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Cookbook review: '30-Minute Meals' can save the home chef time in the kitchen

"30-MINUTE MEALS FOR FAMILIES," by Shauna Evans, Front Table Books, $18.99, 149 pages

The scene is all too familiar: Kids running in and out of the door from school to church to soccer practice. Dinnertime sneaks up, and tired home chefs are found standing in the kitchen, cupboards wide open, one hand on the hip and the other on the forehead.

"What on earth am I supposed to make for dinner?"

When asked why she wrote "30-Minute Meals for Families," author and mother of five Shauna Evans said matter-of-factly, "Out of necessity." Being a mom over a busy household, as well as a registered nurse, Evans needed fast and nutritious food on the table.

This 149-page cookbook has easy-to-follow recipes including ingredients sure to be on hand. Evans guarantees a start-to-finish time of 30 minutes, and when tested by a novice home cook, the theory held true.

"Many recipes mimic restaurants that we love," Evans said in an interview with the Deseret News. "I can usually crack the code." This is evidenced in her Bahama Chicken Soup, which takes after a meal she enjoyed from the Bahama Mama restaurant in Orlando, Florida.

Classic Evans family favorites include popcorn chicken, chicken taquitos, Mom's Tuna Salad and Pasta Shell Salad.

Want to impress the family and only dirty one pan? Flip to page 112 and make Dad's Pepper Steak. All the more interesting is the fact that this recipe was born when Evans' father — then-Brigham Young University defensive coach under LaVell Edwards — came home from practice one night and decided to make steak for the family. Needless to say, he had a winner.

The cookbook is divided into nine chapters, including full-page pictures: breakfast, sandwiches, salads, soups, casseroles, pastas, chicken, beef and fish, with time-saving and freezer tips to boot. Teenage children would be able to follow the recipes as well.

Evans has authored two other cookbooks, "Sweet and Savory: Award-Winning Recipes Made Easy," and "Skinny-licious: Lite and Scrumptious Recipes for a Slimmer You."

Dad's Pepper Steak

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 bell peppers, sliced thin

½ cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup beef broth

2 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

½ tablespoon rice vinegar

1½ pounds flank steak, cut into 3-inch-long and

¼-inch-thick strips

⅛ cup cold water

1 teaspoon cornstarch

4 cups cooked rice

1. In large skillet over medium heat, cook oil, peppers, onion and garlic until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from skillet.

2. In small bowl, combine beef broth, soy sauce, honey and vinegar.

3. Add steak to skillet and cook for 10–15 minutes, or until desired doneness.

4. In small bowl, combine water and cornstarch.

5. Add vegetables, beef broth mixture and water mixture. Cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Serve over cooked rice.

— "30-Minute Meals for Families," by Shauna Evans

Brooke Willardson Porter is a California native, a mom, writer, editor and wife to a busy pediatric resident. Join her exaggerated life perspectives at atleastitsnotasingle.blogspot.com. EMAIL: bporter@deseretdigital.com.