Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals: Featuring 200 Recipes for Quick and Easy Dinners

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Heeding the pleas of modern multitasking home cooks, Television Food Network’s Sara Moulton returns with 200 delicious and quick main dishes, sides, and desserts for busy workweek dinners.

As the host of Cooking Live and Sara’s Secrets, the food editor of Good Morning America, and the bestselling author of Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, Sara Moulton is one of this country’s most popular and accessible celebrity chefs. It was while touring the U.S. promoting her first book, in fact,...

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Heeding the pleas of modern multitasking home cooks, Television Food Network’s Sara Moulton returns with 200 delicious and quick main dishes, sides, and desserts for busy workweek dinners.

As the host of Cooking Live and Sara’s Secrets, the food editor of Good Morning America, and the bestselling author of Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, Sara Moulton is one of this country’s most popular and accessible celebrity chefs. It was while touring the U.S. promoting her first book, in fact, that Sara's fans begged her for fast, tasty, and wholesome weeknight entrees. She realized that she, too, had a need for those kinds of dishes, which was all her busy schedule would allow. In writing this book, Sara rethought dinner itself, so that mealtimes no longer featured the same predictable recipes. Instead she offers “breakfast for dinner” or hearty soups or sandwiches. The result is a cookbook filled with easy and popular ethnic dishes to spice up the repertoire, her own versions of American classics, dishes to whip up from pantry staples as well as supermarket salad bar and deli items, and slow-cooking recipes for leisurely weekends.

With recipes that will satisfy taste buds as well as time constraints, Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals covers the spectrum from entree salads (Thai-style Steak Salad with Spicy Mint Dressing), substantial sandwiches (Scampi Heroes), hearty soups for supper (Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Chorizo and Greens), breakfast foods for dinner (Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Fried Eggs), pasta (Quick Asparagus Lasagna), seafood (Steamed Mussels in Curried Coconut Broth), vegetable plates (Exotic Mushroom Pot Pie), meat dishes (Meatloaf Burgers), double-duty dishes (leftover rice in Cheatin' Jambalaya), weekend dishes to cook ahead (Slow-cooked Chinese Spareribs), recipes that either can be put together in no time with prepared supermarket ingredients (Crispy Polenta Slices with Gorgonzola and Leeks) or from a well-stocked pantry (Linguine with White Bean, Sun-dried Tomato, and Olive Sauce), to delectable desserts (Chocolate Bread Pudding, Gingerbread Pancakes with Butterscotch Apples, Nectarine and Plum Upside-down Cake).

Recipes include hands-on cooking time and total cooking time as well as suggestions for side-dish pairings. Twenty-four beautiful color photos, warm and friendly headnotes, and lots of Sara's tips and shortcuts (including advice on stocking a pantry, basic recipes, simple sides, quick sauces, and mail-order sources) make this another cookbook for Sara’s fans to cherish.

