Cooking Tips & Tricks


Meals don’t have to be the standard meat and vegetables. It can be anything your heart desires. You can serve breakfast for dinner or even top of chicken with a side of waffles (they do in California restaurants!).

To make meal time more fun for everyone, quit thinking about what meals are suppose to be and think outside of the box.

Do you realize that left over waffles can make a really delicious sandwich for lunch? So can left over pancakes! Yes, the first time I did this, my children laughed hysterically and my husband looked at me like I had flipped my lid. It only took one bite for them to quit making fun of me and enjoy instead their meal.

So serve your dinner salad on a pizza crust, because salad pizza with vegetable dip topping is really good. And instead of thinking that “it’s just not right”, think about what else you could put on that pizza crust… Apple Crisp Pizza makes a yummy dessert!

What’s Cooking Today:
Breakfast: Yogurt Parfait
Lunch: Waffle Sandwich
Dinner: Vegetable Pizza



Pictured: Izy (age 2 1/2) feeding Daelan (age 2 months) who is not quite old enough to complain about my cooking yet.

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The Young Critic Part IV: A Rose

by Beth Montgomery on November 11, 2009

in Cooking Tips & Tricks, Frugal Cooking

A rose by any other name still smells as sweet? Umm… no, not at our home!

While my children will not touch broccoli, let alone eat it, they will gobble down “tiny trees”. And though they would never even consider eating something called brussel sprouts, they absolutely love to eat entire heads of very small lettuce.

Is it trickery? Yeah, probably. But I went through most of my life thinking brussel sprouts were the most delicious small heads of lettuce and I turned out just fine… for the most part.

I’ve found that if food has an odd name or if it’s just something they’ve never heard before, they are more likely to announce that they “do not like that” before it even hits their plates. So, I often serve “egg pie” instead of quiche and my children love it. Who doesn’t love pie? And usually about half way through the meal, I’ll tell them it’s quiche… then “tada!”, they tell me they really like quiche. This even works on my picky husband.

So, try renaming a few of your foods. Call a yogurt smoothie a milkshake if it works (it practically is anyway) and let them feel like they getting ice cream for breakfast!

I learned this trick from my dad who told my poor younger sister, who would only each chicken until… well, recently, actually… that everything was chicken. So, she ate it.

What’s Cooking Today
Breakfast: Breakfast Cupcakes
Lunch:
Dinner: Egg Pie

Pictured: My daughter, Izy, at 10 months enjoying s snack.

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Before I begin sharing with you my meal plans and recipes, I have to introduce you to salad night. Salad night is a long-standing tradition in our home that started when Scott and I just met.

You see, it wasn’t long after Scott and I started dating that I found out a disturbing truth. When Scott didn’t head to Subway for dinner, he stood in his kitchen and tried to decide what to have for dinner – salad or microwaved chicken (Oh, no, that’s not a typo. I said microwaved chicken!) He literally stuck raw unseasoned chicken breast in the microwave and cooked it. Then ate the slimy, pale chicken right out of the microwave. (He is so lucky he met me.)

It only took one dinner when I whipped up seasoned baked chicken breasts for Scott and I to agree that he was never allowed to microwave chicken again. However, the salads I couldn’t argue with. You see, while my husband is challenged in the kitchen, he spends hours whipping up delicious, amazing salads and he’s so serious about it. He tosses in chicken, shrimp, or whatever we have on hand that day and comes up with a healthy and usually low-fat all-in-one-dish dinner.

So, once or twice a week, my children and husband give me a break from the kitchen to make me dinner. Scott pulls out all of the ingredients we have available, along with some large bowls, and sets them at the dining room table, while the girls gather around. They shred lettuce, sneak bites of cheese, and laugh as they build their own salads. Some days they have chicken strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing, while other nights we may enjoy taco or taco-chili salad.

No matter what goes in the salad, the night always ends with one thing – 4 completely empty bowls. Since the girls pick their own ingredients and have a hand in making their dinner, they don’t leave a single bite behind and I happy I got something very healthy down them with ease.

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My children love to cook! I truly hope, that this continues on as they grow. No matter what I’m making, they are always standing nearby saying, “Mom, can I make with you?”

