posted in Cookbook Reviews

Favorite Cookbooks 2011: Gift Guide

I get a zillion cookbooks in the mail every year.  Here are my favorites… from 2011.  Perhaps the cook in your life would like one for Christmas?  I do this every year, but I’d like to offer $100 Amazon Gift Card to one of my readers as a thank you for visiting as much as you do.  You can buy a bunch o’ cookbooks with $100!  See the end of this post for giveaway details.

Cook Without a Book- Meatless Meals by Pam Anderson- this one is not only for vegetarians.  Getting more grains and vegetables into your diet is healthy and recommended.  Anderson shows you how to use whatever is fresh, in season and on-sale- and not be so focused on cooking by the book.  Recipes are displayed as “Master Formulas” with multiple variations listed, giving you the opportunity to adapt the recipes to your own preference.

Ruhlman’s Twenty:  20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, A Cook’s Manifesto by Michael Ruhlman- Such a clever idea for a book, Ruhlman shares twenty essential ideas guaranteed to elevate anyone’s cooking.  Rather than simply following a recipe, his book helps cooks to think about the *what* and *why* of what they are doing.  Chapters on things such as Salt (your most important tool) and Onion (a chef’s secret weapon) educate even the most experienced cooks.

Cakespy:  Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life by Jesse Oleson- This cookbook is just plain FUN.  With recipes such as S’Moreos, Cupcake- Stuffed Cupcakes, Red Velvet Cake Shake, Pop Rocks Cookies and Homemade Candy Corn… how could this book be anything BUT fun?!  Oleson is a talented artist too- her cupcake art work is displayed throughout the cookbook.

Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen:  Cookin’ for Trouble– Nadia G is the host of Cooking Channel’s Bitchin’ Kitchen, she’s got rock-star style and a personality that just doesn’t quit.  I’ve met Nadia before, and this chick is talented.  The cookbook is wild and crazy-fun.  Chapter titles might give you an idea of what this is all about:  (Dysfunctional) Family Pizza Night, Happiness= Bacon, Back of the Fridge Bachelorfest, Depression Desserts, and more.  I love it all.

GoodBite Weeknight Meals:  Delicious Made Easy– Cooking Website gathered together 16 of the internet’s best food bloggers.  In this book they share 140 recipes for delicious and easy weeknight dinners.  What I love about this book is that the majority of the recipes are family-friendly and quick to prepare.  Recipes such as Slow Cooker Lasagna, Fast Fish Tacos, Blueberry Pulled Pork and Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas have me picking it up again and again for dinner ideas.

The Food 52 Cookbook:  140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks by Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs & the Food 52 Community- This cookbook is a community cookbook of the most interesting sort.  Each week for 52 weeks, Hesser & Stubbs ran recipe contests on their Food 52 website to find the best home cooks in the country.  140 of the winning recipes make up this book.  I’m a big fan of home cooks who are good cooks!

Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois- A follow-up to their first two wildly-successful bread books, this time it’s Pizza!  Jeff & Zoe show readers how to use their stored, no-knead dough to make pizzas, flatbreads and sweet/savory tarts.  Variations include whole grain, spelt and gluten free.  They’ll explain that in just 5 minutes a day of active prep time, you can create some pretty amazing pizza recipes.

How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou- If you are a bread enthusiast or if you have a desire to learn how to make bread, this book is a good place to start.  It includes photographed step-by-step recipes for yeast breads, sourdoughs, soda breads, gluten free breads and pastries.  Every single recipe contains multiple photos.  Both standard and metric measurements are included.

Cookies for Cancer:  Best Bakesale Cookbook by Gretchen Holt Witt- If you’re a cookie fan and you love baking, this book is a must to have on hand.  Besides the fact that it has great, classic recipes… the book has a story behind it that resonates with everyone.   All proceeds from this book go to research related to Kids with Cancer.  All of the recipes in this book are perfect for bake-sales, which is perfect for raising money for charities like Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches by Susan Russo- This one includes recipes, history and trivia about every kind of sandwich you can imagine.  I love the creativity that Russo put forth in this book… with recipes for the Doughnut Sandwich, the Cubano, the Fried-Green Tomato BLT, The Elvis, the Po’Boy and the Juicy Lucy, as well as primers on the classic bologna sandwich and peanut butter and jelly.  It’s a fun book to have on the shelf.

