I wish I could say that the inspiration for this meal came from a stroll through my farmer’s market — from those gorgeous bunches of lacinato kale and bushels of Romano beans; from the juicy blackberries and rosy, plump apricots and white nectarines; from the summer spinach that seems to coo: Come hither! Slather me in olive oil and toss me around a little! (more…)
Entries Tagged as 'Picky Eating'
July 21st, 2011 · 9 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Organizing, Strategizing, Planning, Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup
July 19th, 2011 · 20 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick, Seafood
This is a cheap shot kind of story but I’m going to tell it anyway.
Last summer I was having dinner at a friend’s house. She is about ten years ahead of me in the parenting game and I’ve always looked to her for advice on everything from day camps to birthday cake bakeries to how best survive third grade clique drama without ending up in the headlines. She has three daughters, each one more accomplished than the next. At the time of this dinner, the oldest was about to start her junior year in college, the middle one, a homebody, was getting ready to leave for her freshman year at a big school in the Midwest, and the youngest, a high school sophomore, had just returned from doing volunteer work in South America. None of them were at the dinner table with us. In fact, none of them were in the house — until about half way through our delicious grilled salmon, at which point the middle daughter wandered into the kitchen and opened the fridge. (more…)
June 30th, 2011 · 33 Comments · Dinner, Grilling, Picky Eating, Vegetarian
When it comes to summer cooking, we have a pretty strict family policy: Do everything you can to avoid turning on an oven. Which is all well and good except that it clashes with our other family policy: Eat pizza once a week. By pizza, we don’t mean the takeout pie from Tony’s on Main Street or the personal pans the kids get on Fridays at the school cafeteria. We’re talking pizza – made, when possible, with a homemade crust — that may or may not include cheese, is topped with fresh ingredients (potatoes and bacon, arugula and ricotta), and can bring even the most reluctant eater (e.g., Abby) to her little knees with gratitude. In our minds, pizza is the ultimate family dinner – you can have three entirely separate meals on one crust and still, if you close your eyes, pretend that you’re all eating the same thing. But to keep our strict family pizza policy intact this summer, we had to learn how to do it without turning on the oven. We had to learn to cook it outside. This took some doing. We burned a lot of crusts, and yet, we fought on, grilling pizza after pizza after pizza until we got it right. Here is what we learned.
HOW TO GRILL PIZZA: SIX VERY IMPORTANT RULES
1. Oil Everything. If the crust sticks to the grate, you’re done. Avoid this by brushing the grate and both sides of the crust with olive oil. (more…)
June 22nd, 2011 · 26 Comments · Picky Eating, Posts by Andy, Rituals, Uncategorized
Here’s a question: how do you get your kids to try something new? We’ve deployed various methods over the years, including but not limited to: bribery (eat this, get that), blackmail (you don’t eat this, you don’t get that), begging (dear god, I am begging you, just one bite), guilt (but poor mommy spent twenty minutes making these fava beans for you!), rebranding (well, yes, if you want to get all technical about it: white broccoli is cauliflower, happy now?), and camouflaging (what? the pancakes taste weird today? Hmmm. I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the flax seed we put in the batter). Each of these techniques has its place, depending on your level of existential dread and desperation, but each always tends to leave us feeling a little cheap or duplicitious (but only for a second). Which is why, these days, we’ve been so into the idea of getting the kids to invest in their own food, and their own choices: if you involve them in what they eat from the beginning, they’re a lot more willing — excited, even – to give it a shot. I think there’s a basic management principle in here somewhere, which I could articulate if I knew anything about basic management. My best attempt: if you give your li’l employees a seat at the table, they’re a lot more likely to care. (more…)
May 27th, 2011 · 14 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick, Seafood
Fried Shrimp Rolls
Add vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. In a bowl mix together 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup club soda or seltzer, salt, and pepper. On a plate, mix about 1 cup bread crumbs or panko with a few tablespoons of fresh oregano. Dredge 1 pound shrimp in the flour mixture, then the bread crumbs. Fry them in a pan until cooked through, about 2 minutes a side. Drain on paper towels and stuff into split hot dog buns with tartar sauce. (Sometimes I hollow out the buns a bit with my fingers so they’re not too bready.)
