About Johanna

My photo
Chicago/Aurora, IL, United States
I am just like so many busy moms out there. I want to create great meals for me and my family where the food brings us together at the end of a long and hectic day. I want to empower moms to feel like they are able to make Great Everyday Meals by using simple, accessible, and inexpensive ingredients and basic cooking techniques. It’s more about family and less about slaving away in the kitchen cooking. I have been a restaurant industry professional for about 10 years and have a great passion for cooking. I will share tips, recipes and techniques that I have learned to arm everyday cooks with the foundation to simple yet great tasting cooking! Johanna M. Cook

Monday, July 25, 2011

California Strawberry Commission: Paint Chicago Red

Hosted by Chicagonista.com founder, MJ Tam, the California Strawberry Commission and The Chopping Block brought local social media moms together to learn more and taste California Strawberries.

Upon entering The Chopping Block in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, we were greeted with an array of strawberry themed bites and cocktails. For a foodie like myself, I was interested to see what recipes we home cooks can make at home that's simple, easy and in this case, new and exciting.

The first thing that caught my eye (that's me taking a pic!) were the freshly muddled strawberry cocktails, made very simply with...you guessed it, freshly muddled strawberries and Proscecco and garnished with a mint leaf. What a refreshing cocktail that can be easily made as non-alcoholic drink by substituting the Proscecco with sparkling white grape juice. Proscecco is a sparkling wine from Italy and very similar and often compared to and against Champagne from France.

The strawberry themed hors de vours were greeted with tons of "Oooohhhhs" and "Aaaaaahhhhs" from a room full of women who adore these beautiful berries. Strawberries are mostly associated with desserts like the classicly delicious, Strawberry Shortcake (pictured above) or ice cream. But on this day, I was excited to try the Strawberry Gazpacho (left) which I pressumably thought was going to be sweet, but instead greeted the complex flavors of jalapeno, cilantro, jicama, garlic and cucumber. What a great surprise. Other great recipes included Fresh Crab Tostadas topped with Strawberry Mango Salsa, a Goat Cheese & Strawberry Pizza topped with a balsamic reduction, and even a Strawberry and Cheese Panini that would be great for a baby or bridal shower and even a little girls tea party!

The Commission brought in George Chavez, a strawberry grower who answered our questions about growing techniques and freshness.

*It takes about 3-4 days from strawberries in California to arrive in various parts of the Midwest.

*Because of the CSC standards in irrigation and growing, California strawberries have been free from health hazards.

*DO NOT wash strawberries after you buy them. Wash them when you are ready to eat them to keep them fresh in the refrigerator.

*Try freezing strawberries, first on a cookie sheet, then transfer them to a zip locked bag and use as "ice cubes" for Sangria or lemonade. Good for up to one year in the freeezer.

The CSC also brought in local Registered Dietician and author of "101 Optimal Life Foods", David Grotto to talk nutrition.

*One serving of strawberries - about 8 strawberries - is an excellent source of vitamin C. In fact, a serving of strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange!

*Strawberries increase blood flow.

*Fiber is considered by the American Heart Association to be important for heart health. Epidemiological studies report that people who eat higher amounts of total fiber have a lower risk of heart disease.

I learned tons about strawberries at this event. They are a complex fruit that can be used many different ways.

Instead of buying your kids "fruity" snacks...why not do the real thing? They are sweet, delicious and healthy.

To learn about California Strawberries visit:

Photographs taken by: Lahleyoo

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Food Festival: Veggie Fest 2011

Food festivals are abundant during the summer months. Festivals celebrate great food and ingredients and anything goes from garlic festivals, bbq and rib fests, wine and cooking, strawberries and so much more. Veggie Fest held on the grounds of the Science of Spirituality Meditation Center on August 13 & 14, 2011 in Naperville, Illinois.

This festival no different than others, except that it celebrates veggies and vegetarianism..and it's FREE! But you don't have be a vegetarian to enjoy and appreciate this festival! It's a great time to spend with your family and introduce them to local farmers, play games and activities, listen to live music and of course, EAT!

Veggie Fest's boasts a diverse food court with about 21 vendors. "You'll get to choose from an incredible assortment of delicious vegetarian cuisines. If you're already a vegetarian, it'll be a fun treat knowing that every single booth is offering something you can eat! If you're new to vegetarian food, you're bound to find something that makes you say, "Wow, I didn't know vegetarian food could be so good!" And if you're not eating dairy, don't worry -- you'll find plenty of vegan food also." The food court showcases vegetarian cuisine from Asian, Mediterrenean, Middle-Eastern, Italian, Caribbean countries, as well as desserts.

Food is a very interactive subject. Veggie Fest will feature "three Chicago area restaurants plus a number of chefs from commercial enterprises who will be doing demos this year."

Karyn Calabrese of Karyn's Fresh Corner
Veggie Fest 2011 is proud to feature local Chicago’s own Karyn Calabrese of Karyn’s “Fresh Corner” and “Karyn’s Cooked” presenting a food demo at Veggie Fest. Karyn is a successful entrepreneur and popular holistic health expert based in Chicago. At 64 years old she looks nearly a generation younger and enjoys boundless energy and great health.