A few I don’t have on my bookshelf yet, but I’m hearing raves about…
Our Best Bites:  Mormon Moms in the Kitchen by Sara Wells- 150 family-friendly recipes with mouthwatering full-color photos, step-by-step tutorials, ideas for using leftover ingredients, shortcuts and tips for cooking, and serving suggestions.

Homesick Texan by Lisa Fain- In 2006, Fain started the blog Homesick Texan to share Texan food with fellow expatriates, and the site immediately connected with readers worldwide, Texan and non-Texan alike. Now, in her long-awaited first cookbook, Fain brings the comfort of Texan home cooking to you.

Basic to Brilliant, Y’all by Virginia Willis- The author’s fans love her knack for giving classic French dishes a down-home Southern feel and re-imagining homey Southern favorites en Française. This book builds on her signature style, offering 150 soul-satisfying recipes and accompanying each with a new preparation technique, fresh presentation style, or creative recipe variation that transforms an already wonderful dish into an all-out show stopper.

Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson- From her Northern California kitchen, the author has introduced us to a less-processed world of cooking and eating through her award-winning blog, 101 Cookbooks. In this book, she helps us make nutritionally packed meals part of our daily repertoire by expanding our pantries and integrate nutrient-rich superfoods into our diets.

and then there are a few that I thought sounded kind of fun for college kids or bachelors 😉

The I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook: 150 Cheap & Easy Gourmet Recipes by  Andrea Lynn- Since I practically lived at Trader Joe’s in college, I would think this one could only be great.

100 Things to Do With Ramen Noodles by Toni Patrick- Not that I condone cooking with ramen noodles, but this just sounds fun… and most college kids live on Ramen at least part of the time, right?

What the F Should I Make for Dinner by Zach Golden- I guess you’d have to buy this one for the right person, but I think there’s a good possibility that this book could get some laughs from the recipient.  I hear the writing from this guy is hilarious.  And hey, maybe there are some good recipes in there too!

Hope you found a cookbook or two or three in there that you like!  Let us know in the comments below if you have a cookbook recommendation from 2011 that I may have left out!

**For a chance to win a $100 Gift Certificate to, leave one comment below telling me which of these cookbooks (or another) that you might like to add to your holiday wish list.  This giveaway has ended!  The lucky, randomly selected winner is commenter #477 Gail, who said- “Food52?s cookbook would be fab, or the flatbread, pizza one…I could cook up a storm from either one!”  Congrats to Gail & thanks to all for entering! One winner will be chosen randomly via on the evening of Monday, December 5th and will be contacted via email (please be sure to provide a valid email address). This giveaway is open worldwide to anyone who has access to The winner will receive one $100 gift certificate to to be delivered via email.

*Be sure to check out my post Gift Ideas for Boys of ALL Ages, if you need a little inspiration!

Disclosure: This giveaway is provided by Lori Lange @ RecipeGirl. Because I love cookbooks and I love my readers 🙂

847 Responses to “Favorite Cookbooks 2011: Gift Guide”

  1. postedDec 1, 2011 3:13 AM
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

    What an awesome post and giveaway!

    I have the Bake Sale Cookbook and it IS good and Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Everyday is fabulous. And amazing photography.

    I want to check out that Mormon Moms book…or Nadia’s book…or really ANY of them.

    Great roundup!

  2. postedDec 1, 2011 3:18 AM

    I love new cookbooks! Always something fun to try 🙂 I think the Bitchin’ Kitchen sounds hilarious. The Goodbite and Food 52 also look great for some pretty impressive recipes!

  3. postedDec 1, 2011 3:20 AM

    Generous giveaway Lori! i would pick the “cook without a book” as I’m always looking for creative vegetarian dishes.

