Help Your Kids Adapt To New Foods


Making a meal that everyone in your family will love can be a challenge. Sometimes we moms hit it out of the park and our children think we’re the Dinner Diva. Sometimes we strike out royally and they crown us the Dinner Dud!

Here are a few tips on how to help your kids try new things.

Use foods you know your child likes

If pasta is always a winner in your house the variety can come in the form of sauces like garlic Alfredo, roasted red pepper and tomato, or something as simple as butter and Parmesan cheese.

You might also be able to get away with adding zucchini or spinach to your rice casserole as long as you cut the vegetables up in bite size pieces and the seasonings are something your children are used to.

Consider offering condiments that they love with meals that you might not normally like ketchup, sour cream, ranch dressing, or barbecue sauce. You can even make sure that your side dish or bread is something you know that they will love to offset the new dish.

Let them play an active role in cooking

Have your kiddos scour the Internet or your cookbooks and pick what they’d like to make. Children usually choose what looks appealing to them which will make them more likely to eat it.

Allow your children to assist you in cooking the meal. This will get them used to the cooking process as well as the satisfaction that comes from preparing a dish from start to finish. They will be proud of their accomplishment and be happy to serve it to the entire family.

You can also let them name the different dishes you venture out in making. My girls named one of my made up recipes years ago because they were tired of calling it noodles with the white sauce. Instead they donned it “Special Creation.” It’s hilarious to me but they love it and I make it often.

Avoid bringing attention to new ingredients

Announcing that you made mock meatloaf with nuts, rice, and carrots will not go over well. PB&J sandwiches will soon follow. Trust me. 

Gradually add more and more things once their palate changes. You do not want to scare them off from trying too many new things at once so go slow.

I suggest one or two new things a week to start. If you do too much too soon your children will be suspicious of anything you try to feed them in the future and less likely to try anything you put in front of them.

Be flexible

Work on not making this process difficult and tiresome. Sometimes your children will love a recipe that you experimented with and sometimes they will look at you like you’ve lost your mind.  If they whisper among themselves at the bomb you just served them and called dinner, don’t let it discourage you.

Keep trying to add your own flair to the foods you want your family to try and you may just end up with a family favorite!

I’m Juicing at Home Again

I have been a juicing for most of a decade but it has been a couple of years since I’ve had a juicer in the house. So, this past Monday when I started craving juice I went out to the stores to see if I could find a deal. I ended up bringing home the same juicer I’ve used in the past, this basic model offered by Jack Lalanne:

I bought some organic carrots and spinach, then loaded up on Fuji apples, cucumbers, blueberries and raspberries.

Carrot and apple is my all time favorite fresh juice. With that as a base I can add all kinds of green stuff to it and enjoy it going down.

Another favorite juice addition is a beet. Beets add a dark red color and you don’t need much to add a lot of flavor.

My son loves the juice I make at home too. He guzzles and asks for more most of the time.

Since I started using a Magic Bullet for smoothies and other small blending tasks, I decided to mix up my juicing with my blending. I juiced my apple and carrot, then took it and my spinach over to the bullet and blended it all together. It was a tad chunky, I probably overdid the spinach LOL!

I also use the bullet to blend in the berries – you don’t want to ‘juice’ the berries, they just turn to mush and you don’t much out of them. Blend them in and get all the goodness!

Next I need to head over to the farmer’s market. There’s so much more that I can add to juice if I have available to me. This time year tough because a lot produce items are expensive.

How about you? Do you juice? Do your kids enjoy it?

P.S. I bought this: Jack LaLanne’s PJEB Power Juicer Express

Hot New Kitchen Gift Ideas for 2012

The holiday lights are up, the days are getting shorter, and it’s time for holiday shopping!  Here are the Family Foodies best picks for kitchen gift ideas.  Whether you are shopping for friends, family, or even for yourself, these gifts make the grade!

