The Make-Ahead Cook: 8 Smart Strategies for Dinner Tonight by America's Test Kitchen Editors

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Notes about this book

  • breadesky on January 05, 2015

    This recipe does not work oven-Roasted Salmon with Orange and Radish Salad, the Radish just seems out of place. I love this book but this one did not work. Skip the Radish.

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Chicken pot pie with crumble topping

    • mjperkins on March 11, 2019

      Recipe says serves 6 to 8, 10 to 12 is better estimate.

  • Provençal pork tenderloin with apples and shallots

    • jenmacgregor18 on January 21, 2015

      The pork is excellent, very moist and flavorful. The shallots are good; but the family didn't care for the apples in the mix. I'd leave them out next time--or even make the pork alone.

    • mharriman on October 04, 2017

      One of the best best pork loin recipes we've ever eaten! Loved the marinated pork/ baked apple slices combination. Easy to cook after prepping earlier in the day. Easy cook and clean up with nonstick pan to sear and then pop in oven for baking.

  • Grilled chicken kebabs

    • jenmacgregor18 on July 06, 2016

      I've made these twice now. They are very good. Chicken is incredibly tender. I think I even prefer to eat them without the extra dressing drizzled on afterwards. Used oregano instead of thyme, as I had it on hand. Make sure you get really big onions if you're cutting each half into fourths. Or maybe just cut each half onion into 3rds. The onion shrinks when you nuke it prior to skewering. It can be interesting trying to skewer smallish soft onion pieces.

    • twoyolks on June 04, 2019

      This was fully in the not bad category. The flavor was fine but not great. Because it's made with chicken breasts, they dried out. I found the onions got way too soft in the microwave which made them hard to add to the skewers.

    • mharriman on October 02, 2017

      I made this last night and my husband and I loved it. I agree that large chunks of onion ( not the small diced size directed) are needed because they shrink and wilt during microwaving. The onions also require quite a bit of cool down time before handling. That said, the grilled onions, after microwaving and marinating, are delicious ( much better than raw grilled onions). We found grilling for 10 minutes, not 14-16, makes for juicer, less dry chicken. This would be a great recipe for company because all of the work ( except grilling) is done beforehand. I served with sautéed zucchini and cauliflower rice, and they paired well with the kebabs.

  • Baked ziti with Italian sausage

    • jenmacgregor18 on November 12, 2015

      Preferred this version to ATK's Potluck version, which had too much cheese & cream for my taste. I used ground beef with Italian seasoning & fennel seed, with a little Worchester & soy sauce.

    • twoyolks on November 27, 2015

      This makes a decent make ahead casserole. The sauce for the ziti just didn't have enough depth of flavor to it to be really good. This was mostly about the cheese.

    • chawkins on November 20, 2015

      This can be made up to 24 hrs ahead of time, store in the fridge and pull out and bake later. Instead of mixing egg in with the ricotta, olive oil was used. I used a decent extra virgin olive oil and I could taste it in the final product.

  • Spicy beef taco bake

    • twoyolks on April 09, 2018

      This was not good. The refried beans disappeared. The beef was the only real flavor and there just wasn't any toppings really to enhance the flavor.

    • clawsgirl on February 06, 2017

      Super tasty and filling, easy to put together. Maybe 15 minutes of prep. Taco night made easy.

  • Skillet penne with sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach

    • twoyolks on February 12, 2020

      Quick, easy, and pretty flavorful. It was good but I'd only make it if I had the ingredients on hand, I don't think I'd prepare to make it.

    • mamacrumbcake on December 16, 2017

      This is easy and quite flavorful—only real work was chopping sun-dried tomatoes and grating Parmesan. It’s nice to have an easy pasta dish that actually has a good amount of vegetables in it. I don’t think the pine nuts add anything to this dish—the flavor is a bit distracting.

  • Turkey and green chile enchiladas

    • twoyolks on November 29, 2015

      The quality of these enchiladas come down to the quality of the canned enchilada sauce. Unfortunately, the canned sauce we used wasn't all that great so the enchiladas were only mediocre. I did like the corn in the filling which added some nice sweetness and crunch.

