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Dinner Solved!: 100 Ingenious Recipes That Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You!

Dinner Solved!: 100 Ingenious Recipes That Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You!

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Dinner Solved!: 100 Ingenious Recipes That Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You!

482 pagine
4 ore
Aug 18, 2015


Katie Workman is a gifted cook, a best friend in the kitchen, and a brilliant problem solver. Her Mom 100 Cookbook was named one of the Five Best Weeknight Cookbooks of the past 25 years by Cooking Light and earned praise from chefs like Ina Garten (“I love the recipes!”) and Bobby Flay (“Perfect . . . to help moms everywhere get delicious meals on the table.”). Now Katie turns her attention to the biggest problem that every family cook faces: how to make everyone at the table happy without turning into a short-order cook.

Expanding on one of the most popular features of the first cookbook, her ingenious “Fork in the Road” recipe solution, which makes it so easy to turn one dish into two or more, Katie shows you how Asian Spareribs can start mild and sweet for less adventurous eaters—and then, in no time, become a zesty second version for spice lovers. She shakes up the usual chicken for dinner with Chicken Tikka Masala-ish—and feeds vegetarians, too, by offering a fork where cauliflower is used in place of the chicken. Fettuccine with Shrimp and Asparagus is a blueprint for seven other easy mix-and-match pasta dinner combinations. Crostini for breakfast—truly an aha! idea—can go sweet or savory, pleasing both types of morning eaters. Have all the ingredients on hand? Make the insanely delicious Chocolate Carrot Cake. Missing chocolate? Don’t run out to the store—the basic Carrot Cake is just as satisfying.

Katie’s voice is funny and wry, and completely reassuring. Stunning full-color photographs show every dish. The result: no more cranky eaters, no more dinner table strife, no more unsure or stressed-out cook.
Aug 18, 2015

Informazioni sull'autore

Katie Workman is the author of Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook. She is a columnist for the Associated Press, Eating Well magazine, and, and a food writer whose articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light, Parents, Rachael Ray Every Day, New York magazine, and many others. She posts regularly on her blog, Katie is also the founding editor in chief of; and a regular contributor to NPR.  She sits on the board of City Harvest, New York’s leading food rescue nonprofit, and lives with her husband and two children in New York City.

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Dinner Solved! - Katie Workman


Happy in the Kitchen

Cooking without eaters is of little to no interest to me. There has to be someone at the other end of the fork or the table. Cooking for family and friends; making something comforting for a colleague having a hard time; surprising someone with a batch of birthday brownies, dropping off a container of fried chicken for a new mom—in short, having people happily eating something I made is my very definition of joy. It doesn’t get any better than that.

This book is filled with 100-plus recipes designed to be doable, crowd-pleasing, comforting, flavorful, and family friendly. It’s just a honking big batch of very flexible recipes (with some pretty dazzling photos) that I hope you will want to make over and over again, and that your family and friends will want to eat over and over again.

Fork in the Road

Adaptable recipes appeared throughout my first book, The Mom 100 Cookbook, but in Dinner Solved! they take a star turn. Almost all of the recipes in this book are open for adaptation. And all are modifiable so that everyone at the table can enjoy the version that works best for them. Picky eaters, vegetarians, the spice-averse—there are ways to make everyone at the table happy without feeling the need to turn into a short-order cook.

Buffalo wings can be made with traditional spicy buffalo sauce or in a sticky honey garlic version (or both!). A batch of Asian spareribs can be made sweet and tangy or with a nice dose of heat (or with both!). Fried chicken can be simple or spicy (or both!). The various components of couscous salad can be served separately, so everyone can put together the salad of their liking. A simple, perfectly cooked steak is great on its own—maybe even greater with a flavorful chimichurri sauce. Pass it at the table and let everyone decide for themselves. You get the idea.

A lot of the recipes included have a vegetarian option, making it a helpful choice for those who have a vegetarian at the table on a regular, or an occasional, basis. A well-seasoned spicy sloppy joe sauce can be stirred into ground beef or crumbled tempeh . . . (or—wait for it—both!). An orangey stir-fry can be made half with tofu, half with chicken. Lo mein can be made vegetarian or with cubes of chicken or pork.

