Who doesn't like having friends over to share some food, some laughs and some great conversation? If you watch a lot of the so called experts on television or read their books, you can feel a bit intimidated with all you are supposed to do to set the right style and tone. Worrying about somebody else's idea of "perfection" can ruin the fun. The Pillsbury editors created this book from the mindset that gatherings are supposed to be fun and not stressful.
After a couple of pages of introductory notes that highlight what the point that having fun by letting others help by bringing food, using paper plates (that you don't have to make from scratch) and the basic items you should always have in the "party pantry" (most you'll have already have for day to day living) the book launches into the four seasonal sections. Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring are on tap with each one devoted to making the most of the season.
Summer starts off with plan for various events and recipes. Whether it is "Friday Night with Friends," or a "Backyard Burger Bash" or the "Candelight Deck Party" the themes are simple, feature common sense, and are ones that are relatively easy to orchestrate. The same is true with the recipes. Recipes such as "Peachy Keen Slush, Roasted Potato Garlic Dip, Fajita Tortilla Pizzas" and "New York White Chocolate Cheese Cake" or many others that all entice you to the kitchen. Along with the usually full color picture of each dish or drink, there are notes on the number of servings it makes and what is in it from a calorie, fat, salt, cholesterol, etc., standpoint. Such detailed information is extremely helpful for those with medical concerns. Lots of cook books have some dietary info but usually ignore the figures on salt which is a major concern of cardiac and other patients. Here it is included which is a very good thing.
The Fall section signals move of the parties indoors as it begins on page 72. Here again various themes are suggested such as the ones that open the chapter oriented around Labor Day and back to school. "Taco Pizzas" is the first recipe followed numerous ones including "Santa Fe Nectarine Salad, Beef and Green Chile Enchiladas, German Potato and Sausage Casserole, Roasted Vegetables with Spicy Aioli Dip" and many others. The same format is used with large color pictures of the item, ingredient lists, prep time, total time, servings count, caloric info and straight forward directions.
Winter begins on page 114 with the fantastic idea of keeping it simple and low stress during the holiday season. Various party theme ideas such as "Winter Fiesta" and "Sweetheart Supper" among others are included along with recipes for "Frozen Strawberry-Pistachio Dessert, Overnight Cranberry-Orange French Toast, Lime and Mango Coleslaw, Slow Cooker Burritos" among others. The same format regarding pictures and other information continues here.
Page 162 finds the final section "Spring" with the themes flexible for inside and outside such as "Welcome Spring!" and the "Pasta Party" among others. Recipes are plentiful and include "Crab Broccoli and Roasted Red Pepper Quiche" as well as "Cheesy Bean Dip, Cashew–Fudge-Caramel Ice Cream Pie" and many more. Following the same detailed format the recipes are laid out the same way as they have been in the preceding sections.
The book concludes with a short section on the nutrition info that went into the book and basic cooking info, a metric conversion guide and six page indexes.
The result is a simple to use and fun cookbook geared toward making party memories and having a good time. The recipes range from simple to average as far as complexity goes and feature basic items easily available. The color pictures along with the text are easy to see. The dietary information is detailed and extensive and I personally was very pleased to see the salt intake numbers. The book is spiral format inside a hard cover making the book easy to layout on a surface.
All of the above makes this a book well worth owning and one that you will get plenty of use over the next weeks and months.
C'mon Over! Hassle-Free, Hustle Free Entertaining The Pillsbury Editors Wiley Publishing, Inc. 2007 ISBN# 978-0-471-75311-7 Hardcover/Spiral Bound 208 Pages $19.95
Review copy provided by the staff of the Plano Public Library System.
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