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13 best family cookbooks of 2016

A batch of the freshest, most beautiful and—yes—practical cookbooks of the year. You'll eat them up!

By Lauren Ferranti-Ballem

13 best family cookbooks of 2016

13 best family cookbooks of 2016

Small Victories, Julia Turshen

Getting any food on the table at all is a small victory for most parents. Meals need to be easy and use real food—no new techniques or obscure ingredients. Julia Turshen, a recipe developer who’s co-authored books with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali, makes home cooking feel simple and then empowering. Every recipe comes with tweaks and adjustments and is written so warmly and with such encouragement that you’ll keep coming back. You must try Turshen’s pillowy six-ingredient Sour Cream Pancakes, one-pan Chicken and Leeks, unexpected roasted shredded red cabbage (put it on anything—rice bowls, sunny eggs, salads) and best of all, her game-changing Turkey-Ricotta meatballs: no breadcrumbs, no fuss, all juicy flavour. One batch yields about 40 balls, which makes them the kind of triumphant make-ahead, freeze-able, plenty-of-leftovers meal that every parent can appreciate. $29, amazon.ca

Small Victories book

Dorie’s Cookies, Dorie Greenspan

If the title doesn’t get you, the hunky chocolate-chunk cookie on the cover will. If you haven’t heard, Dorie is the Queen of Cookies. She’s created more than 300 cookie recipes, but this is her first dedicated cookbook—and it’s got something for every occasion, every cookie monster. How about breakfast: They-Might-Be-Breakfast Cookies are soft, not-very-sweet nuggets with wheat germ, oats, fruit, citrus, eggs, honey and coconut. While Dorie eats them with her coffee, they would be perfect in a lunchbox, as a snack or even sandwiching ice cream. The cutest cookie award goes to the Two-Bite One-Chip Cookie—as tiny as a thumbprint and made by molding cookie dough around a single chocolate chip. Kids will beg to help with these. Favourite adult cookie: the Coffee Malteds, with their soft sweetness and kick of ground espresso. $37, indigo.ca

Dorie's cookies book

Angela Liddon launched this eagerly awaited second cookbook just before giving birth to her second baby. We don’t even know what to make for lunch! This cookbook will certainly help though. Liddon earned a cult following for her plant-based, delicious and foolproof recipes, and this book offers more of the same. We love the Oh Em Gee Veggie Burgers, the Lentil-Mushroom Bolognese and the Apple Pie Overnight Oats—pantry staples like dressings, dips and spice mixes, and tips for making recipes freezer-, allergy and kid-friendly. $21, amazon.ca

Oh She Glows Every Day book

How to Bake Everything, Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman is an all-American, non-nonsense food bible writer with his How To Cook Everything series. He applies his common-sense, minimal approach to sweets in his latest release—and it really will simplify things for those who like baking, but don’t want any fuss. Inside you’ll find the easiest ways to pull off cookies and bars, breads, pies, tarts, crackers, flatbreads, crisps, crumbles and pastries. His charts for icebox cakes and fruit pies—with mix and match fillings and instructions—are ins-PIE-red; his cracker method—with 12 mix-ins and seven topping options—is so basic you’ll want to try it with the kids; and the frosting family tree—charting everything from buttercream to royal icing—is just plain fun. $37 amazon.ca

How to Bake Everything book

Lick Your Plate, Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat

Real food for real families is the mandate of Canadian sister duo Julia Albert and Lisa Gnat. They’ve got six teenagers between them, so you really do want their advice: Meals in 30 minutes, recipe pairings, ingredient swaps, shortcuts and tons of ways with leftovers. The falafel salad is a lunchbox solution or a light dinner (or both!); Crispy Baked Parmesan-Crusted Fish Sticks will please the pickiest at the table; and the Easy Fudge Brownie & Toasted Marshmallow pie takes 10 minutes to make and a lot less time to devour. $19, bitememore.com 

Lick Your Plate book

Martha Stewart’s Vegetables, Editors of Martha Stewart Magazine

Take a break from the frozen corn niblets and mealy cherry tomatoes. Make vegetables great again! Whip up a batch of potato dinner rolls and serve them alongside the 30-minute carrot and rutabaga-packed Moroccan Vegetable Soup. Butternut squash makes a sweet pizza topping with Taleggio and Parmesan cheese; roasted Brussels sprout leaves turn crispy like chips; and parsnips act like carrots in cupcakes slathered with cream cheese frosting. Eat your veggies? No problem, Martha. $23, indigo.ca

Martha Stewart's Vegetables book

Food52 A New Way to Dinner, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

Foodies know: If you have a quick question or need a reliable recipe, Food52 likely has the answer. With A new way to dinner, all of this expertise is now packaged in gorgeous book form. Reimagine weeknight suppers with game plans and grocery lists and find your confidence boosted with the loads of tips and tricks tucked inside. Make life—and Tuesday night—easier with a weekend batch of Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup. Pair it with Grilled Cheese with Bacon and it almost feels like you somehow cheated the system. Green Rice is made with a versatile paste of any herbs you like, really. The rice keeps in the fridge for five days and begs for some fried eggs on top. And for an easy dessert that will last the week (or maybe not), it’s always cake. In this case, it’s a Chocolate Olive Oil Cake that’s so easy and so, so good. $36, food52.com

