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Getting the seal of approval on family recipes can sometimes be a challenge. Once a favorite recipe makes it in the rotation of the dinner repertoire, don't wear it out! Take these simple tips and ideas to the kitchen to tweak your favorite recipes in ways your kids will love.
A little extra know-how in the kitchen can lead to greater flavor (and nutritional) variety on the plate. Many vegetables with similar cooking times can be used interchangeably in a recipe, considering factors like the vegetable's texture and seasonality. Delicate ones, like peas and corn kernels, have similar cooking times. All leafy greens can be swapped with one another, although their margin of tenderness varies with the heartiness of the green and when they are harvested. For instance, if you're bored with spinach, choose kale, mustard greens or even arugula for new flavor. Hearty root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, beets and turnips have equivalent cooking times, as long as they are trimmed to approximately the same shape. When in doubt about swapping in a new vegetable, the easiest way to know its proper cooking time is to taste it every few minutes as it approaches the time noted in the recipe.
Twice As Nice
Give your favorite recipes new life by planning for leftovers and transforming them into new dishes. Your kids will still enjoy the flavors they're used to, while you're giving them a new dish to love. The recipes best suited for reuse are those that contain a signature meat preparation, like a pot roast or a grilled steak with a flavorful rub. Leftover shredded beef, chicken or pork can stretch beyond tacos or sandwiches when stirred into a tasty pasta sauce or added to a hearty chopped salad. Reusing portions of a dish gives your kids a combination of new and familiar flavor, while offering you the variety to introduce new preparations and skip a step in dinner prep.
Certain recipes easily lend themselves to flavor variation while maintaining the same structure of the recipe itself. These recipes, like many pasta dishes, soups or casseroles, can be refocused in flavor without changing the method. For example, turn a tomato-based Italian meat sauce into a Moroccan one by swapping beef and basil for lamb, cayenne and cinnamon. Swap almonds or hazelnuts for pine nuts the next time you make pesto, or add salsa and rice instead of canned tomatoes and noodles to chicken soup for a Mexican twist. The hassle-free factor to consider when substituting flavors in recipes is to swap new things within the same category — like ground meats, canned beans or pasta shapes — for any other that live near them on the grocery shelf.
Many kid-friendly recipes are based on simple dishes made with a few recognizable ingredients. Consider the ingredients that compose your kids' favorite meal, and find a new recipe that uses similar ones but in a way that is new for your table. Instead of a burger with mushrooms, make Salisbury steak instead. Your kids will recognize the flavors, while being encouraged to try new things. Before you know it, you'll have a wide variety of recipes your family loves!