Creative Plating: My Secret Weapon for Getting Kids to Try New Foods

by in Family, December 27th, 2014

ChiliWhenever I have a new food I want my four small kids to try, I trot out a secret weapon — or two. There’s a drawer in my house full of little white bowls of all shapes and sizes: dipping bowls from an import store, egg cups from a big box store, little square appetizer plates bought on sale online. They’re all meant for adults to enjoy little bites of carefully made canapes at cocktail parties; I use them to serve new foods to small fries. Bonus: They’re also the perfect size for serving decadent desserts.

Anytime something is served in a dish like these, the kids think it’s fancy and exciting, so they’re way more willing to try it. And one more thing: All of my pieces are inexpensive, so if (and when) something breaks, it’s not the end of the world.

I’ve amassed a big collection, but even a couple of options would be just as fun. Here’s how we do it:

Juice Glasses: Of all my tiny pieces, our juice glasses probably get the most use. I use them for drinks every day, but occasionally they’re filled with parfaits. Everything from layers of chili and cheddar (pictured above) to yogurt and honey looks fancy when you can see those colorful layers.

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DIY Sick-Day Chicken Soup

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, December 27th, 2014

DIY Sick Day Chicken SoupI write you from the comfort of my bathrobe, snuggled up under a thick comforter. Next to me is my daughter Valentine, whose throaty cough shakes the bed and my laptop about twice a minute. Yes, it’s cold and flu season. The other girls are off ice-skating with their cousins, but Valentine and I are homebound, sucking on homeopathic little pastilles every 15 minutes, trying to head off the virus that seems to have hit us overnight.

What I’m craving, appropriately, is a broth-y chicken soup, and so is Valentine. I read in a journal somewhere (or was it my grandmother who told me this? Details are fuzzy when I’m under the weather) that there is actual evidence to support broth-based soups as a treatment for the common cold. Good enough for me.

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Best 5 New Year’s Eve Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 27th, 2014

Classic Pot RoastNo matter if your New Year’s Eve plans include an all-night bash or a casual evening in front of the television, ring in 2015 with eats and drinks worthy of the celebration. When planning your holiday menu, consider the size of the crowd you’ll be hosting and decide whether you’ll do a full sit-down dinner or a smaller selection of hearty bites. Check out Food Network’s top-five sweet and savory recipes below for New Year’s Eve favorites from Ina Garten, Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis and more chefs, then visit Holiday Central for our entire collection of New Year’s fare.

5. Cone-oli — Think of Food Network Magazine’s next-level recipe as deconstructed cannoli: Instead of filling delicate pastry shells with cream, opt for ice cream cones instead, and stuff those with a sweetened ricotta-cream cheese mixture, and finish with chopped pistachios for added texture.

4. Lobster Mac & Cheese — If you feel like splurging on account of the special occasion, look no further than Ina’s richly decadent macaroni and cheese. These individually portioned casseroles are loaded with fresh lobster plus nutty Gruyère cheese, which together create over-the-top indulgence.

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Chicken Noodle Soup — Down-Home Comfort

by in Recipes, December 26th, 2014

This may seem like an odd sort of down-home comfort-food recipe to share with you at this time of year, but if you think about it, it’s actually the perfect time for a bowl of chicken noodle soup. After rushing around for the past month dealing with first Thanksgiving and then the holidays, it’s easy to be worn down and feeling poorly. It’s also easy to overindulge at holiday parties and eat lots of rich foods. And just around the corner are the New Year’s Eve festivities with bubbly and more indulgence, and New Year’s Day gatherings. In fact, a few years ago Mama had a terrible cold on Christmas Eve. Instead of roast goose or prime rib we all enjoyed humble, soothing, nourishing chicken soup! It was just perfect and now has become a yearly tradition. Read more

A Kitchen in France — Off the Shelf

by in Books, December 26th, 2014

A Kitchen in France“Everything they say about the French way of life is true,” declares Mimi Thorisson in her new book, A Kitchen in France. “Especially the food part.” If you’ve ever dreamt of moving to a farmhouse nestled in the French countryside where you can relax, garden and cook all day, Thorisson’s new book is for you (because that’s exactly what she and her family did). “Even now I would be at a loss to explain exactly why we took the plunge,” she admits. “But we needed a bigger place for a growing family, so why not outside the box, outside Paris? My husband wanted more dogs, we wanted to see the kids running around in a big garden, we were up for an adventure.”

