All Posts By Foodlets

Charity Curley Mathews dreams of raising kids who eat (and enjoy) real food. A former VP at, she's a contributor to The Huffington Post and heads up Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe. Together with her husband and three small children, she now cooks in North Carolina.

How to Turn 1 Roasted Chicken Into 3 Family Dinners

by in Recipes, February 17th, 2015

Easy Lemon Roasted Chicken with Carrots & PotatoesAs a mom of four small kids, I love dinners you can cook once, then use again in a new way later in the week. I call them “2 Dinners in 1,” but today I’m sharing how to be a suppertime overachiever. No two dinners here. Nope, this strategy is a bona fide three-in-one timesaver. After roasting a classic chicken and vegetables, you’ll serve chicken breasts and some of those veggies for a family-friendly meal. Dinner two will be legs and thighs in a simple casserole, and finally on night three, you’ll put leftovers to work in a whole delicious stock. Here’s your game plan for making it work.

Dinner #1: Easy Lemon Roasted Chicken with Carrots & Potatoes (pictured above)

  • Use the largest bird you can find, then slather a quickie vinaigrette — I like olive oil, thyme, fresh lemon juice and zest, plus salt and pepper — on both the chicken and vegetables. Be sure to double the amount of vegetables, so you’re cooking another dinner’s worth of carrots and potatoes (plus any other vegetables you like, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and so on), and cook them on a separate baking sheet. And if you don’t have enough lemon vinaigrette for the second pan, just use olive oil with salt and pepper.
  • Cut up the breasts for dinner, using Alton Brown’s method for carving a turkey, and remove each breast in one large piece before dicing it up to serve. (P.S. Ina Garten does this for chicken too.)
  • Serve just the chicken breast and roasted vegetables with a nice loaf of crusty bread and soft salted butter. Reserve everything else — and I do mean everything, including the bones!

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The 8 Sweetest Valentine’s Day Treats for Kids

by in Family, Holidays, February 10th, 2015

The 8 Sweetest Valentine's Day Treats for KidsFrom super sweet to pretty darn healthy, I’ve got your kids’ Valentine’s Day treats covered. Every one of them is doable for busy parents, and many are so easy the kids can help. So whether you and the little ones are celebrating at home or school, these adorable ideas say nothing but love from the oven.

1. Heart of the Batter CupcakesAs if a moist cupcake loaded with chocolate frosting wasn’t enough, what kid wouldn’t be delighted to bite into a cupcake to find a heart-shaped strawberry inside? I’m practically clapping myself about these too-cute treats from Food Network Magazine.

2. Chocolate-Covered Mini Pretzel Sticks: For small kids, a pretzel stick — loaded with chocolate and sprinkles — makes the perfect serving size. Bonus: Your little ones can help make a batch with you.

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5 Double-Duty Dinners: Turn Leftovers Into School Lunches

by in Family, February 1st, 2015

Basic Pepperoni Pizza and Four-Cheese PizzaYour mornings may go more smoothly than mine, but in order to get the kids out the door on time I need to have a bunch of lunch staples on hand. And sometimes those supplies come right from last night’s dinner. Hint: Make it even easier on yourself by packing up these lunches as you clean up dinner, while everything’s still out.

1. Homemade Pizza: Some schools balk when you send kids with takeout pizza, but the fresh stuff should be fine. We love ham and pineapple, as well as good ol’ cheese. But Ree Drummond’s 5-star Pepperoni Pizza and Four-Cheese Pizza (pictured above) look so good, we’ll venture out this week.

2. Rolls: Any time we serve rolls or crusty bread, I always use the extras for sandwiches the next day. We have small kids and the size is perfect. If yours are bigger, pack two of these mini sandwiches. (Feeling industrious? Bobby Flay has 164 [and counting] perfect reviews for his Parker House Rolls.)

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5 Kid-Friendly Alternatives to Cheese, Crackers and Carbs

by in Recipes, January 23rd, 2015

Carrots & Dip Taste TestGot a carb lover on your hands? A couple of pintsize cheese addicts? Me too. In fact, I have four small kids, and sometimes it seems like they’ll eat only cheese, crackers and other carbs (CCC), at least without a fuss. When we’re in a CCC rut, I break out a few of these delicious alternatives.

Carrots and Dip Taste Test: Hear me out. If your kids don’t like raw veggies, give them a choice of a few dips (salad dressings, hummus or whatever you have in the fridge), and ask them to pick a winner. Alternatively, pick their favorite dressing — say, ranch — and offer three to four kinds of raw veggies to dip right in. Have them declare a favorite vegetable instead.

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9 Fresh Ideas for Winter School Lunches

by in Family, January 16th, 2015

Sandwiches on a StickOK, I admit it: I was a little relieved when school started again after the winter break. The house will be quiet again, I thought to myself. The house will be clean again. (In both cases, the “at least for a little while” part is implied, but you parents knew that.) In the midst of all this reflection, though, I forgot about something: packing lunches.

