Monday, July 30, 2012

Like an Old Friend in the Kitchen: The Mom 100 Cookbook

I am embarrassed that it has taken so long to write this review. As part of a Boston Brunchers event I received a complimentary copy of The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman. When I first got the book I thought it was not the book for me – it was for someone who didn’t know their way in the kitchen, couldn’t cook without a recipe or make an easy dinner. I set it aside and left it for a little while.

Then, one night at dinner I started reading it and was impressed with the tips, tricks, and ideas in the introduction section. I decided to pick a few recipes and give them a try. The hubby called out a few page numbers and with a few adjustments for title pages and pictures we were on our way.

After trying a few recipes, I can now say that I feel like this book is a well-loved old standby in the kitchen. Sure, I can whip up a dinner creation on my own, but sometimes you just want someone else to do all the thinking for you. The great thing about these recipes is that they are fantastic as they are but also lend themselves to variation.  In the few months that I have had the book I find myself going back to it often to try out something new.

Honey Hoisin Tofu

Some of the recipes did have me wanting to deviate from the instructions. Instead of splattering oil with pan-fried chicken tenders I put them in the oven to bake. The enchiladas were amazing but I might make them into a casserole next time to eliminate the filling and rolling. However some of the extra steps were well worth the effort – like the homemade enchilada sauce that topped the individually rolled enchiladas.

I love that there are pictures of every dish in the book.

Here are a few photos of dishes that we’ve tried and loved so far. For recipes and other great information visit the website for the book at,

Broiled Miso Cod Fingers (left)
Lemon Chicken (right)

The sauce on the lemon chicken was so good I wished that I had made three times the sauce to pour over rice, noodles, vegetables or almost anything like Katie mentions in the intro to this recipe.

This book will be great as the little guy starts asking for more than pureed peas, carrots, and bananas!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Workman Publishing in conjunction with a Boston Brunchers event. We had a delightful brunch with the author Katie Workman at Scollay Square. Brunch was on the house (except for the tip we left the servers).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Eat Write Retreat 2012: Connection

Last year I attended Eat Write Retreat and had a fabulous time making new connections, learning how to improve my writing and photography, and of course enjoying delicious meals. My plan for the summer was to put this new knowledge to work to improve Good Cook Doris, but a little something else distracted me from putting the plan in action. We had just found out that a new addition was going to be joining the Good Cook Doris family and the summer sped by as we prepared for our new little one.

When the Eat Write Retreat 2012 twitter chatter started popping up, it was right around the time that we priced out daycare for the little guy. One fabulous weekend in DC versus a month of daycare made it clear that I would have to start saving my pennies for 2013. When I saw that Lindsay Olives was holding a scholarship contest I knew that I had to enter! I put on my recipe creating hat (a cook’s thinking cap) and came up with an entry that I thought could have a chance at winning the prize. My creation was an olive-centered main dish of black olive crusted salmon served with green olive cous cous. I had a ridiculously good time getting back into the (newly renovated) kitchen and coming up with a dish featuring one of my all-time favorite foods.

Incredibly, my dish was the winner of the Lindsay Olives scholarship for the Eat Write Retreat Conference! Thanks to Lindsay Olives I enjoyed a weekend of learning, eating, networking and fun with fellow bloggers, sponsors, and experts. They covered the conference registration fee and I found a reasonable enough flight that the hubby and the little guy came down for the fun!

The goody bag came with a baby!

There are a lot of great recaps that take you through the weekend session by session. I’ll link to them at the end of the post. You can see that for every person that attended, the takeaways were each a little different. For my post I want to focus on a few of my big takeaways from the conference. What they really boil down to is that you are in charge of where you want your blog to take you!

Takeaway #1:You have to define “Success” for yourself
There is money to be made, "fame" to be had, and plenty of free stuff to go around. There is also skill development. For me, I've decided that my blog is a place for me to grow as a writer, cook, photographer, and to explore my love for all things food related. Good Cook Doris started out as a way to document our daily dinners and share them with family and friends. Then it expanded to include reviews of meals, markets, and products. It led me to graduate school for a degree in Gastronomy. Now it is a place to continue to share my love of food from a variety of perspectives - cooking, eating, food culture, and the business of food.

Photo by James Bardin

Takeaway #2: Time...It all takes Time (with a capital T)
Once you know what success means to you then its time to sit down and create a plan. Researching, recipe planning, shopping, cooking, photographing - it all takes time. It is important to decide what matters to you and how much time you are willing to devote to doing it. For me, that means fewer posts on more relevant topics. It isn't feasible for me to post every meal that I cook. But as you'll read in my last takeaway I'll be posting with a more focused approach. And soon it will include posting homemade food for the littlest member of the Good Cook Doris team - although it might be a while before we can get him to give a full review!

