by Jennifer Perillo in Family, September 3rd, 2014
by Food Network Kitchen in Books, Family, September 2nd, 2014
Last week signaled back to school for families in some parts of the country, and it starts this week here in New York. Watching my friends post first-day-of-school photos reminds me of the 180-degree turn it’ll mean for our schedules. No more sleeping in and eating breakfast at noon. Instead of sitting down to dinner at 8pm, that’s when I’ll be tucking the kids into bed. One thing back to school doesn’t have to mean, though, is back to takeout. With some smart planning, we’ll be enjoying the same home cooking, just a little earlier than our lazy days of summer.
Prep School: Set yourself up for success on busy weeknights by having vegetables ready to use. You can chop or slice onions and leave them in sealed containers one to two days advance. When I have a recipe that calls for only half an onion, I immediately chop the other half and store it in the freezer in a zip-top bag. Then I can just toss it into the skillet when I’m ready to use it (no need to thaw it first). The same goes for garlic. Chop a whole head and spoon it into mini ice cube trays. Just pop out what you need when you’re ready to get cooking (no need to thaw it first).
by Sara Levine in Family, Recipes, August 27th, 2014
For thousands of us, fall is the real season of renewal, when back-to-school planning encompasses everything from freshly sharpened pencils to visions of easier, tastier — and saner — mealtimes. If those visions are starting to blur a couple of weeks into the new routine, take heart and meet Katie Workman. The mother of an 11- and a 14-year-old, she is the author of The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket.
The book’s frank and funny tone, elevated comfort food and down-to-earth suggestions for involving kids in the kitchen have endeared Workman to legions of fans (and helped spawn a sequel due out next summer). Last month, she stopped by Food Network Kitchen in New York’s Chelsea Market to make her Taco Night tacos and dish on late-night cooking, the one kitchen tool she can’t live without and annoying food habits all parents should avoid. Here are some questions and answers from our conversation, plus three family-friendly recipes worth incorporating into your repertoire right now. (For more on Katie’s visit, check out The One Recipe: Katie Workman’s Taco Night Tacos.)
by Foodlets in Family, August 25th, 2014
Are your kids inspired by the tiny chefs on Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off and the impressive contenders from Chopped Teen Tournament? Then it’s time to let them get their hands dirty in the kitchen. Food Network Kitchen came up with these easy, satisfying and safe dishes to get them started. Everyone (including parents!) will enjoy eating the final products, like these fun Taco Cheeseburgers.
Little kids can help tear the cheese and measure the salsa, while big kids can help shape and season the beef patties and shred the lettuce. Everyone can assemble his or her own taco.
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.
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.