The 5 Best Cookbooks for Holiday Baking

This December, break out the apron because we’ve rounded up the five best cookbooks for holiday baking!

Holiday Cookbooks

If feasting on holiday food is one of your favorite hobbies this time of year, you’re in good company. Here at Spa Week, baking and indulging (moderately) in sweet treats is one of the biggest highlights of the holiday season. That’s why, as soon as December knocked on our door, we rushed online to round up a whole bunch of ridiculously delicious holiday recipes. But then it occurred to us—why spend hours scouring the Internet when one time-old source can satisfy all our culinary cravings? And no, we’re not talking about Seamless.

This holiday season, we’re turning back the hands of time in favor of a more traditional medium: the cookbook. That’s right, friends, we’re going retro. It’s time to bust out the apron (or buy one), blow dust off the spatula, free up some counter space and channel your inner 1955. Why, you ask? Because we’ve spent our morning curating the best list of holiday cookbooks that are guaranteed to make you want to start baking—STAT.

Here we go!

Holiday Cheer: Recipes and Decorating Ideas for Your Best Christmas Ever ($14.49, amazon.com)

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If the title alone doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, the beautiful photos of frosted sugar cookies and other cozy Christmas treats certainly will. Packed with over 100 delectable holiday recipes and dazzling decorations from the editors of Good Housekeeping, Country Living and Redbook, we trust this Christmas-themed compilation implicitly.

Paris Pastry Club ($29.95, anthropologie.com)

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Leave it to the French to make a cookbook as chic on the outside as it is sweet on the inside. Featuring recipes by French pastry chef Fanny Zanotti, this coffee-table cookbook is complete with everything from petite madeleines to classic crepes.

Scandilicious Baking ($27.31, amazon.com)

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In addition to socialized healthcare and four-week vacations, Scandinavians also know how to bake. In Scandilicious Baking, Signe Johansen shares the sweet treats—including Danish Strawberry and Mazarin Cream Tart—that she grew up with. There is, of course, a chapter dedicated to Christmas fare, which you don’t want to miss.

Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking ($23.40, amazon.com)

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Jean-Georges award-winning pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini translates his genius into laymen’s terms in this savory cookbook. Equipped with step-by-step photographs, Iuzzini makes mastering light-as-air meringues and French macarons look easy.

The Gourmet Cookie Book ($12.99, amazon.com)

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If Cookie Monster is your spirit animal, this cookbook is all you need. This brilliant baking companion features the best cookie recipes that appeared in Gourmet each year from 1941 – 2009. Talk about satisfying your sweet tooth for a lifetime!

Elle Fure is the Editorial Director of Spa Week Daily. 

Spa Week Thanksgiving Menu 2014

With the help of The Hot Mom Squad, we bring you our absolute favorite Thanksgiving dishes of the year.

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! After receiving countless, delicious recipes from Hot Moms across the country, we finally narrowed it down to our absolute favorite Thanksgiving dishes for 2014. The competition was fierce, but we know these top five items will make any Thanksgiving menu an unforgettable and tasty experience. Get your ovens and stoves ready, because you’re going to want to cook each and every one of these decadent dishes. Have a wonderful weekend and dig in!

Appetizer

Starting your meal off right is essential when serving a large holiday meal. When we discovered Chicken Soup with Gnocchi by Dana Vento, we knew that this hot dish would warm the bellies of every guest while getting them ready for the main course.

Entree

No one is a bigger fan of the turkey tradition than we are, but not everyone shares our love of the big bird. Having a second entree that incorporates another protein will help please everyone at the table. When we received the Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce recipe from Daisy Bryce, we knew it would be a delicious addition to our banquets year after year.

Side Dish

Side dishes are often overlooked when focusing on the main course, leaving many Americans scrambling to make unhealthy and fatty trimmings. We knew we had to find a tasty and healthy side dish to please our guests while lightening our cooking loads, and the Redone Mashed Potatoes by Rachael Pontillo are the perfect option. These cauliflower delights are easy to make and will win over any potato lover.

Dessert

Ending the meal on a high note is key, so finding the perfect dessert is a necessity. While many obsess over pumpkin and sweet potato concoctions, we found a delicious cheesecake that is a little different, but still equally satisfying. The Caramel Banana Pudding Cheesecake by LeTroy Cooke is the perfect creamy, cheesy dessert to top off a fantastic evening.

Drink

Serving after-dinner drinks is a great way to continue to relax and converse with your guests, but finding the right concoction can be tricky. Many Americans play holiday music as soon as the leftovers are stowed, so incorporating a red and green drink is fun way to get into the yuletide spirit. Here at Spa Week, we think the Spiced Cranberry Pomagranate Margarita from Carol Jones is the perfect cocktail to sip while digesting the big meal.

Hot Mom Holiday Tips: Chicken Soup with Gnocchi

With the impending chilly Thanksgiving weather almost upon us, Hot Mom Dana Vento has the perfect recipe for a toasty appetizer.

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Every great Thanksgiving meal starts with an array of mouth-watering appetizers, and this year is no different. With snowflakes making a surprise appearance on weather forecasts everywhere, we knew we needed to find something hot and yummy to start the feast.

Thankfully, we discovered the perfect soup to warm your bellies in preparation for the tasty turkey.  As a bonus, giving guests something to nibble on will keep them happy and out of your way while you put the finishing touches on the main course. Just make sure to ladle up smaller bowls so your friends and family still have a nice appetite left for the banquet ahead.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow because we will be bringing you our Spa Week Thanksgiving Menu, just in time for Thursday’s celebrations. While you’re in the cooking mood, join us on Pinterest for our Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Contest. It’s just another way you could win a spa day on us!

