The holiday season is fast approaching! In addition to everything else families are busy preparing, food is a huge part of get-togethers during the holidays.

If the same recipes have been in your repertoire for many years, perhaps a trip to the local library to check out our cookbooks will inspire you to try fresh new ideas to dazzle your company. Whether you want to stick with the traditional comfort food or try some healthier options, we can help!

“Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Holiday Entertaining” by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen features a collection of 75 of their best recipes of over 20 years. Chapter One: “Starters” begins with appetizers and the book ends with Chapter Four: “Sweet Endings”. My favorite chapter is “Shareable Sides."

We all have been asked to bring a side dish to Grandma’s house. What to bring? Mushroom Lasagna? Candied Sweet Potato Casserole? How about Roasted Carrots with Orange Glaze and Toasted Almonds? Especially helpful is “Why this recipe works” paragraph at the start of each recipe. This helpful paragraph includes prep tips and suggestions garnered by years of testing recipes.

“Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook” will bring out the cook in everyone, whether it’s a simple appetizer “Easy Spinach Dip Wreath," a complicated dessert “Cake Ball Ornaments” or everything in between. If you are thinking about foregoing the traditional roasted turkey for something a little more exotic, consider “Onion and Pepper Braised Brisket” or “Rosemary Prime Roast." Calorie counts, preparation time and serving sizes are included with each recipe.

“The Blue Apron Cookbook” is not a holiday cookbook, per se, but many traditional holiday dishes can be found within its 389 pages. Blue Apron began in France where culinary students that apprenticed to executive chefs were allowed to wear the coveted blue aprons instead of the traditional black and white aprons. The expression “blue apron” has come to mean the highest quality instruction in every technical aspect of cooking, whether professional or home cooks.

The beauty of this cookbook is the excellent photographs of techniques such as how to truss or carve a chicken, make a parchment paper circle or braise vegetables. From the traditional pound cake to vegetable tempura this book covers a full range of valuable techniques and cooking methods.

Other enticing holiday cookbooks: “The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook” by Good Housekeeping featuring 60 large-batch recipes to bake and share, “Fix-It-and-Forget-It Christmas Cookbook: 600 Slow Cooker Holiday Recipes” by Phyllis Pellman Good, “A Year of Gingerbread Houses: Making and Decorating Gingerbread Houses for All Seasons” by Kristine Samuell and “Cocktails for the Holidays” by the editors of Imbibe Magazine.

For more information about any of our five La Crosse County Libraries please see our website at lacrossecountylibrary.org.

Deen Layland is from the Holmen Branch of the La Crosse County Library.

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