Family Dinner

The Scramblog

The Power of Condiments

The Power of CondimentsYears ago, when I was completing my health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, one of the instructors suggested serving every meal with lots of condiments. The idea was that if you put lots of options out on the table, everyone could make the meal their own, tailoring it to fit their tastes. The concept appealed to me as I have always been a sucker for flavor boosters, but then I sort of forgot about it until a few years later when I was in the weeds trying to figure out how to support my picky eater. As I read books and articles and listened to webinars about feeding picky eaters, the message that I heard over and over again was to find ways to let the child have a sense of ownership and control over his or her food. I liked that idea so I decided to try putting condiments out at dinner as a way to help my picky eater take some control over his meal and make it his own. The change was miraculous! From the very first meal, my...

Pan-Browned Salmon Cakes

Ready in 20 minutes and healthy, these salmon cakes are a dream on those busy days when you have to get dinner on the table quickly. They are also a great way to introduce your kids to seafood as they are reminiscent of burgers (you can even serve them on buns to sweeten the deal). Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!Pan-Browned Salmon CakesPrep Time: 10 minutes, Cook Time: 10 Minutes, Makes 4 servings of 2 cakes each. 15 oz. canned salmon, drained2 eggs, beaten2 Tbsp. mayonnaise 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed) 1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed) 4 scallions, dark and light green parts, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)3 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
In a medium mixing bowl, using a fork, mix and mash all the ingredients except the oil and lemon until thoroughly combined. In a large preferably nonstick or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat....

Rigatoni with Tomato-Artichoke Sauce

This basic recipe for a flavorful tomato sauce is a great recipe to play with based on your taste or refrigerator’s contents. Try adding chopped mushrooms, zucchini, walnuts, or whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!

Rigatoni with Tomato-Artichoke Sauce

Prep + Cook: 30 minutes, Makes 8 servings

16 oz. rigatoni noodles (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed)

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. minced garlic, (4 - 6 cloves)

6 oz. quartered and marinated artichoke hearts, with their liquid

28 oz. diced tomatoes, drained, or 7 - 8 fresh tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped, or 2 tsp. dried

10 - 12 pitted Greek or Spanish olives, chopped (optional)

1/3 cup red wine, or use tomato juice or sauce mixed with 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for serving, or to taste

Cook the rigatoni...

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sourdough Croutons

This is a mild, healthy, and satisfying soup. It’s great on its own, but is even better topped with fresh sourdough croutons and a little Parmesan cheese. For a meatier version, crumble cooked bacon or sausage into the soup. Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sourdough CroutonsPrep + Cook: 30 Minutes, Makes 4 servings 3 - 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 sweet yellow onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, chopped2 tsp. minced garlic, (about 4 cloves)29 - 30 oz. cannellini or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed2 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth 1 loaf loaf sourdough bread (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed), (use 2 large slices for the croutons, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, and serve the rest of the bread on the side)1/4 tsp. kosher salt, sea salt, or other coarse salt 2 Tbsp. sherry, or 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, or use 1/2 tsp. dried1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for serving...

What to Do When your Kids Hate Dinner

I was recently talking to a new Scramble member who mentioned that one of the unexpected positive outcomes of joining was that she no longer felt stressed about whether or not her kids were going to like the food she served for dinner. When I probed a little more, it became clear that this wasn’t because they suddenly loved everything, but because by being offered a plan and cooking from that plan, it felt less like a rejection of her; it was less personal. This got me to thinking about how it can feel very personal when a kid, or anyone, doesn’t like or appreciate the food you prepared. It can really sting. So I wanted to share some of the ways I have found to shift this dynamic both for myself and my whole family.What to Do When your Kids Hate DinnerRudeness is not acceptable.When my youngest was about four, I instituted a new dinnertime rule: it was fine to not like the food, everyone has their own tastes, but it was not fine to be rude about it. As a family, we talked...

