Sunday, January 25, 2015

Meal Plan by My 6-Year-Old

This week's meal plan from my 6-year-old

So this week I enlisted the help of my 6-year-old for this week's meal plan. I was half expecting it to look something like this:

Monday: Mac & Cheese
Tuesday: PB&J
Wednesday: Pizza
Thursday: Pasta 
Friday: Pizza (again)

So there was a little of that, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some dishes that were outside his usual "carbotarian" repertoire. I had him draw the pictures of what we would have and we talked about different recipes we could try while going through some cookbooks and magazines. Who knew you could compromise with a 6-year-old??
Monday: Lemongrass Coconut Chicken Soup - he suggested "soup" on Monday. I suggested we make Ming Tsai's Lemongrass Coconut Chicken Soup from Simply Ming One-Pot Meals. One look at the photograph and the mention of coconut milk and he was sold.
Tuesday: Roast Chicken with Mac & Cheese and Green Beans - He drew a picture of a storm cloud and snow flakes. I asked him what we should make on a snowy day. He offered mac and cheese. I added a roast chicken (I'm anticipating we will have loads of time indoors for lots of cooking due to the impending blizzard) and green beans. He said okay, but would NOT be eating any chicken. Fine. 
Wednesday: Chili (or Beef Stew) - He suggested Turkey Chili, which we JUST had last night. I offered we make another "type" of chili (I was inspired to make Cooks Illustrated's Guinness Beef Stew by The Fortuitous Housewife). "Can I have it with chips?" Sure, kid.  
Thursday: Pizza - He reminded me we hadn't made pizza in a while. So I agreed we could make some this week. We'll do the usual plain cheese plus Hawaiian Ham & Pineapple. I'll be so sick of shoveling snow, perhaps this will magically teleport me to Hawaii? 
Friday: Scallion Pancakes - It's International Night at my kids' school, so we'll be feasting on a variety of cuisines from around the world. I plan on making and bringing these super easy and ridiculously addictive scallion pancakes by Joanne Chang
Have a great week!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Meal Plan week of 1/19: Delicious Recipes My Kids Will Help Make

(photo credit: ChopChop Magazine)

I'm planning this week's meal before the big New England Patriot's playoff game (we're Pats fans here). As I'm digging through cookbooks, magazines and websites trying to figure out what to make for dinner this week, all I can think of is "Do Your Job" - the new rallying cry for our home team. Yes, I'm going to do my job of taking care of my family. But I'm also going to do my job as a parent and teach my kids to cook.

Did you see this piece in the Huffington Post: 10 Things I Want My Son to Learn Before He Becomes a Teenager? One of the life lessons was to teach her son how to cook for himself. I couldn't agree more. I think it is a parent's job to teach their kids to be self-sufficient, including in the kitchen. And it's never too early to start. So this week, I'm picking simple, healthy, delicious recipes my boys will learn how to make. One day they will cook me a delicious dinner and I will sit back and feel great that I have done my job.
Monday: Mushroom Barley Soup - this hearty winter soup from kid's cooking magazine ChopChop will be a good lesson in patience. Plus a perfect Meatless Monday recipe.
Tuesday: Chicken Adobo - another recipe from ChopChop (if you're going to teach your kids to cook, this is THE place to go you guys). We've never made Chicken Adobo, but I have a feeling they are going to love this.
Wednesday: Maple Candy Pork Chops & Sweet Potato Fries - super simple lesson on marinades. Plus maple syrup and sweet potato fries? A sweet savory dinner from Dinner: A Love Story that will sure to please.
Thursday: Bittman's Fastest Chicken Parmesan - A different lesson from Monday's slow cooking soup. Bittman's shows you cooking need not take all day. With some planning and shortcuts, dinner can be on the table fast.
Friday: Baked Shells with Winter Squash - my kids love mac and cheese. I want to show them how to make a healthier, seasonal version from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.

Have a good week!

Disclosure: I work for ChopChop Magazine, but really truly feel this is one of the best resources for teaching kids to cook! Really!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Meal Plan Week of 1/12: The Best Winter Soup Ever. Plus Kid Favorites.

Amazing. Made it through the first full week of the new year without breaking any resolutions! One reason I'm able to stick to my resolution of eating healthy and trying at least one new recipe a week is menu planning. I write about menu planning here, and still use this handy Meal Plan and Shopping List from Real Simple. It doesn't get more straightforward than this (which is why I love it so).