The Fork in the Road concept is something you can embrace and incorporate into your everyday cooking. The idea is that at some point in its preparation, a dish can be divided with part of it going one way, part of it going another way, so that everyone ends up happy and eating basically the same thing. Appealing, right?

Left: Lo Mein with Chicken

Right: Vegetarian version with tofu (see recipes)

Some Basic Cooking Thoughts

1. Measuring. In almost all cases amounts are suggestions, exactness doesn’t matter. Add more broccoli to the Stupid Easy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta (see recipe), or use sugar snap peas instead. Add more beans to the Chicken and White Bean Chili (see recipe), or more zucchini, or more chicken, or more cumin, or more paprika. Or less.

This is mostly true with the exception (as all recipe writers hasten to add), of baking. But, I will tell you that once my son Charlie was making the Berry Streusel Coffee Cake with Sweet Vanilla Drizzle (see recipe), and added a cup less flour than the recipe called for. And guess what? It was fabulous. It was more like a clafoutis than a cake, and it is now an alternate version of the recipe in our house.

2. Salt. Use it. Use it in savory food, use it in sweet food. Salt elevates flavor. Use kosher or coarse salt. Unless you have a real issue with sodium, don’t be too shy with it, really. Salt is one of the vital elements that makes the difference between food that tastes pretty good and food that tastes wow. Ask any professional cook.

3. Fat. Again, use it. Fat is also a flavor booster, a flavor conductor, and just plain delicious. It adds all kinds of great texture, too. In baked goods it’s essential, but that extra tablespoon of oil or butter in savory dishes can elevate a dish to where it should be. And when you’re making a pan sauce or a pasta or a grain dish, swirling in a tablespoon of butter or good quality olive oil at the end can really make a dish extraordinary.

4. Change it up. Make the Asian Rice Bowl here with a fun variety of add-ins. Make the Chicken Vegetable Potpie Casserole (see recipe) with whatever vegetables you have around or are in season. Ditto for the Thai Chicken Stir-Fry (see recipe). The scrambled-egg wraps here are a blank canvas, as is the pasta here, which you can make in about 100 different ways.

5. Heat. Don’t be afraid of high heat. Getting a gorgeous sear on a piece of fish or meat provides wonderful texture and flavor. You want to hear a serious sizzle when that chicken, or that steak, hits the pan. Same for roasted vegetables; turn that oven up. There are plenty of exceptions to this rule, and cranking up the heat when you’re baking is not advisable, but I have often found that cooking food at a higher-than-you-might-think temperature provides a whole lot of bang for the buck.

6. Acid. Adding something tart is another way to coax more flavor out of a dish. Lemon, lime, or orange juice, vinegars of all kinds—a little bit wakes up the other ingredients in the dish. And even though you should not skimp on the salt, adding some acid pumps up flavor without adding sodium, so the two together really work some magic.

Chicken Vegetable Potpie Casserole (see recipe)

Good Items That Jack Up the Flavor or the Interest in a Dish

By now you’ve gotten the gist of the Fork in the Road, or the malleable/flexible/convertible recipe. When you are starting with a plainer recipe—say a grilled or sautéed chicken breast—and want to think about what you can add to provide more interest for the more adventurous eaters at the table, here are some items you’ll be happy to have on hand:

Sun-dried tomatoes



Roasted peppers

Various cheeses: Parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella, feta, goat, sheep’s milk cheeses

Various spices: cumin, paprika (smoked and regular), ground coriander, cayenne pepper

Fresh herbs: basil, rosemary, cilantro, tarragon, oregano

Vinegars: white wine, red wine, sherry, balsamic (red and white), rice vinegar

Citrus: lemons, limes, oranges


Harissa paste


Onion family members: garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, scallions

Pestos (store-bought or see recipes)

Pickled and fresh ginger



Sesame oil

Hoisin sauce

Soy sauce


Canned chipotles in adobo

Urge, Compliment, Criticize . . . or Try to Keep Your Mouth Shut

Push your kids to try new things? Complain that they hardly eat anything? Make comments about how they won’t get big and strong if they don’t eat some vegetables or broaden their dinner horizons? Lavish them with praise every time a morsel of broccoli passes between their lips. Bribe? Beg? Threaten? Do any of these sound familiar?