Great Gadgets

Do you love using your tablet to find new recipes?  Hate the thought of getting it dirty in the kitchen, or have trouble reading the screen while cooking?  Then try the Belkin Kitchen Stand and Wand for Tablets (around $39.99).  The chef stand is designed to hold your tablet securely in place, angled perfectly for reading.  The magnetic tipped stylus allows you to navigate the tablet even when your hands are dirty, and when not in use it’s stored securely on the chef stand.  Stand and stylus are both hand washable for easy cleanup when the cooking is done.

If you love the convenience of microwave popcorn, you will love the Presto Power Pop Microwave Multi-Popper ($17.99 on Amazon).  This handy device allows you to make microwave popcorn from regular popcorn kernels.  Not only is homemade microwave popcorn healthier than the packaged microwave popcorn, you can dress it up any way you want.  The Microwave Multi-Popper makes up to three quarts of popcorn at a time with no butter or oil required.  You control the ingredients!  Best of all – the bowl is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.

While the next item isn’t technically a gadget, I love the vintage look and feel of this exclusive Christmas Platter from Williams-Sonoma, priced at $39.95.  The holly leaves and berries bordered in cherry red evoke the image of an old fashioned post-card.  Made of durable earthenware, the platter is both microwave and dishwasher safe, making it perfect for holiday entertaining.

Best For Baking

Homemade donuts are a hot trend for 2012, so we have not one, but TWO options for gifts that help you make your own donuts.

Make your own homemade donuts right on your counter top with the Mini Electric Donut Maker, priced at $39.95.  You can bake one dozen grease free donuts in under five minutes, then wipe clean.  A fork and cooling rack are included with the donut maker.  This is a great option for bakers who don’t like to heat up the kitchen.

Check Out Mini Donut Makers on Amazon!

Donuts and coffee are natural partners.  Williams-Sonoma is offering a Coffee and Donuts Gift Set, including a donut pan, donut baking mix, and custom coffee blend for $49.95.  The non-stick carbon steel donut pan bakes a dozen donuts at a time, but cleans up easily.  The organic baking mix makes up to three dozen donuts, while the coffee blend sings with notes of honey and chocolate – perfect for the holidays!

If cake or bread baking is your passion, try this Pop Out Round Cake Panby celebrity chef Curtis Stone, retailing for $29.95 each.  The pans are an innovative combination of silicone and steel, which provides even browning and prevents warping even at high heats, but releases easily with a “pop” on the bottom of the pan.  Stone’s line features round cake pans, six hole muffin pans, and loaf pans.  The only drawback – hand washing is recommended.

Speaking of silicone, no holiday baking wish list would be complete without a mention of Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat  (about $24 each) and Roul’Pat Countertop Mats (about $43 each).  The Silpat mats make baking a dream, offering a reusable non-stick baking surface the ensures even browning and no sticky mess.  The Roul’Pat Countertop mats offer the same non-stick effectiveness for rolling out dough and pie crusts, or even working chocolate.

Better Beverages

Green tea lovers will really enjoy the Primula Flowering Tea Set ($22.59), which comes with a clear borosilicate glass pot with a package of 12 green tea flowers for brewing.  Each flower can be reused up to three times, making 15 cups of tea per flower.  Plus you get the relaxing effect of watching the flower unfurl in the clear glass pot as your tea steeps to perfections.

Coffee lovers who are discriminating on temperature as well as taste will flip for the Cuisinart 12-Cup Extreme Brew Elite Coffee Maker ($139.95 at Williams-Sonoma).  You choose between two strengths and three temperatures for your ultimate pot of coffee.  This coffee maker brews 25% faster than most other models, and comes with a reusable filter – so it’s easy and green!

If smoothies are more your style, remember that we love the Magic Bullet.  It would make a great gift for any single foodie on your Christmas list this year.

We here at Family Foodies hope this gift guide helps you find the perfect gift for friends and loved ones on your holiday shopping list!


