Family Circle Quick & Easy Recipes, Editors of Family Circle Magazine

240 pages; Color photographs, $24.95 US
Broadway Books, 2001
Reviewed by Kate Driscoll for Good Cooking
November, 2001

Family Circle Quick & Easy Recipes The editors of Family Circle magazine created the Quick & Easy Recipes cookbook for working mothers and women on the run (the same audience that reads the magazine). After reading the cookbook and testing a few recipes, I was able to conclude that this cookbook will appeal to all novice cooks as well as those people who are interested in preparing health conscious meals; all 300 plus recipes include nutrition information.

Family Circle has created an interesting and unique recipe identification system to help the chef decide what to prepare on any given night. Each recipe has been designated one of six easy-to-identify icons. The icons indicate one of the following: one pot (easy cleanup), quick prep (no more than 10-minutes), quick cook (no more than 10-minutes), 5 ingredients or less, 30-minute maximum, and no cook recipes.
The substitution of convenience items (i.e. 'ready-made' pie crust) in place of 'made from scratch' items is helpful in the quick aspect of the book. Family Circle also provides a list of pantry items that every kitchen must have, as well as their "Kitchen Commandments", all of which I agree with for quick and easy cooking.

In order to fully review this book I decided I must test a few recipes. I chose to test: Basil Stuffed Chicken (p.106), a "30-minute max" recipe; Glazed Baby Carrots, a "5 ingredients or less" recipe (p.169); and the Key Lime Pie a "no cook" recipe (p.191).

A beautiful photograph of the finished dish also accompanied each recipe I chose.(Key Lime Pie, Left) In my review of this cookbook I was looking for a number of things: First - does the icon identification system work, second - accuracy of the recipe and cooking directions, third - taste of final dish and lastly - if my final dishes looked as good as the ones in the photographs.

After eating a delicious meal I was able to conclude that the Quick & Easy Recipes cookbook passed my four major criteria review. My only complaint was with the cooking directions on the chicken dish: the recipe asks you to broil the chicken, but does not specify what level to broil on. My oven started to smoke, but I managed to save the chicken!

Good Cooking likes this book and feels it would be a great addition to anyone's cookbook library. Yes, even professional chefs might like it for good ideas!

Basil Stuffed Chicken

Makes 6 servings
30 minutes MaxPreparation:15 minutesBroil: 8 to 10 minutes
Per Serving: 238 calories, 31 g protein, 8 g fat, l0 g carbohydrate, 683 mg sodium, 76 mg cholesterol.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds total)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces total)
1 tomato, cut into 6 slices
6 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

1. Heat broiler. Brush broiler-pan rack with olive oil; place 8 inches from heat.
2. Place chicken breast halves between sheets of plastic wrap. Lightly pound. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Slice each breast horizontally almost in half, but leaving one side attached. Arrange a mozzarella slice, tomato slice and basil leaf on bottom half of each breast, keeping filling in center. Fold top of chicken over filling, pressing around edges to seal.
3. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan on a sheet of waxed paper. Brush chicken with mayonnaise. Dip chicken into crumbs; press to adhere.
4. Lightly coat both sides of chicken with nonstick cooking spray. Place chicken on prepared broiler-pan rack. Broil 8 to l0 minutes, turning once, or until internal temperature registers 170 on an instant-read thermometer.