All Posts In Family

Dinner on a Stick: 10 Skewers No Kid Can Resist

by in Family, July 14th, 2014

Dinner on a Stick: 10 Skewers No Kid Can ResistTired of lackluster reactions to the phrase “dinner’s ready”? Try a trick I use on my brood and serve skewers. From sides to entrees, everything’s more festive on a stick, and the good news is, it’s pretty simple too.

1. Fish Skewers with Basil Chimichurri (pictured above): With bright pops of green basil sauce and juicy red cherry tomatoes, Melissa d’Arabian’s skewers turn fish from a picky eater’s no-no into a showstopper worth trying.

2. Pork and Pineapple Kebabs: Sure a pork chop is tasty, but chopping it up and serving it with fresh pineapple wedges transforms an otherwise average dinner into something special.

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How to Win Summer: Dino-mite Watermelon Carvings

by in Family, News, July 3rd, 2014

Dino-mite Watermelon CarvingsWatermelon’s always been the coolest fruit of summer. When I cut into a watermelon, it’s either for a last-minute barbecue contribution or an instant “side dish” for the kids — seed-spitting contests are just a bonus. It has plenty of vitamins A and C, and it’s ready in two minutes flat. Wedges, cubes, balls of sugary-sweet juiciness — the options are endless and there’s no oven required. But maybe I need to hone my knife skills and take a slice from Vancouver’s Clive Cooper, a government worker by day and artist by night whose latest extreme watermelon carvings give fruit-platter party planners something to, well, chew on.

I thought Cooper and his fabulous menagerie were the “why” of a spike in watermelon searches reported by Yahoo web trend expert Lauren Whitehouse a week or two ago; since then his fierce alligator carving and the latest, the triceratops above, have been stomping their way through food news and Facebook. He’s not the only one; Pinterest is ripe with countless carved characters. Why, after all, should food fans have to wait for pumpkin season to make faces? As to folks searching “watermelon,” they wanted to know how many calories are in the fruit (about 50 per cup) and how to cut it (try Alton’s cut-the-ends-first method); there was also a 500+ percent increase in searches for “watermelon cake” (not a cake at all but a trompe-l’oeil fun fruit dessert), plus plenty of people pondering perennial favorites likes drinks and refreshing salads with watermelon (with feta as a partner; here is Ina’s take, one of my go-to’s for summer guests).

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4th of July Dishes Kids Can Help Make

by in Family, Holidays, July 1st, 2014

4th of July Dishes Kids Can Help MakeAs if the Fourth of July isn’t already festive enough, here are five recipes that even the littlest cooks can help make. Each dish gets high marks in two key areas, cuteness and simplicity, which gives everyone enough time to enjoy his or her fine work when it’s done.

Berry Trifle: Layers of berries, cake and cream — any dessert with such an easy-to-follow recipe is one all kid-friendly kitchens should have on hand.

Starry Cheese, Tomatoes and Crackers (pictured above): With the help of a star-shaped cutter, transform an average afternoon snack into one with a patriotic punch.

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How a Toothpick Can Save Lunchtime and 7 Other Secrets

by in Family, June 25th, 2014

How a Toothpick Can Save Lunchtime and 7 Other SecretsWhen it comes to gimmicks for getting kids interested in their food, I say, “Yes, please.” I have no shame when it comes to fun presentation, cute shapes or miniature anything, as long as it’s no more difficult than making a plain old version. With four kids at home — the oldest just turned 5 — these are my favorite tricks of the meal-making trade.

1. Sandwich Sushi: We call these “roly-polies” in our house, and the method couldn’t be simpler. Take a piece of bread and use a rolling pin to flatten it out (making the surface bigger too), then fill with your usual toppings like PB&J, turkey or whatever your kids like. Roll up and slice into 3 to 4 pieces.

2. Bunny and Bear Hard-Boiled Egg Molds: Our kids love eggs, but they actually cheer when I spend an extra 20 seconds creating bunnies or bears with these easy-to-use egg molds. Just press a peeled egg into the mold, close and wait a few seconds, then pop ‘em out.

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Refreshing Summer Drinks for the Whole Family — Summer Soiree

by in Drinks, Family, June 19th, 2014

Perfect Homemade Lemonade

These days, instead of taking coffee hot with cream and sugar, most take it with ice cubes. This week and beyond, stick a straw into refreshing, family-friendly summer sips that revitalize any day spent picnicking on the beach, lounging on the patio or eating in the backyard with the whole clan.

Stir together The Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Homemade Lemonade, which achieves a perfect sweet-and-sour bliss point that you can get only from fresh lemon juice and homemade simple syrup. For a fruitier take, add a bag of frozen raspberries and stir. Pour either in a pitcher and you’ll be one step closer to having the most-popular lemonade stand on the block.

Instead of chugging from the soda fountain, make your own sparkling drink at home. Fix Bobby’s Raspberry Ginger Ale by blending chopped fresh ginger, sugar, ice-cold club soda and ripe, juicy raspberries.

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6 DIY Versions of Store-Bought Snacks

by in Family, June 16th, 2014

6 DIY Versions of Store-Bought SnacksHaving kids means having snacks on hand. Try these can’t-miss recipes for homemade versions of supermarket favorites like granola bars, graham crackers, cereal bars and cheddar cheese crackers. They’re fresher, tastier and easier to make than you think.