Chicago Soy DairyChicago Soydairy manufactures all of their own products in our their own facility using an entirely vegan staff. Most food companies contract others to produce products for them, making it very difficult to completely eliminate the possibility of cross contamination. Dairy products, animal products, tree nuts, and peanuts never even enter our facility, giving our vegan and allergy-sensitive customers peace of mind. Chicago Soy Dairy will be serving up samples while demoing their products. http://www.chicagosoydairy.com/

Come to Veggie Fest this year and experience something new and fun with your friends and family.

4S 175 Naperville-Wheaton Rd

Naperville, Illinois, 60563
630.955.1200 or 800.222.2207

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Recipe: Popsicle & Ice Cream

The weather is FINALLY summer-like and there's nothing more nostalgic than sitting on the porch with the kids eating popsicles. Store-bought popsicles are full of high-fructose corn syrup and added preservatives and ingredients. Making your own helps you control the sugar you give your kids, and you'll immediately taste the difference making it fresh.

Making homemade popsicles can be a fun summer activity with the kids and can also be simple. Once you try making your own popsicles and ice cream from scratch, you will want to make more and more!

White Peaches & Cream Popsicles

2 Ripe White Peaches – cut into cubes with skin on
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sparkling water

Blend all ingredients together and pour in molds. Freeze for about 4 hours.

Green Tea & Mango Ice Cream
2 Ripe Mangoes – peel and cube
2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
8 bags of Japanese green tea

In a sauce pot, heat the milk and cream and steap the green tea for about 5 minutes. DO NOT BOIL. Add the sugar and stir until sugar has dissolved. Let cool. In a blender, blend the mangoes with a little water until it is broken up to small pieces, but not pureed. Follow your ice cream maker instructions.

TIP* When ready to eat, keep ice cream out in room temperature for about 10 minutes for easier handling.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mexican Pantry Basics

When thinking of beloved ethnic foods, Mexican food can argueably be in the top 3.

Real Mexican food lovers know it's cuisine offers so much more than just the usual tacos and burritos. For you home cooks looking to spice up your pantry and incorporating a little Mexican flare to your everyday cooking, take this list of basic Mexican pantry ingredients and add it to your repetoire.


Black Beans
Pinto Beans

Serrano Peppers or Jalapeno Peppers
Bell Peppers
Canned Chipotle Peppers

Other Ingredients
Onions (Red & Spanish)
Fresh Roma Tomatoes
Canned Chopped Tomatoes
Fresh or Canned Corn
Tomato Sauce
Queso Fresco
Corn Tortillas
Flour Tortillas

I like to keep organic enchilada sauce handy as well and will often make my Mexican "Lasagna" using store-bought rotisserie chicken, layering it with corn tortillas, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese pouring enchilada sauce over each layer.

Also try canned Hominy, which is corn without the germ. It is served in soups like Posole, or make your own Chicken Soup swapping hominy for noodles in Chicken Noodle Soup, and add soup lime juice and cumen in the broth and top with crispy tortilla strips as the garnish with some cilantro leaves.

There are so many ways to incorporate Mexican flavors into your everyday cooking. The key to is to start with the correct basic ingredients.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Cut a Bell Pepper

Getting the most out of expensive bell peppers could be tricky! Watch the video for a great trick on how to get the most out of our pricey, and delicious peppers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to wrap baked fish in foil

Baked Tilipia in foil

4 Tilapia Fillets
1 Zuchinni - julienne
1 Yellow Bell Pepper - julienne
1 Roma tomato - cut into 4 wedges
Parsley leaves
Lemon Juice
Garlic Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Splash of white wine - optional (Pinot Grigio)

Wrap each fillet in tin foil or parchment paper. Bake in the oven at 350* for about 20 minutes.

If using frozen fish, cook time increases to 30 minutes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Recipe: Smothered Chicken

Comfort food is something that just makes people feel good. It's satisfying, heart-warming, and is plain ol' good.

This recipe for smothered chicken uses lean chicken breasts, fresh mushrooms and fresh flat leaf spinach and baked in the oven. It's simple to make and is great with a side of egg noodles and steamed broccoli.


4-6 skinless boneless organic chicken breasts
1 package of sliced mushrooms
1 bag of pre-washed spinach (salad isle)
2 cans of organic cream of mushroom condensed soup
1/2 cup of low-sodium organic chicken broth
3 TBL of olive oil

Heat a saute pan on medium/high heat. Season the chicken breasts with Paprika and brown. You do not need to cook the chicken all the way, it will finish cooking in the oven. Set aside in a baking dish.

Once all the chicken breasts have been browned, lower the heat to medium heat and toss in the fresh mushrooms and spinach. After sauteeing for about 1 minute add the 2 cans of cream of mushroom and chicken stock. Mix the ingredients for about 2-3 minutes and scrape the bottom of the pan, taking all the browned bits.

Transfer the sauce to the baking dish, over the brown chicken. Cover with foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.

Serve with steamed vegetables and egg noodles.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Recipe: Easy Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a noodle dish from Thailand. Tradionally, it is made with peanuts, egg, fish sauce, tamarind paste, lime, rice noodles and Thai chillies.

