January 19th, 2016
Maybe I’m late to the party (it wouldn’t be the first time), but I just recently learned that microwave popcorn is full of chemicals. Like a lot of them. It’s not just the flavors and additives, but also what’s used to line the bags. We all draw different lines with how pure and all-natural we want to keep our family’s diet, but honestly, by all accounts, microwave popcorn is pretty toxic stuff. And the weird thing is that I’m not sure why given how easy it is to make microwave popcorn with nothing more than kernels, oil, and a paper bag.
Yup: Three simple ingredients, all low cost and available at the supermarket (if not already in your cupboards), turn out microwave popcorn that you can flavor any way you like in all of 5 minutes. With this easy DIY tutorial, store-bought actually becomes a waste of money. And making and flavoring this is pretty much my kids favorite kitchen project ever.
January 15th, 2016
Are you guys into podcasts? I’m obsessed. And yes, I was obsessed even before Serial (though I’m really obsessed now). I listen in the car, whenever I’ve got to walk somewhere, and the best, while cooking dinner. While most of my podcast listening has little to do with food—I guess I save that for my reading and writing—one of my new favorite shows is the This Week for Dinner podcast with Jane Maynard.
Jane is the powerhouse mom-of-three behind the eponymous blog where you can not only grab great family-friendly recipes, but you can also get weekly dinner menus that you can print out, along with a shopping list, complete with links to all the recipes. It’s like one of those weekly meal planning services, but you know for sure that the menus are made by a real working mom and they’re free.
January 12th, 2016
Everyone says that making smoothies is so easy. While it’s true, nobody understand JUST how easy something has to be in order for busy parents to fit it into the hectic weekday morning schedule until they are a busy parent themselves. If you are, you know that pulling out the blender and measuring ingredients while also trying to get kids dressed, fed, and out the door for school is no small feat. So making smoothies in the morning? Not always as easy as it sounds. Unless you’ve got these smoothie packs on hand.
Make-ahead smoothie packs totally change the smoothie game. With everything pre-measured, frozen, and ready to go, making smoothies becomes a much more realistic endeavor, even on the busiest mornings. And putting these together won’t even take up much time. All you need are freezer-safe baggies and an extra 10-minutes anytime you can find it.
December 22nd, 2015
If you ask me, the best thing about holiday eating is cocktail party food and appetizers. From DIY cheese crackers to 2 tasty dips and the ultimate bacon party bite, these are my favorite make-ahead recipes for holiday snacks. Whether you’re hosting a big party or just want a few noshes around to tide the family over until the big holiday meal, these are the ticket.
And the best part? Every single one can be prepped or made entirely ahead. Easy and delicious: The perfect combination.
December 17th, 2015
It’s the beginning of winter and, as if on cue, there’s excitement about slow cooker meals. You can hardly wonder why: The slow cooker makes warming cold weather meals easy to make. But here’s a secret: I also love using my slow cooker in the summer, too, because then I don’t have to turn on the stove in hot weather.
So, no matter what the season, you can whip out your slow cooker to make this healthy, hearty Italian Meatball Soup. Which, I admit, is especially great right now on chilly days when I get home from running around between work, picking up the kids, and gift shopping. (Oh the holidays.) It’s a warm meal ready to go as soon as we walk in the door. And, thanks to my long-time sponsor, Earthbound Farm Organic, it’s also nutritious thanks to tender, dark leafy greens.
December 15th, 2015
You know that saying truth is stranger than fiction? Well, I need a similar saying, but about things that aren’t necessarily strange. See, I’m all about making quick, healthy cooking easier for you guys. But, truth be told, even though I’m a busy working mom, too, making dinner isn’t always hard because, well, I develop recipes for a living. At least, that’s the way it used to be. These days, though, getting dinner on the table has been hard. So very hard.
For the last 9 months, I haven’t just been developing whatever recipes sound good, rather I’ve been creating ones that tell a cohesive story for my upcoming book (gah!), Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipes to Cook from Scratch—with Smart Store-Bought Shortcuts When You Need Them. In other words, dinner didn’t always fit neatly into my days, already in the kitchen on my feet for hours and also having to write, too.
Oh, yea, and I also have this job as Managing Food Editor for the awesome (and only!) food site just for parents, Cool Mom Eats, where I do way more writing and editing than I do cooking.
So I’ve been busy. Like too busy to post here often (though, you see, I’m coming back—hang in with me!) and, sometimes, too busy to make dinner the way I’d like. Pretty funny given that I’ve been working on a book to make cooking easier for people who don’t have time to cook. Right? Life imitating art. Or something. I don’t know—it’s hard to get idiomatic expressions right when you’re a child of immigrants.
