by Marisa McClellan in Entertaining, Family, November 1st, 2013
by Melissa d'Arabian in Family, Food Network Chef, October 24th, 2013
In the last few years, the bulk of my friends have become parents. It has been a joy to watch these dear people grow families and to see their once-tiny, squawking babes turn into little humans with preferences and desires.
One thing I’ve learned is that once kids enter the picture in your social circle, it becomes a whole lot harder to throw a traditional dinner party. And so, I stopped having them. Instead I started inviting people over for more casual gatherings and welcomed their children.
In the process, I’ve become a connoisseur of meals that allow you to cook once and satisfy everyone. Burrito bars are one good option, because they allow for mixing, matching and liberal applications of hot sauce for the parents.
Before you start cooking, read these tips
by Foodlets in Family, October 23rd, 2013
I’ve always had the dream of being that mom on the block who just always happens to have a big kettle of brothy soup simmering on the stove, on the off-chance that the neighborhood kids playing kickball in the street want to come in out of the cold and warm up to a steamy mug of goodness. Word would spread, and perhaps some neighbors would drop by, lured by the savory smells wafting out of our always-opening front door. I’d smile warmly (I’m certain I wouldn’t be on a work deadline of any sort), and I’d hand them a bowlful of liquid heaven, along with a hunk of crusty bread for dipping.
Turns out, though, my four girls don’t play kickball, and I don’t allow them in the street anyway. Plus, as I type, just days from November, I’m wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Soup is a year-round affair, if you ask me, but even here in San Diego, fall and winter seem to call for it all the more. Everyone loves soup this time of year, right? It makes us feel comforted and cozy. But in case you needed them, here are six more reasons to love soup:
1. Soup’s a no-brainer way to lose weight.
Yes! Did you know there are studies showing that simply starting meals with a healthy soup promotes weight loss? I love habits that do the work for me. All you have to do is adopt the habit. Why not start with my White Gazpacho or the Roasted Tomato Winter Gazpacho in my cookbook?
5 more reasons to love soup
by Foodlets in Family, October 18th, 2013
Sometimes a hearty breakfast hits the spot. But when you have three small kids underfoot like I do, it has to be fast. I love assembling these ham, egg and cheese cups because they’re easy and the kids can help — which translates into insurance that they’ll at least try one. In this case, they usually devour them.
“Line” the cups of a muffin pan with low-sodium (non-MSG) ham slices. Add a quarter slice of wheat bread, then break a whole egg in. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cheese, then bake them for 15 to 18 minutes at 400 degrees F.
Get more kid-friendly breakfast ideas
by Melissa d'Arabian in Family, Food Network Chef, October 10th, 2013
Kids aren’t always wild about veggies as a side dish. So I try and add diced or pureed veggies to everything I can, including main dishes like meatloaf and desserts like brownies. Or take this pasta dish: It’s rigatoni with meatballs, but I added diced red peppers during the last minute of cooking. Then I slathered on the marinara sauce and meatballs (cooked separately). With all the chunks of sweet tomatoes incorporated into the sauce, the kids didn’t even notice the peppers. But they did get a boost of vitamin C.
by Foodlets in Family, October 9th, 2013
I have a sweet tooth, so my favorite part of a meal is dessert. In addition to being sweet and fabulous, though, dessert can be a great strategic player in helping picky eaters becoming more adventurous. And I don’t mean in the old-school “clean your plate so you can eat dessert” sort of way.