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Editorial Reviews
"Sara isn't just our tiny, pert chum from the Food Network. She's also a working wife and mother who wrote this book for all the others who, like her, want to feed their families well in what always seems too-little time."
Hannah Meehan Spector
"I barely could stop cooking from it to write this review. This is truly an everyday cookbook for everyone - chock full of food that is easy, accessible, and most of all irresistible."
Michelle Green
"Sara Moulton has a gift for creating quick, accessible renditions of fine cuisine. And while many of the recipes in her second cookbook are weekday-simple, others are just right for streamlining the holidays.....Who says you've got to suffer to make a gorgeous meal?"
Nick Malgieri
"Nowadays the cookbook market is crammed with flimsy books by TV chefs, and most of them are just a bit of fluff to attract viewers to book signings. 'Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals' is anything but one of those books - it's a serious look at a problem faced by many home cooks with delightful and practical solutions."
Cookbook Digest
Publishers Weekly
Moulton, a Food Network and Gourmet chef, wants to help home cooks produce elegant meals without excessive fuss. For each dish in this assemblage, she indicates hands-on time and total cooking time, with most calculated to require under 45 minutes (though cooks who are less efficient at prepping than Moulton may dispute some of the estimates; Mexican Chicken Salad, for instance, indicates 15 minutes of hands-on time, but with all the chopping and washing, some amateurs will soon reach the 25 minutes allotted for the whole process). Besides chapters on soup, pasta, meat and so on, there are several revolving around time-saving tips: "Shop and Serve" has recipes like the fast but tasty Tortellini Pepperoni Spinach Soup, and dishes in "Just Open the Pantry" use items from a kitchen stocked with Moulton's long list of recommended staples. "Cooking Ahead," meanwhile, unleashes the gourmet chef in Moulton with lengthier recipes that can be made on the weekend and reheated. Moulton's readers may not get these dishes on the table as quickly as she can, but cooks willing to put in some time in the kitchen each night will appreciate this book's excellent international range as well as its helpful shortcuts. Color photos. (Oct. 18) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Sara's Secrets is also the name of Moulton's current Food Network series, and her second book shares the same warm, down-to-earth style that has made all of her shows so popular. She notes that while she was promoting her first cookbook, Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, many fans told her what they most wanted were quick and easy recipes for everyday family dinners. Although the author loves cooking, she realized that reality does not always match her fantasy of leisurely family suppers-and these recipes are her answer for all those other busy cooks. Most of them are for main dishes, but along with the standard fish, meat, and poultry sections, there are chapters on "Breakfast for Dinner," "Soup for Supper," and "The Substantial Sandwich." "Shop and Serve" offers recipes that draw on high-quality convenience foods or other prepared items, and "Just Open the Pantry" includes meals put together with staples on hand. Each recipe lists both hands-on and total prep times. Some of the ingredients lists are on the long side, but most readers will find Moulton's recipes just the thing for a family meal or a casual meal with friends. Sure to be in demand. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767916592
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/18/2005
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 358
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.35 (d)

Meet the Author

SARA MOULTON is the host of Public Television’s Sara’s Weeknight Meals and the author of Sara Moulton Cooks at Home. She is Gourmet magazine’s executive chef and the food editor of ABC’s Good Morning America. Sara lives in New York City with her family.

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Read an Excerpt

Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals

By Sara Moulton

Random House

Sara Moulton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 076791659X

Chapter One


Creole Spice Mix

Hands-on time:
5 minutes

Total preparation time:
5 minutes

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon hot paprika (see pages 183 and 347)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly milled black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme


I developed this recipe as a way of glorifying the Blackened Fish in my first cookbook. Usually, I am not a fan of onion and garlic powder-nine and a half times out of ten I'll reach for the fresh-but we're talking about a dry spice mix here, and these powders meld in just fine. Use this spice mix to season fish, meat, or fowl before you cook them. You might even make up a big batch of Creole Spice Mix and parcel it out as gifts for the holidays.

Combine the paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme and transfer to a small airtight container. Use within 3 months.

Todd's Garam Masala

Hands-on time:
6 minutes

Total preparation time:
8 minutes
plus cooling time

2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 1/2 tablespoons green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick, 2 1/2 inches long
4 Turkish bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Todd Coleman, the former food producer of Sara's Secrets and a dear friend of mine, contributed two recipes to this book, both of them Indian. In typical Todd fashion, he also contributed notes about each recipe. Here are his thoughts about the spice mix called garam masala: "Masala is what gives Indian food its tone and feeling. According to Hobson-Jobson, the quirky Anglo-Indian dictionary, masala means 'materials, ingredients . . . or things . . . conducive to good.' Masala most commonly refers to a mix of spices, and garam means warm or hot in Hindi. The spices in garam masala are thought to be warming. Think gingerbread. Use these 'warm materials' to spice up your food and life."

1. Combine the cumin, peppercorns, cardamom pods, coriander, cloves, fennel, cinnamon, and bay leaves in a large, dry skillet. Toast the spices over high heat, tossing or stirring them occasionally, until they have browned lightly and are fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the garam masala to a bowl to cool.

