Cooking Up Fun

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Fun always means good food. Check out these great cookbooks for fab ideas to spice up your family's celebration.

You’re spending a lot of holiday time at home — and that means a lot of cooking! Kids and parents can enjoy preparing dips, snacks, meals and desserts together during the extended break. And to make it happen? Here are a few of our favorite cookbooks to make the most of holiday week.

Editor’s Picks for Top Cookbooks

American Girl Cooking: Recipes for Delicious Snacks, Meals and More
By American Girl & Williams-Sonoma
Weldon Owen; $19.95
Kids ages 9 – 12 can get into the kitchen festivities with this snappy cookbook featuring snacks, soups, salads, main dishes and sides. It’s chock full of tasty and healthy options for movie nights, fiestas and other gatherings. Recipes like chicken parm are perfect for budding cooks.

Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season
By Elisabet der Nederlanden
Photos by Erin Scott
Ten Speed Press; $20
Sate your sweet tooth with the 50 scrumptious cookie (and other baked goods) recipes in this must-have title for bakers of all skill levels. Favorites include standard Gingerbread Cookies, Icebox Pinwheel Cookies, Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies, Candy Cane Cookies, Citrus Sugar Cookies and Minty Spritz Cookies. But that’s not all … the author also offers sage tips for baking in general, decorating how-to (including pastry bag/tips usage) and adding flair to your creations. Plus, there are cool ideas for packaging and presentation. This title will definitely help you be the talk of the town when it comes to memorable morsels this season.

How to Instant Pot: Mastering All the Functions of the One Pot that will Change the Way You Cook
By Daniel Shumski
Workman; $16.95
Instant Pots and other pressure cookers are the latest rage in the kitchen. They are truly a godsend making meal preparation a snap, but only if you really know how to use the device. Shumski’s brilliant book takes care of that for you. Written specifically for Instant Pot users, you’ll get the skinny on the device’s main functions, how to clean it and how to decipher all that’s on the screen. Plus, there’s a ton of great recipes you’ll find organized in specific chapters including breakfast, weeknight meals, desserts and more. Each recipe takes you through the whole process, showing you what buttons to push at what time, removing any confusion along the way. You’ll also get recipes that combine multiple functions (like slow cook, saute, pressure cook). These include goodies like French Onion Soup, Tender Pork Shoulder, Ziti with Italian Sausage and more. You’ll even learn how to bake a potato in your Instant Pot. While the book is geared specifically to the Instant Pot brand, the recipes work well in other brands of one-pot appliances.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives
By Ree Drummond
William Morrow Cookbooks; $29.99
Easy-to-understand recipes for quick-and-easy meals. Drummond’s fantastic recipes will add pizzazz to your family’s New Year’s celebration, from Stuffed Pizza Crust (without the pizza) to Ice Cream Pie.

QUESO!: Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip (pictured above)
By Lisa Fain (The Homesick Texan)
Ten Speed Press; $15
There’s a lot more to queso than a block of Velveeta and a can of Rotel! Fain’s fantastic offering features more than 50 mouth-watering queso delights — perfect for your holiday shindigs this season. Fain provides lots of intel about different types of chiles and the variety of cheeses for your queso quest. You also get a little history lesson about chile con queso before jumping into the array of recipes. The recipes include basic standards like Chiles Poblano and Chile Verde Con Queao to an assortment of renowned Tex-Mex quesos. Fain includes vegan options, and if you’re palate is feeling a bit quirky, try the Indian Queso with Jalapeno Chutney, Greek Queso or the Gulf Coast Crab Queso. A great option for your holiday party platter — Chile Con Queso Sausage Balls (page 104).

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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