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Cooking from “Family” Focused Cookbooks

So I’ve recently accumulated a towering stack of “cooking for kids/family” type cookbooks and I'd like to cook from them more. I plan to document my experiences in this thread and invite anyone who is interested to join in.

I’ve listed below the books I own, but if you’d like to join in on others in the genre (including any of those 30 minute meal /get dinner on the table quick kinds of books), please feel to jump in with new titles. Please just state the name of the book you are cooking from, the author, and particular recipe.

My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking by John Besh

Dinner: A Love Story: It All Begins at the Family Table by Jenny Rosenstrach

River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy

Robin’s Quick Fix Meals: 200 Simple, Delicious Recipes To Make Mealtime Easy by Robin Miller

Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson

Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton

How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food (USA) by Nigella Lawson (this book has a section on feeding babies and young children)

I don’t believe children age two or older necessarily need special diets, but I personally am looking for more ways to be efficient and flexible in the kitchen. I need improve my skills and employ smarter strategies and hope to find some answers and inspiration in the pages of these books.

I don’t want to dumb down our meals, but at the same, I no longer have time to shop numerous specialty markets for the perfect array of “authentic” ingredients. I’m willing to accept compromises and short-cuts for now, but we value diversity in our household and I want to introduce my child to lots of different cuisines, not just standard American fare. I personally cannot eat steak, potatoes, chops and mac and cheese for every meal.

I'm sorry for those of you who don't find these kinds of books chowhoundish (and I'm guessing that's the case because there's hardly any discussion about these kinds of books here on CH), but it's where I'm at right now.

Anyway, please join me in this grand experiment.

P.S. please be patient with me as I have limited time to both try new recipes AND post... This might be a slow-moving thread.

~TDQ

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  1. Are the recipes in Dinner: A Love Story also on the blog? I've made one of her blog recipes and have others saved to make soon and would be happy to do write ups if you're interested in that.

    I actually like books like these even though I don't have children, for the reasons you mention...easy to find ingredients, and they are relatively quick to prepare.

    5 Replies
    1. re: juliejulez

      You know, I don't know. I think a lot of them are. But here's a listing of the recipes in the book per EYB. Are the recipes you're thinking of on the EYB list?

      http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/1...

      And, yes, I'm delighted to have your participation even if you don't have children. Mostly, I'm a cookbookaphile and have accumulated several of these kinds of books and figure I should cook from them. Plus, there's not a whole lot of info about these kinds of books out there other than on Amazon. I thought it would be nice to document some of my experiences for those hounds who eventually find themselves interested in these kinds books. Child not essential for participation in this thread. :)

      ~TDQ

      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Cool :) My SO eats like a child sometimes so that has to count for something LOL!

        I looked through the list and I'd have to do a side by side with my Pinterest, the recipes are saved intermittently there since I organize by main ingredient instead of all on one board. It looks like the yogurt marinated chicken is probably one of these though: http://www.dinneralovestory.com/choos...

        The recipe I've made so far from the blog is this Asian BBQ Chicken, and it was a winner. http://www.dinneralovestory.com/eatin... The sauce could easily be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge... if you do that this would only take like 20ish minutes to do on the night of, and it would work to do it in the oven too, when the weather is not good enough to grill. Also great reheated the next day or cold in a sandwich. I served it with plain rice, and green beans using this method: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2011/02/... might be a bit spicy for the kiddos but the idea is good, I think leaving out the sriracha wouldn't affect the dish at all other than the heat level.

         
        1. re: juliejulez

          Looks delicious! (ETA: I don't think it's in the book BTW, nevertheless, I'm happy to you reported on it. Online recipes are easy to whisk into pepperplate!)

          I think that yogurt marinated grilled chicken recipe does appear in the book (ETA: pg 264-265). Go for it! I'd love to hear how pounding out the chicken works for you. That's a smart way to speed up cooking time for meat and poultry!

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I'm going to try the yogurt marinated chicken, with the middle eastern flavors mentioned in the blog next Monday I think. I might end up doing chunks though, and put on skewers. I'm going to grill it along with zucchini strips.

            My secret for pounding out chicken? I don't do much of it, it's a pain. I just cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise, sometimes you can even cut them into thirds if they're real fat ones. I might still pound them a little but overall I just don't like doing it.

            I also just ordered Donna Hay's Instant Cook today after reading about it over in the Donna Hay thread. It says it's for people in a hurry, so hopefully that will be the case :) It cost me a whole $4 once you add in the 3.99 Amazon shipping for used books so if it's a bust it won't cost me much. I don't get home from work til 7ish, and by the time I give the dog some attention and water my plants, it's well past 730 so anything much longer than an hour of prep/cooking time just doesn't work for me.

            1. re: juliejulez

              I did end up making the yogurt marinated chicken, using the Middle Eastern Option 3 in the link above. I made the marinade the night before and marinated overnight.... it was very quick to make since you just throw everything into the blender... only prep was quartering the onion and peeling the garlic. I cubed up my chicken so I could do skewers but leaving the breasts whole would make it even quicker. My skewers stuck to the grill pretty bad even though I oiled it down a bit. I guess add more oil next time.

              My SO approved, but told me after I asked him how it was "As good as the last time you made it", which puzzled me, but then I realized he was thinking of the Serious Eats Halal Cart Chicken, which isn't yogurt based but has very similar flavors.

              I think next time I would add more oregano than what's called for, along with the coriander that's in the Halal Cart recipe... it was just missing a little oomph. I'll be curious to try the other options too. I served it with the yellow rice from the Halal Cart recipe, and some grilled asparagus instead of zucchini since I had some to use up. Definitely a quick meal though... maybe 5-10 minutes to do the marinade, 10 minutes to do the skewering (which you could skip) then only about 20 minutes of actual cooking time for all components including the rice (which is mostly hands off).

    2. I've seen several "dinner in a hurry" major discussions, TDQ, so you are certainly not alone in this style of cooking. I'd guess that CH regulars on the What's For Dinner threads may, like me, usually post when they've made something they think others will find "inspirational". We skip over the 10 days of what one person dubbed "survival cooking".

      My own favorite family cookbook is "A Dinner A Day" - see my profile for ISBN & author info.

      I'll join you, when the library opens Tuesday and I can check out the Robin Miller book.

      I was able to get the library's electronic copy of another of her books "Robin Takes 5: 500 recipes, 5 ingredients or less, 500 calories or less, 5 nights a week at 5:00 PM". The chicken & turkey chapter looks especially promising. I was disappointed skimming through the pizza/flatbread/strudel chapter since I found only one recipe I'd like to try (but lots of meatless and oddball cheeses recipes, if those appeal to you).

      1 Reply
      1. re: MidwesternerTT

        I'd love to hear what you think of "Robin Takes 5". She has one coming out this summer that I have on preorder on Amazon, "Robin Takes 5 for Families" or something like that... It's a bit of a leap of faith since I haven't cooked from any of her recipes, but it's her approach that appeals to me. If I can get that under my belt, I figure I can apply it to any recipes. Of course, it would be great if I end up liking her recipes, too!

        Better harvest that rhubarb before it gets too hot... :)

        ~TDQ

      2. TDQ - this CH topic from 2009 on easy meals was recently "resurrected" . A fun read http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/620671

        Turns out my library was open today (only closed Monday for the holiday), so I've now got the Quick Fix Meals book and the cherry chicken caught my eye. I have also spotted a salad I can make using my garden chives, but now need to shop for a green pepper. All mine are sliced/chopped & frozen, ready to use in cooked recipes.

        1. Out of your list, I have River Cottage, Kitchen and How to Eat.

          I don't have much luck with River Cottage. There are only two things I have repeated from the book. One is the pesto using ground almond. (But only because I was worried about not grounding my pinenuts enough so baby could choke on it). And the blueburry muffins. The food I found tend to be on the bland side, but it was good for the 6-18 months period when I want to cook without salt (or just less salt) for the baby.

          I have How to Eat for years and have never warmed to it. I tried again during the COTM and I still don't get inspired. I remember there is a cottage pie recipe in it that is quite sweet. So could be good for a young child who love sweet things.

          I bought Kitchen earlier this year, but I don't think I've cooked anything from it yet!

          I'm having a lot of success at the moment with Diana Henry's cook simple. The one that sticks out is the Pacific Lime chicken. After cooking, I cut up the chicken pieces into smaller squares, mix it with plain rice, and boiled peas/edamames, add a little of the pacific lime sauce. My 2 year old couldn't have enough of this.

          Cook simple also has a goat-cheese pesto with roast tomatoes. It's a nice variation on the standard pesto with parmesan. If your little one likes pesto pasta, I'd recommend it.

          13 Replies
          1. re: lilham

            Hmmm...maybe I should move on from River Cottage Baby & Toddler then. My LO is well beyond that 6-18 months period. I think you once recommended the falafel from River Cottage Baby and Toddler? BUt now I'm thinking that that might have been from a different book as I don't even see a falafel recipes from RCB&T!

            Funny, I have that Pacific Lime chicken marked in Cook Simple. Sounds fab. In fact, I think I have that whole chapter tagged!

            Have you tried any of the recipes from the How to Eat "feeding babies and young children" section specifically? (ETA: Oh! I see the cottage pie recipe is from that babies and young children chapter!)

            ETA:

            Diana Henry Pacific Lime Chicken recipe: http://www.ziplist.com/recipes/314077...

            Diana Henry "Fettuccine with Goat-Cheese Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes" recipe: http://www.culinate.com/books/collect...

            Nigella's Cottage Pie (I assume this is the right one?) http://www.ziplist.com/souschef?url=h...

            River Cottage Pesto: http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/p...

            River Cottage Blueberry Muffins: http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/b...

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Searching on my EYB index, I think the falafels you remembered are from Mighty Spice. It's another of my favourite fast dinner book.

