Best Cookbook for Cooking for Kids

Just wanted to let everyone know that my cookbook is gaining speed as the best cookbook for cooking for families.  I am now #593,000 in the Amazon ranking.  Who knew there were that many cookbooks on the market!  

I loved this review from one of my readers:

“I am writing this review to say, I just finished reading this book and I throughly enjoyed every bit of it. The author has simple, no nonsense recipes with each having a brief personal story. Her descriptions, instructions, and variety of recipes are healthy, time conscious, creative, family friendly, and seem fun to make. Her family seems to have been a big influence in her cooking style with humorous opinions and insights. I am anxious to try her Beef Stroganoff (reads incredible) along with one of my favorites from the book, the Blackberry Cobbler recipe from her mother. Being on Kindle makes this book handy in easily pulling up the recipes at the store, or market for dinner that night. Overall, Real Food For Real People is upbeat, with great variety and suggestions for delicious meals. I would highly recommend this book.”Amazon Reviewer

On Motherhood

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I have been reading an interesting book by Dr. Shefanli Tsabary called The Conscious Parent. I’m only half way through, but it has made quite an impression on me so far. I think in many ways I intuitively knew many of the things that Dr. Tsabary writes about, but to see them in print has given me more confidence to follow my instincts.

To start, I am absolutely in many ways a Tiger Mom and if you haven’t read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I highly recommend it. It’s worth the read for no other reason than to have the insight to say to your children, “At least I didn’t light your stuffed animals on fire if you got a “B” in grade school!” But for all of the acidity author Amy Chua still makes the very valid point that parents are responsible for the future of their children. Both my children attended the Talented and Gifted program at UC Berkeley. I think it provided an amazing academic foundation for them, and if the child is willing to do it, and enjoys it, then it can be a positive experience. Not that all children need to spend their summers turning a classroom into the bottom of the ocean floor at five or dissecting a lamb heart at ten.

The tricky part comes now as my older daughter finishes her Freshman year of High School. She has just earned an 89.59% on her final biology exam. Amy Chua writes that a “B” is not a good grade and like her there is a part of me that is livid, but the other part shrugs my shoulders. If she wants to be a student athlete and have a 3.5 GPA who am I to tell her that’s just not good enough?

I believe we are responsible for ensuring our children are reasonably equipped to encounter an increasingly complex world, but I want to adopt more of Dr. Tsabary’s methods. In the ground breaking parenting classic from 1994, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, Mary Pipher writes that we let go too soon of our teenage daughters. And the number one fault of parents is not protecting our daughters from societal pressures. We are caught in the constant ebb and flow of holding on, but not too tightly and letting go, but not too much.

In her award winning book Dr. Tsabary encourages us to sit with our children and connect with their souls. She writes that there is a sacred bond between mother and child. She asks that we awaken and accept our children for who they truly are. Easier said than done. On one hand, I am passionate about raising a happy child, but then on the other, I want all doors flung wide open for my children and in our society that means attaining academic excellence for college applications.

One of the things that Dr. Tsabary writes about is accepting the child you have and not projecting onto them the attributes that you desire, but love and honor the person they innately are. The last thing we want is a child who has relinquished the person they truly are for some parent inspired fantasy of the perfect son or daughter. Our children aren’t our grand experiment. They are people. I remember holding my baby in my arms thinking with amazement, “this is really a person.” “They aren’t dolls” I tell my husband all the time of our children. They have feelings and interests and plans all their own.

The Conscious Parent also asks that we connect with our own souls. The author advises that we accept ourselves and sit with our own emotions. As my daughter approaches me I allow myself to sit in silence and let the door in my heart open. I trust she will make the right decisions for her own future. And I know that no matter what I do she will be some version of fine. As she gets into the car I stop myself from asking her questions about exams, extra credit, final grades. At the beginning of the school year I realized I could learn more listening to the lyrics of the songs she plays over and over in my car than anything she would say. As the sun slants through the car, she plays a song by Two Door Cinema Club, the lyrics go something like this:

You gotta step up your game to make it to the top

So go

Gotta little competition now

Your gonna find it hard to cope living on your own

Oh oh, oh oh

Let’s make this happen, girl

You gotta show the world that something good can work

And it can work for you

And you know that it will

On this sunny day driving away from the high school I glance over at my daughter and sit quietly with her soul. And I realize that she is going places that I don’t even know exist. All I have to do now is allow her to be the person she wants to be and keep her safe. I have a front row seat watching the girl fall away and the woman emerge. Luckily, I still have her little sister.

Summer Entertaining – Father’s Day Family Dinner – Gluten Free

Pork Chops with Oven Roasted Potatoes & Sauteed Zucchini

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As promised this is the first of my summer entertaining posts.

Deciding what to make when throwing a party or even just cooking for family is aways the first hurdle to entertaining.   This very simple, but elegant menu will get you started.  It is extremely easy to shop for and cook.  I’ve included lots of photos which my friends all say they need, so I am trying to take them as I go along.

