Page 1

A Collection of Kid-Friendly Tips, Tricks and Recipes for Fun in the Kitchen

As moms, we know that when a child is introduced to the magic of the kitchen they learn about so much more than just cooking. Measuring ingredients, cracking eggs, playing in the sink, licking the spoon, stirring a pot, peering into an oven window and asking, “is it done?” – all these moments are exhilarating to our kids. Why? Because they are learning to make something themselves – and they get special, fun time with us. Looking back, many of us have clear and loving memories of moments in the kitchen with our parents, and that is a gift we want our own kids to have as well. So what better way to celebrate the joy of cooking with kids than with a brand whose familiar flavors bring back fond

memories of childhood and make you feel like a kid again, Chef Boyardee! That’s why – in the spirit of childhood memories and the fun of cooking with our Little Chefs – Chef Boyardee has come together with forty moms and their families to write the book, literally, on cooking with kids. What follows here are fully “crowdsourced” tips, tricks and recipes for getting our Little Chefs started in the kitchen. We hope you enjoy our book and use the ideas here to create even more precious, memorable times in the kitchen with your kids! As Chef Boyardee reminds us, “Dinner tastes better when you cook it together.” Let’s get cooking!

Cooper Munroe from The Motherhood and the Little Chefs Project Moms!


• Feel Like a Kid Again • Teachable Moments • Everyday Fun • Family Time • Fun with Flavors • Family Traditions • Additional Resources • Chef Boyardee Timeline • Contributing Bloggers



feel like

a kid again Remember what it was like to cook with your mom or dad? Bring back those memories by getting in the kitchen to whip up your own childhood favorites with your kids — or have kid vs. adult cook-offs, sing songs, get silly, make a mess and more. Read on for great stories, delicious recipes for cooking with Chef Boyardee the whole family will enjoy and tips for feeling like a kid again in the kitchen.

IDEAS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Annie Stow, Stowed Stuff Carrie McLaren, Carrie with Children Connie Ott, MiscFinds4u Heather, Our Kids Mom Leigh Powell Hines, Hines-Sight Blog Pam Thompson, aka Dakotapam, It’s Time for More Coffee Tiffany Merritt, Stuff Parents Need

The Stow family sure does love food. Whether they’re helping out in our own kitchen or at Grandma’s, our kids are always welcome to stir, pour, crack an egg, and get messy. I was always welcome in the kitchen as a child, too, and some of my favorite childhood memories are with my mom baking brownies (and always getting to lick the bowl) and helping my Nana bake scrumptious apple pies from scratch. I’m delighted to know that my own kids have already been able to create memories in the kitchen with us.

Annie, Stowed Stuff

Our Favorite Recipes: Beef Ravioli Pizza Cups with Tomato Basil Salsa FIND THE RECIPE @ CHEFBOYARDEE.COM

Both my husband and I worked full-time while the kids were growing up. When my boys were little, we got them a play kitchen with all kinds of fun, fake food. As they got older, we included them in meal preparation and clean-up. They learned early on how to make easy meals for themselves, and Chef Boyardee was certainly one of the brands we kept stocked in the cupboards for them. I still cook with my boys, now men, and they have an appreciation for great food. I hope to watch them pass that love on to their future children someday. Plus I can’t wait to get into the kitchen with a new generation of children to start the process all over again. That’s how I stay young, and it helps me feel like a kid again!

Connie, MiscFinds4U

My mother gave me my first cookbook when I was seven years old. Being able to select recipes to try, gather the ingredients and follow the instructions made me feel like such a big girl. Now, 25 years later, I pick up my treasured cookbook and make one of my favorite items when I want to feel like a kid again. I can still hear my mom telling me that by giving the task my best effort, I can create something memorable. That’s some of the best advice I ever received, and it continues to inspire me in the kitchen and beyond. And I sure do love having a plate of fudge on hand while I do my “big girl” work!

Tiffany, Stuff Parents Need

tips Heather, Our Kids Mom: • Don’t take cooking so seriously. I let my children help measure, pour, mix and decorate. I figure a little plus or minus on the ingredients isn’t going to change the end result dramatically, and they feel a sense of pride that they “cooked it.” • Music always helps pass the time, and sing-alongs and dance battles while baking are FUN!

Leigh, Hines-Sight Blog: • My son has been cooking with me since he was about three, and my daughter is now joining us for the fun. We love to make homemade pizza, and they do everything from pouring the sauce to sprinkling the pizza with cheese and toppings. We love to give our pizza faces, and it always makes everyone laugh. • Patience is a virtue when cooking with Little Chefs. The more relaxed you are as a parent, the more fun you will have.

