Life’s busy. We’ve all got a lot of places to go, things to do, and people to see. And what’s the first thing that suffers when we’re hopping from one place to the next (besides the laundry?) Family meals, of course. With our crunched time schedules and a families full of picky eaters, it’s just too easy to throw a few burgers or hot dogs on the BBQ, rip open a bag of salad, or heat up a frozen dinner. But what if there was a way to cook fresh and delicious meals quickly and easily? Would you, I, and other parents like us be game to try it?
I think so.
And so does Chef Michael Smith. The notion of our busy lives and the ready availability (and cost-effectiveness) of frozen or prepared foods, was the inspiration for this new cookbook. Getting families involved in cooking together, encouraging kids to try new flavours, and slowing ourselves down long enough to enjoy family mealtime was his goal when writing it. Meet Michael Smith’s Family Meals, with 100 recipes straight from his own table, and featuring tips and tricks for getting the whole family involved. This cookbook is sure to become a new staple resource in your kitchen.
“I’m proud of all that I’ve achieved as a professional chef….But all those achievements pale in comparison to that magical moment when one of my kids takes their first bite of dinner, smiles, and digs in for more…
I may be a busy guy (and who isn’t these days?) but I cook every single day for my family. Day after day after day. It’s always rewarding, often inspiring, and occasionally a chore…
We lead busy lives, but we have to eat, and processed food is simply not an option for my family. It doesn’t need to be one for yours either…This book shares the hard-earned lessons I’ve learned on the front lines in my own home, doing what I do best for my beautiful wife, three kids, two dogs, and one cat.” (Michael Smith, Family Meals, Introduction)
The book is separated into functional chapters like Breakfast & Brunch, Lunchbox & Snacks, Cook Ahead, Slow Cookers & Pressure Cookers, and Family Meals in Minutes, to name a few. Just to make sure this cookbook was amazing, I decided to try one of Chef Michael’s recipes. Since I was up at the cottage (read: lots off BBQ’ing), I chose a vegetarian option, Sweet Potato Chickpea Stew. Aside from one missing instruction (do not cover while cooking the sweet potatoes or else the dish will be too watery – lesson learned), this recipe was extremely easy to follow (even for someone like me who SUCKS at following recipes). It was so fast and simple and I think that even my teenagers could make it for me.
Get ready to have your mouth water.
(recipe reprinted with permission)
Sweet Potato Chickpea Stew
What You’ll Need:
1 tbsp (30 ml) vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbsp (30 ml) curry powder
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
A 19 oz (540 ml) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups (1L) water
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
A 14-oz (400 ml) can of coconut milk
2 cups (500 ml) fresh or frozen green peas
1 pint (500 ml) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp (2 ml) of your favourite hot sauce
The zest and juice of one lime
A handful of fresh cilantro sprigs
What You’ll Do:
Splash the vegetable oil into a large pot over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, as the onions soften, 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle in the curry and stir for a few moments to brighten its flavour. Toss in the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, water and salt. Bring to a slow, steady simmer, then simmer (uncovered) long enough for the sweet potato to soften, 20 minutes or so.
Pour in the coconut milk, peas, and tomatoes. Continue cooking just long enough to heat everything through. Season with the hot sauce and lime zest and juice. Serve and share with the cilantro sprinkled over every bowl.
Want to make it yourself? The cookbook includes other delightful dishes such as Weekend Pancakes, Barley Kale Tabbouleh, Nacho Burgers, or Ice Cream Sandwiches? Hungry yet? BUY THE BOOK!