Published by Front Table Books on June 14, 2016
Source: From the Publisher
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Skip the hassle of last-minute meals and leftovers and replace them with simple, healthy, delicious, and easy-to-prepare make-ahead dishes! Your family will love these comfortable meals, new favorites, cozy drinks, and tantalizing desserts--all of them prepared ahead of time so you don't have to worry! Enjoy simple, soul-filling foods without the chaos of preparing them at the last minute.
Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Annalise Thomas’s new cookbook, The Make-Ahead Kitchen, hosted by Cedar Fort! I don’t get many opportunities to review cookbooks, but I enjoy them a lot and always have fun looking over recipes and mouthwatering pictures of yummy food. I’m reviewing the PDF version of this cookbook, so I won’t be talking about print/image/paper quality like I usually do, but that’s ok. I’ll be talking about the recipes, the layout of the book, and any other details that I think you might be interested in.
The author provides a set of general notes at the very beginning of the book to help readers understand how she measures certain ingredients, and to provide more information on the kinds of ingredients she uses. For example, if the recipe calls for butter the author always means salted butter. She also touches on how to tell if her recipes are gluten free and notes that she offers gluten free options if she can. I thought this was a nice touch. We then move into the introduction, where the author enthusiastically pushes this idea of planning ahead and having meal options already made either in the freezer or the fridge the accommodate busy lives and particularly busy days. She claims that all of the recipes in this book can be made ahead of time and frozen and refrigerated for later consumption. I really like this idea!
The rest of the book is broken down into 7 sections of recipes: breakfasts (15 recipes); soups and salads (9 recipes); appetizers, snacks, and sides (9 recipes); main dishes (13 recipes); cookies and bars (14 recipes); desserts (12 recipes); and drinks (3 recipes). There is an index at the end. All recipes have accompanying instructions that explain how to save the meals for later. The recipes do not seem to be very difficult to make, and the instructions are detailed and make sense to me. I was a bit disappointed that 14 of the 75 recipes in this book centered around cookies/bars (most cookies can be made ahead and frozen already), especially when the book’s sub-title claims that this book contains recipes for 75 meals. Technically, the book only contains 37 recipes for make-ahead meals (if you count soups and salads as meals instead of side dishes/appetizers).
Each recipe (except 1) is accompanied by a large, colorful photo of the dish. Many cookbooks I’ve looked at over the years only have pictures here and there of a few of the star recipes, so I love having a picture of each dish. So often I decide I’m hungry for something by seeing it instead of reading about it, so this is a huge selling point for me. Many of the photos looked very appetizing and delicious, but there were also several food photos that looked a little crusty and old, like they had been sitting out for a long time waiting to be photographed (this was the case with the cashew chicken and brown rice casserole, the rich & creamy fully loaded make-ahead mashed potatoes, and the easy baked mac & cheese, among others).
There is a large assortment of recipes, but I quickly noticed that the theme here is sweet stuff. 26 of the 75 recipes are cookies, bars, or desserts. Only one of the breakfast recipes is not sweet (the roasted veggie & ham overnight egg bake), and all three drink recipes are sweet. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it’s worth noting. I eat sugar very sparingly and tend to like more savory foods (especially for breakfast), so this book would not be one that I would buy for myself. If you love sweet foods, though, it’s got some very unique sounding recipes, such as easy cardamom sweet cream biscuits, sour cream pumpkin bread, peanut butter & jelly puffs, and freezer-friendly salted carmel corn. There are savory recipes that sound good as well including make-ahead pepperoni pizza rolls and slow cooker french onion beef soup. There are just fewer than I would have liked to see.
Overall, I love the idea for this cookbook. Planning ahead by making meals and saving them for later is becoming a huge thing in my neck of the woods, and I think it’s a great idea. It saves you from having nothing for dinner when you just don’t have time to cook that day. I did have a few issues with the selection of recipes and the ingredients used (there’s several recipes that use coconut and/or curry, and I’m allergic to both of those), but that’s just a personal thing on my part. It does, however, affect my rating. I was also not overly impressed with the book’s layout and would have liked to see a little more creativity there.
If you’re searching for recipes for dishes that will hold up after refrigeration or freezing, or if you’re looking for some unique recipes to try, perhaps this cookbook is just what you’re looking for. However, it will not be my go-to recommendation for friends and family.