Friday, March 23, 2012

Foodie in the Making

Future executive chef, restaurant critic, or food blogger!

It happened. I don't know how, but it has to my delight. My 6 year-old is passionate about food. The boy loves to shop for food, try new restaurants, and help cook. And most recently, has asked if he could not only help cook, but plan some meals. Hold a moment while I wipe away a tear.

So as not to discourage him from this new-found interest (the trains can finally get a break!), I grabbed a stack of ChopChop magazines, a couple of kid-friendly cookbooks from the public library, a pad of paper and pen and asked him, "so what do you want to try making?" He flipped through recipe after recipe and pointed out the ones he wanted to try as I scribbled away as if he was the executive chef and I his sous chef.

The boy's menu
So the plan is this: he gets to choose at least one recipe a week and we add that to our weekly menu plan. I was happy to see he did not just choose the typical kid-friendly dishes. His tastes ranged from savory breakfast items, hearty lunch dishes to multicultural dinners. This week we made oven-baked pita chips, spinach, mushroom and cheese stromboli, and banana-berry smoothies. Best to start of slow, right?

I have no idea if we'll be able to keep this up, but this pretty much re-affirms what experts preach when it comes to dealing with picky-eaters:
  • Get kids involved
  • Meal plan with them
  • Let them help pick out groceries
  • Give them a job in the kitchen
Our youngest has even joined in on the fun and we've noticed dinnertime battles have decreased - albeit just a little bit... but I will take anything I can get.

So if you can, make it part of your routine. Have your kids be in charge of breakfast/lunch/dinner once a week. Just make sure you are not in a rush and don't mind a bit more clean-up!

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Go-To Weeknight Dish: Pasta with Sausage, Rosemary and Tomatoes


It has been a particularly exhausting couple of weeks here at the umommy household. Juggling Milk Day at my son's school (which was a runaway success - can't wait to share the deets soon!), parent/teacher conferences, busy work schedules and some family issues had us ordering takeout, eating out or turning to old "go-to" recipes for dinner more than usual.

Everyone has their go-to dish: a meal you can whip up by memory and will sure to please just about anyone.  They often consist of ingredients you have on hand. And is usually something you can make quickly and feel good about serving. Read: not a frozen pizza/canned soup/box mac and cheese and the like. Don't get me wrong! Those meals can be life-savers too (have you seen our freezer and pantry?). A go-to dish is something made from (mostly) scratch. For us, it's pasta with sausage, rosemary and tomatoes.

We discovered this recipe in Michael Schlow's It's About Time: Great Recipes for Everyday Life cookbook. It is ultra simple to make and only takes a whopping 20 minutes to whip up once you get a pot of water boiling. Not to mention the entire family's favorite dish. Okay, okay. I'll share.

Pasta with Sausage, Rosemary and Tomatoes
Adapted from Michael Schlow's It's About Time: Great Recipes for Everyday Life


Ingredients
  • 1 lb pasta (penne or rigatoni is best)
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausages, removed from casing and crumbled
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 28 oz can plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole Italian parsley leaves

Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt and cook pasta according to directions
  2. Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to break up sausage and cook for about five minutes
  3. Add garlic to sausage and cook for two minutes. Pour off all but a tablespoon of grease.
  4. Season sausage mixture with salt, pepper, red pepper and rosemary
  5. Add tomatoes and cook on high until tomatoes start to break down and sauce begins to evaporate and thickens (about five minutes)
  6. Stir in butter and combine until melted.
  7. Add cooked pasta to sauce and stir to combine. Add cheese and parsley and serve!
What is your favorite go-to recipe?  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mom's Day Off (Foodler Review)



As a mom food blogger whose goal is to raise adventurous eaters, there’s a good chance you will find me scouring cookbooks and the Internet for new recipes to try with my brood. But yes, there are days when after a stressful day of work, kids and lack of sleep, I want nothing more than to have dinner magically appear on the table. And with Foodler, this actually happened.

What is Foodler?
“Foodler is a website for ordering delivery and takeout from restaurants around you. Foodler is more reliable than using a phone, since all orders are transmitted and confirmed electronically. Foodler is faster than using a phone, since we remember your address and payment preferences. Foodler tells you what's popular and what's highly-rated so that you can find the best food near you. Foodler has negotiated exclusive discounts with our partner restaurants, and passes the savings on to you.” (Foodler website)
Cut to Thursday afternoon. It had been a rain/snow mix for over 24 hours. Our fridge consisted of a half gallon of milk, a bag of carrots, half a carton of eggs and a sundry of condiments. I decided this would be the PERFECT time to take Foodler out for a spin.


Step 1: enter your location on the Foodler home page. Search results sort restaurants by cuisine with “Best Bets” first. “Best Bets” are based on customer ratings, past order history and distance. You can sort results by cost, rating, distance, and delivery fee. 


Step 2: Select a restaurant and browse full menu. Organized by dish, you can select quantity/size and even add specific requests. Best Bets are offered up on the side along with a running subtotal of your order.


Step 3: Submit your order directly to the restaurant. Once you’ve reviewed and submitted your order, you get an order summary and email confirmation.


Step 4: Eat! Our order arrived within the time frame specified. In fact it came only after 30 minutes of receiving the order confirmation. And it was piping hot on a snowy evening commute.

We had a great experience with Foodler. It was easy to navigate and our food was exactly as I had ordered it. Since we don’t have food delivered often, it is hard for me to compare prices. My one gripe about Foodler is the restaurant selection was pretty limited for my area. And... the name Foodler. As a marketing professional, it just doesn't sit well with me. It's not very intuitive or very memorable. But now I'm just being a branding snob. Overall, I’ll gladly trade our draw-o-takeout-menus for one-stop-ordering.

Disclosure: Foodler.com offered me $15 in Foodler bucks to conduct this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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