Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas The Whole Family Will Love – HexClad Cookware
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Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas The Whole Family Will Love

by HexClad Cookware

Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas The Whole Family Will Love

There’s something that people without kids just don’t get: Dinnertime can be a battlefield. And, no, the metaphor is not excessive. Dueling motivations (deliciousness and familiarity for most kids; nutrition and variety for the parents) can complicate choosing a recipe for dinner, and when you think about the fact that dinner happens not once but seven times a week, well, it can the cause of meltdowns for family members of all ages. Enter these clever ideas for kid-friendly dinner ideas that the whole family will love. If it’s feeling tough, just remember: Your kids will probably grow out of whatever phase they’re in, and the days of buttered pasta on repeat might even seem like something worthy of nostalgia.

There’s a big debate about whether to hide veggies or not in meals for kids. If pushing peas and carrots across a plate ends up with more on the floor than in their bellies, it might be worth considering tucking a bunch of spinach into pasta sauce or folding some broccoli into fun tots. We’re not saying to lie to your kids, but there’s a fine line before coercion becomes fighting becomes a meltdown. Though we can’t promise empty plates, we think you’ll have a better chance with these ideas.

  • Noodles with Creamy Spinach Sauce: Recipe Developer Olivia Mack McCool (@oliviamackmccool) transforms a bunch of spinach into a sauce even her picky toddlers love. “Even given its bright green color,” she says, “the fact that it’s creamy and smooth means my kids will both happily eat this for dinner each night.” Toss it with the most popular shape of the week, whether it’s bowties or bunny-shaped pasta. If you’re feeling up to it, boil a separate adult-friendly shape for the parents and stir in garlicky sautéed shrimp, lemon juice, and chives.
  • How to make it: Heat 2 tablespoons each extra-virgin olive oil and unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 roughly chopped 10-ounce bunch fresh spinach and 2 chopped cloves garlic. Cook, stirring often, until spinach is well wilted and garlic is soft and fragrant. Turn off heat and season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the mixture into a blender (or food processor). Add ½ cup whole milk ricotta, ¼ cup grated parmesan, and ¼ cup heavy cream. Blend until very smooth. Add 1 tablespoon heavy cream at a time to loosen the sauce, as desired. Season to taste with salt. Serve tossed with freshly cooked pasta. Refrigerate sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 days for up to 5 days.

  • Chicken and Broccoli Tots: Kids will love approachable, finger-friendly tots, which combine brown rice and the controversial veggie. Parents can make it feel more exciting by serving with spicy mayonnaise or swapping the chicken for salmon or white fish. If your kids aren’t freaked out by green, add ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley leaves to the mixture.
  • How to make it: In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1 cup each cooked and cooled broccoli florets and cooked short-grain brown rice, ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 2 large eggs, ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Process until uniform, adding up to ¼ cup more breadcrumbs until the mixture sticks together. Portion into 2-tablespoon sized nuggets and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375ºF until golden brown and firm, 24 to 28 minutes. Let cool slightly, then serve with buttered baked chicken breasts.

  • Meatball Dippers with Ranch and Veggies: Forks and knives are overrated, even for adults. Take a page from babies’ and toddlers’ books and let the whole family join in on the finger food fun. Olivia Mack McCool suggests making your favorite meatball recipe (or hers, below) and serving it with bowls of ketchup and ranch for easy dipping. Put out steamed carrots, potatoes, and broccoli alongside to encourage a little bit of this and a little bit of that. If adults want something that’s less hands-on, serve the meatballs and veg atop brown rice or quinoa, instead.
  • How to make it: In a large bowl, combine 1 pound ground beef, 2 large eggs, ½ cup plain breadcrumbs, ¼ cup grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, 1 grated or minced large clove garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ¾ teaspoon onion powder, and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Use a fork to break everything up, then switch to your hands to blend the mixture. Form into gold ball-sized meatballs and arrange on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, evenly spaced. Spray the meatballs with cooking spray and bake in a 425ºF oven until lightly golden brown and cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes.

  • Family-friendlier fish and chips: If the frozen, boxed fish sticks have you feeling a bit down about dinnertime, make this remix of fish and chips with a miso-infused butter. The salty, umami flavors are kid-friendly, while offering something exciting for adults. Serve with easy oven chips made with russet potatoes.
  • How to make it: Stir together 2 tablespoons each miso paste and unsalted butter and spread on skinless filets white fish. Top with panko breadcrumbs and bake at 375º F until cooked through and the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve with oven-roasted potato wedges and something green, if you like.

  • Vegetarian Taco Night: Taco night has long been a family staple, thanks to the kits with hard shells and seasoning sold at grocery stores. You don’t need anything readymade to recreate this at home with a vegetarian twist. Serve flour and/or corn tortillas with taco-spiced mushrooms, canned refried beans, and your favorite taco toppings. Adults can make their tacos feel more exciting with fiery salsa and a margarita (or two).
  • How to make it: Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 pound quartered button mushrooms and 2 tablespoons taco seasoning and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown and tender. Set out in a bowl alongside heated canned refried beans, shredded iceberg lettuce, crumbled queso fresco or cotija, sliced avocado, and pico de gallo. Serve with warmed corn and flour tortillas.

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