Your favorite go-to recipe for kids
- chocchipcookie Sep 19, 2007 04:15 PM
Hello all! I have 2 kids ages 2 and 5. Tonight I am ashamed to say that we ate cereal and strawberries for dinner. ( At least we had fruit!) My husband works late 2 or 3 times a week so I don't bother with a big dinner because it usually goes to waste. I then resort to the usual chicken fingers (homemade) or mac n cheese. I am trying to get them to try new things and I hope it is not too late to change their picky paletes. So I am asking you all for your favorite dish or at least some remedies to feed the kids better. I love to cook but with kids, time is a factor. We do not have food allegies thankfully. Appreciate any advice. Randi
I've yet to encounter a child who didn't love teriyaki chicken drummettes. Also, zucchini cut into wedges, lightly breaded with seasoned flour or breadcrumbs, and sauteed. Family teriyaki recipe as follows:
Mix the following in a medium mixing bowl or large measuring cup:
½ C soy sauce (Kikkoman)
1/4 C water
1/4 cup mirin (sweet cooking rice wine - the alcohol cooks off) - or 1-2 T brown sugar
1"-2" grated or minced peeled fresh ginger
1-2 grated or minced garlic cloves
Trim excess fat from 2 lbs or so pack of chicken drummettes, or a whole chicken, or what ever parts you want, but they should be cut up into eating size.
Place the oven cooking rack 6"-8" from the broiler heating element. Turn on the broiler.
Lay the chicken out in a single layer in a baking dish - glass is best but it doesn’t really matter. Pour the sauce over all the chicken evenly, place the dish on the rack.
It needs to cook for about a half hour - after 15 minutes turn the chicken, and then in five minute intervals. You can baste it, but if you turn it as described you don’t really have to. It’s done when it’s looking mahogany brown and smells unbelievably good. I like it on the verge of burning, but that’s just me.
Rice on the side, with some of the sauce, is good, as are somen noodles (which cook up in boiling water in about two minutes flat).
Well, I had trouble finding Mirin. Went to several wine stores-I guess I'll try a chinese restaurant. But I did make them with the brown sugar and my daughter liked them! (husb too) My son is the ultra picky one. One week he'll eat pasta, the next he won't even touch it. I am getting so sick of trying 5,000 things to see what he is going to eat TODAY. He ate edame the first time but now he shuns them. Unfortunately, it is white pizza and chicken nuggets that are still the favorites. He is 2 so I guess this is normal eating behavior for a 2yo from what I have read. Still, soooo frustrating. My daughter is getting a little more adventurous. I have been doing the breakfast for dinner route because the one "meat" he'll eat is turkey sausage. But no eggs little bugger. Does anyone have a good potsticker recipe? I have had them but have never made them. I bought some from Sam's and they were tasteless. I wish we had a Whole Foods ot TJ's near but no go. I have tried a lot of these great ideas and have had mminimal success with the 2 yo but great success with 5 yo. He wull just have to grow out of this awful phase. So for now he survives on fruit, yogurt and raisin bread.
Thanks for the report, choc. Mirin is easiest to find in an Asian grocery store, but I don't know where you are. Sake plus brown sugar is a good substitute.
RE: your 2yo toughie - I understand this too shall pass. My mother tells me (currently a proud omnivore) that when I was 2 I only ate spaghetti and fig newtons for almost a year.
My son who used to a very picky eater (he's turning 4 soon) is now becoming more adventurous. He now LOVES lentil soup (homemade - but he's had canned and also loved it), roasted potatoes and roasted chicken (cut into bit sized pieces), scrambled eggs (yes, for supper, why not?), a white fish (I use tilapia because of the relatively bland taste) with rice (mixed, so that the fish isn't prominent), I make a lot of cream soups with roasted veg (squash is a favourite) and a beef or chicken stock - so it's pretty much a meal in a bowl with maybe some pieces of cheese on the side.
