In her 2014 essay "What If You Just Hate Making Dinner?" The New York Times Magazine's Virginia Heffernan railed against the comeback of home cooking. A self-described "born defroster," Heffernan heaped particular scorn on food writers pedaling dinner guilt in "mother cookbooks, stuffed like Cornish hens with their whimsical anecdotes and their photos of stylish children helping to cook like cheerfully indentured galley slaves."

Katie Workman's new cookbook is not that. Wry and reassuring, she writes candidly from the family dinner trenches, and she's an ally to the beginners and experienced cooks alike. How do you push your kids to try a new dish? "There are no foolproof answers," Workman writes. "Those few parents who want to share the news that their kids eat everything, from the stinkiest blue cheese to smoked oysters, are not who I plan to hang out with at the next school cocktail party."

In Dinner Solved!, Workman attacks the picky-eater problem with "Fork in the Road" recipes, meaning at some point in the preparation you can divide and modify a recipe for, say, slaw—go Asian-style for the adventurous or creamy-style for the picky—so everyone at the table is happy, including the cook. Her previous cookbook, The Mom 100, a Cooking Light favorite in 2012, leaned toward the classics. Recipes here boast just enough bold flavors to keep them current, including a standout Shortcut Chicken Udon Soup that might win over the toughest crowds, Virginia Heffernan included.

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