When it's time to gather around the dinner table the last thing any parent wants to hear are groans of dislike from their children. Since you can't feed your kids hamburgers and macaroni and cheese every day it's important to crate a list of 'go to' recipes the entire family can enjoy.
Katie Workman, author of 'The Mom 100 Cookbook' knows this all too well, she lives it every day as the mother of two boys.
Inside the cookbook you'll find no-fuss, recipes that can easily be altered to suit both your children's taste, and parents grown up palates. Workman divided the cookbook into 20 different dilemmas and created five solutions for each one leaving you with 100 solutions to the most common problems moms face.
Here are a few of her favorite recipes from The Mom 100 Cookbook:
Sauteed Corn, Spinach, Bacon, and Scallions
Serves 4 as a side dish
You'll want to try this in peak corn months, after you've had your fill of plain steamed ears of corn and are looking for a side dish with a little more something something.
It is a very flexible dish, so have fun with it after you get home from the farmers' market (see Where Do Groceries Come From? on page 271). The spinach wilts down, but makes the dish so pretty and adds a right hook of vitamins and iron. If you're in need of a vegetarian side, leave out the bacon.
In the winter months the recipe works perfectly well with frozen corn and is a cheery, if off-season, accompaniment for many main dishes. The seasonings are quite mild, so the dish will go with lots of different flavors and foods-anything from Soy-Ginger Flank Steak (page 120), chicken and shrimp Kebabs (page 237), pulled pork sandwiches (see page 213), Apple Glazed Pork Chops (page 134), Teriyaki Chicken and Beef Skewers (page 230), Ribs with a Rub (page 131), Flaky Fish with Balsamic Glaze (page 142), roast chicken (see page 98), to Asian Salmon (page 144), and beyond.
4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch strips (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from about 4 ears corn)
1⁄2 cup chopped red bell pepper (optional)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 scallions, both white and light green parts, sliced
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1. Cook the bacon, if using, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until browned,
4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the fat from the skillet.
2. Add the butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the corn and the red bell pepper and red pepper flakes, if using. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Crumble the bacon and add it along with the scallions and the spinach, 2 cups at a time. Stir until the spinach leaves have wilted and combined with the corn, about 1 minute.
What the Kids Can Do: Kids can cut the bacon or bell pepper with an age appropriate knife, and if they are old enough, with supervision they can stir together the mixture on the stove.
Cooking Tip: You can use orange or yellow bell pepper in place of the red. You can add sliced or diced zucchini or yellow squash; you can skip the spinach or only add it to some of the mixture; you can sauté some chopped carrot with the shallots. You can add halved cherry or grape tomatoes and slivered fresh basil or other herbs to all or part of the corn mixture at the end for an additional punch of color and flavor. You can do pretty much anything you like to keep changing up this vegetable medley.
Vegetarian Note: To make this corn dish vegetarian, skip the bacon.
Scrambled Eggs, Many Ways
Serves 2 to 4
Vegetarian, if you want them to be
Most kids like eggs, which is a big relief in the breakfast protein department.
If your kids do like scrambled eggs, you should also think of them as your ticket to introducing new flavors and ingredients.
Just like chicken, eggs are a great blank protein slate; guess it's not so surprising, since they're related.
This is a great opportunity to let your kids get creative, too, in terms of making up their own recipes.
Scrambled eggs are a quasi Fork in the Road dish since it's not much trouble to stir up a few little bowls of eggs with the ingredients of each person's choice.
There is that small matter of the first batch of eggs getting cool while the other batches cook, but you can either use two pans or not worry about it too much. If you already make perfectly fine scrambled eggs then skip along to the suggested add-ins. If you would like a refresher course on successful scrambling, read on.
6 large eggs
Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray (optional)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1. Crack the eggs into a medium-size bowl, season them with
salt and pepper, if using, to taste, and blend well with a fork or a whisk.
2. Spray a medium-size skillet with nonstick cooking spray, or use a nonstick pan if you have one. Melt the butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the eggs and let them cook until the bottom starts to set slightly, about 1 minute. Then, using a spatula or wooden spoon, keep scraping the bottom of the skillet, pausing for 20 seconds or so after every few pushes to let the eggs set again. Break apart any very large pieces and keep moving the eggs around so that the runny parts hit the skillet. Stop just as the eggs are done to your liking and scoop them onto plates. Season the eggs with more salt and pepper, if desired.
Charlie's Olive Percenter: As your kids hit upon their perfect scrambled egg add-ins, let them name their creations, perhaps after themselves. When Charlie was three years old he created what has been and forever will be known in our house as Charlie's Olive Percenter. It's scrambled eggs with sliced green pimiento-stuffed olives mixed in, and after they are cooked and put on the plate, the eggs are covered with thinly sliced cool fresh cucumbers. Don't knock it; the whole thing is a great medley of salty-refreshing, hot-cold, and we eat it all the time.
Charlie picked the name because he said it was "100 percent good." He earnestly dictated the recipe to me, then brought it to a neighborhood restaurant and asked the owner if he would offer them for breakfast. The owner promised that as soon as his restaurant (a fried seafood self-serve place) was open for breakfast, he would do just that.
So, now you have the basic recipe down. What can you add? Here are some ideas. The amounts are for six eggs, which usually feed two to four people. Because you're making scrambled eggs, and not an omelet, feel free to stir ingredients right into the beaten eggs before adding them to the pan.