  • Farro, white bean, and broccoli rabe gratin

    • cadfael on October 31, 2021

      There are 4 versions of this recipe by ATK This one, the one in the Complete Make Ahead Cookbook:From Appetizers to Desserts, one in Vegetables Illustrated, and the one in Cooks Illustrated 2020 Annual. Slightly different proportions and methods. The one in the 2020 Annual also has a little miso and less Parmesan.

  • Penne with Tuscan chicken

    • mharriman on June 08, 2021

      This turned out to be pretty tasty, especially on a very humid evening. I used about 3 ounces of arugula instead of 5 because I didn’t want that much lettuce in the dish. The sauce is mild, even with 2 T of garlic paste, and could use a baguette to soak up the remainder in the pasta dish left at the end (husband’s suggestion for next time). For two of us, a pound of penne and 2 cups of shredded roasted chicken gave us leftovers for at least three servings. Dish went well with a Pinot Grigio and Tomato and lettuce salad. T says “make again.”

  • Roasted zucchini and eggplant lasagna

    • mharriman on February 24, 2019

      This makes a satisfying vegetarian meal. My husband and I really enjoyed this dish even though I messed up the preparation. I layered all the ingredient parts while simultaneously watching my 10 month old grandchild and forgot a layer of lasagne noodles. That error made the lasagne contain more liquid than it should have had. It was still very good. This needed more prep time ( lots of small dice chopping) and cool down time for the roasted ingredients than I initially realized. The actual baking is an hour with another 10 minutes needed for cool down before cutting. None of this is an issue if planned ( I will pay closer attention to the times given next time).

  • All-American meatloaf

    • mharriman on January 09, 2021

      Just okay. I used a meatloaf mixture of ground veal, pork, and beef. Husband liked it more than I did. I did make some changes including baking it in a loaf pan rather than Free standing in a foil pouch. I also didn’t do the glaze. Mine turned out a bit loose, still able to cut slices, but much looser than other meat loaves I’ve made. I’m thinking it’s because there’s a 1/2 cup of milk in it and two eggs. Most of my meatloaf recipes have much less milk or no milk and only one egg.

    • dianev on January 07, 2015

      Good meatloaf, not too meaty tasting. I used mix of 2 parts beef to one part pork; no veal. The sauce is very sweet and pungent--use sparingly.

  • Lamb kofte

    • mharriman on February 22, 2019

      Very good. This was a skewered ground lamb dish that escaped being dry like ones I’ve experienced in restaurants. I worried that the ingredients would fall apart on the skewers but my fears were put aside when I took the prepared kofte on skewers from the fridge after 4 hours of chilling. They were firm. They roasted beautifully in my oven 8 inches from the broiler element ( middle rack in my oven). So, following the Test Kitchen directions ( including the preparation of the rimmed baking sheet) was important. I made a tzaziki sauce (100 Days of Real Food recipe) instead of the sauce recipe given. I served the Koftes with chickpea and sweet red pepper salad. This would make a great do ahead dish for a party or to bring to a cookout. This will be a repeated recipe at my house. Note: The same ( or very similar) recipe also appears in ATK /Cook’s Illustrated Meat Cookbook and their Mediterranean cookbook.

  • Turkey burgers with feta and herbs

    • mharriman on September 12, 2018

      These need a sauce or additional ingredients such as kalamata olives to liven them up. They were healthy tasting but bland. I would make them again because I loved prepping them 24 hours in advance; they were ready to pan sauté when I got home at dinner time. Cooking time was exactly as stated in cookbook. So, even though not spectacular, this is an easy, no-fuss, reliable recipe.

  • Salmon burgers

    • mharriman on October 04, 2017

      Another great recipe from this cookbook. The shallot/ Dijion mustard/ fresh parsley add the right amount of zing to the salmon. I used two six ounce (thawed, skinned from frozen) wild coho filets for my husband and me, and these made three patties- two for him, one for me. Worked well. Lemon juice adds just the right amount of added flavor and "sauce." Served with roasted red potatoes, cole slaw, and steamed asparagus.