              I don't remember cooking anything from How To Eat for my daughter. The only recipe I remembered trying from that chapter was the cottage pie I mentioned

              http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/r...

              I only remember it was a disaster as it was so sweet! It was only then I noticed the recipe was from the children section.

              I know it's not dinner. But the domestic goddess has a baking section with young children. I haven't seen similar in other books.

              1. re: lilham

                Oh! That makes sense. Here, I think, is the falafels recipe from Mighty Spice, a book I don't own, but probably should!

                http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/nutriti...

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Oh! I see John Gregory Smith has a new book, Mighty Spice Express, coming out in the fall! I've preordered it on Amazon. (Oh wait! I'd better confirm it's not simply the US version of Mighty Spice!)

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I just checked the EYB listing and I don't see a cinnamon fig tart or a taiwanese beef noodles in the original Mighty Spice.

                    1. re: lilham

                      HA! That's exactly what I did to confirm it wasn't the same book...

                      ~TDQ

                2. re: lilham

                  Here's a link to the "Cooking From Mighty Spice" thread, for posterity: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/805269 and a link (thanks to lilham) to the author's "online magazine," which has tons of recipes. http://www.mightyspicekitchen.com/

                  ~TDQ

                3. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I think that chapter of the Diana Henry book is incredibly useful when you want fast, flavorful meals (I type, just having made one of them - the north african poussins - but I used chicken thighs). The pacific chicken is also good - not at all spicy and yet flavorful. Same with the Caribbean chicken. So many good, easy recipes in that.

                  Have you tried the Nigella book called Fast Meals (or something like this)? I've found a few in that which bear repeating - easy and tasty.

                  I've never tried the River Cottage books, and I guess based on this discussion I won't.

                  I really do find Mighty Spice to be an easy to use, mostly quick source of great meals. But then you knew that ... : )

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    And, for posterity, here is the link to the "Cooking from Diana Henry" books thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/895953

                    LLM, I just noticed your comment on the Nigella book, Nigella Express is the book you're thinking of?

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Yes yes, sorry about getting the name wrong. That is the Nigella book I meant.

                4. re: lilham

                  KOREAN KEEMA - Nigella Lawson's KITCHEN

                  I've owned this book for more than 6 months and this is the first thing I cooked from it.

                  You make a sauce with gochujang, honey, rice wine and soy sauce. (Nigella specified crushed garlic too, but I forgot). Mix the sauce with ground turkey. Stir fry the petite pois and spring onions for 3-4min, then add the ground turkey. Cook for another 4-5min. That's it. Super easy, and oh my, so tasty.

                  She said it should 'serve 2 generously'. I made it for my pack lunch, and with rice, it comes to 4 lunch portions. I have put two portions in the freezer since they look like they will freeze well.

                  Definitely a keeper.

                  1. re: lilham

                    So great to know! Sounds delicious! Not too spicy for the little one with the gochujang in there?

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Surprisingly it is slightly sweet. I think it is the honey. But the recipe is very flexible so you can adjust the proportion of honey, gochujang and soy to your taste.

                5. I have or have read several of those cookbooks (I love Hungry Monkey but Matthew is not really good for not sourcing specialty ingredients, just an FYI) and I cook that way fairly frequently. I find that most recipes aimed at children aren't really the way I want to cook, though, and my children seem to be weird in their preferences (Thing 2 has, to date, eaten everything set before him with gusto (he's 1). Thing 1 is picky, but strangely picky. She loves roast chicken (and the potatoes I cook in chicken fat), octopus, kale salad, hamburgers, beans of various kinds, but only eats mac and cheese occasionally and despises hot dogs. I find the sanity saver is just to cook what I feel like eating and serve it to the kids, unless it's super spicy, in which case they get fish sticks or mac and cheese or a hamburger or something. That said, I'm always looking for quick and easy recipes - I've just oddly found that recipes geared towards "family" aren't always fast.

                  That said, you might want to also look into Catherine McCord (weelicious) and Kelsey Banfield (The Naptime Chef). Both have blogs and associated cookbooks.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Savour

                    Thanks for your thoughts on Hungry Monkey. I haven't felt compelled to cook any of the recipes. Not sure why, even though some (pad thai anyone) are recipes that generally interest me.

                    RE: weelicious and Naptime chef: I'm happy to have anyone cook from the cookbooks they're suggesting and report back in this thread. I'm not necessarily searching for more titles, rather I'm offering an invitation for people to cook along from the titles I own or books they own/are curious about of the same genre and share their experiences.

                    I intended this less as a "what book should I buy and what do you suggest" kind of thread, but more of a "Yikes! I have a ton of these kinds of books and should cook from them--please join me and share in the cooking fun" kind of thread. Mostly I'm seeking companionship in cooking...

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Well, I, too, have a fat ton of those types of books!

                      1. re: Savour

                        I'll have to change it to "Yikes! I have a ton of these kinds of books, and I shouldn't have bought them" :)

                        I also have
                        My Daddy Cooks
                        Baby-led weaning cookbook

                        that are not on your list. But I also wouldn't recommend them.

                        1. re: lilham

                          Well, I can't definitively say "I shouldn't have bought them" regarding the ones on my list until I've cooked from them, hence this thread. I think one of the reasons why I, and perhaps Savour and even you, have lots of these kinds of books is there there is a dearth of information about them so we went ahead and gave them a chance.

                          I'm thinking if I report back on what I've tried from these books and what I liked or didn't like about them, I might be able to steer other chowhounds towards or against them in the future...

                          But, good to know My Daddy Cooks and BLW Cookbook are not recommended. You just didn't have luck with the recipes?

                          ~TDQ

                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                        If you ever have a spare moment, check out weelicious. The muffins are fantastic- most can be made into minis. I've checked the book out of the library, but I log onto the blog often.

                        The muffins are great as snacks, and my toddler "helps" prepare them

                    2. Recipe report for Quick Fix Meals p. 104 Roast Chicken with Smokey Apricot Sauce. YUM. Very easy 5 min. prep, then cooked quickly (35 min in preheated 400-degree oven.) The sauce kept the chicken breast very moist, and was mild-flavored. I like that she recommends sides to make a meal, although I chose to use some wild rice I'd cooked & frozen and a fresh fruit salad. I am trying to use up many odds & ends from fridge & freezer.

                      I made a half-recipe, intending to use the chicken leftovers for just one of the 3 "morph" recipes she offers for follow-on meals. We ended up reheating the chicken as-is, to have with yet more miscellaneous leftover sides that were filing the fridge (tortellini w/red peppers, more fruit salad). And it was still tender.

                      I plan to make it again, so I can try one or more of the "morph" recipes - I have my eye on Thai chicken salad with peanuts & lIme. (others are chicken/mushroom quesadillas, and chicken curry with chickpeas & tomatoes.)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: MidwesternerTT

                        Oh fantastic! That's one of the series of recipes I had my eye on, although I'm not sure I really consider a quesadilla something I need a recipe for...

                        ~TDQ

                      2. Recipe report for p. 106 in Quick Fix Meals - Thai Chicken Salad with peanuts & lime. I served with rice-sesame round crackers, and two rhubarb desserts.

                        Note - this is a very different recipe from the one posted on Food Network site, with same name, also credited to Robin Miller. This one has 1/3 C. light mayo in the dressing and no chicken broth, also different veggies.

                        I liked this quite a bit, and will make it again with extra lime juice and remembering to add the chopped dry roasted peanuts before we're half-way through the meal.

                        The flavors were very mild - great for us, but I'd guess that most adults may want to add some extra zip to their servings - maybe a dash of chili spice in the dressing. I'll also add more lime juice next time. On a similar recipe (p. 90) Robin Miller suggests adding 1/4 C. fresh lemongrass or 1 t. lemon / lime zest.

                        We don't particularly like celery, and I routinely substitute a can of sliced water chestnuts, diced. I used that this time as well. Although I'd planned to make the recipe exactly as writtten, I just couldn't bring myself to buy a sleeve of celery yesterday, knowing I'd only use 1 stalk or pay the salad-bar $8 per-pound price to get a cup of chopped celery.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: MidwesternerTT

                          I'd better check which recipe I imported into pepperplate... (ETA: this is the recipe I imported--sounds like the one you tried, yes???) http://www.biteofthebest.com/food-net...

                          Sounds delicious! I'd guess that the water chestnuts was a trade up from the celery anyway! Good call.

                          I roasted the balsamic pork tenderloin yesterday but haven't tried it yet. Will report back soon.

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Yes, DQ - That's the series of recipes I've been making, and the version of Thai chicken salad I reviewed.

                        2. if you are open to another book ...may I suggest Back to The Table by Art Smith It is lovely...
                          my house is an amazing example of a mom and dad who both worked and yet made meal time a fanily pleasure and prioity...we all cooked together ate together it was/is a time to learn , talk , celebrate, discuss...It is not always an elaborate thing...but it is always an important thing.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: girloftheworld

                            Sounds like a winner! Yes, please do cook some recipes from that book and report back on which recipe(s) you tried and what you liked or didn't about each one. I would love to hear about more hands on experiences from all of these kinds of books.

                            ~TDQ

                              1. re: girloftheworld

                                Mine's toddler-aged, but this thread is for anyone who wants to cook from "family" genre cookbooks, regardless of the ages of their kids (or even whether they have kids) or the size of their family. So, don't feel constrained by the age of my child. Just choose books and recipes that intrigue you, cook, and report back. Don't forget to include both the name of the book and the name of the recipe when you report back! Food photos welcome!

