Quick and Easy Dinners for Busy Parents

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TV personality and chef Antonia Lofaso joined us live with some great ideas from her new cookbook “The Busy Mom’s Cookbook- 100 Delicious, Quick and Easy Recipes.” The cookbook takes a light-hearted, humorous approach to encouraging parents to use both cooking and dining at home as means to enhance family relationships. Antonia understands firsthand the pressures of busy moms and dads who regularly race the clock to get food on the table and she knows the advice and tips that they need to make them as successful in the kitchen as they are in the rest of their lives.  For more information, you can go to her website.

Deep Fried Fluffer Nutter Sandwich
When I was a kid, my mom was big on serving her family real foods. She never let me have fun foods like marshmallow fluff, and I was always trying to sneak over to my friend’s house, where they had all the good stuff. Now this marshmallow fluff dessert is my restaurant’s best-seller. People come in and take pictures of it, blog about, and come back for more. Sorry, mom!

Makes: 2 servings
Total Time: 20 minutes

3 cups vegetable oil
2 slices bread
3 tablespoons peanut butter
½ banana, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons marshmallow fluff
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup panko
Dash salt

The Busy Mom’s Tip: I like to use pan de mie or brioche, but challah also works well, and even good old white bread will do.

In a 10 to 12-inch sauté pan, heat the oil to 350˚F.
While the oil heats, spread the peanut butter on one slice of bread, and top it with the banana.
Spread the marshmallow fluff on the other slice of bread, and put your sandwich together.
Dust the entire sandwich in flour. Dredge it in the eggs, and with a dry hand, coat it in panko.
Place the sandwich in the oil, and fry it for about 2 minutes, or until that side is golden brown. Use two forks to flip the sandwich, and fry the other side until it’s golden brown, too.
With a spatula, move the sandwich from the pan to a plate. Sprinkle it with salt, slice it in half, and serve.

The Busy Mom’s Tip: When you flour the sandwich, make sure you cover every bit of it, especially any oozing marshmallow fluff. Otherwise the fluff will spew all over the pan.

 Cauliflower Gratin
Years ago, I worked as the Banquet Chef for Spago, Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in Beverly Hills, where I was serving parties of more than a hundred people. I made huge vats of potato gratin, and I obsessively perfected the technique for that dish. Eventually, I wanted to do something different, and cauliflower had the perfect texture to replace the potatoes. This gratin goes great with almost any meat as a main course, including the Braised Brisket (page 000). Leftovers from Coriander Roasted Cauliflower (page 000) can be used to make this dish.

Serves: 4
Total Time: 45 minutes

4 cups cooked cauliflower florets
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups whole milk
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 sprig thyme
1 teaspoon salt
⅛ cup panko or Italian-seasoned bread crumbs

The Busy Mom’s Tip: Broccoli and cauliflower are often interchangeable, and this is another case where that’s true. If you have leftover broccoli, you can substitute it for the cauliflower in this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
In an 8 x 8″ baking dish, toss the florets with the parmesan cheese.
In a saucepot, heat the milk, garlic, thyme, and salt over medium heat for 10 minutes, to infuse the milk with all the flavors.
Remove the garlic and thyme from the milk, and pour the milk over the cauliflower.
Bake the gratin for 30 minutes, or until it’s golden and bubbly. Let it sit for a few minutes before serving, so the whole thing will be thicker and creamier.

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