Quick And Easy Dinner Ideas For Kids (Recipe: Minestrone Soup With Arugula)


hamburger-meal
Do you have a problem getting your young children to eat their dinner? They don’t like this; they don’t like that. You may wonder how to get necessary nutrients into their little bodies. Why not give these quick and easy dinner ideas for kids a try? You may find they not only eat their dinner but also clean their plate.

Most children love macaroni and cheese but you don’t want to have it every night for dinner just to get them to eat. But you can plan to have it at least once a week (maybe twice if you make some substitutions or additions). Along with the mac and cheese, have a cooked vegetable as well as a fresh salad. Have fruit for dessert.

A big pot of chili is a quick and easy dinner your child might like. Use hot dogs and canned corn to make ‘Camper’s Stew.’ You can also add a variety of beans rather than one kind to give added nutrients. Finish off the chili by sprinkling on shredded cheese and serving homemade corn bread.

Spaghetti is also usually a hit with young children. For added fun, let the children help you make meat balls. Add canned tomatoes along with spaghetti sauce. Serve a tossed salad, black olives and garlic bread to finish the meal off. If you’d like to keep with the Italian theme, serve spumoni or Italian ice if you choose to offer dessert.

Can you think of a child that doesn’t like pizza? Instead of purchasing a ready-made pizza, buy a cheese pizza and then let your child choose the toppings. You’ll want to have sliced green peppers, pepperoni, pineapple, onions, olives and extra cheese, as well as other toppings your family enjoys. If they help to add the toppings to the pizza they’ll be more likely to eat it without complaint.

Cheese quesadillas are really quick and easy to make for dinner. You get large flour tortilla shells, sprinkle cheese on it and fold it over. Spray a skillet with non-stick spray and heat it to medium. Set the quesadilla on the skillet and allow it to cook until the shell is browned. Flip it and allow it to cook until the cheese melts. You can add items like onions, mushrooms, chicken or other foods to the quesadilla to make it more interesting.

Hamburgers and hot dogs are generally easy and quick choices for family dinners. Rather than stopping through the drive-thru, grill homemade patties or dogs on the grill. Let the children add their favorite toppings such as mustard, ketchup, relish and cheese.

Try the above are some of the quick and easy dinner ideas for kids. The meals may seem like standard fare but you can make them healthier by the ingredients you use. If all else fails, ask your child what they want for dinner or look through parenting magazines to see what other dinner ideas they suggest. Once you find a winner, write down what your child ate so you know to make it again.

~ RECIPE ~
Hearty Minestrone Soup With Arugula


Minestrone
This satisfying minestrone soup features a classic combination of fresh herbs, vegetables, white beans, and pasta. Although this recipe is delicious as written, don’t be afraid to experiment a bit with the ingredients.This dish is a great way to use up any extra fresh herbs and vegetables you have available.

Tip: For best results, cook the pasta separately, rather than in the same pot with the rest of the ingredients. This extra step yields more consistent results by eliminating the release of excess starch into the soup. It also prevents the noodles from becoming too soft and mushy, which means more appetizing leftovers the next day and better results when freezing for future use.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 50-55 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

3 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, finely chopped
3 large stalks celery, finely chopped
1 28-oz. can petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15.5 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 c. organic vegetable broth*
2 whole bay leaves
1 T. fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (or 1 t. dried)
1 T. fresh thyme leaves (or 1 t. dried)
1 T. fresh oregano leaves (or 1 t. dried)
½ T. crushed red pepper flakes
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional: 3” Parmesan cheese rind
2 c. Fusilli pasta
2 c. fresh green beans, cut into ½” pieces
2 c. fresh arugula

Optional Garnish:
¼ c. fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

* Use additional vegetable broth to reach desired consistency, if needed

Directions:

1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and garlic in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté garlic, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or just until garlic starts to turn golden brown.

2. Add chopped onion, carrot, and celery and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are soft and tender.

3. Add diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, 4 cups vegetable broth, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes to pot and stir to combine. Add Parmesan cheese rind, if desired, and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes.

4. While soup is simmering, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid before draining pasta. Rinse pasta and transfer to a medium bowl and toss with remaining olive oil. Cover and set aside.

5. Remove cover from pot or Dutch oven and add green beans and the reserved pasta cooking liquid. Stir to combine and continue cooking, uncovered, another 20-25 minutes or until green beans are crisp tender.

6. Add arugula and additional vegetable broth, if needed, and stir to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until arugula begins to wilt.

7. To serve, divide cooked pasta among individual serving bowls and top with hot soup. Top with chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve with crusty bread and/or a crisp, green side salad for a hearty meal. Enjoy!

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