2. When the garam masala has cooled, grind it into a fine powder in a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder, sturdy blender, or mortar and pestle. Transfer the ground masala to a bowl and whisk in the ginger and nutmeg.

3. Store the garam masala in an airtight container, away from heat, light, and moisture, for up to 6 months.

A QUESTION I get asked a lot on my show is how to store dried herbs and spices. Both herbs and spices should be kept in a cool dark place, preferably a closed cupboard or drawer. They will last for about six months, depending on how long they were sitting on the shelf before you purchased them. You can tell by their color how fresh they are. Dried herbs go from green to gray as they age; dried spices also fade in color. (For example, paprika and cayenne should look red, not brown.) What happens after six months? It is not like spices and herbs go bad and will harm you; they just lose flavor, and it will take more of them to get the same effect in a dish. Whole spices have a longer shelf life than ground. You can purchase one of those little coffee grinders and use it exclusively for spices (unless you want your coffee to taste like cumin and coriander). You can even go one step further and intensify the flavor by toasting the spices in a small dry skillet over low heat until they are fragrant, and then grinding them. The best way to clean your spice grinder is to grind a little bread in it. Discard the bread and wipe the grinder out. The bread takes most of the spice aroma out of the grinder.

Bread Crumbs Four Ways

Hands-on time:
2 minutes

Total preparation time:
2 minutes



The bread crumbs you buy in the supermarket are certainly very convenient but often very stale, and will only get more so if you leave them on your shelf for a while. Most of us have leftover bread kicking around at any given time, so rather than toss it, why not turn it into homemade bread crumbs? It takes just two minutes from start to finish to make fresh bread crumbs. I am also including recipes for dried bread crumbs (four minutes of hands-on time), panko bread crumbs (again four minutes), and seasoned bread crumbs (a whopping nine minutes of your time). With the exception of the fresh crumbs, they all keep for several months in an airtight container in your cupboard. The fresh bread crumbs will also keep for several months if you wrap them tightly and freeze them.

1. Break 4 slices (4 ounces) homemade-style white toasting bread into quarters and process in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade until fine crumbs have formed, 45 to 60 seconds.

2. Store in an airtight container in a cool place and use within 2 days or wrap tightly and freeze.


Hands-on time:
4 minutes

Total preparation time:
24 minutes
plus 1 hour drying time


1. Place 4 slices (about 4 ounces) homemade-style white toasting bread on a wire rack and set aside, uncovered, 1 hour, turning once.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Grate the bread by hand on the coarsest side of a metal grater. Spread the crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure they don't begin to brown.

3. Turn off the oven and allow the crumbs to continue to dry as the oven cools. Once they are dry, store the crumbs in an airtight container and use within 2 months.


Hands-on time:
4 minutes

Total preparation time:
20 minutes
plus drying time


1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Break 4 slices (about 4 ounces) homemade-style white toasting bread into 1-inch pieces and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until they just begin to turn golden; stir occasionally and check to make sure they don't get too dark.

2. Turn off the oven and allow the bread to stay in the oven until completely dry, several hours or overnight. Once the toasted bread pieces are dry, process them in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade until fine crumbs have formed, 45 to 60 seconds. Store the crumbs in an airtight container and use within 2 months.


Hands-on time:
9 minutes

Total preparation time:
25 minutes
plus drying time


Dried Bread Crumbs (page 24)
3/4 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup; see grating information, page 10)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Combine the dried bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil, oregano, and garlic powder in a small bowl; stir until thoroughly combined.

2. Store the crumbs in an airtight container and use within several days. For longer storage, add just the herbs and garlic powder with the crumbs; then add the cheese just before using.

Excerpted from Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals by Sara Moulton Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2006

    Don't try the duck

    I admit I'm not a gourmet chef, but I tried the duck recipe in this cookbook for Christmas Eve dinner and it was not a hit. Perhaps duck is just tough to make at home, but I would not recommend the recipe to others. I haven't tried any other items yet...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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