Pam, aka Dakotapam, It’s Time for More Coffee: • Kids love aprons! I’ve picked up kid-sized aprons at craft stores and then let the kids decorate them as a great rainy day activity. Somehow the aprons make them feel more “official” in the kitchen. • Have a kid vs. grown-up cook-off! We often have a chili competition when we are camping. This encourages creativity and trying new foods. • Assign each child in the family a day to be your sous-chef. Not only will you gain a helpful assistant, they will learn valuable skills and get one-on-one time with mom or dad!

Tiffany, Stuff Parents Need: • Create an entire meal of your favorite foods from childhood. It will be a great source of comfort for you, and your children will enjoy learning more about who mommy was as a child!

As a mom to two toddlers, I love incorporating learning and fun when cooking in the kitchen. Whether we are making our own pepperoni pizzas or making cheese squares for snacks, it’s a great conversation starter with my girls to talk about shapes! The Chef Boyardee Mini ABC’s & 123’s are fun for learning letters – my oldest daughter, Maggie, loves to call out each of the letters as she eats them! Learning should be fun, and allowing the kids to spend some hands-on time in the kitchen means we get to have fun with each other. The kitchen is the perfect place for family time!

Carrie, Carrie with Children

We know everyone has different triggers for feeling like a kid again - eating a particular meal, baking a certain treat - and we wanted to find out what works for our Facebook and Twitter communities. We asked and they answered: What makes you feel like a kid in the kitchen? From a friend of Annie, Stowed Stuff: We bake a lot. I use pumpkin pie mix and cake mix and bake as per the box. From a friend of Carrie, Carrie with Children: Letting my son help me in the kitchen brings back memories of baking cookies with my mom as a child! From a friend of Heather, Our Kids Mom: ALWAYS lick the spatula, and clean the bowls with your fingers! From a friend of Leigh, Hines-Sight Blog: Making Rice Krispies Treats or chocolate chip cookies. From a friend of Pam, aka Dakotapam, It’s Time for More Coffee: Kids love to help, but so many exclude kids when it comes to cooking - give ‘em an apron & get started!


teachable moments Let your recipe box and cooking supplies help you make learning fun for your kids! And the best part: at the end of the lesson, you can all enjoy the meals you created together. Find out how you can work math, science, culture, and even history into kitchen time with your Little Chefs.

IDEAS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Amee, Madame Deals, Inc. Caroline Murphy, Smarty Pants Mama Janene and Christine, More Than Mommies Maureen Fitzgerald, Wisconsin Mommy Mel Lockcuff, MamaBuzz Monica Olivera, Mommy Maestra Tiffany Manley, Sweet Phenomena

Learning begins with our senses, and the kitchen can be our best classroom. It is so amazing to watch our children as they discover changes in the way their food looks, feels, tastes, smells, and sounds as we are cooking together.

In our homeschooling life, one of our favorite subjects to use food with is history, and I encourage you to help your child easily remember time periods, countries, and even people with simple foods or recipes associated with that place or person. For example, when studying the lives of New World Explorers, we used limes during our discussion of diseases like scurvy, and made rice to learn about Europe’s trade route with Asia. When learning about the Pilgrims, we successfully made butter using a baby food jar and a dash of cream. We’ve made chocolate from cacao beans, and even tried our hand at mummifying a store-bought chicken! So don’t be afraid to think outside the box and create powerful learning experiences using ingredients found in your own kitchen. Happy learning!

Monica, Mommy Maestra

I can remember the first time my daughter watched a pot of water boil. Something as simple as seeing the bubbles and steam coming off of a pot really intrigued her. Her fascination gave me an opportunity to teach her about how our food changes when we add heat and the many ways that we can note those changes by using our senses. For example, seeing the bubbles and feeling the heat from the steam coming off of a pot tells us that it’s time to add the spaghetti noodles! There are so many chances to make kitchen magic and have fun with your kids while you cook, so invite your children into the kitchen and explore the sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes that your Little Chefs create with you!

Janene and Christine, More Than Mommies

In addition to teaching, we are all interested in learning and adding new lessons to our kitchen classroom. Here are a few ideas we gathered from friends on Facebook and Twitter: From a friend of Janene and Christine, More Than Mommies: [My kids like to bake] Apple Cinnamon Muffins (out of a box). It’s their favorite snack and they practice math and science. From a friend of Maureen, Wisconsin Mommy: Cooking is so great to reinforce concepts at school! You can incorporate chemistry, like reactions that certain ingredients make together; math, like measuring and fractions; and art, where you use colors to create different frostings. From a friend of Mel, MamaBuzz: Grandma said, “If you can read, then you can cook anything.” And, boy, did I love to read. God Bless Grandmas. From a friend of Monica, Mommy Maestra: I once taught a summer math review using “Cooking with Math.” It was awesome, and my students learned about the importance of following through on a math problem, or the recipe didn’t taste so good when they made it. From a friend of Tiffany, Sweet Phenomena: Yesterday it was practicing syllables - choc-o-late cake, straw-ber-ry jell-o.

