Books for Cooks

Barbara Burke

Convenience foods
speed meals to table

The best-selling author of "The Cake Mix Doctor" and "Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor" is now writing prescriptions for dinner. Just in time for the hectic holiday season, "The Dinner Doctor" shows you how to add fresh ingredients to store-bought convenience foods to create home-style meals in no time flat.

"The Dinner Doctor"
by Anne Byrne
(Workman Publishing,
paperback, $14.95)
Star Star

Recipes are based on doctoring basic prepared items. For example, author Anne Byrne offers 30 ways to serve deli-roasted chicken and 20 things to do with a bag of spinach.

All you need to do is look at the table of contents to see how easy cooking with the dinner doctor can be. Entire chapters are devoted to Salad in a Bag, One-Dish Comfort Food and Hands-Off Cooking. Look a little closer and you will notice hundreds of tips and suggestions for getting good tasting meals on the table in a hurry.

"The Dinner Doctor" includes traditional dishes, such as beef stew and lasagna, as well as inventive recipes such as Greek-style One-Bowl Chicken Souvlaki. There are 50 pages of vegetarian recipes, and nearly as many on pasta. Color photographs at the front of the book give presentation suggestions for 65 recipes.

Without a doubt, you'll save time by using this cookbook. About the only thing quicker than "Dinner Doctor" meals is to hit a drive-through. You will want to watch your waistline, however, as a number of the recipes call for ingredients such as commercial Alfredo-style pasta sauce, pesto sauce, cheese, creamed soups and frozen creamed vegetables.

This speedy dish makes good use of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Turkey Hash in a Flash

2 tablespoons butter
14 ounces frozen diced potatoes with onions and bell peppers
2 cups finely chopped roast turkey or chicken
1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 clove garlic, crushed
Cayenne pepper or hot sauce

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add frozen potatoes and cook, stirring, until onions brown slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add turkey, chicken broth and garlic. Stir to combine, then season with salt and cayenne to taste. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes.

Taste and add more salt and cayenne as needed. Serve at once. Serves 6.

Dinner Doctor's Tip: If using regular chicken broth, don't add any salt to this recipe. And by all means use another 1/2 cup of turkey if you have it on hand.

Approximate nutritional information per serving (using skinless roast turkey and no added salt): 160 calories, 5 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 15 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 110 mg sodium.

Rating Scale: StarStarStarStar Best in its class / StarStarStar Highly recommended / StarStar Recommended / Star Not recommended

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor who teaches and writes about food and nutrition. Contact her at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail her at:

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