All Posts In Family

Punched Up! Colorful Potatoes Kids Love

by in Family, June 5th, 2013

Colorful Potatoes Kids LoveFrench fries aside, my kids don’t exactly clamor for potatoes. I’ve made them all sorts of ways: oven-roasted fries, mashed with kale and Parmesan cheese, smashed with Greek yogurt, steamed with butter and herbs — and while those options have all had their ups and downs, this technique is the one that brought actual squeals to the table.

The trick was a simple bag of colored potatoes along with a set of vegetable cutters. Together they produced a giggle fest of interest before our girls even tried the potatoes. Before I even baked them. What color will the potato be inside? Will there be stars or hearts? Can I mix them up in the oil?

For roasted potatoes, my favorite way to go is extra-virgin olive oil, garlic pushed through the press, salt and a couple rounds of pepper out of the grinder. Dump all that along with the potatoes right onto a baking sheet, mix with bare hands, spread out and roast at 425 degrees F for about 25 minutes, depending on the size of the potato pieces. Flip them once along the way.

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3 Ways to Make Kids Say, “Yay, Asparagus!”

by in Family, May 25th, 2013

3 Ways to Make Kids Say, Kids don’t always love eating the green stuff. But instead of offering less of it, one of my favorite techniques is adding things they do like to any given dish. Take asparagus. Our toddler loves lemons, so it’s a go-to trick for encouraging her to try new foods. (It also works for previously refused foods, but I’m sure that never happens at your place.)

1. Our favorite way to make asparagus is sauteed in a pan with olive oil and a handful of peas. Add a few shavings of salty Parmesan cheese on top and let the kids squeeze their own lemon at the table.
2. Or try asparagus on homemade pizza with big drops of fresh ricotta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.
3. Never underestimate the power of roasting veggies. A pan of asparagus with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of salt will be amazing after 10 minutes of roasting at 425 degrees F. You might even get a cheer, but I always settle for at least a bite.

Try these kid-friendly recipes

3 Ways to Make Meatloaf More Kid-Friendly

by in Family, May 19th, 2013

Mini Skillet MeatloavesWho doesn’t love meatloaf? Well, plenty of people, actually — especially kids. The other issue is making it healthy enough to feel good about serving to your family. As the mom of three kids under age 4, I also need quick and easy techniques for getting dinner on the table fast. These are some of my favorite tricks to use (bonus, these work for meatballs, too):

1. Use organic whole oats in place of breadcrumbs in your favorite meatloaf recipe. Or combine half breadcrumbs with wheat germ to boost the nutritional value of your binder.

2. Add extra veggies. If your recipe calls for cooked onions or carrots, add 1/2 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed, or finely chopped peppers. Neither will be detected. Even simpler: Just double the amount of veggies in the recipe.

3. Make it miniature. I always cook several small meatloaves instead of one big one. Everything is done (and smothered with ketchup) within 35 minutes, and everyone gets their own meatloaf.

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Smart Choices: Foods to Fuel Kids at School

by in Family, May 18th, 2013

Whole-grain Breakfast PorridgeNow that the days are getting noticeably longer and the weather considerably warmer, summer is on everyone’s mind, including your kids’. They’re likely eagerly awaiting a sunny, stress-free summer vacation, but before they can close the books on another school year, most will be forced to endure a few weeks of final exams, projects and reports. As moms and dads, you may not be able to help out your kids with their advanced algebra problem sets or their comprehensive timeline of World War I, but you can surely send them to school with a hearty breakfast in their bellies. Just in time for test-taking season, Food Network checked in with Julie Negrin, M.S., a nutritionist, who shared Nutrition 101 for Parents and Kids. Among other benefits, following her suggestions for serving must-have wholesome foods “can lead to kids who feel calmer, sleep better … and study more.” Read on below for some of her top tips, plus find family-friendly breakfast recipes to give your kids the fuel they need to succeed.

In place of cold cereals that are likely packed with unnecessary sugar, swap in a bowl of warm oatmeal. “Stick to whole food carbohydrates that are packed with nutrients,” Julie recommends, explaining that they “take longer to digest.” Food Network Magazine‘s Whole-Grain Breakfast Porridge (pictured above) is packed with healthful ingredients like red rice, steel-cut oats and barley, plus it’s sweetened with just a single cinnamon stick, fruit and a bit of brown sugar. Since the porridge is made entirely in the rice cooker, it’s a no-fuss breakfast that requires little attention. Your child is not an oatmeal eater? Try serving Food Network Kitchens’ Whole-Grain Waffles, which can be partially prepared the night before you plan to cook them.

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A Letter From Melissa, Plus Ask Your Questions

by in Family, Food Network Chef, May 14th, 2013

Melissa d'ArabianDear Food Network Fan,

In the four years I’ve been part of the Food Network family, I’ve been lucky to share paths with so many of you — whether on TV, through social media, when meeting you in person at events and book signings (or the grocery store, airport, etc.). And now I’m excited to tell you that I will be joining FN Dish as a regular contributor! I’ll be answering your questions, writing about my experiences and giving you insights into my life as a working mom raising four young girls in San Diego. Food, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, parenting ideas — the possibilities are endless.

So let’s start the party. My first post next week will be answering fan questions. Is there something you’re dying to know? Ask your question in the comment section below or click here to email me, and I’ll pick a handful to answer next week.

I’ll see you here every other Thursday on FN Dish.

Xxoo,
Melissa d'Arabian

Making Mashed Potatoes More Kid-Friendly

by in Family, May 12th, 2013

Making Mashed Potatoes More Kid-FriendlyMashed potatoes are a new item on our three kids’ menus — ages 3 1/2, 2 and 10 months. We’ve lived in Italy for the last four years, where potatoes aren’t very starchy, so we didn’t eat them this way often. Now we’re in North Carolina, where the local spuds are organically grown and perfect for mashing. Because they’re novel, I’ve got a few tricks to make them a successful part of the meal.

