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Freezer-Friendly Standbys — School Days

by in Family, Recipes, September 14th, 2013

English Muffin PizzasNow that the school year is well under way, chances are your morning and evening schedules are becoming ever more hectic. Between early carpools, afternoon dentist appointments and late soccer practices, it can seem almost impossible to make time for cooking breakfast and dinner — let alone packing school lunches. And on those days, it’s important to have quick-fix meals waiting for you in the freezer. The key to getting the most out of your freezer is making sure it’s always stocked with a range of ingredients and ready-to-go dishes; try to dedicate some time on the weekend to preparing and freezing foods so they’ll be there when you need them. Check out a few of Food Network’s go-to easy-to-freeze recipes for breakfast, snack time and dinner below to find favorites that kids and grownups alike will enjoy.

Breakfast:
Sometimes just getting out the door in the morning can seem like a feat, and on days like that, it’s best to not have to worry about your kids’ breakfasts. Food Network Kitchens takes the guesswork out of morning meals with its Freezer to Oven Berry Muffins, studded with juicy blueberries and finished with a cinnamon crumb topping before freezing. While this recipe yields 12 muffins, you only need to bake as many as you need at a time while leaving the others in the freezer.

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Zucchini Chili — The Weekender

by in Recipes, September 13th, 2013

Zucchini Chili - The WeekenderChili is one of my fall and winter weeknight staples. It’s one of those things that cooks up easily, is fairly forgiving and can expand endlessly. Whenever I pull out my chili pot, I make it a point to cook up a batch big enough to last for at least two nights and a couple lunches.

My standard approach involves lots of vegetables, a pound of ground turkey, plenty of spices and two or three cans of beans (I tend to use black and pinto beans, but anything I have in the pantry is fair game).

After years of eating bowl after bowl of my improvisational chili, however, my husband sweetly requested that I try to vary my chili game a little. And so, I started auditioning new recipes.

As I’ve searched, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really looking for authenticity (my regular recipe includes Swiss chard). Instead, I want a one-pot dish that has a lot of flavor, features vegetables and beans, and if it includes meat, uses a relatively small amount.

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Best 5 Slow-Cooker Recipes

by in Recipes, September 12th, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef PaprikashOn days when you know there’s not going to be any time to devote to cooking, there’s just one tool that makes it easy to get dinner on the table quickly: the slow cooker. This user-friendly gadget is perhaps the most go-to kitchen appliance in many families’ homes, as it will do most of the mealtime preparation for you. Once you slice and dice a few vegetables, season the meat, and add spices and liquids, all you have left to do is flip on the machine; you can leave the machine unattended for hours, then come home to a ready-to-eat meal. While soups and stews are classic slow-cooker favorites, the machine’s versatility is far-reaching, as it’s able to turn out pastas, pork and even candy with ease. Check out Food Network’s top-five slow-cooker recipes below to find both sweet and savory dishes that are easy enough to make on hectic weekdays.

5. Slow-Cooker Chocolate Candy — Trisha uses just four ingredients to make her salty-sweet treat, studded with peanuts for a welcome crunch. She lets the candy cook in the slow cooker before spooning it into cupcake liners and letting it cool.

4. Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos — Guarantee moist and tender shredded pork by cooking the meat in a richly flavorful sauce of pureed chipotles, honey and vinegar, and let your family members build their own tacos by serving the pork with a spread of classic toppings.

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Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 9th, 2013

Fried Green Tomato SandwichesBefore another tomato season comes to a close and you say goodbye to summer’s fresh caprese salads, bruschetta, gazpacho and pasta sauce, you should surely indulge in one of the season’s simplest pleasures: a fried green tomato sandwich. Nothing more than an unripe tomato, a green tomato is firm and drier than its red and yellow counterparts, which means it can sustain a coating of batter and won’t fall apart in hot oil.

A dressed-up version of the original, Food Network Magazine’s recipe for easy-to-make Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches (pictured above) features just a few key components: green tomatoes, of course, plus a creamy, spicy sauce, sliced bread (something slightly soft works best so it absorbs the sauce) and a topping of yellow and red tomatoes. The juiciness of ripe tomatoes works well for the topping, as their moisture adds welcome sweetness. To add extra flavor to the green beauties, Food Network Magazine pickles them with dill before frying, then triple coats them in layers of egg wash and cornmeal with chili powder. Once the green tomatoes golden brown and crispy on the outside, build the sandwich with both the fried and raw tomatoes and a smear of mayonnaise-scallion sauce. This spread features a few dashes of hot and Worcestershire sauces, which together create a tangy taste that cuts through the richness of the dish.

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3 Ways to Build a Better Lunchbox — School Days

by in Family, Recipes, September 7th, 2013

Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta SaladSchool is officially in session, which means that for the roughly nine months ahead, you’ll be facing an almost daily challenge of deciding with what lunch to send you child to school. This year, instead of finding kids’ half-eaten sandwiches and untouched celery sticks at the end of the day, guarantee a happier lunchtime — and, more importantly, full bellies — with these three easy strategies for building a better lunchbox. Check out Food Network’s suggestions, then start the conversation about your child’s favorite school lunches in the comments below.

1. Embrace Little Helpers
To improve the lunchbox-packing process, start at the beginning: the grocery shopping for lunch ingredients. Invite your kids to come to the supermarket with you and let them suggest what kinds of foods you buy. It may be as simple as asking them if they prefer apples or orange segments as the fruit of the day, deli turkey or ham on their sandwich, and carrots or cherry tomatoes as the veggie of choice, but the idea is to make kids feel included in the building of their lunches. Ultimately, if kids are invested in their food, they’re more likely to eat it. (This notion holds true come dinnertime, so if you struggle with picky eaters at supper, consider these grocery shopping trips as a means of getting kids excited about all of their meals.)

