Entries Tagged as 'Time for Dinner: The Cookbook'

Salmon Rice Bowl

January 11th, 2011 · 5 Comments · Dinner, Seafood, Sides, Salads, Soup, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

Have you guys found the recipe for sushi rice on page 165 of the cookbook yet? And have you found the recipe for the salmon teriyaki in the “restaurant replication” section (p. 112)? I have! And that’s what was for dinner last night — a combo of the two: Rice bowl with Salmon, and crumbled on top: those Trader Joe’s dried seaweed chips which have inexplicably become Abby’s new fairy dust. Put it on anything and dinner goes down the hatch. (Ketchup? So 2010!) I served with Andy’s favorite side dish from when he was a kid– a halved avocado filled with ginger dressing. Only at his childhood dinner table, I believe the dressing of choice was Wishbone Italian.

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Point and Cook

December 6th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Picky Eating, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

A few notes on Time for Dinner — besides the fact that it was selected as a favorite cookbook of the year by Bon Appetit, and besides the fact that you are all scooping up multiple copies to give as gifts for all your parent friends. I want to talk about the New York Times including TFD in their special Holiday Books Round-up yesterday, specifically this part of the review (by Christine Muhlke) that, I think, totally nailed it. (more…)

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Delighted! Honored! Amazed!

November 17th, 2010 · 16 Comments · Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

Time for Dinner cracks Bon Appetit’s Favorite Cookbooks of 2010 list! And as if that’s not already exciting enough, they put us right next to Paul Greenberg and a few doors down from Allegra Goodman.

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More Reasons to Pick up Time for Dinner…

October 8th, 2010 · 5 Comments · Time for Dinner: The Cookbook, Vegetarian

As if you need more than the Potato-Chard “Lasagna” in Chapter 4???!!! For real: I’m pleased to report that Time for Dinner continues to get some nice ink. (Pixels?) Here is a recent  Q&A I did with ivillage, and my co-author Alanna’s write-up in Martha Stewart’s really fun new living-with-kids blog The Family Room and a review from my hero, Corina at Nonchalant Mom. We are also honored to be part of an awesome cookbook round-up from Food in Jars, and (I’m late on this one) Babble excerpted a few good recipes that might give you a taste of what’s to come before you order your very own copy. Happy eating!

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Restaurant Replication

September 28th, 2010 · 10 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Quick, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

The first time I made this chicken and broccoli for Abby she bestowed upon me the highest form of praise: Mom, how’d you get this to taste like the one we order from the Chinese restaurant? Now, granted, this is no fancy Chinese restaurant. It’s so not fancy, actually, that we’ve never even seen the inside of the place. But their chicken and broccoli dish is one of the first I can remember that Abby ate without any “eat-this-or-you-won’t-get-that” nonsense that dominated our dinner table conversation for so many years. So naturally, I set about trying to replicate it — minus whatever mystery ingredients made the leftovers coagulate in the takeout container the next day. I found success by riffing on a Cashew Chicken recipe in the fantastic Great Food Fast cookbook that Everyday Food published a few years ago. What struck me about this version was the hoisin — I knew Abby was a sucker for the sweet and spicy Chinese barbecue sauce and I had a jar of it in the fridge just begging to be used. You can find hoisin in the Asian department of pretty much any supermarket, but I find that most of those are too sweet. If you can swing it, try to pick up a jar at an Asian specialty market.

And by the way, on page 113 of the cookbook, we replicate three more kid-menu VIPs: chicken fingers, salmon teriyaki, and popcorn shrimp.

Restaurant-style Chinese Chicken and Broccoli

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, brown 3 or 4 chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces, tossed in a little cornstarch if you have time) in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. After a few minutes, push all the chicken to one side and turn down heat to medium-low. Add 2 cloves garlic (minced) and 1/2 large onion (chopped) and cook about 2 minutes until onions are soft. Mix together with the chicken, then add about 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, turn up the heat, and stir. Add 2 heaping tablespoons hoisin, 1/4 cup water and cook until chicken is heated through. Add steamed broccoli and cashews (my kids like it without cashews) and serve with rice.

