Being a dad is a lot of work, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get busy in the kitchen! Derek Campanile, creator of pro-dad cooking blog Dad with a Pan, wants to help dads get their foodie start and spotlights the values of cooking, family and spending time around the table.
Taste of Home: Where are you from?
Derek Campanile: California. Born in Northern California, then made my way down to Southern California when I was a kid. I’ve been here and there in SoCal, constantly moving, but we’ve (hopefully) planted our feet in Orange County.
TOH: Who or what in your life sparked your interest in cooking?
DC: My earliest memory cooking was when my mother taught me how to scramble eggs. After that, I’ve always seemed to enjoy cooking and would take any opportunity available to grow. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about sizzling food on a pan that is highly satisfying to me.
TOH: What do you love most about cooking? The “why” of why you cook!
DC: I love the feeling I get when what I made is really good and others enjoy it. I normally have a sense of a meal being a success, but I feel I’m probably biased to my own cooking. So, whenever I cook for others, I’m always peeking out of the corner of my eye to see if they’ve eaten it all or are going for more. That’s when I know I’ve done a good job.
TOH: What advice would you give to new dads starting out in the kitchen?
DC: Start with easy to follow recipes and tweak 10% of it to make it your own and go from there. Also, have grilled cheese on deck if that recipe was a disaster!
TOH: Does your family have a favorite dish they request at dinnertime? Which ones?
DC: My wife loves my posole and chicken and dumplings, so if I don’t have those in rotation at least once a season, I’ll be sure to hear about it! Brayden loves my enchiladas, and Kenzie really loves my string cheese. She doesn’t know those come from the store.
TOH: What is your all-time favorite dish to cook?
DC: I love making a fresh batch of marinara sauce on Sundays for spaghetti nights. It’s something I grew up smelling all day on a Sunday and have fond memories of it. So any time the house is smelling of marinara all day is a good day!
(Craving a Sunday spaghetti night of your own? Try these fork-twirlin’-good spaghetti recipes.)
courtesy Derek Campanile
TOH: Have your kids shown any interest in cooking? If so, how do they help out in the kitchen?
DC: Brayden has a passive interest where if I ask him if he wants to help, he always wants to and really enjoys helping with tasks like stirring the pot or helping pour ingredients in. He always asks “Dad, when are we going to do Brayden and Daddy with a Pan?”
Kenzie is a whole other ballgame. Whenever I’m in the kitchen, she tells me she wants to cook, bringing her stool in to come up to the stove and help. I totally look forward to having them both in the kitchen helping with Sunday dinners, but it’s not something I want to force on them.
(If your little one loves the kitchen, too, here’s your go-to guide for cooking with kids.)
TOH: What ingredients do you keep on hand at all times?
DC: Always need the basics: salt, pepper, onions, jalapenos and cilantro. Oh, yeah, and garlic. I think I drive my wife a little nutty with how much garlic I always bring home. I never know if I have any and buy a clove or two to come home and find I already had five!
(We couldn’t agree more, Derek! Here are some more of the most useful ingredients to grab during your grocery haul.)
TOH: How do you balance working in IT, cooking and spending time with your family at the end of the day? Is ordering out ever an option?
DC: It’s definitely a challenge. Finding a schedule or routine helps, but with young kids, those routines can be short-lived. Eating out has been an option, but it’s something we’re trying to keep to a minimum because that bill adds up quicker than you realize. I’m slowly learning that planning out the week’s dinners really helps me to be more efficient when I get home from work. I can get dinner going quicker, spending less time in the kitchen and more time with the family before the kids are off to bed.
TOH: What’s your favorite cuisine to make?
DC: I think it’s a tie between Mexican and Italian food. I think because the base to a lot of those dishes is similar (onion, garlic and tomatoes). Any time you get those ingredients sizzling on the pan, it gets the house smelling so good, and everyone in the house is ready for food to come to the table.
Courtesy Derek Campanile
Derek’s Chimichurri Breakfast Tostadas
Try one of Derek’s favorite recipes. It makes tostadas.
- 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley sprigs
- 1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, halved
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 large eggs
- 4 tostada shells, warmed
- 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
Step 1: Make the chimichurri
Place first 9 ingredients in a food processor. Add 1/3 cup olive oil and if desired, red pepper flakes. Pulse until desired consistency. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
Step 2: Cook the beans
Meanwhile, place beans in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through.
Step 3: Fry the eggs
Heat butter and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Break eggs, one at a time, into pan; reduce heat to low. Cook until whites are set and yolks begin to thicken, turning once if desired.
Step 4: Load up the tostadas
Top tostada shells with black beans, Cotija cheese and fried eggs; drizzle with chimichurri. Sprinkle with additional Cotija cheese.
1 / 30Taste of Home
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My husband grew up in Southern California and loves chorizo. We use the spicy sausage in these chorizo and egg wraps that our children call Daddy’s Eggs.—April Nissen, Yankton, South DakotaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
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These delicious enchiladas are equally good made with cubed ham. Prepare ahead, refrigerate and bake when ready for a convenient breakfast twist. —Deb LeBlanc, Phillipsburg, KansasGo to Recipe
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This casserole is perfect for a special brunch. It combines the spices of the Southwest with the comfort of a hearty breakfast. You can spice it up by adding cayenne and hot peppers, or mellow it by replacing the tomatoes and green chilies with mild salsa. It’s versatile and easy—no wonder it’s a longtime family favorite. —Darlene Buerger, Peoria, ArizonaGo to Recipe
Tex-Mex Breakfast Haystacks
I love haystacks and wanted to make a fun Tex-Mex recipe for my family. Adding panko crumbs and cheese to the hash browns before cooking gives them a wonderful golden brown color and crisp texture. —Donna-Marie Ryan, Topsfield, MassachusettsGo to RecipeTaste of Home
My husband and I had huevos rancheros while visiting Cuernavaca, Mexico, and he loved the meal so much he asked me to cook it for him when got home. My version is suited to my family’s preference for sunny side up eggs, but poached or scrambled eggs would be just as tasty. —Cheryl Woodson, Liberty, MissouriGo to Recipe
Brunch Ham Enchiladas
When I’m expecting company for brunch, the menu often features this tried-and-true casserole. With ham, eggs and plenty of cheese, the enchiladas are flavorful, hearty and fun. And they’re easy to assemble the day before.