Without the allure of new lunchboxes, packing lunch this time of year can get tedious, so we’re stepping it up. Here are a few of our favorite ideas, including new things to try ourselves.

1. Embrace the Skewer: Chop up your kids’ favorite sub-style sandwich ingredients into big bites, then thread them onto a bamboo skewer, like what’s pictured above.

2. Amp Up Your Cheese and Crackers: Instead of a sandwich, serve cheese and crackers, but do it antipasto style by tucking in a couple of cheeses, one favorite and one new variety. Then add turkey lunchmeat and a couple of slices of salami.

3. Serve Soup: What’s more comforting than a thermos of hot homemade soup? We’re trying this 10-Minute Tomato Soup recipe ourselves. (P.S. Send a few crackers to add on the spot.)

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Why Our Family Food Goals Focus on More, Not Less

by in Family, January 13th, 2015

Foodlet.comMost food resolutions are about swearing off something: carbs, dairy, sugar, only refined sugar, white flour, all grains altogether … My Facebook feed is full of these New Year’s goals right now.

Eating better is a great idea, but I think these goals are off the mark, at least for me and my crew.

Our Family Food Goals

We have four small kids, from 7 months to 5 years, and there definitely are things I want to work on for better nutrition this year:

  • Less sugar (especially in hidden places like spaghetti sauce and yogurt)
  • More vegetables
  • Fewer empty carbs
  • And don’t forget manners! Our 2-year-old is a force at every meal, and for the sake of sanity all around, we’ll teach him the same rules his two older sisters follow.

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Creative Plating: My Secret Weapon for Getting Kids to Try New Foods

by in Family, December 27th, 2014

ChiliWhenever I have a new food I want my four small kids to try, I trot out a secret weapon — or two. There’s a drawer in my house full of little white bowls of all shapes and sizes: dipping bowls from an import store, egg cups from a big box store, little square appetizer plates bought on sale online. They’re all meant for adults to enjoy little bites of carefully made canapes at cocktail parties; I use them to serve new foods to small fries. Bonus: They’re also the perfect size for serving decadent desserts.

Anytime something is served in a dish like these, the kids think it’s fancy and exciting, so they’re way more willing to try it. And one more thing: All of my pieces are inexpensive, so if (and when) something breaks, it’s not the end of the world.

I’ve amassed a big collection, but even a couple of options would be just as fun. Here’s how we do it:

Juice Glasses: Of all my tiny pieces, our juice glasses probably get the most use. I use them for drinks every day, but occasionally they’re filled with parfaits. Everything from layers of chili and cheddar (pictured above) to yogurt and honey looks fancy when you can see those colorful layers.

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The 1970s Ingredient No Parent’s Fridge Should Be Without This Holiday Season

by in Recipes, December 21st, 2014

Turkey MeatloafAs a parent of four small kids, I’ve stumbled upon a little bit of liquid gold in my own kitchen. Every time I add it to things like soups, sauces, marinades or any cooked meat, my kids give a resounding thumbs-up. What is this miracle ingredient that transforms dinner from a Just-Take-a-Bite-a-Thon into a (reasonably) peaceful meal? It’s Worcestershire sauce!

Ina Garten told me to use it — and by “told me,” I mean she wrote recipes using it — and boy, do I. Now I add Worcestershire sauce all the time, and even though my kid-friendly recipes are all very fast, the Worcestershire makes any dish more flavorful, like it’s been cooking for much longer than I ever have time for.

Want proof? Check out Ina Garten’s 5-star recipes featuring just the right amount of this not-so-secret sauce here:

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How to Make Homemade Food Coloring

by in How-to, December 17th, 2014

How to Make Homemade Food ColoringIf you’re steering clear of store-bought food colorings but want to make colorful cookies or holiday gifts, I’m with you. As a mom of four small kids, I’ve been looking high and low for recipes that produce vibrant colors without chemicals, and these are the best I’ve found. Below are techniques for making three primary colors that you can use as is or mix to create orange, purple or green.

The Colors:
To make red, use raspberries, pure pomegranate juice or roasted beets.

To make yellow, use raw carrots or mangoes.

To make blue, use radicchio or red cabbage.

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5 Easy Christmas Cookies Kids Can Make as Gifts

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 14th, 2014

Coconut MacaronsTo give our thanks to the volunteers at church, neighbors who always stop and ask how we’re doing, and even the UPS driver who never rings the doorbell at naptime (bless you!), we’ve been looking for a few good cookie recipes this season. The requirements are simple: They must be easy enough for kids to make and sturdy enough to wrap as gifts. Here are our top five recipes that fill the bill:

Coconut Macaroons: These five-ingredient cookies are done in 35 minutes, and best of all, you can’t mess up the presentation. Just put a mound of coconut mixture on a cookie sheet and bake.

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