Review: Robin Takes 5

Editor’s note: Linda Avery returns with a look at Food Network star Robin Miller’s most recent book, Robin Takes 5. Miller’s book, aimed squarely at families with little time to cook, contains 500 recipes using five ingredients or less. 

Robin Takes 5: 500 Recipes, 5 Ingredients or Less, 500 Calories or Less, for 5 Nights/Week at 5:00 PM

by Robin Miller
photos by Ben Pieper

Facts: Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC, 401 pages, $29.99 (or Amazon $16.29)
Photos: 84 — many with multiple images
Recipes: 500
Give To: working moms (and dads); health-concious cooks; Robin Miller fans.

I should have written about Robin Takes 5 before now. It was released last November and it’s a great resource for last minute dinner ideas. Most of the recipes take less than 45 minutes from prep-to-table, and many are considerably less than that. Of course, a few, like Turkey Meat Loaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Parmesan or Horseradish-Crusted Beef Brisket with Baby Carrots, require a lot more time, but those are definitely in the minority.

Miller created recipes with surprisingly robust flavor — although, with only five ingredients complexity is tricky. Even though she kept an eye on salt and fat content (bonus: each recipe notes nutritional info), these recipes aren’t part of a diet regimen. If you’re watching salt content, low salt recipes have an icon indicating such. (There is also another icon if the dish is company-worthy.)

Consider how tasty these entrees sound: Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza with Pine Nuts and Mozzarella; Risotto with Cheddar, Bacon, and Scallions; Roasted Chicken with Warm Tomatillo Salsa; Artichoke-Parmesan Stuffed Tilapia – all with only five ingredients.

The 60 desserts average 230 calories with Mini-Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies anchoring at 37 calories, and Mixed Berry Empanadas or Chocolate Toffee and Ice Cream Parfaits with Bananas on the other end hovering around 490. By the way, you can look inside this book on Amazon if you want to check out the soups (like Cucumber and Peach Gazpacho) and side dishes.

Again, this isn’t about diet but it’s nice to have the info. Whether you’re coming home from a long work day, shuttling the kids from the pool or day camp, or just getting a late start on dinner, Robin Takes 5 is a worthy sous chef.

Chicken with Mexico City Street Corn and Chile-Lime Cream

photo © Ben Pieper

Serves 4 

Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes | Cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 329, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 82mg, Protein: 34g, Fiber: 2g, Sodium: 319mg

Mexico City street vendors dish up roasted corn with hints of lime and chile powder (and sometimes cilantro) and they serve the corn in a cup with a Mexican mayonnaise (mayonesa) that also boasts hints of lime. That said, I decided to explore and enjoy those flavors in this chicken dish.

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 ounces each)
2 ears corn, shucked
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Southwest seasoning (preferably salt-free)
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
Juice and zest of 1 lime

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Brush the oil all over the chicken and corn and place both on a baking sheet. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the seasoning all over the chicken. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the corn is golden brown, turning the corn once during cooking.

3. Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

4. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob directly into a bowl (this prevents a huge mess!).  Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of seasoning, the mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon lime zest and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Serve the chicken with the corn mixture spooned over the top.

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