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                  You know what is weird? I am a stay at home mom, and I found it *much* easier to get a meal on the table before my daughter was in school full time (as in first grade). Now there is so much more to do - homework, after school stuff like ballet or swimming; playdates have to be done between school and dinner, which we do fairly early to accommodate bedtime. It really surprises me. I'm much more likely to need something fast and easy these days than I was when my daughter was under 6.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Yeah, I don't think it gets any easier in terms of schedule and busyness. I might as well get this figured out sooner rather than later!

                                    I've got a number of Diana Henry recipes on my list to try. And, maybe take another look at Mighty Spice, too.

                                    ~TDQ

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      That Diana Henry book has gotten me through the last couple of months. AND ... my family loves what they're eating.

                            1. I'm in a similar point in family life. Don't have any of those books, I'll have to check and see what books I have that apply. We are struggling with weeknight meals and have very little time to cook between getting home and bedtime 1.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: cacheton

                                The more the merrier! And, again, feel free to find books that suit you if the ones I happen to have don't appeal to you. I think this field is wide open (and there have been a lot of good suggestions above, too).

                                We currently have chicken thighs on the grill (which I'd intended for this super easy/fast recipe but we changed course at the last minute http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...) and steam-in-the-bag green beans (to which I added about a tsp of butter, then drizzled with soy sauce & lemon juice and sprinkled pre-toasted sesame seeds) in the 'wave. No cookbook-cooking for us tonight.

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Doesn't have to be cookbook cooking every night!! That's a great meal, and something my husband and toddler would eat in a snap

                              2. I love this book, "Time for Dinner" http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0811877... by the editors of "Cookie". It is full of the kind of customizable ideas that work for my family (14 year old and 3 year old kids) and our divergent tastes. Also, the Thai vinaigrette in "Hungry Monkey" is very good:)

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Meltlady

                                  Funny, I see one of the authors of TFD, Jenny Rosenstrach, is also the author of one of the books on my list, "Dinner, a Love Story." I wonder if there's any overlap?

                                  Thanks for the tip on the Thai vinaigrette in HM!

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I would think there might be some overlap on the blog and the TFD book, since the book came out in Sept 2010 and she started the blog in Jan 2010, after Cookie met its demise. But since DALS didn't come out til June of 2012, I would hope they aren't sharing the same recipes :)

                                    One of the other authors, Pilar Guzman, is now editor in chief at Martha Stewart Living.

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      This reminds me... The recipes in Parents magazine are usually pretty tasty

                                      1. re: cheesecake17

                                        This is one of my favorites - we have this at least once a month.
                                        http://keeprecipes.com/recipe/howtoco...
                                        (It was originally in Parents, but you have to register on their site to get the recipe, ugh. Skip the honey glaze, it's unnecessary.)

                                        1. re: truman

                                          OK, since we're talking meatloaf (and that one sounds delicious, truman), I'm going to link to the meatloaf recipe I've been meaning to try. http://www.twincities.com/recipes/ci_...

                                          Really, though, meat "loaf" would be a misnomer. Meat bars or meat brownies would be more like it as she has you bake it on a jelly roll pan so it only takes 15 minutes in the oven instead of the usual 45 or so...

                                          It's approaching "to hot to turn on the oven" season here, so it may be awhile before I get around try trying it...

                                          ~TDQ

                                    2. re: Meltlady

                                      I also checked Time for Dinner out of the library but returned it without trying any of the recipes. It was too gimmicky for me (like a section where you assemble different types of prepared foods like tortilla chips, salsa and can of beans and call it dinner -- I don't need a book to tell me that!, another section where you "deconstruct" dinners, etc.) There was a section called "if you have," where it would be if you have a butternut squash and ... and it would list different things that you could combine with butternut squash to make a soup, a pizza and a pasta. Problem with this is you could very easily have a butternut squash but not the other stuff needed to make the recipes -- it's not like they called for strict pantry items only. The most helpful looking section involved cooking a big meal on Sunday, then repurposing the leftovers in various ways through the week, I think there were four of those Sunday menu ideas.

                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                        TIME FOR DINNER by "Cookie" editors Pilar Guzman, Jenny Rosenstrach, and Alanna Stang

                                        I saw this on the shelf at the library when I was picking up another book and thought, what the heck? I must be in a very receptive mood, because I actually kind of liked this book enough, probably, to pick up a cheap used copy, I think.

                                        First of all, I read it pretty much cover to cover in an evening. It's a quick read. Second of all, I love some of the concepts. There are things I dislike about it, too (including some of the gimmicky things westminstress observed), but I'll get to that in a minute.

                                        The premise is how to get dinner on the table while balancing all of the challenges of family and picky kids. Most recipes are 30 minutes and under.

                                        The authors were the editors of now defunct "Cookie" magazines, a Conde Nast lifestyle magazine for mothers. I was never even aware of Cookie, but I saw that Rosenstrach was at Real Simple Magazine for a while. This book uses a lot of layout techniques simliar to Real Simple that I think makes it easy to read. I actually like Real Simple, but I can't say I loved how they employed the techniques in this book--some where very distracting.

                                        I love this quote from the intro "Some days you feel like supermom, some days you are exhausted, some days you fully intend to make the chicken potpies...and never get around to picking up the chicken." That's me! With my grand plans for dinner then never even getting out of the gate with it!

                                        Chapters:

                                        1) The Family Kitchen: Try to get beyond this chapter, it's where a lot of the gimmicky stuff is. Pantry and fridge essentials--kind of a fun and breezy read. Kitchen tools.

                                        A little chart on rolling out solids to babies where they say feed baby, say, pureed peas and turn that into minted-pea puree with mozzarella for the rest of the family.

                                        Babysitter in a box: assembling a box of kitchen items to distract & entertain your toddler while you cook.

                                        Picky eater emergency kit (too gimmicky--things like flashlights that you can give your toddler to eat with when you turn out the lights and have some kind of dinner adventure where he searches for his dinner or toothpicks, skewers and corn holders which, honestly, I don't put in the hands of my toddler yet) and the mix and match meals (cheese sticks+edamame+frozen corn=balance dinner) which like westminstress I found way too gimmicky. They are just trying to make you feel okay about feeding your kid whatever you have that s/he'll eat. I don't need that from a cookbook, but, whatever, maybe some moms do.

                                        2) If I Could Just Make it to Wednesday: instead of trying to cook for an entire week, just try to make it to Weds and rely on leftovers or what you've got in your fridge for the rest of the week. Then they give you 2 Sunday dinners, one fall, one summer, you can make that give you many meals later in the week. I loved this section and wish they'd given more than just two:

                                        --braised pork, roasted kabocha squash, cooked apples and barley. Pork becomes leftovers for freezer or posole or cuban sandwiches later. Squash becomes rigatoni, muffins, or curried squash soup later. Cooked apples become sausage with apples, apple pancakes and apples with ice cream later. Barley becomes stuffed peppers, barley salad with beets and oranges and hot cereal later.

                                        --Flank steak grilled vegetables & corn bread

                                        Also, 8 things to cook on the weekend to get ahead for the week: marinara, pot of beans, roast a chicken, caramelize some onions, make a vinaigrette, wash greens & blanch vegetables, mix a chili blend, freeze ginger/garlic/onions cubes.

                                        3) I want something simple, fast and hard to screw up. Lots of great recipes, many requiring 30 minutes and under, in this section, I thought. Sweet pork hand rolls, shrimp & grits, cold blender soups, one-pot coconut-chicken curry, etc.

                                        Restaurant replication: chicken fingers, salmon teriyaki, popcorn shrimp.

                                        Muffin tin meals: potato chip frittata, gorditas, pizza pockets, cupcake-tin pork pies. I LOVE these ideas! So want to try them. Also, ice-cube-tray sushi where you take cooked rice and mash it into an ice cube tray to mold it, then stuff salmon and veg into it.

                                        Meatloaf 5 ways (basic, italian, asian, french, thanksgiving turkey) and either in a standard loaf pan or in small loaf pans or muffin tins.

                                        4) I want to have a family dinner where we all eat the same meal (even if our plates look kinda different)--the idea being that you set out a lot of little plates and let everyone choose for themselves: sesame noodles with extras (little dishes of nuts, shredded chicken, chopped or julienned vegetables), Cobb salad with chicken fingers with all of the elements separated on a tray so you can mix and match, crepes, hot pot (fondue), etc. This style of serving dinner is totally where my family is at right now and fits in with the Ellen Satyr method of feeding your small child.

                                        And after this is where the book starts to go downhill for me.

                                        5) Do Sandwiches Count? eh, I'm not a sandwich person.

                                        6) I want to use what I already have---weirdly laid out, hard to follow recipes by ingredient. Why not just have standard recipes here? Some of them look good, but I find the organization really odd.

                                        7) Let's All Have a Playdate--entertaining when you have kids (not necessarily exclusively for kids, but assuming kids will be present). I liked this section. Taco bar, pizza party, salad bar (more substantial and kid-friendly than it sounds), tandoori bbq (yum!). Self-serve stop-top: maple baked beans or spaghetti with veal-ricotta meatballs or smoked-salmon chowder or pot roast.

                                        This one is indexed on EYB:
                                        http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/r...

                                        I'm definitely going to try some recipes from chapters 2 or 3. Maybe 7 one of these days when the weather starts to get nicer and we can entertain outdoors again.

                                        ~TDQ

                                         
                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          And if you want to get a sense of the kind of layouts that are in this book that are "Real Simple'ish" here's a sample. There are lots of recipes that aren't presented this way, but there are lots that are.

                                          The first pic is of the "essential freezer" from chapter 1 "the family kitchen" and the second is the annotations that go along with it. I actually found the second page interested and easy to read. They have an essential pantry layout that is similar to this.

                                          Pic #3 is from the "I want to use what I have" recipe section (chapter 6). This layout doesn't work for me, at least at first glance, I haven't actually tried to cook from it.