  4. postedDec 1, 2011 3:21 AM

    Great post! i think the cookbook that appeals to me the most is the Food 52 cookbook. The concept is neat, and I’m sure some of the recipes int here are fabulous

  5. postedDec 1, 2011 3:21 AM

    i’m always looking for great new cookbooks to add to my collection. this one definitely looks like a real find…”Cookies for Cancer: Best Bakesale Cookbook” always looking for new recipes for making cookies for friends & family. i love cooking new dessert & meals. sounds like such fun. (:

  6. postedDec 1, 2011 3:35 AM
    Tiffany MIller

    The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches, I love making different sandwiches.
    Great giveaway as always

  7. postedDec 1, 2011 3:35 AM

    I’d love the cookies for Cancer best bake sale cook book!

  8. postedDec 1, 2011 3:41 AM

    I would kill for a copy of The Flavor Bible,, b/c I’m trying to cook without a recipe (which is very hard)!

  9. postedDec 1, 2011 3:45 AM

    Would love the Trader Joe’s College Cookbook!

  10. postedDec 1, 2011 3:56 AM
    Susan Peterson

    Definitely The Trader Joe’s cookbook! If I ever leave my husband, it will be for Trader Joe…amazing food at amazing prices!

  11. postedDec 1, 2011 4:00 AM

    Wow this is a very nice giveaway. I enjoyed reading the descriptions of all the cookbooks. I would love to see the recipes in Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Everyday.

  12. postedDec 1, 2011 4:05 AM

    I love local cookbooks. Best way to get the feel of a community.

  13. postedDec 1, 2011 4:08 AM

    good bites weeknight meals

  14. postedDec 1, 2011 4:14 AM

    I would LOVE to have the cakespy cookbook, her blog is one of my favorites! She is so awesome!

  15. postedDec 1, 2011 4:17 AM
    Jeanne ODonnell

    I would love to win the good bites weeknight meals made easy!

  16. postedDec 1, 2011 4:19 AM

    Oh, I love cookbooks. I’d love the new Pam Anderson one. I tend to cook veggies the same way over and over.

  17. postedDec 1, 2011 4:20 AM

    I’d like Bitchin Kitchen’s “Cookin for Trouble” and “Super Natural Everyday” by Heidi. If I could add another, it would be Guy Fieri’s New Book, and I’m sure if I rated Border’s Cookbook section, I could find more I’d like to Order!!

  18. postedDec 1, 2011 4:23 AM

    I have the Our Best Bites cookbook and the new Pioneer Woman cookbook (on pre-order) on my Christmas wishlist!

  19. postedDec 1, 2011 4:29 AM
    Lone Sorensen

    Would love to make room for Good Bites Weeknight Meals on my cookbook shelf.
    Also, I think that Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Great Britain” could be really interesting.

  20. postedDec 1, 2011 4:37 AM

    Sooo many cookbooks, sooo little time!! We are empty nesters so I would like a good one on downsizing our meals. Although the Pam Anderson book looks great as well as Ruhlman’s twenty.

  21. postedDec 1, 2011 4:45 AM

    the most I can write with twins around trying to tap on the keyboard is I LOVE COOK BOOKS

  22. postedDec 1, 2011 4:45 AM

    Thanks for the suggestions! There are so many awesome and fun suggestions here 🙂

  23. postedDec 1, 2011 4:52 AM

    I would love the Ruhlman’s Twenty because you can take ideas and skills from to apply in all future cooking (I assume)!

  24. postedDec 1, 2011 4:54 AM

    They all look wonderful and many of them are already on my wishlist. However, “Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef” by Shauna James Ahern is at the top of the wishlist for me. A wonderful writer and excellent cook who truly inspires me everyday.

  25. postedDec 1, 2011 4:55 AM

    I would love the Bitchin Kitchen. I love cookbooks!

  26. postedDec 1, 2011 4:57 AM

    Thanks for the great reviews! Very helpful! If I were to pick ONE to add to my collection, it’d probably be GoodBites, since its a combination of recipes from many great cooks.

  27. postedDec 1, 2011 4:58 AM
    Carolyn Hill

    All these books sound awesome! But to narrow it down I would purchase Basic to Brilliant, Ya’ll; Our Best Bites; The Homesick Texan; Good Bite Weeknight Meals and The Food 52 Cookbook. This is a great giveaway and a great list to choose from… thanks!

