Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review: Sandra Lee Money Saving Meals & Round 2 Recipes

Summary: In Money Saving Meals and Round 2 Recipes, Sandra Lee helps readers save more money than ever before one meal at a time, as she does in her highly popular Food Network show.

These dishes are easy, quick-scratch style, and include dishes such as Slow Cooker Short Ribs, Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Salsa, Chicken Tacos with Cucumber Salsa, Beanless Beef Chili, S’mores Pudding Parfait, and much more.

Each recipe combination offers money-saving pricing and total savings for delicious healthful, quick, easy meals so that readers see what they save with every dish. The savings, and your repertoire of tasty, effortless meals, quickly add up on cooking. In these budget-conscious times, Sandra’s Money Saving Meals truly hits home, offering “the maximum joy with the minimum kitchen and grocery shopping stress.” -- Hyperion

If you follow my blog at all, then you know I absolutely adore cookbooks. I am always on the lookout for recipes that are quick and easy, yet also healthy. So when I read the sub-title of SANDRA LEE MONEY SAVING MEALS & ROUND 2 RECIPES: 149 EASY QUICK-SCRATCH RECIPES YOUR FAMILY WILL LOVE!, then I decided that it definitely warranted a further look. Not only were the recipes being billed as "easy", but they were also supposedly "money-saving." Two huge pluses in my book!

If I'm being entirely honest with you, I haven't always been the biggest fan of Sandra Lee. I like her show and I love many of her entertaining ideas, but I've been a little bit disappointed with some of her cookbooks in the past. Many of the recipes are easy (which I love!), but they also tend to have a lot of pre-packaged ingredients. I'm the first to tell you that I don't always cook or eat healthy; however, I do my best to use as many fresh ingredients as possible. As a result, I don't think I've picked up one of Ms. Lee's cookbooks in some time.

So I was curious to check out MONEY SAVING MEALS AND ROUND 2 RECIPES because it does state right on the cover that the recipes are "quick-scratch." (Those words are music to my ears!) And I will say that this cookbook is much improved over some of her older ones as far as I'm concerned. I was pleasantly surprised that almost all of the recipes used fresh ingredients, and the recipes were actually pretty easy to prepare. Having said that, some of the recipes (like the one I tested) aren't all-together healthy. But that's not what this book claims to be. Plus, many of the recipes are perfect for entertaining; and who wants to cook low-fat and healthy for guests -- they just might not come back!

The format of this cookbook is a little different from other cookbooks. It is divided into sections based on recipes for an entire meal. For example, there is a chapter for "Big Easy Dinner" and one for "Feeding a Crowd." There are about 25 different meal/entertaining ideas from Mexican themed dinners to holiday ones, and I can confidently say that they are all relatively simple and inexpensive to prepare.

Now this is what makes this book even more different -- there are "Round 2" options for each meal. By that, I mean that Ms. Lee advises you to save part of one recipe and use it another meal or another course. While I think this is a fantastic idea, I'm not sure that I'm geared towards this concept (I know....) You almost have to make the entire meal to take advantage of these savings, and I usually like to pick and choose the sides, desserts, appetizers, etc. So if I had an "issue" with this cookbook, it's that some of the recipes weren't exactly stand-alone -- they depended on making a prior dish. Not a big deal, but I would have liked to have seen some other options.

There is also another very nice feature of MONEY SAVING MEALS AND ROUND 2 RECIPES. Since it is geared towards those of you who like to save a penny or two when cooking, there are also cost breakdowns for each ingredient in every recipe. So you can get an idea of what the entire meal costs to prepare or just a portion of it. I probably don't pay too much attention to the total costs, but maybe I should!

There were many recipes that I was interested in trying; however, I decided to make something I thought was appropriate for this time of year -- the Pumpkin Mousse. It came from the chapter called "A Bountiful Harvest" and was one of five different ideas for a Thanksgiving Dinner. (If you are interested, here are the other four recipes: Roasted Turkey Breast with Spicy Herb Oil, Golden Raisin and Walnut Stuffing, Baked Mashed Potatoes,  and Pumpkin Pie Martini. There are also two Round 2 recipes -- Turkey Soup and Fried Potato Cakes.) The pumpkin mousse was extremely easy to prepare and tasted amazing -- of course, it was not low-fat after I added 2 cups of heavy cream! I will be serving it to friends this weekend and I look forward to their reactions.

Now here's the fun part. I saved two tablespoons of the pumpkin mixture (pre-heavy cream) to use to make the Pumpkin Pie Martini. I've never had a Pumpkin Pie Martini, but it sounds wonderful with half-and-half, pumpkin, spices, sparkling water and vanilla vodka!

If you are a fan of Sandra Lee's or someone who is always on the lookout for inexpensive, easy and healthy meals, then I highly suggest checking out MONEY SAVING MEALS AND ROUND 2 RECIPES.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this cookbook.

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Serena said...

I like the idea of quick-scratch as well..I'm wondering what you mean by the take two it that you use the leftovers for another meal? That would help me out a lot because I often have leftovers and run out of ideas of what to do with them.

bermudaonion said...

I've watched Lee's show a few times and haven't been tempted by her recipes since she does use so much pre-packaged food. I'm glad to see this cookbook doesn't. I'll have to check it out.

Beth F said...

I love Sandra Lee's sense of style and inventiveness but I too tend not to cook with so much packaged foods. This sounds like a book that would work for us because we do eat leftovers, especially when they're turned into something else.

Her cocktails and table settings are my favorite parts of her show. LOL. The pumpkin drink sounds heavenly.

TheBookGirl said...

Even tho like other commenters, I have tended not to use many of her recipes because of the preponderance of packaged foods involved, what I do like about her shows is her sense of whimsy, how she tries to show that entertaining should be fun and not so stressful.

Little Nell said...

I’m discovering new uses for pumpkins, but the martini idea is definitely a new one!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I don't know if the pumpkin martini sounds great or gross! LOL But the mousse definitely sounds tempting!

Lisa@ButteryBooks said...

I am a big fan of Sandra Lee. She had such a hard start in life and really made something of herself. Plus semi-homemade is sometimes all I have time for.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

Sometimes Sandra's ideas are good for a quick meal night. I try not to use too many pre-packaged items either. Too much sodium in all that stuff. I do have one of her cookbooks but rarely use it. I will have to take a glance through this one.

Vicki said...

If it saves money, I'm all for checking it out!
Here's My WC

JoAnn said...

Not sure whether the 'quick scratch' description or the pumpkin pie martini interests me more ;-)

Marg said...

I am always fascinated by the use of pumpkin in different countries. I have posted about some of these differences before, but one of these is that I can't quite get my head around using pumpkin in sweet dishes, and especially not in a drink! Pumpkin pie martini!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I've watched the show a time or two and was interested in her cookbooks when they first came out. Like you I was disappointed in the pre-packaged ingredients and the few recipes I did make didn't seem to ever turn out as she indicated they would. I will definitely take a look at this one based on the differences you described. I'm all about saving a penny or two these days!

Anna said...

I enjoy her shows but I haven't made any of her recipes. Sounds like an interesting cookbook, though.