This recipe is a mid-week and "great everyday meal" version using readily availble ingredients. I took out the tamarind paste and fish sauce and substituted rice noodles with spaghettini.

I also used a go-to staple in my kitchen, rotiserrie chicken. I took one breast and shreddded the meat. To add a healthier ingredient, I also used cubed, extra-firm tofu that I pan fried until golden brown and sprinkled with Paprika. Your kids will think it's chicken…mine did!
The result is great restaurant style meal to spruce up your midweek dinner menu.

TIP: Add as much or as little vegetables you want to this dish. Bean sprouts, cilantro leaves, and red cabagge are also traditional ingredients you add. But feel free to get creative and experiment with zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, asparagus and eggplant. You can use whatever you want!


1/2 lb of spaghettini pasta – cooked to al dente
1 cup of salted peanuts – roughly chopped
1/2 head of green cabbage – slice
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup yellow onions – sliced
1 rotisserie chicken breast – shredded
1 package of cubed extra-firm tofu – pan fried
2 tsp of Serrano Pepper – finely diced
5 eggs – scrambled


1/3 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2 TBL brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 cup of low sodium chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon

Wisk all ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

In a large saute pan, eat 2 TBL of canola oil (or peanut oil) on medium/high heat. Add the onion and diced Serrano Peppers and saute for 2 minutes. Add rotisserie chicken, cabbage and shredded carrots. Toss around for about 1 minute and add the sauce mixture. Toss the vegetables around for about 1 minute.

In a large mixing bowl, put in the cooked spaghettini. When the vegetable mixture is done, toss it in with the noodles until all the ingredients are fully mixed together.

Top with chopped peanuts and serve.


Johanna M. Cook

COOKING SHOW: http://www.youtube.com/mommacuisineshow
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/mommacuisine

Momma Cuisine is about empowering moms to create "Great Everyday Meals" by using simple ingredients and basic cooking techniques.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

June Newsletter



June is the time of year where the pools are packed and barbeques
are in full swing! The weather is hot and most people are looking to
eat lighter and maintain their weight.

In this newsletter, I want to share a couple really good salad recipes
that are not only beautiful, but hearty enough even for your husband to
want to indulge! Along with the salads are homemade salad dressing
recipes that will force you to ask why you even ever spent money on
the salty, preservative-packed, store bought kinds.
The featured article this month is from Andrew Stiles, Cinema Sommelier
of Reel Pour. Reel Pour is a Podcast pairing the latest movies with wine!
Andrew will be teaching us a few tips about decanting wine .

I hope you enjoy this newsletter!
COOKING QUESTIONS?? Email me at Johanna@mommacuisine.com and I will answer them!
MOMMA CUISINE SHOW Watch it @ www.youtube.com/mommacuisineshow


Momma's Waldorf Salad

The Waldorf Salad was made popular by Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
in New York City somewhere in between 1893-1896 (Wikipedia).
It was traditionally made with apples, celery and walnuts and
dressed in mayonaisse on top of lettuce. Today, there are plenty
of variations of this salad, and here is mine. I take one red and
one green apple (Granny Smith) and slice them in match-sticks.
I add grapes, candied-walnuts and gorgonzola cheese on a bed
of romainne lettuce. I also add my one Sherry-Dijon Vinaigrette
that is incredibily simple to make.

1 red apple & 1 Granny Smith apple - julienned
2 cups of red seedless grapes - halved
8 0z tub of gorgonzola cheese
3 cups of walnuts
1/2 cup of brown sugar
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 heads of Romaine lettuce - wash & cut into strips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add
the brown sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and
in a large bowl toss it the mixture with the walnuts. Line a cookie sheet with
foil and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Take out and cool. When cool,

Take your shredded lettuce and first place the cheese on top of the lettuce.
Then add the grapes, apples and top with the candied walnuts. Drizzle with the
Sherry-Balsamic Vinaigrette and serve.

1 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup of Sherry wine
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, whish together sugar, dijon mustard, sherry wine and vinegar.
Once whisked, slowly drizzle the olive oil and serve with salad.
Also great as a marinade for pork, poultry of fish.

Berry Chicken Salad w/
Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 bags pre-washed field greens mix
1 lb of ripe strawberries
1 pint of blueberries
3 chicken breasts
2 cups of coursely chopped walnuts
4 oz of crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Simple White Wine Marinade

1 cup of white wine
3 TBL of Kikkoman soy sauce
1 lemon for juicing
1 TBL oregano
1-2 chopped garlic cloves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 TBL of blackberry preserves
1/4 cup of fresh orange juice
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Take all the White Wine Marinade ingredients and wisk together. Place the
chicken breasts in a large Zip Lock bag and pour the marinade on top. Place
in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, but no more than 1 hour.
Grill the chicken breasts over meduim-high heat. Do not place it on the hottest
part of the grill as it will be cooked on the outside but raw in the inside.
Check that the internal temperature is 165 degrees and set aside.

Place the blackberry jam, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper
together in a mixing bowl. With one hand slowly drizzle the extra virgin oil
while whisking with the other hand until all the ingredients are throuroughly
combine and place aside.

