All Posts In Family

1 Slow-Cooker Pork Loin Becomes 3 Kid-Approved Dinners

by in Family, August 27th, 2013

1 Slow Cooker Pork Loin Becomes 3 Kid-Approved DinnersWhen it’s screaming hot outside, the last thing I want to do is slave over a stove. That’s why I set up the slow cooker and let that little miracle worker make dinner for me three times.

Dinner #1: For this mouthwatering pork (pictured above), set a large pork loin (or two) into the slow cooker, slather with whole grain mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper and dried thyme. Cook for four hours, then let it fall apart, right onto your kids’ miniature plates. Save the rest.

Dinner #2: Using a mix of BBQ sauce and plain ketchup (even sweet BBQ sauce is usually “too spicy” for our small kids), heat up the remaining pork in a pan and serve on toasted buns.

Get dinner #3 and more recipes

Best 5 Back-to-School Sandwiches

by in Family, Recipes, August 22nd, 2013

Ultimate Ham SandwichYou’ve exhausted the peanut butter and jelly routine and have rolled your final turkey and cheese wrap. Now what? When it comes to packing your kids’ lunchboxes, variety is key; after all, no child — or adult — looks forward to eating the same lunch day after day, so it’s important to keep their midday meal both interesting and easy to eat. Check out Food Network’s top-five sandwich selections below, and switch up your usual school lunch rotation by introducing these fresh, flavor-packed recipes that are as simple to prepare as traditional favorites and every bit as kid-friendly.

5. Chicken Salad Sandwiches — Put the leftovers from last night’s chicken dinner to work in this quick-fix salad sandwich, laced with a creamy mayonnaise-mustard dressing.

4. Mediterranean Tuna Salad — All it takes is two slices of bread to turn this chickpea- and tomato-studded tuna salad into a ready-to-go salad sandwich.

Get the top-three recipes

The Heirloom Tomato Pie My Preschooler Loved

by in Family, August 20th, 2013

Heirloom Tomato PieWhen I saw the heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market, I was in. And I wasn’t alone. That afternoon, my 4-year-old and I set out to make this Heirloom Tomato Pie. It took a long time, with many steps, but the results were delicious and best of all, both of us thought so.

The secret to this tart’s success was twofold: fresh, sweet tomatoes, plus the truest rule of getting kids to try new food — let them help cook. Because she had so much skin in the game, our preschooler was nothing but proud of the tart once it came out of the oven. Carefully delivering a teetering plate to each person at the dinner table, she only looked happier at one other moment of the meal: when she tasted the first bite herself.

You can’t win ‘em all, but boy, isn’t it nice to have a hit?

The College Crusade: 3 Recipes to Pack Along with Your Laptop

by in Family, Food Network Chef, August 15th, 2013

Green Morning SmoothiesI took my girls shopping for boogie boards the other day. I walked into the store and discovered that summer was over. Too bad I wasn’t shopping for dorm supplies: twin bed sheets, color-coordinated towel sets and bright plastic baskets for lugging toiletries down the hall were everywhere. I was immediately taken back to my own freshman year of college. I remember exactly what I was wearing (a blue sweater and flowy skirt that projected confidence in my 17-year-old mind) when we pulled up to my assigned dorm, Hamilton Hall. Mom took pictures of me making up my bed with my new twin sheets (extra long), and I placed unused pens, pencils and erasers neatly along the top of my desk. I set up a gift from my mom: a manual typewriter (the kind where the “k” and “b” keys would get stuck and I’d have to pop them back into ready position), a few spare ink ribbons and a tiny box of white out sheets. (No, this wasn’t a vintage objet d’art; this was the actual typewriter I would use all freshman year. I am that old.)

What followed was four years of studying, but also friendships made, laughter shared, milestones achieved (and others, missed) and lots of cooking. I cooked from the minute I landed in Hamilton Hall and made my first stroganoff in a hotpot. Later, in my sorority house, I hung out in the kitchen with Linda, the cook, and even signed up for KP duty once a week, my first pro gig in the kitchen I suppose. When I lived in an apartment junior year, I cooked so much that my roommates and I couldn’t eat all the food, so I would deliver random care packages to friends all around campus.