I'm going to keep this going with another week of healthy & tasty recipes here:

Monday: Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard & Garlic - This dish from Smitten Kitchen is one of the few things I look forward to during the winter. It is that good. I'll swap chard for kale to use up the leftover kale we have in the fridge. 
Tuesday: Sesame Ginger Chicken Meatballs - This is a new recipe from Food and Wine I'm going to test this week. On paper it looks like a winner - quick, weeknight dish. Asian flavors I know my kids will love. I'll serve this will Boston Bibb lettuce for lettuce wraps.  
Wednesday: Buttermilk Oven-Fried Chicken - My youngest refuses to eat chicken unless its breaded and in the form of fried chicken tenders. I'm going to try serving it this way from Dinner: A Love Story - but a little healthier and perfect for leftovers for lunch the next day. I'll serve this with some string beans (if the little one refuses to eat the chicken, he can fill up on something healthy). 
Thursday: Pasta Carbonara with Country Ham - My kids have been begging me to make this dish again. Thursdays are busy with back-to-back after school activities, so this is perfect since it comes together quickly.  
Friday: Beef, Shiitake and Broccoli Stir-Fry - The boys are also bugging me to make Beef and Broccoli, so I decided to shake it up a wee bit and try Ming Tsai's recipe. From Simply Ming One-Pot Meals, I'm sure this will be a hit just as everything else I've made from this cookbook.

Have a great week!

Monday, January 5, 2015

What's Cooking Week of 1/5

Happy New Year! 2015 is off to a good start so far: kids got up and got to school on time! This is short of a miracle after a 2-week break of going to bed at 10pm and waking up at 9am. I'm also back to sticking to a weekly meal plan which includes lots of healthier recipes. Because you know, it's not the start of the new year without some resolutions to eat healthier and to exercise more. And wouldn't you know it - got in a workout and cooked up this delicious winter pasta dish. 2015, let's do this!

Monday: Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes - inspired by this Everday Food recipe, I make this dish by roasting chopped eggplant, red onions, garlic and tomatoes in the oven with oil, salt and pepper until they're golden and the vegetables are almost crisp around the edges. I toss this mixture with some cooked pasta, leftover pasta water and chopped basil.

Tuesday: Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup - okay, this dish from Gourmet may not be super healthy but there's kale! My family goes crazy for this and it's even better the next day.

Wednesday: Curried Shrimp and Cauliflower - need something that comes together quickly? Rice with this curried shrimp and cauliflower from Martha Stewart is our go-to recipe. Plus some Trader Joe's Naan hot from the oven.

Thursday: Chicken and Chickpea Tagine - I love making tagines in the winter. The wonderful smells while it cooks plus this hearty meal will warm you up on a particular cold day.

Friday: umdaddy special - I'm leaving Friday's dinner up to the big guy. I suggest delegating one meal to your partner too!

Have a good week!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 10 Best Eats of 2014

It's that time of year again. Highlights (and lowlights) of the past year are flooding my newsfeed. New diets and detox regimens for a "new you." New Year Resolutions. For me, I like to review some of my best meals and with that, moments in the past year. Drum roll please...

#10: Matzo Ball Soup - this was my second time ever making matzo ball soup. I made them with schmaltz (melted chicken fat). No matzo ball mix here. The result? Crazy good.

#9: DIY Rice Bowls with Fried Egg - Such a humble dish but all-around family favorite. Rice topped with some stir-fry veggies and a fried egg. One dish you won't need a recipe for.

#8: Scallion Pancakes - These golden beauties from Joanne Chang's Flour, Too cookbook are now a must-have during Chinese New Year celebrations.

#7: Roasted Pumpkin Soup at Henrietta's Table - I had the good fortune of getting a cooking demonstration by Chef Peter Davis for making this luscious soup. It's a bowl full of Autumn.

#6: Asian-Style BBQ Chicken - from one of my 2014 favorite cookbooks, Dinner: The Playbook, this BBQ chicken dish is packed with flavor. Plus my kids love it and it's so easy to make. Yep, it's a keeper.

#5: Warm Couscous Salad with Roasted Autumn Vegetables and Ginger-Scallion Dressing - from my other favorite 2014 cookbook, Flour, Too, this dish is hearty but so good for you, you can't help but love it.

#4: The Countdown - this was my favorite cocktail at one of my new favorite restaurants this year - Alden & Harlow. I can't recall what's in this drink (their drink menu changes regularly). What I can remember was this was a perfect drink for raising a glass to turning the big 4-0.