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The Sloppy Lo — The Weekender

by in Recipes, September 6th, 2013

The Sloppy Lo - The WeekenderDuring my first few years of elementary school, my family lived in Los Angeles. Because it was almost always warm enough to eat outside, my school didn’t have a cafeteria. Instead, we just had an outdoor courtyard with plastic picnic tables and a small window through which hot lunches were dispensed.

I was mostly a brown-bag kid in those days, but occasionally, when something on the monthly menu particularly spoke to me, my parents would give me a dollar and let me buy lunch. I always asked to buy lunch on the days when they served sloppy joes.

I think part of the reason had to do with how it was served. The saucy meat came packaged in a little aluminum tray, covered tightly with foil. On top, they’d stack a waxed paper dish that held the bun and a plastic cup of applesauce or fruit cocktail. You’d go to your seat with a carton of milk, a napkin and a plastic spork to assemble your very own sandwich. I loved it.

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Best 5 Breakfast Casseroles

by in Recipes, September 5th, 2013

Blueberry French Toast Casserole with Whipped Cream and StrawberriesWhether you’re hosting a weekend brunch for a crowd or are simply looking to dress up your family’s morning meal routine, it’s important to have in your recipe repertoire a few go-to breakfasts for easy dishes to start the day. French toast, flapjacks and fried eggs are indeed tried-and-true classics, but quick-cooking breakfast casseroles are the ultimate picks for families, as these all-in-one beauties take the stress out of coordinating multiple components of a meal. Check out Food Network’s top-five breakfast bakes below to find both sweet and savory twists on the simple casserole with recipes from Ina, Giada and more Food Network chefs.

5. Mushroom-Spinach Baked Eggs — Start with a simple saute of mushrooms, onions and spinach, then layer that atop potato bread and finish with eggs and nutty Gruyere cheese to create a richly satisfying casserole in only one hour.

4. Breakfast Bread Pudding — The secret to Ina’s recipe is letting the slices of brioche rest in a pool of honey-vanilla custard before baking; this ensures the bread has a chance to soak up the flavor of the liquid and become moist.

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Baked Eggs and Beans on Toast — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 2nd, 2013

Baked Eggs and Beans on ToastWhile scrambled, over-easy and hard-boiled eggs may be breakfast classics, eggs — no matter how they’re cooked — can star in lunch and dinner recipes as well, and just one egg can transform a simple dish into a hearty vegetarian meal. If you have leftover tomato sauce on hand, warm it up on the stove, crack in a few eggs and call the plate Eggs in Purgatory. Making vegetable fried rice? Add extra protein by topping it with a sunny-side-up egg. Given eggs’ versatility, it’s easy to experiment with new egg-topped creations by starting with your tried-and-true favorites, then dressing them up with whites and yolks cooked your way.

Food Network Magazine follows suit in its recipe for Baked Eggs and Beans on Toast (pictured above), a weeknight-friendly dish that’s a cinch to prepare. After sauteing onions with tomato paste, add a splash of honey and Worcestershire sauce for sweet and salty bites, then meaty navy beans to create a thick, flavorful mixture in which to cook the eggs. It’s important to start the beans and eggs in an ovenproof skillet, as the combination will move right from the stove to the oven. Once the eggs are set, slide them onto slices of crunchy toasted bread, and finish each with the tender beans and some fresh grape tomato-parsley salad.

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Summer’s Greatest Hits — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, August 31st, 2013

Memphis-Style Hickory-Smoked Beef and Pork RibsThis weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, and while the weather may stay hot and humid for a few more weeks, leisurely backyard barbecues and alfresco entertaining will likely wrap up on Labor Day, as back-to-school routines and hectic schedules become all too familiar again. Whether you’re hosting an end-of-season bash or simply spending a relaxing few days with your family, say goodbye to summer with the season’s best eats and drinks. For this weekend’s cookout, FN Dish is sharing Food Network’s best-ever summertime recipes, those tried-and-true classics that are guaranteed to please. Together, these five-star picks from some of your favorite chefs, like Bobby, Alton, the Neelys and Giada, will create the ultimate Labor Day menu, one filled with smoky grilled meat, an easy-to-make side salad and a decadent dessert featuring summer’s sweetest fruits, plus quick appetizers and cocktails to round out the feast.

MargaritaA platter of Bobby’s Grilled Shrimp Scampi Style with Soy Sauce, Fresh Ginger and Garlic and Alton’s Margarita (pictured right) are ideal party-starters, and these recipes are ready to enjoy in just 15 minutes and five minutes, respectively. To make the glaze for his shrimp, Bobby whirls soy sauce, a splash of lime juice and garlic with a stick of butter in a food processor, then brushes the mixture on the seafood before grilling it. Keep an eye on the shrimp while cooking — they take mere minutes to finish.

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Cowboy Bacon Beans — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, Recipes, August 30th, 2013

Cowboy Bacon BeansThe impending Labor Day holiday means that summer is rapidly drawing to a close. All across the country, people are starting to shift into their back-to-school and work routines. There’s still a little time left before you pack up the citronella candles, however, to squeeze in one more fiesta.

The secret to end-of-season party giving is to keep it super simple. No need for complicated cocktails or loads of decorations. Buy watermelon, corn on the cob and tomatoes. They are at their best right now and need nothing to be delicious.

Tell your guests to bring something to throw on the grill (and make sure you have a couple packages of backup hotdogs, just in case). Put out an easy green salad. And for your single cooked item, make a pot of The Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Bacon Beans.

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