Multitasking mom of two Katie Workman understands families' needs for delicious, no-fuss recipes. Sound appetizing? If so, The Mom 100 Cookbook should be required reading. Katie's M.O.: drama-free ways to get dinner on the table. She swears by dressed-up comfort foods, allowing kids to get creative in the kitchen, and adaptable recipes that keep things kid-friendly while still pleasing grown-up taste buds. We've got three palate-pleasing recipes that kids and parents will love.
Parents magazine: Which three items are always stocked in your pantry?
Katie Workman: I always have canned beans, pasta, rice, chicken broth, mustard, tuna fish, canned tomatoes, chocolate chips, vanilla extract, kosher salt, olive oil... sorry, you said three. I'll narrow it down to olive oil, kosher salt, and chicken broth.
Parents: What are your favorite make-ahead meals?
KW: Lasagna, arroz con pollo, chicken enchiladas, fresh mozzarella casserole, honey ginger chicken, and meatloaf. I love a dish you can assemble ahead of time and throw into the oven just before dinner.
Parents: Do you have any suggestions for getting kids excited to help out in the kitchen?
KW: Let them invent! Whether they're coming up with their own vinaigrette combos or taking a muffin recipe and seeing what kinds of add-ins they might want to toss in, cooking turns kids into inventors, and that's fun. My son Jack once made awesome plum muffins, a fruit I hadn't really thought of adding to the mix. Also, buy kids a cool sturdy plastic knife of their very own, and they'll have that nice pride of ownership when they use it. And as hard as this is for all of us busy, busy parents, let them make a mistake, and a bit of a mess -- and then learn to clean it up. Kids can't learn if we jump all over them, or always decide that it's easier to just do it ourselves. They're much more likely to stay engaged if we let them experiment.
Parents: What are your top five add-ins to dress up staples like rice or pasta?
KW: Chipotle puree, Parmesan cheese, scallions, fresh herbs, citrus juice, and zest. You can add a smaller amount to kids' portions, and more to the adults' portions if you're concerned about flavors that might be too intense for the little guys.
Parents: Any advice for introducing kids to new foods?
KW: Start with small portions -- few kids are going to embrace a big slab of something. Cut meat into thin slices; put soup into a little bowl or ramekin; serve a small piece of fish. Let them help you prepare it. And never, ever say, "I'm not sure you're going to like this" as you offer them something new! It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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