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Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade 20-Minute Meals 2
By Sandra Lee
ISBN: 0696238160
Publisher: Meredith Books
Publication date: Sept. 2007
Format: Softcover
List price: $  19.95
Type: Quick & Easy
Sample recipe: Lamb Chops with Garlic and Yogurt Sauce
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 ≥300
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: 7-Eleven airfare required online pantry supermarket
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose bare-bones full-figured educational
Time conscious: unconscious outright lies white lies realistic honorable
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant balanced generous
Photos/drawings: none distracting decorative instructive glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Tone: food police intense neutral supportive comforting
Result: guilt-inducing heavy-handed balanced encouraging inspiring
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy dubious years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: non-existent hard-to-find spotty sufficient every page
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writer: beginner food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good great Ochef Top 100

We imagine Sandra Lee is a lifesaver in many households. She must be, if her steady production of new cookbooks is any measure. Her approach has you combining 70% ready-made foods with 30% fresh ingredients, so that in 20 minutes or less you have something ready to eat. In this book, she suggests combinations of main-course, side-dish, and dessert recipes so that you can quickly put together full meals.

Cooking from her books is not as simple as stumbling home, opening the book, and whipping something up. You have to plan ahead to have a pretty specific group of ingredients on hand – as always, Lee specifies the brand of ingredients she wants you to use. (Less mainstream ingredients will be hard to find.) You also have to have hard-boiled eggs on hand or other prepared ingredients for some recipes, which occasionally kills the 20-minute promise.

Chapters include Snacks & Starters; Pasta; Beef, Pork & Lamb; Fish & Shellfish; Chicken & Turkey; and Treats & Desserts (which includes a few cocktails). With some recipes, it is a misnomer to use the word "cooking;" it is more accurate to refer to "assembling" or "decorating."

As usual, we have serious reservations about some of her recipes. The Pink Strawberry Popcorn made with strawberry Kool-Aid looks horrible; the Chocolate Caramel Corn Candy Cubes contain about a billion calories each (and we never count calories!); and the Shrimp and Cheesy Grits suffer in both name and execution. For at least some of these recipes we ask ourselves if it wouldn't be simpler and just as tasty to buy something frozen at the grocery store? Lee's Fettuccine with Parmesan Sauce, in which you combine bottled white sauce with DiGiorno grated Parmesan cheese, looks like more work than simply buying Stouffer's Fettuccine Alfredo, and the result doesn't really look better (although Lee dresses hers up with a bit of fresh parsley and a touch of cayenne pepper).

There is no subtlety in the dishes presented in this book. Still, there is a good mix of innovative, creative, quick recipes, and if Sandra Lee is a lifesaver in your household, you'll like this book as much as or more than her earlier efforts.


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