Hope that helps
I went thru that phase also. Very frustrating to cook a full meal and then have the kids just pick at it. I like finger foods. Carrots and cucumber, etc cut up with a selection of dips. Dips can be as simple as 2 different salad dressings- the super kid friendly Ranch and even a vinaigrette. Potstickers are a 10 minute ready meal. Asian markets have a vast array at good prices. Dipping sauce can be as simple as soy and a little jam to sweeten it for the kids. I also would pre-cook a batch of spoon friendly (or finger friendly) pasta like big elbow macaroni. If you leave a little of the rinse water and put it in a zip lock bag it can be used for several days. Toss it in broth for a quick soup (stir in a beaten egg for protein), sauce it with jarred marinara, toss it with butter and cheese for a pseudo mac n' cheese. All these take but minutes to prep. Dessert if you serve it, can be fruit and melted in the microwave baking chips (white choc, choc, butterscotch) That way if you didn't get veggies in them, you got fruit in. Oh- small hot dogs like smokey links or pre-cooks breakfast sausages wrapped in ready made roll dough. Small enough to be a few bites and can freeze the leftovers and re-heat in toaster oven for next time. Cook a pound of bacon and freeze it- peel off as many pieces as you need and nuke, along with some eggs and toast you have "breakfast for dinner". I could go on and on. The basic idea is quickness, variety and low-stress for mom. Using your valuable time to prep a complex meal and then have it not "appreciated" leads to an irritable mommy. Good luck!!!
My 4 year old loves spaghetti and meatballs. We make lots of small meatballs at once and put them in the freezer. Homemade are so much better than the bagged frozen ones.
My son also loves gyoza (Japanese dumplings). They're a little time-consuming but otherwise very easy to make and they also freeze well. I use beef instead of pork or shrimp for the filling, and mix in cabbage and green onions. That way they get veggies, and by the time the gyoza are cooked you can't even tell there are veggies in there!
My 2 year old used to love spaghetti and "meatbulbs" but now refuses them. I do have a bag of homemade meatballs in the freezer-but my husb and daughter will eat them. Strange, he would eat any meat I put in front of him and now in that last few months all he'll eat is bologna (I had to run the Oscar Meyer theme through my head to spell it):) I even gave him some Filet off the grill-not even a taste! AAAHHH! You did remind me of edame-he gobbled that up the last time we went for sushi. Thanks for your ideas!
I usually set my goal for the summer on making my kids try new foods. I really work on them during those couple of months. It's work, don't be fooled. :-) But yesterday I made a large pot of "homemade" chicken noodle soup. I bought a rotisserie cooked chicken at the grocery store and I add the usual things but I also add a half cup of apple cider. It gives it a very mild sweetness and depth that they just love. FYI, I also use whole wheat egg noodles and I cook them in a separate pot so they don't absorb all the chicken stock/broth and dehydrate the soup. My kids love this meal which I serve with fresh baked bread. Good luck! Just say no the typical kid fare (except for a treat now and then)!
Oh it was hard tonight. I always get the request for Tyson chicken nuggets from my daughter. I have refused that for sometime and I almost gave in at the grocery store. Luckily they lost their balloon and attentions were drawn elsewhere. I would rather have them eat Rice Krispies than that!
My son loves bean burritos. We make "refried" beans by sauteing carrots, onions, green or red peppers and adding mashed black or kidney beans plus spices, then roll it up in a tortilla. This week I've added leftover cooked rice and quinoa to the beans. We leave them chuunky but I also had a friend make a bean filling by blending together a can of beans, a zucchini and salsa.
There's always cheese quesadillas..basically anything in a tortilla.
My son also really likes chickpeas, there are lots of quick chickpea curry or moroccan chickpea stew recipes.
I will try it and see how it goes-seems easy and good. I just read the entire thread of Strange foods only your family eats.....2 hours later I did get some wacky ideas but they mostly involve frying anything and everything, spam and omelets/eggs topped with jelly-yuck! But hey, I may try it with my son. Can't hurt.
My twins are almost 5 and my baby is 18 months. One of my twins is very picky, the other loves variety. My husband works often works late too. I finally resorted to making a menu for the month and trying to stick to it.
for this week:
Mon: Lamb Chops, peas, sliced peaches
Tue: Hamburgers, corn on the cob, watermelon
Weds: quesadillas, cauliflower, strawberries
Thurs: Kabobs (I used filet b/c it is soft for the baby), broccoli, pineapple
Fri: chicken fingers, sweet potato "fries", oranges
I also do fish "fingers" with petrale sole or whitefish,
falafel, tacos, different soups (minestrone, cauliflower and chicken lately), ravioli, grilled cheese, chicken drumettes, steak, meatballs, omelettes, salami and eggs, taquitos (with the chicken from the soup). My big kids love to cook with me but sometimes, just watching me cook is enough for them.