I really get them involved on baking or freezer cooking days, but they usually only make it 1/2 of the way though the day before they abandon me for something more exciting than a tower of tortillas or an excessive amount of waffles and muffins.

Both of my girls are more likely to dig into something they made with their own two hands. In fact, they get so proud of their creations, they gobble them down, while bragging about their skills in the kitchen.

So find some things your children can cook or when making meals like tacos, set out the ingredients so they can build their own!

What’s Cooking Today
Breakfast: Smoothies
Lunch: Kiddie Kabobs
Dinner: Salad Night

Pictured: My daughter, Ady, at 5 years old whipping up some raspberry muffins on a baking day.

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Meal times at our home, are a time for family. It’s a time for us to talk, laugh, and have a good time. We even sometimes play board games during dinner, go for a picnic, or even eat outside in our own backyard.

Meals don’t have to be serious. You can make them fun and silly. In fact, I’ve found that my children are more likely to eat something that amuses them or appeals to their interests.

So, I put sprinkles (a.k.a. sparkles) on cottage cheese and yogurt, bacon smiles and apple eyes on pancakes, and a dot of pink food coloring in oatmeal.

Not all of our meals are this colorful or exciting, but sometimes making your meal a bit silly can be fun for the entire family and much more fun to gobble down!

What’s Cooking Today:
Breakfast: Popcorn Cereal
Lunch: Hot Dog Spaghetti
Dinner: (Honey Mustard) Green Ham

Pictured: My daughter, Ady, at 7 months old, enjoying snack time.

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Centsible Cooking is kicking off this week in full gear and we’re starting off by answer a question I am asked all too often –
How on earth do you get your children to eat that?

Now first, let me say, I’m not an expert by any means! The advice I give is just from my own personal experience and each child is different.

And second, do they always eat everything I make… sure… okay, no, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Now, let me start off with a story.

We were camping in style. Hanging out in the middle of the woods, my dad pulled out a dish of spicy cocktail sauce and jumbo shrimp. Figuring my daughter Ady, who was two at the time, wouldn’t touch them, he sat them in front of her at the picnic table and walked away. When he turned around half of the shrimp had disappeared and my two year old’s huge smile was covered in red sauce.

Children can be so funny. What makes them decide they’ll enjoy a food or hate it before it even hits their lips? It could be anything from the name of the food to the smell. But if every dinner is a fight, it really it becomes more of a stressful time, than a time for family.

So, why did Ady pick up the huge shrimp and not balk at the spicy sauce? Because she’d been enjoying shrimp since since was a baby. I think this is one of the key reasons my children eat some odd foods that aren’t typically considered kid-friendly.

When Ady was just starting solids and our pediatrician went through the lists of food she couldn’t consume until she was over the age of one, she left out shellfish. Whoops! As a first time mom, I followed the rules to a T and introduced each fruit and vegetable one at at time, letting her enjoy them each for three days to make sure no adverse reactions appeared. Once we went through the required foods and eased our worries about food allergies, I headed to Babies ‘R Us and picked up a manual food grinder for $10.

After that, whatever we enjoyed, Ady enjoyed as well. This was good for both of us, because she got to explore many new foods, while I wasn’t cooking separate meals for her. On top of that, I didn’t spend hours making my own baby food or spend money buying tons of jar baby food. And best of all, it forced me to really think about what I was cooking to make it healthier and appropriate for her, so it forced my husband and I to eat healthier.

Where I went, my grinder went with me. I even ground up Thanksgiving dinner at my grandma’s. Eventually, I upgraded from a manual grinder to my Magic Bullet
to make it easier on my poor arm. But, as Ady got older, she ate everything we did, because that is how it had always been.

Now, like most children, she did go through a VERY picky stage where she wouldn’t try new things, but through it all she still gobbled down shrimp salads and Lima beans without a complaint.

What’s Cooking Today
Breakfast: Apple-Cherry Oatmeal for Family & Baby
Lunch: Chicken Salad Sandwiches for Family & Baby
Dinner: Garden Risotto for Family & Baby
Pictured: My daughter, Izy, at 10 months old, enjoying beef and sweet onion enchiladas. Yes, she has so much enchilada sauce in her hair, it’s standing on end. But, look how happy she is!

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