My Favorite Cookbooks and Cranberry Conserve

With the holiday season upon us, one thing is on my mind…FOOD! I was talking to someone recently and they described a friend as someone who ate to live instead of living to eat. I definitely fall into the latter category. I love to eat. I mean…really. love. to. eat…really. If I didn’t work out every day I definitely would need a forklift and paramedic team to leave my house. I work really hard for my mediocre body.

Needless to say, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love watching the Macy’s Day Parade, gathering with my family, cooking in the kitchen together, and (most importantly) stuffing my face until I pass out. I love all of the Thanksgiving food too. Turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potato soufflé, collard greens, cranberry sauce, banana bread, and lots and lots of pie. I love it all.

I don’t think I felt like a real adult until I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal (almost) by myself. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve evolved as a cook. Gone are the boxes of Hamburger Helper I was so proud to cook when I was a newlywed. In their place are a fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade chicken broth, casserole dishes brimming with cheese, and a wide array of cookbooks.

I love to check out cookbooks from the library, try new recipes, and take pictures of the recipes I really like (Is that legal? I hope so. If not, I don’t really do that). If I keep checking out the same cookbook over and over, I’ll eventually break down and buy it. Yes folks, I’m really that cheap. Here are my favorite cookbooks for the holiday season and life in general. Keep reading for THE best cranberry sauce recipe you’ve ever had. It’s not even cranberry sauce. It’s cranberry conserve. It’s so fancy you can’t even put it in the same category as the cranberry sauce that comes from a can. It is delicious and you will be the hero of Thanksgiving if you make it.

I love the recipes in this book. Almost all of the recipes use only real food. That means no refined sugars or oils. The Tomato Bisque is my favorite recipe in this cookbook. It’s delicious.


This is Ree Drummond’s original cookbook and it’s the bread and butter of my kitchen. She has great recipes that fall in between healthy and delicious (more on the delicious side). I love following her on social media too. She’s fun and snarky. My favorite recipe from this cookbook is blackberry cobbler. Yum!

Just like the previous two cookbook authors, Deb Perelman started Smitten Kitchen as a blog. I’ve gotten some great recipes from her blog over the years and her cookbook is no different. The recipes are good, home-cooked, made-from-scratch meals.

Have I ever successfully cooked anything out of this cookbook besides buerre blanc? No. Do I lay down and place this book on my chest so I can absorb the full weight of its unattainable awesomeness? Yes! Anyone who knows me knows I am a total Francophile. I have a completely useless Bachelor’s degree in French. I left my infant daughter and husband so I could spend three weeks in Paris. I love anything French and this cookbook is no exception. Plus, how can you not adore Julia Child?


Cranberry Conserve

This recipe is from Olive Miller, a friend of my grandmother's from Fayetteville, NY. The original recipe says to "remove from fire" which shows how old it really is. 


  • 2 lbs Cranberries
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup white raisins
  • 2 oranges pulsed in the blender a few times
  • 4 cups sugar Don't look. Just do it.
  • 1 package chopped walnuts


  1. Combine all ingredients, except nuts. 

  2. Bring to boil and cook 15 minutes. 

  3. Remove from heat and add nuts.

Recipe Notes

I usually cut this recipe in half unless we are having a huge crowd for Thanksgiving. It can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator.