Tag: kids & family

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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7 Kid-Friendly Recipes to Serve on Cinco de Mayo

by in Family, Holidays, May 4th, 2015

Mexican LasagnaBefore 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.

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Tuna Salad 2 Ways: A Classic for the Kids and a Twist for You

by in Family, Recipes, April 30th, 2015

Tuna Salad Two Ways: One for You, and One for the KidsRemember tuna salad from when you were growing up? Or if you’re like me, remember tuna salad from lunch 20 minutes ago? I have to tell you: I still absolutely dig me a good tuna salad. The kind I’ve been making for sixish years now isn’t just your (yawn) boring ol’ canned tuna mixed with mustard and mayo. Oh, no, pigeons. This adult version’s rocking stilettos and a hot-pink wig!

Actually, that sounds awful.

But before we get to the adult version, I’ve also included a cool, classic variant for your kiddies. I kept the binder pretty neutral, but instead of mayo, I swirled in a bit of Greek yogurt to lighten it up a bit. They won’t know the difference. Tell them elves made it. It’s also loaded with a hint of mustard, and fresh celery and apple, which I feel like all kids like, right? Again, just tell them elves made it. And ignore how many commas were in that sentence.

Now for the deluxe version. Again boasting a touch of Greek yogurt, it’s also laced with fresh lemon juice and curry powder — what? I also threw in some chopped almonds, fresh parsley, a bunch of red grapes and minced celery to boost the antioxidants. But I took out the stilettos and hot-pink wig because that was weirding me out.

Enjoy!

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7 Kid-Tested Freezer Meals That’ll Change Your Life

by in Family, Recipes, April 27th, 2015

7 Kid-Tested Freezer Meals That'll Change Your LifeEvery 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.

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The Classic and the Kid-Friendly: 2 Approaches to the Strawberry-Rhubarb Combo

by in Family, Recipes, April 21st, 2015

The Classic and the Kid-Friendly: 2 Approaches to the Strawberry-Rhubarb ComboI can still taste the tang of fresh rhubarb as my mom picked long stalks of the stuff from our garden as a kid. (I also remember yelling to my friends who always seemed to be grabbing it for a snack, “No! That’s not celery!”) But what a transformation: How soft rhubarb became in the oven, set in a custard pie filling along with sweet strawberries. Strawberry-rhubarb is the killer combination of spring. So as those first stalks are spotted in markets everywhere, these recipes are on our radar:

The Classic Approach:

1. Rhubarb Custard Pie: This is it! This is exactly the sweet and creamy pie I remember, the one I’ll make for our kids this spring.

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How to Keep the Kids’ Snack Time from Ruining Your Life

by in Family, April 8th, 2015

How to Keep the Kids' Snack Time from Ruining Your LifeBreakfast, 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.

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Chocolate Eggs, Marshmallow Chicks and Jelly Beans, Oh My! 8 Ways to Use Leftover Easter Candy

by in Family, Holidays, April 3rd, 2015

Birds' NestsEaster mornings are usually a blur of chocolate around here, but after the kids have had their share of treats, there always seems to be extra candy (and whether certain moms have set some aside for themselves can be neither confirmed nor denied). Here are two ways to use four different Easter candies long after that bunny has put his feet up again for the year.

Mini chocolate eggs can be delicious in …

Brownies: Welcome spring with the simplest version of birds’ nests yet. Bake a pan of brownies and cut round circles before arranging mini chocolate eggs on top.

Cookies: Instead of chocolate chips, add mini eggs to your next batch of cookies or blondies. Cut them in half, or leave them whole for major impact.

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6 Essential Pantry Ingredients and 3 Surprising Ways to Use Them

by in Family, March 28th, 2015

6 Essential Pantry Ingredients and 3 Surprising Ways to Use ThemAs 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

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One Recipe, Two Meals: Pizza Rolls for the Kids and a Dressed-Up Pie for You

by in Family, Recipes, March 25th, 2015

Pizza Rolls for the Kids and a Dressed-Up Pie for YouPIZZA. It’s pretty much the one food that satisfies the entire world. Every single person on the planet. Every last human being, I tell you!

Don’t quote me on that.

What’s even better than an incredible pizza with gourmet toppings and loads of fresh cheese? Pizza ROLLS. Kind of like the ones you ate after school as a tot, but better! These are fluffier. These are cheesier. These have spinach in them so that you can say your kids ate a salad.

Oh, by the way, I’m Bev! I’m new. Does my hair look OK? I’m so, so excited to be here, starting a brand-new series on FN Dish! I’m going to be sharing two-part recipes with you, with the first part of each recipe being kid-friendly, and the second half being fit for grown-up faces. Strong enough for a man, but pH balanced for women.

Wait, that’s … hold on.

So my recipe today is obviously pizza. It starts off as homemade rolls for your littles, and then gets a little fancy face-lift for your adult mouth.

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Embrace the Freezer Aisle: 3 Frozen Foods to Always Have on Hand

by in Recipes, March 20th, 2015

Frozen FoodsIf you love home cooking but think you don’t have time for it on busy weeknights, guess again. The solution is simpler than you think: your supermarket’s frozen food aisle.

Veggies: Most vegetables are quickly blanched (plunged into boiling water, then immersed in cold water to stop the cooking process) before being frozen. The reason for this step is to stop the enzymes from breaking down, which results in loss of flavor, color and texture. So those bags of frozen veggies are comparable to their fresh counterparts, and in some cases, they’re a better choice if the vegetable you’re craving isn’t in season.

Pizza Dough: This is another staple in my house. You can stock up on your favorite brand from the supermarket, or make a few batches and store it in zip-top bags. All it needs is a little advance planning to thaw in the fridge overnight, and you’re ready for a quick weeknight meal. These doughnuts from Giada De Laurentiis, while not quite dinner, are on my to-make list too.

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