Yeah, I think you just have to keep trying different things and bringing back the same things every so often too. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. 3 year daughter old eats EVERYTHING. 1 year old son eats a fair amount, but not everything. But sometimes I just feed him the things he didn't eat a few days ago, and then he likes them.
Another suggestion is to make a batch of meat sauce (or bolognese). I keep it in the freezer and pull it out when I don't have anything else prepared. Mix it with whole wheat pasta and they love it.
They also both really like veggie burgers (I prefer Gardenburger Original flavor). I put some cherry tomatoes with it for my daughter and some cheese (mini Bonbel) and it makes a good meal. My son is not so great with the tomatoes, though.
Oh, and I always keep a big vat of roasted vegetables in the refrigerator -- baby carrots, cauliflower, brussels sprouts (mostly for me!). My kids really love them and it always makes a good side dish.
I know every kid is different, but I've been able to feed my 2 year old son on this stuff and he's usually pretty happy with it...he has some things that he's picky about, for example, he won't touch tomato sauce with a 10 foot pole...
I make my son pork potstickers about once a week, though instead of pan fried, for some reason he likes them boiled, which is a lot easier to cook. If they've never had potstickers before, you may want to try boiled, it's kind of like a meat filled tortellini with no cheese. once kids have a taste of the pan fried versions, they typically won't eat the boiled version. in the interest of time, you definitely want to buy them frozen & ready to cook. Making them by hand takes a while. BTW, if you make them yourself, freeze them after you assemble them, not after you cook them.
I'm also a big fan of anything that can be broiled in the oven (as opposed to using my barbecue outside); both carne asada or korean bulgogi uses skirt steak & takes just under 10 minutes to cook. I normally broil them in a 13x9 pan for 4-5 minutes on one side, flip it over & broil for another 3-4 minutes on the other. Korean bulgogi is a little sweet, so I think kids tend to like that more. I usually buy them pre-marinated from the store.
When I really don't have any time, the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store seems to do pretty well in a pinch.
I'm also finding my crock pot to be pretty handy because I can get it done in the morning, and just have to serve it at dinner time with little to no prep. Pot Roast - 3-4 lb roast, a couple of potatoes, 4 carrots, a few celery stalks, a quartered onion, can of beef stock, salt & pepper. I can also do a chicken noodle soup in the crock pot as well as a 4-ingredient shredded chili verde pork (pork shoulder or butt, can of salsa verde, can of chicken stock, quartered onion). I've been able to freeze some of the leftovers of the chicken noodle soup & chili verde, and serve it a few weeks later so it doesn't seem like we're eating it every day. The pot roast did not freeze well at all.
Sweet potato fries are really easy, especially if you can find them already pre-cut for you. Olive oil, a little salt and pepper & bake in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once.
I do sort of a chinese veggie stir-fry using the bagged pre-cut broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix. I start out with a little heated olive oil and about 1/4 onion, coarsely chopped, saute until softened, add the veggies with a little salt, add about 3/4 cup of water and cover, then cook on medium until the veggies are tender, but try to keep the broccoli still a bright green color. I think this takes about 15 minutes total. My husband and sister-in-law, who HATE vegetables, tell me they find this surprisingly good.
As an alternative to rice, I make whole wheat couscous in the microwave with water, butter & salt. Brown basmati rice smells like popcorn when it's cooked, which my kid seems to like a lot, and it's a whole grain. Both of these reheat fairly well if you have leftovers.
Mild italian sausage was a big hit as well.
We do need to eat more veggies so I'll try the veggie stir fry. And my daughter might even try the rice! One thing I have learned from a friend is to buy the mini Hawaiian buns in the orange pkg and make mini burgers on them for the kids. My grocery list is getting long.....I am excited to try these new ideas!