—Gail Sykora, Menomonee Falls, WisconsinGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Mexican Egg Casserole
Tomatoes and green chiles give color and zip to this extra-cheesy egg bake. It’s a favorite for breakfast or brunch but it can be enjoyed for lunch or supper, too. —Mary Steiner, West Bend, WisconsinGo to Recipe
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Chiles Rellenos Quiche
To me, nothing sparks up a meal more than the smoky flavor of roasted green chiles. This is a quick and easy recipe, and I usually have the ingredients on hand, so when I don’t know what to fix for dinner, I make this quiche. —Linda Miritello, Mesa, ArizonaGo to Recipe
Chorizo & Grits Breakfast Bowls
Growing up, I bonded with my dad over chorizo and eggs. My fresh approach combines them with grits and black beans for this chorizo breakfast bowl. Add a spoonful of pico de gallo for extra pop. —Jenn Tidwell, Fair Oaks, CaliforniaGo to Recipe
Wondering how to make tortas? My hubby likes these ciabatta rolls served with pickled jalapenos. Try substituting leftover taco meat, ham, grilled steak or chicken for the bacon. This one’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. —Carolyn Kumpe, El Dorado, CaliforniaGo to Recipe
Breakfast Burrito Casserole
A friend gave me this burrito casserole recipe and I modified it to fit our family. It’s perfect for a brunch, because you can prep it the night before and bake it the next morning. —Krista Yoder, Due West, South CarolinaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Green Chile Quiche Squares
Chilies add spark to this cheesy quiche. You can vary the flavor based on the kind of croutons you buy. I like to serve fresh fruit on the side.—Connie Willson, Huntington Beach, CaliforniaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Chiles Rellenos Breakfast Bake
My family loves anything with a Southwestern flavor, so I turned classic chiles rellenos into a breakfast casserole. They became fans in an instant. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, TexasGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Low and Slow Huevos Rancheros
We love Mexican food, especially for breakfast. My slow cooker version of a favorite, huevos rancheros, is rolled into flour tortillas. It’s a perfect way to serve a breakfast crowd. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, TexasGo to Recipe
Chiles Rellenos Souffle
After we spent the night at our friends’ house in Arizona, we awoke to the tantalizing aroma of an egg souffle. It brings back wonderful memories. —Pat Coyne, Las Vegas, NevadaGo to Recipe
Chorizo Egg Casserole
Growing up on chorizo and egg burritos, I decided it was time for a remake. In the morning when I make coffee, I pop this in the oven and an hour later, breakfast is ready! —Relina Shirley, Reno, NevadaGo to Recipe
Poached Huevos Rancheros
I like to spice things up with tempting whole eggs poached in a zesty tomato sauce. This southwestern fare is perfect for brunch. —Olga Koetting, Terre Haute, IndianaGo to Recipe
Chorizo Salsa Omelet
Just a few ingredients jazz up a basic omelet and make it delish! —Taste of Home Test KitchenGo to Recipe
Spicy Breakfast Pizza
Eggs and hash browns have extra pizazz when they’re served up on a pizza pan. My family requests this fun breakfast often, and it’s a snap to make with ready-to-use pizza crust. I adjust the heat index of the toppings to suit the taste buds of my diners. —Christy Hinrichs, Parkville, MissouriGo to Recipe
Light and crispy pastry puffs, sopaipillas are a sweet way to round out a spicy meal. They make a nice winter dessert served warm and topped with honey or sugar. —Mary Anne McWhirter, Pearland, TexasGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Chorizo Burrito Bowls
I’m always on the hunt for fast and filling meals. Chicken sausage makes an awesome one-dish dinner by itself or served with brown rice in a burrito. —Elisabeth Larsen, Pleasant Grove, UtahGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Mexican Sausage & Cornbread Strata
The beauty of my Mexican strata is that you can change it depending on the veggies you have on hand. I make mine most often with corn and pico de gallo. —Lisa Huff, Wilton, ConnecticutGo to Recipe
Chorizo and Eggs Ranchero
For a festive Mexican breakfast, we do chorizo and huevos rancheros. Add refried beans and cheddar, and serve everything in bowls made of tortillas. —Paul Williams, Fort Mohave, ArizonaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Chorizo & Egg Breakfast Ring
People go crazy when I bring this loaded crescent ring to parties. I can bake it at home and take it anywhere. Of course, everyone’s happy when we have it for dinner, too! —Frances Blackwelder, Grand Junction, ColoradoGo to Recipe
Migas, My Way
Quick, easy and delicious, this egg scramble gets a big thumbs up from my family. Sometimes I substitute fresh corn tortillas for the chips by cutting the tortillas into strips and sauteeing them with the pepper and onion.—Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, TexasGo to Recipe ⓘ