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Reader Feedback, both Good and Not-so-Good

September 17th, 2010 · 25 Comments · Dinner, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook, Uncategorized

First the good ones. From Reader Romi:

I recently discovered your INCREDIBLE cookbook and now your Family Dinner site.  I’m a challenged cook (and working mother of 3) and the book — I swear – has changed my life in the kitchen.  I whipped up turkey bolognese in the morning yesterday (yes, in the am!) and have used your recipes every night for the last 2 weeks. Thank you!!

From Reader Amanda O:

Dear Jenny, I really, really wanted to put my “Make Dinner Not War” bumper sticker (thank you!) on my car.  But all I could think was, “Mom is going to yell at me.”  Keep in mind, I’m 27 years old, own my car free and clear, and have two kids.  But I could hear her plain as day, “Bumper stickers are trashy. They get faded and what about when you try to sell the car?”  So for the longest time, the sticker was clipped to my refrigerator mocking my lack of courage. And then one night I thought, “This would look lovely on the microwave.  It wouldn’t fade.  And you don’t re-sell microwaves.”  I took the plunge.  Then my son, who is 3, said, “Grandma will like that, Mom!”

Now the not-so-good:

A little context: I did an interview with WCBS 880 that is running on a loop this morning and (news permitting) on Sunday and I’m telling you this not because I expect you to tune in for all 32 riveting seconds, but because the online podcast inspired a few combative comments about family dinner. (And maybe about me? I can’t tell.) Like this one from “valerie:” (more…)

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Summer Recipe Round-up

September 2nd, 2010 · 1 Comment · Dinner, Grilling, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

We only have about 48 vacation hours left to squeeze in more body-surfing, spiral-honing, sandcastle-building, cannon-balling, shell-collecting, beach-snoozing (Mom), and bike-riding. But you have the whole month, starting with Labor Day to squeeze in a few DALS dinners you’ve been meaning to try out on the family all summer. Herewith, the best of summer:

Barbecued Chicken with Cabbage-Peanut Slaw (pictured below)
Sweet Salmon with Campfire Potatoes
Rigatoni with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Yogurt-marinated Grilled Chicken
Grilled Chicken and Vegetables Summer Salad
Grilled Flank Steak
Grilled Pork with Peaches
Grilled Whole Fish
Fettuccine with Corn and Bacon
Grilled Fish Tacos
Seven Summer Salads: Egg and Potato Salad, Beets with Goat Cheese “Fluff,” Classic Corn and Tomatoes, White Bean and Kale, Cabbage-Corn-Peanut Slaw, Soybean and Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Grilled Lamb-burger Sliders
Grilled Tandoori Chicken Burgers with Yogurt Sauce

And from Time for Dinner:

Grilled Tandoori Lamb Chops (page 253)
Fish Tacos with Fruit Slaw (page 222)
Corn and Shrimp Salad (page 207)
Fresh Corn Spoon Bread (page 207)

See you next week!

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Reason #522 to Buy Our Cookbook…

August 13th, 2010 · 14 Comments · Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

…Because Time for Dinner is approximately $600 cheaper than this one written by Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s first Chief Technology Officer.

Reason #172: Sweet & Sour Chicken with Plums (page 103)

Reason #63: Because DALS readers have already sent me early reviews proclaiming it “awesome” and “amazing” and “wow, wow, wow”-ish. One wrote “I almost cried when I saw the dedication.” (Intrigued?)

Reason #33: Because if you buy one, then send me an email about how much you adore a particular recipe, I will have no choice but to express my gratitude with a free “Make Dinner Not War” bumper sticker to the first dozen who do so.