One suggestion (what roxhills brought up at the end of his/her post)- if the kids aren't already helping you with cooking, that's something that might make them more tuned in to what they're eating and less likely to push it around their plates. Two is pretty young, but I bet your 5 year old can do a lot if he/she isn't already (and isn't scared of the kitchen. :) It's an individual thing, but may be something worth a shot. If they are already helping, I'd love to hear some ideas!
For example, take spaghetti with tomato sauce. If jarred sauce doesn't go over well (that was a shock when I saw a kid turn up her nose at something so rejection-proof!), kids may like a version where the got to squash up whole canned tomatoes themselves, tear basil, sprinkle in spices, etc.
Of course, this could make for longer meal prep (and you said time is a factor). But it sometimes seem if the kids have invested something into the meal, they may be less picky about eating it.
Eggs - quick, easy, and you can do five million things with them. Plus it's easy to hide veggies in an omelet or frittata.
Otherwise, I recommend anything you can eat with your hands - tacos, burritos, lettuce wraps, flatbread and hummus, fruit and cheese skewers, pita sandwiches, etc.
Hi... one thing we've just started making for my twin 2 1/2 boys that has gone over amazingly is sauted tofu. I take a package fo the extra firm, cut into three horizontal pieces and then take small cookie cutters and cut the pieces into shapes (we use a train, a butterfly, a star and a cat). Put a little butter, olive oil, and maple syrup in a saute pan. When warm, add tofu and saute until browned on each side. My guys will eat these just like that. Add a package of premade edamame (they love these, especially if we let them get the peas out of the pods themselves) and some other veggie (yam fries as mentioned above go overe great).
Another recipe (more of a side, goes great with chicken or fish) is a grilled corn salad. Grill the corn (you can do this a day ahead of time), cut off cobb (keep in good sized chunks), add quartered cherry tomatoes, some chopped cilantro, and some chopped avocado. Mix together in a separate bowl some lime juice, lime zest, and olive oil (and a little salt). Add to corn/tomato/avocado mixture. If your kids like things a little spicier, you can also add some chopped up shallots or red onion for extra flavor.
I have never had Tofu-grew up on meat and potatoes. But I am willing to try it. It is on the list. The maple syrup may be the trick! I am going to try that corn salad too! We love it on the grill-with olive oil and salt & pepper then wrapped in foil and grilled for about 15-20 min-even the kids eat it.
My 3yo can't get enough quiche. Now that the weather is more oven-friendly, I'll make one once a week and she just gobbles it up. It's the easiest way for me to get her to eat the more questionable veggies.
My old standby on those night where I'm just too tired and she's just too fussy are rollups. I always keep some good deli ham/turkey, havarti, and tortillas on hand.
My 7 year-old daughter has always been a big fan of hoisin sauce, which makes a wonderful marinade/glaze for grilled chicken.
Other major hits for her are my zatar-rubbed roasted chicken, grilled lamb chops, oven-roasted potatoes, broccoli, spinach, edamame, sweet baby green peas, corn on or off the cob, pretty much all fruits, cherry tomatoes, yams, and artichokes. This time of year, we have to fight to stop her from eating all the cherry tomatoes from our garden.
We do *not* put any sauces on the broccoli or spinach. She loves steak-house style spinach, but we don't make it at home. Get whole edamame so your kids can pop the soybeans out for themselves. That makes it more fun.
We have a rule that everyone gets to pick one thing they never have to try (my daughter chose broccoli); everything else they have to try every time. She's ten now, but we've been doing this for three and four years, based on the theory that it takes a lot of times trying new things before you develop a taste for him. She's had that work some times-all the sudden realize she likes something.
I always keep some of Trader Joe's gnocchi gorgonzola in the freezer. They are really yummy for all of us, including our toddler, and have no blue cheese taste.
Older daughter's two favorites:
Beans and noodles: sauteed onion till caramelized. add garlic. Add frozen shelled edamame beans (I keep the ones in shells in the freezer for a good high protein snack, daughters love 'em). Add white wine and cover for five minutes to steam. Remove lid and add some cream, and a little dijon mustard. Cook for a few minutes to reduce. Great with added chopped ham or bacon. Serve over elbow noodles.
