Teaching kids about food and family is more about the teaching and togetherness than the food, Antonia Lofaso wants to impress on moms who struggle to balance home and work lives.
Meals teach children about community, nutrition, manners and the importance of sitting down to eat with family. Who is at the table is more important than what is being served.
The Busy Mom’s Cookbook is Antonia’s collected advice and recipes from more than a decade as a single parent working in restaurant kitchens. Besides working at Spago in Los Angeles, Antonia was a finalist on television’s Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars.
Her top tip? Avoid spending hours in the kitchen. On the busiest days, Lofaso uses her “15/15 Rule” – spend 15 minutes in the kitchen with children preparing a simple meal, then 15 minutes at the dinner table.
Getting kids involved in preparing meals allows you to spend more time together while they pick up new skills. Even if it’s just peeling carrots, says Antonia, you “get to spend a few minutes talking with them without once saying do your homework, make your bed, or quit hitting your sister. “
Another great idea Lofaso offers is “multimeals” –bigger food items or multiple servings of chicken, roasted broccoli, pork chops, meatloaf and brisket, then recipes for the leftovers. Dinner’s quicker when a portion of it is already prepared and in the refrigerator.
School Night Dinners offers real solutions for for busy nights with speedy and kid-pleasing foods like sandwiches, burgers, skillet chicken, tacos, soups and pastas and salads with lively flavors to make parents happy too.
Restaurant quality entrees round out the entrée chapters. Antonia’s culinary skills shine in recipes such as Bacon Brussels Sprout and Goat Cheese Pie and Warm Mushrooms Salad with Poached Eggs and Bacon Vinaigrette.
Tips alongside the recipes feels like a friend cooking alongside. “When you’re sautéing don’t move the food around too much. Continually stirring it just creates moisture and prevents browning,” she counsels. “You don’t need to use expensive lump crabmeat or Alaskan king crab for this dish.”
A little advice, a lot of strategy and more than 100 recipes. Gather your young cooks and try these three recipes from The Busy Mom’s Cookbook.
–By Nicki Pendleton Wood