Entries from March 2011

Date Night Pizza

March 30th, 2011 · 17 Comments · Dinner, Rituals, Vegetarian

I’m not quite sure how this happened, but last Friday night, Andy and I managed to have a nice quiet dinner at home — just the two of us — even though there were six girls under nine years old in our house as we did so. It was Dinner-and-a-Movie night — P and A were allowed to invite a few friends over for pizza, ice cream sundaes, and a screening of Despicable Me — and it was pure madness until we pressed play on the DVD player. At that point, we 2.0′ed the kids’ basic mozzarella-and-marinara pizza and made this arugula-and-ricotta version, then poured a glass of Pinot and had an actual, audible conversation.

White Pizza with Arugula

Preheat oven to 500°F. Using your fingers, flatten and “push” 1 ball of pizza dough (preferably Jim Lahey’s homemade) as thin as you can on an olive-oiled cookie sheet. Cover dough with slices of fresh mozzarella (about 1 ball) and brush exposed edge of crust with a little olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes until crust is crispy and cheese is bubbly. (If cheese starts to bubble before crust looks done, cover center of pizza with foil.) While pizza bakes, toss together a few handfuls of arugula with 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, 1/3 cup olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon. Top pizza with salad and dollops of fresh ricotta. Finish with a few grinds of black pepper and a few leaves of fresh oregano if you have it.

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Shake ‘n Bake, New ‘n Improved

March 28th, 2011 · 27 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Posts by Andy

Last week, Jenny went away for three days to work on her book. I don’t know if anyone else out there finds this to be true, but we have this theory about parenting being easier — not better, mind you, just easier — when the spouse is away. The chain of command is clearer. Movements are more efficient. Decisions are more decisive. With no safety net, I feel like we tend to be a little better about being doers, about making the bed in the morning and mustering the energy to move that dirty juice glass the three feet from the sink into the dishwasher, about not standing around in the kitchen, checking email again and being generally suspended in that maddening state of inertia that sets in when you’re trying to decide what to do and who’s going to go upstairs and get the sweater down from Abby’s closet and who’s going to make sure Phoebe’s teeth are brushed properly, since the dentist put a watch on one of her molars last time we were there and, wait, did we pack any snacks yet?

So I had a big weekend planned. We would be a perpetual motion machine! Saturday morning, we went hiking up at Bear Mountain. We had lunch — burgers with jalapenos and sharp local cheddar, a black-and-white milkshake, and hand-cut fries — at the outrageously tasty Woody’s All-Natural in Cornwall, New York, which, if you live within 100 miles of the place, I implore you to try, for real. We made nine jars of pickles. We played home run derby on the patio. And when it came to dinner, I saw this as an opportunity to do something different and fun, to branch out with a hanger steak or a rack of ribs or one of those silvery whole branzinos I’d been eyeing at the fish market. The best part was, after a death march of a winter, we could even cook outside. The weather was just beginning to turn — a cruel tease, as it turns out — and the grill was on the patio, cleared of snow, practically begging to be fired up. Afterwards, we’d call Jenny and surprise her with our enterprising dinner adventures. There’s nothing she likes more than when we go and expand the family repertoire.

It was late afternoon when we finally got around to planning the menu. I quick-polled the kids to see what they were up for.

They were up for chicken. Chicken, chicken, and more chicken. Chinese chicken, they said. Adam’s crispy chicken. Barbecue chickenDrumsticks! Chicken! (more…)

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If You Cook it, They Will Come

March 25th, 2011 · 24 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Kitchenlightenment, Pasta, Rituals

I’d like to interrupt the relentless roll-out of pizzas and stews for an important — maybe even obvious — message. A few nights ago I was reading yet another article regurgitating what we probably all know by now about family dinner. This just in: All kinds of great things will happen if you just sit down with your kids to eat dinner. They will bring home straight As, they will be less likely to suffer from depression or eating disorders. They will beg for second helpings of spinach. And, right on cue, the article ended with this line (I’m paraphrasing): “Don’t worry about making a homemade dinner. Have a bowl of healthy whole grain cereal if you have to. It’s not the food that’s important, it’s being together.”

Let me first just say that I of course totally agree with most of this statement. The being-together part, after all, is the whole reason I launched this site. DALS is as much a response to all of us wanting to connect more with our children as it is about those succulent, beautiful eight-minute lamb chops.  But if that is all it is about, then there would only be as many posts here as there are brands of nutritious cereal. (Or Trader Joe’s frozen pizzas!) And also, I’m pretty sure we would’ve stopped caring about dinner (cooking it and writing about it) a while ago since a bowl of cereal for dinner is kind of fun if it’s Cereal for Dinner Night. But after too many Cereal For Dinner Nights, it’s just…cereal.