                                          Pic #4 is the "Mix+Match" meals section from chapter 1 that westminstress thought was too gimmicky. I totally agree.

                                          ~TDQ

                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                    3. Highly recommend Sarah Moulton's Family Dinners -- simple, yet interesting recipes.

                                      24 Replies
                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        That's been on my list to try actually (even though I said I wasn't really looking to add to the towering stack of books I already have, I do have a couple including this one, Mighty Spice and his new one, Mighty Spice Express, and Diana Henry on my list)! Perhaps I shall give it a nudge up higher on the list or, at least, check it out of the library. Of course, now I have to take a serious look at some of the other books people have recommended in this thread...

                                        ETA: here's an interesting thing Sara has to say about this book: " I attempted a different method of prep – I dispensed with mise en place, meaning I did not list the ingredients as being already prepared. The onions are not diced, the garlic is not minced. I decided after all these years of racing to get dinner on the table that pre-prep is a waste of time."

                                        http://saramoulton.com/2010/04/my-new...

                                        Now I really want to try it because I'm coming to the conclusion that some pre-prep is a waste of time... I'd like to know what her alternative approach is.

                                        A number of the book's recipes are online: http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/r...

                                        ~TDQ

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Wow, that is a huge statement, and coming from SM it is worth listening to. I always take an hour or whatever each morning (I've just finished for today - yay!) doing all sorts of pre-cutting, getting the spices I'll need ready, my starch next to the stove/oven, whatever. Would love to have that hour back ...

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            A decent chunk of the intro, the "head starts" chapter, and the eggs chapter of Sara Moulton's Family Dinners are available as a preview in google books:

                                            http://books.google.com/books?id=RndT...

                                            ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                I've just read the part of Sara Moulton's book about not having things ready/pre-cut and what immediately came to mind was that it is obvious she doesn't have a young child in the house, and must have a very helpful husband who is not sitting at his desk obsessing over algebra or sports on his computer. If I waited until my onion was cooking to start cutting up the next stuff to go in, dinner would take forever. I usually have a small hand tugging at me for something (help with homework, come see my new picture, watch me pirouette, etc.) and while my husband theoretically knows his jobs are to turn on the light in the dining room, pour water and open wine, he usually forgets (and I almost always forgive), so I end up doing those things while that onion is cooking down. The phone rings; a pile of toys or books falls over, something happens that needs my attention. So, for me, that way of cooking wouldn't work. I can well see that it would work for others, but not those with children who are at the age when they want/need/crave your attention.

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  I pretty much cook the way she describes- take everything out of the fridge/pantry, and chop as needed. I use an open supermarket bag for garbage and scraps. Once the onion is in the pan, I know I've got a few minutes to put some items away or start the next task

                                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                                    I do the same with the open bag/scraps thing. But I kind of know it is unlikely that I'll have a few minutes to work on other items (or if I do it will be sort of a miracle).

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      Sometimes those few minutes are spent making playdough replicas of dinner :)

                                                      1. re: cheesecake17

                                                        Love it! Lulu had a real pop-culture mash-up about a month ago. She loves watching Top Chef with me, and she loves My Little Pony. So she had "My Little Top Chef Pony" and had them make different things with her plastic food set. We had to vote on them and everything. And she has her own pretend restaurant called LuluLicious.

                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          That's hysterical! A relative got my daughter a cupcake set recently... And she's been making "cake cups" while I make the real dinner. She wanted me to film her with my iPhone so she could be on the "cake cup tv show"

                                                          1. re: cheesecake17

                                                            You'll be happy if you did record it. Be a hoot when she's 15 ...

                                                            I think cake cups makes just as much sense as cup cakes, now that I think about it!

                                                  2. re: LulusMom

                                                    Yeah, I hate to say it but when I glanced at the recipes that are online per EYB, nearly all of themhave longer combined prep+cooking times than I'm able to pull off right now. I think I'm going to have to get a copy out of the library and really spend some time with this book to understand her approach.

                                                    There are definitely some things in the "head starts" section I want to try though.

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      I'll be watching this space. I really do like and admire SM so I'd love to hear that this book works and that you've found some tasty and easy to make stuff. But as I said, without knowing for sure that someone isn't going to need me to put out a fire or something, I won't be able to use that no-prep method. Maybe in a few years.

                                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                                      I don't even have small children and I have a hard time doing prep work in between cooking steps. I prep mine right before I start, because in between cooking steps, that's when I do things like empty the dishwasher, fill the dishwasher, vacuum up the dining room because the dog likes to throw his bits of food in there, chase it, then not eat it, and read the mail.

                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                        Glad to hear that I'm not alone! Here is today's ferrinstance: Lulu is doing a puzzle magazine with a marker. Then I hear "Mummis! MUMMISSS!!!" (her name for me). I run in "what is it"? "I put the marker in my mouth, will I get sick???" and this needed to be discussed, calmed and cleaned.

                                                      2. re: LulusMom

                                                        Another one here who can't cook without all the prep done first if my daughter is around. By the way Jamie Oliver cooks with the no prep method for his 15/30 min meals.

                                                        1. re: lilham

                                                          I'm guessing JO's wife is pretty great at keeping the kids out of his hair.

                                                            1. re: lilham

                                                              Laughing! That hadn't even occurred to me, but of course!

                                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                                          OK, so last night it was just Lulu and me for dinner, and I tried this method. And I went nuts. I think this has to do with my personality as much as it does with being tugged at. I just didn't like the feeling of having to rush rush rush on chopping things and making sure that my garlic wasn't burning, that the pasta wasn't getting overcooked, etc. It was my first time with the recipe, which was undoubtedly part of it, but I just hated the rushed feeling I had as I sat down to dinner. So much nicer for me when everything is cut, zested, ready to go. YMMV.

                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                            Ohoh! Kind of stressful, eh? Do you have the same issues with JO's 15 & 30 minute meals?

                                                            ~TDQ

                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              Well, I did a lot of pre-prep for those, but yeah, if I was trying to keep with his schedule it would probably cause me a bit of stress. But of course if you have all the stuff cut up it is always easier, and it is also easier the more times you've made a recipe.

                                                    3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      Didn't know about Mighty Spice Express. Drat, there's another book I have to buy.

                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                        It's not coming out until, I think, August, so you have time to save up!

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                  3. Recipe report #3 for Quick Fix Meals - this time for p.107 Chicken curry with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) & tomatoes. This got a big YUM from my husband, and was super-easy to assemble. Under 15 min total time. I'll make this again.

                                                    I used Penzy's Garam Masala spice as the curry, and no-fat sour cream as final stir-in (recipe called for low-fat). I also served it over the wild rice (again...) I had cooked & frozen in a 4-cup quantity (should have stored it in 1 C sized portions).

                                                    The chicken/chickpeas/tomato mixture could easily simmer longer and I think the chickpeas would then absorb more of the spice flavor, which I would have preferred - they were a little bland when tasted alone. Alternatively, I'd try a slightly different sequence, instead of putting everything in a saucepan to heat: spice in skillet heating while opening/draining the beans, beans toasting with spice while opening& draining tomatoes, heating those together while shredding the chicken & add that as it's ready.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                      Smart thinking! I can't wait to try this.

                                                      In the meantime, I might as well report back on what I tried from the "morph" section of Miller's "Quick Fix Meals" book , which is the Balsamic Roasted Pork Tenderloin. It's the main meal and then wonton soup, pork fried rice, and pork sloppy joes "morph" from the leftovers. The recipe can be found here: http://foodnetworkfool.blogspot.com/2...

                                                      Super easy, you just make a sauce of honey, balsamic vinaigrette, Dijon mustard, and thyme to drizzle over 3 2-lb pork tenderloins, which you then roast in the oven at 400 degrees until your meat thermometer reads 160. Baste every 15 mins. Mine took 10-20 minutes longer than the suggested time, but I also put a fourth tenderloin in the oven, which I suppose affected the temp.

                                                      Anyway, it was pretty easy, pretty good except that we didn't serve it right away. I let it cool down, then I put it in the fridge for the next day. My husband nuked the heck out of it in the microwave the next day (two days later, actually, I think) then remarked that it was overcooked. :( It also needed more salt, which was my fault.

                                                      Now, about preparing for the morph recipes, I went ahead and chopped up the leftover pork for later use in wontons. I'm not that thrilled about the idea of pork sloppy joes or pork fried rice (I try not to feed my family too much rice due to the arsenic issues), so I found some recipes out there for "Sesame Ginger Pork with Soba Noodles" (which is another Robin Miller recipe) Pork Enchiladas, Mu Shu Pork, and BBQ pork sandwiches. I chopped, diced, and matchsticked all of the pork per the quantities called for in the above recipes, then sealed the portions up using my food saver, labeled it all, and froze it.

                                                      Would I try just the basic Balsamic Pork Tenderloin again? Only if I were going to eat it straight out of the oven... Otherwise, sure. Served it with some steamed green beans.

                                                      I'm planning on trying the Sesame Ginger Pork with Soba NOodles later in the week, so I also cooked up some soba noodles, chilled them down, and drizzled them with a little sesame oil and put them in the fridge.

                                                      We'll see.

                                                      ~TDQ

                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        TDQ - New 2011 FDA guideline for pork is 145 degrees, not the 160 degrees that was in place in 2007 when the cookbook was published. That makes a big difference in done/overdone, and leaves some elbow room for reheating without the meat getting tough.

                                                    2. Recipe report #4 from Quick Fix Meals - P.119 Stuffed Butternut squash with chicken, rice, herbs (and goat cheese)
                                                      Summary - Great combo of flavors, company-worthy presentation. Labor/time intensive.
                                                      I served it with raw baby spinach, as suggested by author, and liked that for color and flavor contrast.

