I confess, in my downtime I watch way too much Food Network, but there is one show I absolutely turn off when it comes on - Sandra Lee's Money Saving Meals. Either you think she's a genius for taking a Le Cordon Bleu (France campus) education and reducing it down to using pre-made items from the grocery store for like 70% of her stuff, or you absolutely hate what she does and how she does it. I tend to fall in the latter category.
So, one day when I was looking for new recipes and for cookbooks I really hadn't given much of a chance in my pantry, I found Sandra Lee's first cookbook, "Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade." It was based on her first TV series and definitely heavily focused on entertaining themes (read: drunken shindigs featuring cocktails for ANY occasion) and party foods to accompany her elaborate tablescapes.
Sandra - not that you read my blog - but I really think you missed your calling as a party planner/interior decorator. Dear Food Network - please put her on HGTV instead - she is really a frustrated interior designer masquerading as a chef! Anyhoo, I found about 5 or 6 appealing recipes and decided to make this cookbook my first victim, er, project in my quest to review my cookbooks.
Obviously, Sandra had a lot to overcome with my bias against what I previously saw. I have to say, in trying all the recipes identified, all but one recipe was a bust. That one recipe, however, was awesome. I've included a modified version of it that I like better. The short version doctors up a deli rotisserie chicken quickly. The long version uses raw poultry and can be done on the grill or in the oven on the broil setting. It received rave reviews from a neighbor as well:
Lemon-Butter Basted Chicken (short version)
1 deli rotisserie chicken, cut up into pieces
1/4 cup butter, melted (the real thing)
1 Tbsp. Hollandaise sauce mix
1 tsp. lemon herb seasoning
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Turn on oven broiler to low. Arrange cut-up chicken pieces on baking sheet. Mix butter, sauce mix, herb seasoning, and lemon juice in a bowl. Brush chicken pieces with the mixture. Place in oven for 4 minutes or until skin is crisped up, but not over browned/burned (you should watch carefully). Remove chicken and turn over. Baste other side and return to oven for 3 - 4 more minutes, again watching for skin to crisp up, but not burn. Remove from oven and baste again before serving with remaining sauce. Goes well with a rice dish and steamed veggies.
The verdict: Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Cookbook was repurposed to a friend who does a lot of entertaining, often with themes. There, the cookbook happily resides with someone who appreciates her talents.