The goal (at least in my house) is to make dinner a ritual, and putting together something that you want to eat — that you are excited to eat — is going to do more for establishing that ritual than just about anything else. If you cook good food, it will build on itself. Your family will look forward to it. You will look forward to it. You will get addicted to eating well and watching your family eat well. (Is it me or do I sound exactly like Amy Chua justifying the self-esteem cycle that results from making your children practice their instruments for three hours a day? You force them to practice, they get better. The better they get the more they want to practice…) Is it essential that you braise an Osso Bucco on a Tuesday night? Of course not! There are all kinds of quick easy recipes on this site that qualify as special. But my point is, I don’t want to dismiss the role of caring about what you cook in this whole equation. The more you care, the more you’ll cook, and the more you cook, the more firmly the family dinner ritual will take hold. It’s probably going to be a long time before my kids recognize in a conscious way that eating a meal with someone who loves them satisfies some deep psychological need. But for now I’m pretty sure they’re psyched to show up just for the noodles.  And I don’t have any problem with that.

Thai Chicken with Noodles from Martha Stewart: Killer. Illustration up top is by M. Hafner, from the March 1960 issue of Good Housekeeping.

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The Someday File

March 21st, 2011 · 7 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner

Here are a few of the dishes you might find in my Someday File: An authentic lasagna from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy (Someday I’ll have time to make pasta from scratch); That Post-it tagged lobster pot pie recipe from one of the Barefoot Contessa books (Someday I’ll be able to justify spending $25/pound on shellfish that gets lost in an ocean of butter and cream); A spicy chicken dish from the New York Times that calls for tamarind paste (Three Somedays here: Someday my kids might be able to handle the hot stuff, Someday I’ll have time to hunt down tamarind paste, and Someday someone will tell me if tamarind paste is the same thing as tamarind concentrate.) My Someday file is not buried on the MacBook or on my epi App. It’s not in a box on a shelf lined up in my kitchen’s Command Central. The file is in my brain and, miraculously, includes an interactive slide show function that has run on a loop ever since 2002, when Phoebe was born. When we were in the middle of The Great Pizza-Pasta-Nugget Rut of 2005, I’d close my eyes and picture the full-page color photos of dahl and turmeric and chilies in Maya Kaimal’s Savoring the Spice Coast of (more…)

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Happy Birthday DALS!

March 18th, 2011 · 157 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Rituals

When the girls were little, my idea of celebrating a birthday was an 8:00 dinner reservation and a babysitter booked by Andy. It didn’t matter what restaurant we were headed to, so long as I didn’t spend half the meal kneeling under the table looking for a Polly Pockets shoe. But in the past few years, as the girls have gotten older and wiser (though somehow no less clumsy in the small-parts dropping department) it’s a different story. I find it’s not nearly as fun to blow out the candles without the two of them inserting their “cha-cha-chas” in the birthday serenade, and begging for the slice with the flower.

My birthday is still a few weeks off, but I’m proud to announce that DALS turned one this week. (Can you believe??) And in the spirit of including the whole family in the celebration, I’m offering gifts to you guys, my faithful DALS readers, who on a daily basis make this space so much more rich and so much more fun. Anyone who leaves a comment below is eligible for his or her choice of various goodies I’ve been collecting from generous vendors, including Laurie David’s cookbook The Family Dinner and a pile of food-related notepads from the always entertaining Knock, Knock. (I’m just going to assume you all have the DALS signature “Make Dinner Not War” bumper sticker already, but if you don’t, you can select that for your prize as well.) As usual, the selection process will be highly scientific — Phoebe and Abby will be picking three winners at random. So keep the comments clean. (That means you 654!)

I’ve also included some fun year-in-review stats, gleaned from the all-powerful Google Analytics and then a few personal faves from Andy and me. Thought they might help as you head into the weekend.

Ten Most Clicked Posts of the Year (in order): Letter of Agreement, The Recipe Door, Instant Dinner Party, Salad Pizza, Lemon-Pepper Chicken, Picky Eater Taxonomy, Dinner: A Love Story, The Book, Time for Dinner The Cookbook, Green French Fries, Vegetable Hater Special.

