by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, April 27th, 2015
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.
by Foodlets in Family, March 28th, 2015
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.
by Foodlets in Family, March 10th, 2015
As the mom of four kids under age 6, I’ve found the secret to stocking a useful pantry: Every item needs to be versatile. From breakfast to lunch and snacks through dinner, my favorite pantry items can be used over and over again in totally different ways.
Old-Fashioned (Whole) Oats: I buy the generic store brand. While we make our share of oatmeal in the morning — three minutes in the microwave, then drenched in whole milk and sprinkled with chia seeds and dried fruit — there’s so much more!
Breakfast: Banana Oat Cup Muffins with Peanut Butter and Jam
Snack: 2-Ingredient Cookies
Dinner: New Classic Meatloaf
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, March 2nd, 2015
If asparagus isn’t on your kids’ list of approved foods (it could be!), try a bridge ingredient to help them warm up to those in-season stalks. That means, serve asparagus with another favorite food or flavor, or prepare it using a technique you know they like. Find out how to pair asparagus with bacon, lemon, Parmesan cheese and more.
Ina Garten’s Roasted Asparagus (pictured above): Roasted vegetables are always a hit with my four kids, so it’s a no-brainer that we’d try Ina’s fan-favorite recipe for asparagus.
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, February 24th, 2015
There are four small kids in my house right now, and I’m going to make dinner for all of them. Like I do (nearly) every night. But in order to make all these fresh meals, the ones that the kids like, that my husband enjoys and that I feel good about serving, there are going to be some shortcuts made. Like there are (nearly) every night. Here are a few of my secrets for getting it all done.
1. Use That Netflix Subscription to Your Full Advantage: There is no shame in putting on a video for the kids while you cook dinner. That gives you 22 minutes to get something accomplished while the kids bliss out. Tip: Just be clear ahead of time about how MANY videos or how LONG they’ll be watching. My kids go crazy if they think I’m pulling the plug prematurely. The last thing you want to start dinner with is mutiny.
2. Repurpose Leftovers with Confidence: On the incredulity scale, “This again?” is about a 9.5 at the dinner table. There’s also this: As a food blogger I’m constantly testing new recipes. Sometimes things are a hit, and sometimes they’re not. Either way, I love having a second life planned out for dinners like London broil (which later becomes a pot of beef stew), roasted chicken (which shows up again in a casserole) or meatballs that start out on pasta and end up on sub sandwiches. Sometimes the second time is a charm.
by Foodlets in Recipes, February 17th, 2015
OK, I’ve got to be honest: Sweet potatoes have been hit or miss in our house with my brood of four kids under 6 years old. But because I’m a determined mom with healthy-eating habits in sight (which is not quite the same thing as a glutton for punishment), I just kept cooking sweet potatoes. By now I’ve made them so many ways that we’ve come up recipes that work every time, and I want to share them with you.
1. Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Ellie Krieger’s combination of olive oil, lemon juice and honey — the trifecta of our kids’ most-beloved flavors — turns a pan of peeled sweet potatoes into a side dish little ones love.
2. Sweet Potato & Walnut Muffins
These muffins are not what you think. The batter starts with raw sweet potatoes and walnuts (or almonds or pecans — whatever you like) that you crush in the food processor before adding all the other ingredients without dirtying another bowl. The result is a protein-rich batch of delicious muffins that just happens to be full of veggies.
by Foodlets in Family, Holidays, February 10th, 2015
As a mom of four small kids, I love dinners you can cook once, then use again in a new way later in the week. I call them “2 Dinners in 1,” but today I’m sharing how to be a suppertime overachiever. No two dinners here. Nope, this strategy is a bona fide three-in-one timesaver. After roasting a classic chicken and vegetables, you’ll serve chicken breasts and some of those veggies for a family-friendly meal. Dinner two will be legs and thighs in a simple casserole, and finally on night three, you’ll put leftovers to work in a whole delicious stock. Here’s your game plan for making it work.
Dinner #1: Easy Lemon Roasted Chicken with Carrots & Potatoes (pictured above)
- Use the largest bird you can find, then slather a quickie vinaigrette — I like olive oil, thyme, fresh lemon juice and zest, plus salt and pepper — on both the chicken and vegetables. Be sure to double the amount of vegetables, so you’re cooking another dinner’s worth of carrots and potatoes (plus any other vegetables you like, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and so on), and cook them on a separate baking sheet. And if you don’t have enough lemon vinaigrette for the second pan, just use olive oil with salt and pepper.
- Cut up the breasts for dinner, using Alton Brown’s method for carving a turkey, and remove each breast in one large piece before dicing it up to serve. (P.S. Ina Garten does this for chicken too.)
- Serve just the chicken breast and roasted vegetables with a nice loaf of crusty bread and soft salted butter. Reserve everything else — and I do mean everything, including the bones!
by Foodlets in Family, February 1st, 2015
From super sweet to pretty darn healthy, I’ve got your kids’ Valentine’s Day treats covered. Every one of them is doable for busy parents, and many are so easy the kids can help. So whether you and the little ones are celebrating at home or school, these adorable ideas say nothing but love from the oven.
1. Heart of the Batter Cupcakes: As if a moist cupcake loaded with chocolate frosting wasn’t enough, what kid wouldn’t be delighted to bite into a cupcake to find a heart-shaped strawberry inside? I’m practically clapping myself about these too-cute treats from Food Network Magazine.
2. Chocolate-Covered Mini Pretzel Sticks: For small kids, a pretzel stick — loaded with chocolate and sprinkles — makes the perfect serving size. Bonus: Your little ones can help make a batch with you.
by Foodlets in Recipes, January 23rd, 2015
Your mornings may go more smoothly than mine, but in order to get the kids out the door on time I need to have a bunch of lunch staples on hand. And sometimes those supplies come right from last night’s dinner. Hint: Make it even easier on yourself by packing up these lunches as you clean up dinner, while everything’s still out.
1. Homemade Pizza: Some schools balk when you send kids with takeout pizza, but the fresh stuff should be fine. We love ham and pineapple, as well as good ol’ cheese. But Ree Drummond’s 5-star Pepperoni Pizza and Four-Cheese Pizza (pictured above) look so good, we’ll venture out this week.
2. Rolls: Any time we serve rolls or crusty bread, I always use the extras for sandwiches the next day. We have small kids and the size is perfect. If yours are bigger, pack two of these mini sandwiches. (Feeling industrious? Bobby Flay has 164 [and counting] perfect reviews for his Parker House Rolls.)
Got a carb lover on your hands? A couple of pintsize cheese addicts? Me too. In fact, I have four small kids, and sometimes it seems like they’ll eat only cheese, crackers and other carbs (CCC), at least without a fuss. When we’re in a CCC rut, I break out a few of these delicious alternatives.
Carrots and Dip Taste Test: Hear me out. If your kids don’t like raw veggies, give them a choice of a few dips (salad dressings, hummus or whatever you have in the fridge), and ask them to pick a winner. Alternatively, pick their favorite dressing — say, ranch — and offer three to four kinds of raw veggies to dip right in. Have them declare a favorite vegetable instead.