A Kitchen in France chronicles that adventure in lovely, descriptive writing and through a stunning collection of recipes. What you’ll find in the pages are recipes that sound much fussier than they are; French food is largely simple food, designed to coax subtle and big flavors alike from good ingredients. Thorisson’s recipes accomplish just that, and the stunning food photography will have your mouth watering as soon as you crack the book open. Start with the Onion Tart (recipe after the jump for you to try at home), but you won’t be able to stop there. Almond Mussels and Red Berry Barquettes taste like summer. You won’t be able to wait for autumn to make the Potatoes a la Lyonnaise, and the Harvest Soup recipe with beef, root vegetables and garlic is the perfect dish to pull the chill out of a cool fall evening. “Some dishes just can’t be enjoyed in warm weather,” Thorisson says. “And they are my favorite thing about winter.” You’ll find recipes that do call for hours-long simmering, like the traditional Coq au Vin or the Beef Cheek Stew, but what better way to warm the house on a cold winter weekend than letting those enchanting smells fill your home? You’ll also find simple dishes, like the Garlic Soup, that achieve a flavor it’s almost impossible to believe came about in under half an hour. And it’s not all main courses; there are plenty of seasonal dessert offerings, along with some smaller plates like the Roquefort and Walnut Gougeres, which would be a perfect addition to a New Year’s Eve menu (or whatever you were already planning for supper tonight).

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Frittata — The Weekender

by in Recipes, December 25th, 2014

FrittataMy family has a tradition of gathering for five or six days around the holidays. We all pile into the host’s house (most often my parents, but this year we’re at my sister’s), and spend the time eating, playing music and enjoying a break from regular life.

We are all fans of having a late, lazy breakfast (these days, it serves as lunch for my preschooler nephew). One morning, my dad will make waffles. Another day, my mom will make a giant pot of steel-cut oats with lots of toppings. I am always in charge of eggs (either scrambled or fried). And my sister is the queen of the frittata.

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4 Things You May Not Know About Hanukkah Gelt

by in News, December 24th, 2014

Hanukkah GeltHanukkah gelt, those shiny, foil-wrapped chocolate coins we give to kids — or devour ourselves, when no one’s looking — are a holiday staple in many Jewish households. They have a nostalgic worth way beyond their actual flavor or their price tag, which is usually around $1.50 per sack, though you can pay significantly more for higher-end organic, fair-trade “artisan” coins.

You can use gelt (aka “money”) to gamble with in a game of dreidel (though a greedy winner may get a stomachache along with his or her bragging rights), pile them into a bowl for a holiday centerpiece or simply hand them around after the candles on the menorah are lit and warmly flickering.

You know the holiday experience doesn’t feel totally complete without these glimmering discs, but here are a few things you might not know about Hanukkah gelt:

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The 3 Most-Legit Christmas Desserts of All Time

by in Holidays, December 24th, 2014

Buche de Noel

The rest of your holiday may not be textbook-traditional, but including these desserts in your spread will give your holiday the look of a storybook Christmas. This year, serve your guests traditional Christmas favorites that are as iconic as your lit Christmas tree or the stockings hanging on your mantel.

When they finally make it to the dessert round, friends and family will gasp at the sight of this classic Buche de Noel (pictured above), or French yule log cake. Complete with marzipan figures of berries, pinecones and mushrooms, this sweet rolled cake starts with rich chocolate genoise (sponge cake) that’s rolled in coffee- and brandy-flavored buttercream. With its fairy-tale looks, it may be difficult to slice into the finished log and reveal all its layers, but we’re sure you’ll find a way.

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New Year’s Eve with Marc Murphy: Stress-Free Entertaining at Its Best

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 23rd, 2014

Marc MurphyWhile New Year’s comes at the end of a long holiday season, it’s surely no less important than the celebrations leading up to it — especially for chef and Chopped judge Marc Murphy. “Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve are, as far as I’m concerned, the two holidays that I find are the best,” the restaurateur behind Landmarc, Kingside and Ditch Plains restaurants told FN Dish recently, “because you don’t have to buy any presents. There’s no pressure of buying presents for anybody.” According to Marc, “It’s nice to concentrate on the food and the beverage on Thanksgiving and on New Year’s,” and quality eating and drinking are indeed what Marc focuses on for the New Year’s Eve party at his house. From holiday treats like caviar and oysters to make-ahead lasagna, dressed-up cocktails and next-day frittatas, Marc revealed to FN Dish how he rings in the new year with his family and friends — and even shared his go-to Negroni recipe. Read on below to hear more from Marc in an exclusive interview.

What does New Year’s Eve looks like in your home with your family? How do you celebrate?
Marc Murphy: We usually go to Long Island; I have a house out there and we fill it up with a bunch of friends — however many people can stay there as possible — and we just sort of hang out and eat and drink and party. Everyone brings over their kids, and the kids stay up late and jump up and down on the beds and watch the ball drop and scream and yell and run around the house so late, and it’s a lot of fun.

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