Chores like peeling potatoes can make kids start to feel like they are on KP duty, and though that may be fun for a while, it can quickly turn to drudgery. This Thanksgiving, let everyone share chores so they go by faster, then set your kids up with one of these fun projects. Even little kids can roll cheese balls and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and older kids can do more-complicated projects like creating a turkey-shaped veggie platter. These projects are win/win/win! They teach kids how to use creative thinking in the kitchen, they take some of the work off parents’ hands, and they keep kids occupied. Plus, the results look and taste good enough to meet the standards of your most-persnickety guests.
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I’ll admit it: I’m late to the slow-cooker party. But in my defense, I could never seem to find a slow-cooker recipe that doesn’t involve a packet of onion soup mix, gravy mix or can of soup — until now. Behold, five delicious, real-food dinner recipes that politely cook themselves over the course of an afternoon. Now that’s something to celebrate.
A vegetarian dish that’s as healthy as it is hearty? We’re sold on this one (pictured above) full of carrots, cremini mushrooms and Parmesan cheese.
As a mom of four small kids, I like meals that are simple, inexpensive and versatile. That’s why this one is a staple in our house. Any cut of pork will do, and slathering it with a mustard-based sauce before cooking gives it just the right amount of flavor. Add BBQ sauce, use it for tacos, sandwiches or whatever you (and the kids) like.
As a foodie blogger, there is one thing I constantly hear from other parents: “Oh boy, you can never come to my house for dinner.” That’s not very helpful here, but the second thing I hear often might be: “How can I get my kids to eat more/some/any vegetables?” My answer is the same every time: Roast them. I do mean the veggies, and here are my favorite ways to do it.
The method (below) is the same — and delicious — every time, but if you want to add another layer of flavor, try them all.
Method: Toss veggies with 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and place into an oven at 400 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the vegetables. Flip once along the way.
Here are 10 of the simplest ways to bring tons of Halloween fun to a party, classroom or family table in just minutes.
1. Creepy-Crawly Caterpillars (pictured above): Thread green grapes onto a long wooden skewer until it’s completely covered. Add mini chocolate chips to each grape on the very end for eyes (use a little frosting or cream cheese for glue).
2. Spider Sandwiches: Use a biscuit cutter to cut bread into 3- to 4-inch rounds. Spread with the usual favorite fillings like PB&J. Add four pretzel sticks to each side for legs, then put the sandwich top on. Use peanut butter for glue as you add two raisins for eyes.
Kids may be ravenous when they come home from school, but not all kids’ snacks are created equal. From easy-to-make treats to more-of-a-commitment (and totally worth it) eats, these are our favorite after-school snacks — not too filling but satisfying enough to hold even the hungriest kids over until dinnertime.
Oatmeal-Chocolate Snack Cakes: Just sweet enough to satisfy, these cakey bars are full of hearty whole oats. Bonus: The recipe is so simple that kids can make a big batch themselves to enjoy all week long.
Peaches and Creamsicles: Even though school’s back in session, most afternoons are still warm enough to welcome a homemade Popsicle. Our favorite hot-weather treat is made with fresh peaches (or strawberries), pure vanilla and just a bit of rich and creamy half-and-half.
Nothing says fall like the crunch of a good apple. Sure, kids love eating ‘em fresh out of the fridge, but here are 10 simple ways for your brood to help cook — and eat — their way through apple season, enjoying every bite.
1. Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp (pictured above): If this is your kids’ first crisp, you can’t go wrong with Ina Garten’s classic take. Kids can sprinkle the topping on with their fingers.
2. Healthy Apple Spice Quick Bread: Make one loaf for breakfast and snacks, and a second to freeze for later. Kids can shred apples and grease the pan.
Packing a school lunch has a bad reputation, but it doesn’t have to be so hard — and the results can be very sweet. Here are a few of my favorite gadgets that easily make all the difference between a so-so lunch that comes home half-eaten and a special little treat kids can’t resist.
1. Bento Boxes: It’s simple to pack a balanced lunch when you have several compartments to fill with something different. Planet Box is the most-expensive line, but with a stainless-steel box that comes in a cushy (and customizable) case, it’s hard to beat. Our favorite plastic (and more affordable) version is EasyLunchboxes, which are BPA-free and also come with cooler bags in every shade of the rainbow.
2. Our Favorite Water Bottles: Oh, the leaky water bottles. If I could have a refund for all the sippy cups, water bottles and novelty glasses we’ve bought for our brood, college would be paid for already. Along the way I’ve figured it out. This is the only kind of water bottle we’ll buy going forward: The Bubba bottle is made of stainless steel, isn’t overpriced, is dishwasher-safe and hasn’t leaked a drop yet.
Now that school is back in session, we’re bringing back an old-school concept — the cookie jar — and giving it a fresh new look and taste. Have fun baking a few batches of homemade cookies over the weekend and store them in airtight containers or jars for the kids to select an after-school sweet. These bright, candy-adorned treats from Food Network chefs appeal to the child in us all. The kids won’t be the only ones trying to sneak them from the cookie jar (a high shelf helps!).
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Ready or not, whether you welcome or dread it, it’s here. It’s time to get back into the school routine. Most of us need all the help we can get with that, and no one needs the guilt that comes with worrying if your kids are eating well before starting their busy days. Here are four ideas to get them out the door with full stomachs:
Shortcut No. 1: Make the most of your limited time in the morning by thinking about breakfast when you’re cooking dinner the night before. Cook extra chicken, ham, bacon or steak for additional, filling protein to add to scrambled eggs or an omelet the next morning.
Shortcut No. 2: If you’re having a breakfast-for-dinner night, double the pancake or waffle recipe and freeze the leftovers (be sure to let them cool first). Another breakfast is down with just a quick toaster or skillet reheating.
My kids have been in school for exactly four days. Which is about how long it took to remind me that the summer routine of winging it for dinner won’t work anymore. Gone are the afternoons of lazily brainstorming dinner ideas at 5 p.m. from the comfort of a pool lounge chair (“grilled salmon or chicken, sweetie?”). In September, 5 p.m. without a dinner plan wreaks havoc on the delicate soccer-school-homework-ballet ecosphere of our home.
Anyone out there relate? What do you do?
Some common strategies: Race around like a madwoman cobbling together something – anything – that will feed the hungry bellies around the table, letting nutrition take a break for one tiny night. (Anyone?) Go to the drive-thru, or order delivery. Serve cereal (again).