making mac & cheese even kid-friendlier, definitely healthier

cauliflower mac and cheese

MY GOAL IS REAL FOOD. Less boxes, more produce. But all of this only matters if someone’s willing to eat it. And before all the “mmms” and “Thanks Mom”-ing can begin, some brave soul must be willing to make it. This is where I (try to) come in. With the mind of a mad scientist… 

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10 kid-friendly ways to cook with quinoa: I asked, you answered!

quinoa lasagna on

IT STARTED WITH A DINNER FAIL. I tried to spice up what was a delicious quinoa dish full of sweet potatoes and roasted chicken–except this new version was terrible. Instead of chicken and sweet potatoes, I used pork and apples (you know, pork chops and applesauce?) and tried to combine everything into a handy one-pot… 

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Linguine with mushroom bacon sauce, a pasta recipe from “American Grown” by Michelle Obama

Linguine wtih Mushroom Bacon Sauce Photo Credit Quentin Bacon Photography

WHEN THEY SERVE PASTA AT THE WHITE HOUSE, this is it. And also, I’d like to come come over next time they do. But for now I’ll have to settle for the most delicious sounding recipe for linguine that I’ve seen since we left Italy. In this excerpt from Michelle Obama’s book, “American Grown”, you’ll… 

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Easy update: Add a little chopped spinach to your next pot of rice

Spinach and rice on

WE USUALLY EAT BROWN RICE, BUT NOT THIS TIME. My husband Paul loves the fluffier texture of white rice, and I love him, so for this dinner we used organic basmati rice. But the compromise didn’t end there: I also add added a bit of frozen spinach to the pot while it cooked. Voila, a… 

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Spaghetti with sausage, Swiss chard and cheese

pasta with chard, sausage and cheese

YOU KNEW IT WAS COMING, but I’m not sure Paul did. Anyone who spends any time on 101 Cookbooks, as I am this month during our cookbook giveaway, will find two things: breathtaking photos, and a lot of greens. As I said earlier, we’re doing recipe makeovers right here from the rental house in NC,… 

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ravioli with peas and pancetta

ravioli with peas and pancetta

A BOWL OF PASTA DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN TOMATO SAUCE. One of the easiest ideas I’ve learned from the Italians is to substitute traditional red sauce with something much simpler: extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Dinner’s on the table in 20 minutes, and it’s a really good… 

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Simple beef, broccoli and carrot stir-fry

Beef and broccoli stir-fry

THEY DON’T REALLY DO TAKE-OUT IN ITALY. They definitely don’t do a lot of ethnic food either. And even if they did, stir-fry is one of those dishes that’s so easy to make at home, plus a million times healthier, why not just whip it up? To make it more kid-friendly I added lots of… 

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Sausage & spinach with raisins, pine nuts & rice

sausage, spinach and rice

THIS ONE STARTED WITH BUDDY. Do you know the Cake Boss? I’m sure you do but I didn’t. In Rome, we have a bit of American TV but it’s a small selection and always a bit behind. Anyway, it appears that in the time I’ve been away from the States, one Buddy Valastro has become… 

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Sausage & sour cream pasta with peas…a Stroganoff-ish dinner idea

Stroganoff pasta in the pan

We’re on “vacation” this week, on the southern coast of Italy. It’s our first trip with all three rascals so I’m out of the kitchen. So far, I’d say everything is gorgeous and exhausting, sometimes both at once. Meanwhile, I saved up a couple of fresh ideas to post while we’re gone. Be back soon…trust… 

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No-cook dinner: shrimp couscous with feta, tomatoes and zucchini

Cous cous with Estelle's hand

IT’S HOT, MAMA. I have two temperature-related rules when the needle hits 90: we’re not going to the playground in the afternoon (especially not with Baby G in the super sweaty Bjorn) and I’m not cooking unless I have to. Enter couscous. The ultimate ingredient for a kid-friendly fast dinner.  


Baked risotto with sausage, barley & fresh green beans

Sausage & green bean risotto

AS THREATENED PROMISED, baked risotto has made its way into our weekly repertoire and here’s why: the kids love it! Plus, a baked version of this traditional Italian dish is easy to make before they even get home from nursery school. Sitting on the stove, it’s ready to be warmed again at dinner time. No… 

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chicken & vegetable stir-fry with noodles

chicken vegetable stir-fry with noodles

WHEN I SAW PHOEBE CLOSE HER EYES and suck up each noodle in this simple stir-fry one by one, I knew we had a hit. Even better, she actually ate ALL the vegetables. Including sworn enemies such as zucchini and carrots. So, yes, we’ll be making this again. It’s just a variation of toddler-friendly Asian noodles… 

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Baked risotto with bacon and peas


SPIN-OFFS ARE A VERY BIG PART OF MY master plan (rubs palms together yet controls the urge to laugh maniacally. Probably because that would be weird. Anyway…). Estelle LOVES rice these days so without driving everyone crazy, I’m going to try as many variations as I can, as often as I can. Also, Phoebe thinks… 

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Turkey sausage meatballs and easy pasta with peas

Turkey sausage meatballs with easy pasta and peas

WE’VE JUST RETURNED FROM A THREE-WEEK TRIP to the US where we plan to relocate at the end of 2012. North Carolina looks like our future destination but first all things related to jobs, houses, schools and the other million details that make a life must align. (Wish us luck!) In the meantime, I’ve stocked… 

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baked mac & cheese…with carrots!

Carrot mac and cheese

THIS IS IT, MY NEW FAVORITE RECIPE for mac and cheese. I’ve mentioned Melissa Clark’s Carroty Macaroni & Cheese before, but before this week’s “carrot retrospective”/insane challenge to get our girls eating more of the orange stuff, I hadn’t actually tried it. Two main ingredients are hard to come by in Rome, cheddar cheese and… 

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