Most Popular Category (no surprise): Chicken
Most Popular Pep Talk: My Real Food Movement
Most Popular Chicken Recipe: Baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Mascarpone
Most Popular Pasta Recipe: Rigatoni with Back-pocket Bolognese
Most Popular Beef Recipe: Belgian Beef Stew (more…)

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Trader Joe’s to the Rescue

March 16th, 2011 · 63 Comments · Organizing, Strategizing, Planning, Quick

To be filed under Weird But True: At least once a week I have to field the question “Why do you like Trader Joe’s so much?” To which I answer: “Have you seen the dark chocolate covered raisins? Have you seen the miniscule shopping carts for the kids? Have you seen the price tags?” I love Whole Foods — man do I love Whole Foods — but when we shop there, our entire weekly food budget disappears before I get to aisle two. (Hence its well-chronicled nickname “Whole Paycheck.”)  Last year, I did a little round-up of the staples we always pick up at T-Joes (or “T-Bros” as my husband now calls it) and I thought it might be time for an addendum to fully squelch any remaining skeptics. This time, I’ve included a bunch of combos — instead of just individual items — so you can see how the different ingredients work together in my house to help make breakfast more healthy and after-school snacks less annoying. I know we have a lot of TBros fans out there, so please, feel free to point me in a direction I may not know about.

Friend Bait When I was working full-time I kept two huge mason jars in my office  – one filled with Trader Joe’s dried sour Montmorency cherries, and one filled with TJoes 50% salted almonds — then placed a pretty little guest chair beside the table where they sat. I called the jars “Friend Bait” because coworkers would walk in and out of my office all day long to grab a handful of snacks, check up on me, tell me what was going on, and invariably give me the dirt on Shari in Accounting. Don’t mess around with coconut chips or sunflower seeds or weird carob things you find in gorp. This combination is all the excitement your mouth needs at snacktime.

Afterschool Snack Plate As I’ve mentioned, I’m a big fan of the pre-emptive afternoon snack plate — a sampling of healthy bites and tastes presented before whiny and conflicting requests for Mooommmm! I want something sweet/salty/crunchy/fruity.  Shown above are all the Trader Joe’s items I need to create my new favorite assembly: Seaweed chips (which I have been known to (more…)

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The Family Cheese Plate

March 15th, 2011 · 13 Comments · Entertaining, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian

Before kids we were mushroom-stuffers and tomato-scoopers. Before kids we weren’t afraid of the adjective “hot” before the word “appetizer.” I think when we lived in Brooklyn — when the girls were as distant on the horizon as the suburbs were — we might have even served a chilled avocado and cucumber soup as an amuse bouche for our friends Jeni and Ben. We don’t do the amuse bouche anymore when we are entertaining. In fact, we don’t use the word “entertain” anymore. These days, it’s more like we have friends over or we have what you might just call “giant family playdates.” All of which is to say that the cheese plate has never been more vital a move in the married-with-children culinary repertoire. Cause when you’re at the point that we’re at, you just want to buy a bunch of crowdpleasers — cheeses that are somewhere between Kraft twisted bi-color sticks and aged Stilton, things you don’t have to cook or carve or stick toothpicks into — and then be done with it.

Crowdpleaser Cheese Plate
You can find most of these at Murrays, Dean & DeLuca, or Whole Foods.

La Tur (pictured, above) This is an airy, mild cow-milk-goat blend — probably too mild for hardcore cheese afficionados, but kids will eat it like it’s cream cheese.
Point Reyes Blue – Award-winning blue from the family-run northern California dairy farm. For the kids, it’s a good introduction to stinky. For the grown-ups, it’s just plain good.
Humboldt Fog – The bougie staple. It’s a tangy, but not too tangy goat that’s chalky in the middle and creamy around the rind.  I don’t think I’ve been to a party in the last decade where this wasn’t on the cheese board. The kids love it because little layer of ash down the middle makes it look like a piece of cake.
Trader Joe’s Cheese Twists (not pictured, sorry!) Not the actual sticks made of cheese, but the sharp cheddar baked twists, which I usually shove in a jam jar to give the plate some height.
Aged Manchego Aged is operative word. You want something with some bite. My friend Joyce was the first one to tell me to go ahead and pair it with fig or quince paste on a baguette slice. PER.FECT.
Quince or Fig Jam Such an easy way to elevate the spread. And did I mention so delicious with aged Manchego or Parm?
Baguette, preferably fresh, preferably skinny, cut into thin slices. No need to toast.
Halved pomegranate Purely decorative unless my 7-year-old attends your party — she will decimate it in about 3 seconds.

