Friday, September 23, 2011

Mom, what's for dinner?

All those people who are supposed to know what they’re talking about always say how important it is to sit down around the table for dinner. And even if they didn’t say it, you know it’s true.

But most days it just seems like so much trouble. I’m not even talking about gourmet-Julia-Child dinners. I mean just good, simple family meals. Why is it so hard to get a home-cooked meal on the table every night?

There’s the obvious time problem. When you have a job and kids (or even a job OR kids), late afternoon and evening hours are busy, and you’re tired.

Sometimes the hardest part is just answering the dreaded question—What’s for dinner? When I’m feeling uninspired, I usually turn to the internet or my cookbooks. I have several that are for quick weeknight dinners, but my favorite is Great Food Fast. I’ve almost worn it out.

It’s compiled from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food (if you don’t know about this magazine, you should definitely check it out). I’m not a Martha-worshiper, but you can’t deny that the woman has great taste, and she puts out quality products and information.

Anyway, Great Food Fast has a picture for every recipe. 
I NEED pictures to help me get inspired about cooking. You can count on Martha Stewart for beautifully styled pictures. And the recipes are organized by season, so you’re more likely to find a dish that you’re in the mood for (not to mention the fresh ingredients will be in season).

Of course, the best part is
that the recipes are designed for people like me who want to make food that’s tasty and (reasonably) healthyAND simple and quick. It's a lot to ask, I know. But Martha understands high expectations, and she delivers.

All recipes have fairly accurate prep and cook times, and many can be done in about a half hour. The ingredient lists are short, with lots of items you probably already have. If I’m really busy, and I didn’t plan ahead, and I don’t have time to run to the store, I can almost always find something to throw together from the pantry, fridge, and freezer. 

I don’t like lots of processed or premade foods, so I appreciate that these recipes call for real ingredients. I’m OK with using canned tomatoes, frozen spinach, and canned beans, but I’m not willing to cook with potato chips or cream of chicken soup.

Most main dishes have a simple vegetable or side dish to go with them. In fact, even on good days when I’m cooking something a little more involved, I still go to this cookbook just for ideas (or reminders) for an easy veggie to serve with the meal. Everyone can use help with that!

They put out a new cookbook last year, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm STILL finding new things in this one!

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