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We recommend: “Dinner: The Playbook” by Jenny Rosenstrach (Ballantine Books, $20)

What’s special: A guide to family meals written by a mom who knows what it’s like when your dinner rotation devolves into “pizza, pizza, burgers.”

Rosenstrach provides a 30-day battle plan for making dinner more interesting, fun, and workable for the whole family. Her background gives her credibility: She managed to get out of the dinner rut even with two working parents and two arguably picky preschoolers.

Rosenstrach provides advice for shopping, meal planning and working together, along with enjoyable recipes. She doesn’t promise miracles, but even casual readers will gain a boost of inspiration and a handful of new, keeper meals.

For one recipe — even when we felt fine peeling, seeding and chopping our own butternut squash — our time-crunched souls appreciated Rosenstrach’s note “I implore you: Buy it already chopped. Bonus: Sample some of Rosenstrach’s recipes for free online at her blog,

Crispy Rice Omelet

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoons minced scallions (white and light green parts only) or onion

½ teaspoon peeled, fresh minced ginger

1 small garlic clove, minced

shake of red pepper flakes, or to taste

1½ cups leftover rice, preferably sticky Chinese takeout

4 eggs

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce, plus more for serving

1 cup frozen peas, or to taste

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Add canola oil to a 10-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add the scallions, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute or until everything is soft and fragrant.

3. Add the rice and spread it out in one layer, raising the heat a bit. Don’t stir for about a minute so the rice gets nice and crispy. Stir again and wait another minute. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together the egg and soy sauce and add the peas. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour the egg mixture over the fried rice, tipping the pan so the egg distributes itself evenly over the rice.

4. Cook until the underside is crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the broiler and broil for 3 minutes, or until the egg looks golden and bubbly on top. Serve in wedges with a drizzle of soy sauce.

Rebekah Denn, Special to The Seattle Times