Cooking With...Dsteiner23

girls eat dinner

Dsteiner23 makes dinner for her girls, Shealynn and Ella.

What's cooking in your kitchen? I want to know! Last time Peajewel told us what she's cooking for her family.

This week I'm thrilled to have dsteiner23 share with us what she likes to make for her two girls and how she threw the best birthday party ever for her 17-year-old...


CM: How many kids do you have?

I have two daughters: Shealynn (17) and Ella (2).

What is your kids' favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

Ella has recently discovered the joy of cereal. For Shealynn's whole life, I had a rule (for myself) to always fix her a hot breakfast before school. Lately, her idea of a hot breakfast is coffee, which makes my job really easy.

What is your kids' favorite thing to eat for lunch?

At the beginning of this last school year I bought a really good quality salad keeper for Shealynn, so I make her salads to take to school every day. When the weather got cold, I started sending soup or leftover pasta in a thermos. Both kids will eat as much fruit as you put in front of them. On weekends, lunches tend to be real simple finger foods—like cheese and crackers, a few types of fruit, and yogurt, unless we go out for lunch with my mom.

What is your kids' favorite thing to eat for dinner?

Ella is such a picky eater, which is really weird for me having already raised one kid who definitely isn't. Ella won't eat meat and doesn't really like saucy things. What I make for her the most is butter noodles with a sprinkle of Romano cheese, or chicken nuggets (the only meat she eats). She's just recently becoming more adventurous, showing a liking for cucumbers and broccoli and even going so far as to test a piece of cauliflower!  Even though I feed her simple meals I know she'll eat (she has an underweight problem), I still offer her the things we eat in hopes that some day she'll expand her taste buds. It seems to be working—the other night she scarfed up three helpings of pesto pasta!

ella apple

Ella helps herself to an apple.

Shealynn, on the other hand, will eat just about anything you put in front of her. She has always been a very adventurous eater. She loves the things I make in the crock pot and we try to have fish at least one night a week, scallops being her current favorite. She eats a spinach salad or "wilted" spinach (lightly sauteed in olive oil with minced onion, garlic and sesame seeds) almost every night!

What is one thing you can make better than everyone else?

Although I can cook just about anything, I don't really think I have a "specialty." I do think my lasagna is amazing, although it's expensive and time-consuming so I only make it about once a year.

If you could eat one food every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sushi, for sure. Shealynn and I both adore sushi. When we go out for sushi, we spend over $100, so we felt really fortunate when we found a little neighborhood place with all you can eat sushi for $20. Also, we've been experimenting with making our own sushi over the last year, and it's a lot of fun, but doesn't compare to the experience of going out for it.

What is the last birthday party you had for one of your kids and what was the theme, food, games, etc.?

Shealynn kind of got the shaft for the sweet 16 since it was Ella's 1st birthday, so we had a big blowout party for her 17th. We called it a "debutante" party, and she chose a "celebrity" theme.  Everyone was to come dressed as a celebrity of their choice; she dressed as a brunette Paris Hilton.

We had a bar setup with my dad serving "mocktails" and everything was decorated like a swank Hollywood party with stars and gold—very lavish. I did all the food myself except for the cake. We started with fancy hors d'oeuvres like cocktail meatballs, mini quiches, and a cheese & fruit tray. The entree was a salad with two choices of pasta (meat sauce and vegetarian), then assorted chocolates, fruit, and the most amazing cake for dessert.  Because I saved a lot of money by doing the food myself, I really splurged on the cake and ordered a custom pink and black zebra-striped cake from a local, award-winning bakery called Michelle Marie's.

shealynn cake

Shealynn's 17th birthday party with her fabulous cake.

We had a couple "games." One was a nomination form with categories like "person most likely to break into song at an inappropriate moment" and "provided the most comic relief over the last year" and then gave out little statuettes to the winners. There were about 30 kids there and everyone said it was the party of the year, which made me feel really good.

How did you learn how to cook?

I took a cooking class in 7th and 8th grade that really taught me how to follow a recipe, use kitchen gadgets, and use various ingredients. I looooove food, so cooking is an art to me. Lately, a lot of people who eat my food say I should be a chef, which sounds really fun compared to the accounting job I have now!

Do you have a favorite cookbook?

I find I don't even use cookbooks anymore. Ever since joining CafeMom I rely on the various recipe groups I'm in—Crock Pot Moms and Recipe Swap being the two I refer to the most. You can get just about any recipe or advice you need here.

When I started my cooking way back when, I used the Betty Crocker cookbook. Also, I was a vegan for six years back in my 20's and had a great collection of cookbooks. My favorite one during that time was a Mexican cookbook for vegans that had an incredible recipe for vegan tamales (no lard). I wish I still had that book.

If you could meet one celebrity chef who would it be?

I don't really watch a lot of cooking shows. I do like Rachel Ray because she's bubbly and happy. That guy on Take Home Chef is HOT—he can come cook for me any day! But, I think if I could cook alongside any celebrity chef, it would be the guy from the PBS show Simply Ming: Chef Ming Tsai. He makes incredible-looking food and makes it look so easy. I've only attempted one of his recipes so far and it was great. I heart Chef Ming!

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