Cooking, particularly quality food, is one of the hardest things to keep up with when you have kids. When I was running the household as a single mom, there were nights when I’d come home, look in the fridge, and then decide it was “breakfast for dinner” night. I’m not saying that breakfast for dinner is necessarily a bad thing, but when it’s your third BFD night that week, something’s gotta give.
I’ve since come up with a better solution of managing my dinner nights with the help of my fiancè, both of us trading off weeks of cooking and also creating a meal calendar at the beginning of the week to nix the guessing game. And in my quest for more organized and less stressful meal planning, I couldn’t have been more excited when a friend handed me a copy of ‘The Naptime Chef,’ a book by Kelsey Banfield who also doubles as a busy mom of a young child.
Before kids, Banfield had found a welcome place in the kitchen, loving to cook gourmet meals for others with all the time in the world. But after kids, she found that the kitchen was not as inviting as it used to be. Balancing a screaming child on one hip and julienning veggies at the same time was not exactly the perfect combination. Getting showered and dressed was enough of a struggle, so gourmet cooking soon felt more like a bad joke than a personal hobby. She all but gave up cooking. But after a period of time filled with so-so meals and questionable nutrition, Kelsey decided that her love of cooking was not going to be chased away.
That’s when she discovered the magic of naptime (or other areas of downtime). Through trial and error, she found ways to split up her favorite recipes by prepping them during naptime so that they’d be easy to finish up at dinnertime. She recorded her recipes and stories in a personal blog at www.naptimechef.com, which soon became the very book my friend handed me.
What I love about the book is that it’s filled with gorgeous pictures and easy to follow instructions. Banfield starts out the book describing the very tools your kitchen should always be stocked with. And then she goes into detail on delicious recipes that are incredibly simple but produce incredible food that is anything but ordinary. There are so many recipes in this book I plan on trying out, from muffins for the kids lunches to canning bread & butter pickles for a sweet treat on my hot dog this summer. With recipes for breakfast, dessert, snacks, and more, I can already tell it’s about to be added to my must-use cookbooks for meal planning.
Just this past week I was able to incorporate several of the Naptime Chef’s recipes into my meal plan, eliciting rave reviews from my family every time. One of our favorites was the recipe for pulled pork sandwiches, a meal I made in the slow-cooker when we were to be at the baseball field past the normal time for dinner. What a treat to come home to a deliciously smelling house! All that was left to do was shred the pork, slip it between a fresh sourdough roll, and enjoy it beside homemade coleslaw. Here’s the recipe we used:
Pulled-Pork sandwiches (serves 2 – can be doubled for more)
This recipe can also be found HERE at the thenaptimechef.com
1.5 lbs boneless pork roast
3 T. vegetable oil
½ c. onion, chopped
¼ c. ketchup
¼ c. red wine vinegar
2 T. tomato paste
¼ c. light brown sugar, packed
1 T. paprika
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 t. Kosher Salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1. In a deep bottom saucepan heat the oil over medium heat until just smoking. Add the pork roast and sear all sides of the pork, including the ends. This will take about 1-2 minutes per side.
2. In a bowl mix the onion, ketchup, tomato paste, sugar, paprika, red pepper, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Add the seared pork to this mixture and coat the pork completely.
3. Add the pork and all of the sauce to the slow-cooker and turn it on per the manufacturers directions. Cook pork for 6-7 hours, or until pork is very tender and cooked through.
4. When pork has completed cooking remove it from the slow-cooker to a cutting board. Shred the meat with a sharp fork. Reserve any sauce from the cooker to drizzle over cooked pork if desired.
The pork can be put in between soft sandwich rolls, or in corn tortillas. This recipe tastes yummy served with coleslaw and fresh fruit.