When asked to declare her favorite recipe in her repertoire, Karen Nochimowski, a.k.a. Momma Chef, doesn't hesitate: "Honey curry chicken…that's the recipe I feel has really propelled me," she said.
Honey curry chicken is the recipe that launched her blog, mommachef.com, now with more than 70,000 followers. It's the recipe Nochimowski first served to clients in 2018 when she opened a soup kitchen in West Rogers Park. And now it's the recipe that led her to choose an agent for her new cookbook:
6-Minute Dinners (and More!):100 Super Simple Dishes with 6 Minutes of Prep and 6 Ingredients or Less
. The agent told Nochimowski that she didn't usually cook, but she tried making the chicken dish, anyway.
"She said it was amazing," Nochimowski said. "I thought, if she's someone who doesn't normally cook, and she made my recipe, loved it, and sent me photos, then she'll be able to sell my cookbook."
The cookbook, which comes out Dec. 13, bases itself around the number six: all recipes entail six minutes of prep with six ingredients or less. Nochimowski wants to make cooking accessible to all, even those who find it daunting.
"The goal for the cookbook is to get people who are intimidated to cook to just try these recipes, and to give them confidence in the kitchen," she said.
As a busy mom of three boys, Nochimowski understands the challenges of putting together home cooked meals for discerning taste buds. The cookbook provides a wide range of options for carnivores and vegetarians alike, and even includes a "cooking with kids" section. Nochimowski calls her recipes family friendly, having enlisted her husband and sons to serve as taste testers.
"If I'm coming up with a new recipe, I need to know at least three of the five of us will be eating it--bonus if it's everyone!" she said. "My youngest has really enjoyed the process. It's inspired his love of cooking, and he's my pickiest eater."
Nochimowski's other goal with the cookbook revolves around her passion of giving back to the community. Certain proceeds from
(and More!) will go to the Momma Chef Soup Kitchen, which Nochimowski founded four years ago at Congregation KINS of West Rogers Park. Since then, she and a team of various volunteers have provided more than 20-thousand meals to those in need.
"Volunteers who come to the soup kitchen are also getting a cooking class. We make a five or six course meal, and they're all my recipes," Nochimowski says.
In the span of just an hour and a half, they create multi-course dinners to serve to about 100 clients every Tuesday night. All food provided is kosher, though the clientele come from multiple faiths.
During the pandemic, Nochimowski safely kept the soup kitchen going. She even expanded her giving reach, creating the Momma Chef Little Free Pantry movement. So far, the four food pantries, serving neighborhoods in Chicago and Evanston, have provided more than 15,000 pounds of food. Nochimowski herself selects the pantries' contents to ensure health and safety. With the cookbook now out in the world, she plans to stock copies at the pantries as well.
Nochimowski says she hopes to see her cookbook inspire readers not only in their kitchens, but also in their communities. In the book, she shares different ideas for how to contribute.
"I think people inherently like to help. Even if you have your plate full, you will never regret giving back to the community."
To purchase your copy of "6-Minute Dinners and More!" go to mommachef.com, or stop by your local bookstore. Karen will be doing many book signings around Chicago. After you buy your cookbook, email Karen on her site, and she'll make sure to send you an e-book of five additional exclusive recipes!
Mimi Sager Yoskowitz is a writer and former CNN producer raising her family on the North Shore. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram @mimisy6 .