May 16th, 2011 · 45 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick
I’m guessing most of you out there don’t regularly get emails from friends with the subject line: “Pretzel Chicken.” And I’m also guessing that if you did, your heart wouldn’t jump when it showed up in your inbox. But that was the somewhat sad state of affairs last week when my friend Jodi sent me the email, saying she was going to debut the dish for Shabbat dinner, a ritual with her husband and six-year-old daughter that she is trying to make more regular. The launch of the ritual, of course, warmed my heart, but what really grabbed me was the recipe. It was the famous City Bakery pretzel chicken that I have been lunching on for the past five years. It’s all mustardy and zesty and dredged in crushed sourdough pretzels — I don’t think I’ve ever taken a bite of it without announcing to whatever poor soul is sitting across from me I must replicate this at home. The kids will freak! (more…)
April 25th, 2011 · 10 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Picky Eating, Quick, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian
I often look at my daughters and ask myself “Whose children are these? How did they get here?” Sometimes this happens when I’m overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of parenting and the fact that I’ve brought two actual live human beings into this world. But most of the time it happens when I show up at the kitchen table with an egg and they recoil in disgust, as though I’ve just served up the family pet. Who are these children? How can they be mine and not like eggs? (Occasionally they will contest this fact and say they like eggs as long as they are baked in to a cake.) I think I could eat an egg every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of them. The day I first tried an organic one – a real, golden-yolked, eggy tasting egg – would be on the timeline of my life along with the day I got into college, the day I got married, and the day I became a mother.
The kids’ whole Heisman routine gets particularly annoying around this time of year when we have a dozen or so pastel-dyed hard-boiled Easter eggs lying around begging to be repurposed for dinner. But it doesn’t stop me. Last year I introduced you to our post-Easter cobb salad. This year, it’s a killer side — chilled asparagus salad with chopped up eggs and drizzled with mustardy vinaigrette. It’s the kind of side dish that elevates any old boring chicken dish. Remember the Gap Clothes, Prada Accessories Theory? Add this one to the list.
Asparagus with Chopped Egg and Onion
Add 1 bunch asparagus (trimmed) to boiling water and cook three minutes. Drain and immediately plunge spears in ice water to stop cooking and preserve their bright green color. Meanwhile, chop 2 hard-boiled eggs into small pieces as shown and sprinkle over chilled asparagus (or over half the asparagus if you have egg haters in the house) along with 1 tablespoon finely minced red onion (I used scallions in the photo above) and drizzle with a mustardy vinaigrette. Serve with creamy baked chicken or buttermilk oven-fried chicken.
I’m taking my spring break a little late this year, so see you guys in about a week!
April 1st, 2011 · 28 Comments · Dinner, Organizing, Strategizing, Planning, Pasta, Picky Eating, Quick, Vegetarian
I think the surest way to ring the death knell on family dinner is to cook something different for every party present. It’s hard enough to get one dinner on the table let alone four, each of which may be greeted with groans or, worse, no comment at all. But considering that children (green-fearing, sauce-o-phobic, generally annoying children) are often the defining variable in the term “family dinner,” this can be a hard thing to get around. Luckily you are here, in the care of a family dinner expert, the author of not one, but (almost) two family dinner cookbooks, so pay careful attention to the hard-won, time-honored advice you are about to receive. The trick, I’ve decided, is to lock yourself into a state of extreme denial and then psyche yourself out with careful inner rationalizing every step of the cooking process in order to convince yourself that you are making one thing when in fact you are doing nothing of the sort. Behold last night’s dinner. I wanted — no, needed — my favorite ace-in-the-hole pasta: Whole wheat spaghetti with caramelized onions, spinach, and Parmesan. Even though Phoebe won’t touch pasta. Even though Abby loves pasta, but generally won’t eat this pasta unless it has a hint of sauce on it. (“Pink!” she commands.) But I plowed ahead anyway. Let me show you how it’s done.