Chicken Soup with Gnocchi

Recipe by Dana Vento of DanaVento.com / @DanaVento

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Ingredients

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

4 tbsp minced garlic

3 cans chicken stock

1 pint whipping cream

1/3 cup margarine

1 container store-bought potato gnocchi

1 container boneless skinless chicken

1 1/2 cups flour

Preparation

Clean, chop, and place in pot to sweat the veggies – celery, garlic, and carrots, the smaller the better – sweat by adding a small amount of broth and adding lid.

Next, add the chicken. Keep broth minimal and turn chicken as it cooks.

Add water and all the broth that you want.

In a separate pot, cook roux – flour (a few tbsp. at a time while it thickens), whipping cream, and margarine.

Once the soup has cooked (about 1 hour), add the roux and cleaned chicken meat.

Boil gnocchi, rinse, and drain.

Place a ladle full of gnocchi in bowl, and then ladle soup in.

Leah Gay is the Editorial Intern of Spa Week Daily. 

Hot Mom Holiday Tips: Spiced Cranberry Pomegranate Margarita

Hot Mom Carol Jones brings us the perfect margarita recipe, just in time for Turkey Day festivities! 

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No Thanksgiving menu is complete without something delicious to wash it all down. When we discovered this colorful cocktail we just had to share it with you. Combining some of our favorite festive features, like cranberries and green sugar-rimmed glasses, this holiday drink is the perfect concoction to put you in the Yuletide spirit. Enjoy responsibly!

Don’t forget to come back soon because each week we will be bringing you our favorite holiday dishes. While you’re in the cooking mood, join us on Pinterest for our Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Contest. It’s just another way you could win a spa day on us!

Spiced Cranberry Pomegranate Margaritas

Recipe from Carol Jones of All Mommy Wants / @AllMommyWants
Ingredients
  • ¼ c Spiced Cranberry Simple Syrup*
  • ¾ c Bare Mixer’s Pomegranate Cranberry Cosmo
  • ¼ c Bare Mixer’s Margarita
  • ¾ c Silver Tequila
  • ½ c Patron Citronage or Grand Marnier
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Sugared Cranberries
  • Green sugar for rimming glasses
*Simple Syrup
  • 3/4 c water
  • 2/3 c agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp whole allspice
  • 2 Tbsp whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • One 2″ fresh nob of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 c fresh cranberries, rinsed

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir over low heat until combined. Raise heat and simmer the mixture for about 5-6 minutes or until the cranberries start to split. Once most have split remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid. Let sit for 2 hours for the flavors to infuse. After the two hours strain the mixture into a jar using a mesh strainer, pressing the mixture against the strainer to extract all of the flavor. Keep in a resealable container and chill completely until ready to use.

Margarita Instructions

Dip the rim of the glasses in a shallow bowl of the simple syrup and then immediately into a shallow bowl of green dyed sugar. Let dry completely. Once dry fill the glasses with ice. In a cocktail shaker with ice add 4 Tbsp of the spiced cranberry simple syrup, the tequila, orange liqueur, Bare Mixer’s Pomegranate Cranberry Cosmo and Bare Mixer’s Margarita. Cover and shake well then strain into the 4 glasses. Taste and add more simple syrup if desired. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and sugared cranberry skewers.

Do you have a delicious healthy holiday recipe in your collection? Make sure you send it to leah@spaweekmedia.com and you could be featured on the Spa Week Thanksgiving Menu AND walk away with a $50 Spa and Wellness gift card.

Leah Gay is the Editorial Intern of Spa Week Daily. 

Hot Mom Holiday Tips: Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce

Hot Mom Daisy Bryce brings us a recipe for the perfect turkey alternative, just in time for Thanksgiving!

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If you have a non-turkey eater in your house, preparing the perfect Thanksgiving feast can feel like a chore rather than a delight. And the last thing you need is more holiday stress! That’s why we were so excited when Hot Mom, Daisy Bryce, sent us the perfect chicken recipe that’s kid and diet friendly. Simply add your favorite side dishes and desserts, and we bet you won’t even miss the turkey tradition.

Don’t forget to come back soon because each week we will be bringing you our favorite holiday dishes. While you’re in the spirit of the season, join us on Pinterest for our Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Contest. It’s just another way you could win a spa day on us!

Pretzel Crusted Chicken with  Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce

By: Daisy Bryce of Trendy Mom Reviews / @TrendyMomReview
Ingredients:
Chicken
  • 1 1/2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed Pretzel Thins (increase if needed)
Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce
  • 1.5 cups of sour cream
  • 2.5 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 Tablespoon of honey

Three-Step-CoatingDirections:

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

2. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

3. Crush the pretzel thins in a food processor on a low setting.

4. Slice chicken breasts lengthwise so that they are thin for baking.

5. Dip each chicken breast slice in egg, flour, and then the crushed pretzel thins.

6. Place each chicken breast in the baking dish and cook for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

7. Create the Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce by combining the sour cream, mustard, and honey.  Stir until thorough mixed.

8. Serve the Pretzel Crusted Chicken with the Cream Honey Mustard Sauce and your choice of vegetables.

Photos by Daisy Bryce

Do you have a delicious healthy holiday recipe in your collection? Make sure you send it to leah@spaweekmedia.com and you could be featured on the Spa Week Thanksgiving Menu AND walk away with a $50 Spa and Wellness gift card.

Leah Gay is the Editorial Intern of Spa Week Daily.