                                                      TDQ - I read up on the rice/arsenic reports and while I have no concerns (as one Dr. pointed out, those cultures with highest consumption of rice have lowest cancer incidence), I want to suggest that the rice could be replaced by couscous or orzo pasta or wild rice -- just don't want you to miss out on some tasty combination ideas that Robin Miller's offering.

                                                      I cut the recipe in half, using only one 2.5 pound butternut squash (recipe lists "two large", i.e. no weight). And I still got enough for four servings. Supper tomorrow will be a reheat of this. Total time listed was 32 minutes and it took me 45 minutes. The microwave cooking time listed for the butternut squash was way off - showed 5 minutes, actually 15 min, using the "potato" setting. I think anyone who tried to make this with 2 large squash - 4 halves - would find the timing even more "off".

                                                      The mounded rice/chicken/fresh herbs are placed in the hollow of the squash, topped with goat cheese and then baked in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. The resulting dish is colorful and neat-looking. The texture contrasts of the rice grains, cubed chicken and smooth sweet squash were just right for me. I like the salty/smooth goat cheese flavor with it all, too. My husband, although he cleaned his plate, is pleased I made some with familiar cheddar on top (tomorrow's supper).

                                                      25 Replies
                                                      1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                        Yeah, good idea subbing for the rice in the pork fried rice. Somehow I worry that quinoa or couscous or orzo or whatever I use instead won't take on that "crispy edges" texture rice does,when you stir fry it. But, I should actually try that one of these days and confirm or disprove my suspicions.

                                                        The most problematic rice seems to come from the Southern US (not the places in the world where rice consumption is highest), and apparently organic brown rice has the highest incidence of arsenic. I think the suspicion is that the high levels of arsenic resulted from years of trying to rid the crops of boll weevils. The FDA is stil looking into it, but for now, I have to say, I really try to avoid rice because my preference is for organic brown rice and that's the rice that's the most unsafe. But, yes, I sub other grains in my home cooking. I don't worry about eating white rice when I eat out.

                                                        Your squash dish sounds lovely! But I shall mark as a recipe to use only when I have a little extra cooking time! Strange. I'm beginning to worry that her time estimates are unreliable. I wonder if there's a lot of pressure for these kinds of books to keep the times to 30 mins or under.

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          Most 30minute meal recipes take me 45 minutes

                                                          1. re: cheesecake17

                                                            Yes, it might be possible to get the 30 min recipe cooiked in 30 mins under perfect conditions, but I expect that it's not a realistic amount of time for most people.

                                                            For an example of this in action have a look at the "Ten Minute Main Challenge" http://www.gourmet.com/video video here. Yes she managed to get everything done in ten minutes, but she is a professional chef with no other distractions and even then she was rushing to get things done and only managed it because she knew a trick to speed up the breading process which not everyone would know. Also I noticed that the mise en place was not counted as part of the ten minutes.

                                                            1. re: ecclescake

                                                              Yeah, but this is a recipe using leftover chicken and microwave cooking of the squash! I have to say, if you can't make a meal using leftover chicken in 30 minutes or fewer, what's the point? 30 minutes ought to be plenty!

                                                              Robin Miller's "morph" concept in "Quick Fix Meals" has you cook one "main" recipe (in this case a roasted chicken) from which you spin off two or three dishes later in the week using leftovers. You make a small investment of time up front in order to be able to throw something together quickly later in the week.

                                                              This recipe also called for cooking the squash in the microwave. If she gave you the weight of the squash and the strength of your microwave oven, the time should be easy to estimate, not a crapshoot.

                                                              Reliable prep and cooking estimates are an important consideration in a book on weeknight cooking, in my opinion.

                                                              And, if mise en place (or preheating the oven or bringing water to boiling for pasta) is not included in the "prep" estimate, they should say so, typically somewhere in the intro "how to use this book" section .

                                                              (This reminds me of Edouard de Pomiane in "French Cooking in Ten Minutes" wherein he says, "The first thing you must do when you get home, before you take off your coat, is go to the kitchen and light the stove. It will have to be a gas stove, because otherwise you'll never be able to cook in ten minutes. Next, fill a pot large enough to hold a quart of water. Put it on the fire, cover it, and bring it to a boil. What's the water for? I don't know, but it's bound to be good for something." de Pomiane goes on to say that the time it takes to heat the water doesn't count in the ten minutes in his recipes.)

                                                              I do think it's fair to say that the time estimate is what it should take the average home cook who is familiar with the recipe. In other words, it's the estimated time for the average home cook's second attempt at the recipe. Maybe Midwesterner TT can shave 10 minutes or so off her time next time around?

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                I used to watch robin miller all the time on food network. Her cooking strategy really made sense to me, and I still do certain things.

                                                                And the pot of water boiling.... I do that too! Didn't know it was a "real" technique! Worst case scenario, I use it for instant coffee or steaming carrots/broccoli.

                                                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                  Really! Would you please tell me more about some of the robin miller ideas you liked? I will report back on one of her morph recipes later today (I hope, or maybe tomorrow), but I'm very pleased with how easy it was. I'm now emboldened to perhaps even try one of her "meal kits".

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    I don't remember a lot of the exact recipes, but one thing was grill extra chicken. On BBQ nights I marinate cutlets in to different marinades. I use half that night, and cut up the rest to use for sandwiches or salad. (I'm sure there's a lot more you can do, but most involved cheese and I keep kosher)

                                                                    Another was boil double the amount of pasta, use half immediately in a sauce and use the other half in a cold pasta salad.

                                                                    And frozen pre chopped onions. Seems silly, but it really cuts a few minutes off cooking time

                                                                    1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                      RE the onions, cheesecake - do you chop/freeze your own? I do peppers all the time (freezing for use in cooking -- too soggy for use as raw), but have never done onions. Is it just chop/bag/freeze, or add something else, too?

                                                                      1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                        Good tips, thank you!

                                                                        I have to say, I've been using commercial jarred garlic & ginger and frozen pre-cut onions for awhile now. Honestly, it's not that hard to chop garlic, ginger, and onions, but somehow, this really seems like a time saver in the kitchen.

                                                                        I'm sure the quality isn't as good, but I'm willing to accept the trade off. I think it's the hit to my budget I mind more, but you just can't always have it all ways.

                                                                        I've also been using those tubs of cilantro, basil, and parsley from the herbs section at whole foods. (I think they have lemongrass, too) with mixed results. It really depends on the dish. If you're going to sprinkle fresh herbs on a dish at the final stages of preparation, the tubed herbs are not a good solution. But, otherwise, they work pretty well. Unfortunately, I can't find them anywhere other than whole foods.

                                                                        Also, I've opted for pre-shredded cheese.

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          TDQ, mincing garlic is pretty much my least favorite thing to do on the planet. What brand of jarred do you like? I purchased one kind at Sprouts but it was so chemically tasting that I threw the whole thing out. I do pre-shredded cheeses too.

                                                                          I have seen those tubes at my normal grocery store, but the store is only a year old and is ginormous so they have some things that other smaller stores don't have (still lacking in the asian department though).

                                                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                                                            Honestly, I buy whichever brand is available in whichever market I happen to be shopping. If I have a choice, I try to get the one with the fewest ingredients on the label that aren't garlic. They do vary. Of course, the fewer the ingredients, the fast it usually spoils. But, I cook with a lot of garlic.

                                                                            Have you tried the frozen cubes at Trader Joes? I know a lot of 'hounds rave about those.

                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              No TJ's in my entire state :( Hopefully soon.

                                                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                I don't know which state you're in, unfortunately (apologies if I should by now), but maybe check and see if there's a store near you? http://www.mydorot.com/

                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  I'm in Colorado, near Denver. Thanks for the link, I'll see if there's anything available nearby. As for TJ's, they're building one in Boulder and one in Denver, but no real ETA has been established. The one in Denver has been a hole in the ground for awhile. They do have them over in Utah but that's a bit of a drive :)

                                                                                  Edit to add: Looks like they have them at Sprouts, where I go sometimes! The site says they're at Sunflower, but Sunflower was recently bought by Sprouts. I was just there today but I'll have to look next time I go.

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    I swear by these.
                                                                                    Stores with large kosher sections usually have them

                                                                              2. re: juliejulez

                                                                                I have to say that I bought this "rocker" garlic mincer that makes the whole process so much easier. I can't abide preminced garlic because I think it gets off flavors.

                                                                                1. re: Savour

                                                                                  I'm very curious about this rocker? Link, please?

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    Am I allowed to link? It's made by Joseph Joseph. I have the stainless steel one.

                                                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  I love the grated ginger. As you say, a simple thing, but it somehow makes it seem so much simpler.

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    I don't have the freezer space for the commercial bags pre-chopped onions, or I'd join you. I keep the jar of minced garlic in my veggie drawer, inside a zip bag to catch any stray leaks.

                                                                                    The shredded cheese takes up the top shelf in my freezer door- always ready to use!

                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      I've looked at the herbs in tubes, and noticed that they have a bunch of other ingredients. (Like whey... Who wants that in cilantro?)
                                                                                      I use the frozen cubes of herbs and garlic- much fresher tasting to me.

                                                                              3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                I just had an "aha" about the squash cooking time - refrigeration. Perhaps if I'd had the squash at room-temperature to start it would not take so long? This may be one of those starting assumptions that needed to be clearly-stated. I refrigerate everything, both to keep counters clear for meal prep and to never tempt the cat to go exploring on them.

                                                                                1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                  I'll bet you're right on that! It would be interesting to try it again at room temp... But, I don't have any more squash left, do you? Ha!

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                      2. Recipe report "Sesame-ginger pork with Soba noodles, " from Robin Miller's "Quick Fix Meals"

                                                                        Below is the recipe I used, though I haven't actually compared it to see if it's the same as in the book.

                                                                        http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ro...