My 5-year-old appears to have the same passion to cook as I do. Some of my favorite meals we have prepared together are ones that my mom, grandmother and great-aunt taught me. A lesson of family foods, cultural background and more are integrated into simple dishes that my daughter, myself, and our ancestors have prepared and enjoyed for generations. I am the daughter of Cuban immigrants, so many traditional Cuban dishes are regularly enjoyed in our home. Recently we pulled out the Betty Crocker of Cuban cookbooks, Cocina al Minuto, to learn the basics of making tostones – a fried plantain. Nana (my mom) joined my 5-year-old and me, sharing her best advice on how to prepare the tostones. The Little Chef was engrossed with the entire process. Our cooking lesson was filled with cooking techniques and stories of how Nana used to eat and prepare the tostones as a child with her own mother and aunt.

Caroline, Smarty Pants Mama

Our Favorite Recipes: Beef Chow Mein-aroni


The kitchen is a great place to reinforce the lessons your child is learning in elementary school. Enlist his or her help in preparing meals, and use that time to strengthen skills in reading, math, and science. Younger students can practice counting and sequencing by helping you prepare ingredients for your recipes and determining which actions should be done first. Older students can practice multiplication and/or fractions by increasing or decreasing a recipe to yield more or fewer servings. Basic science concepts can be explored through beating egg whites, making gelatin or pudding, or either melting or freezing ingredients.

Maureen, Wisconsin Mommy

tips Amee, Madame Deals, INC.:

Mel, MamaBuzz:

• Create a scavenger hunt by naming the ingredients in your recipe and having your child look for them. This is an important life skill, and it requires logical thinking. “Where would a can of Chef Boyardee be? Would it be in the dishwasher? Is it in the sink? Oh, it is in the cabinet, good thinking.”

• Don’t be afraid of a mess. There will be messy, sticky situations, but enjoying the time together and creating memories is probably one of the most important things; kids grow up in the blink of an eye.

• The skills children learn by following a recipe include reading left to right, following directions, and ordering and sequencing events. To help with this process, for example, you can create flashcards to order the instructions for making Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese using as many steps as you wish.

Caroline, Smarty Pants Mama: • Compile recipes from the extended family to make a family cookbook. This will provide current and future generations the opportunity to keep the family recipes in existence. • Study other countries in fun, interactive ways through recipes. Making pizza? Why not learn Italian cooking terms to use while the Little Chef helps you spread the sauce across the dough?

• Let kids help with basic kitchen/mealtime chores, such as making sandwiches. You could even get a shaped sandwich cutter designed to take the ordinary out of that sandwich.

Tiffany, Sweet Phenomena: • Try to instill a love of cooking in your children by focusing on the creative aspects of being in the kitchen and the great family memories it builds. Teach your children that creating something from the heart is one of the best ways to tell someone you love them. • Encourage your children to create their own recipes. This allows them to think critically, practice math, and learn their way around a kitchen. You never know when they’ll come up with something that should totally be put in a cookbook!




From weekend breakfast rituals to holidays like Halloween, you can find any occasion to cook up some everyday fun with your kids. Grab a can of Chef Boyardee and read on for further inspiration and ideas for getting started.


Brett Martin, This Mama Loves Her Bargains Carrie H., Making Lemonade Christi S., Frugal Novice Corine Ingrassia, Complicated Mama Kim Delatorre, Shop with Me Mama Michelle G., Ace and Friends Co. Roxanne D., Children Teaching Mama

One way we share everyday fun in our home is with a once-a-week special breakfast. Since breakfast is a versatile meal that can be made with staples we always have on hand, it’s perfect for sharing with Little Chefs. They love buttering ramekins or pans, whisking eggs, and pouring batter. It even gives them the chance to try new things, like healthy mini egg soufflés – since they choose which ingredients they include with the eggs, they’re much more likely to eat them. Add in some cloth napkins and special serving dishes, and you’ve got a meal that makes memories!

Carrie, Making Lemonade

Getting my kids to eat their veggies is sometimes a daunting task. I’ve found an easy way to incorporate them into something that they really love… smoothies. They are a wonderful way to get the recommended fruits and veggies, especially for my picky little eater. Each of my kids has their own flavor preferences, and smoothies make it easy to adjust ingredients to accommodate each one. If you have a child with a food allergy, like we do, you can create a separate smoothie that they can enjoy, too. Smoothies are a healthy and tasty snack that kids love to create and can easily make with adult supervision.

Michelle, Ace and Friends Co.

We love holidays in our house, and it’s important for me to start traditions with the kids that we can enjoy year after year. Now that my boys are getting older (they are 3 and 5), I’ve started thinking of creative ways to make Halloween fun – and not just in the evening when we’re out trick-or-treating! I decided to do a “Boo Breakfast” with pancakes. We added candy corn and chocolate chips to make jack-o-lantern faces, and used the extra candy corn to make a fun wreath for the house!

