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Ten Dollar Dinners    by Melissa d'Arabian order for
Ten Dollar Dinners
by Melissa d'Arabian
Order:  USA  Can
Clarkson Potter, 2012 (2012)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Melissa d'Arabian, host of Food Network's Ten Dollar Dinners and Cooking Channel's Drop 5 Lbs with Good Housekeeping now brings us her first cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes & Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week.

In her Introduction she tells us, 'I see my recipes as part of a bigger story that shows you how to eat well, be a responsible consumer, and spend with purpose.' She reminds us that 'a budget meal can also be an enticing one', and goes on to demonstrate via her cookbook's 140 recipes. She also suggests sensible Strategies for Saving (e.g. 'Stretch expensive ingredients alongside inexpensive ones') and offers a snapshot of The Ten Dollar Dinner Pantry.

Recipes are divided into: Appetizers & Snacks; Soups; Salads; Fish & Seafood; Chicken; Pork & Beef; Vegetables; Starchy Sides; Pasta; Dessert; and Breakfast. For starters I plan to try Toasted Baguette with Garlic Confit soon (we love garlic!), as well as the Simple Tomato Tart (looks scrumptious!) And who could resist Crispy Sardines with Fried Capers and Parsley? I like the look of Orange Carrot Soup and will definitely apply the chef's tip on freezing fresh herbs (never seem to have them at hand when needed!)

I love spinach salads so will add Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese and Apples to my repertoire. And we eat a lot of seafood in my home - the Thyme and Lemon-Infused Fish en Papillote entices me as does Shrimp Pad Thai (which I eat out often but have never made myself), and (an old favorite) Salmon Cakes. Chicken is another of our staples and Crispy Chicken a l'Orange appeals, as does Grilled Chicken Breasts with Chimichurri Sauce (yumm!)

Haven't eaten red meat for many years now, but if I did, I'd try the Pork Loin Milanese with Arugula Salad and the French-Cut Steak with Caramelized Onions. To go with (or as) the main course, Veggie Moussaka appeals, as does Roasted Eggplant, Onion and Tomato Tian. And I have to try Roasted Radishes and Carrots (who knew you could roast radishes?) and The Crispy Potato Cake. The entire Pasta section makes me salivate - in particular the Shrimp Scampi Linguine.

In the Dessert chapter, I know I'll love Strawberry Pavlovas with Apricot Sauce, Lemon-Ginger Pudding, Chocolate Pain Perdu, and Black Bean Brownies. Usually keep to a simple breakfast, but the home made Honey-Maple Granola with Pecans will fit right in and who can resist a simple recipe for Cinnamon Buns? Not me.

If you're looking for delicious recipes that won't break your budget, try Melissa d'Arabian's Ten Dollar Dinners. And it would make a welcome gift for that son or daughter, niece, nephew or grandchild starting out on their own - maybe they'll even cook a meal with it for their family!

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