                                                                        So, I last tried the "Balsamic roasted pork tenderloin" from Quick Fix Meals. (My report here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9032...), which was a "main" recipe from the morph section of the book, from which you could morph the leftovers into Wonton Soup, Pork Fried Rice, Pork Sloppy Joes. I did follow her directions for packaging up the leftovers for wonton soup, but I haven't tried it yet (the leftovers are in a foodsaver bag in my freezer), but none of the other recipes excited me much. So, I chose another "morph" pork recipe from the book, which turns out to be this soba noodles one.

                                                                        I cooked 8 oz of soba noodles, then cooled them down and put them in a sealed container in the fridge with 2 tsp of toasted sesame oil for later in the week.

                                                                        Uh, and then I departed from the recipe. She has you stir-fry everything (except the noodles), then If you're saving this for later, seal everything including the noodles up in a plastic bag for later in the week. Instead of stir-frying the ingredients (sesame oil, pickled ginger, cubed pork, salt and pepper, scallions, sesame seeds, and soy sauce) , I simply measured them into a foodsaver bag flattened it, sealed it up, labeled it, and froze it. I omitted the chicken broth and the sliced water chestnuts and the noodles because I didn't think they'd freeze well.

                                                                        When it came cook the meal, I put my foodsaver bag in a tub of cold water to defrost. I took the soba noodles out of the fridge and they were (predictably) a solidified mess. :( That was my fault.

                                                                        Anyone, once pork mixture was defrosted, about 20 mins, I put it in a pan to heat it up, along with the water chestnuts. I forwent the chicken broth (I don't know why, really) and forgot to put my noodles in right away. I eventually did add the noodles in for reheating.

                                                                        You know, this was actually surprisingly good, despite all of my departures from the recipe. I'm sure there might some more depth of flavor by doing it her way. Next time, I'll either try it her way (, though I still don't think I'd add my water chestnuts until the reheating phase, and I'm still unsure how the noodles will freeze, she only has you put everything in the fridge for later), or try it my way and either cook whole wheat spaghetti in advance for the fridge OR just cook the noodles while everything is defrosting. Also, I think I might add some steamed broccoli or stir-fried snap peas in at the end to make this a complete one-pot meal.

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          Thanks TDQ - that is the identical recipe printed in the book. It has you starting with raw pork, cubed, then simmered in the broth & soy sauce, etc. and refrigerated. Since you were starting from your already-cooked pork leftovers (right?), your modifications make sense to me.

                                                                          I love lo mein meals, too, so this one looks great to me. And if I use the suggested alternate of whole wheat spaghetti it calls for ingredients I usually have on-hand. I'm with you on adding some veg to the stir-fry. Maybe some shredded cabbage/carrots from a bag of coleslaw mix if that's in the fridge at the time.

                                                                          1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                            Cabbage is a great idea! And, ironically, I have a ton of it (the wontons call for cabbage and also a mu shu pork recipe I have queued up as another way to use up the pork leftovers)--too bad I didn't think of it at the time. Next time!

                                                                            And thanks for comparing the recipe for me!

                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                        2. Recipe report p.199 from Quick Fix Meals White Bean & Mandarin Orange Salad (with green pepper & fresh chives). Tasty and colorful. We had it as a side for grilled salmon & mushrooms, and a layered potato/onion microwaved torte. I'm happy to have another recipe that uses my fresh garden chives - 2 T snipped.

                                                                          It makes a huge batch so I think we'll be eating this all week. I considered cutting the recipe in half, using 1 can of beans and half of the 11 oz can of mandarin oranges, but just didn't want to deal with a half-can of leftover oranges. Regretting that decision now -- could easily have served them in a quick fruit-salad tomorrow.

                                                                          I used 3 miniature yellow/orange peppers that I had on hand, instead of the 1 large green ( I got 2 bags of multicolored miniature peppers on sale last week for half the price per pound of larger peppers.)

                                                                          The dressing uses the liquid from the mandarin oranges, white wine vinegar, olive oil and a little dijon mustard. Very light & refreshing although it's enough liquid to send the veggies "swimming" -- salad needed to be served with a slotted spoon. Depending on how this tastes tomorrow I may move the veggies to a different dish with only a fraction of the dressing.

                                                                          I definitely will keep this recipe for summertime sides line-up.

                                                                          1. I'm going to answer you about The Mom 100 Cookbook on this thread because the Jim Leff is getting too argumentative and "high pride" (as my Japanese friend calls it) for my taste. (Pun intended.) But these will be quick ramblings, not something organized ---
                                                                            As I said, we're way past the family cooking stage, the Hub and I, but I still want to eat well and simply, flavorfully, with ease and not too much fuss. Well, Mom is great on this. Juggling kids and chores helps simplify, obviously.
                                                                            Her writing style really appeals to me, simple and breezy but not overly flip. And encouraging! Makes me think I can and WANT to do it, which is a really big deal in my book.
                                                                            She has overview kind of ideas, as I hinted, themes and variations. Her stuff is not overly exotic, but not bland (Bittman style) either. And she points out where it can be kicked up a notch or two or three.
                                                                            A couple of recipes I do over and over, like the Corn, Miso, Bacon and Greens I think she adapted from Momofuku or someone like that. Her basic Shrimp Scampi, for instance, is fine as it is (unlike Bittman's) but is kitchen ready for whatever else you want to throw at it to gussy it up.
                                                                            But ultimately it isn't for the recipes I use it so much as for the ideas and the general sense of overall organization. And the good humor and the inspiration.
                                                                            Jamie Oliver (you mention him somewhere) is another one I find inspiring and encouraging. And whose recipes are good. But it's more complicated in approach than Katie Workman's.
                                                                            Funny to think about this, maybe: all this worry and pother over what the kids will or won't eat. If we all lived in France, the kids would eat exactly what we set out on the table, AND they would like it. If you google for French elementary school lunch --- supplied in school --- you'll find an extraordinary video. (I think it's a CBS or NBC news bit, something like that.) It's a minimum of a four-course meal, with cutlery and napery to match, and conversation and table manners expected. Kids live up or down to what's expected of them.
                                                                            Any individual parent has a tough time, though, because our culture as a whole expects nothing. Except trouble, maybe.
                                                                            Ah, well --- enough of a rant. I'm long past these troubles for good or for bad!
                                                                            Good luck to you, Dairy Queen. Get Mom out of the library, take a look for yourself, see how it strikes you.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                              Thank you very much for your wonderful summary. I'm so sorry it took me awhile to respond--somehow I have the posts on my "MyChow" page sorted differently than usual (by date of OP rather than date of last reply) so I didn't see this until just now.

                                                                              Sounds like a terrific book. I think I will do as you suggest and take it out of the library for a test run!

                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                            2. Links to Westminstress' experiences cooking from "Dinner A Love Story": http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8699... and from "Keepers". http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9627...

                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                Another recipe report from Dinner: A Love Story -- Fried Flounder with Black Bean and Avocado Salad.

                                                                                As I've come to expect from this book, this was a very basic recipe, with clear instructions that were easy to follow, and pretty good results. The flounder is dredged in flour-egg-panko and pan-fried for a few minutes per side. The black bean and avocado salad also has grape tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, chile (which I omitted), olive oil, lime juice and salt and pepper.

                                                                                This was a solid dinner. Perhaps not the kind of thing most people need a recipe for, but for whatever reason I had never breaded and pan-fried fish before. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and tasty it was. The panko coating was super-crispy. The salad, as well, could have been done without a recipe, but the given proportions worked well.

                                                                                While this was perhaps not the most exciting of dinners, the preparation was low key, results were pretty tasty, and everybody ate the meal -- success! This is exactly the type of meal I was hoping to add to my repertoire this year to balance out some of my more adventurous efforts in the kitchen. (Those are more interesting/exciting to me, but they often result in stressful dinners, either because they end up taking too long to prepare or my kids refuse to eat the food, or both.)

                                                                                I'm doing very well so far with the recipes in this book and will most likely purchase it.

                                                                                1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                  Brava! As you say, sometimes you just need a couple of easy, go-to recipes in your repertoire when you want to ensure you'll have a drama-free evening. The black bean and avocado salad sounds simple and delicious, too!

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  I just wanted to chime in and report back (again) on the meatballs. When I made them last time I ended up freezing half the batch. Last night I defrosted them for an easy dinner. When I told my kids we were having pasta and meatballs again they literally jumped up and down and cheered. The defrosted meatballs tasted just as good as the freshly made ones. So this recipe is a keeper at our house.

                                                                                3. Asian Green Beans and Pork, page 172 of Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals by Sara Moulton

                                                                                  http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe?id=7...

                                                                                  First the recipe.... I had a pound of pork in the fridge and no real inspiration for dinner. I was thinking about winging it with some sort of stir fry with ginger and garlic and throwing in whatever vege I could find, but I decided to check out this book (a new to me used book acquisition) to see if it had anything that looked good. This recipe looked easy and I thought my kids would actually enjoy the flavors.

                                                                                  This recipe is advertised as being a 25 minute recipe and that is pretty accurate. I cheated by using TJ's frozen green beans instead of fresh, but otherwise followed the directions pretty faithfully. I did broil some of the green beans in my countertop convection oven, but also threw in some just from frozen and also threw in a bunch of baby spinach at the end to just up the overall vegetable content. Broiling the beans from frozen didn't do much for the texture, so I would probably skip that step if using frozen.

                                                                                  The verdict.... my family loved this. It is not flashy and not particularly sophisticated, but it was tasty, easy and pretty healthy. It reminded me of the "Chinese" food my Japanese mother used to make for us when I was a kid with the dry sherry and soy being the dominant flavor as well as the glossy corn-starch thickened sauce. I was somewhat apologetic to my husband as I served this, but with a healthy dose of Siracha he ate 2 servings.

