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2014 Cool Stuff for People

6 Dec

I realized recently that I know a lot of amazing people who create things like books and products and experiences. I want to share of the amazing things they have created with you. When I put the call out for my colleagues and friends to remind me what they have been doing I was flooded with ideas for my Local-ish Holiday Gift Guide but I couldn’t add every item so if you have an amazing friend who makes cool food related stuff please add them in the comments below. I believe in sharing the love!  Of course a few of these goodies come from me and my husband and our crazy projects!
I have no shame!

Be on the look out for my Gingerbread House Cookbook Kit in 2016~

Happy holidays to you!

ox, Jennifer
Pretty Little Baking Kit Jennifer Carden Author / Matthew Carden Photography – My latest project this adorable kit of petite cakes to make and give.

The Toddler Cafe Jennifer Carden Author / Matthew Carden Photography – An oldie but a goodie, getting your kids to eat more foods the fun way

These books below are all projects from Matthew Carden Photography/Jennifer Carden Food Styling / Author Lara Starr
Wookiee Pies, Clone Scones and other Galactic Goodies Comes with Yoda, Darth Vader, and R2-D2–shaped cookie cutters to create 30 sweet and savory treats!

Ice Sabers 30 Chilled Treats Using the Force of Your Freezer


9781452104669_large_1 9781452107615_star-wars-cookbook_norm








Chef Olivia Cookbook and Cookie Cutters Kit






The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cookie Cutter Cookbook



Featuring Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar™, this cookbook contains 25 delicious recipes as well as 3 shaped cookie cutters: the beloved caterpillar, a circle for the caterpillar to crawl through, and the beautiful butterfly. Recipes range from breakfast and snacks to beverages and sweets. Perfect for everyday fun as well as book-themed parties, very hungry kids will rejoice in cooking and eating as well as immersing themselves in the world of their favorite characters.




Giving Thanks Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving illuminated with the exquisite illustrations of cut-paper artist Pamela Dalton, this picture book offers a stunningly beautiful photos by Matthew Carden 
World of Doughnuts by Stephanie Rosenbaum Who doesn’t love a doughnut? With 50 mouth-wateringly delicious recipes from around the globe, these sweet treats are universally loved no matter where you go. 
Whoopie Pies Amy Treadwell s it a cake? Is it a cookie? With such deliciously soft and sweet cream-filled snacks, does it matter? The Internet is abuzz with recipes and stories of whoopie pie folklore, while customers everywhere are descending on bakeries in droves demanding these delectable treats.
Sodium Girl Cookbook Jessica Goldman Foung – Hilariously funny gal who can teach you how to eliminate salt from your diet.

How about a subscription to…

Edible Marin Wine Country Contributors Jennifer Carden and Matthew Carden

or a gift certificate for a local culinary tour with

West Marin Food and Farm Tours with Elizabeth Anne Hill see what is amazing right around the corner.

Or a very local visit to

Super Fresh Gallery ART ART ART Food art is where it’s at and we carry photography, painting and much more including all the cookbooks mentioned above by Matthew and Jennifer (that’s us) purchase online 

Heidrun Meadery in Point Reyes for a glass of Mead!

Teeny Cake Seriously the best cupcakes around Marin.

Trek Winery began as a family owned and operated winery in 2007 after years experience in the wine business and amateur winemaking. Opening its first public tasting room in September 2012 in Downtown Novato, Trek Winery has become a premier venue for live entertainment including professional stand up comedy and live music, as well as a venue for private gatherings, weddings, and other large events. As Trek continues to serve the greater Marin community by making excellent wine at an affordable price, we invite you to take the first step and experience the adventure that is Trek Wine!

 Orion’s Kitchen A caterer for your next party, Orion’s Kitchen offers a wide range of personalized culinary services including event catering, one-on-one or group instruction, and an on-demand market place.











Fantastic Food Jewelery by Carrie Tilly at our Square shop!
The Warm Kitchen Cookbook Amy Benigno Fothergill Amy’s book is a fantastic guide for Gluten free goodies of all kinds!

Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings Michele Anna Jordan  Radio host, writer, chef  
In Jennies Kitchen fab culinary shop and recipes too to make cooking simple

Cooking for Isaiah Sylvana Nardone New Gluten free flour blends born out of the need to cook for her son
Erika Lenkert Just came out with a beautiful, very cool quarterly magazine, GFF (Gluten Free Forever)
Trick Dog Treats  Liz Smith -Wholesome tasty treats for your dog

The Foobler Dog treat dispenser for when you have to leave your pet alone

Natures Habit Granola Matthew Carden and Jennifer Carden produced the labels and recipes for this yummy snack.
Hive Napa Julia Scanell Hive Napa is a passionate creative/culinary resource to the food and wine industry, offering savvy, appropriate packaging design; honest, down-to-earth recipe development; and inspired cookbook design solutions.
Barn Raiser Eileen Gorden – From healthy and artisanal foods to community kitchens and organic farms, when we put our collective support behind these innovators, we create a healthy food future for us all. Crowd funding for the food world!
Rancho Gordo Steve Sando features glorious heirloom bean varieties, corn, rice and herbs and spices

Melt the Art of Macaroni and Cheese Melt isn’t your average mac and cheese cookbook. I’m cooking withreal cheeses here, combining nostalgia of the old-school dish with high-quality ingredients to produce recipes that are both classic and chic. In Melt, you’ll find dishes that comfort and intrigue.

Whole Spice Company kosher artesian freshly ground in house spices certified Kosher

The Veggie Queen  Author, Chef Jill Nussinow is a cookbook author and Pressure cooker expert!

Parini’s Chocolate Cakes These gluten-free cakes are truly flourless and loved by all, even those who are free to eat gluten.
They are made from four locally sourced, organic ingredients (chocolate, butter, eggs and cream) and contain no added sugar.
Flavors: Chocolate, White Chocolate, Chocolate Espresso, Chocolate Peppermint and White Chocolate Peppermint.
Sizes: 9-inch ($45), 6-inch ($25) and Minis (sold by the dozen for $30).
Can be picked up in San Rafael. Contact information: Christine at 415.306.4796 or


Writing a Cookbook? Guest Post from Grammarly

27 Dec

Here is a bit of advice from a grammar perspective (boy do I need that!) If I’d known I’d be a writer I would have listened more in English class!!

Cookbooks: A Recipe for Disaster?

Why are some cookbooks not successful? The road to producing a high-quality cookbook is full of pitfalls. The good news is that others have gone before you! You can learn from their mistakes. To evade disaster in your own writing endeavors, avoid the six most common mistakes made by first-time cookbook writers.

Wow, Thanks!

Everyone knows how to make toast. If you include a recipe for toast in your cookbook, ensure that there is a unique element that makes your toast better than all the other toasts. Think outside of the box. Homemade pumpkin bread toast with cinnamon butter sounds simply delicious, does it not?

The Same Game

Certain foods, such as spaghetti, are very common. There are literally thousands of spaghetti recipes in cookbooks and online. If run-of-the-mill dishes fill your cookbook, you will severely limit your readership base. Each year, cooking shows popularize trendy ingredients. I learned about sriracha sauce from the Chopped television cooking competition. Now, it is common to see sriracha sauce appear in the list of ingredients. Common foods and trendy ingredients are a risk. On one hand, people search for cookbooks that feature good basic recipes or novel ingredients. However, reflect on fashion trends. In time, basic gets boring. Furthermore, once a style is out of favor, people laugh when they see it!

Fairy-Tale Lettuce

In the food court of the college that I attended, they featured a unique type of lettuce. One of my amazed friends referred to it as “fairy-tale lettuce.” To be sure, not everyone is familiar with radicchio and watercress. For those who grew up in iceberg lettuce families, these ingredients intimidate! Limit the amount of foreign, obscure, or rare ingredients.

The Deflated and Defeated 

Before publishing, test each recipe in your cookbook. Typing errors in the proportions and omitted ingredients destroy the effectiveness of recipes. Successfully-executed recipes motivate readers to try other recipes in the book. He willingly recommends the cookbook to his friends. Your reputation as a chef is at stake. Do not allow a careless error to ruin future sales.