  28. postedDec 1, 2011 5:02 AM

    I would love to have the Cakespy: Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life Cookbook!! Who doesn’t love fun sugary treats?!

  29. postedDec 1, 2011 5:03 AM

    I LOVE cookbooks an have a bazillion of them.. I don’t have any newer ones….the last one I bought was a Hungry Girl cookbook…….I think its time to update so thanks for such a great giveaway!!!

  30. postedDec 1, 2011 5:13 AM

    Definitely food52. Yummy!

  31. postedDec 1, 2011 5:14 AM

    My daughter is a vegetarian and I would love to send her Cook Without a Book- Meatless Meals by Pam Anderson. I would like to have Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, A Cook’s Manifesto by Michael Ruhlman to learn more about the how and why of creating a recipe.

  32. postedDec 1, 2011 5:19 AM

    I would love to try some recipes in the Homesick Texan cookbook. My husband and I love spicy food!

  33. postedDec 1, 2011 5:19 AM

    Love all my cookbooks. I think the Food 52 would be a great addition! There are so many great ones…..hard to get them all.

  34. postedDec 1, 2011 5:20 AM

    I’d love to have the The Bread Baker’s apprentice cookbook by Peter Reinhart

  35. postedDec 1, 2011 5:24 AM

    I love the trader joe cookbook!

  36. postedDec 1, 2011 5:24 AM

    I love “Our Best Bites”!

    I love cookbooks! Over the past few months I’ve gotten several and am always trolling the net for more ideas 🙂

  37. postedDec 1, 2011 5:30 AM

    Like the Cakespy book!

  38. postedDec 1, 2011 5:30 AM

    Supernatural Everyday sounds like a great one!

  39. postedDec 1, 2011 5:31 AM

    I’d pick Super Natural Every Day

  40. postedDec 1, 2011 5:32 AM
    Debbie RN

    I would love the Mormon Moms cookbook. Gift certificate from
    Amazon is a great giveaway! Thank you!

  41. postedDec 1, 2011 5:34 AM

    So hard to choose, but I think it would be Cook Without a Book, because I can’t:)

  42. postedDec 1, 2011 5:35 AM

    I would love to have the How To Make Bread Cookbook!

  43. postedDec 1, 2011 5:39 AM

    I’d get that Super Natural Every Day. Awesome idea!

  44. postedDec 1, 2011 5:41 AM

    I already bought the Homesick Texan Cookbook! It’s beautiful and I’m looking forward to cooking from it! I think I would buy the Cookies for Cancer cookbook. I love cookies and the idea behind it too!!

  45. postedDec 1, 2011 5:46 AM

    Cook without a book: meatless meals! For my newly vegan sister.

  46. postedDec 1, 2011 5:48 AM
    Tammy Sorrell

    Terrific giveaway! Would love to have Our Best Bites and Southern Plate (Christy Jordan).

  47. postedDec 1, 2011 5:48 AM

    I’d love to add the Trader Joe’s college cook book to my collection. That one just sounds fun.

  48. postedDec 1, 2011 5:50 AM

    I love to bake bread, so I’d probably go with How to Make Bread.

  49. postedDec 1, 2011 5:52 AM

    I love cookbooks! Cakespy and the Best bake sale cookies books look good! My go to is usually From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

  50. postedDec 1, 2011 5:53 AM

    Bitchin’ Kitchen, of course!!! Great line up of cookbooks, btw!!!

  51. postedDec 1, 2011 5:53 AM

    I would love the Trader Joe’s cookbook. I shop there weekly.

  52. postedDec 1, 2011 5:56 AM

    I would love the Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 minutes a day cookbook–I also have always wanted the “Baked” cookbook! 😀

  53. postedDec 1, 2011 5:58 AM

    The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches or The Homesick Texan! I also would really love to have the Miette cookbook or The Cheesemonger’s Kitchen.

  54. postedDec 1, 2011 5:58 AM

    Great idea! So generous. All of these cookbooks look amazing – I have Best Bites on my wish list.

