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for The Mom 100 Cookbook
Introducing the lifesaving cookbook for every mother with kids at home--the book that solves the 20 most common cooking dilemmas. What's your predicament: breakfast on a harried school morning? The Mom 100's got it--Personalized Pizzas are not only fast but are nutritious, and hey, it doesn't get any better than pizza for breakfast. Kids making noise about the same old lunch? The Mom 100's got it--three different Turkey Wraps, plus a Wrap Blueprint delivers enough variety to last for years.
The Mom 100 is 20 dilemmas every mom faces, with 5 solutions for each: including terrific recipes for the vegetable-averse, the salad-rejector, for the fish-o-phobe, or the overnight vegetarian convert. "Fork-in-the-Road" variations make it easy to adjust a recipe to appeal to different eaters (i.e., the kids who want bland and the adults who don't). "What the Kids Can Do" sidebars suggest ways for kids to help make each dish. More...
An Excerpt from the Book:
One of the commonest denominators in the lives of all moms is the often anxiety-inducing need to feed our families. Like, every day! Really, just completely non-negotiable. And I don't think you need to hear another diatribe about how we're not making enough time to be a family at the dinner table, and how packaged foods and take-out are ruining our health, and how hard you have to fight to keep your kids from turning into French fry-munching, video game-loving, sugar-addicted zombies. You already know all that. You're sufficiently concerned. You're a good mom. Ok, we're all on the same page...but now what do we do?
This book is simply a collection of one hundred straightforward and imminently usable recipes that address a dilemma, a predicament, a head-scratcher that we moms face day in and day out. “How can I get my kids to try fish?” “How can I broaden my kids white food horizons?” “What was I thinking when I invited everyone over after the school play?” "Why are you telling me at 8:30 tonight that you signed me up to make muffins for tomorrow morning’s Corn Festival?”
The one hundred solutions are great-tasting recipes that every mom can rely on, share, and feel good about. They are that stockpile of foolproof, crowd-pleasing, familiar (but not boring) recipes you’ve been wishing you had at your fingertips. Here you will find recipes for weekday breakfasts, weeknight dinners, bake sales, potlucks, and white and nonwhite foods that kids will embrace. Unfussy recipes, reliable recipes, but recipes that may surprise you a little bit, in terms of what you and your family can enjoy together.
There are a number of fairly consistent cooking situations we moms find ourselves in. Weeknight dinners is a biggie. Then there are lunches, potluck school events, bakes sales, easy family entertaining, vegetables sides. We need meals to make ahead, meals for vegetarians, meals with different levels of spiciness. You will find answers here, recipes that you’ll want to go to again and again and again. You will still use and love other cookbooks. You will still use and be grateful for recipes on the Internet. But when you need a simple mom-and-family-friendly receipt, and don’t have the time or energy to sift through dozens of sources, you should find just what you are looking for right here.
Throughout the book you will notice a number of dishes are marked as Fork in the Road recipes. This addresses the need to adapt a recipe to suit the needs of a family where picky palates are prevalent. Basically a recipe is made, fairly simply, up to a certain point. Then, some of the dish is removed (think plain pasta sauce, simple sautéed chicken cutlets), and set aside for the kids or for those with milder palates. Then, you continue on with the rest of the dish, adding some additional ingredients and flavors for those with more adventurous palates. The result is that you get to make one dish for the whole family, everyone is sharing the same meal, but the grown-ups are eating something with more interest, more sophistication, while the kids are eating a great meal that doesn’t push them past their limits.
Macaroni and Cheese
My kids like Kraft macaroni and cheese. There, I said it. I haven’t made it in a long time although, like most of us, I have succumbed to the call of the blue box at times. But even now when they eat it at a friend’s house I definitely get to hear about it later: “Kiefer gets to have the macaroni and cheese in the box every night. Why can’t we ever have that?”
Still, they seem to be willing to shovel in this homemade version at a pretty fast clip, and we can pronounce all of the ingredients. Laced with a blend of cheeses and enriched with milk and cream, even grown-up guests tend to sigh with pleasure while looking at the browned panko crust sitting atop a bubbling casserole of cavatelli nestled in a sauce fragrant with a mixture of Gruyère and cheddar. (Although we call it macaroni and cheese, the actual pasta shape is up for grabs.) It’s hard to think of a single dish with more universal kid appeal.
The Dijon mustard and red pepper flakes give the macaroni and cheese a little kick, a little edge, and save the dish from being too intensively rich and creamy (not that there’s anything wrong with that). And, no, this isn’t low fat. Thanks for asking.
Serves 8 to 10 as a main dish
A Fork in the Road Recipe
For the Panko Topping
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs, see Note)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
For the pasta and cheese sauce
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus butter for greasing the baking dish(es)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
4 1/2 cups 2 percent or whole milk (however indulgent you’re feeling)
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
5 cups coarsely grated flavorful cheese, such as sharp cheddar or Gruyère, or a mix
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or coarse salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1 1/2 packages (24 ounces) dried cavatelli, ziti, penne, or any short pasta
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a shallow 4-quart baking dish (or use 2 smaller baking dishes, or one smaller baking dish and some individual ramekins; see the Fork in the Road below).
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously, and let the water return to a boil.
3. Meanwhile, make the panko topping: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat or place it in a medium-size microwave-safe dish and heat it in a microwave oven until melted, 15 seconds. Add the panko and the Parmesan and stir until well combined. Set the panko topping aside.
4. Make the pasta and sauce: Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook, stirring, until the flour is blond in color, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high and let come to a simmer, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, grated cheese, Parmesan, mustard, salt, and black pepper, stirring until everything is smooth. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or black pepper as necessary.
5. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook it until barely al dente (follow the package directions but stop a minute or two before the pasta is completely tender). Set aside 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
6. Whisk the reserved pasta cooking water into the cheese sauce, combining it thoroughly. Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. There will appear to be a lot of sauce. Some of it will be absorbed into the pasta as it cooks, and in my book saucy is better than dry.
7. You can continue with Step 8 or see the Fork in the Road suggestion on preparing the mac and cheese for kids below.
8. Sprinkle the panko topping evenly over the pasta and bake it until golden and bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes. Let the pasta sit for a few minutes before serving.
Fork in the Road
If you happen to have a bunch of ramekins or gratin dishes lying around, make individual portions. Kids just love having their own little dish of something.
Also, young kids often would rather pass on the crunchy topping, alas, preferring their creamy pasta unpunctuated by contrasting textures. With individual portions, you can skip the topping on theirs and keep it all for the grown-ups. Make sure to put the hot dishes on cool plates and remind the kids not to touch the dishes. You can share your panko-covered version later, once the kids realize what they are missing.
Note: Panko are light Japanese dried bread crumbs. Although they are available at most supermarkets and at any Asian market, you can substitute 3 cups of fresh bread crumbs or
2 cups of regular unseasoned dry bread crumbs.
Copyright © 2012 by Katie Workman. Reprinted from The Mom 100 Cookbook with permission from Workman Publishing Company.
is the founding editor in chief of Cookstr.com, the website that features recipes by well-known chefs and cookbook writers. She writes about food and cooking for websites and magazines, including The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, AOL Food, KitchenDaily.com, AARP.com, New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, and more.
She sits on the board of City Harvest, New York’s leading food rescue nonprofit, and lives with her husband and two children in New York City.
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The Mom 100 Cookbook