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on March 11, 2012
I'm the proud owner of a ton of cookbooks, and my shelf is pretty crowded with titles that I like to read but that I don't actually cook from that often.

Since I bought it, I haven't bothered to fit The Naptime Chef's book on my shelf, because it's found a better place: on my kitchen counter. In use. Kelsey's recipes are delicious looking and sounding, and they're also a creative call to action to get in the kitchen, no matter how busy or complicated our days may be.

There are a bunch of moments in our lives when routines change--after we graduate from college or start a family. Kelsey Banfield's cookbook identifies the latter as a time when a foodie home cook's priorities have to change. But she also shows with her recipes, introduction, and helpful sidebars that just because life's gotten busier doesn't mean food lovers have to abandon great cooking, or revert to cake mixes or take out.

I don't have a kid yet, but I'm in school and engaged, so I always need great, straightforward recipes for two that I can make ahead of time or whip up quickly when I get home from a super long day. That's why Kelsey's book has been invaluable to me.

Here's what I love most about it:

-Kelsey's tips for planning ahead. In all her recipes, she tells you exactly what needs to be done to get this appetizer/main dish/dessert on the table. It's great to learn what can be frozen easily and how long different parts of a recipe keep in the fridge, and it really helps with planning.
-The little boxes that separate prep time from cook time so you know the start-to-finish time but also how many precious minutes you'll have while the food is cooking unattended to wash dishes/clean the apartment/talk on the phone.
-The recipes all have creative little extras or combine ingredients in surprising and inventive ways. They take a go-to comforting family dinner and give it a welcome gourmet twist.

The first recipe I made was the Chicken Sausage and Tortellini soup on page 92. I had pretty much everything in my pantry already, but I wouldn't have thought to combine sausage, pasta, tomatoes, and spinach in soup. Topped with parmesan cheese, the dish was hearty and rich--enough for a Sunday night dinner and a few days of lunch during the week. Best of all, my kitchen was hardly a mess afterwards.

Other recipes I'm exited about are the Sticky Orange Drumsticks, the Pesto Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Baked Gnocchi with Roasted Eggplant and Mozzarella, Crispy Parmesan Potato Wedges, Green Beans with Toasted Almonds, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt, and Everyday Cream Puffs. And a whole lot of others.

I'm so glad to have this book in my collection and would recommend it to busy cooks whether or not they have kids!
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on June 5, 2012
I have used many cook books over the years and claims of 30 minute meals often take more like an hour for the amateur chef. This is not the case with The Naptime Chef. The naptime stopwatch for prep and cook times in Kelsey's book are quite accurate and the recipes are simple enough for a beginner chef, yet appealing enough to satisfy the palate of an experienced cook. The make-ahead tips and variation ideas help even the busiest parents make delicious foods the entire family will enjoy. Favorites in our house are the old-fashioned blueberry muffins (which we call scuffins, since they are like a scone-muffin), italian-style meatloaf (delicious even the next day crumbled up with spaghetti sauce!), and the everyday cream puffs (delicious and so easy to make!).
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on March 12, 2012
I preordered "The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life" because I'm taken with what author Kelsey Banfield offers on her website of the same name. While I became a "naptime chef" myself a few years before Kelsey's daughter was born, now that my own children are in grade school, the rush to get dinner on the table is all the more urgent. Banfield's book fills a gap in my --I hate to admit it-- overly extensive cookbook collection. Her recipes fit a particular need I have, which is to provide my family meals that are interesting to all of us, but ones I can execute on my time schedule and complete in that last hour before the lions finish their homework and come out of their lairs looking for dinner. The morning after I read the cookbook, I served the boys her pancakes with malted milk powder in them. They were a huge hit! A friend has my copy right now, and I left work today telling her that she needs to get her own copy of this wonderful cookbook.
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on April 19, 2012
In our deluge of new cookbook, Banfield pulled off a new one by thinking outside of the box. The title The Naptime Chef may mislead you. It's not the chef, unfortunately, who can take a nap. But as a young parent with a new baby, your kitchen time is reduced to snatching minutes here and there to prepare a healthy and proper meal--an awkward way to cook. Banfield designed her cookbook to do kitchen work in the best available time: during baby napping. The recipes are good, though simple enough to fit within the time on hand, while hoping the nap is not over too soon. Fixing basic items like pancakes, french toast, guacamole, ratatouille and teriyaki chicken fit into the napping time. Each recipe comes with prep time and baking time (Naptime Watch) and the very good head notes give tips on both the recipes and ingredients. Most have make-ahead tips and variation ideas. In addition, she provides plenty of suggestions that will speed the work: e.g. your own pancake mix. The layout of recipes is excellent and cook friendly. The index is well cross referenced and very complete. The Pantry Staples chapter is useful. (As reviewed for Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review.)
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on January 29, 2013
I have tried several recipes from this book and have yet to be disappointed. I also went to the authors blog (wish I'd known about it before and could have saved some money) and have been similarly pleased. The only reason that I'm giving it three stars is that the naptime stopwatch estimations are way off. Prior to our special delivery, I spent lots of time in the kitchen and consider myself to be pretty efficient. When I noted the naptime stopwatch times, I was pretty excited... until I tried out the recipes and the stopwatch times were not very accurate. Still, the recipes are good - I just go into it knowing that I need to double the prep time suggested.
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on August 26, 2012
My general cookbook policy is to not continue using a cookbook if the first 3 recipes are disappointing. From this book I made Pastitsio, Crunchy Mac & Cheese, and Teryiaki Chicken. The first two recipes were severely under estimated in the prep time and resulted in an enormous pile of pots and prepware to clean. I can hardly credit the author with the later accurate prep time as it is essentially, "dump marinade on chicken." All the opinions were "meh" based on the amount of effort in prep, the taste of the result, and the effort in clean-up.

Perhaps I was expecting too much magic in this book. I wanted a book that would allow me to prep a meal over one or two naptimes, and then finish it off in time for a punctual dinner. I wanted a book that would produce tasty if not delicious, affordable recipes. I wanted a book that would leave me more relaxed after a meal is accomplished rather than stressed by time-pressed cooking and a dirty kitchen. Sadly, this was not the book for this naptime cook.
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on June 11, 2012
With three young children, I struggled to get healthy meals on the table--not just healthy meals, but ones that appealed to my husband and me, too. Now, with Banfield's book, we all sit down to a gourmet meal (and our children actually eat it--salmon, green beans, etc).
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on March 30, 2012
A beautifully photographed and skillfully edited collection of easy but elegant recipes that any home cook can prepare for his or her family. We are having the Poached Salmons with Leeks (again) for supper tonight!
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on June 3, 2012
I was always a fan of The Naptime Chef blog, and it totally got me through a huge family Thanksgiving dinner without forcing me to trot out the same old mashed potatoes and gravy. Having her book around is even more inspiring. These recipes are so incredibly delicious, and not so complicated that you wind up frustrated.

Great, now I'm going to have to go whip up one to five of her dishes right now. HUNGRY.
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on March 13, 2012
I've long been a fan of The Naptime Chef, and have eagerly awaited Kelsey's cookbook. It doesn't disappoint. Her recipes all turn out great - and I not only make them when I'm pressed for time, but just when I need fantastic family food I know my picky eaters will love.
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