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updated: 1/18/2012 10:53 AM

Glen Ellyn mom helps take stress out of mealtime

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  • Janet Spiech's "A Little Book to Ease Meal-Time Madness" contains tips for taking the stress out of mealtime.

      Janet Spiech's "A Little Book to Ease Meal-Time Madness" contains tips for taking the stress out of mealtime.
    Courtesy of A Little Book

  • Celebrate National Pie Day on Jan. 23 with a decadent slice of Laura's Sticky Toffee Pudding Apple Pie.

      Celebrate National Pie Day on Jan. 23 with a decadent slice of Laura's Sticky Toffee Pudding Apple Pie.
    Courtesy of The J.M. Smucker Company


I'm so less stressed when I actually take time to plan the week's dinners that you'd think I would do it more often. But alas, I do not.

Sometimes circumstances are such that I run to the store with nary a sales flier or grocery list in hand. Come 5:30 p.m. Monday, I walk in the door searching the pantry and freezer for dinner ideas.

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Janet Spiech has been there too, but she worked her way through it and now this Glen Ellyn mom wants to help me and countless others get back on the path to seamless supper time.

Spiech's "A Little Book to Ease Meal-Time Madness" contains tips and ideas for taking the stress out of family meals. The book has spawned a line of products, including grocery list pads, a menu-planning and budgeting organizer and meal labels that are available through her website,, or at specialty shops in the suburbs (store list available online). With products costing $3.95 to $14.95, the company was a Gold Winner of the Mom's Choice Award in 2011.

Her website contains tips and recipes as does her email newsletter which you can subscribe to online.

Maybe 2012 really will be the year I bring balance back to mealtime.

Easy as pie: That may be the saying, but when it comes to Laura's Sticky Toffee Pudding Apple Pie, eating it may be as easy as 1, 2, 3, but making it sure isn't.

That pie won top honors at last year's National Pie Championship. While it has several steps, it's nothing too complicated and would make a perfect treat for celebrating National Pie Day on Monday, Jan. 23. (That's 1/23. Get it?)

National Pie Day, sponsored by the National Pie Council, is all about indulging in America's favorite dessert -- pie. While culinarians dubbed 2011 "The Year of the Pie," this versatile dessert shows no signs of crumbling in the popularity polls anytime soon.

Apple pie -- whether traditional or a kicked-up version like Laura's Sticky Toffee Pudding Apple Pie (recipe available at -- remains the top pie among Americans, with pumpkin pie coming in second. Pecan pie ranks a close third.

So pick up a rolling pin and try any of the award-winning recipes available at

Not a baker? Not a problem. Pick up a pie, or two, from your neighborhood bakery or supermarket and warm up a cold January day with a pie party for family, friends or co-workers.

Game on: Learn how to make hardy fare like pheasant potpie and venison steaks from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at Marcel's Culinary Experience in Glen Ellyn.

Chef Kelly Spears and her husband, Dan, a hunter, will demonstrate ways to prepare lean game meats and answer questions about cooking game.

The class costs $80 and will be held at the shop, 490 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn. Register at (630) 790-8500 or

MIA: Caper Vinaigrette: Last week's recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Florets failed to include the companion recipe Fried Caper Vinaigrette. Thanks to everyone who called. I'm printing the recipe today.

When a recipe doesn't make the print edition, it still goes online (usually by Wednesday afternoon) at Click on the "Recipes" tab.

Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at or follow her on Twitter @PankeysPlate.

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