Book Review:’s Dining Out at Home – Frugal Novice

Book Review:’s Dining Out at Home

Many of you are probably familiar with Stephanie Manley’s site – it’s a resource for finding recipes you can make at home to replicate your restaurant favorites. Stephanie has a new cookbook coming out soon called’s Dining Out at Home, and I got the opportunity to take a sneak peek of this great collection of recipes – and even gave some of them a try.

The book is a collection of original recipes Stephanie created to mimic those found in restaurants around the country. Right off the bat I could see the immediate appeal for families like ours, those looking to save money (and those who know how stressful going out to eat with toddlers can be). In cooking the foods ourselves, we’re able to trim the cost that restaurants add in to cover their overhead. When eating at home, we don’t have to worry about tipping our server. These aspects alone make this book a valuable asset for any family kitchen.

I tried my first recipe Saturday night, when my husband and I decided to have a date night in – inspired by this cookbook, really. I made Stephanie’s recipe for Chili’s skillet queso. Let me tell you, this recipe could not be any easier. TWO ingredients. Can’t really beat that! I halved the recipe since I knew it would just be the two of us eating it, and even that was more than enough – this would be perfect for a party, because it goes a long way. Brian and I both thought it tasted even better after reheating it, as the flavors seemed to have melded together even more.

Here’s a photo of the skillet queso – minus the skillet! We do have a small cast-iron skillet, so I think if I ever make this for company I’d probably place a portion of it in the skillet and heat it in the oven right before serving.

Tonight I tried two more of the recipes – Chili’s Margarita Grilled Chicken and Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice. The chicken recipe called for chicken breasts, but all I had on hand was chicken tenderloin – it worked just fine. We sliced  it before serving for convenience, but if we’d had whole breasts on hand I think I would have left them whole just because that’d make a really pretty plate.

The chicken was tender and had great flavor to it – C, who may I remind you is not even a year old yet – ate the equivalent of an entire tenderloin. We all really liked it, including my brother who was over visiting. It’s another easy recipe, too – just three ingredients to this one. Even a beginner in the kitchen could recreate this without problems.

My favorite part of the meal was the rice – I think I’m in love. With rice. It is THAT good. The recipe called for Basmati rice, which I had never even heard of before. Let me tell you, I’m a convert. This rice is a fragrant long-grain rice imported from India. It, mixed with the cilantro and lime, is a-MAZING. This recipe tastes just like the rice you’d find at Chipotle, which is especially nice for us since the nearest location is several hours away.

Our fabulous meal – paired with black beans, chips and salsa:

After trying just these few recipes, I’m hooked. I can’t wait to try more – or to have guests over to try them too.  Stephanie has another helpful feature in her book – the icon guide – that suggests recipes that might be good to “impress the guest,” or those good for meat lovers, or to serve at a tailgating party, for instance. The icons serve as a quick reference point when you’re flipping through the pages looking for a recipe for your particular occasion. The only thing this book lacks is photos of the recipes, which would be a nice addition.

I’d definitely recommend adding Dining Out at Home to your collection. It’s a great way to add some variety into your meals at home and give you the feeling of dining out even when you stay in. The book isn’t available yet, but you can preorder it on Amazon until then.

Note: This was not a paid post, and honest opinions were provided. I received a free copy of the cookbook for review, but was not compensated in any way.

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  • Jessica March 24, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    I found you on the MBN blog thread list of blogs and stopped by to check you out. Yeah, now I have a new blog to follow! Love your photos, the set-up and feel of your blog and the great topics you have here. This cookbook sounds great, going to add it to my Amazon wish-list. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kristen March 25, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Sounds like a really fun & yummy cookbook! I’ll definitely have to try it out!!!
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..Things a 3 1/2 year old says =-.

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Christi S and Christi S, Christi S. Christi S said: Reviewed the new cookbook by @copykatrecipes. Want to make Chili's Skillet Queso at home? With this book, you can! […]

  • kim March 25, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Sounds like some great tasting food. Your photo was delicious looking!
    .-= kim´s last blog ..Life Can Be Slippery! =-.

  • Melissa May 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Where did your rice recipe come from? It sounds yummy!

  • Vinnie Hatta May 11, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I love the post. It looks yummy. Thank you!

  • Redflower January 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    I have made the Basmati Lime & Cilantro Rice many times. It tastes just as good if not better than Chipotle’s. I buy a big burlap bag of Basmati at Sams. Good price and good quality.

  • Christi January 11, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Thanks for the tip on the rice, Redflower! We still love the Basmati rice but I have never thought to look for it at Sam’s!

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