My kids and I love experimenting in the kitchen. From making scrambled eggs and sausage in the mornings to thinking up creative meals to cook for dinner, I cook better when my kids are at my side – I don’t like cooking alone! One time we had cousins over and made a wonderful and delicious homemade pizza with everything on it. I just bought a bunch of yummy ingredients and let the kids put whatever toppings they wanted on the pizza. It turned out to be the best pizza I have ever eaten. What a blast it is to get everyone involved in the kitchen.

Christi, Frugal Novice Kim, Shop with Me Mama

Our Favorite Recipes: Deelicious Artichoke Mac and Cheese FIND THE RECIPE @ CHEFBOYARDEE.COM

tips Brett, This Mama Loves Her Bargains: • Expect a mess, know that it CAN and WILL get cleaned up, and remember that nothing is perfect. Once you let go of those expectations, you can relax and have fun – and really enjoy the experience with the kids.

Corine, Complicated Mama: • Have fun with it! Make a waffle breakfast designed to look like an ice cream cone, and let your kids include their favorite ice cream toppings. Think sprinkles, whipped cream, chocolate chips and syrup!

• I recommend getting a mixing bowl with a non-slip bottom, especially for the littlest helpers, because it helps them feel successful.

• Where I used bananas to look like “scoops” of vanilla ice cream, you can also cut up strawberries, kiwi, or other fruit to offer additional flavors to your morning!

Christi, Frugal Novice:

Roxanne, Children Teaching Mama:

• Pre-measure ingredients into containers before you start cooking with a younger helper. This makes it easier for them to help and feel independent while still keeping the right amounts of each ingredient for the recipe!

• Don’t go overboard! We all know, as parents, that things don’t always go as planned. For this reason, it’s best to keep things simple at first and work up to bigger projects and recipes later. You want children to enjoy time in the kitchen, so don’t overwhelm them (or yourself)!

• Think about ways to incorporate holiday fun into each meal. For Halloween, this could be making “Boo Breakfast” pancakes, using a cookie cutter at lunch to shape sandwiches like a pumpkin, or serving soup for dinner out of a cauldron with a little bit of dry ice (underneath the cauldron, not in the food!) for added flair!

• You don’t always have to follow the recipe to a tee. Encourage your children to share their own recipe ideas and add their own little touches. After all, how else will you know if carrots and chocolate sauce taste good together?

We crowd-sourced ideas on everyday fun in the kitchen using Facebook and Twitter. In addition to the tips we’ve provided in this chapter, take a look at some of these great suggestions from our community! From a friend of Brett, This Mama Loves Her Bargains: Put on an apron. Cooking is always more fun when you have the potential to get messy. From a friend of Carrie, Making Lemonade: We have a family night once a week. If it’s your turn, you get to go through my cookbooks (in the days leading up to it), pick your meal, help me shop for it and help cook it. The kids act like it’s such a treat now to go grocery shopping and cook, because they can get to say it’s their turn! They also pick the family activity that we do after dinner, and it can’t involve electronics. From a friend of Christi, Frugal Novice: We love decorating sugar cookies. We ice them different colors and the kids decorate them with all sorts of sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, etc. They make their own patterns, and we all enjoy one cookie when we finish … okay, maybe two cookies.

From a friend of Corine, Complicated Mama: Kids love to chop things or tear them into little tiny pieces … Also, we ALWAYS rock out in the kitchen … sometimes stopping the cooking for a quick dance break. From a friend of Kim, Shop with Me Mama: We make all sorts of things - homemade play dough, edible finger paint, rainbow cupcakes - and they always help stir, no matter what’s cookin’! From a friend of Michelle, Ace and Friends Co.: Turn normal dinners into fun ones! I bake pizza crust and use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes and make our pizzas together! From a friend of Roxanne, Children Teaching Mama: We make muffins three times a week - the kids think they are cupcakes.


family time No matter how busy the schedule gets, there’s never a bad time to get your kids in the kitchen for quality time. Bond over homemade pizzas and buffet-style meals, have the kids help set the table, or start a fun, family cleanup line after sitting down together for dinner. Mealtime is family time!

IDEAS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Ashley Abele, My Front Porch Swing Beth M., Simply Budgeted Jennifer Mercurio, Double Duty Mommy Jessica Lieb, The B Keeps Us Honest Linsey Knerl, Lille Punkin’ Liz, Thoughts of a Mommy Renae Chiovaro, How to Have it All

Every meal, no matter how big or small, consists of lots of little jobs. Some of these jobs, such as chopping onions or taking something out of the oven, should be done by bigger kids or adults. Lots of these jobs, though, can be done by kids of any age. When you start getting your meal together, ask yourself which little jobs can be done by little hands. Can they pour the onions that you have chopped into the saucepan? Can they add cherry tomatoes to a salad? Can they stir the cheese sauce into the macaroni? Finding little jobs to involve your young children can free you up to handle the bigger jobs, make mealtime a family event, and bring everyone to the table.