Takeaway #3: Surprises and Adventures can be found everywhere!
This is my favorite part of blogging! I love the discovery of new ingredients, new recipes, new techniques, new restaurants, and most importantly new friends. Even in the most unlikely of places there are adventures to be had! Think you're going to a blogger conference to Eat, Write, and Retreat? You might find yourself square dancing across a ballroom!

Photo by Daphne Domingo

Takeaway #4: It’s all about Connection
In our Saturday writing workshop, Monica Bhide challenged each attendee to come up with one word that described ourselves - that drove our blog - our activities. Just one word. I kept tossing around words and the one word that kept reappearing was connection. I could not articulate the reasons why and left the session with a blank slate. After reflecting over the past month (yikes - where did the time go!) this is the word I have committed to paper.

For me the connections happen in many ways. My blog is a way to connect with friends and family. It is a way to connect tradition with today through old recipes with new twists. Some posts are connections with local food producers and markets. When I look back at my favorite posts that I’ve created they always focus on connection.

As I move forward into the next phase of Good Cook Doris I'll keep these lessons posted on my bulletin board to guide me along the delicious path of food blogging.

Thank you again to Lindsey Olives for sending me for a weekend of reflection, relaxation, and recharging. I am excited to return with a more clearly defined focus and a wealth of new ideas!

Tell me, what word would you use to describe my blog? If you are a blogger, what would your word be?

Eat Write Retreat Recaps
Everyone took away a little something different!
Sarafina’s Kitchen
Food Musings
The Experimental Gourmand
52 Kitchen Adventures
(a)Musing Foodie
Comet Photo
Cooking By Design
Canadian Coupon Mom
Cupcakes for Breakfast
EF Stewart Communications
Fifth Floor Kitchen
I’ll Have What She’s Having
Lisa Cherasky
Maroc Mama
My Halal Kitchen
Penny Pinching Epicure
Sarafina’s Kitchen
The Wicked Noodle

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On the Menu

Let's face it, everyone wishes they had a few more hours in the day to get things accomplished. While a lot of cooking has been going on in the Good Cook Doris Kitchen not much of it has made it from the plate to the blog in the last month. I've been cooking through some new cookbooks, blogger recipes, along with old favorites. With a short window of cooking time on weeknights my cooking routine has changed over the last few months. I try to prepare and cook as much as I can on Sundays. Everything from washing and chopping vegetables to cooking dishes ahead. For weeknight dinners all we have to do is reheat or combine prepared ingredients into a quick and satisfying dinner.

Here's a look at what we've been enjoying lately!

Hearty vegetarian fare from the cookbook Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. This book has 200 recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts. The main dishes are creative and filling. Our absolute favorite so far (no picture yet!) is the mushroom and green bean stroganoff. You don't miss the meat! We've also made the vegetable lasagna and no-hurry vegetable curry. I did snap a picture of a fun weeknight meal.

Vegetarian Paella
This hearty dish includes vegetarian sausage, creamy rice, kidney beans, peas, green beans and peppers. With saffron and a squeeze of fresh lemon it is bright and fresh.

Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles with Ground Beef
One of the lovely bloggers I met at Eat Write Retreat, Isabelle Boucher, is part of Peanut Butter & Company's All-Star Recipe team. When I saw this title I knew I had to try it out! The combination of creamy peanut butter, spicy flavors, vegetables and a crunchy topping led to licking the bowl at the end of dinner. The recipe can be found over at the blog. I used half "The Heat is On" (spicy PB) and half "Smooth Operator" to tame the heat. 

Matzo Ball Soup
Nothing is better than a warm bowl of chicken soup with matzoh balls when you are feeling a little run-down. This is a combination of techniques from mom and grandma, with my spin too. I made this over two nights. The first night - browning the carrots, onions, and chicken breast and cooking the noodles. The second night while the vegetables and chicken were simmering I made the matzo balls. After 2 hours of simmering our soup with the works was ready to be savored. 

On the menu this week
Today was filled with cooking for the upcoming week. On our menu this week: 

*Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni (, served with steamed green beans
*Sandwiches with chicken salad with red grapes and celery
*Spinach, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches
*Yogurt & granola afternoon snacks
*Gala apples
*Carrot and celery sticks

How do you prepare for the week? What are you cooking in your kitchen?


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