Tag: kids & family

6 Kid-Tested Zucchini Dishes for Summer

by in Family, Recipes, June 30th, 2015

Zucchini Ribbon PastaIf 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.

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One Recipe, Two Meals: Beef Quesadillas for the Kids and Street Tacos for You

by in Family, Recipes, June 29th, 2015

One Recipe, Two Meals: Beef Quesadillas for the Kids and Street Tacos for YouIt’s hard to go through life without an unabashed obsession for tacos, am I right? It’s tacos, for crying out loud. Tiny carb canoes with seasoned meat, maybe a fruit here, a veggie there, a sprinkling of delicious cheese, and a burst of fresh lime juice or maybe even a delightful salsa or sauce. I mean, tacos.

I kept these particular tacos on the street side, with simple seasoned grass-fed beef (regular beef is fine!), fresh onion and cilantro, and a bit of crumbled queso fresco, but I added a creamy side with cubed avocado and mango. Mmmm mmm. What makes these most street-y, though, is the use of corn tortillas, especially when you lightly char each one over an open flame on your stovetop — oooooooWEEEE. They’re so amazing. So street-y. I like street-y. That came out wrong.

If your little ones aren’t yet into seasoned, street tacos, I pause toward the beginning of the recipe and slide a little of the beef into tortillas with melty cheddar cheese for some quick quesadillas. Boom. Errrrrone’s happy.

Get street-y! Err, you know what I mean.

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35 Possibilities for Dinner on a Cutting Board

by in Family, Recipes, June 24th, 2015

35 Possibilities for Dinner on a Cutting BoardOne 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:

Meats
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

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Cooking with Kids: Adventures in Guacamole Making, Plus a Simple Recipe

by in Family, Recipes, June 23rd, 2015

Cooking with Kids: Adventures in Guacamole Making, Plus a Simple RecipeI taught my daughter’s third-grade class how to make good guacamole. It was my second time working with classroom 3B, this time not in the art room but on a diminutive desk in the classroom itself. On this knee-high rectangle of beechwood-colored Formica with a scooped out slot for a pencil at the top, I was able to use skills gained long ago interning at a doll-size garde manger station, elbows pinned to my sides.

When kids came into their classroom, they found tortillas, knives and avocado halves on their tables, and the other ingredients were ready on mine. It smelled like onions and cilantro. Passing teachers poked their heads in to see why. I worked fast to outpace the kids’ hunger, questions and strong desire to get avocado goo on their sleeves. Eventually I guided my 19 cooks to a high-five-inducing guacamole (with a side of chips).

First I told them the safe and polite way to handle their plastic knives (by the handle, always cutting away from your body, the other hand’s fingers curled under, etc.). Then we cut up tortillas to make chips. They are studying fractions, so there was a lot of debate. Some tables chose eighths for more chips, some went with sixths for bigger chips, and others chose straight strips for the sake of innovation. We tossed them in a bowl with oil and salt, layered them on sheet pans and popped them into the oven down the hall in the art room. Then we moved on to the main attraction.

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How to Make a Complete Kid-Friendly Meal on the Grill

by in Family, Recipes, June 17th, 2015

How to Make a Complete Kid-Friendly Meal on the GrillEating 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.

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Dining Out with Kids? Follow These 6 Tips So Others Don’t Dislike You

by in Family, Restaurants, June 9th, 2015

Dining Out with Kids? Follow These 6 Tips So Others Don't Dislike YouThree 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.

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One Recipe, Two Meals: Pasta with Butter and Peas for the Kids, and a Veggie-Packed Primavera for You

by in Family, Recipes, June 3rd, 2015

One Recipe, Two Meals: Pasta PrimaveraIf you’re not a fan of pasta, there may be something wrong with you. Just kidding. You’re still a good person.

But really, how could you not like pasta? You know, don’t even tell me if you don’t. I don’t think my heart could take it. I feel like we’re in a good place in our relationship, and I can’t rightly handle any deal breakers. I have to wash my hair today; that’s already too much for me.

Anyway, what we have here is a ridiiiiiculous pasta primavera, but super-stripped down on the front end for your babes. I included some peas in the kid-friendly recipe. Ya know, color! And health or whatever.

The mature version is loaded with veggies, a bit of dry white wine, a little bit and a lot of butter, tons of good Parmesan and a heavy hand of fresh herbs. You may cry. Just keeping adding cheese at the end and I’m sure you will.

As a matter of fact, I’m tearing up right now.

I may need a moment. Or more pasta?

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Cooking with Kids: Adventures in Strawberry Shortcake Making, Plus a Simple Recipe

by in Family, Recipes, June 2nd, 2015

Strawberry ShortcakeI like to cook with my 8-year-old. It’s way more fun than room cleaning and other required household activities. Recently, I decided to bring our pastime into her third-grade class and make strawberry shortcakes with them. I was nervous. I have stage fright. Also, though I have made this dish dozens of times, I have no prior experience doing it with the help of 19 small friends. (Hats off to all teachers in the land, by the way.)

I figured that strawberry shortcakes would be a good teaching dish; most kids like this springy dessert, making it does not require tons of technical skill, and the recipe has three parts to keep kids engaged. To make it easier, I chose the simplest cream biscuit recipe I knew, and measured out the ingredients ahead of time. (I sliced the berries too, because that’s time-consuming and a little boring.)

The primary reason to show kids how to make this is that someday our kids will be old enough to cook by themselves, and if they know how to make strawberry shortcakes, they might make some for us. Don’t I want that to happen? Yes, I do.

Here’s what you need to make strawberry shortcake with your own group of kids. Below, I am including a prep list, an equipment checklist and the recipe. Scale it up for every 12 kids you want to feed. It is possible, with some extra preparation, to sneak in other skills, like addition, multiplication, division and fractions, and how to read and follow instructions. Use the shopping list and class plan to help simplify the work. Use the checklist to pack and to plan, and the class itself will go pretty smoothly. As it turns out, this third-grade class was a friendly audience. They were curious and helpful, and loved eating their work.

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12 Summer Lunches for Kids That Take Advantage of Eating at Home

by in Family, Recipes, May 28th, 2015

PB & J WrapTired-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.

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Melissa’s Summer Dinner Formula, Plus 12 Fresh Recipes

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, May 9th, 2015

Melissa d'ArabianIn the winter months, I love nothing more than tucking into a warm meaty stew or sliding a butter knife through succulent tender braised roasts. I create my meals around the protein — sometimes relegating the sides to a secondary consideration, sticking to tried-and-true standbys most weeknights. If I am trying out a new flavor in the kitchen, it isn’t usually in the veggies.

I realize that as the weather warms up, there is a subtle shift to my cooking: I create my meals around the vegetables and keep the proteins uber-simple, usually just tossing them on the grill and then slicing to serve on a small platter, almost as a side to the veggie stars. The vegetables become my canvas for improvisation. Sometime around April or May, I start bulking up my veggie purchases, and I find myself browsing the local farmers market, or even just the supermarket produce aisle. Last week at dinner, my nephew Jack commented on the plethora of veggie dishes I served — I served three, but they were full recipes, not just the quick steamy work of a microwave. (I feel compelled to add that he even gave my sauteed cabbage a 55 on a scale of 1 to 10, which is something for cabbage and a 10-year-old.)

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