Cheeseburger Hand Pies with Puff Pastry

cheeseburger hand pies, foodlets

GOT PICKY EATERS? One of the (bazillion) lessons I’ve learned about feeding my tribe is about spin-offs. Keep your eyes open for flavors and ingredients the kids like, and make those things again. Differently. Well, it turns out that a big part of teaching kids to love food, to be adventurous eaters who know how to nourish themselves… 

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Make-Ahead Sweet Potato “Cottage Pie” with Ground Beef (and Why It Isn’t Shepherd’s Pie)

make-ahead sweet potato cottage pie foodlets

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN shepherd’s pie and cottage pie? Lamb. This is what I just learned from Food 52. Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb, which makes sense when you think of a shepherd’s job. Cottage pie, however, is made with ground beef. That’s what we used here when we made our own even simpler version…. 

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1 Recipe 2 Ways: Easy Meatballs & Gravy Stroganoff or Whole Food Hamburger Helper

easy meatballs stroganoff foodlets

“IF YOU GUYS WILL TRY COUS COUS TONIGHT,” I heard myself bargaining, “I’ll make you pumpkin muffins for breakfast.” And with three nods we had a deal. I was desperate. I already had this delicious pot of meatballs simmering on the stove when I realized I’d need something to serve with them, something starchy to… 

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1 dinner 3 ways: stuffed peppers with beef, tomatoes & rice

Stuffed peppers

LAST NIGHT’S DINNER WAS A DISASTER. Sometimes I use a lot of smart strategies for making dinner quickly and easily, but not last night. There I was at 5:30pm, stirring a pot on the stove to make a vaguely Mexican dish I saw somewhere online. You know, the kind that’s not too spicy for the kids but still… 

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perfectly flavored london broil (aka, meat your kids will eat!)

perfectly flavored london broil, foodlets

THE OTHER DAY I MADE CHICKEN CUTLETS for dinner and when I saw my four-year-old dunking each bite in her water glass, I had to ask… “This makes it softer on my teeth,” she told me. Note to self: Don’t overcook the chicken. My three small kids aren’t always the biggest meat fans but when it’s… 

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steak & vegetable roll-ups with balsamic glaze, simplified (believe it or not!)

beef rollups with veggies and balsamic glaze, foodlets

I CAN’T LIE TO YOU. THIS WILL NOT BECOME ONE OF YOUR GO-TO WEEKNIGHT DINNERS. But you might love making it once in a while. With a tangy, sweet sauce plus a built-in veggie and playful presentation, there’s a lot to like here. The trouble is the number of steps it takes to get there…. 

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very small shepherd’s pies (a step-by-step recipe)

mini shepherd's pies for kids, foodlets

WE’VE MADE THESE MINI SHEPHERD’S PIES TWICE NOW, once at a kiddie cooking school here in North Carolina, and once at home, both for St. Patrick’s Day. This version is our own recipe, which is really just layering all the flavors you’d expect–but simplified. We cheated a bit with store-bought biscuit dough, which really puffs… 

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finally, a chili recipe my kids will eat

chili parfaits, on foodlets.com

MY KIDS DON’T LIKE CHILI. EXCEPT THIS WAY. There are a couple of tricks at work here. First, make some chili. Don’t put in too much cumin and skip the spicy chiles. Then swap a soup bowl for a juice glass and present those knee-high guys with this, a chili parfait. And if that doesn’t… 

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The best roast beef sandwiches you’ll ever have

roast beef sandwiches with gorgonzola spread

THESE PLAYDATE SANDWICHES WERE MADE WITH ON-THE-GO EATING IN MIND. Admittedly, they were more for the moms and dads than kids–who got turkey sammies smothered with honey mustard and mayo spread–but on this blustery fall day in Rome, every parent not only commented on how good they were, but couldn’t stop talking about the roast… 

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Beef tacos become Tex-Mex rice with beef and beans: two dinners in one

Tex-Mex rice with beef, beans and corn

OK, I’LL FESS UP RIGHT NOW. This dinner was a double miss but that’s because I made a silly mistake early on: I accidentally used hot, spicy salsa instead of mild. You won’t do this and your family will enjoy the whole thing. Twice.

Simple beef, broccoli and carrot stir-fry

Beef and broccoli stir-fry

THEY DON’T REALLY DO TAKE-OUT IN ITALY. They definitely don’t do a lot of ethnic food either. And even if they did, stir-fry is one of those dishes that’s so easy to make at home, plus a million times healthier, why not just whip it up? To make it more kid-friendly I added lots of… 

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Beef & cheese quesadillas (with a secret good-for-you ingredient)

beef and cheese quesadillas

GRATE EVERYTHING, I say. That’s my philosophy for “Taco Night”, which has actually become quesadilla night–the one that’s easier to eat and less likely to fall on the floor wins in my house. And since our ethnic food offerings are spare in Rome, to say the least, these flour tortillas are much easier to find… 

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Barefoot Contessa Makeover: Mini meatloaves

barefoot contessa mini meatloaves

WE HAD COMPANY OVER CHRISTMAS, including a 3-year old guest from Amsterdam. Phoebe was thrilled to have another “big girl” around but as you may know (and be reminded daily), it’s not easy to guess what will go over at this age. But when in doubt, I say go for comfort food. This recipe is… 

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Chinese BBQ pork with noodles, carrots and broccoli

BBQ Chinese Noodles with Carrots and Pork

WELL, I REALLY MESSED THIS ONE UP. Let’s just say feeding the toddler two pieces of peanut butter toast 90 minutes before dinner wasn’t a recipe for success. Even when said dinner involved pasta and barbecue sauce, two things she holds dear. It’s a shame though because this was so good! We’ll try again another… 

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Arrosticini, meat on a stick (aka the easiest sell ever)

Arrosticini, meat on a stick, foodlets

FOR PICKY EATERS OR TODDLERS (which are basically the same) sometimes it takes a stick. In Italy, they do amazing little kabobs called arrosticini, which are actually made from lamb. It’s a specialty dish from the Abruzzo region but often found everywhere. However, I’m guessing that a. lamb is harder to find at your grocery… 

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Straccetti, arugula salad with sizzling strips of steak and Parmesan cheese

Straccetti

THIS IS A CLASSIC ITALIAN MEAL, so naturally I’d never heard of it. That was before I moved to Rome and discovered that Italian food is more than pasta, tomatoes and cheese. (But they do that very well.) One of my favorite summer meals has turned out to be a version of the Big Salad… 

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