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How to Feed a Family – A Cookbook Review, Giveaway and Rock Star Pasta e Fagioli Recipe ~ CAN 01/31

| January 7, 2014 | 37 Comments


I was given the opportunity to review How to Feed a Family, the Sweet Potato Chronicles Cookbook, by Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh. I had originally watched the Sweet Potato Chronicles’ segments on the television show CityLine and always thought they came up with interesting and nutritious meals for families. I was pretty excited to learn they had published a cookbook and that I could have a copy to try out.

When I got the book in the mail, I was immediately drawn to the vivid photos associated with most of the recipes. I’m a true believer that cookbooks should have photos and these ones are so inviting. The introduction of the book discusses helpful hints about feeding children and also explains some neat features in the book. Each recipe has small icons shown that represent a meal that is meatless, “kids can help,” fast, minimal mess, entertaining or make ahead.

The chapters are divided by meal, so there is a chapter on Breakfast which features a lot of interesting pancakes; Lunch; Snacks; Dinner and Desserts. There are also special features that discuss whole grains, baking with kids; meatless dishes, picky eaters, among others.

To be honest, I’m not much of a breakfast person but Nina and I love oatmeal so I gave their Slow Cooker Oatmeal with Coconut, Banana and Almonds a go. It included coconut milk which is quite a change from the usual slow cooker oatmeals I’d tried. It tasted pretty good, Nina enjoyed it, but I did find the consistency a bit…gummy. Perhaps less cooking time was needed. I did like that this was made in the slow cooker overnight so you wake up to the wonderful smell of oatmeal in the morning. While I was tempted to try the pancake recipes, I haven’t yet, as I found that the ingredient list often included some rare item, such as spelt flour, that I did not have kicking around and that was either difficult to find, or expensive. Some of the recipes would have been more accessible if they gave alternatives to these ingredients, however, I also realize that the cookbook is trying to feature healthy recipes and I am also aware that many families have those types of ingredients available in their kitchen.

I also made their Turkey, White Bean and Barley Chili, however, I made it vegetarian, based on their suggestion in the introduction of the recipe. I really appreciated that they seemed to promote meatless meals, given I’m also trying to reduce my meat intake. This recipe was incredibly filling with the barley. It did seem to lack the chili taste I’m used to, perhaps because I omitted the turkey, but it was still very tasty and Nina enjoyed it too.

My favourite dish was the Rock Star Pasta e Fagioli. This is a dish that I have eaten before but more as a soup, while this seemed a bit thicker. It contains loads of veggies, small pastas and beans. It is so hearty, comforting, easy to make and delicious. I decided to add a bit more broth to make it soupier the first night and I knew the next day it would get a bit thicker. Nina and I gobbled it up and both had seconds. It is such a versatile dish that I think even picky eaters would enjoy because it includes mini pastas and can be topped with Parmesan cheese. The recipe can be found below.

I’m looking forward to trying more of the recipes. Most of them are easy enough for busy families to do, but also interesting enough to make for guests.

Pasta e Fagioli

Rock Star Pasta e Fagioli


  • glug of olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves of gar­lic minced
  • 1 or 3 stalks of cel­ery chopped (I didn't have it on hand but it really should be in this dish)
  • 3 medium carrots sliced thinly
  • 1 yel­low or green zuc­chini, halved and then sliced into half moons
  • 6 or so mush­rooms cleaned and sliced (not too thin)
  • 1 14 oz. can of can­nelini beans
  • 2 cups veg­etable stock (please use low sodium!)
  • 1 28 oz. can of drained plum toma­toes
  • 1 cup whole wheat tubetti pasta
  • thyme and rose­mary
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan


  1. Sautee the onion, gar­lic and cel­ery in olive oil until it starts to smell great and the onion starts to soften.
  2. Add the car­rots and stir together. Let that sautee for a cou­ple of min­utes before adding the zuc­chini and mush­rooms. Again, stir and let the veg­eta­bles soften just a bit before adding the stock.
  3. Drain the can of can­nelini beans and scoop out about a third of a cup. Put the third of a cup of can­nelini beans and roughly mash them with a potato masher. It doesn't have to be per­fect, the mashed beans are just going to give the soup a thicker, silkier feel. Put all of the beans — mashed an unmashed into the pot with the stock and the veg­eta­bles. Cover and sim­mer for five minutes.
  4. Drain the toma­toes and add them, break­ing them up with your spoon. Cover and sim­mer again for five min­utes.
  5. Add the cup of tubetti and stir it around. Add a good pinch of thyme and rose­mary (and if you're Martha, just use thyme!). Cover and sim­mer for ten min­utes, stir­ring every lit­tle bit. Taste to check the pasta for done-ness (don't let the pasta get too soft as it will keep going and get mushy by the time it's on the table!) and the broth for sea­son­ing. Add some salt and pep­per after tasting.
  6. Serve with a good bit of grated parme­san.