This dinner was super easy to execute and it is a menu my husband loves (meat and potatoes).  It’s kind of old school and reminiscent of what my mother cooked when I was a kid, but with a goat cheese and fresh herb salad and delicious seasonings and the use of olive oil to brown the meat instead of a flour and oil dredged combination, it actually tastes quite modern.

This meal took me about 10 minutes to shop for at my local grocery store and then it took about a half hour to cook.  The potatoes took a little bit longer, so I started them first and put them on the platter last.

 

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When having friends to dinner I often stress over how to serve the food.  I usually serve it family style at the bar in my kitchen or in individual serving dishes at the table, but I liked having it all on this large platter.  It was easy to clean up too and I think it looks really fresh and appetizing this way.

 

Pork Chops

 

2 lb. pork chops

2 tablespoons olive oil

Seasonings below

 

I do rubs on all my meat and for the pork I sprinkled both sides with the following:

  1. Salt
  2. Pepper
  3. Garlic Salt
  4. Paprika
  5. Cumin
  6. Tarragon

Heat a large skillet until hot and add olive oil.  Brown pork chops on both sides, this takes about 2 minutes per side, then reduce heat until cooked through.

 

Oven Baked Red Potatoes

 

2 lb. red potatoes (choose potatoes on the smaller size)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

Fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme)

Blue Cheese salad dressing for dipping

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Quarter potatoes and then place them on a baking sheet, add olive oil, salt and pepper and herbs.  Toss well with your hands to coat all sides of the potatoes.  Allow to cook for 20 minutes or until they no longer stick to the baking sheet then turn them with tongs to brown all sides for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Zucchini

 

2 medium sized zucchini

2 teaspoons butter (if you are dairy-free use olive oil)

Salt and pepper.

 

Heat a small skilled until hot and add butter.  Once the butter is melted add the zucchini and sauté until soft and slightly browned.  Add salt and pepper and serve.

 

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Fresh Herb Salad

 

4 cups Fresh Herb Salad mix

Handful of Croutons (see my recipe in Real Food For Real People)

1/2 cup candied pecans

2 teaspoons herbed goat cheese

1/4 cup or more White Balsamic Salad Dressing (see my recipe in Real Food For Real People) or use vinaigrette of your choice

 

In a salad bowl place 4 cups of salad, goat cheese, croutons and pecans and toss with salad dressing.  Add dressing slowly and then toss with tongs to coat each piece of lettuce.

 

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Summer Entertaining

Summer Entertaining

There are many delicious and easy recipes for summer entertaining in my cookbook Real Food for Real People available on Amazon

 

School is almost out and over the summer I will be working on more entertaining tips, menu ideas and will post lots of photos that will help you set a gorgeous table for parties and casual get togethers.  Please stay tuned in the weeks ahead.

 

Flowers and Black Dogs

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My blog is suppose to be about more than food, so I will bringing more stories about Polly.  Polly is our family dog, but I am so madly in love with her and often wish she were just “my” dog.  The family thinks she is “my dog” as well and as much as I would love this, Polly has other ideas.  Polly loves everyone in our family and has a special relationship with each member including our rescue cats.  Honestly, sometimes I am actually jealous!

Sometimes there are perfect matches between owners and dogs, but they are unusual.  Above is a photo of Polly on a walk we took in the rain.

Thank you Polly for blessing me with your love and friendship.

Lasagna Bites

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Lasagna Bites

Marvelous little bites to have around the house or in the freezer.  A group of them can make a nice light dinner with a salad and crusty bread or they can be served at a party or they can be handed out to starving children after school.  Recently I did all of the above in the same day.  I doubled the recipe and even have a nice stash in the freezer.   These bites can be popped back into a mini muffin tin and reheated in the oven.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 eggplant cut into small cubes

1 jar marinara sauce (recipe to make this from scratch coming soon)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 package round wonton wrappers (found in produce section)

2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

Basil for (optional)

 

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brown the beef and drain, then add the diced eggplant and cook until soft.  Stir in the marinara sauce and salt and pepper and reduce heat to low.  Let simmer as long as you possibly can while you go about your business.  An hour or more is wonderful, but 30 minutes is sufficient.  In a small bowl mix one whole egg into the ricotta and set aside.

Using a non-stick mini muffin tin (if necessary spray with cooking spray depending on your tin), then begin by pressing each wonton wrapper inside each muffin tin.  Begin layering each bite with a small amount (one teaspoon) of sauce on the bottom, followed by a small amount of ricotta, then sauce again.  The sauce should be a little bit chunky, but this will keep the bites from being too soft.  No one ever notices the eggplant which gives the sauce a rich flavor and adds more nutrients.   Sprinkle the top with a generous amount of both mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake for 18-20 minuets or until golden brown on top.  Allow to cool slightly then pop out using a knife to cut around the edges as needed.

Photo by Siena Thomas 🙂