Family Dinner

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8 Ways Cooking Can Keep Your Kids’ Minds Sharp Over the Summer

8 Ways Cooking Can Keep Your Kids’ Minds Sharp Over the Summer

No matter your situation when school lets out in June, whether you are happy to get a break from supervising homework and packing lunches, or you’re stressed because you’re scrambling to fill hours usually reserved for school, you probably wonder how to keep your kids’ minds sharp and their bodies occupied productively for 10 weeks during summer “vacation.”

You may wonder:

• How will I prevent my children’s brains from atrophying when they aren’t in class for 6 hours a day?

• How will we keep them off of YouTube, tablets and the TV when those digital babysitters are not only easy temptations, but can also feel like the only way we can get a little break?

• And how can I make sure they don’t forget their hard-learned math, reasoning and reading skills when school is on hiatus for so long? (Those summer “math packets” don’t really cut it when our kids forget about them until the week...

7 Basic Cooking Skills Kids Need Before They Leave Home

  Cooking Skills Kids Need Before They Leave Home

Some of my friends worry that their kids don’t have even the most basic cooking skills they might need in their next phase of life. So what cooking skills do kids need? Last year I wrote about the 6 things every kid should know how to make before they leave home. Now in the Washington Post I share basic techniques kids may want to master this summer.

Summertime, when the pace of life may be just a little slower, is the ideal time to get your teen cooking — especially if they are leaving the nest soon. Making one of their favorite things to eat — whether it’s burgers, salad, pasta, corn on the cob or omelets — is a great place to get them started on picking up basic cooking skills. Many families find it works well to have each family member take on a meal each week. They might even like to make a checklist of dishes they’d like to master before they leave home.

Let your teen decide...

Best No-Cook Summer Recipes

Best No-Cook Summer Recipes

When the thermometer tops 90, the last thing we want to do is turn on the oven or stove, or even the grill! So The Scramble team put together a list of our most popular and best no-cook summer recipes. These are also perfect to bring to a picnic or potluck, an outdoor concert, baseball game, or just enjoy on a shady porch, cooled by a fan, on a hot summer night.

How do you enjoy your meals during the warm weather? As long as I’m out of the direct sun, I can’t get enough of the outdoors, even in steamy weather. My family eats dinner almost every night during the summer on our screened porch. Sometimes we linger out there, sitting on the wrought iron furniture that used to be Andrew’s grandmother’s, long enough to watch the bats swoop down to eat the pesky mosquitos.  Ah, summer living!

I hope you and your family get outside this summer and enjoy some of our best no-cook summer recipes: Mediterranean...

Will You Help Me Decide What Cooking Videos to Make Next?

Will You Help Me Decide What Cooking Videos to Make Next? Have you subscribed to The Scramble’s new YouTube channel yet? I’m sharing inspiring weekly recipes, tips and helpful cooking videos to make your meals and snacks easier, healthier and more delicious. If you subscribe to the channel, you wont get bombarded with emails, but you will get notified when there’s a new video so you won't miss it.  My goal is to share short and inspiring videos each week that will make your life easier, healthier and more delicious. Please let me know what recipes or tips you’d like me to share next. Current top contenders are: A. What to pack for kids’ summer camp lunches B. How to make peanut butter, banana and chocolate overnight oatmeal (no sugar added!) C. How to make banana whip...

Lime Grilled Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Your family will love this simple marinade for grilled chicken breasts.  The avocado salsa would also be great on top of a firm, white fish, such as halibut, and of course it's fabulous for dipping chips or veggie sticks.  If you don’t want to grill the breasts, you can cook them on the stovetop over medium-high heat with a little olive oil in a skillet instead.  Click here for  grilling tips to make grilled chicken and other delicious meals over the fire. Watch the cooking video on YouTube and get the recipe below: Lime Grilled Chicken with Avocado Salsa Prep + Cook Time: 30 minutes Makes six servings. 1 1/2 - 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or use boneless thighs 1/2 - 1 lime, juice only, 2 Tbsp. 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp. kosher salt 2 avocados, diced or mashed, or use 3/4 cup guacamole 1 tomato, diced 1/4 red onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup) 1/4 tsp. salt 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped (optional) Place the chicken...

