Thanksgiving 101

It’s approaching. The holiday where we have to cook for large groups of people. People moreover, to whom we are related. Talk about nerve-racking! (At least it’s nerve-racking to a non-cooking introvert like myself!)

So all you other non-cooking introverts, take a moment and give thanks for the library, which has all the recipes, tips, tricks and  expertise to get us all through the Big Dinner.


thanksgiving-101Thanksgiving 101 : celebrate America’s Favorite Holiday with America’s Thanksgiving Expert / Rick Rodgers.
This book asks the important question: When was the last time most of us made dinner for such a big crowd?  Exactly! But whether you’re looking for new ways to cook turkey; traditional trimmings, chutneys, or chowders; a vegetarian entrée; or fresh ideas for regional classics, including Cajun-or Italian-inspired tastes, Thanksgiving 101 serves up a delicious education for novice and experienced cooks alike.


The holidays are a time for family and friends.  Thanksgiving can also be a time of stress, anxiety, and slaving over a hot stove.  No kidding! The editors of Fine Cooking magazine know all about the problems and pitfalls of preparing a full-course holiday meal…and they are here to help! This cooking survival guide presents all the reader needs to know to make things go smoothly, look great, and taste delicious. Phew!


jacket-aspxThanksgiving : How to Cook it Well / Sam Sifton
From the planning of the meal to the washing of the last plate, Sam Sifton says Thanksgiving poses more—and more vexing—problems for the home cook than any other holiday. (Let’s hear it for truth in cookbooks!) In this smartly written, beautifully illustrated, recipe-filled book, Sam Sifton, the New York Times’s former restaurant critic and resident Thanksgiving expert, delivers a message of great comfort and solace: There is no need for fear. You can cook a great meal on Thanksgiving. You can have a great time.


jacket-aspx2Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving / Michael McLaughlin
Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving offers easy-to-follow recipes, making it a fave on my list. In these pages, you’ll find inspiring first courses and a tempting variety of side dishes and desserts as well as some new ideas for the main course. This vividly photographed, full-color recipe collection will become an essential addition to your kitchen bookshelf.


jacket-aspxThanksgiving : Recipes for a Holiday Meal / Lou Seibert Pappas
This  book offers dozens of favorite traditional and contemporary holiday dishes including a variety of vegetarian options, organizing entries by course while sharing tips for staying organized, carving a turkey, and using leftovers. Any cookbook that tackles leftovers is a winner!


pioneerThe Pioneer Woman Cooks : A Year of Holidays : 140 step-by-step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations / Ree Drummond
Ree’s recipes are accompanied by fun instructions and hundreds of her signature step-by-step photos. Filled with creative and flavorful ideas for intimate dinners, group gatherings, and family meals this cookbook includes dozens of mouthwatering dishes (with nineteen recipes for Thanksgiving alone!)


chewThe Chew, a Year of Celebrations : Festive and Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion / edited by Ashley Archer and Jessica Dorfman Jones
This cookbook will guide you through the planning, cooking of the year’s most celebrated events. With a complete spread for each celebration, including drinks, appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts, the guesswork is taken out of menu creation; all that’s left to do is prepare and enjoy the fantastic food. And Carla Hall’s Pumpkin Pecan Pie will finally eliminate the toughest Thanksgiving decision: classic pumpkin or classic pecan?


bettyBetty Crocker Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook : All You Need to Cook a Foolproof Dinner
Kudos to Betty Crocker who admits, “Thanksgiving can be the most challenging meal to prepare-even for the most experienced cooks.” Truth! However, whether you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time or have hosted this celebration for years, Betty comes to the rescue with this complete do-it-yourself guide to making Thanksgiving delicious. Here are the treasured recipes with all the trimmings that you grew up with, plus plenty of great new twists on the traditional.

Solving the Meal or Snacktime Blues

If you are anything like me, you spent the start of the school year determined to pack healthy lunches and have healthier snack options available for the kids, and most likely yourself. Even if you do not have kids, at some point you have had the urge to jazz up your own meals, make cooler appetizers for some function, or just eat better. Maybe you want to sneak some extra vegetables into dinner, or even dessert, or new dietary restrictions have you trying new combinations and ways to make everything taste great while still being reasonably good for you. snack

I started off the school year with fresh baked muffins (with pureed vegetables hidden inside), plenty of fruit and whole grains in the snazzy bento box style containers for each of my kiddos. I had a snack box in the refrigerator and one in the pantry with pre portioned healthy snacks to fulfill requests. And now? Well, lets just say that the lunches are not nearly as well planned and motivation to keep everything healthy and organized is waning.

I have one young picky eater in the house, and a husband that dislikes casseroles, crock pot cooking, and vegetables in general. It is easy to fall into a rut of making the same the few meals over and over, and picking meals that seem to be the easiest to make even when there are better options. I have found that I regularly need motivation, ideas, and more to keep things healthy and tasty- as well as eaten by the whole crew. Getting everyone involved in the meal planning, shopping, or cooking is a big help. If they get to pick the food, or help in preparing it, they are all much more likely to eat, or at least try, what is on their plate.

Here are some books that I have recently found (some just moved into the Parenting section in the children’s room) to help inspire and re motivate myself and anyone else struggling with healthy meals, healthy snacks, and fun foods that are tasty and healthy.

lunchbox2Stealth Health Lunches Kids Love: Irresistible and Nutritious Gluten-Free Sandwiches, Wraps and Other Easy Eats by Tracy Griffith

So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger

lunchbox1Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love by Katie Sullivan Morford

Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunchbox with More than 160 Happier Meals by Catherine McCord


lunchbox3ChopChop: the Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with your Family by Sally Sampson

The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals by Missy Chase Lapine

lunchbox4Regular readers know by now that I can never stop with just a few recommended books. So, if those listed above are already checked out or you are looking for more you might want to try: Beating the Lunch Box Blues: Fresh Ideas for Lunches on the Go! by J. M. Hirsch, Insanewiches: 101 Ways to Think Outside the Lunchbox by Adrian Fiorino,Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld, The Cleaner Plate Club by Beth Bader & Ali Benjamin, Double Delicious! : Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives by Jessica Seinfeld, and The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook: Delicious, Inspiring Meals for Busy Families by Debra Ponzek.