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In Stock

August 4th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Dinner, Pork and Beef, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

I never knew how beautiful the words “In Stock” could look. Until I saw them under our cookbook which, according to readers and friends, is now being delivered to your homes and bookstores around the country. This is part of the note that just arrived in my inbox from Christina in Oregon:

…Now the reason for this email. Um…….THANK YOU! Thank you and your co-authors for this compilation. I consider myself an average to better than average cook and can confidently say I know my way around the kitchen. What you managed to do is allow me to see my kitchen anew…..I love the entire book but especially the I WANT TO HAVE A FAMILY DINNER WHERE WE ALL EAT THE SAME MEAL, and your I WANT SOMETHING SIMPLE, FAST AND HARD TO SCREW UP chapters. Using a muffin tin to make meals more enticing for kids, clearing out the fridge and dishing it up as an appealing smorgasbord, using the waffle iron for grilled cheese sandwiches? None of this is rocket science, none of it requires extra work from me, it’s all there right in front of me and yet I didn’t see it until you pointed it out to me. I could go on and on but I want to save it for the amazon review.  Thank you and your collaborators for the wonderful gem Time for Dinner has turned out to be.

In honor of this day — and in honor of Christina…Bless you, Christina — I wanted to share a recipe from “Chapter 5: I Want to Use What I Already Have.” Well sort of. This is a slightly different version of the steak-and-chard hash in Time for Dinner, but it’s every bit as awesome. Why? For starters, the meal takes advantage of the (more…)

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Tabula Rasa

July 21st, 2010 · 13 Comments · Dinner, Pork and Beef, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

Let’s say you just went shopping at Trader Joe’s so your refrigerator is stocked with staples like pork and chicken and onions and olive oil as well as some fun little extras like prosciutto and Whole Wheat Naan. Let’s also say that on your way home from your weekend in the Berkshires, you picked up some fresh corn and tomatoes and blueberries at a roadside farm stand. So you’re set in the Fresh department, too. And then, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that you have spent the last decade working on the food team at two major magazines, write a daily food blog, and in fact have even co-written The Book on family dinner.

If all this was in fact the case, you probably don’t imagine that you would ever find yourself in the position I was in last night. Staring at my full fridge at 6:20 with not a single idea of what to feed my family. Zero. When I was working at Cookie, I used to regularly get 6:20 emails my friend (and co-author) Pilar who found herself in the same predicament. Tabula Rasa, she’d write. Complete Tabula Rasa.

Since Tabula Rasa strikes more often than one might think, I’ve trained my brain to default to one of three settings: The Omelet Setting, The Risotto Setting, and the Taco Setting. Any one of them would have made good use of the staples in the pantry as well as my roadside score. Last night I went with Pork Tacos.

Pork Tacos
Warning: This is not a throw-it-together tabula rasa meal like an omelet might be. It requires about 45 minutes of hands-on time. And if you like to pan-fry your tortillas (instead of heating in oven) it ends up being a three-pot meal. But, delicious, delicious. And worth the investment for us because both kids will generally eat some variation of it, which means we are rewarded by a nag-free meal.

In a small Dutch oven or a medium, straight-sided pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add a salted-and-peppered pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds; the standard size) and brown on all sides. (It does not have to cook through.) Once it’s browned, remove from heat and to the same pot, add 1/2 onion (chopped), 1 clove garlic (minced), a dash of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add one 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 bay leaf, and a few hefty shakes of dried oregano. Stir to combine, then add pork tenderloin back to pot, nestling it in the liquid. Bring to a boil, then cover pot and simmer for about 30 minutes. (If you have to go pick up your spouse at the train because you forgot to tell him you took the car home from the station yourself, well, now is the time to do it.)

While pork simmers away, make a corn salad with cooked kernels, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, olive oil, a squeeze of lime. Warm 4-6 whole wheat tortillas (wrapped in foil) in a 350°F oven.

When pork has cooked, remove from pot and, using two forks, shred it into pieces as shown above. (There is no art to this; in fact the less artfully done, the better.) Add shreds back to the sauce, stir everything together, then assemble tacos as shown. Top with sour cream.

