This is just a little something that we’ve “cooked” up to make our lives (and yours!)Ā a little easier…Our 2nd Back-to-school guide!

There was so much excitement over the first one – and now we have more tried and true helpful tips and recipes it’s sure to get your school year started off right!

Feel free to print it out, post, and share away!

Enjoy Mamas! (and of course, Papas, too!šŸ˜‰

MAM Back-to-School Guide #2

#2 and a "proper" British phone booth

#2 and a “proper” British phone booth

I’m sure you’ve heard your own mother say this from time to time… And, like all you mamas out there, this oneĀ just got a little too busy.

So, let me update you on what I’ve been up to:

As of September of 2012, my husband accepted a new position at his company and it required our family ofĀ 5 to leave our comfortable house in Seattle, WA to move to London, UK…say, what??? I know…like, crazy!

Anyway, I put the breaks on all my make-ahead meals – mainly because we can’t take freezer items out of the country and because I haven’t had the mental capacity to take on anything else (let alone writing and posting) as my family required all of my attention. I am sure you’ve all been in similar situations. As Moms, we’re all in a constant state of growing and evolving – children getting older – their needs changing, husbands with their own agendas (some MAMs in our own group are dealing with husbands who’ve been deployed orĀ much worse, divorce)Ā leaving us with the challenge of tryingĀ to keep everything moving and ourĀ households running like clockwork.

Which brings meĀ here in London with my 2 1/2 year old waiting for the other kids to come home from school, wondering (like usual), “what will IĀ prepare for dinner tonight?”

On a side note: We’ve been here for a little over 2 weeks now and I’m already missing my American freezer, my large oven (count that two – here I have one smaller version of an oven) and my large whirlpool washer and dryer (sigh…). (And in my head: My dear friend, my MINIVAN! Ugh.)

But, despite all that I’ve left behind, I’m determined to be a “happy” wife and mother, and cook just as much as before and share more awesome quick tips and freeze-ahead recipes.

So, here’s to New Year and a new frontier – chock full of new recipesĀ and culinary delights!




Okay, if your garden’s not going crazy with zucchini yet, it will be soon. It’s zucchini season! And most of us harvest so many zucs that it’s hard to find recipes for them all. This is a great recipe for making ahead. You can either whip up the batter to freeze-ahead (just place in plastic baggies and thaw batter when ready to use) or you can also freeze the cupcakes themselves after baking. Either one of these methods makes for an easy and nutrient rich cupcake.

Aunt Jennifer’s Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes


1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups unbleached white flour

Ā¾ cup baking cocoa (sweetened)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Ā½ teaspoon salt

Ā½ cup plain non-fat greek yogurt

2 grated zucchinis

2 grated med. carrots (optional)


Chocolate frosting of choice (I use melted chocolate chips in the microwave and mix in heavy whipping cream for my ganache.)

Preheat oven to 350n degrees. Line 24 muffin tin with liners.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the yogurt, beating well after each addition. Fold in the zucchini and carrots.

Fill the paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full. A large scoop works well for this as batter is thick. Bake at 350 for 20-25 min or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely. Frost as desired. Makes 24 cupcakes

*Note: You could also use sour cream in place of the yogurt. You could also use 2 cups grated zucchini and no carrots, if desired.

Another great zucchini recipe to try:Ā Zucchini Crab Cakes

Note: To freeze-ahead the zucchini crab cakes, salt the grated zucchini and squeeze out all the water with a paper towel before forming them into patties. Freeze patties in-between waxed paper and place in plastic ziploc bags.

Around here, we eat salmon. And, fortunately for us, we can have wild sustainable salmon all year round.

At this time every year (May-June) fresh wild Copper River Salmon from Alaska is everywhere! Okay… yes, it’s shipped via airplane on Alaska Airlines, and I’m sure the carbon foot print is crazy. But I’m sorry, I can’t be that militant with my food. I do my best to make good choices for me and my family, and after all I’m only human. No Mama guilt here!

Anyway, which brings me back to the salmon… (By the way, for those of you in Seattle area the price has come down from $25-$30 per pound to $9.99 per pound at QFC and $8.99 per pound at Costco!) It’s luscious buttery flesh rich in omega3 fatty acid is a true NW delicacy! And, yes – worth every penny.

The way I prepare it is SIMPLE and EASY! So, no need to make-ahead. Pair it with a simple garden salad, or grilled veggies and you have an instant healthy dinner that even your toddler-teenager will enjoy.šŸ˜‰

Cedar Planked Copper River Salmon


  • 2 lbs copper river salmon filet (in this case I have 2 filets and there’s enough marinate for both)
  • 2.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • soaked cedar plank


This is what I do… and I guess, my semi-make-ahead version.

I place the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and lemon in a 9 x 13 casserole dish and mix it all together with a fork – so it coats the whole surface area. Rinse and pat dry the salmon. Place the salmon flesh side down (skin side up), in the casserole dish and cover with plastic wrap. This can marinate for a 1/2 hour and up to 4 hours.

Soak cedar planks on a cookie sheet (with a lip) for 1/2 hour to up to 2 hours.

Heat grill to med-high. Cover and let it heat for 5-10 mins. Place Salmon on soaked cedar planks and turn off the burners (only under the cedar) for indirect grilling, cover and cook for approx. 20 mins. This time will make the salmon look a little under done, but feel free to cook to your preference.

Leftovers? Don’t let that salmon go to waste!