Teens aren’t Terrifying! How to Bond with Teens in the Kitchen

Bond With Teens in The Kitchen When my kids were young, I used to worry about what it might be like to have teenagers and how I would bond with teens, let alone parent them.  The words that came to mind were moodiness, conflict, attitude, eye-rolling and curfews. Fast forward 10 plus years and I am now the mom of two teenagers, 19-year-old Solomon and 17-year-old Celia.  As with most things, I now realize that worrying about the future was a waste of energy. Parenting teens, and spending time with them and their friends, is more fun than I could have ever imagined. Also, because I love to cook and have taught my kids to be comfortable in the kitchen, I find that now, many of our best times happen while we’re cooking or dining together. How do you bond with your kids in the kitchen? I’d love you to read and share your thoughts on my latest article (plus a video!) for The Washington Post.

Let Kids Use Sharp Knives and Hot Stoves: 7 Ways to Let Go of Our Fears and Get Kids Cooking

Would you let your 2-year-old use a chef’s knife? Many people think that sounds not only dangerous, but INSANE. However, that’s just what my friend J.M. Hirsch, who is a prominent food writer and cookbook author, did with his son Parker. Just like our kids’ maiden voyage down a steep slide or the moment they wobbled away without training wheels on a bicycle, that first chop through a carrot is absolutely terrifying (for the parents!). We’re bound to question ourselves and picture them slicing off a fingertip (or two).  But if we want our kids to love to cook and do it with confidence, we parents need to put aside our fears and let them do more than we are comfortable with in the kitchen to really get kids cooking. If we REALLY want our kids to love good food and ultimately to be able to shop for and prepare meals when we’re out of the picture, we need to seek ways to give them confidence in the kitchen rather than (often inadvertently) driving them away. ...

Question from a Teen Who Cooks: How Far In Advance Can I Make Dinner?

Dear Aviva, My name is Sydney, I am 13 years old. I love to cook, and I have been following your recipes to make dinner for my family using your weekly meal plans, and we all love it! I have recently attempted cooking meals ahead of time (on Sunday). It has worked really well for my family so far, but I'm concerned about how far in advance you can make certain foods. I have been following your "Do Ahead or Delegate" section, but sometimes it does not specify how long you can make it in advance. I am interested in prepping food ahead of time because I really like to eat the food from your recipes, but I don't always have time to make things when I have homework or after school activities. If I prep the food ahead of time, I can make food that I like very quickly without changing my schedule very much.  I am wondering if you have any tips on food prep, or "rules" to make sure the food is good when it is time to eat it.  Sincerely, Sydney Dear Sydney, First,...

Wheat Berry Salad with Grapes and Feta

I’m a fan of wheat berries because they are high in fiber and vitamins and cook as quickly as rice, but you can certainly make this recipe with another whole grain. You can sometimes find parboiled wheat berries that only take 15 minutes to cook which would reduce the total time for this recipe to 30 minutes. My whole family loves this combination of flavors, and we think this would also be a good dish to bring to a potluck or picnic.

Wheat Berry Salad with Grapes and Feta

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook Time: 60 minutes    Total Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

1 cup wheat berries, or use farro, orzo or other grain, or use 3 – 4 cups cooked lentils 1/2 lemon, juice only, about 2 Tbsp. 1 tsp. honey 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar 1 1/2 cups red grapes, halved 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped, or use pepitas 2 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese Cook the wheat...

Sorrento Seafood Stew

A chilly Sunday had me craving a flavorful seafood stew, especially when I saw beautiful shrimp and scallops at our farmer’s market. I daydreamed about it all day and when I set it on the dinner table, my family thought it lived up to my fantasies. You can use whatever seafood looks freshest at your market, or if you are using frozen seafood, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator or in a warm bowl of water until it is thawed before adding it to the stew. Sorrento Seafood Stew Prep Time: 15 minutes    Cook Time: 30 minutes    Total Time: 45 minutes 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 2 - 3 stalks celery, sliced (1 cup) 1 yellow onion, diced (1 1/2 – 2 cups) 2 tsp. minced garlic, (about 4 cloves) 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional) 28 oz. canned whole plum tomatoes, with their liquid 3 Tbsp. tomato paste 16 oz. reduced-sodium fish or vegetable broth, or use clam juice 1/2 cup white wine (optional) 1 bay leaf 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley,...