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Dream Dinners    by Stephanie Allen & Tina Kuna order for
Dream Dinners
by Stephanie Allen
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2006 (2006)
Softcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Four words instantly caught my attention when I picked up Dream Dinners. 'Life just got easier!' the cover proclaimed. Now who can resist a statement like that? The concept behind Dream Dinners is that having a healthy, pleasing meal ready for your family every night doesn't have to involve toiling over a hot stove all day or resorting to pizza delivery. The authors give us another option: preparing easy meals in advance, freezing them, and then re-heating them when needed. The result? Healthy, delicious dinners that are a breeze to get ready for the dinner table, which in turn allows us to spend more time with our loved ones.

The key to making Dream Dinners a staple in your household is organization. As the authors tell us in their Introduction, 'The best cooks, whether they are making a single meal or many at one time, have a system or strategy for preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner that is high on efficiency and low on stress.' Allen and Kuna then offer a few tips for accomplishing this task, such as assembling three batches of one recipe each time and always having the right equipment on hand.

But it's the recipes themselves that made a believer out of me. I was surprised to realize how many different types of foods could be prepared in advance, frozen and then cooked at a later date. The book is divided into chapters based on the type of meal you're interested in preparing: Appetizers, Breakfast and Brunch, Soups, Salads and Side Dishes, Pasta, Dinners, and everyone's favorite, Desserts, all offer plenty of ideas from which to choose.

Did you know you can prepare a delicious Baked Clam Dip in a Sourdough Bread Bowl in advance? Or that Stuffed Braided Bread can be frozen for up to three months before being served? I consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day, so recipe ideas for Classic Breakfast Strata, Breakfast Burritos and Ham and Tomato Biscuits immediately caught my eye. My husband naturally gravitated toward heartier meals, such as Provencal Flank Steak, Sloppy Joe's and Shepherd's Pie. In my house, no meal is complete without a taste of dessert, so I was eager to try recipes such as Fresh Peach Sorbet, Quick Raspberry Pie and Dreamy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cream Pie.

The authors thoughtfully include two additional chapters at the end of the book. Freezing: The Basics offers tips and answers questions many of us might have regarding safe freezing and thawing techniques - such as how freezer burn affects the food and whether we should be concerned about color changes. Lastly, in Labels Times Three, the authors provide ready-to-cut-out labels for each recipe included in the book. These labels can then be 'affixed to plastic bags or baking pans before freezing.'

If dinner at your house isn't as healthy or quick to prepare as you'd like it to be, consider giving Dream Dinners a try. The technique may take a bit of getting used to, but it promises to remove at least a few of the hassles we all experience when dinner time rolls around.

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