Consider transforming it into salmon and corn chowder (lots of fresh corn right now), asian salmon soup with rice noodles, salmon scrambles, frittatas, salmon and zucchini fritters, salmon sushi, cold salmon and pasta salad… any other ideas??? Feel free to post below!

Hooray! Memorial Day (to me) means it’s officially Summer! And who doesn’t love summer barbecue and grilling? (Cooking outside also means less clean-up in the kitchen!)

So here it is, my favorite (and secret) Rib Recipe! It’s mostly a secret because it always comes out flavorful, sticky, and fork tender! And, has seriously become the most sought after recipe in my family… (even my sister who doesn’t eat pork, will ask me for this recipe from time-to-time to feed her kids!)

The recipe below is mostly mine, the technique, all Sunset Magazine. The ribs basically “steam” in the foil to make it taste like it’s taken all day. (Gotta love that!) I prepare the ribs ahead of time by rubbing them in the dry rub, and leaving them in the fridge for as little as 2 hours and up to two days. ENJOY!


  • full rack of pork ribs
  • Mesquite dry rub
  • Barbecue sauce (usually whatever is on special)


Season ribs with the dry rub and leave it on the ribs for at least two hours and up to two days. Cover ribs with aluminum foil.

Heat the gas grill on High for 10 mins, turn center burners off, and outside burners to Medium. Lay foil wrapped ribs on the grill (middle where the burners are off, so using in-direct heat), convex (meat side up), overlap slightly if necessary. Cover grill and cook till tender when pierced through foil and everything. (1-1 1/4 hours).

Remove foil, brush tops (meat side) with barbecue sauce, turn over and cook until sauce has browned (10 mins.), brush concave (bone side), and turn again, and cook until browned (10 mins.). Cover and transfer to a cutting board.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mamas!

You’ve done you’re part, now leave the cooking and cleaning to everyone else!

Here’s a easy and seasonal brunch idea for your day off!!! You can even make the crepe batter ahead of time, either by freezing or keeping in the fridge for up to 3 days. (Which actually improves it’s texture anyway…) You can also get the whole family involved making these recipes. Even little ones can participate by picking the herbs in the garden, washing the greens, cracking/mixing eggs, mixing the crepe batter, rolling the crepes, dusting the crepes with powered sugar, and not to mention, cleaning up afterwards!


  • Scrambled Eggs w Herbs
  • Herbed Salad with Radishes
  • Make-Ahead Crepes w Lemon and Powdered Sugar Ā (recipe below)
  • Fruit Smoothie

Make-Ahead Crepes:


  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbs melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt


In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. In another bowl mix eggs, milk, water, and butter. Pour the wet ingredients with the flour, and stir well to combine so that there’s no lumps. (Can also blend mixture in a blender.) Place batter in fridge for 1 hour, or to make-ahead, cover and freeze batter for later, or keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Heat a non-stick skillet or crepe pan on med-high heat. Take off burner and Ā coat with cooking spray. Ladle in 1/4 cup of batter and tilt pan, swirling the batter evenly on the pan. Place back on burner and cook for approx 1-2 mins. Flip and cook for 30 sec- 1 min more.

Place stacks of crepes on a plate covered with a clean dish towel.

Some sweet crepe fillings: a few drops of lemon juice and cover with powdered sugar, jam, peanut butter, nutella, peanut butter mixed with cocoa powder, fresh sliced berries or fruit.

Hmm… new DIY – Do It Yourself movement? Or, simply back to basics?

Everyone remembers at least someone cooking in the kitchen when they were children… A mother, a father, grandparents?

And we all had our favorite home-cooked meals (mine was Chicken Cordon Bleu and my Mom’s Navy Beans and Ham). Simple, yet delicious food. We remember family gatherings – Sunday Suppers, Memorial Day BBQ’s, Christmas (cookies, of course! Kids are making them in the pics), Passover (if you need to know, my husband is Jewish and we’re raising our kids Jewish, but still celebrating Christmas – don’t judge), and of course, Thanksgiving!!!

Food equaled Community.

So then why as parents, that isn’t the case anymore? Why are we so isolated?

My parents are divorced, my husband’s parents are divorced – and everyone’s scattered around the country. It’s up to us to forge our own groups, make connections with others, and develop a new community.

I think it’s so important for parents to be part of a food community of some sort. Whether it’s Make-Ahead Mamas, the Slow Food movement, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Community, or Punk Domestics, there’s a need for us parents to be connected with others especially around food.

When I became a parent, I felt so isolated, so overwhelmed, and pretty much all around terrified. I thought of myself incredibly educated, fashionable, and extremely capable and confident before kids, and then instantly felt like a fat, awkward teenager again after the birth of my daughter. That first year was exhausting, and although happy, the highs were combined with incredible lows. I started learning a new side of myself, a side that I thought I buried long ago in middle school.

I’ve been a part of the Make-Ahead Mamas cooking group since the birth of my second child in 2007 – over four years ago – and I’m still learning new recipes, and new tips/techniques from the other ladies. I’m also learning about new “kid-friendly” food options, or new ways to hide much needed nutrients in my kids’ meals. (Due to a suggestion from another mom in the group, I now call broccoli “trees” and cauliflower “snow trees” to get my toddler eat his veggies… and it works!)

I’m always learning, and like it or not, being challenged. And because of the cooking group, I’m really enjoying my new role in life as the primary chef/cook for my family of five.



Below is an awesome article that’s worth the read.