Homemade Granola Bars: Ina Garten packs her bars with almonds, dates, dried cranberries and even a pinch of wheat germ in this recipe.

DIY Strawberry Cereal Bars: Give that box of popular cereal bars a run for its money with this simple recipe full of whole oats and a secret ingredient no kid can resist: a thick layer of organic strawberry fruit spread.

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What a Rodent Taught Us About Dads

by in Family, Food Network Chef, June 13th, 2014

Melissa d'ArabianSaturday evening was meant to be our anniversary celebration. Philippe and I were planning on grilling outside with our four daughters, ending the evening with s’mores around the firepit and an exchange of traditionally themed gifts (steel for year 11; I went with beverage bins). The kids were upstairs showering after our (sandy) beach afternoon. I hummed along to the music the girls had put on the stereo, grabbed the long, skinny lighter and headed outside to start the barbecue. I opened the (steel!) hood and placed the lighter on the ignition burner, and through the grates small, beady eyes looked up at me. I froze. A grayish-brown puff starting running wild around the inside of the grill, searching for an exit, making tiny scratching sounds that gave me the chills and basically made me want to scream. I didn’t, but only because I now I have kids and I can’t scare them. (This never-let-them-see-you-sweat instinct to put their needs before my own comes from parenting.)

I hollered upstairs to Philippe, doing my best to convey a sense of calm and confidence while infusing just enough controlled urgency so that he would run downstairs and catch the mouse before it ran into the house. (I think it’s understood that I didn’t close the back doors when I raced into the house?) But kids are smart and know when something’s up. They raced downstairs even faster than Philippe, screaming in half-fear, half-delight at the possibility of a mouse-in-house crisis. There was talk of keeping him and naming him Snowflake. (Did I mention he was dingy brownish gray?) Or maybe Cuddles. The girls jumped up on the couch, squealing out of fear that the mouse would run over their feet.

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7 Ways to Get Kids Hooked on … Carrots

by in Family, June 2nd, 2014

7 Ways to Get Kids Hooked On ... CarrotsIf “Eat your vegetables!” is a constant (and frustrating) refrain in your house, boy, are these ideas are for you. I have three small kids and not one of them likes carrots. Not really. Not if you asked them. But when I cook carrots in dishes like these, voila. Suddenly everyone’s a fan.

Honey-Glazed Carrots: One of my most-successful strategies at home is adding beloved flavors to previously unpopular foods. Kid-friendly ingredients like honey and lemon transform plain carrots into a thumbs-up dish — or at least one that everyone’s willing to try without a fuss.

Mini Mac-and-Cheese Cups with Carrots (pictured above): The secret to getting these to hold together is a mixture of beaten egg and ricotta cheese, making everything just gooey enough before baking to stay solid when it’s time to serve. Bonus: These carrot-packed pasta cups work well for lunchboxes too.

Pastina with Peas and Carrots: Giada De Laurentiis’ “little pasta” dish can be made with any pasta shape you (or your kids) like. And with special ingredients cream cheese and mascarpone cheese, this creamy dish is bound to be a hit, carrots and all.

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9 Simple DIY Popsicles

by in Family, May 27th, 2014

9 Simple DIY PopsiclesWhen the weather turns warm, there’s nothing more refreshing than a Popsicle — except one made with fresh ingredients and not an iota of fake coloring in sight. Here are FN Dish and Foodlets’ favorite ideas for sunny days ahead.

Chocolate Sundae Ice Pops: Low-fat milk plus ripe avocado and bananas, not to mention honey and cocoa powder, make Melissa d’Arabian’s chocolatey pops a surprisingly healthy treat.

Strawberry-Banana Frozen Yogurt Pops: Full of fresh fruit and organic yogurt to boot, these frozen treats are low in sugar and even pack a punch of protein.

Italian Ice Pops: Frozen raspberries plus fresh mint and lemon juice are the base for these light and refreshing pops by Giada De Laurentiis.

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10 Kid-Friendly Memorial Day Recipes

by in Family, Holidays, May 20th, 2014

10 Kid-Friendly Memorial Day RecipesIf you’ve ever been to a potluck with a kid, you know how challenging it can be to find a plate full of food he or she is familiar enough with to enjoy. So if you have upcoming cookouts or campouts, or you just want a festive meal to celebrate the start of summer, try one of these dishes. Your kids (and everyone else’s) will thank you.

Chicken and Pineapple Skewers (pictured above): Chicken coated in favorites like soy sauce, ketchup, honey and even a little brown sugar doesn’t get much more kid friendly — until you add fresh pineapple chunks and put it all on a stick.

Better-for-You Peach Crisp: Full of whole oats, fresh fruit (like peaches, plums, apples or any fruit of your choice), along with coconut oil and crunchy almonds, this crisp is tasty and so good for you that it even works for breakfast — but we doubt you’ll have any left.

Grilled Link Hot Dogs with Homemade Pickle Relish: Sure, you can go with a package of regular dogs, but finding link hot dogs might be a fun twist for the little guys. And what kid can resist a crunchy dill pickle on a hot day? Let kids help you make this tangy relish and watch those proud faces when it’s time to serve.

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