Healthy Snacks from Dad's Own Cookbook

With the high price and low nutrition value of some kid-friendly fare, it's important to find healthy treats that even the finicky eaters will love, says Bob Sloan, the author of 10 cookbooks including Dad's Own Cookbook (Workman, May 2007). Sloan's newest cookbook offers meal and snack tips sure to please the whole family, along with a Dad's perspective on making it happen. Sloan teaches parents how to navigate the kitchen and turn out terrific and simple snacks for the whole family, including.

  • Fun finger foods with a healthful twist
  • Family favorites made in creative new ways
  • Tips to get kids happy about helping in the kitchen
  • Dad's Own Cookbook assumes nothing. It explains in detail the simplest of tasks, such as how to boil an egg, grease a pan and hold a knife. It covers it all: tools, techniques, ingredients, shopping, timing, and getting a meal on the table, whether a weeknight meatloaf or snacks for the kids or a weekend dinner party. There are instructions on how to read a recipe; why to heat a pan before sautéing the food; how to select the choicest meats and the freshest fish; and how to organize it all into dinner (or breakfast, or lunch or - gasp! - a Thanksgiving celebration.)

    Bob Sloan is a professional chef, teacher, and author who runs his own catering business. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons, both of whom love to cook. Sloan is also the author of The Tailgating Cookbook, Dad Cooks up a Party, Great Burgers and The Working Stiff Cookbook. In addition to books, Bob' writes magazine articles for Gourmet, Saveur, Travel and Leisure, Fine Cooking and Playboy. He also writes a monthly column called "This Dad's Life" in Family Life Magazine.

    For more information, visit:

    Pears in a pod

    4 stalks of celery, cleaned and cut into 3" long pieces
    ½ cup creamy peanut butter
    2 Bartlett, Red Bartlett or Starkrimson pears, cored and cut into chunks

    Sharp knife
    Spreading knife

    1. Spread the peanut butter into the center of the celery pieces.
    2. Place the pear chunks onto of the peanut butter and serve.

    Poached Pears

    Ingredients (serves four)
    5 hard Bartlett pears
    1 ½ cups dry red wine (or grape juice)
    ½ cup sugar
    1 cinnamon stick or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Paring knife or peeler
    Medium saucepan with cover
    Slotted spoon

    1. Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, peel the skin off the bottom 2/3 of each pear, leaving the upper 1/3 and stem intact. If necessary, trim a bit off the bottom of the pears, so they will sit without falling over.
    2. Combine the wine or grape juice, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set the pears in the pan so they're not touching and bring the liquid to a boil.
    3. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pan, and simmer until the pears are soft. Hard pears may take 30 minutes to soften, ripe pears as little as 15 minutes.
    4. When the pears are soft, carefully remove them to serving plates with a slotted spoon. Discard the cinnamon stick.
    5. Continue simmering the liquid over medium heat, uncovered, until thick and syrupy, about 12 minutes.
    6. Serve the pears topped with the reduced and thickened syrup.

    Trail Mix

    Ingredients (Equal parts of each ingredient, depending on how much you want): Raisins
    Golden Raisins
    Sunflower Seeds
    Pumpkin Seeds
    Coconut Flakes (optional)

    Measuring cup
    Large Mixing Bowl
    Individual storage containers

    1. Measure each ingredient (1/2 cup of each will make 3 cups of mix)
    2. Mix together and store in individual serving packs

    Dad's Own Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

    Most oatmeal-raisin cookies pale next to these extra-special ones made with walnuts and optional butterscotch chips.

    Ingredients (makes two dozen cookies)
    Margarine or cooking spray, for greasing the baking sheets
    ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
    6 tablespoons granulated sugar
    6 tablespoons light brown sugar
    1 large egg, well beaten
    ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    ½ teaspoon salt
    3 tablespoons maple syrup
    1 cup rolled oats
    1 cup raisins or butterscotch chips, or a combination of the two
    ½ cup chopped walnuts
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    2 baking sheets
    2 medium bowls
    Whisk or hand-held electric mixer
    Wire rack

    1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets with margarine or nonstick cooking spray.
    2. In a medium bowl, use the whisk or mixer to cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the beaten egg and incorporate as well.
    3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
    4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in the maple syrup, oats, raisins and/or butterscotch chips, and walnuts. Stir in the vanilla.
    5. One teaspoon at a time, drop the dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are brown. They should be soft to the bite, so do not over bake.
    6. Cook the cookies for 10 minutes, then, using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the wire rack and cool completely.

    Moroccan Veal, Sausage & Chicken with Couscous

    This mild and delicious curry, sweetened with raisins, spooned over a bed of couscous, is an excellent introduction to Middle Eastern cuisine. A staple of North Africa, couscous is gaining popularity in the States. These grains of pasta take just a few minutes to prepare. Do not be intimidated by the list of ingredients. They all wind up in one big pot.

    Ingredients (serves twelve)
    5 tablespoons vegetable oil
    ¾ pound Merguez sausages, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 ½ pounds veal shoulder or leg, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
    1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
    4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
    9 cups canned chicken broth or 9 bouillon cubes dissolved in 9 cups of water
    2 tablespoons mild curry powder
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 9-ounce packages frozen artichoke hearts
    1 cup raisins
    4 cups couscous

    Large frying pan
    Slotted spoon
    2 large casseroles with covers

    1.Place a large frying pan on high heat and let it get very hot, about 90 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the sausage pieces and cook, stirring often, until they are browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a large casserole.
    2. Return the frying pan to high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil and the veal. Cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the veal to the casserole with the sausage.
    3. Return the frying pan to high heat and add another tablespoon of the oil. Add the chicken and onion and cook, stirring often, until the chicken is browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
    4. Transfer the chicken mixture to the casserole and add the crushed broth or bouillon, the curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, and salt and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the artichoke hearts and raisins and cook 10 minutes more. Turn off the heat and cover the casserole.
    5. Make the couscous in another large casserole. Bring the remaining 5 cups chicken broth or bouillon and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to a boil. Stir in the couscous, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the couscous sit for 5 minutes. Immediately fluff the couscous with a fork to help separate the grains.
    6. To serve, transfer the couscous to a large platter and spoon on the curry, being sure that the sauce covers all the couscous.

    The veal, sausage, and chicken curry can be made up to 2 days in advance. Let the mixture cool before refrigerating. Reheat the casserole over medium heat for 10 minutes before making the couscous.

    Merguez is the traditional sausage of Morocco and gives this dish its distinctive flavor. You can find it at many specialty food stores.

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