All Posts In Family

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.

Read more 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 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.


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7 Kid-Tested Freezer Meals That’ll Change Your Life

by in Family, Recipes, April 27th, 2015

7 Kid-Tested Freezer Meals That'll Change Your LifeEvery afternoon was the same at my house: tired kids running around, alternately asking for snacks, playing and fighting. I was distracted in the kitchen trying to get a fresh meal on the table — something that didn’t come out of a sack and something that would nourish us. Then I discovered how to use my freezer to cook dinner.

Now when I’m prepping dinner, I can double (or split) it into two portions, one for now and one for later. Not every recipe will cooperate, but these family-friendly dishes work beautifully for just such a job:

Honey-Mustard Chicken: If you try nothing else, try this one that our kids love. Chicken thighs (or breasts) bake in a simple sweet sauce; double the recipe and throw half into a baking dish for dinner and the other serving into a zip-top bag bound for the freezer. Serve both over your favorite grain to soak up all that juice.

Giada De Laurentiis’ Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables: A one-pot meal brimming with fresh veggies like zucchini, summer squash and peppers sounds perfect for spring, but Giada’s penne goes the extra kid-friendly mile with two kinds of cheeses. Prep the entire recipe and pour into two pans (or double it for large groups); cook one pan and cover the other with foil for the freezer.

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The Classic and the Kid-Friendly: 2 Approaches to the Strawberry-Rhubarb Combo

by in Family, Recipes, April 21st, 2015

The Classic and the Kid-Friendly: 2 Approaches to the Strawberry-Rhubarb ComboI can still taste the tang of fresh rhubarb as my mom picked long stalks of the stuff from our garden as a kid. (I also remember yelling to my friends who always seemed to be grabbing it for a snack, “No! That’s not celery!”) But what a transformation: How soft rhubarb became in the oven, set in a custard pie filling along with sweet strawberries. Strawberry-rhubarb is the killer combination of spring. So as those first stalks are spotted in markets everywhere, these recipes are on our radar:

The Classic Approach:

1. Rhubarb Custard Pie: This is it! This is exactly the sweet and creamy pie I remember, the one I’ll make for our kids this spring.

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How to Keep the Kids’ Snack Time from Ruining Your Life

by in Family, April 8th, 2015

How to Keep the Kids' Snack Time from Ruining Your LifeBreakfast, lunch and dinner are one thing. I knew I’d be on the hook for those the moment I saw my first ultrasound (and my second, third and fourth). But adding snacks — two snacks — every day almost pushed me over the edge. It seemed like every time I got the kitchen counter shoveled off from the previous meal, some short person would trot up asking, “Is it snack time yet?” Instead of tossing a box of gummy fruits to the crowd and letting them fend for themselves, I started getting strategic. Here’s what I do to create a varied snack plan full of (mostly) whole foods (pretty) easily:

1. Make a Batch of Freezer-Friendly Muffins: I usually have a couple of kinds of veggie-packed muffins in my freezer. Set your premade muffins on the counter at breakfast and they’ll be thawed by snack time — or just pop them in the microwave at the last second. Try: Pumpkin Muffins 

2. Yogurt Parfaits: For a crowd with varied tastes, try a container of plain yogurt plus a few nutritious toppings. Nuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, frozen blueberries, honey … Let each person add whatever he or she likes.

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Chocolate Eggs, Marshmallow Chicks and Jelly Beans, Oh My! 8 Ways to Use Leftover Easter Candy

by in Family, Holidays, April 3rd, 2015

Birds' NestsEaster mornings are usually a blur of chocolate around here, but after the kids have had their share of treats, there always seems to be extra candy (and whether certain moms have set some aside for themselves can be neither confirmed nor denied). Here are two ways to use four different Easter candies long after that bunny has put his feet up again for the year.

Mini chocolate eggs can be delicious in …

Brownies: Welcome spring with the simplest version of birds’ nests yet. Bake a pan of brownies and cut round circles before arranging mini chocolate eggs on top.

Cookies: Instead of chocolate chips, add mini eggs to your next batch of cookies or blondies. Cut them in half, or leave them whole for major impact.

Read more Staffers’ Easter and Passover Picks

by in Family, Holidays, Recipes, March 31st, 2015

Here at, we staffers don’t have to look far to find dozens of tempting recipes for the upcoming spring holidays, Easter and Passover. But we also get how hard it can be to narrow down the many options and decide what to serve at your own holiday table or bring to a friend or relative’s. So much pressure, especially when you’re the “food person” in the family! To help, here are personal Easter and Passover picks from our staff – the recipes we’re most excited about making and eating this weekend. They may just inspire you to start a new family tradition.

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