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Three Family-Friendly Cookbooks for National Baking Month




Baking Free Clipart



Forget the sourdough bread for now. This scrumptious roundup of family-friendly cookbooks for National Baking Month is meant to tempt you and your children to get cooking together! Start with recipes from Chef Junior, move onto Clean Treats for Everyone and then delight in the deliciousness of Now for Something Sweet.


ChefJunior coverCHEF JUNIOR:
100 Super Delicious Recipes by Kids for Kids!
*Anthony Spears, Abigail Langford, Paul Kimball, Katie Dessinger, Will Bartlet
(Sterling Epicure; $19.95, Ages 9-12)   

Five young authors prove that kid’s food doesn’t have to be bland and boring in Chef Junior: 100 Super Delicious Recipes by Kids for Kids! And they cover it all: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, and drinks. The creators range in age from twelve to fifteen, however, the cookbook is suitable for middle graders on up—adults, you will learn from this too! The authors’ definition of “real food” is awesome: “An easy rule of thumb is that if something doesn’t have ingredients, but IS an ingredient (one thing), it is generally healthy for you.”

After some “how-to” instruction, tasty recipes follow, thoughtfully flagged with skill level (easy, moderate, advanced). Because chocolate happens in our household, Mug Brownies were our eleven-year-old daughter’s first choice. Dark chocolate, cashew butter, honey, apricot preserves (or more honey), unsweetened cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking soda come together, producing yummy brownies baked in six oven-safe coffee mugs. Thoughtful ingredients such as the preserves and cashew butter elevate this brownie to something special.

The second recipe tried was Strawberry Cheesecake. Both the crust and filling have only four ingredients each, making this recipe a snap. It received another thumbs-up from the family.

Savory recipes we want to try include Oven Pancake (one-container cooking = less dishes!), Egg-Drop Soup (why have we never made this?), Super-Quick Gravy (because my gravy skills are lacking), and gluten-free Blender Bread. There are also plenty of recipes that use meat, so browse and let your young chef spoil you with a delicious dish.

*The authors are between the age of 12 and 15 and hail from various states in the US (California, Florida, and Michigan), as well as Canada.


Healthy Desserts and Snacks Made with Simple, Real Food Ingredients
by Laura Fuentes
(Quarto/Fair Winds Press; $ 24.99) 

Laura Fuentes’s delicious cookbook, Clean Treats for Everyone, gives parents a way to provide healthy snacks for kids using real-food ingredients. Known for her successful and her Family Kickstart Program, Fuentes is a pro at focusing on whole-food family nutrition. This cookbook contains over-fresh and no-bake treats, plus warm drinks, smoothies, and frozen drinks. Clear coding shows which recipes are vegan and which ones omit gluten, dairy, eggs, or nuts. What’s never omitted is kid-approved deliciousness.

While there were many baked treats I couldn’t wait to try, I wanted a quick fix and dove right into making a Matcha Green Tea Frappuccino because I’m all about frozen drinks, no matter the weather. Creamy coconut milk perfectly balanced the matcha’s vegetal notes.

I also made the Coffee Popsicles using coconut milk, instant espresso powder, dates, vanilla extract, and salt. They tasted like a latte on a stick—only better! For kids, swap in decaf.

A two-ingredient recipe that quickly became a must-have in our household was the Homemade Magic Shell. Dark chocolate chips and coconut oil make this magical because it’s no hassle and you know exactly what’s in it. If you’re a label-reader, you’ll know how I feel about the “why are they in there?” list of ingredients found in many foods. This cookbook demonstrates that simple and clean can’t be beat!


NowForSomethingSweet cvrNOW FOR SOMETHING SWEET:
Monday Morning Cooking Club

(HarperCollins; $35.00)

The four fabulous women behind Monday Morning Cooking Club have a delectable new Jewish cookbook out called Now for Something Sweet—a title that called to the sweet tooth in me. If you don’t know these ladies, the sisterhood (formed in 2006) is comprised of Lisa Goldberg, Merelyn Frank Chalmers. Natanya Eskin, and Jacqui Israel. Their mission is “to uncover, to persistently test and tweak, and to preserve the many sweet recipes entrusted” to them over their years of collecting. And the results are awesome!

