Easy Holidays/Entertaining

The Scramblog

Simple Thanksgiving Appetizers

I may love to experiment with dinners all year round, but there are a few special meals where I am loathe to stray from my tried and true favorites and Thanksgiving dinner is one of them. That's right, I am a traditionalist when it comes to the main event--I like my mashed potatoes creamy, my turkey roasted, and my vegetables simply prepared. But I still love to play with the appetizers and this year is no exception. This year I am sharing two simple Thanksgiving appetizers that are simple to prepare (ready in 30 minutes) and a little different from the standard options: Creamy Indian-Spiced Spinach Dip and Cranberry & Brie Puffs (plus these would be great for any holiday party this season). Watch me make them on Facebook Live!Creamy Indian-Spiced Spinach DipPrep Time: 5 minutes, Cook Time: 15 minutes, Makes 6 servings 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil ¼ yellow onion, finely diced, about ½ cup 1 clove garlic, minced ½ tsp. sweet paprika ½ tsp. garam...

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Pomegranates and Peanuts

This month’s challenge from The Recipe Redux was to share a fun spin on soup. For a while, I thought about offering up a curried soup or a whimsical soup bowl or bread bowl, but then I realized that this was a great opportunity to share one of the suggestions I make in workshops all the time: pureed vegetable soups with fun toppings are a winning option for parents of picky eaters. When my younger son was in the depths of his super picky phase, I had all but given up hope that there would ever be a time when he ate vegetables other than the occasional raw carrot. Then, one day, I made a pureed vegetable soup and served it with saltines. I showed him how you can crush the crackers into the soup and then scoop them out. And, like magic, he was hooked! I think he ate two bowls of soup that night as I sat (in shock) watching him shovel (and he was pretending to be a backhoe at the time) the soup and saltines into his mouth. From there we were off and running, topping soups with...

How to Involve Your Kids in Holiday Cooking

Thanksgiving is just the beginning. Between now and New Year’s Day, there are so many celebrations. Parties, family gatherings, and special traditions are all included in this busy time of year. For a lot of us, this means tons of cooking, which can be wonderful, but also exhausting. So why not enlist some help? Big cooking projects that are tied to special occasions are fantastic opportunities to get even reluctant cooks into the kitchen. Here are some ways to include kids of all ages:How to Involve Your Kids in Holiday CookingPreschoolers:Not only do they want to help, but they love to have ownership over a task. Here are some activities that you can give them to do that will actually save you time because they don’t require close supervision.
  • Pulling fresh herbs off their stems
  • Tearing greens for a salad
  • Combining dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  • Washing produce
Younger School Aged Kids:These kiddos are more coordinated than they used to be...

Worry Less About the Halloween Sugar with these Dinner Recipes

When my kids were first old enough to understand and appreciate Halloween, I was stressed—how was I going to be able to control the sugar intake? How was I going to navigate the meltdowns and fights over how many pieces of candy they could have? Could I cut trick or treating short to try and limit how much sugar came into the house? In short, I wanted to control the situation. My feelings about Halloween have evolved a lot since those early days. Over the years, I have decided that instead of focusing on the “bad” sugar, I would turn my attention to maximizing the nourishing and delicious meals that we can enjoy throughout the day so that when the candy gorging starts, I can relax knowing that their bodies already have been taken care of. If this approach relieves some of the Halloween-related stress for you, here are some fun ways to celebrate the holiday while filling those bellies with substantial food that will keep them going.Worry Less About the Halloween...

Feeding a Crowd Without Ordering Pizza

Before kids, meeting out at bars and restaurants or hosting dinner parties were the ways that my husband and I most often socialized and we loved it. When kids came along, however, something changed: somehow meeting friends at a restaurant with toddlers in tow just wasn’t as relaxing and intricately planned three or four course meals that I cooked over a day or two just weren’t realistic. So we made a shift—we started hosting family gatherings at our house. These informal get-togethers were meant to give kids the space to run around and parents the time to actually catch up. But as the kids have gotten older this has also come to mean cooking for 15, 16, or even 20 people, which then begs the question: what do you cook if you have to feed a crowd but don’t want to order pizza?Feeding a Crowd Without Ordering PizzaFor me, I like to usually make one big main dish and then accompany it with various sides or toppings so that everyone can make the meal their own, even...

