by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, July 18th, 2015
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, July 8th, 2015
When it comes to cooking with small kids underfoot, I’m always looking for dinner ideas with that magical combination of flexibility, simplicity, big flavors and tender meat. Our kids are 1, 3, 4 and 6, and the whole crew has varying amounts of teeth at any given time, so tender meat is a must. Plus, it’s delicious — no matter what age you are.
So I rely on two delicious marinades that I know by heart to put on anything from flank steak to chicken strips to roasted whole chickens. One is a tangy blend of lime and cumin; the other is lemon and garlic. Even though they’re both citrus-based, they’re full of totally different flavors. Our kids LOVE them, and, as a bonus, you can double any batch of marinade and throw a second dinner in the freezer while you’re making the first. The meat will just keep soaking up more flavor while it thaws later on.
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, June 30th, 2015
With summer in full swing, and four kids under the age of 7, we’ve got friends of all ages coming and going all the time. To keep things simple but still plenty of fun, I have a roster of easy and (almost) universally liked snacks for kids. Here’s what we’re serving.
English Muffin Pizzas (pictured above): For more of a meal, these English muffin pizzas can be topped with your choice of fixings, like olives and broccoli.
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, June 24th, 2015
If you’re a gardener, or you’ve been to the grocery store and seen it on sale, you know the zucchini has officially arrived. We have a ton of the stuff popping up in our small garden beds every day, which means we’re eating a ton of the stuff every day. These are my favorite kid-tested zucchini recipes, offering enough variety to keep everyone eating the good stuff all summer long.
Zucchini Ribbon Pasta: Long tendrils of zucchini combined with tender fettuccine noodles are the base of Ellie Krieger’s lightened-up Italian meal (pictured above). But it’s the garlic, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil on top that make it truly mouthwatering.
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, June 17th, 2015
One of my favorite summer dinners comes together in about five minutes. (Coincidence?) Pulling ingredients from the pantry, fridge and freezer, then loading them onto the cutting board is equal parts handy (chop those peppers right here, slice the cheese too) and festive — like a cheese tray with extensions. Set the whole thing in the middle of the table and let everyone dish up exactly what they like.
Mix and Match Any Combination:
Salami, cooked shrimp, leftover roast chicken, turkey or ham deli meat rolled up like a cigar, prosciutto
A Little Something Salty (Served in a Bowl)
Olives, peanuts, pickles (dill or sweet), pistachios
by Foodlets in Family, Restaurants, June 9th, 2015
Eating outside is one of the joys of summer. For the kids it’s about fresh air and fun. For me it’s about not having to clean the floor. And cooking all the food outside? Even. Better. Here’s our foolproof family meal, made completely on the grill.
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, May 28th, 2015
Three of our four small kids were born in Italy, where eating out is practically the national pastime. That meant toting our tots to a lot of restaurants. Here are the tricks we learned along the way — and still use for our group that now includes one baby, a toddler, a preschooler and even a kindergartener.
1. Take a “Fun Pack.” Our oldest daughter was a toddler when she started filling up a bag she called her “Fun Pack” for restaurants. Whatever she could fit in, went: toys, dolls, sunglasses. I also brought crayons and a coloring book, which weren’t automatically handed out in Rome. She may spend only a few minutes with each thing, but she’ll have enough stuff to explore during the meal to stay occupied.
2. Go early. This was a bit of a moot point in Europe, where dinner typically isn’t served until 8 p.m., but boy have we used it ever since we moved to the U.S. We are out the door by 4:30 p.m., trying to arrive at 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. The kids don’t get overly hungry, and the restaurant will likely be less busy.
3. Practice restaurant manners. For toddlers and preschoolers, role-playing ahead of time makes all the difference. (We did this before flying on planes too.) We physically sit at the table and explain what will happen at the restaurant. We tell them that a waiter will arrive to ask questions, there are menus, there is no getting up from the table unless you need to go potty — tell them whatever your family rules are. And we ask silly questions: “Any climbing under the table?” Which gives the kids a chance to yell, “No!” Yelling at home? Good. Yelling at the restaurant? Bad. Hence the dry run.
by Foodlets in Family, Holidays, May 4th, 2015
Tired-mom confession: I’m kind of psyched for summer because I won’t have the pressure of packing a single lunchbox for nine whole weeks. (Yep, ours is a year-round school, but still…) Summer lunches offer a bit more flexibility and require less planning, and sometimes the kids can even help.