Though I have a long list of recipes I want to try, the one I started with was Hanna Geller Goldsmith’s Chocolate Meringues. Five simple ingredients—dark chocolate, egg whites, salt, caster (superfine) sugar, and vanilla extract—transform into you-can’t-eat-just-one meringue mounds. Bite through the crisp crust for a fudgy middle. These meringues are a step above and will become a welcome addition to my lineup of recipes. Next on my list? Debbie Levi’s Romanian Malai (Polenta Cheesecake), then, for a savory break Leah Koenig’s Onion Pletzels, described as a cross between an onion roll or bialy and a focaccia

I appreciate the specificity of the recipes, reminding me that much of baking is a science. Technical sections like Kitchen Notes (why they use unsalted butter or how to melt chocolate) are balanced with a lovely information about many of the people who contributed the recipes. At the end, in addition to the alphabetically organized index is one sorted into categories: dairy free, gluten free, and for Passover. This at-a-glance reference is truly a time-saver.


Click here for another cookbook review.


   • Reviewed by Christine Van Zandt (, Write for Success (, @ChristineVZ and @WFSediting,


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Making Breakfast Funny

Kiss ho hum mornings good-bye!
Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts

 gives a delightful and delicious new meaning to facing another morning!

                 I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I don’t like to cook and that I’m at a loss most of the time as to how to prepare meals that inspire my family as well as me. My daughters’ dislike of most vegetables doesn’t help the situation either.  If I didn’t feel a sense of moral obligation toward my family’s health, I’d call the restaurants that are programmed into my phone a lot more often than I do already. Luckily for me, others like me who’d rather eat than cook, and those who have finicky eaters at the kitchen table, Bill and Claire Wurtzel have written Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts  ($19.95, Welcome Books).

From Funny Food, by Bill & Claire Wurtzel. © 2012 Welcome Enterprises, Inc.,

Comprised of photographs of breakfast dishes (eggs; waffles and pancakes; oatmeal, cereal and fruit; toast, bagels and snacks)—the book is an artistic portrayal of breakfast as you’ve never seen it before.  Bored of eggs? Never fear! Whether fried, scrambled or boiled, turn your eggs into faces, people, animals, bicycles, angels and more. Add fruit, vegetables, herbs, bread, bacon and deli meat to complete your masterpieces. Take a modest scrambled egg, add a slice of toasted muffin, deli meat and a slither of bell pepper, and, voila, you have a turkey! Fold over a sunny side-up fried egg with slices of olive as facial features, tuck it under a slice of whole wheat bread and you have a person in bed. Can’t eat eggs? Try some of the other breakfast options. Transform fruit into works of art—portraits of the Mona Lisa, Shakespeare, and Salvador Dali. Take a banal banana and slice simple strawberries and turn them into a steam train and tracks. Add blueberries as coal and whipped cream as the steam. It’s loads of delicious fun trying to recreate these breakfast delights!

Beyond the inventive and imaginative photographs are some handy tips for aspiring food artists. Ten main tips with accompanying details for creating funny food are included, such as “Take Your Time: Making an artistic creation takes time. Try starting this on weekends when there is time to look at and examine new foods. If the food is created and presented in a joyful manner, the child will remember the food, the nutrition it provides, and the playful experience.” Interspersed throughout the book are nutritional information on the ingredients used (“Whole grain breads are a great source of vitamins, magnesium, iron and fiber—a natural aid to healthy digestion”) and recipes. Whole wheat pancakes, everybody?

I decided to see if these breakfast variations would work on my fussy three year old daughter, who doesn’t like to eat anything not on the breakfast cereal/pancake/yogurt menu. Not being particularly artistic, I started with one of the simpler designs, a scrambled egg pig face with mushrooms and deli meat as eyes and nostrils. While she refused to eat the mushrooms, my duaghter did succumb to the whimsical delight of the piggy egg face and ate that along with the deli meat. Success!

Whether you don’t like to cook or you are cooking for picky eaters, Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts shows us that healthy breakfasts can be delicious, creative and fun for the family.

-Reviewed by Rita Zobayan

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