Take both bags of field greens and place it in a large serving bowl. Take the
strawberries and cut them in quarters and place it on top of the lettuce. Then,
take the blueberries, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese and place them on top
of the salad as well, making sure that all the ingredients are spread throughout.
Take the chicken breasts and slice them at an angle and place them around the
bowl for a decorative touch. Drizzle the entire salad witht the Blackberry Balsamic
Vinaigrette and serve.


Chopped Salad

One of my favorite restaurant salads is Portillo's Chopped Salad. The problem it costs
over $8 for an order. For that much money I can show you how to feed enough for your
next gathering!!!

1 lb of bacon - cooked & chopped
1- 8oz tub of gorgonzola cheese
4 Roma tomatoes - diced
1 bunch of scallions - chopped
2 cups of ditallini pasta - cooked
2 heads of Romaine lettuce - chopped
2 rotisserie chicken breasts - diced

In a large salad bowl, lay the bed of romaine lettuce down and toss all the ingredients
in with the lettuce, including the pasta. Drizzle with your homemade Honey-Mustard

1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 cup real mayonaise
3 TBL organic honey
1/3 cup vingar
Pinch of salt & pepper
Wisk all ingredients together and serve
Homemade Beauty Treatments -
Which Common Kitchen Items Can Get You Gorgeous Now
By Britney's Beauty Blog

Did you know that you can "cook up" some amazing beauty treatments with the items
contained in your kitchen? Check out the tips from Total Beauty.com and get started
on creating some new beauty concoctions!- "Does your tight budget make even
drugstore beauty products a luxury? Don't fret. You can still have beautiful skin and
hair without buying a ton of (or even any!) products. These bargain beauty tips will
show you how to turn kitchen leftovers and more into everything you need to look great.
Bonus: these tips all use natural ingredients -- good for you, good for the earth!"

10 Best Homemade Beauty Products
Those leftovers that even the family dog wouldn't eat are actually great ingredients for
homemade beauty products

These bargain beauty tips will show
you how to turn kitchen leftovers and
more into everything you need to look
great. Bonus: These tips all use
natural ingredients.


featured article:

Decanting, a quick and painless guide
by your local Cinema Sommelier Andrew Stiles from the Reel Pour Podcast

If wine is a movie, then a decanter is like the theater, it just improves
the experience. Aerating the wine is like having popcorn and a comfy seat.
Widening the surface area of the wine is like widening the screen you watch
it on. Of course, I prefer to have friends around at both so I can talk
about it and share the experience of both with them. I cannot recommend this
enough. Okay, back to the point, What is a decanter? Decanting is the term used
when pouring wine from one bottle into another container, usually fancy and
impressive looking. There are many different kinds of decanters, everything
from a super wide vase looking thing to a glass container that looks like
tree roots which I saw at the *San Francisco Museum of Modern Art* (*SFMOMA*)
earlier this year. But in a pinch a pancake mixing bowl that's been properly
cleaned also works just fine if you are willing to be cheap about it.

Really, it's true... I'm serious!

The idea of a decanter is three fold. the first is to infuse the wine
with a bit of air also known as aeration. Air "opens up" a wine. Infusing it
with air does a couple of things, but mostly it causes more of the flavors
to come forward. it's basically speeding up the process that would happen
anyway. With me usually the wine is devoured in my group of friends before
the wine is truly at it's tasting peak. So instead,you can decant it to
speed up that process. Just pour the wine against the side of a decanter
where the wine spreads out to a more thin sheen as it then cascades into the
bottom, churning the wine as it collects in the bottom and then collecting
into a pool with a larger surface area than you would have in the bottle
itself (just a small hole where the cork would be). Don't worry too much
about being delicate the point is to get as much air into it as possible. I
also like to swirl it in the decanter at this point, just like I would in
the glass. After letting it sit for a few minutes, you can then pour it into
a glass repeating the process. Then of course it's up to you to swirl your
wine in the glass letting more air touch the wine. or you could just drink
the wine because all this waiting is drying out your mouth... I understand

The 2nd reason for decanting a bottle of wine is that in some older
wines (mainly red wines) natural sediment
sometimes forms in the bottle as the wine ages,
usually more than 10 years from when it was bottled. The
older the bottle the more sediment and the thicker it is.
This sediment isn't hurtful to the wine but it is usually
bitter in taste and not really something you want included
in your wine as it rolls across your tongue. To separate it,
just hold a light source to the bottle as your pour it and you should be able to see if
there is sediment fairly quickly. Some decanters come with a little mesh basket that
you can pour the wine thru, or if you are really anal you can use a coffee filter. But if
you don't have either of those, don't despair just grab a flashlight, shine it at the bottle
and just watch for the sediment as you pour, stop pouring before it leaves the bottle.
It takes a little practice and a little patience but it makes for a better tasting wine. If
you have the time and you know the bottle has sediment in it, leave the bottle standing
up for a day or two and let the sediment settle and fall to the bottom of the bottle so
when you open it and pour it slowly it won't churn into the rest of the bottle therefore making
it easier to keep it out of the decanter.

