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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review: Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik

Title: Fix, Freeze, Feast: Prepare in Bulk and Enjoy by the Serving - More than 125 Recipes
Author: Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik
Pages: 250
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; illustrated edition edition (November 7, 2007)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Cooking
Edition: Hardback - many thanks to the authors for sending me a copy to review!

Perfect for : Personal Use, Hostess Gift

In a nutshell: The authors, Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik, have written a cookbook that is based on warehouse shopping (Costco, Samsclub, etc) so that you can save money and prepare more than one meal to put in the freezer for later use. Plus, the recipes use the entire tray of meat (or other warehouse items), so you aren't stuck with leftover pieces of meat that you have to quickly cook or freeze. With recipes like: Chicken Cordon Bleu (makes 12 rolls), Pecan-Crusted Chicken Strips (Makes 3 Entrees, about 12 strips each), Tequila-Lime Chicken (Makes 3 Entrees, 4 servings each. View pdf recipe here), Mozzarella Meatballs (Makes 6 entrees, about 20 meatballs each), Pumpkin Muffins (Approx 3 dz), this cookbook will help you save money when shopping, as well as preparing meals that can be frozen and used when you don't have the time to prepare them from scratch. Also helpful are the items in the appendix which include a sample meal plan, shopping list, etc as well as labels that can be copied and used on the freezer packages to make cooking easy!

Extended Review:
The front of the book contains a lot of great information for new and expert freezer cooks! From getting organized and planning your menu, to solutions if you miss an ingredient, or want to prevent ice crystals from forming on the food in the freezer!

Content: From the table of contents: Warehouse Shopping, Family Cooking, Becoming a Warehouse Gourmet, Chicken Main Dishes, Beef Main Dishes, Pork Main Dishes, Meatless Mains, Sides, And Soups, Sauces, Marinades and Flavored Butters, Breakfast, Snacks and Sweets, Branching Out, Appendixes, Resource List, and an Index.

Format: Each recipe starts with a short description, then shares the number of entrees/dishes the recipe will make, along with the servings per dish. (Example: The recipe for Baked Potato Chowder will result in 4 entrees of 6 servings each, or a total of 24 servings.) The recipe then shows you the items you will need, with the warehouse (bulk) items in bold, including packaging items as well (baking dishes, wrap, foil, etc). Next are detailed instructions on preparing the dishes, and finally, how to cook each dish after thawing. Some recipes include extra tips at the bottom. Some also include alternate cooking methods (indoor/outdoor cooking, crock pot/stove, etc).

Readability: The entire book is written in an easily read and understood way.

Overall: This is a great way to cook meals ahead of time for those days you are short on time but still want to save money and avoid fast-food. The back of the book includes a section of instructions that can be copied and taped onto the frozen dishes to make finishing them even easier!

From Amazon:
Millions of shoppers save money buying groceries in bulk — trays of boneless chicken breasts, pairs of flank steaks, and flats of ripe tomatoes. But savings can quickly become losses if those bulk quantities spoil in the refrigerator or lie forgotten — unlabeled and unrecognizable under layers of ice crystals — in the back of the freezer.

Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik have built businesses teaching home cooks how to take advantage of bulk savings by shopping wisely; converting food purchases into delicious, healthful family dinners; and labeling and storing the meals for easy access on busy days. They share all their best recipes and organizational wisdom in Fix, Freeze, Feast, a cookbook every price-conscious shopper will love, and warehouse club members shouldn't be without. With their help, home cooks will have freezers stocked with easy-to-prepare entrées, ready to be defrosted and cooked for weeknight family dinners. Imagine the comfort of knowing a homecooked meal is always available.

Each recipe includes instructions for dividing, preparing, and storing the raw ingredients, and a second set of simple directions for thawing, cooking, and enjoying the food. Designed for the way people cook today, Fix, Freeze, Feast meals are lighter and fresher than traditional bulk-cooking recipes, with a focus on simple stews and stir-fries, quick grilled or broiled main courses, and popular ethnic meals such as Beef Fajitas and Cashew Chicken Stir-fry.

