5 Ways to cut corners in the kitchen By Molly England & Perfect softies by Claire Handleman



“I don’t know how you do it?” This proverbial question is commonplace amongst mommies. The mom with one child says it in awe to the mom of multiples. The stay-at-home mom says it to the working mom and vice versa. The mother of girls says it in amazement to the mom of boys. You get the idea. The “it” has yet to be defined. I can, however, offer some insight into the “how.” The “how” is by cutting corners, plain and simple. Call it efficient or even lazy – but cutting corners is the key to successful mothering.

There’s no better place to take short cuts than in the kitchen. Although I’m not (yet) proficient in the kitchen, I’ve cooked enough to acquire tips on simplifying. Here are five quick and easy ways to streamline your mealtime preparation and cooking.


1. The Magic of Mirepoix

Martha Stewart lauds, “Mirepoix is a combination of aromatic vegetables that gives a subtle background flavor to dishes such as soups, stews, and braises.” Available at every grocery store, pre-diced mirepoix lends a fresh and healthy addition to many meals.


2. “Involving” your Kids

Since starting “The Dinner Dance” series, everyone offers their cooking advice and tips. My hairdresser (also a culinary queen) suggests “involving” the kids in a way that gets them out from under foot, whilst still feeling participatory. Her go to trick is seeking their assistance in washing. From potatoes to plastic cups – your little sous chefs can assist and allow you to cook. They’ll love washing and getting wet and are safely stationed at the sink. This activity will hopefully harness their pre-dinner fervor. The notion of cooking collaboratively with my kids is still aspirational. The reality is, at this stage in my cooking abilities, I put the T.V. on and hope it engages them until dinner. My youngest is generally unenthused by T.V., which is great for her development and not so great for the prospect of our dinner, hence the next tip.


3. The Witching Hour Antidote

Babywearing, not limited to babies, is a lifesaver in the kitchen. Come 5 p.m. the stars align to create a horrific scene. Whether you have a wailing baby or whining kids, or both, putting a frozen pizza in the oven can seem like an easy option. However, try babywearing before succumbing to frozen food. Baby carriers soothe and contain the fussiest babies, making cooking possible. Although my youngest is almost three and I rarely wear her anymore, I grab my ergo like a lifejacket on a sinking ship when she starts to fuss the moment I begin cooking. Her new view from above brings with it hilarious commentary and the occasional seasoning of drool in the pots.



4. Feed the Lions

A guaranteed way to keep your lions tame is to offer crudités or fresh fruit while they wait. If they’re truly hungry they’ll reach their daily vegetable and fruit requirements before dinner is served. Your fresh and healthy meals’ vegetables are a bonus.


5. Creative Leftovers

Like a chameleon changing colors, last night’s dinner needs to change into something unrecognizable and still savory. Deceiving your little dinner dates is key. Cooking once and reaping two, maybe more meals is the epitome of optimization.


There you have it, a dash of cooking tips to minimize the burden that cooking brings to us less adept mom-cooks.


The Dinner Dance’s Tip Tuesday is a how-to video on soft boiled eggs. Claire’s 40 second video offers a lifetime of perfect eggs. **Be sure the water is boiling before starting the timer.** You can read Claire Handleman’s latest blog post on Passport to Eat. Also, stay tuned for The Dinner Dance’s next recipe, coming out this Friday.

Video By Claire Handleman

I know I’m not alone in my cooking challenges, so please join us on this exciting journey. We look forward to hearing your thoughts along the way! There’s power in accountability – please take photos of your meals and share them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, be sure to hashtag #thedinnerdance and #tiptuesday. We’d love to hear what works, what you’d love to learn and more!

Claire Handleman has been a chef in New York for 10 years, working at some of the city’s best restaurants. She previously worked on ABC’s Emmy-award winning show The Chew as an assistant producer and participated in Food Network’s Chopped competition…and won.
Claire has been traveling the world for the past dozen years but focuses a majority of her time in South-East Asia. She has come to regard Thailand as a second home and spends many months each year learning Thai cuisine.
She is currently working on a book with the hopes of sharing the incredible cuisine her Thai friends have shared with her.
While she travels and works, she shares stories, recipes and travel tips on her blog Passport to Eat.

2 thoughts on “5 Ways to cut corners in the kitchen By Molly England & Perfect softies by Claire Handleman

  1. Great tips Molly! I have another…let the little ones cut up something soft-ish…like a boiled potato or cooked carrot with a safe , dull knife like the kind kids use when carving a pumpkin or a plastic knife. May keep them busy for 5 minutes!


  2. Thank you for sharing your tip Oma!! Funnily enough, I just braved it and had Tillie cut olives with a dull, kid knife and she had fun!


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