Psyche-out Moment 1: I set four identical plates in a grid. This immediately creates the promise (illusion?) of uniformity and order.
Psyche-out Moment 2: I earmark the lower right bowl as Abby’s and spoon in just the right amount of spaghetti sauce — and a couple hunks of butter. This can barely be called “customizing” since it takes under 10 seconds.
Psyche-out Moment 3: I earmark the lower left bowl as Phoebe’s. And while, yes, the baked potato is not exactly the same thing as whole wheat spaghetti, it’s not like it took sooo much extra effort for me to chuck the thing in the oven at 400°F as soon as I walked in the door from work at 6:00. If I was editing this recipe for a magazine, I told myself rather convincingly, I would’ve just have to replace one word: “Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Spinach, and Parmesan” would be “Potatoes with Caramelized Onions, Spinach, and Parmesan.” And Sour Cream.
Psyche-out Moment 4: Pasta is done and plated in three out of four bowls. Onions and spinach are done and plated in three out of four bowls. Three out of four! Even though the two kids’ bowls are barely related to each other, each can lay claim to having one major component in common with the grown-up version. Right? Right? Right? Who’s the April Fool? Not me! (more…)
March 11th, 2011 · 25 Comments · Picky Eating, Pork and Beef, Posts by Andy, Quick
There’s a formula we deploy, in our heads at least, whenever we feed our kids something that isn’t exactly homemade, DALS-approved, crafted by the kindly elves who affix those green-and-white organic labels to everything — or, more to the point, good for them. Think of it as the The Tranformative (and Self-Justifying) Law of Retroactive Nutritiousness.
____________ + Side of Broccoli = Healthy Enough.
Convenient, right? Go ahead, and fill in that blank. Mac and cheese. Panko-encased shrimp tempura from T Joe’s. Grilled (yellow American) cheese and bacon. Strawberry jam sandwich on soft white bread. See how good that feels? How strangely virtuous? Do you see how the broccoli, by some metaphysical trick, just erases guilt? As Abby would say, it’s very magic! I often hear laws of science described by smart people as “immutable” and I’m never sure what that means, exactly, but I’m pretty sure this broccoli law is immutable, too. There’s danger in it, of course, and it should be applied with moderation, but it does make us feel a little better — or maybe a little less guilty — about ourselves when we, say, fry up an entire package of hot dogs in butter and serve them on toast with ketchup.
January 27th, 2011 · 5 Comments · Deconstructing Dinner, Dinner, Picky Eating, Pork and Beef
From the Mail Bag! Reader Robin writes:
I don’t know if you get tired of people telling you stories about your site, but I had to share this one with you:
I made the Belgian Beef Stew tonight. As I was finishing it up the girls came in to the kitchen and were grumbling things like, “GROSS…I AM NOT GOING TO EAT THAT! That looks disgusting! Why didn’t you ask me what I wanted for dinner?” etc, etc.
So I said, “I actually made this dinner because the woman that wrote the recipe made it for her 7 & 8 year old daughters. And they loved it. There is a grown-up version and a kid’s version. I showed them the picture of the two plates from your post.
It worked like a charm. We happily all ate dinner without one complaint!
