The Best Simple Recipes from America’s Test Kitchen

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First things first, I didn’t really intend for my first post of 2017 to be about a cookbook. But last night I cooked one of my favorite meals and it occurred to me that it was a recipe originally adapted from one in this book.  With it being a new year and people making resolutions to be healthier, maybe it’s a good time to post about a cookbook.

I generally enjoy cooking, but I’m not one to buy cookbooks all the time. I probably only purchase one a year, if that.  But I’ve had this one for about 4-5 years now, and it’s without a doubt the one that I’ve used most often throughout the years.  I first discovered it through a recipe I found on Pinterest for a spicy sausage pasta bake.  The blog post indicated the recipe had originally come from this book, and when I enjoyed the meal I thought it was worth it to buy the cookbook itself.

Like I said, that was about 4-5 years ago, and it was just after I finished college. Back then, I really wanted to start cooking decent meals that were more elaborate than the “make-it-a-meal” option on the back of your standard boxed side dish.  I had grown up in a household of really good home-cooked dinners and I wanted that for myself, but life was getting in my way.  With my job, I wasn’t getting home from work until close to 6, and my evenings were spent trying to juggle friends, networking, and dating as well as basic adulting skills like cleaning, cooking, and working out.  And that’s not including the downtime I wanted for myself to read books, binge Netflix, and learn to knit/play guitar/speak Spanish/insert random hobby (I’ve had a lot of “learn how to” goals over the years).

My biggest problem with cooking was finding the time to make a meal, and that’s why this cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen was perfect.  All of the recipes in here are designed to be made in 30 minutes or less, so it’s not like I was spending a huge chunk of my evening to make a gourmet meal.  And the recipes are good!  Thinking about it now, I can list at least 5 or 6 meals that are some of my favorite go-to’s now, and they’re recipes that are either straight from or slightly adapted from this cookbook.  And as an added bonus, there are so many helpful tidbits throughout the book about buying fresh vs frozen, what to look for when buying different types of meat, how to prepare different foods, etc.

One thing to note though, some of these recipes do take a bit longer than 30 minutes (at least for me!). Sometimes I think the prep time takes a little bit longer than it should.  I have to acknowledge the fact that my vegetable-chopping skills are below average, so in my case that’s where some of the extra time comes from.  Though I have improved since I got a Slap Chop, I would highly recommend it if you have the same problem!

The other thing to note is that the recipes in this book typically make 4 to 6 servings. This isn’t a problem if you have a family or group of people to cook for, but as a single person living alone I always make adjustments.  Usually I half the recipes and eat the balance as leftovers, which has worked out well for me over the years.  I did take a quick look at other cookbooks that they offer, and they have a Cooking For Two and a Make-Ahead Cook version which might be worth taking a look at as an alternative.

So in the spirit of New Year’s, if one of your resolutions is to cook more at home then I would definitely recommend this cookbook! For me, one of my resolutions is to update this blog more often, so hopefully I’ll be posting more about regular books soon!  Happy New Year and hopefully we all keep up with our goals!

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