I love when friends and family send me baking or cooking questions – it always gets me excited! And just last week a friend on Facebook reached out to me seeking ideas for recipes that would satisfy both her daughter and her and her husband. I mean, isn’t that always the question for busy parents? What can I cook up quickly that my kid will eat and I can enjoy as well?
So to answer her question, here are a few of my favorite cookbooks, blogs and recipes that have proven crowd-pleasers for my family.
When my daughter was first born my friend Sara sent me a copy of Parents Need to Eat Too, from writer Debbie Koenig, Not only does this book contain a host of great recipes, it really got me thinking on how to cook things that could be adapted for both kids and parents. I loved reading through this book and highly recommend it as a great starting point for the busy parent who likes to cook.
Some of the ways this book got me thinking was around how to use one ingredient or dish several ways. For example, a simple roast chicken (bought or made) is one of the most versatile items you can cook weekly in order to satisfy all your family members. Chicken breasts can be sliced and put on top of a hearty salad, mixed in with veggies and pasta or made into chicken salad. And now that my daughter is almost 2, she loves getting her little hands on a drumstick. When she was younger we might mix up some finely diced chicken with rice for a yummy dinner.
Steamed broccoli and diced, roasted sweet potato pieces are another favorite to keep in the fridge. Broccoli gets eaten plain by our daughter, and we can use the broccoli to put on top of pizza or served alongside a weeknight entrée.
Weelicious is one of my favorite kid-focused blogs where I get inspired. And while I originally started making these Broccoli Cheese Patties for my daughter, my husband now covets the bite-sized morsels.
Speaking of family-friendly macaroni and cheese, my Mac ‘n Sweet Potato Cheesy Sauce is another recipe I created specifically for my daughter, but it turned out so delicious that my husband, me and even my brother can’t help but dishing out a bowl of it for ourselves too.
Another blog I love that has family-friendly recipes is Two Peas and their Pod. Sure, they feature lots of cookies (who says that isn’t family friendly) but I also love their simple, healthful ideas for meals like Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich. Yum!
Looking to get interactive with your kids in the kitchen? Then you may want to try Susie Fishbein’s Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen cookbook. I love involving my daughter in the kitchen with me, whether it’s “mixing” or rolling out dough, Ella loves standing next to me no matter what I am whipping up. So don’t be nervous – just pull up a kid-safe stool and let your kids help, even if they do make a mess.
This month two big names in the kosher world came out with new cookbooks: The Prime Grill Cookbook by David Kolotkin and Joey Allaham and Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes by internet-famed Jamie Geller.
Both are beautiful and packed full of recipe choices but that’s where the similarities end. The Prime Grill Cookbook positions itself as “redefining the kosher experience,” in line with what the upscale midtown Manhattan restaurant has sought to do. While Joy of Kosher features family focused recipes that are easily “dressed up, or dressed down.” It’s sort of a Jewish mom meets Rachael Ray meets “Semi Homemade” guide to weekly family meals.
As a food writer, home cook and all around culinary-obsessed person, the family recipe route has never been what gets me really excited but I can see how the Joy of Kosher enterprise has amassed such a loyal following with their relatable recipes and striking photography.
Geller’s second cookbook is beautiful with fun ideas, but her narrative not only doesn’t speak to me, but kind of turns me off. She writes in the book that she wrote this cookbook at 3:00 am on her phone; all moms and busy working ladies can relate to multi-tasking and getting stuff done at weird times. But at 3:00 am, you better believe I am sleeping, or watching some awful re-run of Real Housewives of New Jersey. She also writes “Yes, I taste test every recipe. That’s why I look this way.” The woman has had 5 kids for goodness sake – she looks great! Jamie, why put yourself down like that girl!? Own your fabulousness!
Aside from Geller’s stories sprinkled throughout the book, there are simple, beautiful-looking recipes and other special features, like a guide to ingredients one will need to make the dishes. I really enjoyed the eye-catching “Fruit, Flower and Mint Ice Cubes” – such a pretty and fun idea for a special meal or cocktails. Other highlights: Hummus Trifle, Wilted Spinach with Crispy Chips, Balsamic London Broil and Caramel Fruit Bites.
If you are looking for family-friendly recipes that are accessible for the everyday cook, true to advertising, this is definitely the cookbook for you.
Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes, October 2013, William Morrow Cookbooks
I have been following Chef David Kolotkin’s career for some time and have eaten at several of the Prime Group’s restaurants in NYC, so I was eager to have a look at The Prime Grill Cookbook when it came out last month.
It is large, straightforward, not overly-fancy with staged photos of barns and props and sunsets that I just don’t care about. I am in this for the food, and I cannot decide which of the delectable-looking recipes from the cookbook I want to make first: Truffled Deviled Eggs, Potato Gnocchi with Duck Bolognaise and Sage, Falafel Crusted Salmon or the Sweet New Jersey Corn Flan with Sautéed Mushrooms.
I wasn’t impressed with the dessert recipes offered, but I did think that the basic stock recipes, salad dressings and infused olive oils were a great tool for the cook (like me) who likes to whip up everything from scratch when possible. It’s no surprise that the real recipe stand-outs of the cookbook are the meat recipes, which seem accessible enough that they aren’t scary to prepare, but unique enough to provide culinary inspiration.
Adventurous meat-loving home chefs rejoice – The Prime Grill Cookbook is here for you.
The Prime Grill Cookbook, September 2013, Pelican Publishing