Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I've never been a huge fan of cooking. I've always viewed it as more of a necessary evil than a pleasure. When I became a stay-at-home mom nearly one year ago, I thought I'd have more time to experiment in the kitchen. But, if you can believe it, it seems as if I have less time now than I did when I was a working mom! Most nights, I'm scrambling around for something I can quickly throw together and call it dinner. So, when I came across Jane Doiron's cookbook, Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms, I just had to request a review. And I was ecstatic that she agreed!
Jane Doiron, an elementary school teacher and busy mom of two boys, knows what it's like to be short on time and pressured to make a delicious family feast. She wanted to find a way to make her family's favorite recipes ahead of time without sacrificing the taste and texture of the food from freezing. After years of experimentation, she developed a cookbook to optimize make-ahead preparation. Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms features 140 recipes for meals and sides that can be prepared in advance and frozen or refrigerated until you're ready for mealtime. This lessens the confusion and panic that sets in when 5pm rolls around and you have only just begun to think about what to make for dinner.
The cookbook begins with some helpful tips for proper freezing, saving time and achieving the best flavor in make-ahead meals. Very helpful indeed for the novice such as myself. The recipes are well-organized and presented in logical categories, from appetizers and side dishes to main courses and desserts. I skimmed through the recipes and was happy that none of them were obscure or overly complex. The vast majority were things I could see my family eating. I liked the great variety of dishes, from traditional (Lasagna, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Sloppy Joes, Tacos) to more unique (Thai Chicken Thighs, Zucchini Apple Bread, Seafood Quiche).
I decided to make the Buffalo Chicken Dip in honor of the Super Bowl and the Cheesy Pasta, Ham and Peas for a simple, crowd-pleasing dinner. The directions were easy to follow and I liked that the text was large enough that I didn't have to squint while wrist deep in hot sauce. I was able to prepare both dishes in the evening after Nate had gone to bed, and refrigerate. So all I had to do the next day was pop it in the oven! Both recipes turned out really well and had us going back for seconds. I altered the chicken dip by adding blue cheese crumbles to the top (hubby is a blue cheese fan) and I substituted Velveeta in place of Cheez Whiz for the pasta bake. But both dishes still had an excellent flavor and are meals I would definitely make again. Even Nate was a fan of the Cheesy Pasta and he is an uber picky eater.
The only thing I was disappointed in was that there were no photos of the recipes (aside from the front cover). I prefer appealing pictures of food to motivate me and give me an idea of what the finished dish should look like. Aside from that, I really enjoyed this cookbook and can't wait to "make-ahead" more meals. It has shaved a good bit of time off of my meal planning by prepping the night before, allowing me to spend more time with my family - or to myself! Next on the list for me are the Bacon Tomato Mini Cups and Stuffed Cornish Hens. Oh, and the Mini Pecan Pie Muffins sound delicious too!
Bottom line: Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms gets six thumbs up from us. The recipes are tasty, relatively easy to make and I had most of the ingredients I needed already on hand. If you are a busy mom (and let's face it...who isn't?) and want to plan ahead for those inevitable days when you're low on time and energy or if you are searching for a way to trim back your take-out, this cookbook is perfect for you. It would also be quite handy if you are looking to stock up on meals before a surgery, childbirth or to share for a potluck or fellowship.
BUY IT: You can purchase Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms online at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com (ARV $16.15). You can also purchase the e-book on Jane's website. (ARV $12)
WIN IT: Jane is generously offering one copy of her cookbook to one lucky reader!
MAIN COURSE (MANDATORY ENTRY): Visit Jane's blog and tell me what recipe looks most yummy. Remember to please leave your email address in your comment if it isn't visible on your profile to prevent disqualification!
SUGAR ON TOP (BONUS ENTRIES): To maximize your chances of winning, you may do any or all of the following. Be sure to complete the above mandatory entry or your bonus entries will not count! Remember to leave one comment per entry.
1.) Follow my blog and/or subscribe via reader or email. If you already follow and/or subscribe, that counts! (1 entry each)
2.) Follow Jane's Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms blog. (1 entry)
3.) Sign up for the Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms newsletter. (1 entry)
4.) Follow me and Jane Doiron on Twitter and tweet about this contest. You can do this daily! You may use the tweet below or come up with one of your own:
Meal planning leave you frazzled? Get Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms from @janedoiron! Win a copy @kris10chumley http://bit.ly/aMpbH6
Just leave me a comment with your tweet link. (1 entry per day max)
5.) Add my blog button and leave a comment with the link to where I can find it. (1 entry)
6.) Add Jane's blog button and leave a comment with the link to where we can find it. (1 entry)
Giveaway will end on March 3, 2010 at 11:59pm EST. Open to U.S. and Canada. Winners will be chosen via Random.org and will have 48 hours to respond to congratulatory email or prize will be forfeited and another winner will be chosen.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms from Jane to facilitate my candid review. I was in no other way compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions expressed in my review are solely mine. Your experience may differ.