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth!

Have you heard of this ancient adage? I invented a new version. Novice cooks spoil the broth! Do not assume that your audience knows how to perform complicated cooking techniques. Explain procedures within the recipe or create a special section to discuss necessary techniques. Provide the reader with details. Do you want finely chopped onion? Do you want a small, medium, or large onion? Do you prefer a white, yellow, or red onion? Pictures are powerful. Cookbooks often publish pictures of the completed product. However, photographs of the steps of the cooking process are extremely valuable.

‌Déjà Vu

After you write and test each delicious recipe, perform the final step of the process. Avoid plagiarism! Yes, you personally wrote each recipe. Yet, the small selection of cooking terms limits creative expression. Therefore, duplication is a common mistake. I am an employee of Grammarly. I examine writing tools and ways to improve English writing skills. I always recommend that clients verify that the text of a document is original with a free online plagiarism checker. Check for plagiarism before sending a document to a publisher.

Disaster is not an ingredient for a recipe book! Consider the skill level and the geographic location of the target readers. Use unique recipes with ingredients that are easy to attain. Prepare each recipe using the instructions that you provided. Explain any complicated steps. Do not plagiarize. Beware of the six prevalent pitfalls. With these tips, you possess the sure recipe for culinary success!


By Nikolas Baron



In Honor of Julia

15 Aug

I couldn’t resist sharing this video with you, it really brought me back, I hope you like it too.

I grew up watching Julia Child on PBS. My mom and I would snuggle in bed and watch, and watch and laugh. We laughed about how she’d spill something and scrape it up off the counter, pop it in the pot and continue on cooking. She wasn’t graceful but boy could she cook! I do believe that is where I learned to remember a recipe with out writing it down. I had a knack for remembering ingredients and technique I’d seen on TV.  Mom is a great cook who highly influenced me. We would discuss the recipes and think about how delicious Julia’s kitchen set must have smelled.

When I grew up I had the distinct pleasure to work on the set of Jacques Pépin’s PBS Show, Jacques Celebrates. While working on that show Jacques often talked about Julia, how they fought over whether you salt the burger before cooking or after. They disagreed about so many topics but he always spoke fondly of her and with the utmost respect. He, a French trained chef who was the personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle, and Julia, a home cook who discovered French cuisine later in life, made a perfect pair. I bet some of the things I learned from Jacques he may have picked up from Julia! I consider myself lucky, although I never met her (my husband did get that chance, lucky duck) she is all around me. Thanks Julia for your inspiration and fun spirit, you are missed.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting – 3 Book GIVEAWAY

19 May

Having a baby is joyous, scary, exciting and tiring.  When I was pregnant with my daughter my husband and I were scared to death but there was one piece of mind that helped.  This book never left my bedside, can you guess what it was?  Yes, What to Expect was my bible; even my husband got into the information book had to offer. I would read it to him, skipping the graphic details (he’s squeamish) I also remember reading excerpts over the phone to other pregnant friends, “hey did you read this, it’s crazy, can you believe what we are in for?” Squelching our fears and supporting each other, was important for us new moms. I think this book really helped us stay calm and rational, for a while anyway!  The baby came and it all worked out.

By 3 months I found myself flipping through the book desperately searching for new information. I must have been hormonal because I read that book cover to cover many times and there was no new information appearing on the page. I must have thought that some magical ink was going to appear or some new pages would materialize!

The good news was that there was another book…What to Expect the First Year, the bad news, I was way to tired to read it! It’s true people, babies make you tired! I did manage to read it and again we made it through.

Once the baby turned two I found myself again looking for the magical ink to morph into new tips on two-year olds! Unfortunately the What to Expect The Second Year had not been written yet so we just muddled through on our own.

The best part of having the two guides was that I started to think about how to feed our picky toddler and all our toddler friend’s kids. That is how my book Toddler Cafe was born, I was inspired by these baby guides and created my own book.  So, use these books for  peace of mind, and to start dialog with other moms and dads who are  going through the ups and downs of parenting. You can even use them for inspiration, once you get rid of your “mommy brain” and all your brain cells are firing again!

