I have nothing but crazy wild love for the Complete Idiot books. I have so many of them that some of my bookcase shelves are entirely orange! I was recently sent a few of these consistently wonderful books to review on the food blog, causing me to do a happy dance across the kitchen floor. One of these books was the one you see pictured above, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meals in 30 Minutes or Less.
This priceless 450+ page book contains more than just 500 recipes you’ll use again and again, it also has great tips and tricks of the trade dispersed throughout under the headings of…
- Definition. Cooking terms you may not be familiar with are defined and explained.
- Minute Morsel. Information that makes cooking even more fun.
- On the Clock. Tips for making something simpler, quicker, faster, and easier.
- Time Waster. Alerts for things to watch out for – mistakes, misunderstandings, and potential hazards.
One of the recipes I’m most anxious to try is the Fast Spinach and Artichoke Dip. My own Spinach and Artichoke Dip recipe, which I make OFTEN (to the delight of all involved) takes about 1-1/2 hours to make – including baking time! I also notice that it would… cough, cough… appear to be a much healthier, calorie-friendly recipe than my own. So, I can’t wait to take this one for a test drive.
Fast Spinach and Artichoke Dip
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 (14 oz) can artichokes, drained
1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup light cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
Dash hot pepper sauce
Tortilla chips or wheat crackers
- In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process spinach, artichokes, Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, yogurt, mozzarella cheese, garlic, and hot pepper sauce until thoroughly combined but still very chunky.
- Scrape mixture into a microwave-safe serving dish, and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until bubbling.
- Stir and serve with tortilla chips or wheat crackers.
Seriously??? You could practically do this on a commercial break! Sounds delicious.
About the Author
Food and wine writer Tod Dimmick is the author of four cookbooks. His work has been mentioned in the New York Times and the Boston Globe, and can be found on bookstore shelves from Boston to Sydney. Since a book project in 2005 oriented around healthy eating, Tod has increasingly focused his food writing on topics related to a healthy diet, and the evolution of produce purchase decisions from those based on price to those based on quality and provenance. For 1000radishes, the Will Work For Food Project, and for the Powisset Farm CSA, he supplies recipes and suggestions for local, in-season produce. On the more indulgent side, he also creates recipes for the Phantom Gourmet television show. The Phantom crew films these recipes in Tod’s kitchen outside of Boston.In 1991, he founded Tasting Times, the food and wine publication for busy people on a budget. The Tasting Times Wine Hotlist and Wine Minute blog have an international following. In 2000, he agreed to design and write The Busy Person’s Guide to Gourmet Cooking on a Budget web page for WZ.com, the well-known online guide site. In less than a year, subscribership to his email newsletter of the same name grew from 0 to over 75,000.
Before you even get to all of the recipes, you have a couple of very informative (and creative) chapters:
- “Faster and Better” – You’re reminded of the importance of good meals and reassured that cooking meals quickly doesn’t compromise the taste or the quality.
- “Stocking Your Pantry” – Learn the essential ingredients you need to have in your pantry at all times. These “go to” ingredients are the ones no cook wants to be caught without. You’ll also learn more about herbs and seasonings, fun foods to have on hand, and a very convenient primer on substitutions.
- “Essential Equipment” – Pots, pans, tools, knives, technological marvels that’ll get you in and out of the kitchen in less time than I’m spending on this review!