If any (or all) of them do, then congratulations, you are a real parent, and I would be pleased for you to sit next to me so we can exchange stories.

What to do?

Well, I have some advice, but it’s not foolproof, and I’m not in your house. And furthermore, I need to say loudly and repeatedly that there are no foolproof answers, and also reiterate that those few parents who want to share the news that their kids eat everything, from the stinkiest blue cheese to smoked oysters, are not who I plan to hang out with at the next school cocktail party. For the rest of us, this is neither compelling news, nor helpful information. And frankly, I think they might be lying a little bit.

A quick recap of advice from The Mom 100 Cookbook:

1. Don’t assume your kids won’t like something (and for the love of God, don’t say it out loud).

There are a number of recipes in this book that I know parents might look at and say, No way this flies with my kids. Maybe they won’t. But maybe they will. I am not into challenging what kids will eat for the pure sport of it, BUT I do know that quite often we err on the side of imagining that our kids will never be up for a little push in the new food direction. Let’s stop assuming that. Let’s serve some foods that we aren’t sure they will like, and see what happens. Let’s be pleasantly surprised, and let’s let them be pleasantly surprised, and a little pleased with themselves for discovering a new food.

We help our kids with their homework, we help our kids practice sports, we help our kids navigate the often tricky world of friends and school and mean kids and peer pressure. So, it makes a bit of sense that we have to help them realize that lentils aren’t so bad. I will now get off my soapbox before the mother of an intractably picky eater throws a bag of lentils at my head and lights my car on fire.

2. Try something new. Try it again. Repeat. There is nutritionist wisdom that says kids on average need to try a new food about 8 to 10 times before they’ll embrace it as a liked food.

3. Don’t serve overambitious portions. Especially when you’re trying out a new food, or a food that has been previously on the meh or gross list.

4. Finally, think about keeping components separate. Sometimes, keeping the ingredients of a salad or another dish separated in the presentation (see the Cobb Salad here or the Simple Couscous Salad here), allows kids to pick and choose the things they like, and not get freaked out by a jumble of things they actually like when served individually.

What the Kids Can Do

In each recipe there will be a little section suggesting what tasks might be kid-appropriate. These are just suggestions—only you know your kid, and what they can handle in the kitchen. Some 10-year-olds are proficient with a sharp knife, some 13-year-olds aren’t yet comfortable peeling carrots. It’s all okay. The rewarding thing all around is just to get them involved, in whatever way feels right.

A couple of details: Supervise, supervise, supervise. Knives, heat . . . let them learn how to handle sharp and hot, but do it with an eagle eye, even after you think they are on top of it.

Handwashing. Before and after food prep. Very warm water, lots of suds, and a good scrub, not a quick rinse after anything that has to do with raw meat or seafood. There is no reason kids can’t shape meatballs or flour chicken breasts or peel shrimp. And there are lots of reasons why they should. Just train them from the get-go to be aware of the bacteria factor and wash well.

Charlie, Jack, and our friend Eve, having a penne moment.

Why I Do What I Do

If you’ve got some time to kill, read on.

I was pregnant with my second son when I first started thinking seriously about pursuing a long-deferred dream of doing something in the food world. I was looking at various options, and seriously considering getting into the restaurant business, even though I fully (really, fully) understood how grueling and unromantic it was most of the time (I’ve been a busgirl, a waitress, a hostess, and almost a bartender once, but I couldn’t reach the bottles on the top speedrack).

After Charlie was born, my husband presented me with a gift in front of both of our families. The gift was this: For three days I would work, for free, at one of the best restaurants in New York City, and experience the reality of a high-end restaurant kitchen. The rest of the family looked at Gary as though he had given me a backhoe for giving birth to his child, but I was very touched.