Costa Rican Black Beans and Rice

Costa Ricans eat a version of this dish, called Gallo Pinto (which translates as spotted rooster) with nearly every meal, but it’s especially typical to eat it for breakfast! It’s great comfort food for any season - the curry and lime give it a Caribbean flare (Costa Rica borders the Caribbean sea). For even more Caribbean flavor, cook the rice in half water and half coconut milk. Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!Costa Rican Black Beans and RicePrep + Cook Time: 25 minutes 1 cup white rice, or use quick-cooking brown rice2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 green bell pepper, finely diced1 yellow onion, finely diced1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, (about 3 cloves)1 tsp. ground cumin 1/2 tsp. curry powder 15 oz. reduced-sodium canned black beans, with their liquid2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce ( for a vegetarian and gluten-free alternative, use 6 drops hot sauce and 1/4 tsp. sugar per each Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce), or use Salsa Lizano, if...

5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries

As a general rule, I spend on the lower end of what is normal for a family of four when it comes to food (although this is rapidly changing as my boys get older!), but recently, I have been trying to cut costs down even more since my husband is currently furloughed from his job during this government shut down. Since I know many people are in a similar situation and/or are trying to get their spending under control in the new year, I thought I would share some of my tricks for saving money on food.5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries1. Cook MoreThe more food you prepare at home, the more you save. Period. Eating out and depending on pre-prepared foods is always going to be more expensive, so try to commit to eating home cooked food at least two more times a week. That could mean bringing leftovers to work for lunch, getting take out less often, or even skipping the coffee shop and having breakfast at home.2. Eat Less MeatMeat is an important protein source for many...

Tender Fish and Tomato Curry

This curry is the epitome of a simple comfort food dish: a few quality ingredients, warm and soothing flavors, and ready in 30 minutes! Serve it over rice or with naan. Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!Tender Fish and Tomato CurryPrep + Cook: 30 Minutes, Makes 4 servings 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 yellow onion, halved top to bottom and thinly sliced2 stalks celery, thinly sliced1 tsp. curry powder 15 oz. fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with their liquid1 lb. catfish or other thick white fish fillet, cut into 1-inch chunks1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste1/4 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
In a Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the onions and celery and sauté them, stirring often, until they are tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the curry powder for about 30 seconds, and then add the tomatoes. When it starts to bubble gently, stir in the fish and keep it at a simmer for about 7 minutes until the...

The Night the Meat Went Bad

The other night I had a plan for dinner. It was a good plan and I knew all the guys in my house would be excited about it since it involved red meat, which we don’t eat very often. And then I unwrapped the meat. I had bought just it a few days before and it was still within its “sell by” date, but it was bad. Really bad. The color was off, the smell was terrible, and my dinner plan was ruined. What made the situation worse: the plan had been a stir fry, which meant I had allotted just 20 minutes to get dinner on the table. What to do?The Night the Meat Went BadA normal, sane person probably would have opted for takeout, but I have a stubborn (and cheap) streak and the plan had been for me to make dinner, so I was determined to make that happen. So it became improvisation time. I quickly looked through what I had in the fridge that was not already set aside for a different dinner and came up with: 2 packages of ravioli (not quite enough anymore with the two growing boys...

An Interview with My Formerly Picky Eater

The other night at dinner my 8-year-old, who was a picky eater for many years, said, out of the blue, “Do you remember when I used to be picky? I’m so glad I’m not anymore.” We then talked about how much things have changed and memories he had from dinners when he was younger. It was a wonderful moment because it showed how much his identity as an eater has changed. As we talked, it struck me as an amazing opportunity to learn more about a child’s experience as a picky eater, so I asked if I could interview him.An Interview with My Formerly Picky EaterWhat is your favorite food?Do I have to say one thing? Pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, burgers.What is your least favorite food?I don’t know because I haven’t tried many bad foods. Well, I don’t like stir-fry.Do you remember when you were a picky eater?Yes.What did it feel like to be offered a food you didn’t like?Well, I didn’t even eat it. But I also felt sad that I wouldn’t eat...