Visit the What To Expect site to get more information on all kid related tips! They have a Facebook page too!

I am so excited to be able to give away all three of these books to one luck winner, so if you are pregnant or know someone who is, make sure and enter enter to win!

Requirements to enter the What to Expect When You are Expecting Book GIVEAWAY:

This giveaway ends on Monday, May 28th, 9am PST. The winner will be generated with

When leaving a comment make sure you leave your e mail address, if I don’t have it I can’t contact you.

1. Subscribe to my email updates – enter your email in the box on the upper right of this blog


2. Leave a comment on this blog post telling me you subscribed to my email updates. Also tell me your fears, successes and happy baby stories. To increase your chances to win and receive additional entries, do the following: 

  • Tweet about this giveaway. Add @chefjen and #playfulpantry to the tweet
  • Share on Facebook. Make sure you tell me you shared by commenting on my Facebook page that you did! Make sure to ‘Like’ my Facebook page!
By the way…my baby is NINE!

2nd birthday


A 9 year old “showing daddy her band aid!”

One winner will be chosen at random. Winner will be chosen in Novato California on November 9th 2011 at 10 am. The winner will be notified via email within one week after the draw. The winner will be required to provide an address to ship the two prizes to the address only be used for shipping purposes.

DISCLAIMERS: All federal, state, and/or local rules and regulations apply; void where prohibited by law. Jennifer Carden is not responsible for late, misdirected or illegible entries. Winners are responsible for any and all taxes associated with their acceptance of any prize. Jennifer Carden is not responsible for technical, hardware, software, telephone or Internet access failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed or incomplete, garbled or deleted computer or network transmissions which may limit the ability to participate in this sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel or suspend this sweepstakes or any part thereof should virus, bugs, unauthorized human intervention or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, fairness or proper conduct of this sweepstakes, including terminating just one phase or portion of the promotion.

No Cry Picky Eater 14 Book Giveaway (that’s a lot of books)

2 Mar

If you read the Toddler Cafe Blog you may have seen a post similar to this one. Yes, it’s true I have posted about the No Cry book before and I am doing it again, sorry I’m such a broken record but Elizabeth Pantley is giving away 14 more books and I just couldn’t resist letting you all know. So check out the blurb below and enter to win a fantastic library of helpful books! Even if you don’t have a small child it would be a great gift for someone who does.


♦ NEW BOOK!!!  ~ The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution Say goodbye to the daily frustration of picky eating with effective child-tested, parent-approved, No-Cry solutions plus healthy family-friendly recipes!

ENTER THE CONTEST here  to win this collection of 14 books:

The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
PLUS a set of cookbooks from all the contributing authors, including:
The Toddler Café by Jennifer Carden;
Welcoming Kitchen by Kim Lutz and Megan Hart;
The Petit Appetit by Lisa Barnes;
Green Princess Cookbook by Barbara Beery;
So Easy Toddler Food by Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers;
No Whine with Dinner by Janice Bissex and Liz Weiss
PLUS! The prize package includes ALL SIX No-Cry Solution books.



(from Elizabeth Pantley)

The newest book in Pantley’s bestselling No-Cry series will get kids to eat their veggies—and enjoy them!

“Elizabeth Pantley has once again penned a brilliant guide for parents on a common childhood theme. With savvy tips and tricks to usher our kids into the joys of eating, it is a sanity-saver!”
—Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author, The Power of Slow

“The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution eases parents’ fears and provides practical, simple solutions that really work.”
—Stephanie Gallagher, The Iron Chef Mom,

“It’s simple and doable, and it works.”
—Missy Chase Lapine, author, The Sneaky Chef

Nearly 85% of parents say they have a child who is or has been a picky eater.  Feeding a picky child three meals plus snacks –every day—creates horrific family stress.

Parents want their kids to eat well—but they don’t want the frustration of mealtime battles. In the end, it’s chicken nuggets…again. Enter parenting expert Elizabeth Pantley, whose new book, THE NO-CRY PICKY EATER SOLUTION: Gentle Ways to Encourage Your Child to Eat—and Eat Healthy (McGraw-Hill Professional; October 2011; Paperback, $17.00), will help parents feed their  children healthy foods without the stress, fights and tears.

