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Rachael Ray Express Lane Meals: What to Keep on Hand, What to Buy Fresh for the Easiest-Ever 30-Minute Meals Paperback – April 18, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is focused on those of us who come home from work, exhausted, but still want a good, quality meal on the table without a lot of fuss. In Express Lane Meals, Ray emphasizes that this can be done - with a well stocked pantry and freezer - plus a few simple ingredients that you can pick up at the store on your way home. The secret is this - about every two weeks (or less depending on your usage), you do a "big shop", where you buy all the staple pantry/freezer/fridge ingredients that you keep on hand(ex: eggs, Parmesan cheese, pasta, frozen corn, lemons, canned beans, etc.) and then, you combine these ingredients with a few fresh items - and presto - you have quick, delicious dinners faster than you can say checkout!
The food is typical Ray fare: lots of pastas, some Tex-mex and Asain, plus plenty of Italian. The recipes are really nice and tasty with everything from Balsalmic Chicken with White Beans and Wilted Spinach to Thai-Style Grilled Beef in Broth with a Lot o' Noodles. Each recipe features the "Express Lane Shopping List" (what you need to pick up at the store) as well as a list of ingredients that you should have on hand from those 'big shop' days. This is a really handy feature and it helps you to be organized so that you are not caught without your necessities.
The book is divided into three sections: Meals for the Exhausted, Meals for the Not Too Tired, Bring it On! This allows you to choose from super easy to more complicated meals.Read more ›
I always feel the need to justify my liking Rachael Ray's books and TV Show, since my personal taste in cooking runs to masters of the serious and elaborate recipes of Julia Child, Paula Wolfert, and Marcella Hazan.
First, Rachael has a twist to her '30 Minute Meal' shows which I have seen no one else do. That is, like a printed recipe, Rachael starts by ticking off the ingredients she will need for her. Then, she gives more than the average information on how she preps and how to do it for the 30-minute meal objective.
Second, Rachael uses very few gadgets and tricks in her prep work. I usually see no more than a very good Santoku knife, a microplane, some wooden spoons, a spatula and a vegetable peeler. She occasionally uses the food processor she rarely uses the microwave. To be sure, she uses a lot of pots and pans, but one would probably be able to do everything Rachael does with two large skillets, two large saute pans, an 8 or 12 quart stock pot, and a two burner grilling surface.
Third, Rachael manages to carry out her 30-minute strategy with relatively few prepared products. And, one can always easily make your own versions of those prepared items such as stocks, salsas, and sauces if you wish.
Fourth, Rachael rarely gets into the `weekend prep ahead' mode popular with some quick cooking advocates. I suspect that if you really have not much more than 30 minutes to cook on a Monday, your weekends are probably also pretty well booked up, so you don't really have much time to do 3 to 4 hours of prep work, labeling, and freezing.Read more ›
So, its a pantry-meal cookbook. Its a great place to turn when you're looking for something basic, easy and in your pantry already. I haven't loved the recipes yet--they are actually somewhat bland. But I've done them by the book, so to speak.
I didn't by her book for fine cuisine. I bought it to give me some fresh ideas when I'm feeling brain dead after a long day--and REALLY don't want to make rice and beans again or mac and cheese. I consider these recipes to be a great starting point from which I can add my own touches. The recipes that I've read, but not made, all seem solid and workable.
While many of the recipes do take me a little longer than 30 minutes, most of them are right around that time. My problem is that I prep everything first, unlike Ray does. If you follow her recipes verbatim, you'll find that your times are close. (My knife skills aren't quite as quick, either.)
My favorite recipe from the book so far would have to be the Eggplant/veggie stew. It was really rich and flavorful--my husband said he knew there wasn't, but it seemed like there was meat in it. I also loved the one pot spicy chicken and couscous recipe.
As for some of the health concerns: I agree that occasionally Ray errs on the side of too much fat (oil, cheese, butter, oversized meat portions) but I adjust the recipes to what I know makes more sense: less of those, add more vegetables. And if you take them exactly as they are, they're still healthier than eating out, by a long shot.
Ray is my go-to helper in the kitchen, and this is my favorite book so far. Easy, tasty, and quick.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
LOV HOW she sugestion to help your self in your own kitchen, love her recipes too. from John BradfordPublished 1 month ago by John Bradford
Not as many recipes as I hoped for and not many I'd make. Wish this book was longer. I liked the shopping list and did find a few I'd use thoughPublished 2 months ago by cool
Great cookbook, but the formatting for the Kindle version is extremely poor - scrolling through just the ingredients at the default font setting on the Kindle Fire takes several... Read morePublished 2 months ago by No one in particular
Hardly any pictures. I would like to see what the end result would look like. Please add pictures to your future cookbooks.Published 2 months ago by luv my cookbooks