Get three college-friendly recipes

4 Ways to Make Kids Excited About Zucchini

by in Family, August 14th, 2013

Zucchini Chocolate Chip CookiesThis time of year, nothing is easier to find (and afford) than zucchini. Finding ways to get the good stuff into your kids, however, can be more elusive. I’ve tried all sorts of things (some hits, many misses) and these are the most popular zucchini dishes according to our three kids:

  • Stovetop Pork and Rice with Zucchini: If you can make rice, you can make this — and your kids will swoon. Just add mustard, cooked cubes of pork and chicken broth to plain brown rice. Throw the zucchini in for the last few minutes. Tada!

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Kid-Friendly Asian Flavors

by in Family, August 7th, 2013

Kid-Friendly Asian FlavorsGetting kids to try new foods and flavors can be about as easy as putting them to bed early. Practically impossible. That’s why I do a few things with our brood:

  • Keep It Sweet: When I make Asian noodles at home, I use a combination of honey, soy sauce and a very small amount of fresh ginger.
  • Include Known Favorites: I like adding three veggies, including at least one that each child likes and, if possible, one new one for them to try (or try again). That way, everyone is already excited by what they see on the plate.

Get more ideas

Spinach Salad with Sweet Shapes

by in Family, July 30th, 2013

Kid-Friendly Spinach SaladMy kids don’t like salad. In fact, every time they see lettuce, or fresh herbs for that matter, on anything, I hear the same thing from the pink booster seat section of the dining room: “Salad!? I don’t like salad!” But if you’re trying to get kids to eat (and at some point enjoy) fresh and healthy foods, it’s all about repetition — sometimes with a twist. I bought these Japanese vegetable cutters online for less than four bucks, and they’ve been worth their weight in gold. Here, simple carrots and cucumbers get a new look in seconds — and make this spinach salad suddenly appealing.

I’m no fool; I know a star-shaped carrot will get you only so far, but I’m just trying to get the kids engaged. Pique their interests. If it takes a heart or a star to pull off a spinach salad for the under-five set, I’m in.

Breakfast for Dinner with a Built-In Veggie

by in Family, July 16th, 2013

Breakfast for Dinner with a Built-In VeggieCall it an ode to Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and Ham is such a favorite with our girls, now 2 and 4, that adding spinach to a pan of scrambled eggs was a natural. And now it’s a weekly thing.

The bummer about the usual breakfast-for-dinner scenario is that it’s typically a starch-fest. That’s why I love eggs in the evening. If your crew will be resistant to visible spinach, steam it first (use frozen or fresh) with a quarter cup of water, then throw the whole thing in the blender. Mix the green puree in with your eggs, then scramble together. Don’t forget salt and pepper, and add a little cheese, too. I love Parmesan with this dish.

Round out the meal with sliced kielbasa, skillet potatoes or toast.

Kid-Size Crudites: Personal Veggie Cups

by in Family, July 10th, 2013

Kid-Size Crudites: Personal Veggie CupsTired of hearing yourself say things like, “Eat your veggies so you can grow up to be big and strong”? Also, just how big and strong are we aiming for here? Because I ate quite a few veggies as a kid and pretty much became an exact replica of my mother. All well-meaning parental messages aside, I loved this popular Pinterest party trick so much that I tried it at my own dinner table. It was an absolute hit.

You can use store-bought salad dressing, make your own or combine a mix of something like ranch with a dollop of Greek yogurt to even out the good-for-you versus not-so-good-for-you ratio. Either way, pour an inch or two into your smallest juice glasses, then arrange a colorful selection of raw veggies on top, vertically.

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Making Meatballs Cuter: Spaghetti Just Got Even More Popular

by in Family, July 3rd, 2013

Making Meatballs Cuter: Spaghetti Just Got Even More PopularWe have an almost 4-year-old in our house and that means it matters when things are “cute” now. In fact, one recent spaghetti dinner became an even bigger hit when we did just a few easy things. To make pasta even more popular (and sometimes a bit healthier) in your home, try these tips:

— Use a whole-wheat blend of pasta instead of regular white bread.

— Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt to the cooking water; the flavor gets in as the pasta cooks.

— Reduce the cooking time 2 minutes less than whatever the box says and let the noodles finish cooking in the sauce on the stove.

Read reading for more tips

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