Buttery noodles: She'll make these pretty much by herself. Cook elbow noodles. Drain. Add a chunk of butter, chunk of cream cheese (chive is nice), stir over still warm burner til they are melted. Add a dash of milk and a bunch of grated parmesan (my daughter likes to grate it w/our microplane). Salt and pepper. Nice bland creamy comfort food.
I think quesadillas are a great idea that we use a lot. Just throw whatever leftovers between two flour tortillas. I never fry them in oil, just in a dry nonstick pan.
Stir fried broccoli
Ravioli (with or without tomato sauce. She wiil eat with a lil butter, salt & pepper)
Plain cherry tomatoes (can serve with a dip or dressing, but mine will eat plain)
Hot dogs and beans (I try to get a 'healthier' dog-turkey or chicken.)
Ham and cheese roll-ups
Make your own pizza. Get the crust at the market and have your kids make it with you.
Any homemade soup in which I cut up the veggies and she puts them in the pot
Well here are a couple more. Home-made pizza. If you want to make it really quick, you can use English muffins, pasta sauce, and grated cheese. Add black olives and make a face. Tacos are also a big hit. I use ground turkey. The kids don't use the lettuce, tomotoes, or onions but I do.
One easy family fave for us is a mild black bean and corn veggie chili:
1lb Yves Veggie Ground Round (substitute ground beef if you'd prefer)
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cans Black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar of your fave tomato sauce
1 (14oz) can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 and 1/2 cups frozen corn
1. In a large pot saute onion and add ground round. Veggie ground round only needs to be heated, ground beef will require a few extra minutes prep time. If using ground beef, drain off excess cooking liquid/fat before going to step two.
2. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans and heat to a boil, lower heat and simmer 25 minutes.
3. Add corn (use more or less depending on your taste) and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
Serve topped with: cheddar or mozzarella cheese, sour cream. Serve with tortilla chips, or garlic cheese bread. My 18 mo. old also likes his mixed with leftover mac n cheese :-)
My daughter is 9 and very picky. I'm never sure what she'll eat. Her favorite dish that I make is a Jamie Oliver baked pasta recipe. I believe it's in "Jamie's Italy." It has pasta, a simple tomato sauce and lots of mozzarella. Quesadillas are also popular. My daughter also loves baby back ribs but those take a long time so it's not a weeekday option. The other day I invited a friend with three kids over for brunch. I got turkey sausage at the farmer's market and all four kids loved it! They gobbled it up faster than I could cook it. I'll get that again, since it's pretty healthy.
I have posted, and probably you can search for, my mom's recipes for Cheese-Baked Chicken Breasts (coated with cheez-it crackers) and Lasagna Casserole. The first of these was one of the few things my sister really, really liked back when she was an extremely picky child. The second is a hit with my four-year-old nephew, who evidently loves anything involving noodles and tomatoes together.
A funny story about Cameron's tastes: when I was down there in September I knew we were going out for Mexican food one night. That afternoon I was watching him and his little brother, and we were talking about what we would eat. I told him he just had to try some guacamole. Taught him how to pronounce it. Then he was trying to tell his dad about it when he got home, but couldn't remember how to say it, so Jeff was trying to guess. He said something about it being some kind of candy, and so Cam was convinced that guacamole was green candy.
When the meal came I had ordered guacamole, and I wanted to give him some, but he was wary. So Jeff took a little bit and ate it and made all the appropriate "yummy" sounds, whereupon Cameron decided that yes, he would try it. So he did. He didn't like it. But I was satisfied that he had just tried.
Hi! I managed to successfully raise two kids - now 18 and 20 - to enjoy a wide range of tastes. My technique was pretty simple. I cooked fresh foods for dinner most nights and there were 2 rules: You Must try one bite of everything on your plate...and you may NOT say Yuck.
The key is that it takes 10 to 15 tries of something to acquire a taste for it. I positioned the "yuck thing" as being impolite and hurting the cook's feelings (ie my feelings). I also explained that different people have different likes and dislikes, and by trying everything you will develop more likes. Never, ever make them "clean their plate." I also usually slipped something into most meals that I knew they would like to fill them up, such as pasta, rice or a favorite veggie.
