Cat Cora on Picky Eaters, Importance of Family Meals

Cat Cora

With back to school upon us, the search for new, quick and easy kid-friendly recipes is always a challenge. Celebrity chef and busy mother of four, Cat Cora, shares some of her delicious, no-fuss recipes featuring her award winning olive oil that are sure to keep the whole family happy.

Cat opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her four sons - Zoran, 9, Caje, 6, and 4-year-old twins Thatcher and Nash - and the “5 minute conversation that goes a long way” with them. She goes on to share her best tips for picky eaters and gives us a look inside her busy family life.

CBS: Please tell us about the Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Gaea line. What inspired you to create it?

CC: “I was inspired to create this line because I believe in the healthy Mediterranean diet, organic, all natural, authentic products. I am Greek American and very proud of the incredible products that Greece has to offer.”

CBS: “You are of Greek heritage, tell us a little about the benefits of the Mediterranean cuisine.

CC: “The cuisine contains lots of antioxidants, nutrients from the oils, heart healthy mono and poly fats, fresh lean meats, fish, almonds, fruits and vegetables.”

CBS: You have four sons – can you tell us their ages and their favorite meals.

CC: “9, 6, 4, 4 and they all really love the same things in many ways. I make a wonderful Greek lasagna they can’t get enough of. They also love fish tacos, grilled salmon, tortellini and turkey meatballs. They are starting to really love salad and grilled veggies. And of course, like any kids, they love pizza and homemade burgers that I make.”

CBS: Are there ever days they don’t want to eat what you cook for them?

CC: “There are times, but I always get their input on meals. And give them two options that are healthy, chicken or salmon, pork tenderloin or lamb, edamame or salad, things like that. It’s a 5 minute conversation that goes a long way.”

CBS: Do any of the boys ever help you cook in the kitchen?

CC: “Yes they love to help in the kitchen.”

CBS: Do you have advice for parents whose children are very picky eaters?

CC: “Give them two options, get them invested in the meal, empower them by giving them some say in the meal.”

CBS: What are some of your favorite foods or meals?

CC: “That is like asking which is my favorite child [laughs]. I am a chef, so it changes every day, sometimes every minute. It changes with the seasons, the weather, my mood, etc.”

CBS: Are family meals important in your household? Do you make it a priority to sit down as a family every night?

CC: “We sit down every night as a family with very rare exceptions, such as when I get home late or the kids are overtired and need to get to bed earlier than their normal 7:30 schedule.

Other than that, we sit down, say a prayer over the meal, turn off all electronics including our phones and talk about our day. It is very traditional, and we feel strongly about that.”

CBS: Can you share an average day of what happens in your household?

CC: “We get up, we make coffee, we make breakfast, we make lunches, and get the kids dressed. Jennifer, my wife, takes them to school or I will if my schedule allows. I work in my home office, she runs her errands, we may do our workouts together if possible, meet at the house for a salad, I work or help pick the kids up, they come home and play, I start wrapping up my work, I start dinner, Jen does bath, we have dinner together and then do bedtime which is books, cuddles, kisses, giggles and then we get time together after the kids are in bed. I travel 150 days a year so this is typical if I am home during the week.”

CBS: You travel a lot – especially to oversee your restaurants. How do you juggle work with motherhood?

CC: “I am very hands-on as a mom. That job comes first before all else, even when I am on the road. But I work from my home office which I choose to do vs. getting an office in town, so I make lunches and dinner. I shut work down around 4 p.m. when the kids get home so we can play or be together. I help with pick-ups or anything else Jen needs. In between, I juggle work. My strength is that I am a great multi-tasker.”

CBS: Any other upcoming projects we should be on the lookout for?

CC: “I just launched my second food line, launched my women’s lifestyle shoe line with MOZO/Decker, have TV show projects on the horizon, more restaurants, more Iron Chef battles to be fought and I am getting into some acting which I have always wanted to do. I just had a small part in Eastbound and Down with HBO.”

CBS: Please provide some back to school meals/snacks.

CC: ” Here are three: Lunchbox Snack: Feta and Olive Oil Cakes, After-School Snack: Greek Style Nachos, and Dinner: Crispy Baked Fish Sticks with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce.”

Feta And Olive Oil Cake

Prep Time: 20 min.

Cook Time: 25 min.

Skill: medium

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • · 150 gr 5.30 ounces feta cheese
  • · 100 gr 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • · 50 gr 2 1/4 Tbsp. honey
  • · 100 gr 1/2 cup Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Gaea DOP Kalamata (Sitia) extra virgin olive oil
  • · 100 gr 1 cup all purpose flour
  • · 100 gr 3.50 ounces ground almonds
  • · 1 tsp. baking powder
  • · Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Gaea pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
  • · Brown sugar for garnishing

Directions

Preheat oven to 175C 347 F. Process the cheese with the sugar and honey in a mixer until smooth. Add olive oil. Combine flour with the ground almonds and baking powder and add to bowl while mixing. Divide batter among 6 greased one-use individual cake molds and top each with half an olive. Sprinkle top of batter with brown sugar and bake for about 25.