Don't hesitate to mix and match the ingredients. The fun is in creating your own masterpiece, and your kids will soon be ordering up or cooking their very own "eggs of the house" with a side of pride of ownership. These suggestions and combos are just ideas to help you and your kids think about the possibilities.
Cheese scramble: Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of shredded or crumbled cheese, such as mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey Jack, goat cheese, feta, even American-just about all cheese works beautifully with eggs.
Fresh herb scramble: Stir in about 1 teaspoon of minced fresh herbs. This version is especially great if you grow herbs in your home or garden; let the kids pick a sprig of the one that smells the best, and show them how to pick off the tiny leaves. A little bit will add a lot of flavor.
Dried herb scramble: Mix in 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon of dried herbs, such as oregano, thyme, marjoram, and basil.
Meat scramble: Add 1⁄4 cup of crumbled cooked bacon or sausage (you may need to add less salt to the eggs if you use one of these salty meats).
Vegetable scramble: Mix in 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup chopped or shredded vegetables, such as chopped tomato, zucchini, summer squash, or shredded carrot. Vegetables like broccoli or asparagus should be lightly cooked first. A variety of veggies makes a colorful medley, and if you play with the name (Breakfast Garden or Confetti Eggs, for example), you may find that your kids are quite game to try some new vegetables.
Mexican scramble: Try a medley of cheeses, a pinch of chili powder, slivered scallions, maybe a couple of tablespoons of kidney or black beans, and a bit of cooked corn. Top the cooked eggs with a spoonful of salsa and sour cream. You might even wrap the whole thing up in a flour tortilla and create a breakfast burrito-kids love the idea of picking up scrambled eggs with their hands.
Italian scramble: Beat in a couple of slivered fresh basil leaves (or 1⁄4 teaspoon of dried basil), 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella and/or Parmesan cheese, and maybe a teaspoon or two of some chopped fresh or sun-dried tomatoes. You can serve a dollop of pasta sauce on the side if you like.
Indian scramble: A pinch of curry powder and cumin are very interesting in eggs. Serve the scrambled eggs with a spoonful of chutney and plain yogurt or sour cream (or stir some grated cucumber into the yogurt or sour cream).
All-American scramble: Add some slivered ham, some shredded cheddar, and for those who like their eggs old-school diner style, some ketchup on the side.
Green Eggs: If your kids are Dr. Seuss fans, they may be very open to the addition of some chopped cooked broccoli or spinach in their eggs, about 1⁄4 cup for every 3 eggs. If you want to get really silly, let the kids add a couple of drops of green food coloring to the eggs before you beat them. It won't affect the taste, and they really will be green eggs. You're on your own with the ham.
Taco night is a big deal in our house. Everyone in the family loves them, and there is something inherently
festive and fun about a hands-on, interactive meal. If you're looking for a dinner to counterbalance a cranky day, this is the one. I usually go with ground turkey or chicken, instead of beef. You choose, and if you choose beef, drain it well. And if you choose turkey, don't go for the extra lean, get the 93 percent lean/7 percent fat or the 85 percent lean/15 percent fat ratio-they're juicier.
I have certainly been known to reach for a package of store-bought taco seasoning at times, but with an extra few minutes you can make a homemade seasoning blend that tastes amazing, and the sodium level won't be through the roof. Then throw together a big salad, or some steamed broccoli or cauliflower, and you've got dinner.
For the taco filling
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray
2 pounds ground turkey or beef
Salsa or taco sauce
Shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican cheese blend
Low-fat or regular sour cream
About 12 taco shells
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place the chili powder, cumin, onion powder, salt, cornstarch, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne or red pepper flakes, if using, in a small bowl or plastic container. Blend well.
3. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place it over medium-high heat. Add the turkey or beef and cook, stirring and making sure to really break it up into small crumbles, until it is browned throughout, about 5 minutes. Drain
off any liquid. Add the spice mixture and cook stirring, until you can smell all of the spices, about 1 minute. Add
3⁄4 cup of water and stir until the water is mostly evaporated, the meat is evenly coated with the spices, and there is still a little bit of liquid in the pan, about 4 minutes.
4. To serve, place your choice of toppings in small individual bowls. Heat the taco shells on a baking sheet (or right on the oven rack, whichever you prefer) in the oven until warm and toasty, about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a serving bowl. Place the taco shells on a plate and cover them with a napkin or clean dish towel to keep them warm, setting them out with the bowls of toppings. Let everyone serve him or herself.
Cooking Tip: This makes enough taco seasoning for two pounds of meat, but because doubling or tripling the recipe takes no extra time, wouldn't you want to make a big batch and throw the extra in a small plastic container or zipper-top bag, and be happy with the knowledge that your next taco night is halfway complete? Or, if you have a smaller group, make the seasoning, put half in a container, and use just one pound of meat.
What the Kids Can Do: The kids can measure away, and this is a really good recipe to use as a teaching tool to discuss how many teaspoons go into a tablespoon (three, of course), and if you double or triple this recipe it's an awesome math moment in the kitchen. Kids can also put the different toppings in small bowls.
Recipes excerpted from The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket
Copyright 2012 by Katie Workman
Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. New York
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.