Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: The Busy Mom's Cookbook & Giveaway

Summary: Bravo’s Top Chef All-Star and Los Angeles executive chef serves up more than 100 quick and easy family recipes that she developed as a hardworking single mom.

America’s 26 million working moms face the challenge of getting a delicious home-cooked dinner on the table. For Antonia Lofaso, the issue hits especially close to home, because she holds down multiple jobs—in the food world, no less. She continues to participate in activities and appearances for Bravo and
Top Chef while serving as executive chef of Black Market Liquor Bar. Through it all, she has developed a fantastic repertoire of meals that keep families bonded—quick, nourishing, hearty fare that soothes the soul.

Showcasing Lofaso’s top picks,
The Busy Mom’s Cookbook includes breakfast favorites ranging from pancakes to the world’s best blueberry muffins, and easy but satisfying dinners such as Beef Stroganoff with Creamy Pappardelle and Fish Tacos with Corn Tomatillo Salad. She even tackles the brown-bag lunch with choices that the other kids will envy, including BBQ Chicken Pita Pocket and Turkey-and-Swiss Panini.

The Busy Mom’s Cookbook is the first book to bring star-quality culinary expertise to the specific needs of busy parents. Laced with memories and lessons from Lofaso’s own experience as a working mom, this cookbook speaks from the heart with inspiring, real-world wisdom and plenty of lighthearted humor to encourage every reader to savor the rewards of making mealtime memorable. -- Avery

Could there be a more perfect-sounding cookbook for someone like me than THE BUSY MOM'S COOKBOOK? I really don't think so! The description of this cookbook authored by Top Chef All-Star Antonia Lofaso made it sound like one that I could go to quick and healthy food for my family. And that's exactly what this cookbook was.

THE BUSY MOM'S COOKBOOK is a wonderful resource for moms who don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. I like that Ms. Lofaso "gets it" -- that's probably because, like many of us, she is a busy mom too. She begins her cookbook discussing the importance of both food and family, and she realizes that it's a delicate balance. She also stresses the value of eating together as a family. I couldn't agree more and I appreciate that the goal of this cookbook is less time in the kitchen and more time with the family!

Ms. Lofaso also offers some helpful hints in the beginning of the cookbook. She has a section called "Seven Truths about the Busy Mom" as well as "Seven Rules for the Busy Mom's Kitchen." I especially liked her "15/15 Rule" which tells you when time is limited to spend fifteen minutes in the kitchen preparing a meal and 14 more seated at the table with your family! She also provides a list of "The Busy Mom's Basics" which is basically what you should have stocked in your pantry and fridge.

THE BUSY MOM'S COOKBOOK is divided into the following sections: Breakfast and Brunch, The Better Brown Bag, School-Night Dinners, Multi-Meals, Movie Night, Family Style, Sunday Dinner, Kids in the Kitchen, and Sweetness. In each chapter, there are quite a few recipes -- something like 100 in total. There are also a few pleasing color photographs thrown in, but I have to warn you that there are not pictures of every recipe. What I did appreciate, though, is that there are lots of helpful tips for most of the recipes that are included in the sidebar.  For example, there are instructions to clean mussels, substitution ideas, and low-fat options.

There is definitely a wide variety of recipes in this cookbook and I found quite a few that I want to try. However, I decided to start with a pretty simple one -- The Best Blueberry Muffins. I had some amazing blueberries and I thought they would be excellent in muffins, so I figured I'd just forget about the diet and eat a few. The recipe was extremely simple and the only item I didn't have on-hand was the buttermilk (although you can use whole milk in the recipe instead.) It only took me about five minutes to make the batter, but they did take awhile to cook. The recipe suggests 12 to 15 minutes, but my muffins took almost twice that long -- and they still didn't really brown on top. They were definitely good, but I don't know if I'd call them "The Best Blueberry Muffins."

I am anxious to try a few more of the recipes -- maybe a main dish the next time. Some of the other recipes that appealed to me include: Customized Mini-Frittatas, Baby Spinach Salad with Chicken and Rice, Chicken and Dumplings, and the Spicy Chicken Gumbo. Of course, there are lots of yummy desserts too, but I was trying to think healthy!

I really like THE BUSY MOM'S COOKBOOK, but if I have one small complaint, it's with the text. Maybe it's because I'm in my 40s and my eyes aren't what they used to be, but I had a hard time reading the recipes. It's not that the font is that small (although it is kind of small.) Rather, it's that the font is a blueish-grey color. I actually had to get out the old reading glasses before I could make the muffins.

Overall, THE BUSY MOM'S COOKBOOK is a very easy to use cookbook with lots of delicious sounding recipes and clear-cut directions. I definitely think busy moms will find plenty to like about it. 

Thanks to KMSPR for providing a review copy of this cookbook.

Giveaway alert: I have one copy of THE BUSY MOM'S COOKBOOK to share with one lucky reader. To enter, just fill out the form below before Saturday, August 25th at 11:59 p.m. ET. I will randomly select the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


Marg said...

I am finding that I need to reach for the glasses much more regularly in the kitchen: for the back of packets, cooking instructions, and yes, some cookbooks!

bermudaonion said...

I love the concept of this cookbook - there's nothing worse than spending hours on a meal that's devoured in 15 minutes. I'll have to check it out!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love the 15/15 idea!

Beth F said...

This sounds like a great weeknight resource for all busy cooks. Thanks for the giveaway.

And don't get me started on eye-unfriendly book designs.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Now if only somebody will write a cookbook that figures out how to get the teenage daughter to EAT what I make (main complaints being that I touched the food and that I'm trying to make her fat). Then I'll be in good shape.

Cecelia said...

I always like to see people's automatic 'keep on hand' items, and I'd be interested to get a little look into this chef's kitchen. That said, I'm not a busy mom. BUT, you can never have too many easy, quick recipes up your sleeve.

Trish said...

I haven't heard of this one yet but will be checking it out. My new favorite is Mom 100 by Katie Workman (a trillion thanks to BFR for bringing it to my attention). I love it so much that it often goes to bed with me instead of a regular book. ;)

Love the idea of 15/15 but also love having pictures to go along with all the recipes.... Guess we can't have it all, huh?

Kailana said...

sounds like the perfect cookbook for the weekdays. Thanks for sharing!