Always: Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream and buttermilk for cream — both add protein and cut fat, two habits I’d like our kids to get used to early.

Sometimes: Add finely diced veggies to the boiling water during the last few minutes of cooking. Shredded spinach, kale or carrots can always be called “confetti.” Or get more clandestine with turnips or cauliflower.

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Easy Mother’s Day Desserts for Dads and Kids to Tackle Together

by in Family, Holidays, May 11th, 2013

Lemon Tiramisu TrifleListen up, dads. Even though Mother’s Day is just a few hours away and you may not have bought the devoted mom in your life a worthy present yet, there’s indeed time left to gift her something from the heart, a present that she’ll surely appreciate. Instead of resorting to a bouquet of flowers from the local bodega, gather your kids in the kitchen and commit to making Mom an extra-special Mother’s Day dessert. While there’s a time and a place for fancy, intricate sweets, Mother’s Day isn’t it, especially if they are to be prepared by little hands. Can-do desserts are the treats of choice instead — those that deliver tried-and-true results every time. Check out a few of FN Dish’s favorite easy desserts below, then browse Food Network’s Mother’s Day Central for more recipe inspiration and entertaining tips.

A no-bake recipe that can be prepped in only 20 minutes, Food Network Kitchens’ Lemon Tiramisu Trifle (pictured above) relies on store-bought goodies like lemon curd and ladyfinger cookies to ensure that this dessert is a cinch to prepare. Once you and your kids have arranged the first half of the cookies in a dish, start layering them with lemon syrup, lemon cream and fresh berries. While the trifle is essentially done as is, it needs to chill for at least eight hours so that the flavors of the lemon, berries and cream marry and the ladyfingers become soft with syrup. This means that it’s best to make the dessert tonight or first thing tomorrow morning, so it will be ready to enjoy after dinner.

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Spatula Love — The Product Puree

by in Family, May 8th, 2013

Spatula LoveWhat’s your favorite piece of kitchen equipment? I’m not talking about your fancy stand mixer or mega-speed blender. I’m talking about the thing that time and time again assists in the smallest of kitchen tasks. For me, hands down, it’s a spatula. But the difference in all the brands on the market can make a mega-watt difference. I’ve used spatulas that heated up to the point I could almost wipe the outside coating of plastic off after it hit something hot, like soup or a sauce, so always make sure to use ones that are heat-resistant to 500 degrees F. I’ve also tried those oversized spatulas that should be used only when trying to mix 50 gallons of cookie dough in an industrial kitchen.

And how about getting the remaining mustard or ketchup out of a jar or bottle? It says there’s 9 to 15 ounces inside, but I would guarantee you toss out a good 2 ounces each time because it’s so challenging to figure a way to get the remaining spoonfuls out.

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Macaroni and Cheese Made Even More Kid-Friendly

by in Family, May 5th, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese Made Even More Kid-FriendlyIf you have picky eaters, try updating a classic that most kids can’t get enough of. They’ll have a built-in veggie and you’ll eat a meal in peace (probably). Update your favorite mac and cheese recipe by adding 3 cups of chopped cauliflower or grated carrots to the pasta water when there’s still about 3 minutes left to cook. Continue with the remainder of the recipe, adding an extra 1/2 cup of milk to the cheese sauce so everything stays nice and moist. Note: Cauliflower works especially well for anyone going through a “white food-only” phase (and if you are, I hear you).

Keep going? Crumble 1/2 cup of extra-firm tofu or mashed white beans into the pasta as you mix it together with the cheese sauce. Instant protein, undetected.

But if presentation is what inspires your brood, as it often does from the booster seats here, try individually baked ramekins. Or save time by scooping this creamy goodness into little dipping bowls and stacking them on top of each child’s plate. Who knew invisible veggies could be so cute?

Start with these basic mac and cheese recipes

Tacos, Nachos and Churros: Go-To Recipes for a Kid-Friendly Cinco de Mayo

by in Family, Holidays, May 4th, 2013

Tacos Carne AsadaWhile some elements of Cinco de Mayo — the spicy salsas, spiked margaritas and too-green guacamole among them — may be no match for little ones and their picky palates, others like soft-shelled tacos, cheesy nachos and sweet churros are go-to bites that are practically made with kids’ appetites in mind. These dishes, although guaranteed kid-pleasers, are also some of the most-classic picks for traditional Mexican fare, so by serving them at your Cinco de Mayo celebration, you can be sure that grown-up guests will be happy to enjoy them, too. Whether you’re hosting a big-bash fiesta tomorrow or simply spending a quiet day at home, mark the fifth of May with a family-friendly spread of Mexican eats. Check out a few of FN Dish’s favorite tacos, nachos and churro recipes below, then browse Food Network’s Cinco de Mayo Central for more go-to recipes and entertaining tips.

Tyler’s top-rated Tacos Carne Asada is a must-try meal if you’re cooking for kids, because you can control the ingredients of the steak marinade and pico de gallo, making them as spicy or as mild as you want. Tyler opts for a jalapeno and a few garlic cloves in the mojo-style marinade and a serrano chile in the salsa, but little ones may appreciate less heat. After letting the meat marinate, grill it until juicy and tender, then serve it in warm tortillas. Let your kids assemble their own dream tacos by setting up a spread of traditional toppings like shredded lettuce, Jack cheese, white onion and fresh pico de gallo and inviting them to help themselves. Watch this video to see Tyler make this can-do recipe.

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