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The Dinner Doctorby Anne Byrn
It wasn't long after the first Cake Mix Doctor was published that many of the readers who were pleased with the recipes for great easy-to-make desserts started asking me what I cooked for the rest of my meals. What soups did I simmer in the winter, what salads did I toss in the summer, what appetizers did I throw together when guests were at my doorstep? Did I bake bread? Did I have speedy pasta sauces that would wow company and quick casseroles to feed a crowd of teenagers? What did I prepare mid-week after tennis and piano lesons, soccer, school, meetings—when I was pressed for time and it felt as if every ounce of creativity had been drained from my being? I guess they thought that anyone who spent so much of the day creatnig desserts couldn't have a whole lot of energy left over to prepare much of anything else.
They were right. Like so many others whose days involve balancing family and career, my time is tight. While I enjoy preparing meals, I can't spend lots of time fussing over them. So, I thought, what better way to answer all those questions than to gather them up here in The Dinner Doctor, a collection of recipes that tackle the rest of dinner head on. Starting with appetizers and ending with those cakes and other sweets I love so much, this book brings to the whole meal the tried and true doctorig techniques I used in my \ baking books. It will show you how to turn supermarket convenience foods into dishes that taste so good you will think they are made totally from scratch.
You'll be able to make the most of a can of pre-seasoned tomatoes and a package of cheese tortellini, a deli-roasted chicken and a can of mushroom soup, a package of frozen corn and a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw. When doctored using the recipes I've included, these ingredients become stand-out dishes. Cans of white beans and diced tomatoes combine with fresh zucchini for a quick winter soup, while chicken and coleslaw mix join with ramen noodles for a healthy and light summer one. Boxes of couscous turn into fast salads; frozen peeled pearl onions are easily creamed for Thankgiving; store-bought cleaned shrimp make a fuss-free skillet supper—I have found the possibilities for delicious dinner doctoring endless, and the challenge of streamlining favorite but complicated recipes exciting.
For a dish to make it into this book, the final results had to taste fantastic but be simple to assemble. Take, for example, that mushroom soup and chicken combination. We have all eaten too many bland casseroles that relied on cream of mushroom soup. But mushroom soup is too handy to ignore. So I asked myself, what if that casserole also included quartered jarred artichoke hearts and used the soup, enhanced with curry powder, as a thickener? Well, the combinaion worked beautifully and the soup did its job, without announcing itself as canned (the Curried Chicken and Artichoke Casserole is on page 222—do try it and see for yourself).
This book has been a joy to create, a real sharing of good food with my family that I'm pleased to be sharing with you. Ideas for family meals take precedence here, but there are plenty of recipes that double up as great for guests. Along with full recipes, each chapter contains super-quick suggestions for doctoring pantry items like canned tuna, baked beans, chicken noodle soup, pasta sauce, cream cheese, deli potato salad, frozen spinach, and much more.
The savory flavors of the lasagnas, sesame noodle salads, fun cornbread-wrapped hot dogs, warm cheesy breads, and cozy chicken casseroles you'll find in this book have made my kids more cheerful and my husband arrive home from work relieved to know that dinner isn't going to be a slice of chocolate cake with a side of pie!
So, here's my prescription for feeding the busy, hungry family. It will relieve stress and have you feeling good in no time.
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