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Detail of Caramel Apple-Almond Crepes

Caramel Apple-Almond Crepes

A great dish for dessert or breakfast, these filled crepes are quick and easy to make, full of wonderful flavor, and make any occasion special.

Dinners in a Dish or a Dash : 275 Easy One-Dish Meals Plus Tons of Time-Saving Tips
by Wen Zientek-Sico

Looking for a great book with tons of easy to make recipes perfect for entertaining? Check out Jean Anderson's Dinners in a Dish or a Dash.

Dinners in a Dish or a Dash : 275 Easy One-Dish Meals Plus Tons of Time-Saving Tips

By Jean Anderson

ISBN: 0688145728

Catering to busy families trying to find quick and healthy dinner solutions, Dinners in a Dish or a Dash offers a modern look at one-dish meals. Anderson, takes the classic concept of "shelf magic", recipes mixed together with the use of convenience products from boxes and cans, and revamps it for today's lifestyle. Gone are the recipes using canned soups and French fried onions. Instead, Anderson focuses on quality convenient foods and mixes them with other quick cooking techniques and ingredients to make tasty one dish meals.

A pleasant mixture of recipes and tips, Dinners in a Dish or Dash offers a complete tutorial on quick and easy one dish cooking. Anderson shares tips and techniques that are almost more valuable than the recipes themselves. The whole first section of the book is devoted to storage tips, make-ahead recipes, preparation tips, and an extensive list of ingredients to keep on hand. The sprinkling of informative notes throughout this (and the other chapters) offers a lot of very useful and practical information that readers will enjoy. The index includes all the recipe titles and listings of recipes based on their main ingredients.

About The Recipes

The first recipe chapter is devoted to Main-Dish Salads. The recipe run the gamut from traditional favorites like Taco Salad and Tuna Nicoise to more unique recipes like Shrimp, Snow Pea, and Orzo Salad with Hot Coconut Milk Dressing and Crab, Roasted Green Bean, and Papaya Salad with Caper Dill Dressing. With over 32 recipes (and 15 more variations) from all around the world, there are plenty of quick and savory salads to enjoy. Most of the recipes are easily hearty enough even for those who have a hard time thinking of a chicken Caesar or chef salad for dinner, they are not just side dishes with a token amount of protein tossed in. Don't miss trying the previously mentioned Roasted Green Bean, and Papaya Salad with Caper Dill Dressing, along with the Salmon and White Bean Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette, Hot Chicken, Broccoli, and Bow Tie Salad with Tahini Dressing, and Macaroni and Cheese Salad.

The next chapter heads on into more hearty fare, with soups and stews. Anderson uses short cut ingredients and sauces and commercial products to add punch to these fast cooking meals. She offers quick versions of traditionally long simmering favorites like Borscht, Irish Stew, Cioppino, Country Captain, Panzanella, chilis, chowders, vegetable soups, and much more. She also emphasizes some quick cooking soups and stews that use less traditional ingredients in recipes like Tuscan Vegetable Ragout on Grilled Polenta and Mozzarella Soup with Vegetables and Black Olives. All in all, there are 42 recipes with 9 additional variations to try. Make sure you try the very homey Ham, Green Peas, and Dumplings and elegant Garlic, Onion, and Mushroom Broth with Spinach Ravioli.

The third chapter of recipes is devoted to Stir-Fries and Skillet Dinners. While this chapter is perhaps the most reliant on large lists of exotic ingredients, with recipes like Japanese Stir-Fry of Chicken, Broccoli, and Peppers over Soba and Malay Spiced Lamb and Vegetables, there are also many down and dirty typical dinner dishes as well. Line Camp Skillet Supper, Pennsylvania Dutch Cabbage and Noodles with Corned Beef, and 30-Minute Skillet Dinner of Pork (or Turkey) and bows are fast and practical for any household. Anderson borrows from a wide range of cultural influences in the 29 recipes (and 7 variations) in this chapter, ranging from Asian to Italian and Pennsylvania Dutch to South American. The Skillet Toss of Caramelized Onions, Italian Sausage, Snow Peas, Porcini, and Bow-Ties is one of the "must try" recipes in this book.

