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RECIPES THAT WORK FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY by Olivia Mack McCool


And they're all homemade

Being a food stylist and recipe developer, I get lots of questions about what I cook for my family and in particular for my little ones. The truth is I cook just about every day for my family. How is that possible you might ask? Part of that answer is that it’s my profession, so therefore food is always at the top of my mind. But the other part is that through years of cooking both at home and on photo shoots, I have become very efficient with my time and ingredients in the kitchen. These two recipes are a testament to that skill.


Chicken nuggets, even good quality ones, can certainly be bought frozen in a box these days. But my homemade recipe is healthier, far less expensive and can be made in bulk and frozen. The mix has a light texture that comes from using ground chicken, ground almonds and two eggs. When it comes to cooking them you have some options. Here you’ll read that I have you bake them in the oven, but these are fantastic in an air fryer if you have one. Once they’re cooked, they keep in the fridge for a few days and in the freezer for longer – just reheat in the oven or air fryer.


In order to get homemade food that fits the bill for everyone, on the table each night, recipes that multitask are a must in my kitchen. This carrot ginger soup is first and foremost delicious and healthy. It’s a great thing to make at the beginning of the week and keep in the fridge for a fast lunch. But if you happen to be feeding a baby who is eating purees, you can easily transform part of it into baby food by simply taking out some of the cooked veggies and pureeing them before you finish the soup. The best part is that it all comes together before nap time is over.


Olivia Mack McCool is a recipe developer, cookbook author, food stylist and local mom who lives in Maplewood. For more of her work and recipes, check out her website oliviamackmccool.com and follow along on Instagram @oliviamackmccool.

Homemade Chicken Nuggets - Makes about 24-26 nuggets


1 pound ground chicken

1 cup almond flour

½ cup grated parmigiano reggiano

2 eggs

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch (see step 3)

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

⅔ cup plain breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

Cooking spray


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spray with cooking spray.


In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, almond flour, grated parmesan, eggs, salt, garlic powder and onion powder. Mix well until combined. You could do this up to 12 hours ahead and store it in the fridge.


In a shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Mix it together using a fork to mash the oil into the breadcrumbs until it resembles wet sand.


Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the chicken into the palm of your hand and roll into a ball. Drop the ball into the breadcrumbs, lightly coat the outside with breadcrumbs and gently flatten into a “nugget” shape. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all your mixture is gone.


Spray the top of the nuggets with cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.


Either serve right away or store in the refrigerator or freezer. Simply reheat in the oven.



Carrot Ginger Soup - Makes 6 Servings


2 tablespoons coconut oil or neutral oil

A 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 small shallot, roughly chopped

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon red curry paste (see notes)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 (14-ounce) can of full-fat unsweetened coconut milk (hold back about ¼ cup if making baby food)

1 tablespoon fish sauce

Kosher salt

Zest and juice of half a lime

Chili oil, for garnish

Chopped cilantro, for garnish


In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the ginger, shallots, and garlic, and cook until soft and just starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the carrots and curry paste and stir well. Cook for 2 more minutes.


Pour in the stock and coconut milk. Bring the soup to boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.


If making baby food: Using a slotted spoon, take out about ½ a cup of cooked carrots and place them in the bowl of a mini food processor or blender. Add the coconut milk, starting with just 2 tablespoons and puree until smooth. Add more coconut milk if it is too thick.


Add the fish sauce, lime zest and juice to the soup. Season with a generous pinch of salt.

Carefully transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. (You may need to do this in two batches.) Taste and adjust for salt and lime.


Serve the soup warm garnished with chili oil and/or chopped cilantro.


Note: You can buy jars of red curry paste in most grocery stores in the international foods section.

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