5 Family-Friendly Dinners from Alice Choi of Hip Foodie Mom
After everything that’s happened over the past 15 months, Alice Choi is choosing to look at the positives — and cooking at home has been one of them. For purely practical reasons, it makes sense! Alice is the blogger behind Hip Foodie Mom, which saw a boom in readers this past year when more people were finding their way around their home kitchens than ever before. (She’s also a member of the Kitchn Collective, a team of food writers and parents.)
Alice and her family also recently moved into a new house in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia, where she got to design her dream kitchen — it’s where she spends a majority of her time developing recipes and cooking for her family. On top of it all, Alice got to spend more time at home with her two daughters and husband, making viral TikTok recipes and the Korean foods that she grew up eating. In an uncertain time, cooking was both a necessity but also an outlet.
We caught up with Alice in her brand-new kitchen to talk about her year stuck inside, the joys of H-Mart, and the recipes that got her and her family through this year.
Weeknight Cooking Questions for Alice
What have the past 15 months been like for you and your family?
It was tough but as far as the positive goes, it was been nice being home with the kids. My husband and I have two girls: a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old. We’re all connected more and having meals together, making do. That was the bright spot. Oh, and we recently moved into a new house in Pennsylvania! I was able to build a lovely kitchen that I love with an island that we congregate around. We really are spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
More than usual?
It’s funny because I normally cook a lot — cooking and testing recipes is my job. But I was definitely baking a lot more and cooking comfort food like bread, pizza, pasta, and a lot of sweets. Also, because the kids were home, we needed to keep ourselves busy. They got me into TikTok, so we did all the viral recipes — Dalgona coffee, feta pasta, “nature’s cereal” (berries and pom seeds in coconut water that Lizzo posted about). We also made that King Arthur Flour skillet pizza about 20 times. (I think that will stick.)
What do you do when you’re in a cooking funk?
I definitely still have those days (or weeks!). We’d order takeout, which is good every now and then. For families with kids, on a normal school day all you’d have to worry about is breakfast, packed lunch, and dinner. Now it’s breakfast, snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner. It takes a toll. My 13-year-old took a class at school where she learned to cook, which was helpful on days when I just didn’t want to do it!
How do you typically grocery shop?
I cooked way more pantry meals this year, because I didn’t want to leave the house as much. But I also really started to care more about supporting local businesses and farmers markets. One bright thing about moving to Pennsylvania is that there’s an H-Mart here. I recommend that whenever anyone cooks Asian food, that they go to an Asian grocery store. Check out an H-Mart or a smaller mom-and-pop store. Even if you don’t have one, now you can buy a lot of Asian pantry staples online.
Has anything major changed about the way you cook?
I’ve taken a step back to look at myself in the food blogging world and how I identify myself. Hip Foodie Mom is all about easy, approachable weeknight recipes for you and your family, but I want to include more Asian food as well.
As a Korean American mother, I do really feel strongly about teaching my kids how to cook Korean dishes. Over the last year, I have been cooking way more Korean food. Especially now with everything going on within the AAPI community, I feel strongly that I want to teach my kids more about their heritage and background. I want my kids to be proud about who they are.
A Week of Dinners from Alice Choi
Lemony Pesto Pasta with Asparagus
I love this recipe because it’s super easy. It incorporates pesto (which I love to make when I have leftover greens that are about to go bad), and asparagus. I roast the asparagus, chop it up, and add it in. I’ve also taken it to another level and made asparagus pesto. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, as you can imagine, but we love it. It’s a great way to give my kids greens. Plus, the cheese and the nuts are always interchangeable; I’ve used almonds and walnuts instead of pine nuts, and Pecorino instead of Parmesan. I try to keep it meatless, but you can add protein too.
Get Alice’s recipe: Lemony Pesto Pasta with Asparagus
My kids and I have made this at least five or six times over this past year. It’s a fun activity for us because it really is a labor of love. I love getting my kids involved because I want them to know how to make it. When they’re older and out on their own, they can make it for themselves and teach their friends how, and pass it on to their kids.
The traditional protein for Kimbap is bulgogi. (You can also use tofu or egg.) I like to buy the pre-seasoned veggies already made at H-Mart or a Korean grocery store if I want to save some time. Because it’s so time-intensive, I make a lot so I have leftovers and I can make bibimbap the next day. It’s like having two meals in one.
Get Alice’s Recipe: Korean Kimbap
I feel like we have salmon at least every other week because it’s good for you. I love this recipe because of the spicy citrus dressing. It has a little gochujang, which gives it a little kick. The dressing is also great on salads — super versatile.
Get Alice’s recipe: Baked Salmon
Air Fryer Chicken Katsu with Rice
I’ve had an air fryer for a few years now, but I definitely used it more than ever this past year. This recipe came about because so many readers requested that I post more air fryer recipes. The beauty of the air fryer is that you use little to no oil, but it gets your food crispy without deep-frying.
Get Alice’s recipe: Air Fryer Chicken Katsu with Rice
Fresh Asian Noodle Bowl
I think my favorite thing to do in spring and summer is cook rice noodles, a simple sauce, and throw on raw veggies. You get this freshness, crunch, and texture. I try to incorporate in-season vegetables, toss it together with a super-simple and light dressing, and add a little heat. I’m a sauce fanatic — sometimes all you really need is a delicious sauce.
Get Alice’s recipe: Fresh Asian Noodle Bowl
This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: 5 Family-Friendly Dinners from Alice Choi of Hip Foodie Mom