Here are five dessert strategies that I use in our household to combat picky eating:
1. Encourage an adventurous palate.
Most kids love dessert. So if you serve a child who loves cookies a new kind of cookie (say, an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie instead of her normal favorite gingersnap), she will probably dig it. And then you can have a conversation about how fun it was to try something new. (If she doesn’t go for the swap, no big deal, because dessert is an optional course; there’s no risk of you caving in and becoming a short-order cook.)
by Maria Russo in Family, Recipes, October 5th, 2013
Our kids love eggs. We make hard-boiled eggs with bunny faces for breakfast and snacks all the time. But now we’ve moved on to a lunchtime classic: egg salad sandwiches. The kiddie update? Pickles. These sandwiches are simple: just eggs, real mayonnaise, a squirt of mustard and diced dill pickles. High-protein, easy to prepare and even easier on your wallet, these have become a lunchtime staple for the preschool set at our place. Try them with your kids this week.
Get started with these recipes
by Foodlets in Family, October 1st, 2013
Whether it’s because of an A+ spelling test, a hat trick on the soccer field or a pristinely cleaned bedroom, every child — and grownup — deserves to be treated to something special once in a while, and for many kids, that surprise may come in the form of dessert. Instead of resorting to store-bought goodies to save time in the kitchen, stick with from-scratch treats, like these homemade desserts, ready to eat in mere minutes.
A single-serving indulgence that demands no baking at all, Food Network Magazine’s Instant Chocolate Cake (pictured above) is a family-friendly pick that takes just 10 minutes to make. This rich, moist cake is prepped with traditional pastry ingredients, like cocoa, flour and vanilla extract, but it’s cooked quickly in the microwave instead of the oven. Perhaps the best part about this go-to recipe is that all of the ingredients are simply stirred — without the help of a mixer — in the same oversize mug in which it’s served.
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by Maria Russo in Family, Recipes, September 28th, 2013
Getting kids to eat spaghetti probably isn’t too hard, but night after night it can be a bit dull. That’s why I like to throw a few surprises at the little guys when I can — especially when it’s this easy to make a big impression. Here’s how:
Cook spaghetti for 3 minutes less than the package suggests and drain. Add marinara sauce (you don’t even have to heat it up), plus one lightly beaten egg. Butter a muffin pan and fill each cup with half a cup or so of pasta and sauce, then use your fingers to push the pasta up along the edges, making a well in the middle. Pop the pan into the hot oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. During the last minute, add two small mozzarella balls to the “nest” and you’ll have eggs. Keep an eye on the nests and if they melt down, that’s OK — now you have snowcapped mountain-tops.
by Foodlets in Family, September 26th, 2013
While intricately prepared dishes with multiple components may be exciting to cook for special occasions or weekend projects, busy school nights are no time to commit to making a complicated meal. On these hectic evenings when you feel especially pressed for time, stick with all-in-one dishes to guarantee a stress-free dinnertime. These one-dish offerings have multiple meal parts — like proteins, starches and vegetables — which means that you can serve your family a complete dinner by prepping only one recipe.
Kids and kids-at-heart appreciate the creamy comfort of melted cheese and potatoes, which makes Food Network Kitchens’ Cheesy Gnocchi Casserole with Ham and Peas (pictured above) a family-friendly staple. This go-to supper is a cinch to prepare in a hurry, as there’s no need to roll gnocchi from scratch. Just pick up a package of the store-bought variety, combine with deli ham and frozen peas, then top with Swiss cheese to create a simple dinner full of tried-and-true flavors.
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We make breakfast for dinner all the time because it’s easy, inexpensive and the kids love eggs, so I know it will be a peaceful evening. But since most people don’t eat a side of broccoli with breakfast, it can be tricky to figure out where a veggie comes in. (In fact, kids often have a hard time eating a side of broccoli at dinnertime anyway.) So, I say mix it right in.
Get a bag of broccoli slaw — easily available at grocery stores (a fact I happily discovered after moving back to the United States from Rome this year) — and use an oven-safe saute pan to cook the green stuff on the stovetop along with two slices of bacon (cut into small pieces) and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Add 8 eggs that have already been whisked together with 1/2 cup of milk, then put the whole thing in the oven to finish off. I bake it at 375 degrees F oven for about 15 minutes. When it’s puffy and golden, it’s done — and so are you.