  55. postedDec 1, 2011 6:00 AM

    I’d love Ruhlman’s Twenty! Thanks for such an awesome giveaway, this is a great list of cookbooks!

  56. postedDec 1, 2011 6:03 AM

    I would love to get Our Best Bites!

  57. postedDec 1, 2011 6:07 AM
    Amanda Irvin

    I’m just dying for the Homesick Texan cookbook!! I love Heidi Swanson’s first book, too, and I’ve heard wonderful things about the new one– I’d like it, too!

  58. postedDec 1, 2011 6:14 AM

    The cookbook that I’d love to get is Our Best Bites!

  59. postedDec 1, 2011 6:16 AM

    I’m a sucker for a new cookbook, so I’d gladly read any of them! I think “Super Natural Every Day” would be at the top of my list. Thanks!

  60. postedDec 1, 2011 6:20 AM

    I’d like the “Our Best Bites” Cookbook. Every recipe I’ve made from their blog has been excellent.

  61. postedDec 1, 2011 6:21 AM

    I’ve got my eye on that Homesick Texan cookbook. Looks tasty!

  62. postedDec 1, 2011 6:21 AM

    I have been thinking about the Best Bites cookbook, but now I can’t decide! So many fun books out there!

  63. postedDec 1, 2011 6:27 AM

    I would love to have the Homesick Texan. Smitten kitchen posted about carnitas inspired ( or maybe the exact recipe) by Homesick and they were seriously one of the best things i’ve eaten and have now become obsessed with them ( and guacamole!)

  64. postedDec 1, 2011 6:28 AM

    I would love to try ‘How to Make Bread’. I have made bread a couple of times and would love to learn more. Homemade bread is the best!

  65. postedDec 1, 2011 6:30 AM

    Definitely the Bitchin’ Kitchen book!

  66. postedDec 1, 2011 6:32 AM

    I would love to get the encyclopedia of sandwhiches!

  67. postedDec 1, 2011 6:33 AM

    I’d love the CAKE SPY book!!!!

  68. postedDec 1, 2011 6:34 AM

    I’ve had Ruhlman’s Twenty on my wish list for months now! Oh and I could enjoy a great many of those other cookbooks too! 🙂

  69. postedDec 1, 2011 6:39 AM

    I would love to try the Cookies for Cancer Cookbook! I work at a cancer hospital and enjoy helping the cause whenever I can.

  70. postedDec 1, 2011 6:40 AM

    One I would like to try is Mighty Spice Cookbook: Fast, Fresh and Vibrant Dishes Using No More Than 5 Spices for Each Recipe. There are several on your list that I would love to test drive as well.

  71. postedDec 1, 2011 6:45 AM

    I still need to get Heidi’s Super Natural Everyday book!

  72. postedDec 1, 2011 6:47 AM

    Hmm, tough choice but I think I’d like to add the Good Bite Weeknight Meals cookbook to my collection!

  73. postedDec 1, 2011 6:47 AM
    Vaishali Sharda

    Great Giveaway,

    I would love to buy Pam’s meatless meals book and Pioneer woman’s cookbook!

  74. postedDec 1, 2011 6:48 AM

    I discovered Our Best Bites blog a few months ago and I really connected with the recipes, so I would choose their cookbook.

  75. postedDec 1, 2011 6:49 AM

    The 100 ways to cook Ramen cookbook definitely sound interesting and unique. As a college student I can definitely relate to the need to break out the ramen bowl with the packet of god-knows-how-much-sodium-is-in-it flavoring once in a while. Happy December!

  76. postedDec 1, 2011 6:49 AM

    The absolutely must have book of 2011 has got to be Karen Krasne’s EXTRAORDINARY DESSERTS! Just look at her store website, urbanspoon, chowhound, pictures etc, and you will never look at another cake the same again. I literally looked through all 800+ pictures on yelp–the orchids and flowers on her cakes are legendary. The book is amazing:

    Her store:

  77. postedDec 1, 2011 6:50 AM

    I would love THE HOMESICK TEXAN COOKBOOK! Though I live in Texas, I really need to do more cooking (and less baking!) at home!

