Secrets for stress-free family dinners

11 years ago

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Secrets for stress-free family dinners

Preparing an involved family dinner may not sound like the most appealing idea at the end of a long day. But homemade food is usually healthier, more economical, and certainly more delicious than ordering takeout dinners.

“The best way to ensure you’re feeding your family wholesome meals is to make it yourself,” says Katie Workman, author of “The Mom 100 Cookbook,” a new cookbook designed to help time-pressed parents prepare crowd-pleasers. “Luckily, homemade doesn’t need to mean a big daily fuss.”
The key is to prep in advance, cook in big batches and repurpose leftovers, points out Workman. Doing so keeps things simple for you and interesting for your family.

Creative repurposing can save you time and money. For a meal you can enjoy all week, try this recipe from Workman for “Monday Night Brisket,” which you can make on a Sunday, eat hot Monday alongside potatoes, then enjoy later in the week as a soup on Tuesday, a sandwich on Wednesday and even a quesadilla Thursday.

Monday Night Brisket

(Serves 8 to 10)


1 teaspoon olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 first-cut beef brisket (4 to 5 pounds)

2 cups chopped onions

4 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced

3 bay leaves

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup low-sodium beef or chicken broth

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in juice or puréed

1 cup red wine

2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley, for garnish


• Preheat oven to 325 degree F.

• Place first five ingredients in bowl and stir. Rub mixture all over.

• Place brisket fat side up in large casserole or Dutch oven with lid. Toss in onions, carrots and bay leaves.

• Blend tomato paste into broth, then pour over meat and vegetables. Pour crushed tomatoes and red wine on top. Cover casserole and bake brisket until meat is very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

• If you’re serving it the next day, let it cool then place in the refrigerator. An hour before serving, skim off hardened fat and cut excess fat from the top. Slice brisket across the grain and return to cooking liquid. Reheat on stovetop over medium-low heat, or in preheated 325 degree F oven, until everything is warmed through and cooking liquid has thickened. Adjust seasonings as needed.

• If you’re serving it today, remove meat from casserole and let it rest on a platter, loosely tented with aluminum foil. Let the cooking liquid and vegetables sit for about 15 minutes, then spoon off accumulated fat. Place casserole over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Slice meat across the grain, return to pot, and discard bay leaves.

• Garnish with parsley.

More great tips and recipes for busy parents who want to DIY their dinner can be found at

Stressed? Don’t let takeout be your only answer. The same strategies that worked in your grandmother’s kitchen can work for you.