They both liked to help with dinner and from an early age I had both children sitting on the counter with me when I was preparing meals or later standing on small stools. Another trick is have them sitting on the floor with a small cutting board and a butter knife (or a plastic knife) chopping up some previously blanched carrot sticks or green beans, or a raw softer veggie such as summer squash or simply some cheese. (Anything that was safe for them to chop and they could nibble on as they "worked", even if that ingredient wasn't necessarily going into what I was cooking, they liked to "help.")
Both of my "babies" are now in college in Boston and they are able to enjoy all the ethnic foods that are available in the area. They also both know how to cook a few basic things from recipes that they created themselves.
It takes a person (child) 10 times of trying a new food for them to develop a taste for that food. I know it is easier said than done but if you keep giving your kids veggies- broccoli, cauliflower, carrots etc... and make them eat 1 each time you serve them within less than 2 weeks you will have a child eating veggies everyday! Worked for my kids. It got to the point that they ONLY wanted veggies and no meats!
I agree MeffaBabe, but it also works on a larger scale over a longer time period, it does not have to be the same food in a two week period, but the introduction of a wider variety with exposure to each item/flavor more times over a longer time period. My kids were enjoying Thai, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Maroccan/African German, Hungarian, Mexican/Latin American flavors, in addition to the American standards and others by the time they were 5. They also loved their veggies and both claimed to be vegetarians for a while during their teens.
Well, one of my kids is on a "plain" kick. So I will give him, for example, raw tomatoes in one pile, plain boiled beans in another pile, pasta in a pile, apple sauce in a pile, and cheese in a pile. (Yawn.) This way I can separate out ingredients before I combine them into a regular cooked dish, so he's eating a deconstructed version of what I'm eating.
Melted cheese sandwiches or quesadillas with fruit and or veges on the side are good standbys. Reheated frozen pierogis were popular for a while.
I've also observed that some things are preferred hot or cold, by different kids. One is much more interested in fish when it's cold than when it's hot, for example, while another dislikes cold food intensely. Sometimes you can highlight a particular flavor -- my kids like lemony food, for example.
I've also stopped worrying about which starch my kids eat. If I'm eating rice but they would rather have bread, big deal. Even when the meal makes no sense to me. I tend to cook up noodles (rather than spaghetti, something easy to eat like penne or macaroni or bowties or whatever) and keep them around. Some kids are crazy for couscous. Then you can kind of mix and match.
It depends what you eat, though. A lot of people seem to be into casseroles, but I'm not, so mixing and matching works easier for me than it would for one-dish meals.
But my number one suggestion is that if your kid likes something, KEEP SERVING IT, or they will forget they like it and you have to reintroduce it all over again.
re: brittle peanut
Hi brittle peanut, Too funny the way you describe you son being on a plain kick, reminds me of the time my son was on a "green" kick. He would only wear clothes that had green on them in some way and preferred foods that were green in color. Of course that meant he ate lots of veggies, (which was good) but I also got him to drink milk and eat other things by adding spinach/zuccini juice that I made in a juicer. Or adding homemade pesto to pasta, rice or chicken. Happily the "green" phase only lasted a few months, but it was a learning experience in being inventive in my cooking.
the ever popular "pasta with brocolli" works best round here. orechietta (if possible, the ears) with sauteed brocolli. works fine with any pasta. cook pasta to al dente. briefly steam the brocolli. cut up a few cloves of garlic and sautee in EVOO. sautee partially cooked brocolli cut into small bite size trees with garlic. add drained pasta to garlic brocolli oil mix, stir, add good parmesan (reggiano or the less expensive gran pidana, which my daughter actually seems to like more, less snarky). also feel free to add little boconcini mozzarella balls at the end too or little pieces of fresh mozz. my daughter eats tons of brocolli this way! and friends kids like it too, and so do parents! simplicity...
The baked cheddar olives would be fun to make with kids. The recipe is in this thread.
The dough is sort of like playdoh, which you form around olives, then bake. This recipe says, "stir first three ingredients" but kids could mash this up with clean hands! That's what I do.
Another idea would be to buy wonton skins and have kids fill them with fun stuff, then boil, bake or fry 'em, after sealing the moistened edges.