Now that school is back in session, we’re bringing back an old-school concept — the cookie jar — and giving it a fresh new look and taste. Have fun baking a few batches of homemade cookies over the weekend and store them in airtight containers or jars for the kids to select an after-school sweet. These bright, candy-adorned treats from Food Network chefs appeal to the child in us all. The kids won’t be the only ones trying to sneak them from the cookie jar (a high shelf helps!).
When whimsical dishes like these are on the menu, playing with your food is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. The fun factor will get even the pickiest eaters excited to make these recipes — and eat them! Fortunately for the rest of the family, these meals and snacks are also mighty tasty.
For thousands of us, fall is the real season of renewal, when back-to-school planning encompasses everything from freshly sharpened pencils to visions of easier, tastier — and saner — mealtimes. If those visions are starting to blur a couple of weeks into the new routine, take heart and meet Katie Workman. The mother of an 11- and a 14-year-old, she is the author of The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket.
The book’s frank and funny tone, elevated comfort food and down-to-earth suggestions for involving kids in the kitchen have endeared Workman to legions of fans (and helped spawn a sequel due out next summer). Last month, she stopped by Food Network Kitchen in New York’s Chelsea Market to make her Taco Night tacos and dish on late-night cooking, the one kitchen tool she can’t live without and annoying food habits all parents should avoid. Here are some questions and answers from our conversation, plus three family-friendly recipes worth incorporating into your repertoire right now. (For more on Katie’s visit, check out The One Recipe: Katie Workman’s Taco Night Tacos.)
Are your kids inspired by the tiny chefs on Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off and the impressive contenders from Chopped Teen Tournament? Then it’s time to let them get their hands dirty in the kitchen. Food Network Kitchen came up with these easy, satisfying and safe dishes to get them started. Everyone (including parents!) will enjoy eating the final products, like these fun Taco Cheeseburgers.
Little kids can help tear the cheese and measure the salsa, while big kids can help shape and season the beef patties and shred the lettuce. Everyone can assemble his or her own taco.
Summertime means grilling time. It also means you might find yourself with an excess of cooked burgers from hosting family and friends. Instead of tossing those leftovers, turn them into chili, tacos, sloppy joes, a 20-minute Bolognese sauce and even wontons. Before we get to the leftovers, though, do you ever wonder what goes into making the perfect burger?
For starters, fat matters if you want juicy burgers. Eighty-five percent is a good blend, and if you have a butcher who will do custom grinds, a mix of sirloin, short rib and brisket is worth the splurge. One last tip: Don’t fuss with your burgers when cooking them. Lay the patties on the grill, and turn them only once, after the underside is cooked. Resist the urge to press the patties flat on the grill. All you’ll do is squeeze the juices out of them.
Breakfast for dinner is a family favorite in my house, and I’m not just talking about plain ol’ scrambled eggs or pancakes. Leftover roasted vegetables are the secret to a fancy-looking, but very easy to make, frittata. Last night’s marinara sauce gets a makeover with red pepper flakes and a couple of strips of cooked bacon — put an egg on it, and you’ve got a riff on an Italian classic. When it comes to waffles, skip the fruit, and put a savory twist on them with cheese and leftover sauteed onions.
This time of year, parents are divided into two camps. School calendars vary, so while some are excited to finally get started with summer vacation, others are digging deep to get through the last days of the school year. Whether celebrating at the beach or shuffling kids off to school, moms and dads are still faced with the lunchtime conundrum. After all, there’s only so many PB&Js one can eat. Lunch is a great opportunity to put leftovers to good use, as you’ll see from the recipes below. To go along with them, here are 5 tips for packing a picnic, or the last few school lunches of the year.
Coming up with creative holiday gifts for kids can be a real challenge, but to my surprise, several kids I know have been asking their parents for cooking equipment this year. Why not? Half of the tools in my kitchen are better than toys in some respects. Just this morning my son turned my trussing string into rope for his crane to lift my favorite whisk.
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box idea that will keep kids excited about and engaged in cooking, here are a few things I’ll be giving this year:
- Even small kids deserve their own cutlery, especially when it’s made from a safe material like bamboo.
- Send your child into the new year with a super cool, BPA-free reusable lunchbox.
- Let your nut-free child walk around feelin’ cool with these kickin’ tattoos.
Since Derby Day traditionally happens in the beginning of May, I always associate it with the beginning of summer. Is it because the horse race is affectionately referred to as “the most exciting two minutes in sports?” No, it’s because I love so many of the traditions that come with it. I love that the winner is presented with a “blanket” of 554 roses. I love fiddling with a version of “burgoo,” a beef and pork stew traditionally served on this day. Burgoo is one of those recipes that can be left open to interpretation. It is traditionally made with whatever meats (beef or pork) and vegetables (lima beans, corn or okra) are available. My best results came from braising some cubed-up brisket and stirring in some corn, fava beans and peas to give it that touch of spring. With all this cooking, a cooling drink seems only fitting. The mint julep happens to be one of my favorites. It reminds me of a snow cone, the fruity, icy cone I used to get from ice cream trucks as a kid. This provides a fun drink for kids instead of a more traditional Shirley Temple.
I love the ritual behind a big meal, but some nights I want to make dinner fun and less structured. A well-balanced meal doesn’t always mean serving an entrée, vegetable and a side dish. On those nights when I want something in between yet filling, I go with small bites like tapas or crostini. It’s a great option for picky eaters, as you can make a few of everyone’s favorite. By making a variety, you can also get a good amount of protein, vegetables and even fruit into your kids’ diets, too.
Make it interactive and set the toppings out family-style: Serve them with a basket of toasted bread for a build-your-own crostini bar. Put a Mexican twist on the theme and create a taco bar spread, swapping in mini tortilla chips for the toasted bread. To make your own homemade tortilla chips, cut flour tortillas into triangles or use a cookie cutter to form them into fun shapes. Place the shapes onto an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until golden, 12 to 15 minutes, turning once halfway through.