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Please Help

March 13th, 2011 · 9 Comments · Uncategorized

This is so easy — please, if you have your phone with you, text JAPAN to 50555 to make a $10 donation to Global Giving. It will take you under 15 seconds and will help their on-the-ground efforts to provide relief and vital services to victims of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami. If everyone who shows up on DALS today does this, we can really do some good. If you would like to donate more than $10, please go to Global Giving‘s website. Thank you.

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Anything Plus Broccoli

March 11th, 2011 · 25 Comments · Picky Eating, Pork and Beef, Posts by Andy, Quick

There’s a formula we deploy, in our heads at least, whenever we feed our kids something that isn’t exactly homemade, DALS-approved, crafted by the kindly elves who affix those green-and-white organic labels to everything — or, more to the point, good for them. Think of it as the The Tranformative (and Self-Justifying) Law of Retroactive Nutritiousness.

____________ + Side of Broccoli = Healthy Enough.

Convenient, right? Go ahead, and fill in that blank. Mac and cheese. Panko-encased shrimp tempura from T Joe’s. Grilled (yellow American) cheese and bacon. Strawberry jam sandwich on soft white bread. See how good that feels? How strangely virtuous? Do you see how the broccoli, by some metaphysical trick, just erases guilt? As Abby would say, it’s very magic! I often hear laws of science described by smart people as “immutable” and I’m never sure what that means, exactly, but I’m pretty sure this broccoli law is immutable, too. There’s danger in it, of course, and it should be applied with moderation, but it does make us feel a little better — or maybe a little less guilty — about ourselves when we, say, fry up an entire package of hot dogs in butter and serve them on toast with ketchup.

Ah, the hot dog sandwich. Please don’t think less of us because we serve these, somewhat regularly, to our kids. The hot dog sandwich was one of the first things — along with Steak-Umms, Beefaroni, and Toll House cookies — that I learned to make for myself. Growing up, my parents both worked which, in those regrettable early eighties days, when mulleted, unsupervised tweens roamed the earth, made me a full-fledged latch-key kid. Get home from school, knock off the homework, make a hot dog sandwich, watch The Jeffersons. That was the routine. I’ve kept at least one part of that past alive and, I know this won’t come as a surprise, but the kids really seem to enjoy it, if clean plates are any indication. Try them on a Saturday afternoon, after soccer practice. Or  on vacation, after a long morning on the beach. Or — and I apologize for this, as I know this is a family website — at 1 am after a few beers. Am I proud of this? Not particularly. But the broccoli has set me free. Now, if I could only figure out how to get it to work its guilt-erasing magic in other parts of my life, because I still have nightmares about missing that ballet recital. – Andy (more…)

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10-Minute Tortellini

March 9th, 2011 · 8 Comments · Pasta, Pork and Beef, Vegetarian

Since I think I’ve received a personal (practically perfumed) note from just about every DALS reader telling me how much you love Andy’s pork ragu, I assume you might be interested in some suggestions for how to stretch it out into two meals. Yes, this means that you’ll have to restrain yourself from eating the entire batch on Night One, but if you have the promise of enjoying it a second time around with a minimal amount of revival effort on a weeknight…wouldn’t that make it just a little easier to get through the week? You could do what my friend Todd suggests — dump your thawed ragu in a pie dish, cover with mashed potatoes, and bake (covered with foil) for…hmmm….20 minutes at 350° for a quick shepherd’s pie. Or you could do what I did last week: Make tortellini. I don’t think of tortellini as a vehicle for leftovers as often as I should.  Wonton wrappers make it so easy! And if you don’t have leftover ragu — or if you have kids who might turn their noses up at ragu tortellini — then you can always do a straight ricotta and top it with tomato sauce like the one I used for Chicken Parm the other day.

10-Minute Tortellini

Since you’ve been storing it in the freezer in a flattened ziploc (right?) first you thaw your frozen ragu under running water (since you’ve stored it in a flattened ziploc this should only take about 30 seconds). Stir your leftovers with a few dollops of fresh ricotta and freshly grated Parmesan in a small bowl. (You don’t want it to be very liquidy, so scooping ragu out of the ziploc with a slotted spoon might help.) If you are making ricotta ravioli, mix up another bowl with ricotta, Parmesan, and a few pinches of chopped spinach. Measurements are basically to taste.

