Anderson Cover Art_hresMy Facebook message, August 23rd: “So my 6th baby is finally born. Perfect One-Dish Dinners officially moved from pre-order to available.”

Today—September 20th—another big day! It starts with the Today Show. (I hope they don’t make too many Pam Anderson jokes.) And although the book’s been floating around a few weeks, it’s the official publishing date for Perfect One-Dish Dinners—All You Need For Easy Get-Togethers.

I like my new baby a lot. In fact, Maggy and Sharon have both told me they think it’s my best book yet. (OK, so they’re my daughters and maybe they’re a tad unobjective.) It’s fast becoming my favorite too because this past weekend I’ve been one of those harried cooks I wrote the book for. I needed to serve up a couple of memorable meals with very little time to pull it off or extra bucks to hire it done.

Sharon and her beau Tony came for a special dinner Friday night. Saturday night I took dinner to a special friend in need. And it’s not over. Right after the Today Show, I’m headed home to pull together dinner for twelve. But all is well. Thankfully I’ve got a collection of utterly simple one-dishes—friendly yet sophisticated—and the best they can be. It’s the book I relied on all weekend and the book I’m using tonight. I’m living proof you can have a life and make a great dinner too.

Here’s what I’ve learned. Forget juggling side dishes and vegetables. Cook everything in the same pot or pan—or at least in the same oven. For example don’t roast chicken and bake stuffing separately. Serve Festive Roast Chicken and Dressing—herbaceous chicken parts baked right in the stuffing. The result: the drippings flavor the stuffing (yum!) and the chicken’s already carved (yea!).

No need for three pots for spaghetti and meatballs. With One-Pot Penne with Turkey-Feta Meatballs, the meatballs, sauce and pasta—start to finish—cook in the same pot. Rather than make mashed potatoes for Coq au Vin Blanc, cook the potatoes right in this light, flavorful chicken stew.

And speaking of pots and pans… a heavy-duty roasting pan is (in Cold Stone Creamery parlance) “Gotta Have It” in my kitchen. Set over two burners it works like a skillet, doubling your surface. No more browning (or frying) in batches—it all fits in one pan! Its larger surface means food cooks more evenly. And at the end of the night, there’s just one pan to clean. Love it! (For more on this subject read: Do It In The Oven.)

The book is filled with simple appetizers. Lemon Raspberry Cakes sound like an all-day project, but starting with store-bought shortcakes, they assemble in just a few minutes. Don’t have few minutes? There’s an Instant Alternative for each appetizer and dessert. Using the same ingredients that were in the Lemon Raspberry Cakes, for example, streak lemon curd through softened vanilla ice cream and garnish with fresh raspberries.

Only have time to make one dish? That’s OK. Just set out a bowl of roasted nuts and uncork a nice wine. Make a quick salad (how easy is that these days?) and dish up your favorite ice cream. With a smashing one-dish, you need nothing more.

Perfect One-Dish Dinners is available at Amazon, Borders, or Barnes and Noble.