Ultimate Comfort: The Humble Tater Tot Casserole

Fall is is finally here in North Texas, and with the crisp cool weather comes the craving for comfort food.  Pot roasts, stews, soups, and of course – the casserole.  Casserole is by definition a baked dish consisting of meat, vegetables, a binder, and a cheesy or crunchy topping.  And one dish that lives up to this simple definition is the Tater Tot Casserole.

What is a Tater Tot Casserole?

In it’s simplest form, the tater tot casserole combines creamy soup, cheese, and frozen Tater Tots.  These three ingredients can form the basis of a meal or a fabulous side dish.

But many variations of the basic recipe exist to mix things up.  You can add meat and vegetables for a “one dish meal”.  You can add different seasonings to make it a Mexican Tater Tot Casserole, or a Pizza Tater Tot Casserole.  You can go lean(er) with ground turkey, light cheese, and a bechamel sauce made with skim milk to help cut calories and fat.  Or you can go indulgent, adding sour cream, rich melting cheeses, and topping the already crunchy tots with fried onions.

Can’t decide which version you crave the most?  Here are some of my favorite versions of the humble Tater Tot Casserole.

Classic Tater Tot Casserole:

First, let’s start off with the classic recipe for Tater Tot Casserole.  The basic recipe features browned ground beef, cream of (your choice) soup, cheese, and Tater Tots.  Dana Clover at The Homesteading Housewife has a great post on the classic Tater Tot Casserole recipe.  You simply layer the ingredients and bake – easy peasey.

Now let’s try some variations.

Tater Tot Casserole for Breakfast

Why not try Tater Tots for breakfast?  Here are two recipes to help you start the day off right?  Tater Tots aren’t much different from Hash Brown potatoes, and adding them to the classic breakfast casserole adds a fun twist to a morning dish.

Hanan at Lilac City Momma posted her version of a Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole featuring bacon and eggs topped with cheese and tater tots.  Six ingredients, five steps, and fabulous results!  This would be a great recipe to take to a brunch, morning baby shower, or just for one of those lazy Sundays when you want to impress your family without too much effort.

For a spicier version, Stephanie from the Cookin’ Cowgirl adds hot sauce and sausage.  The result – a spicy, cheesy Turkey Sausage Breakfast Casserole, topped with crunchy Tater Tots.  If you really like the heat in the morning, you can substitute spicy Italian sausage for an extra peppery kick.  The bonus here – Stephanie adds step by step pictures.  My mouth was watering by the end of the post!

Spicy Tater Tot Casserole:

Speaking of spicy, some folks just like it hot!  Luckily, the Tater Tot Casserole recipe lends itself well to peppers, Cajun spices, and hot sauce.  Mary Foreman of the Deep South Dish blog posted her spicy version of Tater Tot Casserole (a Southern staple dish).  As a bonus, you get a little bit of Tater Tot trivia along with the recipe.  Did you know that Tater Tots are made up of the leftover potato material?  The Griggs’ brothers at the Ore-Ida factory were looking for a way to bits of potato leftover after making French Fries, Hash Browns, and other Ore-Ida goodies.  They put all the bits together with a binder, and fried them up.  Clever, no?

For a Mexican twist, Lee at the Vegan Version blog created a Mexican Version of Tater Tot Casserole by replacing the meat with refried beans, and the “cream of” soup with salsa.  Although the recipe is Vegan, you could easily add shredded chicken or beef to the refried beans for more protein.  To kick up the Mexican flavors, you could also add diced green chiles or chipotle peppers for a smoky kick.  That’s what Kirby at Dancing on the Table did when she created a smokey Chipotle Tater Tot Taco Bake recipe that just oozes cheese and Mexican flavors!

Chicken Variations:

Finally, lest you think Tater Tot casserole is only beef based, let me share two tasty chicken variations of the classic.

First, there is the Broccoli, Cheddar, and Chicken Tater Tot casserole from Jill at Meet the Dubiens family blog.  One of my favorite casseroles of all time is Chicken-Broccoli, and this casserole takes those same classic tastes and tops them with crunchy Tater Tots.  One caution – the recipe calls for four cans of creamy and cheesy soup, so the end product may be a bit runnier than some of the other recipes highlighted here.

