It's times like these -- when I get the opportunity to meet and chat with famous chef Bobby Flay -- that I'm grateful for having a daughter who likes broccoli, carrots and peas.
Don't get me wrong. The kid is definitely a fan of the occasional Pinkberry or Babycakes treat, but when vegetables are on the table, she doesn't run to her room screaming in horror.
And, yes, I feel veeeery lucky about that.
Our challenges aren't so much getting her to eat, but getting her to eat what we're eating. We tend to make something for ourselves and something for her. Also, I'm not exactly BFF with my kitchen, so the easier the dish the better.
So having the chance to sit on the couch and get food therapy from Flay, who launched The Real Food Project with Hellmann's and Best Foods this week, was encouraging to this mom, who's always up for cooking shortcuts.
"Moms are always like, 'How do I get my family fed quickly and in a nutritious way, something that is easy for the whole family,' " Flay said. "A lot of times, people tend to make more than one meal -- there's the kids' meal, and then there's the adults' meal, and I never understood any of that."
"My daughter's now 13," he added, "but I always fed her what we were eating."
Flay recommends making roasted chicken, because it offers leftovers for the next day -- soups, salads, sandwiches. "Cook one time for something between two and three meals," he said.
Getting back to his teen daughter, Flay talked a little bit about what she liked to eat as a toddler. "At a very early age, she liked to eat shellfish. (That) was her thing, like mussels and clams, and she still does today."
"That's very sophisticated," I said.
"But see, that's the difference. I don't agree with you," he countered. "It's not sophisticated. It's just that you have to put it in front of them."
"When she was 2 years old," he added, "she didn't know a mussel was a sophisticated thing. Now she thinks she's cool when she eats it."
CC has tried sushi and exotic Thai dishes, but she's also a hamburgers and hot dogs kind of girl.
"Well, you don't want to take the fun out of it," Flay said. "But if it's a hamburger, why not make it a good hamburger instead of a fast-food hamburger? There's a complete difference."
I told Flay about how Ian cringes every time I slather a hot dog or cheeseburger in ketchup and mayo, and I wondered if there might be other unusual places to find the condiment.
"I think one of the coolest places that people find mayonnaise is actually in this French dish, like a bouillabaisse, or a seafood stew," he said, while also reminding me that Hellmann's and Best Foods use 100% cage-free eggs. "And they make something called rouille, which is actually a mayonnaise-flavored saffron and garlic. And you stir it into the broth while the broth is really hot, and it gives the broth a really creamy texture to it."
Flay also said that adding fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and mayo to paella when everything is done adds texture and brightens up the rice dish.
After chatting with Flay, I got the chance to peek in on a Web video taping for The Real Food Project. He and a mom of two teens hit the grill for a fun sandwich with eggplant and melted cheese.
While the actual taping took a while, the grilling was fast and easy. Something I convinced myself I could do, too.
Flay also signed a cookbook for me, one that is right up my alley: "Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries & Shakes."
Now that I can handle. Just bring on the ketchup and mayo!
(Click here to access recipes and short videos -- one featuring fellow L.A. mom blogger Elizabeth Peterson from Traded My BMW for a Minivan.)