Review: The $7 a Meal Quick & Easy Cookbook

Despite what the media and politician’s (let’s face it; they are the same thing) keep saying, the economy is only getting worse. Americans love their sequels but I don’t think the Great Depression II is one they have been looking forward to. Never the less it is here. The big wigs in DC may not be feeling the pinch but the rest of us are and like our predecessors we are pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.

Chef Susan IrbyTake Chef Susan Irby (the Bikini Chef) for instance who has just published her new The $7 a Meal Quick & Easy Cookbook (Adams Media, 2009). Irby is a cheflebrity who has cooked with the likes of Todd English and Ming Tsai and for the likes of Patrick Swayze, David Spade and Kate Segal. But in this 332 page guide she teaches you how to cook like a celebrity chef without blowing your fiscal or time budget.

The 301 recipes found within sound expensive but are not like the Grilled, Herb-Custed Pork Chops with White Wine Sauce ($6.96), Baked Tortillas with Crab and Basil ($6.60) and London Broil with Merlot Marinade ($7 flat). But what really sets Irby’s work apart from others is the way she gives you a basic recipe then teaches you how to elaborate on it. Take for instance the humble omelet; first the Bikini Chef gives her basic omelet recipe then she expands on it with the Roasted Red Pepper Omelet, Vegetarian Omelet and the Golden Apple Omelet made with both Parmesan and Bleu cheeses.

Each recipe is broken down with a chart that details prep time, cook time, total cost, calories, fat, protein, cholesterol and sodium content. The book consists of fifteen chapters thirteen of which are recipes. The first two are purely instructional with chapter one providing information for those new to the home cooking game include a list for a properly stocked pantry and freezer while chapter two is full of tips for shopping on a budget.

The $7 a Meal Quick & Easy Cookbook is perfect for the 20-something just starting out or the family that is having to reinvent itself because of trying economic times.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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