Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian might just find a permanent spot on the kitchen shelf.
Quick Facts• Who wrote it: Melissa d'Arabian • Who published it: Clarkson Potter • Number of recipes: 140 recipes, covering snacks and appetizers, soups, salads, meat and vegetarian main dishes, desserts, and breakfast. • Recipes for right now: Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup, Cod in Garlic-Ginger Broth, Everyday Roast Beef, Veggie Moussaka, Crisper Drawer Pasta, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Lava Sundaes • Other highlights: Lots of emphasis on family-friendly dinners here with a good mix of quick n' easy weeknight meals and longer-cooking dishes for the weekend. The tips for trimming food budget dollars and stretching meals are genuinely useful and worth paying attention to! (A few favorites: "Buy small as well as big at bulk bins," "10 Ideas for Leftover Chicken," and "Freezing and Substituting Fresh Herbs.") I do have one quibble with the book: with so much emphasis on dinners that are $10 or less, I don't think the book does a great job of actually estimating the cost per recipe. Each recipe has a rating of 1 to 5 dots that are meant to indicate the relative expense of the meal, but this feels far too subtle and general to me. (Do five dots equal a $10 meal?) I understand that food prices vary based on where we live and the specific ingredients we choose to buy, but I really would have appreciated at least an estimate. The dot system is somewhat explained in the introduction, but the matrix for figuring out actual at-home meal cost still feels very complicated and nonintuitive to me. This aside, I do think this is a solid cookbook with a good collection of truly useful and tasty-sounding recipes. The fact that so many of them are family-friendly is bonus points for anyone trying to please both young eaters and adults at the same table. • Who would enjoy this book? Family cooks, college students on a budget and other budget-conscious cooks
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes and Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week by Melissa d'Arabian(Images: Emma Christensen)