Two Perfect Cookbooks For The Family Chef and Food Lover On Your Christmas List

| December 11, 2014 | 11 Comments

My goal this Christmas was to find two good cookbooks for three people I know that love to cook, but have very different cooking goals. Two people were my brother- and sister-in-law. They have a young daughter and are interested in healthy family meals that are cost-effective, as well as nutritious and tasty. The second was my brother – a bachelor who loves to cook and also has an appreciation for gourmet food trucks.

It was just my luck when two cookbooks from Avery Trade and Penguin Canada publishing arrived in my mailbox for review that fit these cooking niches perfectly!

The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes

52 new foods challengeThe first, which I may just keep for myself, is “The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes” by Jennifer Tyler Lee.

Because breakfast is my family’s favourite meal, I decided to try Jennifer’s Healthy Crepes recipe first and top them with her Warm Cinnamon Apples recipe. Not only did the house smell divine, but our breakfast was delicious! Jennifer’s crepe recipe is unlike any others I have seen because she only uses whole wheat flour and yet, cooked properly, the crepes were not tough and tasted as though they were professionally prepared!

Jennifer’s cookbook is not just family friendly because of the recipes themselves, but also because it breaks down many of the recipes into “Cook Together” tasks for the beginner and expert cooks – a great way to get the entire family involved with preparing a meal, which in the end may make your children eager to eat what they helped make!

The recipes are also broken down by season, which is great if you love to shop local and at Farmer’s Markets, and many of the recipes also include clever kitchen tips, such as how to make honey not stick to a spoon!

Whether you have a young child with whom you are just introducing food too, or an older child who has a picky palate, “The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes” is the perfect cookbook to expose your entire family to healthy, new recipes with ingredients they may have previously shook their heads at, such as Brussels sprouts or bok choy (my family ate Brussels Sprouts without complaint thanks to Jennifer’s Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Walnuts recipe!). The recipes in this cookbook are easy to follow, fun to make and delicious to eat – making it the perfect addition to any home chef’s cookbook collection this holiday season.

Street Food Diaries: Irresistible Recipes Inspired By The Street

StreetFoodDiariesThe other cookbook I received was Street Food Diaries: Irresistible Recipes Inspired By The Street by Torontonian chef and street food aficionado, Matt Basile. This cookbook made my husband and I drool. I swear you can taste the Pad Thai Fries just by reading the recipe and looking at the picture. I think both of us said it together, “Kevin (my brother) is going to love this cookbook.” Each recipe is inspired from the street and the pictures alone will make your mouth water.

In case you aren’t familiar with Matt Basille, his Toronto restaurant is Fidel Gastro’s. He also hosts the television show, Rebel Without A Kitchen, which explores the business of incredible street food across North America. Needless to say, Matt knows good street food and he showcases the best of the best in his new cookbook, Street Food Diaries.

Street Food Diaries: Irresistible Recipes Inspired By The Street has more than 85 creative recipes that are perfect for any foodie on your Christmas list. My favourite recipe was the Mac ‘N’ Cheese Arrabiata. The shredded jalapeño Monterey Jack cheese in this recipe gives this pasta recipe an adult kick that has made it a household staple (I just make sure to make a little extra sans-jalapeño cheese for my daughter).

Another great recipe is the Bacon Jam. Yes, that’s right: Bacon Jam. It is good on bread, on top of Brie with crackers, and on a hamburger or hotdog! And packaged in a cute little mason jar, this Bacon Jam will also make a great Christmas present for some of our-bacon-loving friends! Note: there is an entire section in this cookbook devoted to bacon! This alone was the deciding factor that this cookbook was perfect for my brother.

I feel this book isn’t just for people who like to cook, but also for those who like “food porn”. As I mentioned before, the photography in this book is so great that you will think the food is sitting on a plate in front of you. There are also brief stories in the book from some of Matt’s North American food truck travels that will have you planning out your next trip just to visit some of the food trucks for yourself.

The next recipe on my “must-try” list (before I wrap up the book and give it to my brother for Christmas – no really, I am!) is the Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Cucumber Mint Dipping Sauce. My husband is not a fan of cauliflower, but I think this may just be the recipe that will convince him that it actually can taste good! And after that I will be trying the Peanut Butter Cookie Fish & Chips Sandwiches… no, I mean my brother will be… okay, I am buying my own copy of Street Food Diaries (you should too!).

For the Spicy Roasted Cauliflower recipe from Street Food Diaries (complete with video) visit:

So, there you have it – two great cookbooks perfect for the at-home chefs and food lovers on your Christmas list! Happy cooking and eating to everyone this holiday season!

Special thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for the review copies of these fantastic cookbooks. 




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Category: Books/Magazines, Reviews

About the Author ()

In addition to being a freelance writer and blogger, Tracy is a virtual assistant specializing in marketing and communication at She is also a devoted mother to an imaginative daughter and wife to her best friend of more than fifteen years. In her spare time she enjoys baking, kayaking, snowshoeing, walking her energetic Australian Shepherd, and cuddling with her perpetually grumpy cat. Depending on the time of day, Tracy's downtime is spent with a good book and hot cup of fair trade coffee or a glass of Canadian red wine.

Comments (11)

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  1. Pieces of Me says:

    Hi Tracey! Both of these books sound amazing! I really do want to buy both books because I do have fussy little ones, and I love great street food! Thanks for steering us in the direction of these cookbooks for this holiday season!

  2. Julie G. says:

    My mother is a fantastic cook who enjoys discovering new recipes. These books would be great stocking stuffers for her. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    These books sound like just the thing for my son who’s an avid cook. He’s always looking for interesting books and recipes, so these two books would be just great for him. Thanks for the tip 🙂

  4. Victoria Ess says:

    Both of these sound great! I especially like the The 52 New Foods Challenge!

  5. Cheryl (@loucheryl) says:

    I would love the 52 new foods challenge for my boys!

  6. Charlene says:

    I really want to read and try the 52 New Food Challenges book with my children. Great choice!

  7. Stephanie LaPlante says:

    Street Food Diaries sounds like one awesome cookbook!

  8. They really are great cookbooks! I highly recommend them both! Happy Holidays everyone!

  9. JaimeeM says:

    These would be fantastic for me. I should start dropping hints to my hubs. 😉

  10. kathy downey says:

    I will be showing these to my daughter,she loves entertaining and trying new recipes

  11. kathy downey says:

    My daughter loved this book

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