat all 5 servings of vegetables at that snack. This is much easier for me to do when all they have to eat are veggies. When I send veggies in their lunches with other choices, the veggies come back home. When we make Savory Bites, meals in the cupcake tin, I use clear bowls filled with the very same vegetable options and I add sautéed spinach, blanched broccoli, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and tomatoes, grilled vegetables, so that when they are making “personal pan pizzas” or penne pasta gratins they can layer in the Colors they are attracted to first, instead of thinking about the taste. I have tricked not only my children but other children into using the cupcake pan as there pallet for creating the meals they want to eat, just because I have given them an edible paint brush to work with.

pic from Hollis Wilder's new book "Savory Bites"

Photo Credit: Tina Rupp

3. What’s your favorite quick & easy family meal to make?

I like to keep it simple, protein, vegetables, are the main part of our meals. My children like Spinach Soufflé, easy ladies it’s Stouffers (freezer section) Salmon pan seared, fresh lemon and a Salad of romaine, apples, avocados, grapes, and a seasoned rice wine splash. We pretty much eat like this every meal.

Pic from Hollis Wilder's new book - "Savory Bites"

Photo Credit: Tina Rupp

4. Do you have any tips of tricks for busy moms that want to entertain?

Whether you are entertaining for your neighborhood friends with families or having an adult only party, the most important piece of the meal is keep it simple sisters. I am with you! Don’t feel that you have to impress anyone, just make food that will make your guests feel like they are coming home and you will succeed.

Prep everything in advance. You can fill the wells of the cupcake pan the day prior and wrap in plastic wrap for fresh cooking the day of the party. Make sure that all of your side dishes are diced sliced and chopped ahead of time, so that you can make yourself and your home pretty prior to the guests’ arrival.

Get the rotisserie chickens from the grocery, cut them up into portions and brush orange marmalade or pesto, or BBQ sauce on them and re-heat. (No one will know)

Make more food than you think you will need. The best part of Savory Bites is that you can pack up leftovers in 6 inch square plastic containers so they guests can live your magic all over again the next day.

Pic from Hollis Wilder's new book - "Savory Bites"

Photo Credit: Tina Rupp

Thanks to Hollis for taking the time to answer our questions!

If you like her tips and trick, be sure to get her new book Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more info!

Twitter: @HollisWilder

Cookie Lover’s Cookbook – Hermits Recipe Review

The Good Housekeeping Cookie Lover’s Cookbook
Gooey, Chewy, Sweet & Luscious Treats

Yummy cookies and brownies! This superlative collection straight from the magazine’s famed Test Kitchens features 250 of the most luscious recipes ever created, along with irresistible photos, a handy ringbinder format, and links to 20 cookie-making videos. The book features:

  • -Triple-tested and tasted recipes guaranteed to work in any conventional oven with any brand of ingredients, no matter what
  • -Chapters on cookie-jar favorites, easy-to-shape cookies, brownies, blondies and bars, health-conscious cookies, and holiday cookies
  • -Baking advice, tips, and essential techniques from the Test Kitchen pros
  • -More than 200 color photographs show step-by-step baking and decorating techniques, as well as the finished cookies
  • -Links to 20 cookie-making how-to videos, watchable on a smart phone, e-reader, or computer
  • -and more

I flipped through the book until I saw a recipe for hermit cookies and I immediately started getting out all the ingredients to make them! Hermits are my favorite cookies in the whole world and I had never made them before, so this seemed as good of a time as ever to try it out!

They came out SO YUMMY! (as you can see from the picture above) Moist, chewy, spicy and the house really smelled like “Christmas” when I was done. These went perfectly with a cup of espresso. YUM! They were definitely the best hermit cookies I’ve ever had! I can’t wait to try making another recipe out of this book.

You can get The Good Housekeeping Cookie Lover’s Cookbook: Gooey, Chewy, Sweet & Luscious Treats on or in your local Barnes & Nobles. I think they would make great gifts as well!

* The book for this review was provided to us free of charge for the purpose of product testing. This does not effect our opinion of the products in any way. We only write about products we personally like and use, regardless of how they were acquired.

Easy Gluten Free Recipes In Cooking Light Cookbook

When I first heard that I was getting to review Cooking Light The Gluten-Free Cookbook: Simple Food Solutions for Everyday Meals, I was very excited! I am always looking for new recipes and ways to get healthy, tasty gluten free food into my allergic family. I especially appreciated the subtitle; “Simple Food Solutions for Everyday Meals.” Who doesn’t want dinner time to be simple everyday? I was all over this book.

The first part of the book starts off with a section that attempts to give a gluten free 101 class. It lists different sources of gluten, types of gluten free products, foods that are safe to eat, foods to avoid, and food that are questionable. It goes into types of gluten free substitutes and flours, and how to keep a safe kitchen when some people are gluten free and some are not. For someone who is brand new to going gluten free, this section would be very helpful.

Another feature that I appreciated throughout the book was the {Check for Gluten} phrase listed next to ingredients could be questionable, making sure that someone who is new to going gluten free double checks these ingredients to be sure they are safe. Some recipes are also identified by a Dairy Free icon. This is important, because many people who are allergic or cooking for someone allergic to gluten are also allergic to dairy. Although the book is most certainly not catered towards dairy free or multiple allergic people. There aren’t a lot of dairy free recipes. If someone has multiple food allergies, they will find themselves making a lot of substitutions. However, someone newly diagnosed as only needing to avoid gluten will find this book to be perfect for their situation.

The very first recipe we made, at my five year old’s request, was the Strawberry Muffins. Absolutely delicious! We substituted the fat free milk for coconut milk, and the butter for ghee to make it dairy free, and they came out wonderfully moist, which anyone who has done any gluten free baking knows is much more difficult to achieve.

The next recipe we tried was the Banana Breakfast Smoothie, against substituting the fat free milk for coconut milk, and the Greek yogurt for coconut yogurt. Again, another hit! Smoothies will definetly be a regular in the mornings around this house! So simple and so healthy for a delicious breakfast.

The other recipes that my family enjoyed from this cookbook were the Old-Fashioned All-American Meat Loaf, Herbes de Provence-Crusted Lamb Chops (my favorite), the Chicken Tacos with Mango-Avocado Salsa (my husband’s favorite), the Fresh Tomato, Sausage, and Pecorino Pasta, the Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallot Soup, and the Quick Chicken Noodle Soup.

The recipes ranged from super easy (like the smoothie), to more difficult in terms of locating the ingredients. I had never heard of Herbes de Provence before, and I had to wait a few weeks for them to arrive in the mail since my local stores did not carry this specific herbal spice combination (but it was worth it)!

I would absolutley reccommend the book to someone with no other allergies, who is brand new to going gluten free. There are a lot of excellent, varied options for every meal of the day, including some old favorites (like the meatloaf and chicken soup) modified for a gluten sensitive individual.


Retail: $21.95

Review by: Ashley Kolod-Hang

* The product for this review was provided to us free of charge for the purpose of product testing. This does not effect our opinion of the products in any way. We only write about products we personally like and use, regardless of how they were acquired.