Food52 A New Way to Dinner book

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book, Sarah Kieffer

Go ahead, let the dreamy photos lull you into believing you can pull all of this off. You can! Tender almond Picnic Cakes can be tucked into backpacks for family hikes, make the Blueberry Muffins your new weekend standard, and Kieffer’s no-churn ice creams—including simple formulas for vanilla, chocolate, olive oil, blood orange, pumpkin and even rosemary—well, you’ll just have to taste for yourself. $29, amazon.ca

The Vanilla Bean baking book

Best of Bridge, The Family Slow Cooker

If you’re going to get cooking expertise from anywhere, Best of Bridge—a series that spans decades and countless cookbooks—is the place. Make this latest edition part of your winter survival kit. Set up the Chai-Spiced oatmeal tonight for an easy breakfast tomorrow morning; be the star at your next party with the Retro Nuts and Bolts (kids will beg for it in their lunches, too); let onions and butter hang out for the day and whip up the creamiest, cheesiest Caramelized Onion Pasta Carbonara for dinner; and master the basics (baked vegetables, beans, jams and applesauce) that make so many meals simple and fast. $18, amazon.ca

13 best family cookbooks of 2016

How to Celebrate Everything, Jenny Rosenstrach

Once you get to know Jenny Rosenstrach, you’ll probably start to wish she was your mom. Her previous books, Dinner, a love story—based on her excellent, longtime blog of the same name—and Dinner: A playbook, strive really, really hard to make life easier for parents. But while those first books are stacked with checklists and strategies, this new one takes a long, deep breath. Food is not just something to throw on the table (even if it is on most nights)—it’s also a way to connect, create consistency, make our kids feel safe and full and happy. “If routines are about keeping our family from going off the rails,” she writes, “rituals are about infusing those routines with meaning.” The book includes recipes for the holidays we all know and love (Halloween Launch Dinner is a big old pot Franks and Beans), plus loads of ideas for the occasions that pop over the course of life with little people—breakfast ideas for sleepovers, quick suppers that still feel special, Sunday cake and more. $32, indigo.ca

How to Celebrate Everything book

The Forest Feast for Kids, Erin Gleeson

This cookbook reads like a storybook, with its enchanting illustrations and photography, and food ideas that kids can actually pull together. Gleeson’s recipes are all vegetarian, colourful and above all, easy. You’ll find snacks, drinks and meals, plus super-fun party menus, including the Grilled Cheese Party—an awesome chart matches bread types with a spread, cheese and filling—a Colour Party, an ice cream sandwich bar and a picnic party. You’ll want to host them all. $24, amazon.ca

13 best family cookbooks of 2016

It’s All Easy, Gwyneth Paltrow

No really, it is easy! The latest from Gwyneth Paltrow features some smart shortcuts for busy cooks: For the fried egg sandwich, throw grated cheese into the skillet and cook the egg right on top—delicious. The noodle pots are genius: Place a bunch of fresh ingredients and seasonings (like tomato paste, corn and shredded chicken) in a mason jar, then top up with boiling water when you get to work. Instant soup, no sad desk lunch!. The carbonara should be on everyone’s weeknight rotation: It’s essentially noodles with eggs and Parmesan that can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes. Socca pizzas are made with chickpea flour and cook like pancakes in a skillet—super healthy and can be topped any way you like. Predictably, Gwyneth’s desserts are secretly nutritious: Chocolate Mousse is quickly made with avocado and all-natural sweeteners; Coconut Cookies are vegan and gluten-free and can be baked up in half an hour; and Coffee Granita (essentially a coffee slushie) makes a pretty perfect end to a family dinner party. $30, indigo.ca

13 best family cookbooks of 2016

French Country Cooking, Mimi Thorisson

Mimi Thorison has five kids to feed—how does she stay so chic?! Nevermind. The book is as romantic as the little village in France where they live, and while Traditional French cooking isn’t always easy, there are some simple, rustic gems here. Try the Vegetable Potage (that’s an elegant way of saying vegetable soup, made from whatever you have kicking around the fridge); the Potato Croquettes (a delicious way of using up leftover mashed potatoes); Butternut Pancakes (steal the baby’s squash purée!); Kale and Sausage Pasta, where kale cooks up nice and tender in the sausage’s juices; and the dish Thorison makes when she’s pressed for time: Chicken breasts smothered in tomato sauce and melted cheese, otherwise known as Wise Guy Chicken. A family project to finish your perfect French meal: homemade Vanilla Marshmallows. $27, amazon.ca

French country cooking book

Read more: 8 tips for cooking with kids 
10 easy baking recipes 5 easy last-minute dinner recipes

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