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DALS Giveaway (+ Some News)

June 18th, 2010 · 11 Comments · Dinner, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

A friend of mine said she saw one of my “Make Dinner Not War” bumper stickers on a car in Brooklyn last week. I can’t tell you how happy this made me. I’ve sent out hundreds of them — as far away as Vancouver, and as close as up the block — and sometimes at night I lie there imagining the constellation of those DALS readers spreading the word about family dinner on highways and byways. In Shawnee Kansas, in Louisville Kentucky. In Portland, Maine, Boca Raton, Chicago, Beverly Hills and all over San Francisco. (Thank you San Francisco!)

So my request is simple: I don’t want to have to imagine anymore. I want to see the stickers in action. Please send in photos of your bumper sticker (and you and your kids!) wherever it happens to be affixed. (One of you mentioned in an email to me that it’s on your office bulletin board? Love that!)  The one who sends in my favorite photo wins my Time for Dinner cookbook when it comes out in September. (Or another cookbook TBD if you’ve already pre-ordered, which, ahem, I’m sure you have.) By “favorite,” I mean…hmm, not really sure. I have a feeling I’ll know it when I see it. Consider this contest ongoing. Send me pix directly: Jenny AT dinneralovestory.com.

For those of you who missed the giveaway*, you still have a chance. Register today and you’ll be eligible for free bumper stickers, cookbooks, and more.

One more thing…

Thanks to all of you who have been begging me to convert my recipes to printer-friendly versions. I just wanted to let you know that this is officially in the works and something should be ready to go by the end of the next week. If you have any other suggestions (or complaints) always always tell me. Recipes too casually written? Are they too complicated? Too ambitious? Want more vegetarian dishes? More fish? More quick? More product recs? More picky eating strategies? More ideas for babies? You can either email me directly or write something in any comment field. I read all the comments — in fact I now get a Pavlovian endorphin rush as soon as I hear a WordPress comment “ping” on my iPhone — and even when I don’t respond, please know that I am listening.

Have a great weekend!
Love, Jenny

*If you registered on or before June 26, you will receive a free bumper sticker. Due to the overwhelming response (thank you!) it may take a few weeks to get the envelopes licked and mailed.

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Would Anybody Like to Play a Game?

June 10th, 2010 · 16 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Pasta, Pork and Beef, Seafood, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook, Vegetarian

Now, granted this might be hard because it involves some knowledge of my cookbook shelves pre-June 10, 2010. But the game is this: Can anyone guess what new cookbook has been added to my kitchen library? I’ll give you a hint. It’s wedged in between Ruth Reichl and Marcella Hazan, a few doors down from Martha Stewart and Bugialli and Bittman, underneath Julia Child and Mario Batali and Jim Lahey…? Give up?

It’s Time for Dinner, the cookbook I co-authored with Pilar Guzman and Alanna Stang while we were all still at Cookie. Although the book doesn’t officially publish until September, I received a real-life, I-can-hold-it-in-my-hands advance copy by FedEx this morning and it’s hard not to be Abby-ish and imagine myself (and my cowriters) on the same shelf as my food heroes. But the thing is — there I am. There we are. Next to Marcella Hazan!

I would love nothing more than to show you every single page in the 272-page playbook, but I’m going to restrain myself and just deliver some good news to all those former Cookie readers who have written to me telling me how much they miss the “So You Have A…” column. There is an entire chapter of SYHAs in the cookbook — 20 ingredients, 3 meal options for each, which means 60 total recipes. (Sixty recipes in just one chapter, btw.) For those of you new to SYHA, the column was one of Cookie‘s most popular pages. It charted recipes visually and the choose-your-own-adventure strategy (“head this way if you have pork; that way if you have pasta”)  is tailor-made for parents who come in the door at 6:30, see a big bunch of swiss chard (or sausage or frozen peas or miso paste) in the fridge and need quick inspiration for how they can turn it into dinner.  As addicted as I am to my digital recipe generating these days, seeing the flowcharted recipes spread across two pages reminded me how impossible it is to replicate the feeling of opening a book (see? It lies flat!) and getting inspired by lush photographs (thank you, Marcus Nilsson) and clean design (thank you, Number 17). Ok, I’m done now with the shameless self-promotion. Thanks for listening.

