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on November 13, 2006
Quite simply, this is the best "cooking for two" cookbook I have ever used. Most recipes call for "regular," i.e. non-exotic, ingredients and attention has been given to avoiding awkward leftovers: you know, 1/2 can of white beans that -- well, what are most of us going to do with THAT?

These go together quickly, too. Each recipe includes an estimate of time to table and, if anything, the estimates seem to run a little on the long side. Some cookbooks that promise 30 minute recipes are optimistic about how quickly some of us can chop. Here are recipes that really do go together in a scant 30 minutes, especially if both people are in the kitchen.

The Publisher's Weekly bit above mentions some of the more esoteric recipes. Interesting as those sound, more appealing to us have been chicken tacos and salt and pepper shrimp (Best. Shrimp. Ever. -- and incredibly fast and easy to make). A strength of this book is its imaginative ways with relatively ordinary ingredients and its helpful introduction to ingredients that I have not used before (chipotles [smoked jalapenos] in adobo sauce is one example that comes to mind). I am becoming a bolder, better cook because the information gives me courage to try new things and to use old ingredients differently.

The introduction provides an overview of how to shop when cooking for two, including specific suggestions for shopping for produce and meats. A concise section of very basic cooking instructions will help anyone new to or simply timid about approaching a stove. There are complete, accurate descriptions of methods and there is a brief but thorough section on outfitting a kitchen for the first time. The lavish photographs are beautiful, in themselves, but also impart information about how a particular dish should go together.

The back of the book has an easy to use section on sauces, side dishes and fast (really fast!) desserts for two. These things are, for me, particularly challenging because I am used to preparing larger quantities. I appreciate directions for scaling down sauces and preparation of grains. In addition to indexing recipes by name, recipes are also sorted by preparation time and a list is provided of "healthy weight" recipes.

Yes, this is a book about healthful eating and each recipe includes nutritional data. But the reason I like this book and recommend it so highly is that the recipes are exceptionally tasty, easy to prepare, and fast. It is a book we would have enjoyed as newlyweds. As empty-nesters, it's an absolute treasure.
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VINE VOICEon July 23, 2007
I have dozens of cookbooks and it takes something special for me to keep one on my kitchen counter. This one certainly qualifies. I've tried several of the recipes and all were delicious and it is so nice not to have a ton of leftovers. I love that the nutritional information and suggested sides and included for each recipe.

What really makes this book a winner for me are the Notes. Every time I read an instruction or ingredient I'm not quite sure about, there is a Note exactly on point, anticipating my question. In addition, the tips regarding shopping in small quantities are very valuable.

If you're looking for a cookbook with delicious recipes and smaller quantities, don't pass this one up!
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on December 6, 2008
This is a well-written book with very healthy recipes. The nutritional information is provided for each recipe, which to me is one of the marks of a good cookbook. The downside is that there are quite a few ingredients in most of the recipes, including some unusual ones, at least in my kitchen. This means that unless your pantry is really well stocked, you won't be able to make most of the meals without a trip to a really good grocery store. For example, do you regularly have miso in your pantry? Whole wheat orecchiette? Plum sauce? I have made some of the recipes for my husband and myself, and they always turn out wonderfully delicious, but I definitely needed to plan ahead for that trip to the store, and the dish wasn't prepared "in a hurry".
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on June 9, 2007
I use this cookbook regularly, usually doubling recipes for leftovers or to serve more than two, and I have been very impressed with the food. Everything is so flavorful, the recipes are clear and easy to follow, and above all, the food is truly healthy. Beyond the main recipes, there is a section on quick sauces and sides to spruce up any salad or meal. There's a huge variety, too--Asian, Mexican, Italian, American--a range of flavors to enjoy. This book also has thick, glossy pages and tons of gorgeous photographs to make browsing and planning pleasure. You can't go wrong with this purchase. A fantastic cookbook! I also recommend the EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry cookbook, which was my favorite for a long time but is now rivaled by Serves Two.
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on April 6, 2008
I have over 100 cookbooks and a serious phobia of boring healthy food. For years I wouldn't even try a recipe if it looked too simple. This book has changed my mind about fast nutritious cooking. Every time I flip through it I have to add a couple of more post-it notes reminding myself to try certain recipes.

Today I made a pot of the Corn and Bacon Chowder. White chowder, for me, says "lots of fat in order to be good." This stuff has 1/2 cup of low fat milk in it and is as creamy and thick as I was craving. The flavor is great and it'll make a great lunch tomorrow, which is why I made it. I have to say I have enjoyed every single dish I have prepared. And it's really cut down on my meat department grocery bill. This recipe only calls for two pieces of bacon.

The recipes taste complicated, like you spent hours preparing them. Yet, they are simple enough for a novice cook. I disagree with a comment I read saying this book tends to lean more toward the bland, lemony chicken recipes. I definitely have not found that to be true. And while it does use a few of the same ingredients over again in several recipes, I appreciate alternative uses for miso if I'm going to spend $6.00 to have it around. My only problem with this book is that there are no leftovers for lunches.