  • Baked cod with cherry tomatoes and chickpeas

    • mharriman on December 10, 2020

      Delicious. I only marinated the chickpea/ tomato mixture and my fish, rubbed in the spices, for an hour, but the flavor, Especially the cod, was outstanding. This was a very good, easy to prepare and bake weeknight entree.

  • Slow-cooker shredded barbecued beef

    • mharriman on April 15, 2018

      Delicious! Turned out moist, tender, and delicious cooked for 10 hours (prepped and turned on right before bedtime) on low. I found that the beef sitting in the sauce was much more tender than the top of the beef without sauce. Next time, I would pour half the sauce on top of the beef so it would be as moist. I used 4.70 lbs chuck- eye roast and it made more than 8 servings for us. I used Pepperidge Farm sesame seed buns which made good houses for the beef. Served with Creamy Mac and cheese from same cookbook.

  • Creamy mac and cheese

    • mharriman on April 15, 2018

      I chose this made-for-freezing recipe to make for my daughter and husband who just had a baby and asked for some pre-prepared foods. I also made a second batch for my husband and me. I used a Cuisinart to shred the cheeses and that did save prep time, but the prep time was still long— one hour and 20 minutes. We liked this Mac and cheese, especially as a side dish to the slow cooker shredded BBQ beef sandwiches in the same cookbook. I like my Mac and cheese cheesy and creamy, without any additions, so it met all my expectations. We baked ours the same day (without freezing) and found it needed 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. It was too runny baked for less time. We think the serving sizes are huge— the four serving size is more like eight, especially as a side dish.

  • Slow-roasted beef with horseradish sauce

    • mharriman on June 10, 2021

      Excellent flavor. My grocer didn’t have eye of round so I used (grass fed) chuck roast and slow roasted it for two hours. For this recipe, a high quality grade of beef is important. The instructions to turn oven off until it reaches your desired temperature didn’t work for me- didn’t go above 132 F after 40 minutes. It was still superb at medium rare. The horseradish sauce elevates the already great tasting beef. Served with a German- style potato salad and a green lettuce salad.

  • Beef and vegetable fajitas

    • mharriman on June 12, 2021

      I love it when cookbooks include recipes for leftovers, and this one was good for the remaining slow cooked roast from the main recipe. I made homemade refried kidney beans as a base on the tortilla and added guacamole and sour cream as toppings. Recipe produces basic, standard fajitas that aren’t extraordinary but still as good as what I’ve had in most Tex-Mex restaurants. One quibble- bought an entire can of chipotle chiles in adobe sauce for 1 1/2 teaspoons in recipe which I wouldn’t bother with if I make it again.

  • All-American beef chili

    • themarybaker on October 02, 2014

      substituted black beans for kidney beans.

  • Hearty beef and barley soup

    • dianev on February 24, 2015

      Soup is good and has a nice texture. Very tomatoey. Quick cooking barley should only be added during the last hour--it disappears into the soup if simmered all day. Regular barley would be fine.

  • Easy pulled pork

    • dianev on January 07, 2015

      I made this in the crockpot with great success. I found the cumin flavor to be a bit too strong. After cooking I removed the meat, skimmed the fat, put the liquid in a saucepan and reduced it to more of a barbecue sauce consistency.

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  • ISBN 10 1936493845
  • ISBN 13 9781936493845
  • Published Sep 01 2014
  • Format Paperback
  • Page Count 336
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher America's Test Kitchen
  • Imprint America's Test Kitchen

Publishers Text

Everyone knows the benefits of home cooking--tastier, healthier meals and significant savings. But some nights there's just no time to make dinner from scratch, and it can seem as though the only solution is to reach for a takeout menu. Now America's Test Kitchen has a better answer: The Make-Ahead Cook. This new cookbook reinvents make-ahead cooking so that you can cook when you want and still eat well every night of the week.

While most make-ahead cookbooks focus only on stocking your freezer, this book takes a new approach, with 8 strategies that show you how a little advance work and planning can reap huge benefits. With smart new strategies and lots of options to cook now and save time later, we've reinvented make-ahead cooking to fit your schedule, taking the stress out of weeknight cooking.


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