If your’e anything like us, when it comes to whipping up dinner, creating a meal that’s healthy, tasty, and easy feels pretty much impossible most nights. Well, our friend Katie Morford, the genius behind Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, has made the impossible possible with her totally drool-worthy blog that provides busy moms and dads with realistic tools and knowledge to make healthy and hassle-free meals their kids will devour. As a mom of three, Katie (also a food writer, registered dietician, and a fave of the Red Tricycle staff), shows us it is possible to make fresh, seasonal meals without feeling like you need a culinary degree (or ten assistants). Read on to hear more from Katie…

Red Tricycle: Can you share with your readers why you started Mom’s Kitchen Handbook and what’s the biggest reward in sharing your amazing recipes and kitchen wisdom with your readers.

Katie Morford: Mom’s Kitchen Handbook started as a cookbook idea. As I was writing the book proposal, I decided to launch a blog at the same time. I sold the book, and the blog just sort of took off at the same time. Writing the blog is such a satisfying creative endeavor, from developing and photographing recipes to researching and writing nutrition pieces. Unlike the publishing I’ve done in magazines and newspapers, a blog is interactive. I love that I can connect directly with my readers; it’s a real community.

RT: Do you have any advice for working parents with limited time who struggle to make a healthy homemade meal every evening?

KM: It’s really hard. Even for parents who are home full time, dinner can be a challenge.

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1. Keep a well-stocked pantry of basics.  Having supplies to draw from means you can pull together meals on the fly without an extra trip to the store. Including some healthy convenience foods also has a place. Canned beans, quick-cooking seasoned rice mixes, turkey meatballs in the freezer, and bags of organic baby spinach are all examples of convenience foods that are pretty wholesome and easy to get from pantry to table.

2. Do some advanced prep. When you get home from the market, knock out a couple of tasks to make dinner go more quickly when the time comes. Washing lettuce and cutting up veggies means one less thing to do at suppertime and ups the likelihood that you’ll manage to get some greens on the table. You can also do a bit of prep in the morning, before work. Even just chopping an onion or grating cheese can make a difference when you’re facing the stove at six o’clock.

3. Keep it simple.  An omelette with a green salad can qualify as dinner and doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to pull together. Ambitious meals can be saved for weekends.

4. Involve the kids. This is tricky when they are tiny, but kids can be handy prep cooks as they get older. Plus, it’s a way to connect with your children, especially if you’ve been out of the house all day.

RT: What are your three can’t-live-without items in your pantry?

KM: So hard to limit it to three, but if I must…

Dried beans, Greek yogurt, and Extra-virgin olive oil.

RT: When you’re not whipping up delicious meals at home, where do you and your fam like to dine out and what do you order?

KM: For casual, Gialina in Glen Park makes excellent, artisanal pizza and interesting salads served family style in a big bowl. For take-out, the hand-made tortillas, fresh salsas, beans, and other taco fixings at the La Palma Mexicatessen on 24th Street and Florida can’t be beat.

For date night, I like to sit at the bar at Spruce.  My brother is the chef/owner so I’m terribly biased, but they do amazing soups, always have this delicate salad featuring vegetables from their farm, and the best burger and fries in San Francisco.

RT: You’re currently living in Glen Park — are there any hidden gems in your neighborhood you’d like to share with our Bay Area moms and dads?

KM: I love Perch. It’s a beautifully curated little shop where I can always find a gift for someone, whether it’s a bath toy for a new baby or a piece of jewelry for a friend.

A walk through Glen Canyon always makes me feel that I’m far away from an urban center.

Canyon Market is the heart of the neighborhood and has everything you might need for a pit stop before making dinner. They bake fresh bread everyday, so it often smells amazing in there, which is a nice bonus.

Here are some of Katie’s recipes, which are featured on Red Tricycle and favorites of our editorial staff:
Slow Cooker Braised Pulled Pork & Apple Cabbage Slaw
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Juicebox Apple Sauce
Chicken Parmesan Goes Light

Thanks so much, Katie for sitting down with Red Tricycle. To see more about what Katie has to say, visit Mom’s Kitchen Handbook and check out her fabulous kid-friendly recipes featured on Red Tricycle. 

first three photos courtesy of Mom’s Kitchen Handbook Facebook page; fourth photo courtesy of Gialina Facebook page