The 3rd reason for using a decanter is showmanship. it's fun, it looks
interesting, and it gives you a little something to explain to your guests
at the next dinner party when you break out the wine. Like velvet ropes and
a snack bar by your TV. Plus it shows off your personal taste (just like
those vintage movie posters) even if it is a glass mixing bowl that held
pancake batter 7 hours ago...

Check out our Radio Style podcast called Reel Pour where we pair wine and
movies together and talk about both. More information and previous shows can
be found at ReelPour.com or you can always find us on itunes.

Reel Pour: http://www.reelpour.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Reel-Pour/133676501593
Twitter: @ReelPour
May your Wine and your Movies, be moving, complex, sometimes sexy, and make
you smile relentlessly when they're done.


Facts on Ingredient Substitution By Jessica Pestka, eHow Contributor

Missing an ingredient for a recipe doesn't mean a ruined recipe or a trip to the grocery store. Many common ingredients can be substituted in a recipe without compromising the basic taste or composition of the final product. Knowing how to substitute ingredients can save time and frustration when cooking. Additionally, ingredients can be substituted to make a recipe healthier or replace an unwanted item.

Read more: Facts on Ingredient Substitution eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_4706146_ingredient-substitution.html#ixzz1MAXldEjg


Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic
preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease,
diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon
footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and
fossil fuel.
Click on the link picture to learn more about the
Meatless Monday movement and get recipes for you
and your family!

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Watch Momma Cuisine's recipes come to life on the Momma Cuisine Show channel on You Tube.

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Contributing Columnist

Read articles and recipes contributed by Johanna.
Launched in 2007, TribLocal provides a unique mix of
professional and user-generated content online along with
a weekly digest of local news printed in our Thursday
newspaper. Combine all that with a history of
award-winning traditional journalism at the Chicago
Tribune and you have a forward-thinking and trusted
news product.

Things Parents And Grandparents Say That Can Cause Eating & Weight Problems
By Medical News Today

Parents can sometimes forget that they are raising adults, not children.
The goal is to equip kids with the skills and increasing responsibility for
managing their lives without constant vigilance, according to Michelle
May, M.D., author, board-certified family physician, and expert for TOPS
Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support

One key life skill is the ability to navigate an abundant food environment
while maintaining optimal health. Here are seven things that well-meaning
parents commonly say that may have unintended consequences - and
what to say instead:

1. You are such a good eater! - Children want nothing more than to
please their parents. While mealtime should be a pleasant time to connect
with your children, eating should remain intrinsically driven to meet your
child's fuel needs, NOT to earn your praise.

What you could say instead: You must have been really hungry today!
Or, I love spending time with you while we have dinner.

2. You are such a picky eater! - All children (and adults) have some
foods that they just don't like. Some children are highly taste and/or texture
sensitive, but most will outgrow it. Picky eating becomes an entrenched
behavior when we berate, beg, bribe - or worse, feed kids only what
they say they'll eat.

What you could say instead: I know you didn't like it last time; tell me what
you think about it today after you have one polite bite. Or, Did you know
your taste buds grow up just like you do? I wonder if you like this big kid food

3. Clean your plate; there are starving children in . - Avoid teaching
children scarcity eating behaviors in our plentiful food environment.

What you could say instead: It's important to not be wasteful, so please
only take as much as you think you need. Or, If you're full, we can save
the rest for later.

4. You have to eat all your vegetables or there will be no dessert.
Kids are smart. When you bribe them for eating certain foods, they quickly
realize that those foods must be yucky and that dessert is the reward.
They also learn to hold out until a reward is offered.

What you could say instead: I love all kinds of different foods - some that
make me healthy and strong and some that are just for fun. What kinds of
foods do you like? Or, Enjoy your dinner. We'll be having dessert in a
couple hours.

5. Eat all your dinner or you don't get dessert. - This variation on the
threat above translates to "you must overeat and I will reward you by giving
you more to eat!" Children naturally love sweet foods, so they can learn to
override their fullness signals. As an adult, they might be temped to
order a 1,200-calorie salad to "earn" a 1,200-calorie piece of cheesecake.

What you could say instead: Save room for dessert tonight!

6. I was so bad at lunch today! Now I have to spend an extra hour
on the treadmill. Children are born to move. They naturally love exploring
their environment, challenging themselves, and playing actively. Unfortunately,
the messages they get from adults teach them that exercise is
punishment for eating.

What you could say instead: I ate more than I needed and now I feel too
full and uncomfortable. I think a walk would make me feel better. Want to
join me? Or, anybody up for a bike ride?

7. I am so gross and fat! Or, I can't believe has let herself go!
- Kids learn from us even when we think they aren't listening. Statements like
this teach kids that it's okay to put yourself and others down and judge people
for their weight or other physical attributes. Perhaps they also secretly wonder
what you really think about them.

What you could say instead: I'm not perfect, but I do my best to make
healthy choices.

And whatever else you say, remember to say often...
I love you just the way you are.

TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly)

By Blissfully Domestic

Feeding kids healthy food was so simple when it only came pureed in tiny jars, wasn’t it? But from the time kids graduate to table food until the day they graduate from high school, it feels like it’s you against the world when it comes to their nutrition. Why? Because it is.