                                                                                  I served this with steamed rice and nori.

                                                                                  So the book... I actually bought this book a bit ago at a used book sale and haven't cooked from it yet. Looking through, it's not exactly inspiring, but it probably contains a lot of doable weeknight recipes that my family will eat. I was very impressed that this first recipe really could be prepared in the stated time on the first go. I will take another look at it and try to prepare some more meals in the next couple of weeks. Now that my youngest is getting older, I am really trying to get back to cooking dinner every night from scratch. 25 minute meals are certainly valuable in that effort!

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                    I've had my eye on this book for awhile, so thank you for reporting on this recipe! I'd love to hear how you end up liking other recipes from this book. And, how wonderful to find a book where the pre times are accurate! Hopefully that means the recipes are tightly written (and tested in other ways, too).

                                                                                    Between you and Westminstress I may be inspired into cooking from something from my own books! Really need to get back to it! Thank you both very much!

                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      You're welcome! Always easier to tackle something if you feel like you're doing it "together". You can do it!

                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                        I don't have the book, but I occasionally watch Sara's Secrets on TV. Her recipes are simple, and they work time-wise. Most use everyday ingredients.

                                                                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                          Maybe I'll see if I can find some online recipes of hers to try!

                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                    2. So, I've really been enjoying reading this book, "Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys," http://www.amazon.com/Mad-Hungry-Feed... which was a contender for the AICP best "Family" cookbook a couple of years ago. The recipes don't seem extraordinary, lots of roasts and meatballs and the like, but she has a lot of wonderful ideas and strategies in there. For instance, to buy a gallon of milk for your freezer. Even though I haven't officially cooked anything from the book, last night I was reminded by reading through the book to roast some cauliflower and bake a couple of sweet potatoes while I had a chicken roasting in the oven. So delicious and easy. It was a good reminder.

                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                        The recipe for hand pies(/empanadas) in that book is terrific, and a great recipe for new parents. When I was pregnant with Thing 2, I made 30 hand pies - 10 chicken, 10 spinach and feta and 10 empanadas, and froze them unbaked. It was a great thing to have to pop into the oven for lunch or dinner and eat with one hand (which was key.)

                                                                                        I like that cookbook a lot.

                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          I don't have the book, but love the show. Not sure if it's still on, though. I follow her on Instagram - so many great ideas

                                                                                        2. Cut and pasted from Breadcrumbs Cookbook a Week Thread:

                                                                                          BABY & TODDLER ON THE GO: Fresh, homemade foods to take out and about by Kim Laidlaw

                                                                                          Took this book out of the library as it's nominated for an IACP award in the "family" category. The Chapters are:

                                                                                          A Homemade Start--where she tells you how to choose, store and pack foods and some tips for feeding your child "on the go."

                                                                                          SECTION 1: Baby 4-12 months--Introducing babies to solids:

                                                                                          Purees and Chunks--more on storing & thawing--cooked fruit, raw fruit, roasted vegetables, steamed vegetables, sauteed greens, combos, grains, ground or braised meats, homemade yogurts, smoothies,

                                                                                          SECTION 2: Toddlers 1-3 years--Ideas about feeding toddlers on the go, introducing new foods, dealing with that independent streak. Precooking ideas, including making and doubling the mini meatloaves or meatballs recipe and freezing half or making a batch of "Master Muffin Mix" to have on hand for quick baked goods (I'm totally trying this!)

                                                                                          Minis--Muffin tin meals: mac & cheese bites, plus mix-in ideas; pasta primavera bites; mushroom penne bites; spinach & cheese frittata bites; other mini frittata bites; spanish tortilla bites; mushroom bread tartlets; mini quiches (using frozen pie dough); salmon cakes; mini (tablespoon sized) meatloaves; curried lentil rice cakes; several varieties of fruit, vegetable, grain, cheese muffins as well as a gluten-free blueberry almond one.

                                                                                          I'm definitely going to try some of these, probably the meatloaves and some of the frittata and grain cakes.

                                                                                          Heres' the one I love: master muffin dry mix. Keeps for a month and makes 5 batches. So you can just whip up muffins, choosing from a variety of recommended "wet mixes" ( banana, blueberry, and apple) to make when you have a little time.

                                                                                          Pinwheels, rolls and sammies--nothing earth shattering here, but good ideas nonetheless; goat cheese & veg, hummus & veg, almond-banana, etc. I do like her "fun with pinwheels where she recommends cute ideas to package or present them to make them more appealing, including using paper bands and wax or parchment. paper & ribbons. She also has a mini pita pockets including a baby banh mi, meatball, caprese, etc.

                                                                                          Dips & Dippers--she tells you which ones keep in the fridge for 3- 7 days and which ones freeze well up to 3 mos (black bean, white bean, hummus, roasted pepper & goat cheese, ranch-style, creamy onion, and spiced nut butter). She's got grain, fruit, and vegetable (cooked a little to soften them) ideas to use to dip with such as pitas, toast sticks, cooked polenta, peaches, etc. Dip recipes include various bean dips, cuke-yogurt, red pepper & goat cheese, ideas for cottage cheese mix-ins (applesauce, fresh or dried fruit, ham, cucumber, roasted bell pepper, cooked spinach), etc.

                                                                                          I've seen a million of these kinds of books and somehow this one seems more appealing to me. I don't know if maybe I'm more open to it right now or what.

                                                                                          It's not currently indexed on EYB and her website isn't very helpful, but you can look at the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Toddler-On...

                                                                                          http://www.parenting.com/blogs/kid-fr...

                                                                                          http://www.weldonowen.com/food-drink/...

                                                                                          http://www.thedcmoms.com/2013/04/baby...

                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                           
                                                                                          1. Copied from Breadcrumbs Cookbook a Week thread:

                                                                                            I totally love the idea of this book.

                                                                                            CHOPCHOP: THE KIDS' GUIDE TO COOKING REAL FOOD WITH YOUR FAMILY by Sally Sampson

                                                                                            Another one nominated for an IACP award this year, by the founder of CHOPCHOP Magazine. All of the recipes have been approved by the Academy of American Pediatrics.

                                                                                            I'm not going to go into this book too extensively (haha and yet, I see I go on and on) because it's for kids older than I have, but I would say this looks like an EXCELLENT first cookbook for kids. All of the basics without dumbing down. I really hope this book wins.

                                                                                            Intro includes: Kids start here!, Parents start here!

                                                                                            CHapters are

                                                                                            breakfasts (oatmeal, eggs, smoothies, and "no cook" ideas);

                                                                                            lunches (sandwiches, eggy things, dips and spreads, and cottage cheese or grain "lunch bowls");

                                                                                            soups (chicken, matzo ball, vegetable, gazpacho, bean soups, and breads to go with the soups);

                                                                                            salads (tons of salad dressings, croutons, then the salad itself);

                                                                                            dinner (whole roasted chicken, chicken pieces, chicken stew five ways), various burgers from various proteins, tofu recipes (including sesame-crusted tofu and curried tofu fingers, both of which I intend to try), pastas, make it your way meals including chili, tacos, fajitas, potato bar, roasted veg

                                                                                            desserts (applesauce, crisps, froyo, fruit tart, brownies, banana bread, pb cookies, choc chip cookies,etc.)

                                                                                            drinks including fruit spritzers, lassi, agua fresca, cider, hot cocoa.

                                                                                            Each recipe tells you whether you need an adult (nearly all say yes, I guess if you need a knife or any kind of heat or some kind of special equipment that requires supervision), hands on time, total time.

                                                                                            Lots of great side bars such as how to use a can opener or "why whole wheat?" in the pasta section, "how to drain tofu" in the dinner section, "hate soggy sandwiches?" in the sammy section, and "did you knows" such as very short (sentence or two) blurb of the history of mixing beans, peppers and spices by the Incas, Aztecs and Mayan Indians, lots of variations mentioned for most recipes for instance "Not Your Grandma's Fried Chicken" (which I'm probably going to try) is an oven fried chicken recipe that offers variations chicken fingers, herby chicken, corny chicken, cheesy chicken, zesty chicken and nutty chicken (playing with cuts of chicken and toppings).

                                                                                            Some recipes like matzo balls, lasagna, mayo/aioli are labeled as "expert."

                                                                                            Lots of nice, appealing photos.

                                                                                            This one is indexed on EYB: http://www.amazon.com/ChopChop-Kids-G...

                                                                                            With tons of online recipes: http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/r... But if you're buying this for a kid, go ahead and buy it.

                                                                                            http://www.chopchopmag.org/

                                                                                            http://www.amazon.com/ChopChop-Kids-G...

                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                             
                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                              I took this one out of the library also. I returned it without trying the recipes because I thought my son was still a bit too young for it. I thought it was a really nice book. Since the recipes are all on line, I thought I would try a few and see how well they go down. I haven't actually got around to doing this yet though.

                                                                                            2. FOOD ADVENTURES: Introducing your child to flavors from around the world by Frances Boswell and Elisabeth Luard

                                                                                              Okay, I've been dying to find a book like this, which is dishes people feed their child in various countries around the world. I keep wondering what is the Thai or Chinese or Peruvian or African equivalent to mac & cheese or rice cereal?

                                                                                              This book starts with purees (ie first foods for 6 mo olds) such as blueberry soup (Scandinavia) or leek puree (Belgiam), rolls into combos (polenta with yogurt from Romania, quinoa and butternut squash from Peru) for 9 mo olds, and then onto family meals for beyond that. Saffron rice with lentils and dates (Iran), Yellow rice with coconut milk (Java) and so on. THere's a section on cooking with your kids and it even includes little blurbs on table manners around the world. It finally ends with a section on packing lunch boxes (pasties and indonisian sweet rice cakes).

