Archive for February, 2009

Easy Does It


My friend Erin at Smallbites has been chronicling the hits and misses at her dinner table. I love blogs that highlight what real families are eating and if it the passes the kid-test of approval. Frankly, my five-year old is my dirty little secret. Perhaps she’s the reason I do my job as food editor at Working Mother so well (pretty sure my deputy editor would agree). In truth, she’s a typical kid. Food has to pass the color and smell test before it even warrants a place on her palate.

I’ve taken control of my dinner table and decided if “you get what you get and you don’t get upset” flies at school, then it’s worth a try at home. Last night I made a bean chili. It’s a great busy mom dish for many reasons. First the black beans and kidney beans, the main ingredients, make sure it’s packed with protein, fiber and lots of other good stuff. It’s also a ridiculously quick meal to make and perfect for the budget conscious mom (who isn’t these days?).

It turned out to be the ultimate happy meal. Everyone loved it – down to my nine-month old. A quick whirl in the food processor and she was gobbling up her own portion. And the five-year old? She ate it too. The black beans were a no go, but she asked for seconds on the kidney beans, so there I was extracting them like a game of operation. Next time I’ll probably skip the black beans all together to keep it even easier. This is sure to be a home-run with your clan too, so add it to this week’s menu and let me know the verdict.

Smoky Bean Chili
Serves 6 to 8
Just skip the bacon if you want to keep this chili veggie and start by sauteing the onion in the olive oil. Feel free to pump up the spice with some chipotle powder or hot sauce based on your family’s tastes.


3 slices bacon, diced
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped                                                                                                                                                1 clove garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed                                                                                                                              1 11-ounce jar salsa                                                                                                                                                       1/2 cup frozen corn
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups hot cooked rice
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, optional
1 teaspoons fresh chopped cilantro, optional

  1. Heat a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and saute until coked but not crisp. Add the olive oil, onions and garlic. Saute until onions are softened. Add the cumin and coriander (this helps release the flavors instead of just adding to the finished chili); stir well.
  2. Add beans, salsa, corn and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, the reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes until corn is cooked through. Serve over hot rice and garnish with cheddar cheese and cilantro.

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Brownies Made Better

These yummy brownies were part of a feature I did for Parenting magazine last year. One bite and you’d never know they’re made with greek yogurt instead of eggs. They make a great guilt-free treat to pack in the kid’s lunchbox, or snack while catching up with Lost or Big Love on the DVR.

Get the recipe.

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My nine-month-old’s face lit up and she clapped with delight as she watched me peel a banana for her today. In her honor, I’ve decided to re-post the banana bread recipe I developed for Cuisinart’s Stand Mixer blog. Banana bread is perhaps the most classic of quick breads.  I love the flavor and ease with which it comes together and appreciate using up overripe bananas that would otherwise be thrown away. It’s a delicious and thrifty way of recycling food past its prime—perfect recipe for this economy!

Better Banana Bread

Makes one 9-inch loaf
The key to great banana bread is using very ripe bananas and mashing them well before adding to batter.  Out of curiosity, or perhaps laziness one day, I tried adding chunks instead of mashing them.  The results were still delicious but the loaf had a lumpy appearance so mashing is well worth the extra minute or two it takes.
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
½ cup yogurt
1 ½ cups very ripe bananas, mashed well (about three in total)
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease the bottom only of a standard size loaf pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar on medium speed in your Cuisinart Stand Mixer.  Add egg and beat thoroughly.  Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add yogurt and beat until mixed well.  Add mashed bananas and vanilla extract and beat well.  Scrape down sides of bowl again with rubber spatula.
  3. On low speed, pour in half of flour mixture.  Increase mixer speed to medium and mix until just blended.  Pour in ¼ of milk and beat until just blended.  Repeat this process with remaining flour and milk.
  4. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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