Family travel
5 Five beaches to enjoy
The Dallas Morning News
Read more:

By Sophistated Pie via Meatless Monday
Nutrition Information
•Servings per Recipe: 10
•Amount per Serving
•Calories: 137
•Calories from Fat: 33
•Total Fat: 3.7g
•Saturated Fat: 1.6g
•Cholesterol: 47mg
•Sodium: 231mg
•Potassium: 279mg
•Total Carbohydrates: 19.1g
•Dietary Fiber: 1.5g
•Protein: 7.3g
• Sugars: 7.1g

8 Tips to Throw a
Wedding Reception

By Organic Authority

Make your wedding
reception an event
that not only celebrates
your loved one and
yourself, but also the
food, the land and the
guests you are
bringing to the table.
Gone are the days of
stuffy hotel wedding
receptions with generic
“American” fare—sure,
we all love a good steak
and potatoes, but the
modern wedding is giving
its food a bit more
attention thesedays.

The farm-to-table movement,
which hit restaurants years
ago, has now made its way
into weddings. Brides and
grooms are ditching the
hotels and heading to the
countryside; they’re
kicking off their shoes in
the fields, working with
the farmers to make
a seasonal, local feast
and giving their guests an
experience almost as
memorable as it will be for
themselves. Here are 8
essential tips for making
your own wedding
reception a farm-to-table



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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Foods to Satisfy and to Heal

As a self-proclaimed Foodie and cooking enthusiast, I have always been amazed by how people gather together over food. However, over the years, I have become even more intrigued with how food can heal or destroy the human body and soul.

Food, which is celebrated through bountiful harvests and the best restaurant reviews it town, can also become someone's arch nemesis. Weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and many more diseases have food to thank as part of the reason so many have the disease.

My first client for the Momma Cuisine - Prepared Meals Services has asked for me to help make dinners for her family as well as to keep her on a strict "diet" of low to no carbs, low fat, but high in taste, simple enough for her kids and easy to heat and eat. Now that's a request! But, isn't this what we are all looking for?

Also, my husband had a freak accident playing basketball and is now required to undergo major knee surgery. The whole idea of letting food heal your body instead of destroying it, became an even bigger and more personal task. In researching this, I hope to help my family and my clients by making them foods that are tasty and choosing ingredients and cooking techniques that will keep them healthy.

Green Vegetables, beans, tofu, sesame seeds, and even oranges contain lots of usable calcium, without the problems associated with dairy. Keep in mind that you retain the calcium better and just do not need as much when you don't consume a diet heavy in animal products and sodium, sugar, and caffeine.

The key to eating healthy is quite simple. Get away from processed foods, and concentrate on eating more fruits and vegetables. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, with giant M's at every street corner, and an extremely fast-paced lifestyle, it is very easy to succumb to the temptation.

Here are some ideas of great foods that also heal:

Tangerines - Prevent heart disease, Reduce the risk of cancer

Raisins - Improve digestion, Lower blood pressure, Keep blood healthy

- Aid in digestion, Prevent heart disease and cancer

Nuts - Protect against Heart disease, Lower Cholesterol, Prevent Cancer

Garlic - Prevent heart disease and stroke, Reduce the risk of stomach and colon cancers, Lower cholesterol

- Improve insulin sensitivity, Lower cholesterol and blood sugar, Reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer

Spices - Protect against cataracts, Prevent cancer, Lower cholesterol, Prevent blood clotting

Hot Tea - Control cholesterol, Prevent stroke and heart disease, Reduce tooth decay, Prevent intestinal cancer

Corn - Lower cholesterol, Boost energy levels

Cherries - Natural pain killer, Reduces inflamation, may help you sleep

Happy Eating (and cooking)!


Foods That Heal: http://www.foodsthatheal.blogspot.com

Disease Proof: http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/healthy-food-the-best-foods-for-bones-fruits-and-vegetables.html

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

GMO's or genetically modified organisms are in more everyday food items that most people know or like to admit. With organic and healthy eating a more important issue with consumers, the topic of genetically modified foods have become a great issue many want to know more about. And if you don't know, you have got to find out!

According to the Organic Consumers Association and their "Millions Against Monsanto 2011" campaign, more than 1/3 of the U.S. crops contain GMO's. That's about 165 million acres. Monsanto is the largest and most powerful company who have pattented GMO foods. The campaign's goal is to mandate labeling on every single food product that contains genetically modified ingredients and teach locals how they can organize a "Millions Against Monsanto" campaign in their own communities on World Food Day, October 16, 2011. "Our Goal: 435 chapters, one for each Congressional District x 2300 supporters in each chapter = 1,000,000 people against Monsanto, in support of our right to know and choose what's in our food."

"Let thy Food be thy Medicine and thy Medicine be thy Food" – Hippocrates. That is the message from the founding father of modern medicine echoed in the controversial new documentary film Food Matters from Producer-Directors James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch.

This film discusses whether genetically modified foods are safe for human consumption will remain a controversial issue. Yet some scientists who have been quieted or marginalized have found serious concerns about the safety of GMOs in laboratory animal studies. In many investigations involving GMO-fed animals, there have been cases of underdeveloped organs, reproductive problems, accelerated aging and even death.

