Thank you to Hachette Book Group for participating in the Bloggy Birthday Blowout Event on Goodie Goodie Gumdrops!
I'm may be a stay-at-home mom but I hardly fit the domestic stereotype. My house is cluttered and "lived in", far from impeccable. And my husband is lucky if I have a homemade dinner on the table once a week. It's not that I hate cooking. Once I'm actually making a meal, I think to myself, "now this isn't so bad". I actually enjoy making a dish with love and the feeling of satisfaction from nurturing my family. But the truth is I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. I'd rather be spending quality time with my family. Or blogging, of course. I need quick, easy, pleasing meals that get the job done.
So, when I was offered an opportunity to review the I Hate to Cook Book, I couldn't resist.
Peg Bracken's classic I Hate to Cook Book was originally written in 1960, at the helm of the women's lib movement. She bucked tradition and confirmed what housewives from the world over had been ashamed to admit: it's okay if you'd rather be doing something else instead of hovering over the stove! With her deliciously simple recipes, a pinch of humor and a dash of wit, Peg Bracken charmed her way into kitchens and hearts. Fifty years later, her book still resonates with our modern generation. It's nice to know some things never change.
The moment I read the introduction, I knew I was in for a treat. No other cookbook has made me laugh out loud like this one:
This book is for those of us who want to fold our big dishwater hands around a dry Martini instead of a wet flounder, come the end of a long day...you're flattened by articles that begin "Of course you know that basil and tomatoes are soulmates, but did you know..." They can stop right there, because the fact is, you didn't know any such thing...Oh, you keep on buying cookbooks, the way a homely woman buys hat after hat in the vain hope that this one will do it...For one thing, they contain too many recipes. Just look at all the things you can do with a chop, and aren't about to!Bracken gives helpful household hints and recipes for those times when you've committed to bringing a dish for a potluck or been on the receiving end of unexpected company. Whether you need a speedy supper, delightful dip or a droolworthy dessert, Bracken's recommendations use ingredients you probably already have on hand so you won't have to run any further than your pantry to pull it all together. I loved that many of the dishes were casseroles so they require minimal prep - leave all the hard work to the oven!
Here are just a few recipes that caught my eye:
I love chili and Tex-Mex inspired comfort food. So, this casserole particularly appealed to me. I would add a dallop of sour cream and maybe some chives to the final presentation but this is something that the whole family could love. Nachos with a kick.
1 lb. ground round steak
1 chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 8-oz. can of tomato sauce, plus 1/3 can tomato juice, beef broth or water
1/4 tsp oregano
2 tbsp chili powder
1 16-oz. can kidney or pinto beans with liquid
1 medium-sized bag corn chips
a bit of lettuce
more chopped onion
Brown together, in a little oil, the ground meat, onions and garlic. Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano and chili powder. Now dust off a good-sized casserole, grease it, and alternate layers of this mixture with layers of beans, and corn chips, ending with corn chips. Bake it, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovering it for the last ten. Before you serve it, strew some shredded lettuce and chopped raw onion on top, for that Olde Tyme Mexicali look.
This sounds so easy, yummy and most importantly, impossible to screw up.
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup, thinned slightly with 2 tbsp sherry and a little heavy cream)
1 package frozen broccoli, cooked or thawed and drained
6 good-sized slices of turkey
grated Parmesan cheese
Put about 1/4 of the soup mixture in a buttered casserole. Put the broccoli in , cover it with slices of turkey meat, and pour on the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle the Parmesan generously on top and bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
If you're tired of serving your kids traditional grilled cheese, this alternative really jazzes it up. I would use whole grain bread for a nutritional boost.
Spread one side each of two slices of bread with canned pizza sauce. For the filling, use a slice of salami, a slice of mozzarella or processed sharp cheese (the processed will melt better), and a sprinkling of garlic. Grill them in butter.
Not all of the recipes are up my alley (Ham-Lima Supper or Wild Rice and Chicken Livers, anyone?) but the majority of them are things I could see myself eating regularly. My favorite section of the book dealt with kids' birthday parties. With Nate's big party coming up in two weeks, I've stolen some of her tips, such as:
- Most children will eat peanut butter on anything or in anything. Offer vegetables such as celery dipped in peanut butter. You can also spread peanut butter on rolled-out biscuit dough, spread jelly on top of it, then roll it up like a jelly roll, slice one inch thick and bake as usual.
- Serve lemonade in clear plastic glasses with a drop of different-colored food coloring in each, which not only looks festive but tells each child whose is which.
- In the summertime, freeze maraschino cherries inside ice cubes for the lemonade. (Okay, so I have a new-fangled icemaker but I'm still going to freeze the cherries themselves and use them as a pretty addition.)
- Have a card table set up somewhere, with crayons and coloring books on it to occupy children until the party starts.
BUY IT: You can purchase the I Hate to Cook Book at most major book retailers or online at Amazon.com (ARV $13.44).
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Giveaway will end on August 14, 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 the above book from Anna at Hachette Book Group to facilitate my candid review. I was in no other way compensated for this post. The thoughts and opinions expressed in my review are solely mine. Your experience may differ.