Cooking Light, The Complete Quick Cook

clqc_cover.jpgDid your New Year's resolution include losing weight or eating more healthfully? You're not alone. Millions of Americans have made the same resolutions. I just hope you don't go on a diet. Because if you go on a diet, you'll eventually go off a diet.

Here's my advice: skip the diet and buy a book instead, specifically Cooking Light The Complete Quick Cook by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. Having written more than 20 cookbooks together, Weinstein and Scarbrough know how to develop recipes that work. If they say a recipe takes 30 minutes or less, is good for you, and tastes great too, then you can believe them.

In The Complete Quick Cook, you'll learn how to be a savvier shopper, faster cook, and healthier eater, all of which will help you lose weight and keep it off. The book includes over 200 healthy, quick-cook recipes organized into chapters including Fast & Fresh Salads, Convenience Cooking, Stir-Fry, Fast & Fancy, and Sweet Endings. Most are written in short, clear sentences, and have relatively short ingredients lists with easy-to-find ingredients. Nearly all recipes are accompanied by a color photo.

Though many of the recipes call for low-fat ingredients such as fat-free yogurt and reduced-fat cheese, you'll find plenty of indulgent ones including Pear and Prosciutto Pizza with provolone cheese, Spicy Sweet and Sour Pork, and Espresso-Walnut Cake. Not surprisingly the book leans heavily toward skinless chicken breast, turkey, and beans as protein sources, but there are many more tempting options such as Balsamic Steak au Poivre, Clams Casino Stew, and Veal Scaloppine with Mustard Cream Sauce.

Many traditional long-cooking recipes are made-over to suit the time-strapped cook: The Speedy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas call for rotisserie chicken and pre-chopped onions and bell peppers, while the Quick Paella calls for boil-in-bag brown rice.

The Complete Quick Cook is more than just a wonderful collection of easy, healthy recipes; it’s an invaluable resource for home cooks. You’ll learn the top 10 secrets of a quick cook including how to keep a well-stocked pantry (they provide you with list of essential ingredients), how to embrace convenience foods (rotisserie chicken, anyone?), and which foods are quick-cooking (flank steak, pork chops, onions) and long-cooking (brisket, Boston butt, potatoes).

Here's to keeping your New Year's resolutions and to a happier, healthier 2012.

Szechuan Pork
YIELD: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup pork mixture and 1/2 cup noodles).

For the best taste, use natural-style, no-sugar-added peanut butter, a savory flavor against the fiery mix. If peanut allergies are a problem, use cashew butter or tahini.

6 ounces soba (buckwheat noodles), uncooked
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 2-inch strips
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon bottled ground fresh ginger
3/4 cup red bell pepper strips (about 1 small pepper)
1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
11/2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut butter
3/4 cup (2-inch) diagonally cut green onions (about 4 green onions)

1. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain.

2. Heat oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork, chili garlic sauce, and ginger to pan; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add bell pepper to pan; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add broth, soy sauce, and peanut butter to pan. Reduce heat to low; cook 1 minute or until sauce is slightly thick. Stir in onions. Serve over noodles.


Susan Russo is a free lance food writer in San Diego, California. She publishes stories, recipes, and photos on her cooking blog, <Food Blogga and is a regular contributor to NPR’s <Kitchen Window. She is also the author of  Recipes Every Man Should Know and The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.