Meet a Mom Series time! Chicago North Shore Moms is pleased to introduce you to Karen Nochimowski, the momma behind the ultra popular (eh hem 80K followers!) and super delicious cooking blog, www.mommachef.com! The Chicago North Shore born and raised mom of three boys (plus one girl pup) jokingly calls her household quiet. When she is not spending time with her family and carting them from activity to activity, she’s working hard to bring you deliciously easy meals with her “6 under 6” promise: “delicious dishes that can be prepared using no more than six ingredients in under six minutes of prep time.” Karen chats about her personal favs, mom hacks and her latest philanthropic endeavor, Momma Chef’s Soup Kitchen at Congregation K.I.N.S. in West Rogers Park!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town?
I am a true Chicago girl, born and raised in Glenview and now raising my family in Deerfield. My husband jokes that only I can put a good spin on the Chicago winters explaining why our weather is better than the weather in California.
Child(ren) and Age(s)?
We have a very quiet household of 3 boys, ages 14, 10 and 7. I did get my girl with an adorable 3-year-old labradoodle.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
People are shocked when I tell them that I was a theater major in college.
Favorite mom hack?
Oh- I have so many great hacks- do I need to choose just one?! Ok- my favorite hack is cutting a lemon in half and putting it in the microwave for 30 seconds before you are going to use it. The lemon juice comes out so easily that way. My second favorite hack is throwing a wrinkled shirt/skirt or really any clothing in the dryer with 5 ice cubes on high for about 10 minutes and no need to iron!
Favorite place to take the kids?
I love our Florida vacation during the cold months.
Guilty pleasure (ie. Food, desert, snack, hobby)?
I could live on Auntie Anne’s pretzels, especially the cinnamon sugar ones. But, to be honest, I really love anything sweet.
Go-to cosmetic “tired eraser”?
I can’t think of the last time that I got a full night’s sleep without being woken up by one of my boys or the dog, so I definitely need some under eye coverage. I love the Clé de Peau eye concealer. I had the best makeup artist for my wedding, and we are still in touch (he now does the makeup for Chicago Fire) and I always call him for the best new products, so he swears by this eye concealer (p.s. Hi Robert!).
Favorite family movie?
We all love the Jumanji movies. I thought they were all appropriate until my youngest’s kindergarten teacher came up to me last year to tell me that he was announcing to the whole class that he is allowed to watch PG-13 movies that were “inappropriate”. Guess that’s what happens with the 3rd.
Favorite book for you?
I love The Notebook. I think I read it 10 times when I was in my early 20’s and was so psyched when the movie came out.
Favorite Children’s book?
Guess How Much I Love You
A perfect day with the family is….
We love Apple Picking in the fall. I think my kids consume a year’s worth of fruit in just 1 day. Our go-to apple orchard is Apple Holler in Wisconsin. It’s a bit pricey, we usually spend several hours there. If we don’t have a whole day and want to find somewhere closer, we like Heinz which is closer and not as expensive, but their orchard is much smaller with less variety. Here is my favorite recipe using the apples we picked from Apple Holler, I came up with it after a full day of apple picking: Simple and Delicious Apple Crumble.
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!
I created my cooking blog, MommaChef.com in 2017 and opened Momma Chef’s Soup Kitchen in October of 2018. MommaChef.com meets the needs of busy families who want home-cooked meals but lack the luxury of time to make them happen. I have mastered a way to prepare delicious meals with little effort and few ingredients. All of my recipes feature my “6 under 6” promise: delicious dishes that can be prepared using no more than six ingredients in under six minutes of prep time. This unique niche has helped my blog grow quickly. I currently have more than 80,000 followers on various social media platforms.
My blog has been featured in dozens of magazines and online publications, including Huff Post, Chicago Parent, Sonoma Family, Working Mother, Neighborhood Parents Network, Mile High Mamas, Better After 50, Costco Connection and the Chicago Tribune. I have also been a featured speaker at MommyCon. And now I am featured here, on Chicago North Shore Moms resource blog!
I have recently opened up a soup kitchen in Chicago called “Momma Chef’s Soup Kitchen.” My goal is to use my love of cooking to serve others beyond my family, friends and virtual followers. At Momma Chef’s Soup Kitchen, volunteers use my blog recipes to create and serve meals to under-resourced families in a safe, clean and uplifting environment. 13 volunteers are needed each week to prep and serve the food. It’s such a wonderful activity to do with the family and they accept volunteers age 8+. If you would like more information about volunteering or would like to dive right into something great, please click here.
Amazing! We could all use your 6 under 6 promise! Do you have any special advice for busy parents?
Please don’t be afraid to cook! I promise, if you start with something on my blog and you will be surprised how easy it is to get a warm home-cooked meal on the table. My favorite one to start with is my Honey Mustard Chicken.
Lastly, I’d like to encourage the readers of this blog article that if there is something you believe in, a cause that keeps tapping your shoulder, please believe in you! Yes, one person truly can make a difference! A year ago when I came up with the idea to open up a soup kitchen and provide hot meals to those in need (whatever their circumstances) it sounded almost impossible. I pulled energy (both physically and mentally) from within, came up with a plan, found a soup kitchen site and went for it! I, along with my Volunteer Coordinator who helps fill those greatly appreciated 13 spaces each week, have been making a difference in the lives of people one meal at time!
I have always found sanctuary in the kitchen and have loved cooking for as long as I can remember. From my early college “gourmet” specialty of caramelized French toast (Step one: drench French toast in sugar; Step two: add more sugar) to today’s healthier options, I have discovered a way to make dishes that all of my family members love by developing easy, quick recipes. Friends and family kept asking me for my culinary secrets, so I started the Momma Chef blog to help busy people like me serve fabulous meals with little effort and few ingredients.
What’s on the horizon for Momma Chef and Momma Chef’s Soup Kitchen?
Running the Soup Kitchen is keeping me super busy, but I would eventually love to put together a cookbook with my “6 under 6” recipes.
Follow Karen’s “6 under 6” recipes and Momma Chef’s Soup Kitchen!