Meals for busy moms
'Top Chef' Antonia Lofaso shares family meal strategies
Roasted Rome apples: Lofaso writes that her mother used to make the apples to teach the kids that a dessert can be fairly healthy and "just as delicious as cookies or cake." (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
The "Top Chef" alumna, along with putting in long restaurant hours, is also a single mom. She knows all about struggling to get a healthful meal on the table for her daughter, Xea, despite that French Culinary Institute degree, her years of experience and the skill under pressure she exhibited in two seasons of the Bravo TV cooking competition show.
Lofaso shares that understanding and her strategies in "The Busy Mom's Cookbook: 100 Quick, Delicious, Home-cooked Meals" (Avery, $28). A welcome departure from the chefy, restaurant-driven efforts of many "Top Chef" competitors, Lofaso's book offers doable recipes the kids will like.
And, in an important focus that reflects her own relationship with her daughter, she adds tips on how to bring the children into the kitchen — allowing parents to spend more time with the kids and teaching self-sufficiency.
Her variation on baked apples is an example of that. The kids, with supervision, especially when using the oven, can do most of the recipe themselves. Younger ones will need help with coring the apples, Lofaso writes.
The dessert provides another lesson. Lofaso writes that her mother used to make the apples to teach the kids that a dessert can be fairly healthy and "just as delicious as cookies or cake."
Roasted Rome apples with cinnamon, cardamom
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 1/2 hours
Makes: 4 servings
Notes: In this recipe from "The Busy Mom's Cookbook," Antonia Lofaso calls for Rome Beauties, a late-season apple; we had good results with Pink Lady and Braeburn.
4 Rome Beauty apples, cored
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon each: ground cardamom, ground cloves, salt
4 cinnamon sticks
2 cups water
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Set the apples in a small oven-safe glass baking dish.
2. Mix the sugar, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and salt in a small bowl. Holding the apples one at a time over the baking dish, rub the dry mix on the inside and outside of each. Allow the excess mixture to fall into the dish.
3. Place 1 cinnamon stick in the center of each apple. Pour the water into the baking dish; cover the dish with foil.
4. Bake, 1 1/2 hours. When the tops of the apples begin to split, they're done. Let cool. Serve with your favorite ice cream.
Per serving: 196 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 51 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 147 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.