The first few weeks of summer break are really just back-to-school time in reverse; everyone’s learning a new routine and breaking in a new rhythm. With all the new comings, goings, camp dates, don’t-forget-your-water-bottle reminders and spray cans of SPF 1 million to keep track of, I’ll just admit it: Cooking elaborate meals is last on my list right now. That’s why I love these go-to quick dinners, perfect for this time of year. And it gets even easier. I recently learned a new tip for simplifying menu planning during the week: Pick a theme for each day (think sandwiches on Mondays, pasta on Tuesdays, etc.) and rotate recipes every week. Here are a few kid-approved ideas to get you started.
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Well, hey, summer! Take off your shoes and stay awhile.
We’ve had the rainiest spring, you guys. Like, record rainfall amounts. And while I completely love and adore thunderstorm-y days, I’m actually excited to feel the yard start to dry out and not be so dang squishy. It’s finally warm enough for the kids to play in the sprinklers and kiddie pool whilst taking down 13 ice pops at once. And it’s finally sunny enough for me to sit out on a blanket with a bottle of rosé and watch them gallivant for hours and hours.
Oh, wait. I do that year-round. Never mind.
BUT! What I don’t normally do is stuff burgers. As in, stuff enormous beefy burgers with fabulous cheeses: white cheddar for the littles and my homemade pimento cheese for the adults! If you’ve never made pimento cheese from scratch, I mourn for you. It is WONDERFUL. And when you wrap a mound of meat around it, gah. It’s even better. Can’t deal. Won’t.
Except I totally do deal.
Let’s make some before I weep myself into next season.
Before your kids start chanting “no more pencils, no more books,” remind them they’ll need to thank their devoted teachers before the school year officially ends. A homemade gift is a nice touch — but an edible gift that your kids can help make is even better. Try one of these thoughtful (and easy!) ideas this year.
Rosemary Bread in a Flowerpot (above)
What better way to thank a teacher for helping students “bloom” this year? Kids can help mix, knead and shape the dough, which bakes right in a flower pot to a crusty finish.
When was the last time you had a calzone? Like, the ’90s.
Welllll, I’ve come up with a super-easy and crazy-DELEESH version for your littles, with tiny pepperoni and loads of cheese. And for you? A lovely vegetarian version (with loads of cheese, natch).
If the thought of making calzones makes you nervous, check this out: Just hit up a local pizzeria and buy some dough from them! If you can, ask for 8-ounce balls of dough and you’re good as gold. Dough gold. Or something.
After that, you’ll simply saute some veggies while the oven preheats, then roll out each dough ball; layer each one with sauce, cheese, pepperoni for them and veggies for you; fold over the flap; crimp, crimp; brush with an egg wash and BOOM. You let the oven work its magic and you’re enjoying insanely yummy pockets of mouth bliss 30 minutes later.
It’s never a problem convincing my kids to celebrate. They’re even pretty game for trying new foods. But the non-negotiable part about feeding most small fry is heat: They just don’t like anything spicy. You see where I’m going with this, right? It’s time for a made-over Cinco de Mayo party, one with kids in mind. This collection of delicious recipes is perfect for introducing a flavor blast of fun, without turning your first grader off salsa for life. Check out my tips below for kid-friendly party starters, new twists on taco night and even make-ahead meals you’ll thank yourself for later.
Is there an ingredient that’s more universally loved among kids than peanut butter? Add that it’s affordable, easy to find and packed with protein, and you’ll be turning to these eight simple ideas constantly, including a few big-batch recipes you’ll thank yourself for making ahead of time. (And of course, anyone with peanut allergies could easily substitute any other nut butter.)
Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Leave it to Giada De Laurentiis to come up with a homemade granola bar swirled with brown sugar, honey and melted butter, and kissed with slivered almonds and mini chocolate chips.
What’s not to love about cereal? It’s crunchy, almost always at least a little sweet, and best of all, ready in 30 seconds flat! But if you’re ready to break out of the same cereal rut we fall into at our house, here are five family-friendly breakfasts full of simple, fresh ingredients. Every idea is easy enough to pull off on the busiest of mornings, which is to say, pretty much all of them.
Nothing tastes more like spring than a sweet pea bursting in your mouth. But you don’t have to use the fresh ones for kids to eat them up. Fresh or frozen, no vegetable is easier, more affordable or tastier to serve kids than peas. Here are 10 of our favorite ways to feature them.
Pasta, Pesto and Peas
This Ina Garten classic is a favorite with kids everywhere. That’s because kids love pesto. And pasta. And peas. It’s a trifecta of kids’ favorite flavors.
It’s spring! Are you jumping up and down and dancing in circles and howling at the moon like I am? No?
… Really? Just me, huh? OK.
Well, now that it’s spring, I feel like eating a smidge lighter. Not too much lighter … don’t get sad. But something slightly more springy and festive and moon-howly (yes, it’s a thing). And, on top of that, there’s BREAD here. Oh sure, now you’re dancing.
Need new lunch ideas? We’ve got them all: hot and cold ideas, dishes you can make ahead and some you can make in a flash. These are 10 kid-tested ideas for lunches that hit the spot — and stick with your little (or big) ones all day long.
Kid-Friendly Pasta Salad
What kid could resist Ree Drummond’s simple pasta salad, with big chunks of cheddar cheese and juicy tomatoes swimming in a sweet, tangy mayo dressing?