                                                                                              I so wish I'd found this book when my child was younger, but I think I'm going to start cooking with this, maybe a recipe or two a month, and just see how it goes.

                                                                                              http://www.amazon.com/Food-Adventures...

                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                               
                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                This one sounds great - really different from the others, and very interesting.

                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                  I know, right? I've been trying to find a book like this but I wasn't even sure how to go about looking for one. And I found it when I was at the library because it was in the family cookbooks section. I assumed it was a memoir when I first pulled it off the shelf. I had no idea what a treasure it would be. Of course, I haven't cooked anything from it yet, so we shall see!

                                                                                                  The authors are highly credentialed, too. Luard: http://elisabethluard.com/

                                                                                                  Boswell was an editor at Martha Stewart living and blogs for Whole Living Magazine. http://wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.c...

                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    Here's an graphic on baby's first solid foods around the world that's kind of interesting. Not related to the book at all... http://visual.ly/babys-first-foods-ar...

                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                      So glad I wasn't a baby Inuit (but then if I was, I'm sure I'd see those baby foods as totally normal).

                                                                                                      I remember reading an article in the Washington Post food section before I was even pregnant with Lulu that basically said "hey, if kids in India are eating Indian food, and kids in China are eating Chinese food, why shouldn't your kids be able to eat it." And it made so much sense to me. Wonder if I could find it in their archives ...

                                                                                                      ETA: A quick search makes it seem like it will be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. If I'm correct on the timing it would have had to have been before summer of 2005. Maybe I'm wrong on the timing and still have the article lying around (doubtful).

                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                        Exactly! Surely in China they aren't starting kids out with Kung Pao chicken (congee, it sounds like, which makes perfect sense), but I would be curious as to how early and how (if there are any rules of thumb, etc.) they introduce they start introduce "hot" foods (ie., chile peppers etc.)

                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                          I tried to search for it too, to no avail. Sounds like such an interesting article!

                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    What a fun idea! thanks for flagging this one.

                                                                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                      Tons of super cheap used copies on Amazon. And I think you can "look inside" too if you want to have a look yourself.

                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                      Love this! My daughter pretty much started eating what we ate (middle eastern food) and she's developed a taste for pretty much any cuisine

                                                                                                    3. Links to blurbs I (and others) posted in Cookbook a Week threads:

                                                                                                      THE FRANTIC WOMAN'S GUIDE TO FEEDING FAMILY AND FRIENDS by Mary Jo Rulnick (thumbs down on this one, based on only my first impressions, no cooking)
                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8673...

                                                                                                      MY FAMILY TABLE by JOHN BESH
                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8673...

                                                                                                      COOKING FOR THE WEEK: LEISURELY WEEKEND COOKING FOR EASY WEEKNIGHT MEALS by Diane Morgan and Dan & Kathleen Taggert
                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8699...

                                                                                                      COOK ONCE A WEEK, EAT WELL EVERY DAY Make-Ahead Meals that Transform your Suppertime Circus into Relaxing Family Time, Theresa Albert.
                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8699...

                                                                                                      HANDS-OFF COOKING: LOW SUPERVISION, HIGH FLAVOR MEALS FOR BUSY PEOPLE by Ann Martin Rolke
                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8699...

                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                      1. Homestyle Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas
                                                                                                        Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson

                                                                                                        http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ni...

                                                                                                        I went to a carribean restaurant a couple of weeks ago and saw this dish on the menu. It immediately occurred to me that my toddler would love it. (She is a total carbs person and would eat anything with rice). Also I don't know when it happened, but she can also eat quite hot food. For example, she managed quite a bit of the sichuan chicken and cucumber salad before she pulled a funny its-too-hot face.

                                                                                                        This is absolutely delicious. The jerk sauce is just wonderful on the rice. I think it'll still be very nice if you skip the chillies. (I reduced the amount so it's not too hot). It also comes together easily. Basically you marinate the chicken in the jerk sauce. I did this first thing in the morning before we went out. I also use a rice cooker to cook the rice, by using the full amount of coconut milk specified, and then top up to the level marking on the rice cooker with water. (You use a lot less water in the rice cooker). Pop the marinated chicken into the oven, and that's all there is to it.

                                                                                                        I served it with a simple stir fried spring cabbage. Mr lilham and I loved it. Toddler loved the rice, but declared the chicken yuck (she hates all meat, but at least I get some beans into her via the rice). Would definitely repeat this again.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: lilham

                                                                                                          Sounds delicious - and thank you so much for the link.

                                                                                                        2. DINNER THE PLAYBOOK by Jenny Rosenstrach
                                                                                                          “a 30-day plan for mastering the art of the family meal”

                                                                                                          This is her follow up to Dinner: A Love Story, which, as you all know, I intensely disliked for its lack of organization and its self-congratulatoryness. (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8699...) Lots of other hounds like it though and for that reason, I haven’t yet dumped it. I’ve picked a handful of recipes to try and, one of these days, probably will.

                                                                                                          In the meantime, she’s come out with a new book, Dinner: The Playbook. I bought it, just in case it’s the magic cookbook that will solve all my kitchen problems.

                                                                                                          This is not a conventional cookbook (I'm getting the idea that Jenny doesn't do anything conventionally.) The premise of it is, in order to lift your family out of an eating rut, you “challenge” yourself to cooking 30 days of meals you’ve never tried before—you’re to pitch it as an adventure. The entire family (even your three year old!) participates in the selecting of recipes, the weekly grocery shopping, and the post-mortem grading of recipes. (The book has reports cards in the back so you can organize your thoughts.) Everyone commits to trying at least one bite of everything without whining or fighting. You promise there will be a prize (that you think your family would find motivating) at the end of the month. Apparently this approached worked for the author and her family, which includes two young children, back in 2006, the year of her “Great Dinner Rut.”

                                                                                                          As usual, I find the book a bit odd. First of all, she employs a variety of cutesy fonts that are constantly shifting throughout the text. And she marked the manuscript up with a pen, circling and underlying words. For instance, in the intro the phrases “source of stress” and “Where do I start” are circled in pen. A couple of others are underlined, and she’s scribbled in a heart, a checkmark and an arrow. She employs at least seven fonts on just these two pages. I ’m sure she thought it was playful. I find it distracting, though not impossibly. I don’t think it adds anything.

                                                                                                          Second of all, she lists out the 30 recipes her family tried and the grades she gave them (based on how easy it was to prepare, how many people liked it and how difficult clean-up was). But, here’s the weird part: only 5 of these recipes appear in the book, and not even all of those five are ones she gave an “A” grade to! (She said there were seven keepers , but doesn’t identify them!) Several of the other recipes appear either on her blog or in Dinner: A Love Story.

                                                                                                          She actually does provide about 80 recipes: go-to weeknight meals, quick sides, and keep the spark alive. The first two categories are self-explanatory. The last is for those days when you have a little more time and want to try something a little more exciting or interesting to keep everyone motivated. Weirdly, several of the weeknight meals take 45-60 minutes, while a couple of the keep the spark alive recipes take only 30 minutes.

                                                                                                          Go to recipes include all of the typical pasta recipes you’d expect to see, a frittata and a couple of omelets, salmon roasted a few ways, pan roasted chicken thighs and so on. There’s a slow-cooker Korean short rib s recipe she raves about, as well as a pan fried pizza that looks really interesting. The keep the spark alive includes a quick coq a vin, sticky pomegranate chicken, grilled fish tacos, etc.

                                                                                                          She describes her approach to meal planning and then provides 10 meal plans (that, thankfully, draw from the book’s recipes). ETA: I forgotten to mention that each recipe comes with pointers, for things like suggested sides, things you can do ahead of time on the weekend, whether it reheats or freezes well, etc.

                                                                                                          She provides a number of strategies (that all sound at least worth trying) ranging from doing a fridge dump before grocery shopping to dealing with picky eaters.

                                                                                                          The craziest thing of all about this book is that she really encourages you to look beyond her book for recipes. She suggests you drag out all of your cookbooks and go on pinterest and all of that to develop your menu plan. Judging by the reviews on Amazon, many people did exactly that. (Someone also noted in the comments on Amazon that she appears to have sent a bunch of her groupies to vote "down" all of the negative reviews, which I find annoying if true. No way to know whether that's true or not, of course.)

                                                                                                          Anyway, she’s apparently going to be doing a boot camp challenge on the NYT Motherlode starting tomorrow, Tuesday September 2. I’m curious enough to check in on that. http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/ca...

                                                                                                          I will also probably try a number of her recipes. No way am I going to take my entire family shopping or have them help me choose recipes. ☺

                                                                                                          I have, however, put together a loose meal plan for the month (most of the recipes for which come from Besh's My Family Table, funnily enough), so maybe there’s something to her advice that is spurring me on. It sure is an odd book, though.

                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            I think neither of Jenny's books are cookbooks, per se. DALS is memoir, with recipes, and Dinner: A Playbook is self-help book, with recipes. You and I, not being timid cooks, are interested in the recipes, but most of the self-help part of DAP was for me, befuddling. I mean, a week of family menu planning maybe, but NWIH a month. Also, my children outwit all of my attempts to shake up their diet (and then surprise me by inhaling dim sum, or something equally as surprising) and I am reminded once again that there is no one size fits all for children.

                                                                                                            1. re: Savour

                                                                                                              You know, I didn't think I could do a month either, but once I got going, it wasn't so bad. I just thought of it as four individual weeks and gave each week a theme. Mexican one week, Asian the next, Italian the next, American the next, and then grab bag as the last. (I actually did 5 weeks).

                                                                                                              Yeah, I agree with you, I can't really call it a cookbook except that it has 80 recipes in it!

                                                                                                              But, I'm not really sure I'd call DALS a memoir. It's really a poorly-assembled collection of personal essays with recipes.

                                                                                                              ~TDQ