Restore sanity to your dinnertime
Beth Engelman (center) of Glenview looks at an app on her iPad for recipes with son Jackson Berner, 7, and Rachel Peterman, 11, of Deerfield at Engelman's home in Glenview. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
(courtesy of Aviva Goldfarb)
Nacho Average Nachos
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion (diced)
1 pound ground turkey, beef, or black beans
1 tablespoon chili powder (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (to taste)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
6-8 cups tortilla chips
15-ounce can black beans (drained and rinsed)
14-ounce diced tomatoes or chunky salsa (drained if using tomatoes)
1/4-1/2 cup sliced hot peppers or olives (optional)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup guacamole, for serving, or use diced avocado (optional)
1 cup nonfat or low fat sour cream, for serving (optional)
1 cup salsa, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
Brown the onions and meat, stirring occasionally, and season them with the chili powder, garlic powder and salt. When the meat is cooked and the onions are softened, 6-8 minutes, remove the pan from the heat (if using beans rather than meat, add them after the onions are cooked and warm them through). Meanwhile, spread the chips in the bottom of a large flat baking dish with sides (a metal roasting pan is ideal). Top the chips evenly with the meat mixture, then the beans, tomatoes or salsa, peppers or olives (optional) and cheese. Bake the nachos for 8-10 minutes until everything is hot and the cheese is melted, but before the edges of the chips get browned. Serve it immediately, scooping the chips and toppings onto each plate, and topping it with guacamole or avocado, sour cream and extra salsa, if desired.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple Soup
2 medium sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into medium chunks)
1 firm apple, such as Gala (peeled, cored and quartered)
1 medium yellow onion (peeled and quartered)
2 whole cloves garlic (peeled)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (to taste)
3-4 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 cup nonfat or low fat sour cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the sweet potatoes, apples, onions and garlic in a roasting pan. Toss them with the oil and a few shakes of salt and pepper. Roast, tossing every 10 minutes, until they are soft, about 30 minutes. Puree the vegetable/apple mixture in a blender or food processor. Add more broth to the blender until the soup reaches the desired consistency, so it is smooth and not too thick. Warm the soup over low heat in a stockpot until ready to serve, or refrigerate it for up to one day or freeze it for up to three months. Stir in sour cream at the table for a creamier taste, if desired.
Greek Pita Pizzas
6 ounces feta cheese (crumbled)
4 pita pockets (whole wheat or white)
3 plum or roma tomatoes (diced)
2 teaspoons dried oregano, (or use 1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano or basil)
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the broiler and put the rack 4-6 inches from the heat source. Sprinkle the feta cheese evenly over the pitas. Top each with a quarter of the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon oregano and drizzle 1 teaspoon oil on top. Broil the pizzas on a baking sheet for 5-8 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the pitas start to brown. Serve the pizzas halved or quartered.
Updated: September 19, 2012 10:46AM
If dinnertime at your house looks a lot less like “Top Chef” and more like an episode of “Survivor,” you’re not alone. Between work, carpool, homework and children, parents barely have time to breathe let alone make something healthy, delicious and warm. Fortunately, Aviva Goldfarb understands this dilemma. The Glencoe native and mother of two is the founder of The Six O’clock Scramble , an online weekly menu planner, which is dedicated to restoring sanity to the dinner table one meal at a time. I recently caught up with Goldfarb and asked her to share her top tips for frenzy-free family dinners.
Keep a centralized grocery list
Goldfarb believes a centralized grocery list is the cure to what ails most families — repeated and unnecessary trips to the grocery store. “Your goal is to buy everything you need in one trip,” says Goldfarb. To save time and energy, place your list in a centralized location in your home and teach your spouse and kids to add to it as needed. For tech savvy families, check out Ziplist, which is an online app that maintains and stores your ongoing list and limits the “I misplaced my grocery list” blues.
Save time and money with planning
When it comes to planning, be mindful of your family’s needs. Goldfarb suggests reviewing your calendar once a week. Note how many dinners you will need to make based on outside events and activities and don’t forget to include one night when you can get creative with leftovers. Another tip is to go through your pantry and refrigerator, highlighting the expiration dates of ingredients you have on hand. If an expiration date is looming, figure out how to incorporate that item into an upcoming meal.
Put together a weekly menu
Now that you have a sense of how many meals you need to make and what ingredients you need, it’s time to have some fun. Look for recipes in favorite cookbooks or magazines, or use online sources such as epicurious.com or allrecipes.com.
Goldfarb suggests keeping things simple by planning for one easy main dish and one or two simple sides. Planning your weekly menu is also a great activity for your kids, so put them in charge of coming up with a dish or two each week. They’ll love the challenge and the added responsibility.
Stock freezer for ‘emergencies’
We’ve all had those days when the best-laid plans fly out the window. That’s why Goldfarb advocates keeping your freezer stocked with a few easy items, which you can use as needed. “Soup, lasagna, chili and meatballs are easy-to-make meals that freeze well,” says Goldfarb. But just remember to label and date each container to avoid serving pork chops for dessert and ice cream for dinner.