Beth, Simply Budgeted

In today’s on-the-go culture, it’s hard to keep up with family life. I am very proud to share that we have family dinners together every day. Since the first day we brought home our son 13 years ago, we have made it a point to sit, eat and talk. Believe it or not, we have had the greatest conversations with our kids at the dinner table. My hope is that we are instilling in our children the importance of family time together around the dinner table. I want to encourage you to do the same.

Liz, Thoughts of a Mommy

I like to involve my family in dinnertime prep and cooking at least once a week, and on Sundays we make a big breakfast together. One our favorite meals to cook together is pizza! My girls love to help sprinkle the cheese and the toppings, plus it’s delicious, so they gobble it up once it’s done cooking.

Jennifer, Double Duty Mommy

Our Favorite Recipes: Mini Ravioli Taco Bake


tips Ashley, Front Porch Swing: • To create more family time in the kitchen – both prepping AND eating – one of the most important things is planning. Scheduling meals, stocking up on supplies, and making sure everyone knows what to expect makes it easier to work together. • Keep it simple! Elaborate meals are great for special occasions, but be sure to include ingredients your kids can help you prepare. Onion slices can be diced with a butter knife, Parmesan cheese and other similar ingredients can be measured out in cups, and canned ingredients can be dumped into a pot. Be conscious of what you use and what your children can do!

Linsey, Lille Punkin’: • We often let the kids help with meal prep (peeling zucchini or potatoes) while we discuss the food pyramid or how our bodies work! The more hands-on the education, the more likely they are to listen and remember what they’ve learned. Older kids can coach younger kids, so the whole family can be involved.

• Our only mealtime rule is “Veggies First!” Our kids learned as soon as they could use a fork that the veggie on the plate needs to be completely finished before they move on to other foods. Since we implemented this rule, the kids are eager to try new veggies, and they hold each other accountable for finishing the veggie before the other items on their plates.

Renae, How to Have it All: • Let everyone choose which ingredients they would like on their salad, pizza or sandwiches. Buffet-style meals are my children’s favorite! Letting them choose which ingredients they want creates engagement and increases the likelihood that they will eat dinner. • Think outside of the kitchen. In the winter, when our garden is dormant, I take my kids to the produce section in the grocery store. I allow them to pick one produce item. Sometimes they surprise me and pick something like broccoli or parsnips! Allow children to be involved in produce selection, and they will be more willing to try new things.

How do YOU encourage family time in the kitchen, and what does it mean to you? We went to Facebook and Twitter to ask. Here’s what our communities told us: From a friend of Beth, Simply Budgeted: [Family time in the kitchen means] love, support, and recreation time! From a friend of Jennifer, Double Duty Mommy: Listening to music on the radio or your own mix in the kitchen while the whole family is coming together to help with dinner. Don’t be afraid to let the little ones in the kitchen. From a friend of Linsey, Lille Punkin’: All of my kids love to cook with me. My oldest, 8, stirs things on the stove with close supervision and helps prep vegetables. My little ones, 2 and 3, like to help put the vegetables in a bowl or help to put fruits and vegetables out after grocery shopping. When they are involved, they seem to like to eat the food more. From a friend of Liz, Thoughts of a Mommy: During the week, make it a point every day to at least sit for a meal together, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. During the weekend we aim for all three! From a friend of Renae, How to Have it All: Ask [your kids] what they would like family time to consist of and maybe let them fill out strips of papers with their ideas, put them in a jar and pick one daily, weekly, etc.


fun with

flavors Have picky eaters? Try creating a new, quick and easy recipe with them! Introduce them to fun new flavors using dips and spices, and encourage them to help you pick ingredients and create meals. Little Chefs are more likely to eat food they helped you cook! For more tips and tricks, keep reading.

IDEAS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Janel, A Mom’s Take Jennifer Burg, The Suburban Mom Jenny Rapson, Mommin’ It Up Kerri Jablonski, The Maven of Social Media® Sarah Visbeek, In the Trenches of Mommyhood Shannon Gosney, The Mommy-Files

To help my picky eaters be more willing to eat the foods we have prepared, we have learned to slowly and consistently introduce new vegetables. My husband loves cooking with peppers, onion, garlic, spinach, and tomatoes. My kids would see something they weren’t used to eating and immediately say they “didn’t like it.” However, we have continued adding these ingredients, and now they are so used to seeing them in the recipes we prepare that some they have even come to like!