Place a teaspoon of either mixture on top of a single wonton noodle. Fold into a triangle (you’ll need to paint the inside edges with a fingertip dipped in water to seal) and join bottom two corners to form tortellini shapes shown above. Repeat as many times as necessary. (I generally plan for 8 to 10 per grown-up, and 6 per kid.) For the ragu tortellini, you don’t need to do much else after you’ve boiled them for three minutes (your sauce is basically inside the pasta) so just swirl around in garlic and olive oil in the same pot they boiled in. But do this last step gently, wonton noodles are not as sturdy as traditional pasta. Serve ricotta tortellini with the sauce written up here.

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Only the Good Stuff

March 8th, 2011 · 6 Comments · Kitchenlightenment

You’ve heard me mention Momfilter on DALS before, but now I want to officially  mention it because as of last week, the site, a lifestyle resource for parents created by two Cookie mag founders Yolanda Edwards and Pilar Guzman, is officially live. I know, I know. There are a lot of websites out there for moms so, why, you ask, should you bookmark this one in particular?  Because, as the name promises, you’ll be getting information and inspiration — on everything from food to fashion to books and beauty – that has gone through the Yolanda and Pilar filter. These are the friends who regularly steer me towards the best deals in fashion (for kids and moms); who tell me exactly where to stay and eat when I go to, say, Philadelphia with the kids; who upgraded my guacamole after a single dip (“You need waaaay more salt!”) and my jeans wardrobe after a single glance. (“You need the next size down.”) In other words, you can trust them to tell it to you straight. And you can trust that they’ll always deliver the good stuff. I’ll be chiming in from time to time, too, so please take a look and let them know what you think.

PS: Would you look at this Michal Rubin shot above from their “Remembering” series. Could it be any sweeter?

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The No-Fight Zone

March 7th, 2011 · 16 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Uncategorized

Last Thursday, I started hating myself a full hour before my morning coffee. If you must know, I started hating myself at precisely 8:04, which was the first time I yelled at my kids who were in danger of missing the 8:09 bus. Yelling Where are your shoes and yelling Where are your gloves and Did you brush your teeth and — haven’t we gone through this, like, 720* times already? Wouldn’t you think that by now a second and third grader would pick up on the catch-the-bus urgency vibe? Wouldn’t you think that by now I’d have figured out a way to make them move a little faster without turning into Miss Hannigan? Sadly, I haven’t, and I gotta say, starting the day with screaming followed by self-loathing is no way to start a day at all. And mediating a tearful fight between siblings who both laid claim to a light-up sticker album — triggering more screaming as well as the thought “How am I going to deal with this when they are 13” — is no way to spend an afternoon either.

No, Thursday wasn’t my best day ever.

The good news was: we had planned for “Chicken Pizza” (aka Chicken Parm) that night for dinner. The dredging thing can be kind of a drag on a weeknight, but I didn’t care. Because it’s everybody’s favorite and sometimes you just need a meal you can count on not to incite a riot.

*4 years of school x 180 school days

Chicken Pizza (more…)

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The First Annual Dolly Awards

March 4th, 2011 · 13 Comments · Children's Books, Gifts, Culture, Kitchenlightenment, Rituals

In case you haven’t noticed — it’s awards season! I’d like to thank the Academy for reminding me how remiss I’ve been at following my #1 Get-Fired Resolution. (“See more matinees.”) And to the folks who handed out Michelin stars in France earlier this week — thank you! I can now afford to dream about all the cafes in the Latin Quarter where I might someday dine with my children. I’d also like to express my sincere gratitude to Babble who, through their Top 100 Mom Food Blogs Awards (Please See: #4!!!!) reminded me….there are a lot of Mom Food Bloggers out there. (Wow!) Anyway, all this blue-ribboning made me think — don’t you find it troubling that there’s no higher institution to turn to when, say, you are looking for The Best Movie to Put on For The Kids During a Dinner Party That Would Elicit a What a great choice! From The Parent Dinner Guests? Search no more, the First Annual DALS Awards are here! And are so prestigious that in certain circles — or around certain circular dinner tables — they have already garnered a cool little nickname: “The Dollys!” So with no further ado…

Best Kitchen-themed Coloring Book: Rosie Flo’s Kitchen Colouring Book I first held a Rosie Flo coloring book in my hands when I was an editor at Cookie — and back then, it seemed you could only find one if you were traveling to England during specific months of the year and had an appointment with the Queen herself. Now, thankfully, you can find them anywhere (translation: in Anthropologie or on amazon.) This one is food-themed  (can you see the dress made out of a cob of corn? The one made with ladyfingers and measuring cups?) but there are other themes — animals, garden, the original — that are decidedly less girly. The cool thing about them is that they provide sketches of the kooky clothes and accessories and it’s up to the artist to fill in everything else. My brother showed up with this batch of three for Abby’s birthday last year and was instantly anointed hero.