Excited but nervous, I put my breast pump in a backpack and headed to work. I did my three eight-hour evening shifts, punctuated with milk pumping sessions in the office of the somewhat discomfited but surprisingly accommodating executive chef. And it was exhausting. But it was wonderful. I did not end up pursuing a restaurant career, but it certainly wasn’t the experience that dissuaded me.

Anyway, why am I bringing this up? Because at one point I was dicing potatoes with the chef de cuisine, and I thought I was holding my own. Watch this, he said, and he stacked up all of the cubes of his diced potato into a perfectly straight column of squares, each cube a perfectly symmetrical marvel of 90-degree angles. Like a stack of actual dice. You try, he said, and I dutifully stacked up my little mound of cubes. I could say my column was crooked, but that would imply that I was able to pile up enough to justify calling the structure a column.

So, when you go to a four-star restaurant, you are paying for that kind of perfection: flawless balance of flavor, innovation, pristine ingredients, dazzling presentation, and the fact that if you measured the sides of the cubed potatoes on your plate, they would all be equal. And this taught me something about home cooking. The food should taste great, the company should be excellent, and the length of sides of the potato cubes should be beside the point.

What I love is to cook for someone. To put a freshly made meal on the table, even if it is something very plain and simple . . . is a sincere expression of affection, it is an act of binding intimacy directed at whoever has a welcome place in your heart.

—Marcella Hazan

Chapter 1

Morning Food

Planning a little bit ahead can make the difference between a bowl of cereal and an apple (not that there’s anything wrong with that) on a school morning, and something that feels like a more imaginative and enthusiastic start to the day, a break from the usual. Breakfast wraps are but a step beyond scrambled eggs (and you can customize to your heart’s content), crostini (savory or sweet) take a couple minutes more than toast, and a healthy smoothie whirls together speedily (and can get spiked with fresh ginger).

But let me be clear and frank. Whenever I see a commercial featuring a cheery family around the weekday breakfast table, I want to call baloney on that (only I don’t use the word baloney in my mind). A weekend morning is another breakfast story altogether, when the minute hand mercilessly sweeping around the clock doesn’t matter so much. Then it’s a moment for something freshly baked, maybe scones or a streusel-heaped coffee cake that says, Yes, you have time for that second cup of coffee and, no, you don’t have to get going just yet.

Orange Scones (see recipe)


Berry Banana Smoothie

Left: Strawberry banana

Right: Blueberry banana

Fork in the Road: Blueberries, strawberries, other fruits . . . and a bracing burst of fresh ginger if you like.

A basic smoothie recipe is hardly rocket science, but it is just excellent to have as a template to use to create your own smoothies forevermore. You can use whatever berries you like, which makes this the recipe to grab after a berry picking expedition in the summer. But you can also use any kind of soft fruit you want—peeled peaches or nectarines, melons, even grapes (unpeeled)—and puree. You can always add a bit more fruit or ice to thicken it, or a bit more milk to thin it out.

1½ cups strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, fresh or frozen (see Note)

1 banana, fresh or frozen (see Note), sliced into chunks

1 cup (8 ounces) plain Greek yogurt

½ cup milk

3 to 4 teaspoons honey, to taste

1 cup crushed ice

Place the berries, banana, yogurt, milk, honey, and ice in a blender. Pulse a few times, then puree until it is the desired texture. Pour into glasses and serve.


Makes 2 smoothies

What the Kids Can Do

Choose the berries or other fruit, slice the banana, drop things into the blender, puree with supervision.

Make Ahead

This is best made right before drinking, but you can keep it chilled in a thermos for several hours. Shake before opening the thermos.

Note: The decision to use fresh or frozen fruit depends on how thick you want the smoothie to be. Frozen will make for a more milkshake-thick smoothie, whereas fresh will be thickened up slightly by the ice but have a thinner texture. I like to freeze the banana, and use the berries

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