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product to review. All opinions are honest and my own.


Enter to Win How to Feed a Family Cookbook!

(value $29.95)

Giveaway ends January 31st, 2014 at 11:59pm.

Rules: Open Canadian residents 18 +. You have 48  hours to reply by email once you are notified as the winner. If you don’t, we will draw another entry. Prize is non-transferable. No substitution or cash equivalent of prizes is permitted. The selected winner must correctly answer a mathematical question in order to win the prize mentioned above. The Ottawa Mommy Club is not responsible for prize fulfillment and for the delivery/shipment of the prize(s) mentioned above. For our complete set of rules, please click here.

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Category: Books/Magazines, Dining, Family, Food, Giveaways Archived, Main Dish, Moms, Recipes, Reviews, Uncategorized

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Comments (37)

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  1. Lynda Cook says:

    I love making lasagna or casseroles

  2. Carol M (Lushka S) says:

    Lemon chicken

  3. Stephanie LaPlante says:

    My entire family loves our secret recipe Perogies.

  4. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    Potato Pie is my favourite to make for the family. It’s a lot of work but does taste so delicious that that makes it worthwhile.

  5. Joy says:

    homemade pizza – make it once every week

  6. Erika E says:

    I like making red curry chicken because my whole family enjoys it.

  7. Victoria Ess says:

    Chili or beef stew!

  8. Jonnie says:

    I love to make lasagna for my family because it’s everyone’s favorite at my house.

  9. Nolie says:

    We are huge taco fans.

  10. Jennifer L. says:

    I like to make a roast chicken and veggies.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Quiche is my fav…simple but delicious and everyone loves it!

  12. kristen visser says:

    i love making pasta and grilled chicken with brussels

  13. Sambogi says:

    We love pancakes, and my 3 year old is getting great at helping!

  14. natasha severson says:

    my family loves home made lasagna and bread!

  15. Anna W says:

    My kids love when I make cream of brocolli soup with meatloaf on the side.

  16. Heidi C. says:

    Spaghetti Bolognese!

  17. Piroska says:

    My family’s favourite is cabbage rolls, and my favourite is Lasagna.

  18. Monique L. S. says:

    One of our favourite family meals is chicken fajitas. I enjoy making any pasta dish.

  19. Karine says:

    Spaghetti is easy and always loved 🙂

  20. Ruth Goodwin Coffin says:

    I cook alot of pasta dishes but I know there are many I dont know about. Would love to win this cookbook and find new recipes as I enjoy trying new things when it comes to meal times.

  21. Marcie says:


  22. Ashley M says:

    My favorite meal to make my family would be my homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs! Thanks for the chance good luck everyone!

  23. Nicole B says:

    I love to make slowcooker chicken soup

  24. Ashley S says:

    I love to make homemade spaghetti sauce – it can turn into all sorts of other meals.

  25. Amy C says:

    I like to make homemade pizza.

  26. susanne mccarthy says:

    Roast chicken with all the fixins’!

  27. Lemon_cupid says:

    I’m not a very confident cook. I make a mean meat loaf though.

  28. Juliee Fitze says:

    I like to make them meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

  29. Jenn Andrews says:

    Tacos we are a taco family

  30. Victoria K says:

    I love making chili

  31. Pam says:

    any baked fish is our favourite!

  32. Eleanor says:

    chicken, spinach and rice

  33. Audrey Skinner says:

    Spaghetti and meatballs is one of our favorites.

  34. MICHELLE JAMES says:

    I like to make bbq’d steak and roasted veggies,even in the cold snowy winter !

  35. amber y says:

    I love making bean and bacon soup. It’s such a hearty soup and gets eaten faster than i can serve it. Mmmm!!

  36. Arlene Mcc says:

    look like a healthy recipes

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