Pantley reassures her readers that picky eating is rooted in normal childhood behavior, and acknowledges the tremendous amount of stress this causes for parents. She worked with the parents of 294 very picky eaters to arrive at this collection of fun, easy and amazingly successful tips to overcome the pickiness.

As with her other bestselling No-Cry books, The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution offers respectful, effective solutions to the problem, along with a healthy dose of reassurance and motivation. Pantley draws ideas from new research and from her readers around the world for getting children to eat nutritious food. The book is sprinkled with quotes from real parents and photos of their once-picky children enjoying their fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.

As a bonus, the book also features recipe contributions from popular family cookbook authors who share an assortment of their favorite healthy, child-friendly recipes. Featuring fun names and photos of kids enjoying the food, any picky eater will be begging for more! The recipe collections includes such culinary treasures as:

Sneaky Chef Brainy Brownies and Fabulous Fried Rice by Missy Chase Lapine (The Sneaky Chef)
Starry Night Stew and Lord of the Apple Rings by Jennifer Cardin (Toddler Café)
Leaf Us Alone Brussels Sprouts and Happy Hummus by Lisa Barnes (Petit Appetit)
Grow-a-Garden Dip and Sweet Potato Veggie Nachos by Barbara Berry (Green Princess Cookbook)
Best Ever Granola and Pink Potatoes by Joan Ahlers & Cheryl Tallman (So Easy Toddler Food)
Mexican Lasagna and Fruity Chicken Kebabs by Liz Weiss and Janice Newell Bissex (Welcoming Kitchen)

Parents are increasingly aware that picky eating can lead to weight and health issues. With movements such as Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution,” Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, and Oprah’s “Family Dinner Experiment,” it is clear that childhood obesity is a major ongoing crisis that parents are set to battle. And with all the anxiety wrapped up in battling with a picky eater, parents need help to get children on the right path to a lifetime of healthy eating. With Pantley’s advice, parents and caregivers can help any fussy eater have wholesome meals while bringing peace and joy back to the dining table.

About the Author: Elizabeth Pantley is the author of the now-classic baby sleep book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution, as well as The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution, The No-Cry Potty Training Solution, and The No-Cry Discipline Solution and seven other successful parenting books. She is the president of Better Beginnings, Inc., a parent education company, and is a regular radio show guest on stations across the U.S. and in Canada, as well as an extremely active Internet voice, through a wide variety of parenting blogs and websites as well as her own site, Her newsletter, Parent Tips, is distributed nationwide through schools, doctor’s offices and parenting groups. She is often quoted in such magazines as Redbook, Parents, Parenting, Mother & Baby, Today’s Parent, Woman’s Day, and Good Housekeeping.

For more information, please visit:

Can Food Save Your Life?

1 Feb

101 Optimal Life Foods

Dave Grotto thinks so, in his new book 101 Optimal Life Foods he discusses the benefits of eating healthy to stay alert and keep your insides and outside shiny and new.
“For the millions of Americans tired of hearing about ‘what not to eat,’ this book is a refreshing and enlightening guide to improving your health by adding delicious foods to your diet. Dave’s simple explanations for why these foods are potential ‘life savers’ makes the book enjoyable to read, and the recipes bring the science to life on your plate.”—Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Nutrition Director, Prevention Magazine

Dave asked me to submit two recipes to his book and I gladly accepted. One of them is a Cocoa Encrusted Salmon with Blueberries. It was fun trying to pack as many antioxidants into the recipe as I could. Check out the book for more great suggestions. He also has included menus for great skin and alleviating the mid day nap attack.

Here are a few great ideas from this book, who knew?
• Chocolate, tea, and dried plums reduce the signs of aging skin.
• Combining walnuts and cherries can lead to the best sleep of your life.
• Artichoke leaves bring relief from common stomach ailments.
• Oysters can alleviate the effects of crippling migraines.
• Wasabi helps treat bad breath.

So check my recipes and try some out, maybe your kids will like them too.

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