The film also discusses the four As (allergies, asthma, autism, and ADD) rapidly increase in U.S. health statistics, we must consider that GMOs could certainly be one of the causes. As a matter of fact, in a recent position paper by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, physicians across the country called for a moratorium on GMO foods because "there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects."


Food Matters – http://www.foodmatters.tv
Organic Consumers Association – http://organicconsumers.org/monsanto/index.cfm

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Momma Cuisine FREE Newsletter

Johanna M. Cook founder of Momma Cuisine – Making Great Everyday Meals started Momma Cuisine as merely a blog to express her love of food and share recipes with family and friends. Today, Momma Cuisine has grown as the concept of teaching busy moms how to create the ever challenging "everyday meal" has sparked interest, among mothers of course.

Momma Cuisine is launching a monthly newsletter to feature recipes and cooking tips, as well as a featured article touching on other topics besides food that may be of interest to today's moms. The March copy of the free newsletter highlights an article by Kids Wealth International Club, Inc. C.E.O., Melanie Javier. The article talks about when to start talking about money with kids. The newsletter also highlights Momma Cuisine's list of simply Pantry Basics; a list of easy-to-find ingredients that will help moms with a beginners guide to stocking their pantry, as well as recipe. The newsletter is free and signing up for it can be found in Momma Cuisine's website, www.mommacuisine.com.

Also look out for Momma Cuisine Shows on You Tube where her blog and recipes come to life at www.youtube.com/mommacuisineshow.

To contact Johanna M. Cook about Momma Cuisine workshops, please email johanna@mommacuisine.com

Monday, February 28, 2011

TribLocal by Chicago Tribune Event at Whole Foods with Momma Cuisine

I was recently invited by Trib Local of Chicago Tribune to participate in an free event going to be held at Whole Foods Market on Thursday, March 24 at 7 p.m. to demonstrate, Healthy Eating on a Budget.

"Launched in 2007, TribLocal provides a unique mix of professional and user-generated content online along with a weekly digest of local news printed in our Thursday newspaper. Combine all that with a history of award-winning traditional journalism at the Chicago Tribune and you have a forward-thinking and trusted news product."

It is such an honor to be invited to be a part of an event such as this. My passion for teaching busy moms (and dads) about how to create Great Everyday Meals is something that runs deep in my veins. Food is more than just a simple need. It brings people together, and in some countries, apart. It is the highlight of a party, the most memorable part of a vacation, the main event on a holiday, and a tool to bring friends and family together to spend time over. To me food is more than just items on a plate. Food and how cook it, is how I express my love, gratitude and feelings to and for my family and friends. I use it as a tool to meet new friends, as well as to help me reconnect with old ones.

My love and enthusiasm for food and cooking is something I want to share with everyone, especially mothers. Mother's have it tough in the kithen. Unlike in restaurants, we are our own dishwashers, bussers, prep cooks, executive chef and servers. Let's not even start with the discriminating diners we have to feed everyday!! Showing busy, modern moms how to create Great Everyday Meals using only simple ingredients and basic cooking techniques is what Momma Cuisine is all about.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recipe: Angel Hair w/ Roasted Chicken & Bacon

Having guests over is sometimes cause for mild panic attacks for hosts. The idea of trying to impress guests with your fabulous (and impeccably clean) home, and your outstanding sense of great food can be a lot of work and money. This recipe is a quick meal yet doesn't lack in flavor, style and pizzaz. It only calls for a few simple ingredients, and one of my favorite go-to's…store bought organic rotisserie chicken!



1 lb of angel hair pasta
1 lb of thick sliced bacon – diced into large chunks
2 breasts of fully cooked organic rotisserie chicken – diced
1 pint of cherry tomatoes – halved
1/2 cup parsely
6 oz of shredded parmesan cheese
olive oil

Cook the bacon in the oven, on a lined baking sheet, at 375 degrees until crispy. Let cool and cut into large pieces. Carve the breasts of a store-bought organic rotisserie chicken and dice. Set ingredients aside.

Cook the angel hair in boiling, salted water for about 12-15 minutes or until al dente. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and 2 tsp of kosher salt. Toss in the tomatoes, parmesan cheese and parsely. Then, toss in the bacon and chicken. Garnish with more parsely and parmesan cheese and serve alongside tomato foccacia bread or a french baguette.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chicago Restaurant Week 2011


"Chicago Restaurant Week, produced by the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB) is Chicago’s celebration as a world-class dining destination. Supported by the CCTB’s restaurant members, the promotion runs for ten days with prix fixe lunch and/or dinner menus at more than 200 restaurants throughout the Chicago area (and suburbs)."

Chicago is a wonderful food town and argueably goes toe-to-toe with big cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco as having some of the best chefs and restaurants the food world has to offer. With more than 200 restaurant participating, this yearly event is highly anticipated by foodies all over town and suburbs. It's a great way sample new restaurants, as well as eat in some of the most expensive establishments for a portion of the regular menu price.

