Thanks for welcoming our celebrity blogger — Elisabeth Röhm!
The actress, 37, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, has a busy 2011 ahead of her.
She can be seen on the big screen in the upcoming films Chlorine, Transit and Abduction, and plans to continue her role as spokesmom for Juno Baby.
In her latest blog, Röhm — who is mom to 2½-year-old daughter Easton August with fiancé Ron Anthony — discusses her difficulties with Easton’s diet — and shares a few family recipes with PEOPLE Moms & Babies readers.
Moms, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a little guilty of ‘the white diet.’ That means all that white food that’s tasty … but maybe not the richest in nutrients.
I’ll be honest — we eat a lot of chicken fingers and fries in my family. We also eat plenty of buttered pasta, albeit with spinach and other veggies mixed in, plus a dash of parmesan. And yes, the white diet also includes the flour tortillas used to make those quesadillas we love so much (we sneak in the peas and spinach there too).
I never thought this would happen. We are true foodies in my family and delight in all things yummy! However Easton’s appetite is, shall we say, rather limited. And I’ll admit that it often dictates our family dinner experience to us — meaning, we are fragmented in what we eat.
Easton’s a picky eater — she gets her way and we get ours. We have indulged it a bit and now find we are in somewhat of a pickle. And yes, we do offer her every bit of our diverse and scrumptious dinners so that one day we can all share in a nutritious and delicious meal that can be offered to one and all. But I’ve had to face the fact that she is not an easy sell.
So, we find our dinner split between the adults and the kid. Family dinner just doesn’t feel as nurturing as it could be — not to mention it’s not as inspiring to prepare when you are cooking two or three different options on a nightly basis!
We made a mistake, it seems, long ago when Easton started eating solids. We offered her too many options of child-friendly food vs. food we were eating, which was probably superior in flavor and texture. We kept it too simple upon the merest complaint.
A dear friend of ours is a chef and as you can imagine, their children eat like little kings. It is truly shocking to a mom like me and I must admit I am slightly embarrassed by our child’s habits in comparison. We’ll be eating at our friend’s restaurant and his kids will be gobbling beets, mushrooms and lamb while my child wants her hot buttered bread roll. Can you blame her? I love them too.
But enough is enough. We can’t get through another meal just allowing her to eat the white diet and be happy because she is well-behaved and says “please” and “thank you” readily. Really, how did this happen when I’m the kind of person who loves my veggies?!
Of course, the answer is simple and I know it. Our friend — and perhaps you too — only offered his kid food that he was eating and never dumbed down mealtime. He had no desire to make several offerings after a day at work. As a true foodie, he was going to make some inspired, healthful meal that everyone was going to eat or they would get nothing at all. And thus, his children love food, eat food and celebrate food in all its plenty.
My first mistake was to allow Easton to dictate what she was going to eat in the first place. If she didn’t like the spaghetti bolognese I had labored over, I’d put it away in Tupperware and start over, happily trying to fulfill her by offering a more kid-friendly version.
Of course I was trying to be loving and honor her tastebuds that obviously were different from mine, but in the end I didn’t do her any favors. I should have listened to my pediatrician way back when he told me that my kid would not starve herself and not to worry if she missed a meal or two.
If you were to go to any restaurant and look at the kid’s menu, you would have a pretty good idea of what my darling daughter likes to eat. Now I am a sneaky chef in my preparations and use whole grains, vegetables and fruit any chance I get — but it is labor-intensive and I can assure you that what she eats is not at all savory to Mom and Dad!
I am on a mission now to correct my long-standing gesture of over-indulgence and get my child to eat — at the family table, what the family also desires. I want her to leave the empty starches behind and begin to discover the world of food which is big, beautiful and colorful!
In the pursuit of my love of cooking I have often reached out to my Aunt Nancy, who is a caterer/nutritionist. Together we are creating a transition cookbook for kids that includes time-efficient recipes which everyone will love, so that we may become a family that shares our meals, eats healthily and loves food together.
Through her recipes and mine, along with family traditions, we are creating a cookbook that will be like gold for a working mom like myself and that I can have on hand in my kitchen. In the coming year, this book will be available to all of you who enjoy the art of family meals!
Today, my task in the kitchen is to find a culinary substitute for chicken fingers and fries that is fast and easy — and fits into the busy schedule of the ever-multitasking mom. And the adults will like it too!
Here is a taste of our future cookbook Family Secrets … from our family to yours … Bon appétit!
— Elisabeth Röhm
Aunt Nancy’s Chicken Cutlets
Known by many names — Wiener Schnitzel, Milanese or scaloppini — these chicken breasts take less than 10 minutes and you can use chicken, pork or veal cutlets. The cutlets should be ¼” – ½” thick to get the really crispy outside. Each cutlet is dredged in flour, dipped in beaten egg, then pressed in bread crumbs before finally put into hot oil and pan-fried on each side for only a few minutes.
Don’t flip over until really golden. Be careful not to overdo — they cook quickly and the meat should be tender and not stringy. Once you get the technique down, the possibilities are endless.
- Set-up three shallow bowls in a row, close to a large (10-12”) frying pan. Fill as instructed:
- First bowl: about ¼ cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
- Second bowl: 1-2 beaten eggs
- Third bowl: 1 cup bread crumbs (We favor Progresso Italian seasoned, but now use Panko for the extra crunch. Try a mixture of both.)
- Heat olive, safflower or other veggie oil.
- Dredge, dip and press each cutlet. (Using tongs from this point is very helpful. Have a plate ready as they come out of the pan.)
- Fry on both sides, turning when golden. They should only need 2 -3 minutes each side. Remove from the pan. Can be kept warm in a low oven.
An easy way to get crispy potatoes without peeling, chopping or frying. A simple two-step process. For busy moms, the boiling of the potatoes can be done earlier in the day. I like to use Yukon Gold small to medium-sized potatoes, but almost any potato will do.
- Preheat the oven to 450*.
- Cook potatoes until an inserted paring knife is easy to pull out.
- Drain and cool the potatoes for 5 minutes.
- Drizzle olive oil on a rimmed sheet pan.
- Separate the potatoes on the sheet pan and smash away using the palm of your hand. A great job for the kids to do with you!
- Drizzle again with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in oven for about 10 minutes, until you see lots of crispiness on the edges of the potatoes.