  78. postedDec 1, 2011 6:51 AM
    Deanna Milligan

    The Food 52 Cookbook would be my choice. I love to cook and provide a hot meal for my family each night. The more recipes that I can have, the better.

  79. postedDec 1, 2011 6:54 AM

    Oh I just ordered my new Kitchenaide mixer and want to make bread so the How to make Bread” book would be perfect.

  80. postedDec 1, 2011 6:54 AM

    I’ve heard great things about the Cake Spy cookbook!

  81. postedDec 1, 2011 6:55 AM

    I am interested in the Ruhlman’s Twenty. Sounds intriguing. Go for the Our Best Bites cookbook. I own it and love it.

  82. postedDec 1, 2011 6:56 AM

    I’ve had the Nadia G cookbook on my wishlist since September!!!!!!!!!! EEEK!

  83. postedDec 1, 2011 6:59 AM

    I’ve had my eye on the Our Best Bites cookbook. It is definitely on my wishlist!

  84. postedDec 1, 2011 6:59 AM
    carrie m

    the Food 52 or bread book – pictures really are essential!

  85. postedDec 1, 2011 6:59 AM
    Heidi G

    the best bake sale cookbook and bitchin kitchen sound awesome! Love cookbooks!

  86. postedDec 1, 2011 7:01 AM

    Well, let’s see… I think my first one would be Ruhlman’s 20, then Artisan Pizza in 5 Minutes a Day and I’ve had my eye on Food of Spain by Claudia Roden for quite a while! Cool giveaway!

  87. postedDec 1, 2011 7:03 AM

    I love the Homesick Texan blog. To have the cookbook would be awesome. My daughters favorite cookbook is the 100 ways to cook ramen noodles.

  88. postedDec 1, 2011 7:03 AM

    Homesick Texan by Lisa Fain has been on my wishlist for a while now. 🙂 Generous contest, Lori….hope I win!

  89. postedDec 1, 2011 7:04 AM

    I would love the How To Make Bread cookbook. I have made bread before, but it has been a long time and I would love to have a book that would help me get back at it. I also like that the book has standard and metric measurements.

  90. postedDec 1, 2011 7:04 AM

    i’m interested in Joy the Baker’s new cookbook this Christmas! thanks for the giveaway!

  91. postedDec 1, 2011 7:04 AM

    I would want Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ for Trouble for starters. The truth is I love cookbooks so any of them would be fantastic!

  92. postedDec 1, 2011 7:06 AM
    Lindsey V.

    I would love the Best Bites cookbook! I have heard great things!

  93. postedDec 1, 2011 7:08 AM
    Pam Arceneaux

    Would love Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson! I want to learn to cook with more seasonal foods.

  94. postedDec 1, 2011 7:11 AM

    There are many fantastic books in the list. How am I supposed to shop for others when I want all of those in my collection?!?? I think I would have to go with the How to make bread. I have a lot of people in my life with severe allergies and I would like to get a handle on some fantastic bread recipes!

  95. postedDec 1, 2011 7:12 AM
    Veronica Stewaty

    Even though I would love the Cancer for Kid’s Cookie Cookbook, I would probably get the one for 100 things to do with Ramen Noodles since that is my 6 year old son’s favorite!!

  96. postedDec 1, 2011 7:12 AM
    Betty in SCal

    Definitely the Trader Joe’s cookbook….yum!

  97. postedDec 1, 2011 7:12 AM

    I would really love the “Cakespy” book, or the “How to Make Bread”. I’m looking to expand my current cookbook collection and both of those seem like ones that would fit with my cooking style. 🙂

  98. postedDec 1, 2011 7:13 AM

    I would add the Trader Joe’s or Bitchin’ Kitchen cookbook to my Amazon queue.

  99. postedDec 1, 2011 7:14 AM
    Angel Gladden

    I would love to have Our Best Bites — I love their blog!

  100. postedDec 1, 2011 7:14 AM
    judy jursch

    I an intrigued by the “The food 52 Cookbook” and would love to see more of it!

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