I have probably bought 10 books on cooking for two over the years. And this is the only one I have really ever used. I can't recommend it enough. I'll certainly be passing this one on to my other child-free friends and family!
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The book is large and sturdy and stands up well to typical kitchen abuse. It includes information on shopping healthily for two, as well as menu suggestions. Recipe chapters include: dinner salads, soups & stews, vegetarian mains, poultry, fish & seafood, meat, and accompaniments. In keeping with the healthy aim of the book, desserts are relegated to a several-page portion of the accompaniments chapter.

Small symbols mark particularly low-carb or high-fiber recipes. Each recipe estimates both "active minutes" spent preparing the dish as well as total minutes. There are make-ahead notes and detailed nutrition information. There's also a "nutrition bonus" note that points out any particular vitamin benefits found in that recipe. For example, the "Caesar Salad Three Ways" includes plenty of Selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and omega-3s (it also comes with a basic recipe as well as a shrimp and a chicken variation--hence "three ways"). Sometimes extra notes are included, for example, the Caesar Salad has a side note with instructions on making your own croutons. It also includes a delectable-looking photo; while photos aren't included with all of the recipes, there are certainly enough to make your mouth water!

I personally found not all of the flavors to my liking. Some were a bit bland, and some tried to make up for blandness in ways that just didn't appeal to my palate. A Lentil & Chicken Stew appealed to a friend of mine who particularly prefers bland food, but I just couldn't enjoy the lemon, dill, and chicken flavors together. On the other hand, she and I both loved the Creamy Artichoke & Spinach Soup, which takes a rather unusual approach to making a thick and creamy soup out of very healthy ingredients.

There's a really nice Grilled Peach Sundae recipe in the quick desserts section that we heartily enjoyed. While it's true that I found a few of their recipes to be not entirely memorable, on the whole they're quite good. The Eggplant-Cheddar Bake, for example, disappeared very quickly!

My only reservations with this book are definitely taste-dependent. If you don't enjoy the kind of semi-bland, lemony-chicken type of recipe that shows up in a lot of healthy eating cookbooks, then there will be some recipe sections in here that won't appeal to you. That said, there are plenty of people who will enjoy those recipes, and even the rest of us will find lots to work with in here!
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on March 27, 2007
I bought this cookbook in November and use it 3-4 time a week. Every recipe is easy and fast. My boyfriend is somewhat of a picky eater and he likes just about everything I've made. I bought copies for my empty nester parents and "in-laws" and would give it to every couple I know if I could. I like the built in "portion control" since every recipe is for 2 which keeps us from over-eating. The vegetarian recipes even satisfy carnivores. Each recipe includes nutrient information, too, so when you need to up your calcium, fiber, etc. intake, you know what recipe to choose. Even when you're too tired to cook, some recipes are so simple and tasty (chicken tarragon) it takes less energy to whip something up than look through the take-out menus. I have dozens and dozens of cookbooks, but this is definitely the most-used. Buy this book!
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on November 22, 2007
I got this book when I decided that my partner and I needed to stop our usual, come-home-from-work-and-nosh-in-front-of-the-refrigerator-all-evening pattern. I was drawn to the promise that the meals were appropriately-sized and quick to make. I was not disappointed. I've tried the fettucine, the artichoke and spinach soup, the sesame and herb encrusted halibut, the garlic mashed potatoes, and the tuna potato croquettes (my advice on this last one is to follow the recipe and use chunk light tuna, not solid albacore, which I found impeded the stickiness of the croquettes). Most every recipe has been at least good and at most, fantastic . . . the miso-glazed salmon is to DIE for (I buy Whole Foods fresh-frozen, wild-caught Alaskan coho salmon steaks, and put one in the fridge in the morning before work to defrost). There are also some good tips on how to make side veggies interesting. I highly recommend this book for couples who want a roadmap for easy, quick, healthy and really, really tasty meals. All nutrional information is included, so if you are watching your calories, you can choose accordingly.
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on October 9, 2008
This is a cookbook that I have really appreciated ever since I got it. I think that it has done an amazing job at focusing in on healthy cooking for a small amount of people, where the recipes aren't going to take hours to prepare. Best of all I think that my trips to the grocery store have been costing less because I use everything that I buy with less waste than using other cookbooks.

The layout of the book was what hooked me initially. There is one recipe per page in the main part and roughly half have a full page picture. I find that a picture really helps the first time that you make the dish to have a good idea what you are going for. In smaller side bars are nutritional information for the dish, and guidelines for storing any of the ingredients that you didn't use all of in the recipe.

I have made about 20 of the dishes and I think that all have come out very nicely. I have never gone to the store and not been able to fine the ingredients for the dish, which can be the ultimate waste of time after you have your heart set on making something.

I have also learned to rely on the back section about making fast side dishes. I didn't think that I would use it so much because there aren't as many photos back there. But everything in the `Accompaniments' section is so easy to make that you really can't go wrong. It has helped to make my meals well rounded.

Because I use the book so often I think that it is a good value. I'm hoping that it does really great and we could look forward to another in the same line.
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on December 28, 2007
I'm a complete foodie, I live alone, visit the gym often and love to eat fresh foods. I've made over half the recipes in this book so far and have really just loved them all (I've done some tweaking for fun). They are quick to make, very healthy and incorporate all kinds of fresh and ethnic ingredients. I was very surprised by how much I use and love this cookbook (as I usually whip up random concoctions). I go food shopping with it all of the time. The tips at the front of the book (i.e. for essential pantry items and proper portions for two people) are really helpful. Enjoy!
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