Couple things about this one. For starters, I never ever ever ever get tired of people telling me stories like this! Ever! So please send yours. Next, it reminded me of my friend Sue telling me a while back how much comfort she got from seeing our dinner plates laid out split-screen style, which is to say, laid out truthfully. Lastly, it reminded the old point-and-cook strategy — showing kids what a new meal is going to look like before springing it on them — and how most of the time it really works. So follow Robin’s lead and show them the beef stew — or this one, a super simple pot roasty number that is just right for a winter weekend. (more…)
January 25th, 2011 · 16 Comments · Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian
One of my biggest pet peeves about a lot of recipes and cookbooks supposedly geared towards families, is the multiple appearances by this sentence: “And your kids will love it, too!” It is usually tacked on to the end of a recipe intro as though the phrase alone will make the scrumptious looking Crab and Kale Cakes (with Rouille!) magically appealing to your children. I always want to ask, How do you know this exactly?? Have you ever met my kid? Have you ever met my neighbor’s son who subsisted solely on oil-cured black-olives for the entire third year of his life? When I started Dinner: A Love Story, I made a vow to myself — having, of course, written this same sentence several times before in my various magazine jobs: I would never presume any other kid likes something that my kid likes or pretend to understand the way kids palates are programmed. I would merely write about the foods that my kids eat and hope that this would inspire parents to experiment at their own dinner tables. I would never ever write “And your kids will love it, too!” I promise!
But now, I’m afraid, I’m going to have to break this promise. Because, really, I have yet to meet a kid that doesn’t at least tolerate these French fries, or as they’re known in our house, these “Mega Fries.” I realize this is not such a giant risk to take — even if they are a somewhat healthy version of French fries, they are, after all, still French fries. But then again, my daughter does not like pasta, which is every bit as universally loved as a fry. And my nephew doesn’t like pizza. And last weekend, Phoebe’s friend, who won’t drink a glass of orange juice, took a big spoonful of fermented beans at the Korean restaurant — I think that’s what they were — even though she didn’t have any idea what they were.
Ok, forget it. I give up. I have no idea if your kid will love these. But it’s certainly worth a shot. (more…)
January 19th, 2011 · 26 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Picky Eating
A few months ago, I got this email from reader Rebecca:
“I have no idea what to give to new parents or the bereaved–you know, those occasions in life when a casserole is all but mandatory. I want so badly to show that I care by offering simple nourishment, and all I have in my repertoire are a tired lasagna or straight-out-of-the-1950′s tuna-noodle casserole, which I’m almost embarrassed to offer to friends with even a moderately discriminating palate. Do you have any recipes that can be thrown in the oven for an easy dinner during life’s transitions, but are fresh, modern and tasty enough that I can feel proud to offer them to friends?”
I get this question all the time, and it’s taken me this long to respond because I have been stuck in the lasagna rut, too. Until the other night, when I was flipping through my second favorite quick meal cookbook*, Great Food Fast. I was looking for something to bring over to my friend and mother-of-three Teresa, who is recovering from back surgery, and came upon a recipe for Tortilla Pie. By merely plating it in a beautiful pie dish (and not my grease-streaked Pyrex baking dish) it was transformed into a modern, tasty upgrade from the more tired Mexican lasagna. I made it for my own family last weekend (the “A” is for “Abby,” since her wedge of the pie was not to include black beans. Another option: “A for Are you kidding me?”) and man oh man was it spirit-lifting, aka delicious.
Another thought: Time for Dinner owners might want to try the “personal pan” lasagna recipes on page 166 in this situation. (Easy to customize for kids, since they are crafted out of ravioli, so can be made with half cheese, half…pumpkin?)
Please comment below or on the DALS facebook page if you have a go-to Show-You-Care Casserole. I think we can all use these.
December 6th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Picky Eating, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook
A few notes on Time for Dinner — besides the fact that it was selected as a favorite cookbook of the year by Bon Appetit, and besides the fact that you are all scooping up multiple copies to give as gifts for all your parent friends. I want to talk about the New York Times including TFD in their special Holiday Books Round-up yesterday, specifically this part of the review (by Christine Muhlke) that, I think, totally nailed it. (more…)
November 30th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick, Rituals, Seafood
Phoebe was captivated by the the row of weeklies and their splashy covers on display at CVS last weekend. “Is that the new princess?” she asked. (I hoped she wasn’t referring to any of the half-dozen half-naked Kardashians.) I looked from Us Weekly to Star across to Hello. Yes! I said. That’s Kate Middleton. She’s the Salmon of Wales!
