If you let your kids plan the menu, you might be eating macaroni and cheese and hot dogs until they left for college. Instead, take some time to introduce your kids to the world of gourmet food, broadening their taste buds and adding excitement to family meals. Gourmet dinners don't have to be complicated or time-consuming. Sometimes the fanciest dishes are among the easiest to make.
For a special occasion, serve up fancy appetizers to whet everyone's appetites. Salt-and-pepper cheese puffs have an approachable and kid-friendly taste, but you can make them with coarse sea salt crystals and gourmet sharp cheddar for a gourmet taste. Introduce your kids to a colorful and distinctive dip with walnuts, red peppers, olive oil and dry dressing and seasoning mix, blended in a food processor until smooth. Serve the dip to kids with artisan crackers or blue corn chips.
Gourmet foods should strike a balance between being slightly familiar and encouraging new tastes, even in picky eaters. Instead of macaroni and cheese, opt for thin rice noodles with flavorful curry and pork simmered in fresh garlic. Turn seafood into a gourmet event by baking mahi-mahi fillets with a little red wine vinegar and pepper. Complement the savory fish with slightly blackened tomatoes, onions or red bell peppers, adding some tasty nutrients to the table. For the less adventurous, let the kids substitute creamy dressing for tartar sauce with fish dishes.
The interesting presentation and unexpected flavors of gourmet salads might just convert picky eaters. Around the holidays or to bring a little color all year round, roast small strips of butternut squash with a light dusting of nutmeg. Arrange the butternut squash on plates, with roasted turkey slices and tart, fresh cranberries as toppings. Figs have a sweet, rich taste kids will love. Combine fresh halved figs on spinach with Parmesan cheese curls and a drizzle of creamy dressing.
Kids will be more eager to try out fancy gourmet cooking when they know sweet treats await. Instead of apple cobbler with ice cream, cook up a plum cobbler with clover honey and dried lavender. Serve with lightly sweet biscuits; in place of ice cream, use scoops of Italian gelato, in a flavor such as cinnamon or vanilla. On summery evenings, mix pureed fruit with whipped cream, creating colorful swirls with a creamy taste. Top with fresh mint leaves.
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