#3: Momofuku Noodle Bar's Shiitake Bun - this was a bittersweet meal. My long-awaited first visit to Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC only happened because we were in the city for my grandmother's funeral. It was sad having to say goodbye, but so lovely being with family over some of the best food I've ever had.

#2: Sharing platter - there was nothing extraordinary about this charcuterie and cheese board. What makes it one of my favorite meals is the fact that this was our last picnic dinner on one of our favorite beaches on Cape Cod. Sigh.

#1: Mother's Day Breakfast - Oh my God, was this good. Umdaddy surprised me with the best breakfast a mom could ask for: Fried egg over baby arugula, skillet fried fingerling potatoes and monkey bread french toast. Not only was this out-of-this-world-good, but I got to share it with my family. I am so very lucky.

Here's to even more delicious meals with those you love in 2015!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

2014 Holiday Gift Guide Round-Up of Round-Ups!

I don't know about you, but I'm finding it particularly difficult to get into the holiday spirit this year. It could be due to the fact there is no snow on the ground, just sad, bare trees and dead grass everywhere. It could be I'm behind with my Christmas shopping (like, still making a list). But there's still time! Christmas is 10 days away. So if you're like me still looking for gift ideas, I've put together the mother of all lists of practical holiday gift ideas for the food-obsessed on your list. And no, it does not include anything from the Williams-Sonoma catalog. But do yourself a favor and read "The 2014 Hater's Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog". FUNNY. Though, who couldn't use a set of Lampkins?

(photo credit: Cool Mom Picks)
For teachers, friends, neighbors, or public servants in your community, check out Mom Cool Picks "14 Easy Homemade Food Gifts To Make Besides Cake and Cookie". Two words: Homemade Nutella. 
(photo credit: The Kitchn)
For the newbie home cook just starting out, The Kitchn's "10 Essential Kitchen Tools to Gift Now and Use Forever" includes the stuff home cooks will remember you every time they use it - which will be often. 
(photo credit: Eat the Love) 
For the cookbook collector, check out Eat the Love's "Holiday Cookbooks 2014 Roundups" He's divided his massive roundup into three parts, so you'll be sure to find something for everyone. 
(photo credit: Thinksource) 
For the healthy snacker, POPSUGAR has their list of favorite Monthly Subscription Boxes. These make great last-minute gifts plus they are the gifts that keep on giving! 
(photo credit: Ryan Daush)
For yourself: yes, you should treat yourself! I love this list from the editors of Food52 of products they hope to get get this year. Some beautiful and fun things to brighten up your kitchen.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pre-Game Meal

Our new fall favorite

T- minus four days until Thanksgiving. Because we're hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, I'm looking for quick, easy and lighter dishes to get us through the week before we stuff ourselves with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Plus lots of prep and cooking will be happening in our tiny kitchen, so the last thing I want to do is to cook even more!

I discovered this dish earlier this year in Joanne Chang's Flour, Too, one of my new favorite cookbooks this year. It features hearty, good-for-you seasonal veggies tossed in a delicious, kid-friendly asian dressing. The recipe calls for serving this with quinoa. We opt for Israeli couscous because my kids prefer it. Hey, they're eating Brussels sprouts and root veggies. That's winning in my book. Plus this makes a great side dish for your Thanksgiving meal.

Warm Couscous Salad with Roasted Autumn Vegetables and Ginger-Scallion Dressing 
Adapted from Flour, Too by Joanne Chang


  • 8-10 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 baby turnips, peeled and diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup Israeli couscous, cooked according to directions
  • 8-9 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 1 tsp sesame oil


  1. Preheat over to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss Brussels sprouts, parsnip, carrot, sweet potato, and turnips with olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer veggies to a baking sheet, arranging them in a single layer. Roast the vegetables, stirring every 5 minutes for 18-20 minutes until tender and cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. While veggies are roasting, make couscous according to package directions.
  4. Add the roasted vegetables to the couscous and toss well. In a small bowl, whisk together the scallions, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, vegetable oil and sesame oil until combined. Pour dressing over the couscous and veggies and mix well. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


 It’s snowing (eek!) outside and it’s only the second day of November. All I want to do is curl up on the couch and watch movies with the boys, maybe take a nap, while Sunday supper is simmering on the stove. It’s that kind of Sunday.

