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Tired of lackluster reactions to the phrase “dinner’s ready”? Try a trick I use on my brood and serve skewers. From sides to entrees, everything’s more festive on a stick, and the good news is, it’s pretty simple too.
1. Fish Skewers with Basil Chimichurri (pictured above): With bright pops of green basil sauce and juicy red cherry tomatoes, Melissa d’Arabian’s skewers turn fish from a picky eater’s no-no into a showstopper worth trying.
2. Pork and Pineapple Kebabs: Sure a pork chop is tasty, but chopping it up and serving it with fresh pineapple wedges transforms an otherwise average dinner into something special.
3. Garlic-Mustard Grilled Beef Skewers: The secret to Bobby Flay’s flavor-packed skewers is the glaze that’s applied as your meat hits the grill. That’s right: no need to spend time marinating (or planning) ahead of time.
4. Asian Chicken Skewers: If your crew is sensitive to heat, go easy on the chili sauce. And don’t worry: With all that fresh ginger, brown sugar and kid-friendly soy sauce, these fresh Asian flavors are sure to be a new family favorite.
5. Tortellini Skewers: Who said skewers had to be made of meat? Leave it to The Pioneer Woman to come up with a mouthwatering new take on skewers that includes fresh pasta and gooey mozzarella.
6. Tomato, Watermelon and Basil Skewers: Even sides can be served on a stick. This sweet idea from Giada De Laurentiis works well as a snack too.
7. Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Satay Dip: I’ve served this Ina Garten classic for years — at parties and for casual dinners at home. What I love about it, in addition to the jaw-dropping delicious flavors, is that you cook the chicken breasts first, then carve ‘em up to arrange on sticks.
8. Antipasto Sausage Skewers: Sometimes small is the perfect way to go. These mini skewers may have been intended for starters, but I love serving small portions like this for kids. It’s easier to get them interested, and the portion feels more doable for little guys who are reluctant to try something new.
9. Sub Sandwiches on a Stick: On a hot summer night, the easiest way to get dinner on the table starts with sandwich fixings: Chop up slices of turkey, ham and salami, plus a few wedges of cheese, a cherry tomato and a pickle for good measure. Thread everything onto a skewer in between two big cubes of French bread, and officially give the oven the night off.
10. Fruit Skewers with Custard: Thanks to Jamie Deen, even dessert can be served on a skewer. Best of all, the kids can help make these ahead of time, alleviating the need for anyone to ask, “What’s for dessert?”
Charity Curley Mathews is a former executive at HGTV.com and MarthaStewart.com turned family food blogger, an editorial strategy consultant and a mother of four. She’s a contributor to The Huffington Post and the founder of Foodlets.com: Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe.