20 November 2021

Weekend Cooking: The Pioneer Woman Cooks Super Easy! by Ree Drummond

Book cover of The Pioneer Woman Cooks Super Easy by Ree DrummondFor years, I've had a love-neutral relationship with Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. I loved following her success in growing her blog into a household name, establishing a television presence, and building a mini-empire. I love that her recipes are amazingly reliable, but I hit a stumbling block because she and I have different ways of cooking and eating. Still, when I was offered the chance to review her new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks Super Easy, I knew I wanted to take a look. Thanks so much to William Morrow for the review copy. All thoughts are my honest opinion.

The theme of Drummond's new book is summed up in the subtitle: "120 Shortcut Recipes for Dinners, Desserts, and More." As she writes in the introductory sections, Drummond's life has become busier as her family grows and her professional responsibilities increase. She's given herself permission to use shortcuts and to embrace prepared ingredients because "that means more time hanging with your family, gardening, reading, or taking selfies with your dogs."

Photo of stromboli from The Pioneer Woman Cooks Super Easy by Ree DrummondSo what are some those ingredients? Bagged salad greens, bottled dressings and sauces, canned beans and tomato products, baking mixes, frozen doughs, dried and refrigerated pasta, bakery breads, and boxed stocks and broths. So, for example, instead of making her own pesto, she's happy to use a good-quality sauce from the grocery. She hasn't gone 100% processed foods, though, as I saw at least five recipes for homemade salad dressing. On the other hand, her shrimp and ramen soup uses frozen cooked shrimp, bottled Thai chili sauce, store-bought vegetable broth, inexpensive dried ramen noodles, and frozen vegetables.

I found quite a few recipes that caught my eye. Some I'll use simply for inspiration, like her entire salad chapter. Others I plan to make pretty much as is, like the broccoli-cheese stromboli (see scan), sheet-pan gnocchi (see video), baked risotto, chicken with mustard herb sauce, teriyaki chicken sheet pan supper, enchiladas two ways, and chorizo burgers. One of the several recipes I've already tried is Taco Shells and Cheese, which is essentially taco meat mixed into pasta and topped with sour cream and salsa. Yum!

Photo of Steak Pizzaiola from The Pioneer Woman Cooks Super Easy by Ree DrummondSeveral recipes in the dessert chapter called to me, including a quick fruit galette, which uses premade pie crusts from the grocery store. I'm dying to try her mug cakes: you mix the ingredients for a single-serving cake right in the mug and then microwave to bake. They look fantastic and perfect for those times when you just want a little something in the evening.

Recommendation: Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks Super Easy would make a great gift to a whole host of cooks: those looking for shortcuts, those just learning to cook, those who are too busy to make each ingredient from scratch, and those who cook in RVs or vacation houses, and college students. Is it healthier to avoid box mixes and prepared sauces? Sure. Is it always realistic to spend a couple hours cooking each day? No. This cookbook celebrates the easy.

Here's a short video of Ree Drummond making two sheet-pan recipes on The Today Show

Note: The scans and video clip are used in the context of a review; all rights remain with the original copyright holders.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 11/20/21, 7:47 AM  

I know a lot of people who would be delighted to receive this cookbook as a holiday gift.

gluten Free A_Z Blog 11/20/21, 8:36 AM  

Thanks for the review. I'm all about super easy recipes and I do like to find store made sauces when prepping for company. Yesterday, I bought a peanut sauce to go with my spring rolls that I made. Not sure how many vegan recipes but it's all about ideas. Thanks.

Jackie McGuinness 11/20/21, 10:38 AM  

Like you I have followed her from her beginning and also have gone off her as her popularity grew. I always like her recipes though.
I have gone through a streak of not buying prepared foods such as salad dressings and making my own. But I have found a local line of salad dressings from Farm Boy and I now have 5 kinds in my fridge.
The same for chili sauce and other condiments. But I have decided that it is silly, why not buy a good prepared version??? In fact chili sauce is on my shopping list right now along with red curry paste.

Jackie McGuinness 11/20/21, 10:43 AM  

P.S. I just "went" to the library and see that book is on a wait list so I added it to my wish list. I see some of her other books are available so will borrow one. I will also check out her magazine.

Les in Oregon 11/20/21, 11:51 AM  

You echo my exact feelings about PW. I have three of her cookbooks and loved following reading each one with the wonderful photos and family stories. I even read her memoir and followed her blog. It's been years since I've even glanced at those cookbooks, although I will dig one out this week to make her perfect mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. I'll have to check this new cookbook out from the library and see if I need to add it to my collection. Thanks, Candace!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 11/20/21, 11:52 AM  

I have several of her books, we don't always cook the same way but they are a fun read. I appreciate your review, thanks, I might suggest it or offer it as a gift because you are correct in your list of who might like to have a copy.

Melissa 11/20/21, 2:41 PM  

Mug cakes are the best! I've made them on several nights when we don't have ice cream or another type of dessert in the house. Delish! I feel the same way as you about The Pioneer Women -- love-neutral is a perfect description.

Tina 11/20/21, 4:19 PM  

I have this book on hold at the library and I am number 6 in line. Good to see your review and I think I'd love the taco meat with spaghetti.

Marg 11/21/21, 4:06 AM  

I do like the sound of a teriyaki chicken sheet pan dinner!

Greg 11/23/21, 1:04 AM  

Looks like a cookbook worth checking out. Broccoli- cheese stromboli sounds yummy.

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