Crispy Baked Fish sticks with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Serves 4-6

Makes 1 Cup Dipping Sauce

Both kids and grown-ups like crispy fish sticks, and this recipe is just about as fast as heating frozen fish sticks. I serve them with a yummy sweet-hot dipping sauce but also put out ketchup for those who like a milder dunk.

  • 2 teaspoons of Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Gaea Kalamata D.O.P Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cups corn flakes, preferably organic, plus more if needed
  • 1/ 2 cup buttermilk (shake before measuring)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/ 2 cup all-purpose fl our
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/ 4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound cod or snapper fillets, cut into 2-by-4-inch strips

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

  • 3/ 4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/ 4 cup honey
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Using your fingers, coat a 9-by-13-inch baking sheet with Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Gaea Kalamata D.O.P Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

To crush the corn flakes, pour them into a large re-sealable plastic bag. Press down on the bag to push out most of the air, seal, and crush with a rolling pin. Stop rolling when the flakes still have some texture and pour them into a wide bowl or onto a plate.

In a shallow bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the mustard and garlic powder. Pour the flour into a separate shallow dish or onto a plate and add the salt and pepper. Rinse each piece of fish, pat it dry, and dredge it in the seasoned flour. Shake off any excess flour and dip the fish into the buttermilk mix, then dredge it in the crushed corn flakes.

Place the fish strips on the baking sheet about ½ inch apart. Bake until cooked through and crispy, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, and lime juice. Serve the fish, either with the sauce in one bowl or in individual ramekins, one for each

Greek-Style Nachos

These nachos have a lot more flavor than the standard, restaurant-style nachos thanks to olives, garlic, herbs and roasted red peppers.

Ingredients

  • ½ Cup Roasted Red Peppers
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic (Minced)
  • Pinch Kosher Salt
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon Fresh Oregano (Minced)
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Gaea Sitia, Crete or Kalamata D.O.P. Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 Ounce Pita Chips
  • 2 Cup Pepper Jack Cheese (Shredded)
  • 8 Ounce Mild Feta Cheese (Crumbled)
  • ½ Cup Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Gaea Green Greek Olives (Pitted and Sliced)
  • ¼ Cup Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Gaea Kalamata Olives (Pitted and Sliced)
  • ½ Cup Cherry Tomatoes (Quartered)
  • ½ Cup Non-fat Greek-style Yogurt

Directions

For the Roasted Red Pepper Salsa:

Cut the red peppers into a medium dice and mix in a bowl with the garlic, salt, and oregano. Stir in the olive oil. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

For the Nachos:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Take the roasted red pepper salsa out of the fridge and set it aside. Spread the pita chips in a single layer on a baking sheet or a large heatproof platter. Sprinkle both cheeses evenly over the chips. Scatter the pepperoncini over the cheese. Bake the chips just until the cheese is melted, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the chips from the oven and scatter olives and cherry tomato quarters over the top. Spoon some of the red pepper salsa on the nachos and then dab on small dollops of Greek yogurt. Place the remaining salsa into a bowl so folks can dip while they eat. Serve the nachos right away with the remaining salsa on the side for folks to dip.

Twist It:

Make the salsa into a smooth, creamy sauce in your food processor. Just add the roasted pepper, garlic, salt, and oregano to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until ingredients are pureed. You don’t need to mince the garlic and oregano but just chop them roughly and let the processor do the work. (If your food processor is larger than a 1-quart model you may need to double the salsa recipe; serve any leftover salsa with eggs the next day.) With the motor running, pour in the olive oil until the mixture is completely smooth. Scrape the puree into a small bowl and mix in the yogurt until blended. Taste and add more salt if necessary. This gives you a creamy, bright red sauce that’s a complete flavor blast. As soon as you pull the warm nachos from the oven, drizzle this sauce over the top in a lattice pattern. Cut the red peppers into a medium dice and mix in a bowl with the garlic, salt, and oregano. Stir in the olive oil. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

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  1. Robin

    I don’t know if I agree about giving two choices. I’m for sure not going to make two different dinners. Either you eat what is on the table or not. I came from a family of six and none of us were picky about dinner because there was only one choice.

    Reply
  2. Shelley

    Thatcher & Nash are not twins. Cat & her partner, Jennifer, were pregnant at the same time & each delivered a baby boy. So yes, they are brothers, but not twins.

    Reply
  3. :) …quite an interesting post to read!!! I gotta completely agree with Shelley here :)

    Regards,

    Reply

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