If you’ve ever envied the perfectly portioned-out rows of Tupperware meals you spot on Pinterest, we understand. Meal-prepping (a timeless tradition and yet somehow also a totally new internet phenomenon) can make your week go more smoothly and help you stick to eating healthy. But if you don’t already do it, getting started can be daunting. Here’s some advice to get going — just in time for the onset of the busy school year.
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“We didn’t have kiwi when I was little,” I explained to my kids; they were baffled. “I’m sure it existed somewhere, but, uh, just not where I was.” Then, bam! Kiwi burst onto the scene for Americans in the ’80s, and talk about a runaway hit. Remember life before baby carrots? Extra virgin olive oil? Some food fads have such a great flavor, neat technique, or interesting and new presentation that they just never fade. These are my family’s favorites.
Chinese Chicken Salad (pictured above)
One thing I love so much about watching Barefoot Contessa is listening to Ina Garten casually mention how she’s been making some particularly delectable dish for 20 years. Her Chinese Chicken Salad is one of those throwback recipes with a perfectly updated spin. Crunchy asparagus and bell peppers mingle with juicy roasted chicken before the whole thing gets doused with a simple ginger dressing.
I’m going crazy over this recipe. Mostly because it’s perfect for summer suppers when you don’t really want to overthink it. Or spend too much time in the kitchen. Or have too much to clean up. This meal hits the summer nail on the summer head.
So, we’re spicing some chicken cubes, but going a milder route for your kiddies. Just some Italian seasoning mixed with a little bit of garlic powder and a pinch of salt. It’s basically perfect. Tossed in a pan until browned on both sides. Done. Serve it with buttery corn on the cob. Even more done. Don’t you love this already?
And for you — gosh, it gets so good. You’ll start the same way you did for your kiddos, but then you’ll add cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne. Almost can’t deal with the greatness here. Toss it back in the pan to get some browning, and serve it with corn on the cob (add hot sauce!) and a crisp green salad. And a little bit of lemon. Gah.
It’s so simple and so summery and so freaking tasty you’ll lose your mind. I want to make it again but maybe put it on top of some silky lemony pasta!
When planning a vacation, one of the top reasons to opt for a house rental instead of a hotel is for access to a full kitchen while you’re away from home. It’s much less expensive (goodbye, 18 percent gratuity on every meal and drink!) and if you love to cook, it’s pretty fun. That said, the post-arrival trip to the grocery store can quickly turn into a nightmarish spend fest without some advance planning. Here are tips on how to smartly stock your rental kitchen with a single trip to the grocery store that won’t break the bank.
Tip #1: Plan your meals.
I have found that some of my go-to meals at home just aren’t feasible on vacation. Making my family’s favorite meatballs, for example, would require me to purchase breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, fennel seed and several varieties of herbs — ingredients I always have at home, but might not use again during my vacation stay. Try to stick to recipes that have relatively few ingredients, such as this Zucchini Panini and our other 5-Ingredient Summer Recipes.
For my money, nothing beats a piece of fresh fruit for an instant snack this time of year. But when I want to kick it up a little, add a new flavor or incorporate a few veggies into a meal other than dinner, these are my go-to summer snacks. Each one is cool, refreshing and kid-tested to boot.
The Pioneer Woman’s Frozen Fruit Cups (pictured above)
This is my kind of recipe: Chop up a little fruit, throw it in a freezer-proof cup, freeze and serve. I love Ree Drummond’s idea so much that I’m already planning to whip out my muffin pan just so I can make more of them! An even dozen should do it, right?
Sometimes, no matter how many recipes, tools and ideas you have, cooking is not the easiest task. Life catches up with us — we move to new cities, we grow our families, we start new jobs — and suddenly our everyday eating routine is totally upended.
And that is where our Kitchen Squad comes in. Katherine Alford, senior vice president of Culinary at Food Network, and Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, co-founders of Food52, are here to help two women (and, by proxy, you!) with their biggest kitchen troubles.
As a mom of four, I’m a big fan of cooking with my kiddos. It demystifies ingredients (particularly healthy ones), teaches them an important skill (cooking our own food) and encourages a more adventurous palate. Perhaps my favorite part of cooking with my daughters, though, is the quality time I get with them, either as a group or one-on-one. Cooking requires just enough concentration to keep us all engaged, while leaving enough space for those open-ended conversations that turn into special mom-daughter moments I treasure. If you are looking for your child to open up about school or life in general, cook with him or her and watch the magic happen.
There’s something so satisfying about a good ol’ pasta salad. First of all, it’s pasta. Second of all, you can load it up with really anything, serve it chilled and people will love you for it.
I remember eating pasta salad as a kid in the summer ALL THE TIME. Picnics, lunches, family gatherings, church banquets — like, constantly. It’s basically the perfect food, because while it’s relaxed, it also encompasses comfort. You can flavor it any which way you want, but somehow it never feels pretentious. It’s an ego-less food. It’s not a jerk. It’s humble and nice.
You can just ignore me.
I’ve come up with a super-easy pasta salad recipe that’s perfect for your kids and you, with only a few minor differences. I’m keeping the kids’ version creamy with ranch dressing, baby. And for the adults, there’s a simple garlic vinaigrette and millions of sauteed veggies. It’s so delicious. Can’t deal. Won’t deal. Except for the eating part. I can most certainly deal with that.
Summertime means two things at my house: constantly slathering four little bodies in numbers of SPF so high they didn’t exist when I was a kid; and a slower, more forgiving morning routine. With no lunches to pack, no folders to tuck into backpacks and no need to cook breakfast at breakneck speed, we have a little more time to indulge. These are some of my favorite ways to set the pace for a sunny day ahead.
Ree Drummond’s Egg-in-a-Hole
Even though the whole thing takes only five minutes from start to finish, it still feels like lots of work for busy school days. That’s what makes this top-rated dish ideal for a slower summer morning.
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.