Best Cookbook for Kids That The Kid Actually Likes As Much As Mom: Kids Cook 1-2-3, by Rozanne Gold. If I was still working at Real Simple or Cookie, my normal reconnaissance to determine the winner of an award like this would include ordering in a ton of cookbooks from a ton of publishers, flipping through all of them, page by page, handing out the best of the first cut to staff members with kids who would be required to test and report back. Most of the (more…)

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A Winning Weeknight Dinner

March 2nd, 2011 · 22 Comments · Dinner, Pork and Beef, Quick

Full disclosure here: I think I knew the winner of my Go-to Weeknight Dinner Contest almost as soon as I spied the Sausage, Kale, and Bean Stew entry submitted by  “anna” on Day 1 of the contest. Every recipe that came in after this one, as far as I was concerned, had to pass the anna test — as in, is it as appealing sounding as anna’s stew? Because Anna’s Stew had all the hallmarks of a keeper in my house including:

1) A Quick Cook Time – from start to finish it took me about 20 minutes
2) A Forgiving Technique – For 10 of those minutes I was ignoring the sizzling sausages as I sat with my 7-year-old testing her on multiplication flash cards. It didn’t seem to affect the dish in the slightest.
3) An Easy Marketing Plan – It contained two solid ingredients that I could count on my kids eating without a fight (sausages and kale)
4) An Adventure Factor – It contained one (easily extractable) ingredient that I’ve been meaning to push on the kids (cannelini beans)
5) It was really f*%#@*g good!!!

However narrow-minded I was about choosing the winner, I remind you that one family’s keeper might be another family’s pet food, so please head over to the contest post to check out all 78 submissions (so awesome, btw — a big thank-you to everyone who sent something in) because there are a ton of delicious-sounding options. If I was giving out honorable mention, “bugawa” (#43) was a close second with her Jacques Pepin-inspired pork medallions in wine sauce — so tasty, but couldn’t compete with the one-dishiness of anna’s stew. And “Joanna’s” (#59) strategic two-in-one meal plan was incredibly hard for me to pass up (you can take the girl out of Real Simple) but sadly, included pasta, which my 9-year-old still won’t touch. (Why, God, why??)

Anna wins a $75 gift certificate to Allmodern.com. Thanks for playing everyone.

Anna’s Sausage, Bean, and Kale Stew
I halved the recipe for my family of four (if Abby ate 2 sausages, as called for here, she’d be eating about twice her own weight) but this below is written to serve 6 normal eaters or about 8 bird-like ones. Anna called for the sausages to be sliced into rounds after being browned — which might be more appealing for the kids — but I found it easier to crumble the meat with a fork in the first step.

Saute 1 onion (chopped) in Dutch Oven in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until softened. Add 2 garlic cloves (minced), salt, pepper, and a few flakes of crushed red pepper. Add in 8 links of Italian chicken or pork sausage (casings removed, crumbed with a fork) and cook until brown and heated through. Add one 32-ounce container chicken broth (add less if you like your stews more chunky, less brothy), a 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, and 2 14-ounce cans cannellini beans (rinsed and drained). Bring to a boil. Add 1 large bunch kale, simmer until wilted, about 3 minutes. Serve with a lot of freshly grated Parmesan and crusty bread.

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Chicken Chili: Always the Right Answer

March 1st, 2011 · 10 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Quick, Uncategorized

On any given winter day in my house, if I ask the innocent question cooks across the earth are asking — i.e. What should we have for dinner tonight? — I can pretty much always count on Andy suggesting some kind of healthy, simple seafood; I would bet the house on Abby requesting – please, Mom, puh-leeeeeeze, I’ll kiss you 99 trillion zillion times – Trader Joe’s frozen pork or chicken shumai (infinitely more exciting for her than the homemade kind); and for Phoebe to suggest chili. It doesn’t matter what kind of chili — vegetarian, beef, white, chicken, spicy, mild — she has had a love affair with the dish ever since we gave her a bowl of the turkey version (plus toppings, of course!) when she was about four or five. And so this past Saturday morning — after a long week off from school, a week where she lounged around patiently reading all the Babysitter’s Club books she got for her birthday, a week where her sister had Taylor’s Swift’s “Umbrella” on repeat for all our waking hours, a week where her mom promised her a trip to the ice rink every day staring Monday but somehow failed to make it happen — when I asked the dinner question, I knew exactly what the answer had to be. (more…)

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