Janel, A Mom’s Take

People are often surprised when they see my daughter eat. It’s not every day you find a four-year-old who requests asparagus, gobbles up edamame and begs for more capers. By far the single most effective tool in my arsenal is the “No Thank You Bite.” Our family rule is that kiddos must try one “No Thank You Bite” of every new food offered. After tasting, chewing, and swallowing (without fuss), kids are allowed to politely say “No Thank You” if they don’t like it, and they don’t have to have any more (at least this time). By insisting from day one that every new food be met with a single bite, my daughter has discovered that, more often than not, she wants more. With a few exceptions, she’s learned to eat just about anything and discovered some unique favorites.

Jennifer, The Suburban Mom

In my house, the key to overcoming kids’ apprehensions about trying new foods is to give them control over part of the process. While I set the foundation of a healthy meal, I’ll let them choose the defining flavors. My son will jump at the chance to eat a salad if he can choose to top it with a little fresh lime juice or barbeque sauce. My daughter is more open to eating a vegetable soup or salad if she is allowed to garnish it with a few crushed tortilla chips. Letting the kids choose and physically add their own flavors to our meals goes a long way in getting them to eat what I’ve prepared for the family.

Jenny, Mommin’ It Up

My boys have grown up trying different foods. I have made it a rule that they at least try the food before deciding they don’t like it. Three out of four times, they actually like it. Sometimes when making meals, I give them two or three meal options to choose from, but they have to all agree. This gets them more excited about meals. Plus, when we’re eating a meal that is new, we (generally the adults) talk about how good it is. This enthusiasm and excitement gets the kids interested, and they usually end up trying the new food.

Shannon, The Mommy-Files

tips Jessica, The B Keeps Us Honest:

Kerri, The Maven of Social Media:

• Assign everyone a task to help with dinner preparation.

• Don’t assume kids don’t like spicy. Remember that “spicy” doesn’t mean “hot,” and sometimes kids like a little oomph! My kids love curry. Try sprinkling some cumin or turmeric on French fries!

• Let kids pick out new recipes and make them together.

Sarah, In the Trenches of Mommyhood: • Children are more likely to try something if they’ve helped to make it ... or if they do it on their own! For example, on Taco Night, I put everything out on the table – the shells, the meat, the cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes – allowing my boys to make their very own tacos.

Shannon, The Mommy-Files: • If you have a child who is a very picky eater and won’t eat vegetables, puree the veggies beforehand and then add them to the dish you are preparing. One friend suggested adding the pureed veggies to a meat, such as ground beef, when you’re making a dish like meatloaf or meatballs. They won’t even know it’s there!

• Dip! Dip! Dip! Get creative! Want your kids to try a new fruit or vegetable? Let them dip it into something they love. Or vice versa, make a dip with beans and seasonings and let them dip their beloved carrots in them. My daughter loves mint chutney. Really!

We have our own thoughts on how to introduce new flavors to even the pickiest eaters - but we took to Facebook and Twitter to ask our friends and family for their advice, too. Here are their suggestions on having fun with flavors and encouraging picky kids to eat up! I generally tweak a lot of recipes to make them familyfriendly for all of us. For example, if I’m making chicken marsala florentine, I will cut up just the chicken for the boys, because they don’t like mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes. Instead of serving the entire dish over rice for them, I serve the rice separately (“no wet rice, momma!”). After seeing how delicious our meals looked compared to theirs (plain and boring and DRY), my 10-year-old now eats his chicken marsala florentine exactly how we eat ours!

Sarah, In the Trenches of Mommyhood

From a friend of Janel, A Mom’s Take: One thing that I find helpful for “sneaking” in veggies is a food processor. You can seriously grind up celery so finely that when you add it to something - say a tuna casserole - it’s imperceptible! From a friend of Jennifer, The Suburban Mom: Let kids pick items at the grocery store - and then let them help cook those items! From a friend of Jenny, Mommin’ It Up: Dips might be the best way to start. You can make your own Ranch, BBQ, and different flavors of mayo for sandwiches (like cilantro, garlic, or basil). From a friend of Kerri, The Maven of Social Media®: We always try to cook with rainbows … each color group has a delicious range of flavors. From a friend of Shannon, The Mommy-Files: First rule is to take an adventure bite. Second rule is to figure out if it’s consistently the same foods or a power struggle. Third is to consider if it is a sensory issue. One of my daughters cannot handle eating food when there are multiple colors on the plate. If it’s mixed in marinara or gravy, we’re good. Or she eats each part of the same meal individually.



traditions More than 85 years ago, Chef Hector Boiardi migrated to the United States and began sharing his delicious meals made with real quality ingredients — a tradition which is carried on today. For any holiday or occasion, or simply for everyday, traditions are important to your family history. Whether you’re looking to pass along your age-old family meal traditions to the next generation or create new ones, these moms have advice and stories to share.