Finally, I wanted to share a slow cooker version, perfect for busy cooks.  Brandie, at the Country Cook, whips up a version with bacon, chicken, cheese, and Tots, all of which blend together in a slow cooker.  Throw the ingredients into the cooker in the morning, and savor the comfort food that evening.


So next time you are in the mood for some solid comfort food, why not give one of these Tater Tot Casseroles a try?



Blog Posts We Love For This Fall: Great Ideas To Use!

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year!  The weather is cooling off, and some mornings there is that nip in the air that makes me dream of food that’s warm, creamy, and comforting.  And the food scene is hoppin’ with tail gate parties, Fall Festivals in the local communities, and party after party after party as we count down towards the big holiday season.  It’s enough to make me want to skip work and spend the day in the kitchen baking, stewing, and cooking my way into a freezer full of meals that warm the soul and feed the body.

So I’d like to share with you some of my favorite recipes, and bloggers, who help me find those spot-on recipes to help warm the days and nights during Fall.

Here’s Some Great Fall Link Love:

First – fall is all about pumpkins, at least here in North America.  So what better way than to start your day with a Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Shake, courtesy of Kiersten at Oh My Veggies! vegetarian food blog.  The shake contains pumpkin, dairy, oats, and a variety of spices, making it a filling and healthy way to start your day off right.  The recipes at Oh My Veggies! make it fun and easy to try out the vegetarian lifestyle without sacrificing taste.

Another great Fall breakfast option is to bake a batch of Apple Cinnamon Chip Muffins, from Ashley at Cookie Monster Cooking.  I haven’t seen Cinnamon Chips at my local grocery store, so this recipe might justify a trip to my local Central Market or Trader Joe’s to find this trendy baking item.  Partner this up with a nice cup of herbal tea and I might be ready to face the day!

For a savory afternoon snack, I can’t wait to try out the Maple-Bacon Kettle Popcorn from Michelle, the Brown Eyed Baker.  I first tried candied bacon at a baby shower a few years back, and it rocked!  And Kettle Corn is a “must have” treat at our local Pumpkin Patch – it’s almost synonymous with Fall.  I usually make microwave popcorn, but the recipe looks simple enough that I’m tempted to try it out tonight (or rather, once I buy some traditional popcorn).

Fall is also another great excuse to break out my slow cooker and fill my home with savory aromas, which will hopefully entice my picky eaters to try something other than chicken strips and french fries.  Karen Petersen at 365 Days of Slow Cooking has posted a yummy looking Cheesy Potato and Leek Soup recipe for the slow cooker, which looks fantastic!  I tried making a stove top leek and potato soup a few weeks back, but this looks much easier and much tastier than the recipe I tried.  Time to buy some more leeks and give it a shot!

Do you love trying out heritage recipes?  What would you say to Beatrix Potter’s Gingerbread recipe?  Her handwritten, 161 year old personal recipe book is up for auction, but you can find her family recipes for Gingerbread over at The Kitchn blog.  There are also a great list of freezer staples that make entertaining much easier for the busy cook.

Since I have picky eaters, no Link Love post would be complete without a nod to Jenny at Picky Palate.  Tonight I’m all set to try her Cheesy Chicken and Rice Skillet (with bacon!!), although I’ll probably have to cut back a little on the cheese to please my hubby and daughter.  Jenny has excellent tips for whipping together homemade meals that help satisfy the demands of picky eaters, and her current list of recipes really hit the spot for Fall cooking.

Finally, to wrap it up, what would be better than a list of 100 Sweet Fall Treats to provide desserts and snacks for the entire Fall season.  The list is divided by category, and features apple, caramel, chocolate, spice, maple, pear, pumpkin, and sweet potato treats.  Marla at Family Fresh Cooking contributed many of the recipes, but also collected a great variety from other bloggers.

So – enjoy the Fall season, and enjoy cooking up some of these treats for your family foodies!

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