It’s also a reminder of the long winter ahead that will inevitably include some nasty colds and sick days. And in our cozy little house, when one of us gets sick, the rest of us will get the same ailments too. I’m getting myself ready for whatever winter throws our way with Braun’s new No touch + forehead thermometer and warm-your-bones recipes from the Fresh & Honest cookbook by Chef Peter Davis of Henrietta’s Table.
This thermometer is going to make taking our temperatures a breeze. It’s the only non-invasive no touch (or traditional forehead touch) thermometer. In just seconds, you get an accurate reading on an easy to read large screen. I can get an accurate temperature reading without disturbing a sick kid. Cool, right (no pun intended). To learn more about the Braun thermometer and where to buy, click here.

And if the plague falls upon our house, I’ll be cooking up some comfort foods from Fresh & Honest by Peter Davis, executive chef of the award-winning restaurant Henrietta’s Table in Harvard Square. Much like the restaurant, Fresh & Honest highlights fresh, local and sustainable ingredients that make up some of the most delicious and classic New England dishes. I’ll be making batches of this amazing Roasted Pumpkin Soup and keeping some in the freezer, ready to ward off winter sniffles.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Fresh & Honest, by Peter Davis with Alexandra Hall

  • 1 cup fresh pumpkin or heirloom pumpkin, cooked
  • ½ cup white onion, julienned
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 qt water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 dash cinnamon
  • 1 dash cayenne
  • ½ cup heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Split pumpkin in half and de-seed. Place the pumpkin on a rack on a sheet pan and roast skin-side up for 45 to 60 minutes, until pumpkin is soft.
  3. Remove the skins and discard. Roughly chop the pumpkin to create 1 cup.
  4. Saute the onion in the butter until transparent. Add the remaining ingredients and the pumpkin and cook for 1 hour on a low simmer.
  5. Remove the heat and puree until smooth. Serve.

Disclosure: Thank you Braun for inviting me as a guest to Henrietta’s Table for a cooking demonstration, lunch, and a gift bag that included a sample of the no-touch thermometer. As always, all opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Candy Buy Back

Okay, this post is not going to win me "Coolest Mom of the Year." But if you're like me, you're looking down the barrel of a full-out sugar rush this weekend. Kind of like this:

We'll indulge for a few days, snacking on all this Halloween loot. The kids love to sort all the candy they've collected (and smell them!). But after a few days of Peanut Butter Cups, fun size candy bars and sugary candy corn, we are ready to rid our house of all Halloween candy (because I will eat them all).

For the past couple of years, we bring our candy into Magic Beans for their Candy Buy Back program. Bring in at minimum of one pound of candy between 11/1-11/5 and your kids get 20% off a new toy. Magic Beans donates the candy to food pantries and the military overseas.

Green Planet Kids in Newton is also accepting your leftover candy of a pound or more between 11/1-11/7 in exchange for a $5 gift card. Green Planet Kids is sending candy to military troops overseas as well.

Be sure to check out your kids' dentist offices as most do a candy buyback too. Our kids' dentist office will give $1 for every pound of candy donated to the troops. Here's a complete list of candy buy back in Massachusetts from Boston Parents Paper.

Sweet, right?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bringing Back Prince Spaghetti Day

Most Gen-Xers and older are probably familiar with the classic advertising campaign from Prince Pasta: the little boy (Anthony) running through the narrow streets of the North End of Boston to get home for dinner because "Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day." As an college student studying advertising, this memorable commercial was highly regarded. Prince Pasta became one of the country's iconic brands, firmly establishing itself in our food culture. 

Since pasta is in regular rotation for weekday dinners, it was easy to convince the family to bring back Wednesdays as Prince Spaghetti Day (or Prince Penne Day, or Prince Linguine Day... you get the idea). Just as they love to remind me not to cook meat on Meatless Mondays, or beg me to make Tacos on Taco Tuesday, Wednesdays are now reserved for some of our favorite pasta dishes. Today we're going with the classic and crowd-favorite Spaghetti & Meatballs combo. 

In celebration of National Pasta Month (which kicks off today), Prince is partnering with NEBO to create delicious and easy recipes for families using Prince pasta. Plus Prince will be offering cooking videos every Wednesday during National Pasta Month here. And if you happen to be in Boston today, head to these locations between 4:30-7pm as Prince will be handing out Prince Pasta Dinner Kits: 

North Station (near the “performance” sign)135 Causeway St 
South Station (near the hub/unpaid area)700 Atlantic Avenue 
Back Bay Station (DD on the left wall when entering from Dartmouth St.)145 Dartmouth Street

As my kids like to say, "Mangia! Mangia!"

Disclosure: Thank you Prince Pasta for sending me a Prince Pasta Dinner Kit. As always, all opinions are my own.


Related Posts with Thumbnails