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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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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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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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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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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