It took her a few seconds to get it. Oh, right! Salmon is the princess!
We’ve never been calorie counters in our house. The food pyramid — which I have a hard time even really trusting anymore — is not anything my children would ever recognize beyond a structure they might like to replicate with legos. There have been meals where we talk about our plates resembling rainbows, but in truth, our philosophy on teaching healthy eating habits has always been conveniently hands-off: If they are eating roughly what we are eating, they are probably doing OK*. Way early on, though, when we were just developing the dinner habit, and when they were just starting to recognize that the point of dinner was to eat the food, not chuck it, we came up with our own version of the food pyramid. The Royals (Disney and otherwise) had proven to be excellent bribery booty for toilet-training, so we decided to assign their venerable titles towards a few random superfoods we wanted the kids to eat and drink more of: Milk was the Prince. Broccoli, with its almighty supply of treasured vitamins and calcium, the King. Walnuts and eggs were the Queen and Queen Mother, since both of them, if you were to believe the headlines, contained enough omega-3s to triple our children’s chances of getting into Stanford. And salmon, pink and delicate: The Princess. I can’t call this strategy foolproof — as both Lady Phoebe and Lady Abby still recoil at the sight of an egg — but I do know that King Broccoli and Princess Salmon have remained in power ever since.
*Though I do lie awake worrying about our dessert habit.
Royal Salmon with Yogurt-Mustard Dill Sauce
Sprinkle a 1 1/4-pound salmon filet with salt and pepper. Roast in a foil-lined baking dish in 400°F oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the following in a small bowl: 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 2 heaping teaspoons mustard (preferably Dijon), 1 tablespoon chopped dill, squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. Serve salmon with a dollop of sauce on the side. Serve with green beans and soba noodles. (See the “pea” page in Chapter 4 of Time for Dinner for a good noodle recipe.)
Or serve with broccoli, eggs, and walnuts and a tall glass of milk.
Yogurt-mustard dill sauce: Elevating our simple salmon dinners since 1998.
October 26th, 2010 · 10 Comments · Dinner, Pasta, Picky Eating, Quick, Seafood
My daughters are 20 months apart in age. When they were babies, people would take one look at the hollowed-out shells that once housed our functioning selves and say It’s tough now, but you’ll be so grateful later when they play together. I thought these people were lying just to make me feel better. We were so in the thicket of “now” that we couldn’t imagine a “later.” I could not fathom these helpless little things entertaining each other, or a time when we would trade in defensive parenting — hovering, watching, reacting — for active parenting. Nor could I imagine a time when they’d actually sit down to a real meal with us. The sitting part stymied me, as did the “real meal” part. Their plates held not so much dinner as a poor man’s tapas selection: cubes of raw red peppers, microscopic pieces of chicken or shrimp, a little bowl of noodles. But I turned a corner the day I decided to marry two of those foods to make one: Angel Hair with Shrimp. It’s so simple it seems almost stupid, but it worked as a perfect inaugural family dinner because the shrimp and pasta mix together without fully integrating. So if it flops, you can always send the ingredients back to their separate corners. And if it works, the kids get a real meal, and you get a glimpse of your future.
Angel Hair with Shrimp
In a medium pot, cook angel hair as directed on package. Drain and toss with olive oil in the colander to prevent noodles from sticking. Return the pot to the stovetop and turn heat to medium. Add more olive oil, one chopped shallot (or 1/2 onion), one clove of garlic (minced), a few red pepper flakes (optional), salt and pepper, and cook about one minute, nestling garlic amidst the onions to prevent it from burning. Push to the side, turn up heat slightly, and add 3/4 pound of cleaned shrimp. Cook about 1 1/2 minutes on one side, then when you flip them over, pull in the onions and toss until everything is cooked through. Squeeze a little lemon on the shrimp, then add the angel hair, tossing to combine. Add a handful of chopped parsley, unless you think it will render prospects of consumption null and void.