IDEAS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Jenilee W., Seven in the Nest Jennifer Gervens, Sweet T Makes Three Meagan Paullin, Sunshine and Sippy Cups Shell Fruscione, {Not Quite} Susie Homemaker Silvia Martinez, Mama Latina Tips Tina Kelley, Mad Hatter Mom

From everyday mealtime to yearly holidays, we have several traditions we are delivering to the next generation. A mealtime tradition dating back four generations that we still practice today is to hold hands around the table and say a prayer of thanks before each dinner. And Christmas morning never passes without a competition to see who can shout “Christmas gift!” first in order to receive the first present. This was a tradition for my maternal grandfather and has evolved through the years to include technology. Phone calls count, while texting doesn’t … yet. Being from the South, tradition and mealtimes go hand-in-hand. I’m blessed to have a mother-in-law who is quite the baker. It’s not Christmas for my husband until her cream wafers come out of the oven!

Jennifer, Sweet T Makes Three

I’m a big fan of creative meal planning – themed dinner nights, funny kids’ snack creations, and totally decadent desserts. I once made pirate pizza and octopus cupcakes for a Pirates of the Caribbean movie night, I whipped up a seven-layer rainbow cake for my daughter’s first birthday party, and one of my favorites was the Snackadium that we created for last year’s Super Bowl party. So, as you can probably imagine, I get even more over-the-top when it comes to the holidays!  My favorite family tradition at the holidays is our annual Family Cookie Night. Every year when I was a little girl, we would all gather at my grandma’s house and bake cookies – we’d make over 30 dozen, and make giant cookie platters for all of our friends and family. Most of those women in my family have passed away now – but the tradition lives on. One of my great-aunts created a cookbook with all of our family recipes in it for each of us girls. It’s wonderful to continue our cookie baking nights now, with my mother and daughter, using all of those favorite recipes that remind me of Christmas as a little girl.

Meagan, Sunshine and Sippy Cups

We asked our Facebook and Twitter communities to share their own family traditions with us! Here’s what some of them said: From a friend of Jenilee, Seven in the Nest: We have several traditions for different times of the year (holidays, etc.). One simple one that we all love is not having school when someone in the house has a birthday. From a friend of Jennifer, Sweet T Makes Three: We always do the “what did you do at work/school” conversation [around the dinner table]. It’s a nice way to concentrate on each person and give them undivided attention! From a friend of Meagan, Sunshine and Sippy Cups: We always make sure to go around the table and say what we are thankful for before any holiday meal! From a friend of Shell, {Not Quite} Susie Homemaker: We always have to have ham and turkey during Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. And a lot of sides to go along with them! It’s fun having everyone pitch in to create a big meal. From a friend of Silvia, Mama Latina Tips: We have a tradition of making tamales every year [during the holidays]. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. We bond as a family as we cook delicious food. From a friend of Tina, Mad Hatter Mom: Super Bowl Sunday is a special day at my house. My daughter and I aren’t football fans, but we make a celebration out of it anyway. We always cook homemade chili, pigs in a blanket and a giant football-shaped cookie. We sit and watch the game with my husband and wait for the halftime show.

tips Silvia, Mama Latina Tips: • If you live in a multicultural household, choose at least two traditions to celebrate your heritage each year and make a big deal of them. Every year, for example, we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with the traditional corned beef, cabbage and potatoes, as my husband is a wee bit Irish. We also celebrate Día de Reyes (Epiphany or Three Kings Day) with tamales, hot chocolate and a Rosca de Reyes, a bread wreath, which is a beautiful Mexican tradition. Our kids love both holidays.

Tina, Mad Hatter Mom: • Start a tradition that transcends all ages. For instance, our cookie baking tradition is great for not only my young kids, but my older nieces and nephews enjoy it also when we are together for the holidays. • Even if you grew up with family traditions, don’t be scared to start your own. Sometimes the traditions that you enjoyed as a child won’t keep the attention of your own kids, so altering them or making new ones is just as important.

Shell, {Not Quite} Susie Homemaker: • We have a lot of traditions for the holidays, especially Christmas. I like to make a list of all of our traditions when the holiday season is just beginning, almost like a “bucket list,” to make sure nothing is left out. • Birthdays are very important to me, and the only tradition I carried over from childhood was decorating the house with streamers for the birthday person to wake up to. I wanted to do more, so before my son’s second birthday, I scoured Pinterest for ideas and found some great ones!

I grew up loving Christmas time. Each year my grandmother, aunts and mom planned the menu and divided the work. As a child, I treasured December 24th, when the family congregated in the kitchen to prepare the midnight meal. What I liked most were the conversations, the laughing, just being with each other. My Mexican family’s Christmas celebrations started in the morning each December 24th and ended at midnight each December 25th. Observing family traditions was very important to me growing up; they gave me a sense of belonging and comfort. I wish the same for my kids. I want them to look back and remember the love involved in the preparation of a celebration and the meaning of sharing this special time with the family. It is one of my goals to preserve our heritage through family traditions and celebrations.

