I give The Chopped Cookbook two thumbs up! It's a really pretty cookbook (ya'll know I love cookbooks with big, beautiful photos) and it does exactly what it says it will do: it gives you recipes that won't require you to go out and purchase a billion ingredients. You should already have a majority of the ingredients on hand in your pantry.
Confession: I've never seen a single episode of Chopped! I am familiar with the set-up on the show though. A couple of chefs are given access to a well-stocked "pantry" and then are given a surprise "market basket" with 4-5 fresh ingredients in it. They must use all the ingredients in the market basket in creation of a delicious meal. I believe sometimes the market basket could be really odd in it's combination of ingredients, such as fish and strawberries in there together. Now that I've read the cookbook and enjoyed it, I might try to watch an episode of the show!
So far I've tried three recipes out of the cookbook: Moroccan Carrot Salad, Roasted Corn and Chickpea Salad, and Mocha Brownies. All three turned out fantastic! And they all got thumbs up from my slightly picky-eater hubby! In fact, he said I should make the Roasted Corn Salad as often as possible. That one was probably my favorite too. It's got roasted corn, roasted chickpeas, halved grape tomatoes, and chopped scallions all tossed in a dijon vinaigrette. YUM. The brownies were fantastic too, but they are so rich. I can only eat half of one in a sitting! I can eat a small bowl full of the corn salad in one sitting. :)
Something that makes this cookbook a bit unique is that there are variations given to nearly every recipe. This goes along with the whole "use what you've got" subtitle. So the recipe on the page might call for ground beef, but there's a little "chef's note" at the end that tells you how to mix it up and adjust the seasoning if you use ground turkey or ground chicken instead. There are also two big two-page spread tables in the book that gives cooks a general idea of how to mix things for best results without being specific in the ingredients. One is for salad dressings and it tells you what type of base to mix with which kinds of herbs to serve on which kinds of salads.
Personally, I loved how this cookbook explained variances and substitutions. The Food Network cooks' explanations just really "clicked" for me, and I now feel more confident making my own substitutions in recipes. I think this cookbook could potentially save me and my family some money!
I got The Chopped Cookbook from my library.