All Posts In Family

35 Possibilities for Dinner on a Cutting Board

by in Family, Recipes, June 24th, 2015

35 Possibilities for Dinner on a Cutting BoardOne of my favorite summer dinners comes together in about five minutes. (Coincidence?) Pulling ingredients from the pantry, fridge and freezer, then loading them onto the cutting board is equal parts handy (chop those peppers right here, slice the cheese too) and festive — like a cheese tray with extensions. Set the whole thing in the middle of the table and let everyone dish up exactly what they like.

Mix and Match Any Combination:

Meats
Salami, cooked shrimp, leftover roast chicken, turkey or ham deli meat rolled up like a cigar, prosciutto

A Little Something Salty (Served in a Bowl)
Olives, peanuts, pickles (dill or sweet), pistachios

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Cooking with Kids: Adventures in Guacamole Making, Plus a Simple Recipe

by in Family, Recipes, June 23rd, 2015

Cooking with Kids: Adventures in Guacamole Making, Plus a Simple RecipeI taught my daughter’s third-grade class how to make good guacamole. It was my second time working with classroom 3B, this time not in the art room but on a diminutive desk in the classroom itself. On this knee-high rectangle of beechwood-colored Formica with a scooped out slot for a pencil at the top, I was able to use skills gained long ago interning at a doll-size garde manger station, elbows pinned to my sides.

When kids came into their classroom, they found tortillas, knives and avocado halves on their tables, and the other ingredients were ready on mine. It smelled like onions and cilantro. Passing teachers poked their heads in to see why. I worked fast to outpace the kids’ hunger, questions and strong desire to get avocado goo on their sleeves. Eventually I guided my 19 cooks to a high-five-inducing guacamole (with a side of chips).

First I told them the safe and polite way to handle their plastic knives (by the handle, always cutting away from your body, the other hand’s fingers curled under, etc.). Then we cut up tortillas to make chips. They are studying fractions, so there was a lot of debate. Some tables chose eighths for more chips, some went with sixths for bigger chips, and others chose straight strips for the sake of innovation. We tossed them in a bowl with oil and salt, layered them on sheet pans and popped them into the oven down the hall in the art room. Then we moved on to the main attraction.

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How to Make a Complete Kid-Friendly Meal on the Grill

by in Family, Recipes, June 17th, 2015

How to Make a Complete Kid-Friendly Meal on the GrillEating outside is one of the joys of summer. For the kids it’s about fresh air and fun. For me it’s about not having to clean the floor. And cooking all the food outside? Even. Better. Here’s our foolproof family meal, made completely on the grill.

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Dining Out with Kids? Follow These 6 Tips So Others Don’t Dislike You

by in Family, Restaurants, June 9th, 2015

Dining Out with Kids? Follow These 6 Tips So Others Don't Dislike YouThree of our four small kids were born in Italy, where eating out is practically the national pastime. That meant toting our tots to a lot of restaurants. Here are the tricks we learned along the way — and still use for our group that now includes one baby, a toddler, a preschooler and even a kindergartener.

1. Take a “Fun Pack.” Our oldest daughter was a toddler when she started filling up a bag she called her “Fun Pack” for restaurants. Whatever she could fit in, went: toys, dolls, sunglasses. I also brought crayons and a coloring book, which weren’t automatically handed out in Rome. She may spend only a few minutes with each thing, but she’ll have enough stuff to explore during the meal to stay occupied.

2. Go early. This was a bit of a moot point in Europe, where dinner typically isn’t served until 8 p.m., but boy have we used it ever since we moved to the U.S. We are out the door by 4:30 p.m., trying to arrive at 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. The kids don’t get overly hungry, and the restaurant will likely be less busy.

3. Practice restaurant manners. For toddlers and preschoolers, role-playing ahead of time makes all the difference. (We did this before flying on planes too.) We physically sit at the table and explain what will happen at the restaurant. We tell them that a waiter will arrive to ask questions, there are menus, there is no getting up from the table unless you need to go potty — tell them whatever your family rules are. And we ask silly questions: “Any climbing under the table?” Which gives the kids a chance to yell, “No!” Yelling at home? Good. Yelling at the restaurant? Bad. Hence the dry run.

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One Recipe, Two Meals: Pasta with Butter and Peas for the Kids, and a Veggie-Packed Primavera for You

by in Family, Recipes, June 3rd, 2015

One Recipe, Two Meals: Pasta PrimaveraIf you’re not a fan of pasta, there may be something wrong with you. Just kidding. You’re still a good person.

But really, how could you not like pasta? You know, don’t even tell me if you don’t. I don’t think my heart could take it. I feel like we’re in a good place in our relationship, and I can’t rightly handle any deal breakers. I have to wash my hair today; that’s already too much for me.

Anyway, what we have here is a ridiiiiiculous pasta primavera, but super-stripped down on the front end for your babes. I included some peas in the kid-friendly recipe. Ya know, color! And health or whatever.

The mature version is loaded with veggies, a bit of dry white wine, a little bit and a lot of butter, tons of good Parmesan and a heavy hand of fresh herbs. You may cry. Just keeping adding cheese at the end and I’m sure you will.

As a matter of fact, I’m tearing up right now.

I may need a moment. Or more pasta?