Anyway, I digress. The point is that I, like you and all the (millions of) people who will buy my book, need meals that make it easy more desperately than ever. And, a lot of times, that means going back to basics like in this recipe for Classic Italian Meatballs.
December 1st, 2015
I’m always saying that recipes are easy. Easy this, easy that. But, people, this one is truly the easiest yet. Stuff a date, wrap it in bacon, and bake to get a sweet and salty, crispy-gooey bite that will make your holiday season.
Seriously, these are a request from many every holiday season. I’m not allowed not to make them—that’s how good they are.
November 24th, 2015
With Thanksgiving coming up and more winter holidays around the corner, you’ll want a light, but totally delicious dessert recipe in your back pocket. At least I will, because oof. These easy, light Baked Apples are the ticket. With only a touch of sugar and half a pat of butter each, these are a respite from heavy, sugar desserts—that don’t taste like a respite at all. Mmm.
November 10th, 2015
Roasting vegetables is my number one way to make fall and winter veggies because it is, hands down, the best way to coax out big flavor. And then there’s the fact that it’s dead easy. All it takes to make totally delicious roasted vegetables is two key ingredients: oil and salt. Plus, it’s just as great a technique for busy week nights as it is for special holiday meals. It just gets better and better, which is why you need to learn this foolproof technique for how to roast vegetables once and for all.
November 3rd, 2015
While I’m all for decadent holiday cooking, it’s nice to have a few tasty, healthy options in your back pocket, too, like this Maple Harvest Mousse. Because decadent is good, but decadent-tasting and healthy is even better.
You know me: I’m always looking for fresh, new ways to use vegetables to make my cooking healthier, especially during the holiday season when there’s so much cream and butter (and butter and cream). Together, with my partner Earthbound Farm Organic, we’ve come up with a creative way to use butternut squash in a slightly sweet and totally delicious no-bake dessert that you can make just as easily for any night of the week as you can for a holiday meal.
In fact, since this is sweetened with just a touch of maple syrup and is packed with nutrient rich butternut squash, I’ve even served this at breakfast.
(Yay, healthy breakfast sweets!)
October 30th, 2015
It’s been a long time since I’ve just sat down to write a blog post for you guys. As many of you know, part of that is because I’ve been running a new, one-of-its-kind food site specifically for families, Cool Mom Eats (from the publishers of Cool Mom Picks, which you know and love). I’ve also been having a lot of fun working on the One Hungry Mama YouTube channel. But there is something else: I’ve also been working on my first cookbook!
I thought that keeping it a secret would be difficult, but I’ve been so busy working on it that I’ve hardly had time to talk about it. The project is finally coming together, though, and I cannot wait for you to see it. I’m so proud and beyond excited to show you Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipe to Cook from Scratch with Smart, Store-Bought Shortcuts When You Need Them.
There’s so much that I want to tell you about what I’ve been thinking, have learned, and have done to put together a book that is aimed squarely on making healthy cooking for your family easy to manage. And when I say easy, I don’t just mean quick. This book includes specific tips and suggestions designed to help ease every part of feeding your family, from meal planning (or not) to navigating the supermarket, a more realistic endeavor for busy parents.
October 29th, 2015
Everyone always goes crazy for Halloween recipes because, well, HALLOWEEN! But this year, Halloween is on a Saturday which makes having fun in the kitchen even more viable. You can bake with the kids, make a special dessert, or take time to whip up healthy Halloween snacks (ooooh, scary!). You can even make a big festive dinner instead of the normal post-school/pre-trick-or-treating shove pizza in your face madness of most years.
With the extra time you’ll want lots of options to pick and choose which Halloween recipes you want to make or, if you’re a Halloween fanatic, to start prepping to make them all.
My Top 5 Halloween recipes video features—you guessed it—five of my favorite Halloween treats. From DIY peanut butter cups to a creepy Halloween dinner that you can throw together with mostly store-bought ingredients, these are my favorite Halloween recipes. Check out how to make them all:
October 23rd, 2015
I’ve been wanting to make caramel apples for a long time but, sadly, this is not the year. I’m way too busy. So, instead, I’m making these easy shortcut Caramel Apple Turnovers that look like mummies. This is Halloween gold, people!
I make these using puff pastry, caramel candies (melted with just a little bit of water; I know, but it’s Halloween, after all), and apples. Real fresh ones (ha!). If you want to go scratch, or even semi-homemade, you can use homemade pie dough (store bought works, too, if you can’t find puff pastry) and even homemade caramel sauce. I have recipes for both!