by Foodlets in Family, August 25th, 2014
by Melissa d'Arabian in Family, Food Network Chef, August 21st, 2014
What better way to savor the last days of sunshine than packing up a breakfast picnic? There are two ways to do it: Go old school with a blanket in the yard, or head to the patio. Either way, just pack a thermos of coffee, another full of milk (doing double duty as a beverage for the kids, plus creamer for the java), then bring your breakfast out on a tray — it’s easier to handle than a basket. Now take your pick: We’ve got muffins, eggs and more, each of them to go.
1. Baked Scrambled Eggs (pictured above): You don’t need a bug-shaped pan to pull this off, but it’s sure fun. Beaten eggs plus milk and the toppings of your choice (cheese, ham, tomatoes and more) go into the oven for a sturdy egg dish that’s just as good at room (or outdoor) temperature as it is hot.
by Foodlets in Family, July 31st, 2014
My littlest daughter was always complaining that she was too short, whining about being the shrimp of the family, until the day came when she could brush her teeth without a stool. Suddenly, she realized how much taller she was, and how the tiny bits of daily growth had sneakily added up to something quite significant. That is the nature of slow-but-steady change. We had a similar experience on vacation this summer, except that it was about the tremendous growth we’ve witnessed in our picky eaters.
I’ll back up. I have four daughters, and two and half of them are picky eaters. While I’d had some success in improving their eating with a few strategies here and there, I wanted to see a more fundamental shift, not just an occasional willingness to eat a vegetable. About a year and a half ago, I started researching picky eating. I suspected the story was bigger than finding a magical recipe that would make my kids like spinach. My research confirmed my suspicions: Picky eating was a complex issue with many causes. And each one of my kids probably identified with several of the root causes to varying degrees. So I decided to create a program that focused on root causes, something beyond tips and recipes. I invited Food Network viewers into my home to watch and learn along with us. The result was the unique Food Network Web series called The Picky Eaters Project. By the time we completed the program ourselves and the cameras came down from our family dining room (we called it “carrot cam” because it spied on us all throughout dinner!), my girls were eating foods I never dreamed they would (Margaux liked peas?!) and had started making their own wise choices about healthy eating (Charlotte was reading cereal labels before choosing a box). The response from fellow parents of picky eaters was tremendous, and we were thrilled that The Picky Eaters Project was included as a Webby honoree last year.
by Foodlets in Family, July 14th, 2014
Ever tried to serve your kids something new? I write a blog about cooking for kids — about cooking one dinner, about raising kids who appreciate real food, about trying again when it doesn’t work out — so we eat a lot of new stuff around here. And when our group of four little ones (all under the age of 6) are skeptical about my latest culinary experiment, I try to bridge the gap with familiar, and beloved, flavors. No, the kids don’t all like the same things, but there are a few universally loved flavors. These are my heavy hitters, the MVPs of the kitchen and our best flavor ambassadors.
Fresh Lemon: Squeezing lemon on anything instantly makes my kids intrigued. Does it work for fish? Yes, of course, but there’s also roasted potato wedges and steak. Even greens like sauteed spinach, Swiss chard and kale are wonderful with a splash of juicy citrus. Plus, squeezing the juice is fun for the kids to do themselves.
by Debra Puchalla in Family, News, July 3rd, 2014
Tired 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.
by Foodlets in Family, Holidays, July 1st, 2014
Watermelon’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).
by Foodlets in Family, June 25th, 2014
As 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.
by Allison Milam in Drinks, Family, June 19th, 2014
When 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.
by Foodlets in Family, June 16th, 2014
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.
by Melissa d'Arabian in Family, Food Network Chef, June 13th, 2014
Having 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.
Saturday 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.