Lunches That (Even Little) Kids Can Make Themselves:
1. Strawberry & PB Wraps: Slather peanut butter on a whole-wheat tortilla, sprinkle with diced strawberries and wrap it up like a burrito for a hand-held meal.
2. Pita Pockets: Whip up the egg salad (with a kid-friendly ingredient), chicken salad or even Ellie Krieger’s healthier version of chicken curry salad and show the kids how to stuff a couple of spoonfuls into each pocket.
3. Sub Sandwiches on a Stick: Set out the fixings — chunks of cheese, cherry tomatoes, cubes of thick bread, pickles cut into large dice, rolls of salami — and let kids slide everything onto a bamboo skewer.
4. Watermelon Gazpacho: Taking a tip from the amazing Barefoot Contessa’s original 5-star cold soup recipe, give the kids a turn at the food processor with this fruit-filled summertime soup.
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, April 27th, 2015
Before they’re ready for margaritas and garlicky guacamole, we’re introducing our kids to a handful of starter Mexican recipes like these. Each one is simple and straightforward enough for busy parents who still love a delicious meal on a festive day.
Rachael Ray’s Mexican Lasagna (pictured above): With spinach tortillas in place of pasta, this 5-star recipe packs chicken breasts, black beans, corn, cheese and more into a dish you can make (and even freeze) ahead of time and then throw in the oven for a rich and bubbly Cinco De Mayo dinner.
Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken Tex-Mex: Sometimes the best family meals are the ones that are easiest to make. This slow-cooker meal comes together while the kids are in school, politely waiting to be topped with sour cream, guacamole or salsa when the whole family is ready.
by Foodlets in Family, April 8th, 2015
Every afternoon was the same at my house: tired kids running around, alternately asking for snacks, playing and fighting. I was distracted in the kitchen trying to get a fresh meal on the table — something that didn’t come out of a sack and something that would nourish us. Then I discovered how to use my freezer to cook dinner.
Now when I’m prepping dinner, I can double (or split) it into two portions, one for now and one for later. Not every recipe will cooperate, but these family-friendly dishes work beautifully for just such a job:
Honey-Mustard Chicken: If you try nothing else, try this one that our kids love. Chicken thighs (or breasts) bake in a simple sweet sauce; double the recipe and throw half into a baking dish for dinner and the other serving into a zip-top bag bound for the freezer. Serve both over your favorite grain to soak up all that juice.
Giada De Laurentiis’ Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables: A one-pot meal brimming with fresh veggies like zucchini, summer squash and peppers sounds perfect for spring, but Giada’s penne goes the extra kid-friendly mile with two kinds of cheeses. Prep the entire recipe and pour into two pans (or double it for large groups); cook one pan and cover the other with foil for the freezer.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are one thing. I knew I’d be on the hook for those the moment I saw my first ultrasound (and my second, third and fourth). But adding snacks — two snacks — every day almost pushed me over the edge. It seemed like every time I got the kitchen counter shoveled off from the previous meal, some short person would trot up asking, “Is it snack time yet?” Instead of tossing a box of gummy fruits to the crowd and letting them fend for themselves, I started getting strategic. Here’s what I do to create a varied snack plan full of (mostly) whole foods (pretty) easily:
1. Make a Batch of Freezer-Friendly Muffins: I usually have a couple of kinds of veggie-packed muffins in my freezer. Set your premade muffins on the counter at breakfast and they’ll be thawed by snack time — or just pop them in the microwave at the last second. Try: Pumpkin Muffins
2. Yogurt Parfaits: For a crowd with varied tastes, try a container of plain yogurt plus a few nutritious toppings. Nuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, frozen blueberries, honey … Let each person add whatever he or she likes.