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Gorditas

May 19th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

I feel any day now that the taco spread (avocados, beans, cheese, chicken, etc) will turn into the “not-again” dinner that chicken was when I was growing up. Whatever dish the fillings go into — quesadillas, mega nachos, taco soup — it’s such a no-brainy strategy for my family since it’s customizable and takes practically no time at all to assemble. Last week, I was pleased to add a new one the rotation: Gorditas. All the same toppings as usual, but the cornbready “cups” were prepared in muffin tins. Pretty exciting stuff for first and second graders.

Gorditas
Adapted from our soon-to-be published Time for Dinner. (Pre-order now!!)

1 8.25-ounce can creamed corn
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup Jack cheese or cheddar
Any of the following fillings: cooked chicken (shredded or in small chunks), black beans, shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar, tomatoes, sour cream, avocado, lime

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the corn, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Whisk in the cornmeal and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and cheese, stirring to combine. Remove from heat.

Grease a 6-cup muffin tin. Divide the corn mixture evenly among the cups, pressing it into the bottom and up the sides to create cups. Bake until crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then turn the corn cups out of the tin. Let kids fill with whatever toppings they choose.

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We Have a Cover!

May 12th, 2010 · 18 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Pasta, Picky Eating, Pork and Beef, Rituals, Seafood, Sides, Salads, Soup, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

…And, perhaps even more exciting, we also finally have an amazon link where you can pre-order our Time for Dinner cookbook. OK…how cool is that cover? I can call my own number here because I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Lia Ronnen at Melcher Media and Bonnie Siegler at Number 17 are the creative forces behind the design — as well as the 75 other cover tries that I am convinced, if decoupaged into shelf-liner, could make someone somewhere a million bucks. (Thanks, guys.)

In honor of this milestone, I’m giving you a recipe (tweaked a bit) that comes from one of my favorite chapters of the book. The chapter is a “starter kit” on feeding the baby called “What’s in it for me?”  where we show how to prepare basic fresh baby purees (avocado, sweet potato, bananas, etc.), then give instructions for how to take those purees and use them as the base for grown-up dishes. (So an avocado mash turns into taco topping, a peach puree is stirred into a Harry’s-style Bellini, you get the idea.) When we batted around ideas for grown-up-izing baby’s pureed sweet potato, Alanna, who wrote the section, suggested mixing in a miso butter with scallions. Apparently people knew about this combination? I did not, but let me just tell you, it’s a revelation — a revelation that my kids have come to like more than a plain sweet potato.

Sweet Potatoes with Miso Butter and Scallions (adapted from Time For Dinner)

2 whole sweet potatoes or yams
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons miso (white)
2 tablespoons chives or chopped scallions

Roast whole sweet potatoes at 450°F for 40 minutes. While they are roasting, mix together remaining ingredients. When potatoes are ready, slit them in half lengthwise, scoop out some flesh for the baby and mash with a fork.  Top the rest with miso butter. (For Abby, I scooped the flesh out of the skin and tossed it for her in a special bowl. Seemed to do the trick.)

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Lettuce Hand Rolls

April 8th, 2010 · 4 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Quick, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

I find it almost impossible to think creatively about ground meat. When it’s in the fridge staring back at my weeknight-at-six-o-clock face (not a pretty sight I can imagine) my brain only goes in two directions: chili or burgers. Yaaawwwn. So when my former colleague, the genius food stylist Victoria Granof developed this recipe for Cookie (look for it in the Time for Dinner Cookbook, too) it was huge. The recipe calls for ground pork, but it’s honestly just as delicious with ground turkey, and makes good use of sweet, kid-friendly Chinese five-spice, which every family kitchen should stock in its arsenal. It’s also a very forgiving meal: last time I served the rolls (above) I was working with a picked-over pantry (no peanuts, no carrots) and — can you believe? — we all lived to tell. Click to the jump for the recipe.

