The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook (Amazon Vine review)

The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook delivers exactly that: family-friendly recipes that come together quickly using ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. In addition to soups, salads, sandwiches, and casseroles, you’ll find a whole chapter on eggs for dinner, grilled items, and even pressure cookers. Pasta lovers rejoice; the pasta section has the lion’s share of recipes, including one-pot pasta dishes, pasta with meat/seafood/poultry, and Asian noodles (pad thai, soba noodles, ramen). Short on time? Look for the items marked “super fast” and shortcut desserts.

“Getting Started” gives you a quick primer in illustrated knife skills, including some great lessons on how to prep various fresh veggies. An illustrated “who’s who” of kitchen equipment (and the top recommended brands) will quickly help you choose the right tool for the job.

Picky eaters? You’ll find a kid-friendly chapter featuring potato chip-crusted chicken fingers (and variations including fritos and funyuns), homemade corn dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and easy cheesy hot pockets. Vegetarians visiting? Perhaps a spinach strudel with olives and goat cheese, or a wild mushroom ragout with farro.

Need some quick baked goods for a bake sale? Fear not, you’ll find peanut butter truffles, chocolate-cherry almond bars, easy chocolate chip cookies, and other baked (and no-bake) goods galore. Shortcut desserts round out the offerings, with various fruit desserts, individual cakes, and parfaits.

Handy step-by-step photos and product photos make recipes easy. Oftentimes a recipe has several suggested variations that allow you to play with various flavor combos (like a coconut cardamom rice pudding, for example). The Quick Pantry is a great photo guide to recommended brands / products and helpful tips.

Overall, this would be a great first cookbook for someone new to cooking; the numerous photos and recipe shortcuts make it great for weeknight cooking, when the last thing on your mind is slaving over a hot stove for hours. There’s enough variation and international influences that you can make the same recipe several times and end up with something different each time, and plenty of options for kids / picky eaters / vegetarians to boot.

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