Author’s note: This post includes the Day 10 encouragement for those following the 12 Days of Minimalist Holidays series, as well as a review and giveaway of The Family Flavor: 125 Practical Recipes for the Simple and Delicious, and a recipe for creamy chicken soup from the book. Enter the giveaway below and then scroll to the bottom to find out what it’s about.
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Day 10: Involve your kids in mealtime
Are you sick of me yet? Let’s pretend you’re not and carry on. I’ve been beating the tom tom for a while about how kids can help with meal preparation, and I hope you’ll give it a try because the kids being in the kitchen has improved our dinner experience tremendously. We love our learning tower that lets the kids stand at counter-level. Remember that all it takes is once for an event to become a cherished tradition, and memories are made in mistakes!
Here are some resources with ideas of how your kids can help out with dinner:
- Family Dinner Project
- Parent Hacks: a clever list of ways kids can help prepare the holiday meal
- The Kids Cook Monday
Because I’m focusing on food and family today, I thought it’d be a great time to share a review of a wonderful cookbook that includes simple and delicious recipes the whole family can make and enjoy.
Review: The Family Flavor: 125 Practical Recipes for the Simple & Delicious
I appreciate the weeknight practicality of this cookbook, just as the apt title suggests. It’s a paperback book, which others might find fault with but which I love for its ease in flipping through like a magazine and leaving open on the counter. My favorite comment from the introduction reads, “I feel the full measure of motherhood when I can nurture my family through food.” Isn’t that a lovely sentiment?
When I first picked up the book, I noted several recipes I’d already made (and shared here!) like parchment-baked fish and eggs in a nest, but each of the book’s recipes has been elevated by the inclusion of one special ingredient like creme fraiche or feta cheese. Along with these creative recipes are the family heirloom recipes I adore so much like “My Mama’s Dinner Rolls” and “Pat’s Chocolate Cinnamon Sheet Cake.”
This book is just what I would personally strive for if I were to turn my blog recipes into a book: fresh ingredients, personal touches, and old stand-bys. I have made five recipes, and all have turned out easy, affordable, and scrumptious. I considered posting a picture of my copy of the book for emphasis on how much the book is fitting in with my lifestyle, as it is already stained and has no less than eight colored post-its sticking out of the recipes I hope to try soon, including even a tuna noodle casserole.
Growing up as an only child, I didn’t have many casseroles around in my household; or, perhaps it was that I disdained when my food touched other food, thus rendering the casserole the most horrid of foods. But as an adult, I love casseroles, whether for a church potluck or when a new baby is born. I just have no idea how to make a casserole. So while others might scoff at tuna & noodles as too basic a recipe to merit inclusion, I gleefully tag it as a future possibility. The recipe that I want to make perhaps the most is “Tricia’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting,” which is a kind of dessert I have always loved but never been successful at baking at home.
The book is not as glossy or formal as some cookbooks, even some family-focused books such as Jenny Rosenstrach’s professional-quality Dinner: A Love Story; however, this factor wouldn’t influence my purchase of the book. On the contrary, I adore the author’s informal style of writing, which makes me feel like I’m in her kitchen right alongside her. Rather, my primary criticism of the book is that there’s no index of ingredients, making it difficult to use the cookbook backwards, i.e. take an ingredient you have in the cabinet (my oft-repeated method of starting dinner) and then figure out the recipe you want to use.
I was first introduced to Whitney Ingram, the clever author, via a Design Mom post in which she linked to a recipe for pasta salad as an idea for school lunch. Whitney and I chatted via email, and she was nice enough to offer a free copy to one reader via the giveaway above (go back up and enter if you haven’t yet! Entries are accepted through November 28th).
Recipe: Creamy Chicken & Rice Soup
Whitney also agreed to share a recipe here today. She let me pick the recipe, and I honestly had trouble selecting a favorite! Cornbread Beef Bake and Cheesy Chicken & Rice were two top contenders, but I ultimately decided on the soup below because it elevates a recipe I’ve shared on the blog before, my grandmother’s chicken soup with rice.
Granted there will still be many days I make Grandma Louise’s soup, particularly when one of us isn’t feeling well. But on other days when we want to wrap up in a coy blanket and dip chunky bread in a heartier soup, we’ll go for this recipe. In fact, I think it could be an instant Boston classic, given that it tastes much like a chicken version of their beloved clam chowdah. Thus, in our family we have already made this recipe more than once and have dubbed it “chicken chowdah.”
creamy chicken & rice soup: “chicken chowdah”
1/2 c. long grain white rice, prepared according to package directions
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried sage
8 c. low-sodium chicken stock
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 Tbs. butter, softened
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Prepare rice and set aside.
- In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, add olive oil. Once oil is heated, add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, salt, and pepper. Saute until vegetables until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add thyme and sage and stir until combined. Turn heat to high and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts, cover, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Remove chicken and reduce heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Shred the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces. Uncover and add back into the soup. Add the prepared rice and heavy cream. Stir until combined and increase heat to medium-high.
- In a small bowl, combine softened butter and flour. Stir it into a paste. Stir the flour mixture into the soup until well combined and the soup is thickened. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes, stirring often. Stir in chopped fresh parsley.
Since I mentioned The Family Dinner Project above, I thought I’d mention another project they’re supporting. FDP is promoting #GivingTuesday by giving parents ideas for how to start family giving conversations. I hope you’ll consider adding Giving Tuesday–December 3rd this year–to your holiday traditions.