Next comes Casseroles, Pies, and Pot Pies. Full of 27 great recipes (with an awesome 23 variations) for delectable casseroles, pizzas, and pies, these are not your Mother's dishes made with canned cream of whatever soup and French fried onions. Anderson is actually pretty scathing of these ingredients in her introduction to the chapter and instead relies on homemade white sauces and fresh bread crumbs and croutons. The results are very impressive, and might even get your family to eat a casserole. Some of our favorite recipes in this chapter had to be the Reuben Pie, Persian Lamb Pilaf Baked with Mint, Lemon, and Zucchini, Scalloped Tuna with Green Peas and Toasted Almonds, and Joanne's Catfish Casserole with Hush Puppy Topping.

A nice selection of Egg, Cheese, Pasta, and Grain recipes make up the next chapter. While many of the recipes in the other chapters utilize these ingredients, the recipes in this section really rely on them. The 32 recipes with 15 variations include such classics like Garden Frittata, Fusilli Arrabbiata with Tuna, 10-Minute Penne with Caponata Sauce, Black Beans 'N' Rice, and Ham and Green Pea Quiche. Make sure to also check out some less traditional recipes like the superb Spinach Madeleine Pie, Linguine with Chicken and Cilantro-Peanut Sauce, and Eggs, Asparagus, and Shrimp Done the Belgian Way.

The last chapter is devoted to Microwave Dinners. These recipes are not the television dinners from the freezer kind, but those recipes that can be prepared partially or totally in the microwave. Anderson fully understands that no matter how much we want it to, the microwave cannot do everything and uses the microwave as a valuable preparation tool. Many of the recipes are prepared mostly in the microwave and finished with a few essential minutes under the broiler to add more flavor and brown the food, something that the microwave cannot do. The Microwave Vegetable Lasagne, Hurry-Up Pastitsio, Tomato-White Wine Risotto with Black Olives, and Creamy Pesto Ravioli were our favorite picks from the 23 recipes (with 14 variations)in this chapter.

We tested a few of the recipes and were very pleased with the results. The Tomato-White Wine Risotto with Black Olives, which was cooked entirely prepared in the microwave, was surprisingly authentic and flavorful. The Spinach Fettuccini with Roasted Eggplant, Garlic, Tomatoes, Prosciutto, and Sage was a marvelous, easily prepared dish that we will make again. The Persian Lamb Pilaf Baked with Mint, Lemon, and Zucchini was definitely the hands down best recipe we tested. Not only did it get rave reviews in flavor and appearance, the recipe was very quick and easy to prepare. Anderson includes excellent directions and tips which makes the recipes very user friendly.

For a quick and easy cookbook, the recipes are a bit ingredient heavy. Some of the recipes have as many as twenty or more ingredients, which can be a bit daunting for a cook in a hurry. In addition, many of the ingredients are not staples in many kitchens and there is very little information about substitutions. Some of the recipes are expensive to prepare because of costly main ingredients (crab, scallops, lobster) or because of having to purchase fresh herbs, bottled sauces, specific wines, or other specialty ingredients. While not every recipe falls into these categories, and there are plenty of recipes that utilize inexpensive and easy to find ingredients, not every recipe in the book is for the average home cook. You may also find your family turning their nose up at some of the sophisticated combinations of ingredients and flavors. There is a great amount of ethnic cuisine, which might not suit the needs of every family.


We were pleasantly surprised at how many of the recipes in this book are wonderful for entertaining. Anderson really focused on recipes that were attractive and appealing, and offers many serving suggestions. Most of the recipes require some intense preparation time followed by a very short active cooking time or a longer unattended cooking time, making them perfect for parties and get-togethers. In actuality, I think the majority of the books are geared more towards how most people entertain than how they eat on an average weeknight. As a book for weeknight entertaining, it is a superb reference due to the quick preparation times.


This book is almost guaranteed to become one of the most useful references in any busy kitchen. With over 275 recipes, with many recipes having up to 5-6 different tasty variations, you will have quick and easy dinner options at your fingertips for months to come. The make ahead and preparation tips make it a handy reference to have on hand even if you find yourself wanting to break out of the one dish mold. The one drawback for many individuals will be some of the exotic and expensive ingredients, but there are plenty of hearty and practical recipes to balance them, even without the wealth of practical knowledge shared in the tips and notes.

About the Author

Jean Anderson is the former food editor for a variety of publications, including the Ladies Home Journal, and a veteran cookbook author. She has written over twenty cookbooks and is an inductee into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame. She has also won four Tastemaker Awards for her writing.

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