Tag Archives: fast and easy cookbooks

5 for Friday: Make Ahead/Easy Cookbooks!

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I’ve noticed that I’ve been on a kick on reading cookbooks that either have make-ahead recipes or those that utilize just a few ingredients and get food on the table FAST! You’d think I was feeding a big family, had a long commute or lots of extracurricular activities to attend to… but none of those are the case! Some days are just draining enough that even though I love to cook, I just don’t want to think. You know what I mean?

Here are a few of those cookbooks and my thoughts…

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Make It Ahead
by Ina Garten 
(nonfiction, cookbook) – worth a flip

 

I loved that Ina admitted that she finds cooking for dinner parties exhausting and that making something ahead saves the day! That being said, the fish dishes seemed to speak to me the most – Her Herb-Roasted Fish is going on my next Trout Recipe of the Week list, while the Coquille St. Jacques recipe has been saved so I can make up those scallops I got from Aldi – yes ALDI! I’ve only made scallops once, probably about 10 years ago. I remember being surprised that they turned out really well! But that was the error before my blogging days, so I have no notes anywhere about what recipe I used.

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Make Ahead Paleo
by Tammy Credicott 
(nonfiction, cookbook) – worth a flip

My first impression of this book was that it was laid out all wrong. I felt like the tips and tricks I read at the beginning would be forgotten soon after and would be better suited within a recipe so that they could actually be used. Also, I felt like the author was a bit condescending about health choices at first, too. But maybe that was just the mood I was in reading it at the time.

In any case, all of that was soon forgotten after reading the recipes! Some of them were a bit daunting with their ingredient lists and their efforts to make them Paleo, but overall Credicott stayed true to her word about make-ahead meals. In fact, some of her recipes and ideas were utterly genius. {Yes, they are genius if it’s something I never heard of before! 😉 }

After the initial explanation of what “should” and “should not” be in your your kitchen to make it Paleo, along with tips and tricks, the book is split into six parts:

  • Make & Freeze
  • Low & Slow
  • On the Go
  • Room Service
  • Travel Treats
  • Week in a Day

I feel like I’ve mostly mastered the Make & Freeze idea of make-ahead meals. {My freezer can attest to that!} And I have a bunch of tried and true slow cooker recipes that help me with Low & Slow. On the Go is great for busy families or – a road trip! Travel Treats are just what you’d expect, while the Week in a Day section offers what many other chefs and cookbooks are doing these days – a grocery list to prep meals on Sunday and throw together meals quickly all through the week.

However, I found the Room Service section to be the most ingenious! When I travel, I prefer to try the local cuisine, so you’d think that I would have skipped over this section entirely. But this section can be helpful for many different scenarios:

  • If you travel for work and are constantly eating at the same places – there are some ideas from breakfast, lunch AND dinner, here.
  • You are on a budget or are traveling with a family – eating one meal in the hotel or having a picnic will help you out!
  • You are getting up for an early day or a hike – make some eggs in the microwave! This will keep you from eating a sugary granola bar.

Endicott recommends that if you can’t reserve a hotel room with a kitchenette, requesting a room with a mini-fridge and microwave or even asking if small appliances such as an electric skillet are allowed in room will do you wonders!

Lastly, I found her Freezer Inventory sheet to be indispensable, especially with everything I have stored in mine right now! You can also download it on her blog. This is a list I’ve been meaning to make for a long time. Downloading this sheet (and having it separated into categories) has finally made me do it! I also try to use up those items that have been in my freezer longest first. It’s easier to do this and plan for this with a list on the outside rather than digging through that cold freezer!

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Rocco’s 5-Minute Flavor
by Rocco DiSpirito (nonfiction, cookbook) – skip

 

I had high hopes… or maybe high expectations for this cookbook! Rocco’s one of those likable celebrity chefs. Reading through the introduction, he put a lot of heart into this book! However, there were a lot more pre-cooked/packaged ingredients suggested in these recipes than I would have liked. In addition, there was nothing really earth-shattering that I decided I’d like to even try to make. I will check out some of his other cookbooks, though, because I’m sure he can teach me something new. He’s the chef and I’m not! Maybe I was going through cookbook-reading-burnout?

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Just Five Ingredients
by Ainsley Harriott (non-fiction, cookbook) – skip

 

This cookbook caught my eye by the name. I am unfamiliar with this British celebrity chef; but his recipes just weren’t my style. Some of the included ingredients I’d never use. That doesn’t mean that you won’t though.

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Michael Symon’s 5 in 5
by Michael Symon (non-fiction, cookbook) – worth a read

 

Symon’s a chef Rob and I like to watch on TV. I haven’t seen him on The Chew because I’m never home during those hours; but I guess he has a Beat the Clock segment where he tries to whip up a meal in 5 minutes. Let’s get something straight here. When he says 5 ingredients he means ingredients you shouldn’t already have in your pantry and fridge like salt, pepper, oil, flour, butter, garlic… He takes some liberties there. But he also takes liberties with the 5 minutes – he’s talking 5 minutes of cooking. The time doesn’t include prep or boiling water or heating up your pan. That being said, these are still relatively simple-looking recipes!

I made one just this week: Pasta with Tomatoes and Olive Oil. We decided on it because we had all the ingredients and just returned from a long weekend in Green Bay. The recipe was delicious! But it said that it made 4 servings. With a whole pound of pasta, it was more like 8! Plus, Rob and I agreed that we’d like more sauce in the sauce to pasta ratio. While it was packed with so much flavor (San Marzano Tomatoes! 3 Tbsp of salt in the pasta water! 1 Tbsp of red chili flakes!), we decided to stick with our fave San Marzano Pasta.

We still are looking forward to trying some of the other recipes from this cookbook.

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BONUS

Okay, so those are the 5 Make-Ahead/Easy cookbooks of the week, but I need to include the one that still takes the cake for me:

5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes
by Jules Clancy (non-fiction, cookbook) – MUST READ

It just might be the best cookbook you’ve never read. Don’t be intimidated by the Australian measurements or some of the alternate names of ingredients. I’ve outlined the most important ones here.  But the recipes are very forgiving and you can approximate and swap out with her suggested variations at the end of every recipe!

When talking 5 ingredients, Jules means 5 ingredients except for salt, pepper, and your preferred cooking oil. When talking 10 minutes, Jules is talking how long it takes her to make from start to finish. You might take a bit longer. (Her recipes have taken me 7 minutes to 20 minutes, but probably averaging around 12.) But it’s still a quick meal, no?

Here’s the first recipe I made from it. I’m still making my way through the cookbook, but there is so much I want to try! I’m learning how to improvise more than I ever had in the past and throw things together in what feels like a blink of an eye compared to the normal amount of time I’d used to spend in the kitchen. Check out Jules Clancy’s blog The Stone Soup to download a free eCookbook or learn how to purchase 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes.

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What’s your favorite time-saving cooking trick?

Cheers~
Carrie

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