Recipes Included in this Awesome Book:
- Healthy Buttermilk Waffles
- Quick and Healthy French Toast
- Light French Toast with Fresh Strawberries
- George Ames’s Blueberry Muffins
- Raspberry Crunch Yogurt
- Breakfast Yogurt
- Frozen Berry Shake
- Italian Herb Omelet
- Baby Shrimp Omelet
- Scrambled Eggs with Sun-Dried Tomato and Sweet Onion
- Apple and Toasted Pecan Salad
- Chickpea Salad
- Three Bean Salad
- Jean’s Oriental Cabbage Salad
- Barry’s Taco Salad
- Tuna-Cannellini Salad
- Hearty Chili
- Vegetarian Chili
- Grilled Chicken and Sweet Onion Sandwiches
- Tuna Salad Wraps
- Vegetarian Wraps
- Chicken, Mozzarella, and Roasted Pepper Bites
- Corned Beef Cornucopias
- Quick Crab Balls
- Boiled Mushroom Caps with Fresh Mozzarella
- Garden Salsa
- Salsa Verde
- Grilled Hummus Triangles
- Crab Ricotta Dip with Roasted Red Peppers
- Red Pepper-Parmesan Dip
- Mozzarella, Almond, and Spinach Wraps
- Sun Dried Tomato Spread
- Tofu Salad Spread
- Mexican Chili Dip
- Baked Sole
- Crisp Fried Haddock
- Whisker-Licking Good Catfish
- Grilled Shrimp Scampi
- Lightning Seafood Stir-Fry
- Quick Crab Cakes
- Drumroll Chicken
- Buffalo Wings
- Quick Home-Style Barbecued Chicken
- Orange Chicken
- Aunt Jean’s Dijon Chicken
- Chive Chicken
- Mustard-Glazed Chicken Breasts
- Chicken Paprika
- Grilled Apple Chops
- Steak and Onions
- Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry
- Fast Stuffed Peppers
- South-of-the-Border Eggs
- Stuffed Tomatoes
- Sizzling Tofu and Asparagus Stir-Fry
- Vegetable Stir-Fry
- Portobello Pizza
- Red Beans and Rice
- White Bean Salad
- White Beans with Olive Oil, Gorgonzola, and Sage
- Italian Farmhouse Stew
- 20-Minute Tomato Sauce
- Fettuccini Alfredo
- Linguini with Hot Pepper and Oil
- Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Pizza
- White Pizza with Olives and Fresh Mozzarella
- Feta and Black Olive Pizza
- Orange French Toast
- Light and Fluffy Pancakes (calls for unsweetened applesauce!)
- Secret Cheeseburgers
- Quick Tacos
- Chicken Quesadillas
- Pepperoni Pizza Dip
- Garlic Toast with Tomato Dipping Sauce
- Onion Rings
- White Beans and Dark Greens
- Balsamic Green Beans
- Baked Cauliflower
- Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
- Steamed Asparagus
- Fried Tomatoes (green or red!)
- Baked Acorn Squash
- Skillet Parmesan Artichokes
- Sauteed Spinach
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Fast and Easy Scalloped Potatoes
- Quick Chinese Cabbage Stir-Fry
- Sauteed Cabbage with Bacon
- Bacon, Eggs, and Rice
- Spaghetti Carbonara
- Penne Pasta Salad
- Carol Ann’s Tortellini Salad
- Garden Bruschetta
- Skillet-Baked Cornbread
- Buttermilk Biscuits
- Peach Yogurt Parfait
- Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes
- Blueberries and Cream
- Almond Piecrust
- Mixed Fruit Betty
- Dad’s Baked Fruit
- Velvet Fudge
- Mocha Mousse
- Chocolate-Chip Cookies
- Almond Chocolate Parfaits
- Almond Oatmeal Cookies
- Grandpa Phil’s Pudding
- Lightning Strawberry Shortcake
- Grammalane’s Lemon Pie
And those are just the ones I’ve marked to make this month!
I LOVE everything about The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meals in 30 Minutes or Less, but I’m especially excited about the SCADS of breakfast recipes and tips. There’s a very small window of opportunity to put breakfast on the table (or in a hand as it rushes out the door). These recipes will come in… pardon the pun.. very handy.
Click through one of the links or the picture for more information. You’re going to love this one!
*** Footnote: I have absolutely NOTHING against microwaves – I love and use mine with pride – but I just had to add this: You’d be surprised how few of the recipes in this book use the microwave!