The other day, my younger daughter, who is not quite 2, was given a piece of homemade blueberry pie. She screamed in agony. How dare someone offer her pie!
As of now, my children are both picky and mercurial about food, a terrible combination. This is very annoying, and very common: One of the questions I get asked most often through this newsletter is what to feed kids who won’t eat anything. (Another one: what to pack for school lunches. A tedious and eternal struggle.)
I consulted Jessica Grose, who writes the excellent NYT Parenting newsletter (and who said she cooks a lot of stuff for her kids on sheet pans, like this chicken number with sweet potatoes and fennel). She pointed me to this guide to feeding picky eaters, and this one about meal planning.
With apologies to those of you who don’t have kids at home, this week we’re featuring recipes that I believe children might — emphasis on might — eat happily. But really, they’re all-ages recipes. Would you eschew flatbread with feta, Parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella? Or crunchy breaded chicken?
1. Ritzy Cheddar Chicken Breasts
These cutlets are coated with a mixture of shredded Cheddar and crushed Ritz crackers (a magic ingredient; see these chicken-miso meatballs, or this blackberry frozen yogurt pie). Eric Kim deploys a few tricks to keep the chicken flavorful, crunchy on the outside and tender within: He uses sour cream as a base, instead of flour and egg; he uses thin cutlets (no pounding necessary); and he bakes them quickly in a hot oven. Serve with something green.
2. Four-Cheese Flatbreads
This recipe by Ali Slagle brings together three ingredients my kids are passionate about: cheese, corn and pizza. By using store-bought pita, naan or flatbread, you can have a meal in about 15 minutes that beats any frozen pizza you can buy, and one with a compelling mixture of textures and flavors, thanks to the combination of salty, tangy, creamy cheeses and the sweet, chewy kernels of corn. (Also in the category of toast/pizza for dinner: eggs Kejriwal, if your kid can handle runny egg; avocado toast; and English-muffin pizza, my childhood favorite.)
3. Breakfast Burritos
These convenient, any-time-of-day burritos by Yewande Komolafe can be made ahead — even frozen — and then reheated. My older daughter rejects wraps and sandwiches of all kinds, and so I’d serve hers deconstructed: a helping of eggs, a few slices of avocado, a spoonful of beans, tortilla on the side. (Another eggy option that makes a good breakfast-for-dinner: this home-cooking adaptation of jian bing, a scallion-egg wrap you can make with flour tortillas.)
4. Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles
These sweet-salty noodles are adapted from a dish by the chef Shorty Tang, who is said to have made the best cold sesame noodles in Manhattan when he was cooking in the 1960s and ’70s. This version makes a superb supper, and it’s also a good home for shredded leftover chicken or vegetables.