"Reservations are strongly recommended. To make a reservation, visit EatItUpChicago.com or call your restaurant of choice. Participating restaurants should provide you with their special Restaurant Week Menus upon seating. If a Restaurant Week menu is not provided at that time, you should request it."

And do not fret if you cannot make it to the city. Downtown Naperville's very own Catch 35 is participating in Restaurant Week, as well as Mon Ami Gabi, Capital Grille, Carlucci, Benihana, and Wildfire in our neighboring cities, Oakbrook and Lombard. To view a complete list of participating restaurants visit,

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Recipe: Coconut Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca pudding is classic Americana. This recipe has an Asian twist using coconut milk instead of milk (or cream)and eggs. This pudding is also dairy free and great for those who are lactose intolerant.

The key to this dish is to continually stir the tapioca to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of pan, much like risotto. The ingredients, although seemingly exotic, can be found in most grocery stores international food isle. And mini tapioca pearls are found in the bakery section of your local grocer. This is a great comforting dessert that my son loves!


2 cans of coconut milk
2 cans of coconut water (can contain coconut bits)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
Pinch of ground ginger
Toasted coconut flakes for garnish

In a large sauce pan, heat the coconut milk on medium heat. Add the tapioca when the coconut milk starts to steam, not boiling. Continue to stir genlty until the tapioca is cooked all the way. As the coconut milk starts to thicken, slowly add coconut water and stir again. Be careful not to make the pudding too thick or too runny. You may not have to use all the coconut water.

Once the tapioca is cooked all the way through and consistency of the pudding is what you like, add the brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger and stir in. Serve in large ramekins and garnish with toasted coconut flakes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Black Eyed Peas w/ Hamhocks

With all this snow and "snowpocalypse" conditions, there's nothing like piling up the blankets on the couch, with a steaming hot bowl of soup with the TV remote on the other hand. This dish is such a heart-warming, southern classic that is perfect for the type of weather we've been experiencing.

This dish only has a handful of easy-to-find ingredients. However, many stay clear of it because of the very long cook time. To soften the hamhocks takes at least 2 hours. In addition, uncooked black eyed peas takes another couple hours to cook all the way through as well. The key to making this dish a little less time consuming is to use quick cook black eyed peas. I found mine at Meijer, in the produce section. Also, if you had a pressure cooker, that too would speed up the process of softening the hocks. But if not, simply use a slow cooker and let it go while you run errands or check emails. You won't even notice that a couple hours has gone by!


1 medium onion – diced
2 cloves of garlice – minced
1 bay leaf
1 tbl of kosher salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 lb of smoked hamhocks
4 cups of low sodium organic chicken broth
4 cups of water

2 – 12 oz packages of quick cook black eyed peas

Heat a large pot with 2 tablespoons of canola oil on medium-high heat. Saute the onions and garlic until the onions have become translucent. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper. Add the hamhocks and saute just for a couple minutes to release some of the flavor and render a little of the fat. Then add the chicken broth and water. Let boil until the hamhocks are tender, about 2 hours.

When the hamhocks are fork tender, add the black eyed peas and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the peas are softened. Serve hot!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Momma Cuisine Website

I want to invite you all who follow and read my blogs to the official Momma Cuisine website www.mommacuisine.com. Starting in March, I will be doing a Momma Cuisine monthly newsletter, similar to this blog to highlight quick & easy recipes, cooking technique tips and food articles. Please sign up on the website to receive the free newsletter.

I also want to invite everyone to see my latest project, Momma Cuisine Show on You Tube. This project is really to bring the blog to life. I will be inviting friends over to show them how to make Great Everyday Meals, this should be interesting! Momma Cuisine now offers workshops to really help empower moms in conquering their kitchen dilemmas and teach skills that will last a lifetime.

Thank you all for your support, I really appreciate it!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Momma Cuisine: A Whole Different Adventure

First of all, I want to thank all of you who have followed me through this experience. It all started as a creative outlet for myself and my love and passion for cooking and dining. As I began my Momma Cuisine blog in 2009, I had no idea of what would come of this, if any. Throughout 2010, as I was actively posting recipes and meals that I was serving to my kids and husband, I started to hear from other "Mommas" out there. What I heard was how many moms didn't know how to make healthy, creative meals for their families that fit into our modern family's time constraints. Many moms didn't even know how to shop for ingredients at the grocery store, much less think of how to cook them.

Today, Momma Cuisine has completely taken over my life, in a great, great way. I have found that I can lend my passion and expertise about food and cooking to help empower moms, both young and old, to make great meals for themselves and their families. I have gone as far as start to weed myself out of the corporate restaurant world, where I built my career as a restaurant manager for almost 10 years to work only part-time, to make Momma Cuisine my full time endeavor. With more You Tube show episodes under way, Momma Cuisine Workshops and even One-on-One sessions , I hope that my own love and passion for food can be taught to those who want to learn.

What Momma Cuisine means to me, is that I will be able to help contribute to assit busy moms how get their families around their dinner tables to spend quality time together over great homemade food, made by love. After a crazy, busy day bussing the kids all over town, work deadlines, and all that jazz, being together at the end of the day as a strong family is what matters.