Most helpful positive review
99 of 102 people found the following review helpful
Rachel Ray, Eat Your Heart Out
on May 30, 2008
I've been a "Taste of Home" devotee for awhile now, because I love their down-home, user submitted, easy and practical recipes and cooking tips. I got this book on a whim from Wal*Mart, even though the "30 Minute Meals" cookbook isn't really my "thing." I don't need a cookbook filled with 242 different ways to prepare "Cream of" soup. But I put my faith in the ToH folks and gave it a shot.
This book contains a wide variety of interesting, easy to prepare, inexpensive meals, while still maintaining that home-cooked feel that, I think ToH is famous for. I'm glad there is finally a book out there that shows one can be an at-home chef using mostly scratch ingredients, without investing hours to get food on the table. While there are recipes that do call for insta-items (a few with canned soups, processed cheese, or pie crusts), by and large this is a collection of how to assemble a variety of ingredients (most of which you probably have in the house already) into a great meal, with a modicum of effort and without huge expense. In the short time I've had it, this book has become something of a Bible, allowing me to prepare meals for my household despite working an evening shift (and thus trying to pack a whole day in the daylight hours before going to work).
The recipe offerings are diverse, and the sections are simple and straightforward, making assembling a menu a breeze. The first section is an "entrée a day" style layout, with an entrée recipe designed for 5 days worth of dinners over a 12-week period. The idea is you either choose an entrée from that section, or follow the menu as given, then jump to the extensive "Soups and Sandwiches" or "Salads and Sides" section to pick your sides, and viola. However, this book also contains the obligatory "Desserts" section, as well as a surprisingly large "Breakfast" section. You can really plan your menu from breakfast to dinner using this book. Most of these recipes (except for the "Desserts" section, only because many require freezing) are marked that they can be prepared in 10, 20, or 30 minutes, and for the first time in a cookbook of this nature, I really think the time estimations are really representative of what the average cook could do in a reasonable amount of time. And while this is by no means a "healthy eating" cookbook, the recipes included are I think very reasonable for the average diet, not being excessively salty, fatty, or otherwise including nutritionally disastrous suggestions.
Some of these recipes, I'm sure, people have seen before in ToH's magazines or calendars. Just a random sampling of recipes while flipping through the book... Creamed turkey over potatoes, chicken Wellington, crispy crouton salad, lemon strawberry tarts, cookie pizza a la mode, Tex Mex turkey burgers, snap peas and ham alfredo, French toast supreme, roast beef BLT, chicken stuffed tomatoes, turkey wild rice salad, cheesy wild rice soup, Swiss turkey tenderloin strips... How yummy!!!
For the price, this book is a great investment, ideal for working families, or people who want to cook something good without investing hours at the endeavor. Give it a shot... I know you'll love it!
The only reason I give this book 4 instead of 5 stars is because I've never been a fan of the cookbooks that are bound as this one is. With conventional paperback binding, I find that books like this flop closed easily, or when creased, lead the pages to fall out. I also wish there were more entrees in the book. While there are quite a number, there seems like dispurportionally few compared to the number of breakfasts, salads, and desserts there are.