October 15th, 2010 · 14 Comments · Dinner, Pasta, Picky Eating, Vegetarian
I knew what I wanted for dinner yesterday before I had even taken a sip of my morning coffee. It was going to be that beautiful fusilli with chard and crunchy breadcrumbs that accompanied Melissa Clark’s story in the Times about whole wheat pasta. I didn’t have any fusilli — but I had some whole wheat rigatoni, and chard, and onions and…hey look at that!…I had some thyme and goat cheese and mushrooms, too! With the addition of each new ingredient to the pot, though, I was not only getting further away from Melissa’s recipe, I was getting further away a meal I could expect my children to eat no-questions-asked*. So just before I dolloped a hunk of very un-extractable goat cheese into the hot pasta, a point-of-no-return move if there ever was one, I made a decision: The kids are eating something else tonight. Tonight, I just need to cook my dinner the way I want to cook my dinner, and I want to eat my dinner the way I want to eat my dinner. The family has sat down to roughly the same meal for, what, about four straight nights now? Plus, I volunteered at school today and sent out Abby’s birthday invitations! Surely these noble deeds qualified me for some kind of kickback? So Andy and I had our special earthy, herby pasta and the kids had their Trader Joe’s chicken taquitos from the freezer. And the sun still rose from the east in the morning.
*in my house, mushrooms + goat cheese is asking a lot
October 13th, 2010 · 35 Comments · Picky Eating, Posts by Andy
The Mikey Pollan
Ideal meal: Heritage chicken stir-fry with kohlrabi, heirloom bell peppers, and buckwheat soba noodles.
Overheard at family table: “Mom, this kale is a little more delicate than I’m used to – are you sure it isn’t Tuscan kale?”
Overheard at playdate with less food-aware friend: “No, thanks. My mom says real Parmesan doesn’t come in green cans.”
Life’s ambition: The purposeful beard.
In 10 years, will be: A junior at Oberlin.
Ideal meal: Whatever you’re not serving.
Modus Operandi: Unswerving, knee-jerk dismissal of everything set before him. Feigned inability to reason.
Calling card: The untouched plate.
Defining characteristics: Second child. Dearth of pity.
Admission, made in a rare moment of weakness: Seriously, other than this whole “food thing,” I’m a total puppy dog.
Means of survival: Snacks. The refusenik is relentlessly hungry, except when it’s time to actually, you know, eat.
Ideal Meal: Double Stuffed Oreos, the promise of which is the only reason he eats anything else.
Overheard at lunchtime: “What’ll you give me if I eat this?”
Overheard at bedtime: “I thought you said there was no story tonight.”
In ten years, will be: Lead interrogator for the Mossad, or high-value detainee being interrogated by the lead interrogator for the Mossad. (more…)
October 6th, 2010 · 27 Comments · Organizing, Strategizing, Planning, Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian
At around 6:00 the other night, Abby made her way into the kitchen to ask what she usually asks at 6:00 when I’m in the kitchen.
“Mom, what’s for dinner?”
Even though Andy had started hacking up a butternut squash about six hours earlier, even though I was standing there over a stock pot, wielding an immersion blender, minutes away from pureeing the cooked squash with apple into a lovely soup, I answered what I always answer when I’m not sure she’s going to like the answer.
“I don’t know yet.”
I had introduced the soup to the family last fall and I had the distinct recollection that her sister loved it. But I’m pretty sure Abby was lukewarm on it. And as far as I can tell, there’s no faster way to get her to reject something at the table than to give her an hour to think about exactly how lukewarm she was on it. The do-ask-don’t-tell policy is in place as much for my well-being as it is for hers. I can’t beat myself up for giving her something she doesn’t like if I didn’t know she didn’t like it, right? Not sure who I’m trying to convince here. (more…)