[Photograph: Erika Shafer]

Cheryl Najafi of CherylStyle.com presents a collection of dependable, foolproof family recipes in Mother Daughter Dishes: Reinventing Loved Classics. Her mission is to feature familiar dishes with inspired twists, to encourage a generation in need of kitchen confidence. As she reasons, there's no better way to learn and grow than to start with the foods you grew up eating.

It's one thing to want to inspire, and another to actually do it. The bright photos, upbeat attitude, and enthusiastic tone of Mother Daughter Dishes are galvanizing, and when met with familiar meals like chicken soup, sloppy joes, and shrimp scampi, it's hard not to be interested in learning how Cheryl modifies classic recipes to suit more modern tastes. Mainly, components of dishes are deconstructed and rearranged to make quick, simple meals: for example, meatloaf balls are pressed, baked, and served with salsa and jalapeƱo to make meatloaf sliders. Or, a normally predictable fruit salad is revamped with bruised rosemary, simmered with honey to make a syrup that's poured over slices of kiwi, strawberry, and blackberries. It's easier to be daring when you're starting from a place of confidence.

Simplicity and familial closeness are main themes of the book, and so we've chosen recipes that are easy to prepare, even in a heat wave, and incorporate flavors that are classic comforts. Puddin' 'n' Pie is exactly what the name describes: a pecan crust layered with vanilla pudding and whipped cream, served nice and cold. Graham Cracker Bites coat the slightly malty warmth of graham with a generous layer of milk chocolate, with a sprinkling of sea salt for contrast. They're so simple to make, that children can lend their little hands to the process. Chocolate Zucchini Cake bakes up like a bundt, cloaking the sharp green flavor of squash with plenty of cocoa powder, plus a drippy glaze. Individual Coconut Cream Pies are another chilled treat, served on their own with plenty of cream.

Familiarity breeds comfort, a statement that holds especially true when it comes to the foods we grew up eating. Mother Daughter Dishes serves up that comfort in every recipe, adding a few clever twists along the way. Bake along with us, and you'll see how.

Win A Copy!

Thanks to the generous folks over at CherylStyle Publishing, we are giving away five (5) copies of Mother Daughter Dishes this week. All you have to do is tell us about a dessert your family likes to make.


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