Cooking While Your Kid Sleeps: Recipes from the Naptime Chef

Kelsey Banfield, author of The Naptime Chef, refused to let motherhood cramp her cooking style. Learn Kelsey's time-saving tricks and then savor three drool-worthy recipes from the book.

Meet Kelsey Banfield

The Naptime Chef

Before she gave birth to daughter Daphne, Kelsey Banfield loved leisurely pouring over cookbooks and concocting complex recipes. But once her baby girl arrived, Kelsey faced a dilemma: how do you keep eating like a grownup when a little one enters the picture? She whipped up a smart solution: prep dinner during the baby's nap. We talked to Kelsey about her new cookbook, The Naptime Chef, and how parents can be foodies, too.

Parents magazine: How would you describe your cooking routine pre-baby?

KB: Cooking was loose and fun. I had a full-time job in New York, and I would stop by the grocery store on the way home to pick things up. I often called my husband to say, "I have this new recipe, so we'll eat late." On the weekend, we'd flip through cookbooks and do a complicated recipe. We approached it like we had all the time in the world.

Parents: How did motherhood change your cooking style?

KB: I worked until 5 days before Daphne was born, and I had baby gear and that sort of thing, but I had no clue about what was going to happen to my time. I realized that I couldn't leave cooking to the end of the day, or it wouldn't happen. It was definitely a wakeup call.

I had all of these recipes that we loved to eat, but they didn't acknowledge the reality about having kids. And all of the recipes that talked about cooking with kids didn't have things that we liked. The mom approach to cooking was all "stock up your fridge" or "20 minutes or less" -- a reductive solution. It approached cooking as a chore, something to make easier on yourself. Cooking wasn't a chore for me -- it was something that we loved. If we wanted to eat our favorite foods, I needed to figure out how to make them ahead of time. I started The Naptime Chef blog after I settled into my new routine.

Parents: What's your go-to recipe on a night when you're totally fried?

KB: Teriyaki chicken thighs. I get them marinating in the morning, cover them, and leave them in the fridge. It's a clutch recipe, because you just put the pan right into the oven. Just put something green on the side and add some rice or couscous. It's a recipe you can make with one eye open!

Parents: Are there any fancy or fussy foods that you're dying to simplify?

KB: I would love to find a shortcut to a great bolognese sauce. Most of them take 8 hours, unless it's done in a slow cooker. I'd also love to figure out how to make a wonderful paella at home. Hopefully someday I'll be able to tackle those!

The Naptime Chef is published by Running Press with photographs by Steve Legato.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

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