Top positive review
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A worthy addition
on March 23, 2013
I received my book yesterday, and not have not yet cooked anything from it. That said, the recipes are typical of the previous volumes of this book. They have similar steps and the ingredient mixing is familiar. There are a couple recipes I've seen that look very similar to previous recipes (Chicken with Israeli Coucous is one) but it's just slightly different to not be a complete knock-off.
Before I get started ... I work 12 hour shifts and I get home at 7:30 PM. I often prep parts of the dinner ahead of time (if I can) otherwise, I start the recipes from the beginning around 7:30 and usually by 8:30 PM we're eating. This is recipes that involve baking, skillet cooking, etc. I tend to not be gun-shy about trying any of them at that late hour. I'm NOT an expert cook by any means. I just follow the directions and get it done.
Here are the chapters:
The Main Course
Pasta For Dinner
Dinner off the Grill
Light and Fresh
Baked Goods and Desserts
Express Lane is new to the series and it's similar to previous editions "One Big Roast" section, but uses pre-cooked foods as the main ingredient. It has 4 recipes for each ingredients. The ingredients are: Rotisserie Chicken, Chicken Sausages, Precooked Shrimp, Cheese Tortellini, and Canned Beans. Each segment has recipes that utilize each of those ingredients. Most are fairly basic and not complicated like a pasta salad with shrimp, or skillet tortellini with mushroom cream sauce. It's called Express Lane for a reason. :)
Slow-Cooker favorites is one section that is fairly similar to the other books in types of meals, there are non-slower cooker versions in the other books, or at least similar items.
Red Lentil Stew (new, lentils haven't been used in previous books)
Black Bean Soup
Moroccan Chicken Stew
Pork Chops with Cranberries and Orange
Tomatillo Chili with Pork and Hominy
Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs (stove version in previous books)
Beer Brats (this is a repeat, previous book has a stove version of this)
The Main Course has a few recipes which I'm looking forward to trying including:
Weeknight Roast Chicken (roasted in pre-heated skillet thigh side down)
Minute Steaks with Garlic Parsley Butter (a new cut of meat for the series)
Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers
Braised Brisket with Mushrooms
One-Dish Suppers is a fairly typical representation of meals like the pan-roasted breasts with vegetables (yawn), chicken and rice (yawn), skillet chicken with orzo (the Israeli coucous knock-off mentioned earlier, that recipes also subs orzo), but has a few new ideas in here including:
U.S Senate Navy Bean Soup
Cajun-Style Eggs in Purgatory with Cheesy Grits (Sunday breakfast anyone?)
Strip Steaks with Potato-Artichoke Ragout
Catalan-Style Beef Stew
Ravioli and Tortellini are HUGE in this book (8-10 variations). I think someone just fell in love with them and needed to make as many recipes as possible. They also give a recipe for fresh pasta without a machine and two sauces for it. They both sound good but not likely to be a weeknight meal for me. Potato Gnocchi also makes an appearance with a homemade version.
This book also includes the Smart Shoppers Guide and Equipment Guide that previous books have. I always appreciate the shoppers guide, especially when something calls for half a bell pepper. I can certain just snack on the other half as I eat but it's nice to use it up in another meal.
They are using some new ingredients in this book which is nice to see like quinoa, soba noodles, lentils, pigeon peas and 4 recipes alone with napa cabbage. I don't eat soy products like tofu but there are recipes with tofu and soy crumbles as well.
Since I've started using these books my grocery costs have decreased tremendously and I no longer have a fridge FULL of leftovers. There are only two of us in this house but most of these recipes make enough food for both of us plus 1-2 small lunch servings (I eat less than the average person).
I find the recipes very easy and reliable. Even if it's not something I'll make again, I've not ever had a disaster of a meal. My only struggle with these books is the meat naming conventions they use for the cuts of beef. I can NEVER find beef in the cut they call for. I am to the point where I'll start going to a butcher just to ensure I get the right cut. I don't think that's necessary if you know the various ways meat are cut and the myriad of names they have but I have other things to memorize. :)
Overall, another solid addition to the series and I'll be making quite a few of these recipes in the coming weeks. BTW, I have made duplicates of several of the recipes in previous books which is a good thing. It means that I liked it enough to eat it again. I gorged on this series though and bought the previous 4 books all at the same time so I've been going crazy (in a good way) cooking new things all the time. I'll likely cook exclusively from this book for the next month or so and have no issues doing so.
If you have questions, LET ME KNOW!