The spread: sturdy romaine leaves, chopped peanuts, cukes, shredded carrots

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Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

March 21st, 2010 · 6 Comments · Dinner, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook, Uncategorized

Pilar Guzman, Jenny Rosenstrach (me), Alanna Stang (photo: Andrea Chu)

When I worked at Cookie, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by moms who (collectively) knew the answers to everything. Really everything! From Should I send my late-birthday kid to kindergarten or not? to What should I wear to a summer afternoon wedding? to Is Coraline too old for my six-year-old? But the real bonus was that two of them, editor-in-chief Pilar and executive editor Alanna, above, were astonishing cooks who loved nothing more than talking about food — particularly the kinds of food that their kids loved to wolf down. We spent our last year at Cookie compiling all our notes into a book and the result is something we promise is going to change the way you feel about cooking for your kids. It’s called Time For Dinner: Strategies, recipes, and inspiration for every night of the week (Chronicle) and will be out in September 2010. If you happen to be press and you’re interested in getting on the review copy list, you can email David_Hawk@chroniclebooks.com.

More….

Time for Dinner is filled with more than 200 recipes–everything from customizable lasagnas to sushi hand rolls that look like ice cream cones–that will inspire your family dinner. (Victoria Granof developed the recipes and Marcus Nilsson shot the gorgeous photos.) You’ll also learn how to:

  • Make one meal that everyone in the family wants to eat
  • Break out of your rut
  • Keep the kids distracted while you cook
  • Plan and prep so you’re not scrambling for ideas every night
  • Master a few basic techniques you can fall back on
  • Reclaim dinner so you can start enjoying meals again!

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How to Have Family Dinner: Six Rules

February 17th, 2010 · 4 Comments · Dinner, Organizing, Strategizing, Planning, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

(illustration by Laurie Sandell)

Rule 1: If you have a kid under 3, don’t bother.

Tending to a toddler at the table — his milk spilling, his food dropping, his inability to articulate how multidimensional your marinara is — it all takes its toll on the rest of the diners’s satisfaction, especially the cook’s. You won’t be able to concentrate on any kind of conversation or enjoy what you just spent some time preparing, let alone be able to savor your family’s only unplugged moment of the day. You will in fact, only be setting yourself up for failure, potentially triggering a spiral into dark places of self-hatred. That can be hard to recover from.

Rule 2: Push bedtime later.
My kids have always gone to bed late (since we usually get home from work between 6:30-7:00) and logistically I think it’s the most important thing you can do to make life a little easier around the table. The “7:00 Bedtime” parents will probably not be happy with my prescription of  ”The 7:30 Dinner,” but if you can swing it, you can most likely give yourself a comfortable 30 minutes to drink a glass of wine, talk to the kids, and get a meal on the table. There are enough things going against you already with this whole endeavor — might as well control the clock. If your kids are starving and you can’t imagine how they will last that long — ply them with a healthy snack at 5:30.

Rule 3: The Two Out of Three Philosophy.
How do you define successful dinner? After editing the food pages of Cookie for so long, I got quite intimate with all the research. Most parents (moms, in this case) call a meal a success if:

  1. Every member of the family is accounted for and seated.
  2. There is a wholesome meal on the table.
  3. Everyone is eating the same wholesome meal.

There are other variables, yes — like if the TV is off and there are no punches thrown between siblings — but the three above are the biggies. This is what I do: If I can honestly say that I’ve hit two of these three truths, then you better believe I’m marking it down in the Successful Family Dinner column on my Good Mother Scorecard. If you find you are hitting all three truths all the time, please contact me — you are a nearly extinct breed and I’d like to conduct some kind of anthropological study on you.

Rule 4: Don’t force yourself to cook every night.
Along the same lower-your-standards lines, my friend Pilar (who was also the editor of Cookie editor and my co-author on Time For Dinner ) has her own set of rules for dinner making. Her whole philosophy is “If I Could Just Make it to Wednesday…” (later shorthanded to simply “Get to Wednesday”) and holds that if you can do your best to cook a good wholesome meal for your kids just til the middle of the week, then you are off the hook for Thursday and Friday. The point is this: We are no longer living in the same world we grew up in — no one expects you to produce a hot, made-from-scratch meal every night. But if you are one of those moms who finds it extremely satisfying to produce a hot, made-from-scratch meal for your kids, then do it when you can and let it go when you can’t. (By this point in my parenting career shouldn’t I know that telling mothers not to feel guilty is like telling Charlie Sheen not to drink?)