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Cooking with Kids: Adventures in Strawberry Shortcake Making, Plus a Simple Recipe

by in Family, Recipes, June 2nd, 2015

Strawberry ShortcakeI like to cook with my 8-year-old. It’s way more fun than room cleaning and other required household activities. Recently, I decided to bring our pastime into her third-grade class and make strawberry shortcakes with them. I was nervous. I have stage fright. Also, though I have made this dish dozens of times, I have no prior experience doing it with the help of 19 small friends. (Hats off to all teachers in the land, by the way.)

I figured that strawberry shortcakes would be a good teaching dish; most kids like this springy dessert, making it does not require tons of technical skill, and the recipe has three parts to keep kids engaged. To make it easier, I chose the simplest cream biscuit recipe I knew, and measured out the ingredients ahead of time. (I sliced the berries too, because that’s time-consuming and a little boring.)

The primary reason to show kids how to make this is that someday our kids will be old enough to cook by themselves, and if they know how to make strawberry shortcakes, they might make some for us. Don’t I want that to happen? Yes, I do.

Here’s what you need to make strawberry shortcake with your own group of kids. Below, I am including a prep list, an equipment checklist and the recipe. Scale it up for every 12 kids you want to feed. It is possible, with some extra preparation, to sneak in other skills, like addition, multiplication, division and fractions, and how to read and follow instructions. Use the shopping list and class plan to help simplify the work. Use the checklist to pack and to plan, and the class itself will go pretty smoothly. As it turns out, this third-grade class was a friendly audience. They were curious and helpful, and loved eating their work.

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12 Summer Lunches for Kids That Take Advantage of Eating at Home

by in Family, Recipes, May 28th, 2015

PB & J WrapTired-mom confession: I’m kind of psyched for summer because I won’t have the pressure of packing a single lunchbox for nine whole weeks. (Yep, ours is a year-round school, but still…) Summer lunches offer a bit more flexibility and require less planning, and sometimes the kids can even help.

Lunches That (Even Little) Kids Can Make Themselves:
1. Strawberry & PB Wraps: Slather peanut butter on a whole-wheat tortilla, sprinkle with diced strawberries and wrap it up like a burrito for a hand-held meal.

2. Pita Pockets: Whip up the egg salad (with a kid-friendly ingredient), chicken salad or even Ellie Krieger’s healthier version of chicken curry salad and show the kids how to stuff a couple of spoonfuls into each pocket.

3. Sub Sandwiches on a Stick: Set out the fixings — chunks of cheese, cherry tomatoes, cubes of thick bread, pickles cut into large dice, rolls of salami — and let kids slide everything onto a bamboo skewer.

4. Watermelon Gazpacho: Taking a tip from the amazing Barefoot Contessa’s original 5-star cold soup recipe, give the kids a turn at the food processor with this fruit-filled summertime soup.

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FoodNetwork.com Staffers’ Mother’s Day Recipe Picks

by in Family, Holidays, May 6th, 2015

If you’re lucky enough to spend Mother’s Day with your mom, or if you are a mom and get to spend it with your kids, a special meal is in order. Decadent brunches, picnics, teas and cookouts will abound across the country this Sunday. What should you make this year to truly spoil Mom? Get some inspiration from FoodNetwork.com staffers and our varied Mother’s Day traditions.  Read more

7 Kid-Friendly Recipes to Serve on Cinco de Mayo

by in Family, Holidays, May 4th, 2015

Mexican LasagnaBefore they’re ready for margaritas and garlicky guacamole, we’re introducing our kids to a handful of starter Mexican recipes like these. Each one is simple and straightforward enough for busy parents who still love a delicious meal on a festive day.

Rachael Ray’s Mexican Lasagna (pictured above): With spinach tortillas in place of pasta, this 5-star recipe packs chicken breasts, black beans, corn, cheese and more into a dish you can make (and even freeze) ahead of time and then throw in the oven for a rich and bubbly Cinco De Mayo dinner.

Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken Tex-Mex: Sometimes the best family meals are the ones that are easiest to make. This slow-cooker meal comes together while the kids are in school, politely waiting to be topped with sour cream, guacamole or salsa when the whole family is ready.

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Tuna Salad 2 Ways: A Classic for the Kids and a Twist for You

by in Family, Recipes, April 30th, 2015

Tuna Salad Two Ways: One for You, and One for the KidsRemember tuna salad from when you were growing up? Or if you’re like me, remember tuna salad from lunch 20 minutes ago? I have to tell you: I still absolutely dig me a good tuna salad. The kind I’ve been making for sixish years now isn’t just your (yawn) boring ol’ canned tuna mixed with mustard and mayo. Oh, no, pigeons. This adult version’s rocking stilettos and a hot-pink wig!

Actually, that sounds awful.

But before we get to the adult version, I’ve also included a cool, classic variant for your kiddies. I kept the binder pretty neutral, but instead of mayo, I swirled in a bit of Greek yogurt to lighten it up a bit. They won’t know the difference. Tell them elves made it. It’s also loaded with a hint of mustard, and fresh celery and apple, which I feel like all kids like, right? Again, just tell them elves made it. And ignore how many commas were in that sentence.

Now for the deluxe version. Again boasting a touch of Greek yogurt, it’s also laced with fresh lemon juice and curry powder — what? I also threw in some chopped almonds, fresh parsley, a bunch of red grapes and minced celery to boost the antioxidants. But I took out the stilettos and hot-pink wig because that was weirding me out.

Enjoy!

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