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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rachael Ray's Master Ingredients: For Best Results, Use This List with Another Rachael Ray Cookbook, 22 Mar 2007
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rachael Ray Express Lane Meals: What to Keep on Hand, What to Buy Fresh for the Easiest-Ever 30-Minute Meals (Paperback)
If you only buy one Rachael Ray cookbook, avoid this one. Why? It has the least number of good recipes of any of her major cookbooks. And frankly, her best recipes in other books are much better.

If you are going to buy more than one of her cookbooks, definitely look at and consider picking up this one. Why? It has a convenient list of what to stock as your base ingredients for many of Rachael's 30-minute meal recipes. The list will save you a lot of time with future 30-minute meals as you use recipes from other Rachael Ray cookbooks.

What is the strength of the 30-minute meals concept? You can arrive home late after a hard day at work and put together a tastier meal than most people do who arrive home on time and not tired.

What are the weaknesses of how Rachael Ray pursues the concept? I usually see two: You need to already have the right ingredients on hand (or you spend another 20-30 minutes with a trip to the store); and you need to be a very fast chopper and multitasker for the most difficult recipes and menus.

I'm not very good at keeping a master list of items stocked, I chop slowly, and I don't multitask very well. So I focus on Rachael's recipes that happen to match what I have in the house and don't require much chopping or multitasking. Fortunately, most of her recipes that I think taste best fit into that category. Whew!

But if I'm going to do more with 30-minute meals, I need to carry a larger and more diverse inventory. This book gives the list to me that I need to plan and stock that inventory. If that's all you want to use the book for, I suggest you just borrow a copy from the library and jot down the list. If you want a more permanent version, buy a used copy and cut off the cheat sheet on the inside of the back cover that lists where to find the staples and condiments items in the grocery store. On pages 14-16, you can also cut off (and laminate) the lists of all the items you need and suggested places to store them in your kitchen or pantry.

I'm usually quite a big fan of Rachael's recipes. In 242 pages, I only found a few handfuls of recipes that interested me. Here they are:

Spinach-artichoke cheesy tortellini

Open-face blue moon burgers with 'shrooms

Cowboy spaghetti

Smoky black bean and rice stoup

Hungry man bloody-mary burgers and spicy garlic-roasted broccoli

Chicken with scallion-lime sauce and sweet carrot rice

Chicken, chorizo, and hominy stoup

Bacon bit burgers with smoked gouda and steak house smothered onions and baby spinach salad

BLT soup

Fillets of sole Francese and lemon-basil pasta

Red snapper with sweet anchovy-pine nut sauce and caramelized zucchini

Smoked paprika chicken

Everything lo mein

Ginger chicken and noodles with veggies

Black bean, chicken, and chorizo burritos

Bacon-wrapped halibut with seared cherry tomato sauce

Spicy black bean soup with limed-up shrimp

Smoky chipotle-chicken corn chowder with salsa salad

As you can see, most of these are pretty simple dishes. The book is divided into three parts (meals for the exhausted--76 pages, meals for the not too tired--104 pages, and bring it on!--43 pages). If you are always exhausted after work, you'll be disappointed in the relatively few recipes for you.

I think that where the book went wrong was in trying to keep down the number of ingredients you might have to buy specially for one meal. If you are going to have to pick up a few items anyway, what are a few more? It's not like the store is busy on most week nights after work.

If you've watched Rachael on television, you also know she works fast and easily with great energy, and displays wonderful chopping and mixing skills. Keep that in mind when you pick out a recipe from this book to try out. It may take you a lot longer than 30 minutes if the chopping and multiple steps are substantial.
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