Rule 5: Cook within your culinary comfort zone.
Hopefully you will be getting a lot of ideas from DALS that will expand your recipe repertoire, but when you’re starting out, you should cook what you’re comfortable with. Remember, the name of the game is taking out any variable you can — so really, why would you start with a quinoa pilaf that requires you to hunt down some sort of special summer spinach at the farmer’s market? Start with something you can make without a recipe. Start with an omelette. Or a hamburger or a killer sandwich…or pasta tossed with fresh tomatoes. And once you do decide to try, say, Marcella Hazan’s milk-braised pork loin (oh please please please try it!) do it on a Saturday when you don’t have all the demands of a weeknight.

Rule 6: Follow Dinner: A Love Story.
There are all kinds of reasons not to have family dinner, I know, but please listen to what I have to say (and try what I have to cook). As long as you continue to entertain the option that maybe, just maybe, you’ll sort of, kind of, maybe, try to maybe, attempt to do it someday …I’ll be happy. And so will your family.

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Healthy Snacks for Kids

January 31st, 2010 · 6 Comments · Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

My six-year-old is hungry all day long — until dinner is served, of course. At that point she tries to chatter her way through the event as though somehow we may not notice that she hasn’t lifted her fork. It’s not entirely her fault, though. Half the time, I’ll have come home from work hungry enough to eat the front door, so I set out a bowl of chips and salsa to tie me over to mealtime. What am I supposed to do..not let her have some with me? (Um, no, says every “expert” who has ever weighed in on the topic of snacking.) The point is, besides the fact that I need to be more disciplined in general, is that she should be eating a healthy, nutritious snack at least two hours before dinner — one that satisfies her enough to prevent her regular 6:00 kitchen migration. When I’m my best self, these might be the kind of thing I’m talking about:

Mango Armadillos

Its menacing disposition belies the happy effect it has on my children. I can’t take full credit for the inspiration here — Abby gets an inordinate amount of pleasure when I turn mangoes “inside out” so this time, we decided to add a few pomegranate seeds as eyeballs to give it a little personality. It’s amazing how much it actually looks like her.

You make these the same way you might already slice an avocado: Slice off a wedge from the mango  — as large as you can without cutting into its pit; using a sharp knife, draw a checkerboard of slices in the fruit, being careful not to cut all the way through the skin; flip inside out and tuck in pomegranate seeds.


Apple Sticks with Honey

Yes, it’s fussy, but for whatever reason, the girls eat approximately 250% more apple when it’s cut into matchsticks, so I’m going with it. Peel a snacking apple (I love Fujis) if your kids are anti-skin (It’s ok, they’re still healthy that way), cut into wedges, then cut those wedges into sticks. Serve with a small bowl of honey.

Cheese Bagel Panini

Little known fact: It’s easier to disguise a whole wheat bagel when it’s been grilled in the waffle iron. You can buy mini whole wheat bagels from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Assemble your cheese and bagel, place in a waffle iron (on medium-heat setting) and press down until cheese is melted.

Chip-and-Dip Sunflower

A dollop of Trader Joe’s spicy black bean dip surrounded by petals of tortilla chips that actually taste like corn. Phoebe can’t believe her luck.

A Little Bowl of Rubies

Strawberries and pomegranates look like jewelry to me — even when the strawberries are those off-season white-fleshed and flavorless kinds. But the kids don’t seem to notice especially when they get to sprinkle a little sugar on top by themselves.

Sprout Bread with Almond Butter and Bananas

Wait, how did my favorite lunch get on this list? Oh, well. My kids won’t touch it, but maybe yours will. The credit for the combo goes to Victoria Granof, who I worked closely with in the food department at Cookie. You’ll also see it — and many more genius Victoria concoctions — in the Time for Dinner cookbook (Chronicle, 2010).


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