How Orangette’s Molly Wizenberg Stocks Her Pantry for Easy Kid Dinners — Dinner With Kids

A few days before my 24th birthday, I moved into my first real apartment. It had beige carpet everywhere, even on the small balcony that looked out over a parking lot. It was in that apartment that I learned how to cook for myself. (It was also there that, after shaving my boyfriend's head on the balcony, I learned another important lesson of adulthood: It's hard to remove hair from a deep-pile carpet.)

I'd "borrowed" some cookbooks from my parents — Julia Child's The Way to Cook, a couple of Chez Panisse titles — and in that apartment, Julia and Alice taught me how to cook. I made eggs in all styles, ratatouille, poached fish, and lentil salad. I tried pesto, white beans, and pasta with Brussels sprouts. I learned to cook simply and classically, relying mostly on salt, pepper, olive oil, and garlic for flavor.


Recipe: Baked Parmesan-Crusted Chicken — Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinners

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When I want to take basic baked chicken up a notch (which is most of the time), I have a duo of ingredients I know I can turn to for crispy, flavor-packed results every single time without fail: nutty Parmesan cheese and crispy panko. This power couple turns mild-mannered chicken breast into a weeknight dinner that hits the table with pizzazz. Mixed with garlic and a pinch of herbs, the Parmesan and panko blanket each piece of chicken with a textured coating that packs an irresistible crunch. With a savory taste that's just the right balance of salty, nutty, and fresh, your routine of baked chicken for dinner just got a two-ingredient upgrade.


Recipe: Honey-Garlic Chicken Stir Fry — Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinners

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Inspired by our basic method for chicken stir-fry, this is my go-to solution for turning a pack of chicken breasts into a wholesome weeknight dinner that's packed with flavor. Thin strips of chicken get a sharp sear from the wok before shacking up with a mess of tender veggies and a savory sauce accented by honey and garlic.


How To Make the Best BBQ Baby Back Ribs in the Slow Cooker — Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

You could easily take a rack of ribs, drown them with a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce, set the slow cooker to low, and come back to tender, juicy slow-cooked ribs in five to six hours, but those ribs wouldn't hold a candle to the ribs that come off the smoker or a grill.

I make smoked or grilled barbecue ribs only once a year because they take almost a full 24 hours to prepare. But following a hunch that I could take some key steps from BBQ ribs and use them for ribs destined for the slow cooker, I found that these slow cooker ribs taste just as good in their own right as barbecued, and that I'd actually make them more than once a year and now you can too.


How To Cook Golden, Juicy Chicken Breast on the Stove — Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

There are as many variations on cooking chicken breast as there are cooks, and I'd say that is a very good thing, as it ensures we never grow tired of this dinner staple.

Pan-seared chicken breast, cooked in a little oil with salt and pepper and finished with a generous knob of butter, is the first way I learned to cook chicken and a technique I always go back to. The resulting chicken has a golden-crisp exterior with a still-juicy interior, and is just as welcome served with steamed vegetables as it is atop creamy Alfredo pasta.


Here’s Everything My 18-Month-Old Ate in a Single Day — You’re a Parent Now

(Image credit: Charity Burggraaf)

My evening checklist for my toddler son goes something like the following:

1. Did you say any new words today?

2. Did you injure yourself or others today?

3. Did anybody try to screw with you on the playground today? Because if they did, Mama's not afraid to give them a piece of her mind (mostly kidding).

4. Did you poop today?

5. What did you eat today?

That last thought is an important one. After a year of primarily breast milk and formula, my son forayed into the wonderful world of food. Now, at 18 months, he is a full-on food-eater. An eater who doesn't like avocado, chicken breast, or blueberries, but an eater nonetheless. My basic theory is if he gets a little protein, carbs, fats, and veggies throughout the day at (at least) one meal, I'm winning.

Here's what he ate throughout the course of a day last week. Please note: I'm not perfect and I'm not a nutritionist or pediatrician. I'm just a mom doing the best she can. Some days my kid eats more, some days he eats less; some days he's all scrambled eggs and mushrooms, and other days it's mostly bananas and almond butter. This is about what fits into my family's lifestyle and what I believe provides my son with what he wants and needs from food. My mantra and the mantra I urge all caretakers to use is "whatever works."


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