Add to the entrées ready-to-bake cookie doughs, warming soups and side dishes, fruit smoothies, and portable kids' snacks, and those warehouse club shopping trips begin to look more valuable than ever. This is a system that saves time, saves money, and saves families from the empty calories of takeout food. Make room in the freezer for next week's dinner!

About the Author: (From the Fix, Freeze, Feast website)
Meet Kati Neville

Q. Where did you grow up? And, how did that influence your cooking?
A. I grew up in Iowa and wasn't exposed to very much culinary adventuring. I was a picky eater too, which only reinforced my lack of exposure to new flavors. I only began cooking and exploring new flavors after moving to the west coast. I'm enjoying making up for lost time.

Q. How do you develop your recipes?
A. That's changed over the years as I've become more experienced as a cook. I used to follow recipes to the "T." But now I'm much more free form. For example, I have a new spice blend in my cupboard right now. I really want to try it. Since I read so many cookbooks and magazines, I'll start collecting recipes to see what others are doing with this particular ingredient and begin experimenting on my own until I've perfected a recipe for the freezer and my family's tastes.

Q. What can cooks learn from Fix, Freeze, Feast?
A. Our primary goal is to offer cooks an updated, refreshed look at freezer cooking (the process of making meals ahead for the freezer). I own a couple of cookbooks from the 1950s that have specific chapters on these methods, so it's not a new concept at all.

What IS new from Fix, Freeze, Feast, is that we're going beyond casseroles. Whenever someone talks about freezer cooking, they think of casseroles and clumpy white sauces. We're offering cooks more modern recipes.

And finally, we present our recipes on the most common products and package sizing offered at warehouse clubs. The majority of people we know who are members at warehouse clubs, purchase many groceries there. To our knowledge, there is no other resource like ours that tells people specifically how to divide those large packages so they maximize their card savings.

Meet Lindsay Tkacsik

Q. Where did you grow up? And, how did that influence your cooking?
A. I grew up in a small coastal city in northern British Columbia. Although a small city, it is home to many different racial and ethnic groups, including First Nations, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Vietnamese, and East Indian. You can find your favorite ethnic cuisine in its restaurants and a wide variety of exotic ingredients in its grocery stores. Fishing is a major industry, and that means there is an abundance of freshly caught – and often free - seafood to enjoy. I have learned to appreciate a wide range of foods and flavors.

Q. Do you love to cook?
A. I do love to cook! Sometimes the daily grind takes the fun out of getting dinner on the table, though. That's why I love this method so much. Night after night, preparation for dinner is so minimal that time is no longer an issue. I have energy and enthusiasm to spare, and often experiment with new foods.

Q. How do you develop your recipes?
A. As I mention in the book, many of my recipes were developed in an effort to mimic favorite restaurant meals at a time when we had no restaurant budget. I have also worked on having a full repertoire of family friendly, simple recipes that please every member of the family.

Q. What was your worst cooking experience?
A. I can think of many. Along the way to becoming a confident cook, I made numerous mistakes.

Once as a teenager, I wanted to make French fries. I burned the oil so I took the whole pan and set it in the sink – turned on the cold water and…what a disaster! Cold water hitting the hot oil made a huge mess. I had to clean it up quickly before the evidence of my deep frying escapade was discovered (sorry Auntie Darlene).

My worst cooking incident came out of the mistaken notion that I could simply multiply every ingredient in a recipe in order to make a bigger batch of soup. Let me tell you, no matter how large the recipe, you will never need a half a cup of cumin in anything. That huge batch of soup was buried in a hole in the backyard.

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!


Unknown said...

Sounds like a great way to utilize my Sam's Club membership and have a few meals on hand for those days when I don't feel like or don't have the time to cook!

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