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.
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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.
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.