Traditions are very special to our family. We have things that we do for each season, foods we eat at certain times of the year, and everyday traditions, as well. One of our established routines is that we always eat together as a family – and I hope our children will choose to do it as well. Nothing matters as much to us as our family, so being together for at least one part of the day is something we will continue to do. This wasn’t a tradition in my family growing up, but I really hope to instill it into my children’s lives so they will do it with their children.

Silvia, Mama Latina Tips Jenilee, Seven in the Nest

Our Favorite Recipes: Bacon Ranch Pizza


additional resources Chef Boyardee website Ready Set Eat for more quick and easy recipes, visit – the faster, smarter way to dinner. Caroline, Smarty Pants Mama kid-friendly international recipes. Caroline, Smarty Pants Mama travel around the world in your own kitchen with these incredible recipes from 80 different countries. Janene and Christine, More Than Mommies how-to video for the More Than Mommies “No Sew Apron” craft. Mel, MamaBuzz suggests a new craft and recipe every day.

Monica, Mommy Maestra has excellent lesson plans (like the one on New World Explorers) that incorporate a lot of cooking and food-related activities. Monica, Mommy Maestra: The Handstand Kids Cookbook Series each book is filled with yummy recipes and facts about the country of origin. Silvia, Mama Latina Tips about Dia de Reyes (mentioned in Silvia’s tips in Chapter 6). Tiffany, Sweet Phenomena: Kids in the Kitchen Tiffany, Sweet Phenomena: Cooking Measurement and Conversion Chart

For more family-friendly recipes from the Chef, visit


“Chef Boyardee” Before there was Chef Boyardee, there was Chef Hector Boiardi. And it’s time you met the real great chef behind this real great food.





Coming to America

Landing a big job in the Big Apple

Opening il Giardino d’Italia

Italian-born Hector Boiardi immigrates to the U.S.

It doesn’t take the accomplished Chef Hector long to find work, and by age 17, he leads the kitchen at New York’s tony Plaza Hotel. This is a young man on the move.

Newlyweds Chef Hector and Helen open the restaurant il Giardino d’Italia, where his Italian cooking becomes the talk of the town. People stand outside for hours, waiting for a taste.

Moving from kitchen to company With his brothers Mario and Paul, Chef Hector starts the Chef Boyardee Company. They spell the name phonetically to keep American tongues from twisting on the Italian pronunciation.




Serving his country, serving the troops

Retiring from the business, but not from the brand

Continuing the legacy

Chef Hector plays a major role on the home front by making food for the troops. The plant runs 24/7, and after the war he’s awarded The Gold Star, one of the highest honors a civilian can receive.

Chef Hector retires from his consultant position. His face remains one of the most recognizable faces on TV, thanks to his legacy of advertisements and his iconic picture on the products’ labels, of course.

Chef Hector’s tradition of serving real good food to families continues with the introduction of five new recipes that feature Chef Boyardee as an ingredient. Talk about a delicious legacy.

contributing bloggers Amee CEO of Madame Deals, Inc.

Annie Stow Stowed Stuff - @anniestow

Ashley Abele My Front Porch Swing

Beth M. Simply Budgeted

Brett Martin

Caroline Murphy Blogger / Vlogger and Social Media Influencer

Carrie H. blogger at Making Lemonade

Carrie McLaren Carrie with Children

Christi S. Blogger @

Connie Ott MiscFinds4u

Corine Ingrassia Lifestyle Blogger

Jennifer Burg The Suburban Mom


Jennifer Gervens Sweet T Makes Three

Janel at A Mom’s Take

Jennifer Mercurio Author of @DoubleDutyMommy

Janene and Christine

Jenny Rapson Blog Author, Mommin’ It Up

Jenilee W. Seven in the Nest

Jessica Lieb The B Keeps Us Honest

contributing bloggers Kerri Jablonski The Maven of Social MediaÂŽ

Kim Delatorre Shop with Me Mama

Leigh Powell Hines Hines-Sight Blog

Linsey Knerl

Maureen Fitzgerald aka Wisconsin Mommy Blogger at Contributor at Founder of

Meagan Paullin Sunshine and Sippy Cups

Mel Lockcuff MamaBuzz – @mamabzz

Michelle G. blogger {at} Liz Thoughts of a Mommy

Monica Olivera

Pam Thompson aka Dakotapam blogging at

Shell Fruscione {Not Quite} Susie Homemaker

Renae Chiovaro How to Have it All

Silvia Martinez

Roxanne D. Blogger @

Tiffany Merritt Stuff Parents Need

Sarah Visbeek Author of In the Trenches of Mommyhood

Tiffany Manley Sweet Phenomena

Shannon Gosney The Mommy-Files

Tina Kelley Mad Hatter Mom



Little Chefs Project  

Little Chefs Project

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you