4 Watermelon Recipes for the 4th!

I don’t know about you, but the first food that comes to mind when I think of the 4th of July is watermelon. I have vivid childhood memories of watermelon juice sliding down my chin and spitting the big black seeds into the grass as I watched the fireworks from the banks of the Charles River in Boston. There is nothing more summery to me than watermelon. So this year, I wanted to share some of my favorite, creative ways to serve up that consummate summer treat at your celebrations on this 4th of July. All of these would be great to bring to a potluck, eat out in the backyard, or pack up for a picnic.4 Watermelon Recipes for the 4th!Watermelon Feta and Mint Cubes. This appetizer, invented by Scramble founder Aviva’s son Solomon, is so delicious, simple, and easy to prepare. Get your kids in on the fun by asking them to assemble the towers.Watermelon Caprese Salad with Arugula. A Scramble favorite! As Scramble recipe tester Jen Grosman said, “it tastes...

Broccoli and Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

This colorful salad, suggested by Scramble member Anne O’Neill, is perfect to make a day or two ahead of a busy evening or bring to an informal gathering. Its Mediterranean ingredients are flexible—you can add sliced Kalamata olives, a finely chopped shallot or 1/2 red onion, farro (an Italian grain), or even tuna. “It is exactly what I love about a free-form salad. Lots of textures and flavors that add layers to each bite and make you want to go back for more,” according to Scramble recipe tester Debbie Falkow. Watch Jessica make this salad on Facebook Live!Broccoli and Chickpea Salad with Lemon VinaigrettePrep + Cook: 20 Minutes, Makes 8 Servings 1 large head broccoli, cut into florets1 red bell pepper, finely chopped (1/4-inch pieces), or use 1/2 cup chopped jarred red peppers15 oz. canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained or rinsed, or use 1 ½ cups homemade beans1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped1/4 cup chopped walnuts, lightly...

Double Duty Holiday Dishes: Recipes That Work for Easter and Passover

As an interfaith (Jewish-Christian) household we are lucky enough to have twice the holidays to celebrate, twice the traditions, and sometimes twice the cooking. At this time of year, the focus on meals gets turned up a notch as we celebrate both Passover and Easter, which often intersect—after all, the last supper was actually a Passover Seder! This is both a joy and a challenge. It is a joy because they are both meaningful holidays that share messages about the importance of renewal and of sticking to your beliefs, even in times of adversity and sorrow. It is a challenge because, at least for me, one of the most important ways to celebrate these holidays is through sharing meals, yet many of the foods for these two holidays don’t naturally overlap.Recipes for Passover and EasterSo in honor of both of these wonderful holidays, I pulled together a list of recipes that will work for both celebrations. Happy holidays to those of you who celebrate one or the other (or...

Surviving Holiday Gatherings with a Picky Eater

The family is gathering around the table for a holiday meal. Everyone is looking forward to a beautiful meal full of flavor, abundant food offerings, and gratitude. But then there is your child who is scowling, or maybe even refusing to come to the table. You feel embarrassed, perhaps angry, you are worried that your in-laws, your own family, or your friends will judge your child or even you. The tension mounts… This is not going to end well.As we all know, family gatherings can be both wonderful and stressful. As you prepare for the season’s festivities, it can be helpful, both for you and for your child, if you do a little bit of thinking about ways to preemptively manage potential tensions at the table. Here are the tricks that helped when we were struggling with our (formerly) picky eater:Put yourself in your child’s shoes. All of the food that is either unknown or unappealing to your child is likely to feel overwhelming and even a little scary. Your kiddo is...

Spinach Balls

I took these Spinach Balls to a Friendsgiving celebration and even the most skeptical of eaters was an immediate fan. These fun little balls are so flavorful that they can be served with a dip or just on their own! Don't be daunted by the use of the food processor, it makes the whole mixing and chopping "process" take about 1 minute instead of 10. Check out Jessica making these and Pumpkin Crostini on Facebook Live.Spinach BallsPrep (10 min.) + Bake (20 min.) 4 servings, 5 balls each 1 lb. frozen spinach, thawed 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 piece wheat bread or 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (use wheat/gluten free, if needed) 1 egg, beaten 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise 2 tsp. Dijon mustard 1/4 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. white or black pepperDill Sauce (optional):1/2 cup nonfat sour cream 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise 1/4 cup fresh dill, minced, or 1 Tbsp. dried 1 clove garlic, minced Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with...