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Fun and Delicious Recipes You Can Make With Your Kids

Fun and Delicious Recipes You Can Make With Your Kids

There are lots of reasons some parents like to work solo in the kitchen. It’s sometimes quicker. It’s less messy. It’s often just … easier. But when families cook together, the benefits to everyone make it more than worth the extra cleanup. If you’re not in the habit of cooking together, we have three reasons you’ll want to. And if you’re already cooking together as a family — awesome. Here’s why you should keep up the good work:

First and foremost, cooking together gives families a time to share, bond and work together. The reality of today’s family is that most of us are busy, with work, school, kids’ activities, homework and other responsibilities gobbling up most of our time. Setting aside a time where the entire family can work together to create a meal gives us a chance to pause, catch up and just connect with each other.

If you’re able to set aside a specific meal or two that you always make as a family, it’ll also give everyone a “together” time to look forward to. It could be a pizza Friday, Sunday brunch or whatever works best for your family. You could also pick a weekend day to work together to prepare a meal or two for later in the week.

Kids can learn a range of skills in the kitchen, even when they’re exploring on their own. But many of the “soft skills” kids can learn really only come out when they’re cooking with others. Kids — from preschoolers all the way up to teens — can learn social skills, communication skills, collaboration and more when you cook together as a family.

The skills needed to prepare and cook foods will last your kids a lifetime. Skills include:

  • following a recipe
  • measuring
  • preparing food (chopping, slicing, mincing, stirring, mixing, peeling, cracking an egg, etc.)
  • cooking techniques (baking, boiling, frying, toasting, simmering, sautéing, etc.)
  • cleaning up

But what if you’re just not a good cook? It’s OK to let your kid know you’re learning too! If there’s a certain technique you’re unsure about, check YouTube (seriously, you can learn anything on YouTube) or cooking websites together. This way, kids can also learn valuable lessons about recognizing one’s strengths and weaknesses, taking initiative to learn new things, and using technology to seek out information.

Here is a list of healthy recipes from Taste of Home that you can make together with the whole family. 

       

  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 1 medium banana, thinly sliced

  • Mix peanut butter, honey and cinnamon; stir in chocolate chips. Spread over bread. Layer two bread slices with banana slices; top with remaining bread. If desired, cut into shapes using cookie cutters.

1 sandwich: 502 calories, 22g fat (6g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 394mg sodium, 69g carbohydrate (36g sugars, 7g fiber), 15g protein. 

 

  • 6 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

  • Spray a 12-ounce coffee mug with cooking spray. Combine milk and oil in the mug. Add flour, sugar, oats, baking powder and salt; stir to combine. Add chocolate chips; dollop center with peanut butter.
  • Microwave on high until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 2-1/2 minutes. Serve immediately.

1 mug cake: 862 calories, 46g fat (9g saturated fat), 7mg cholesterol, 945mg sodium, 105g carbohydrate (56g sugars, 5g fiber), 14g protein.

    

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups refrigerated unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • FROSTING:
  • 1 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa and baking soda. In a small bowl, whisk coconut milk, sugar, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  • Fill paper-lined muffin cups half full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For the frosting, in a large bowl, beat margarine until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioners' sugar, cocoa, milk and vanilla. Frost cupcakes.

1 cupcake: 265 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 194mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate (27g sugars, 1g fiber), 2g protein.

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups coarsely crushed Oreo cookies
FROSTING:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups finely crushed Oreo cookie crumbs
  • 24 mini Oreo cookies

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Fold in crushed cookies.
  • Fill prepared cups three-fourths full. Bake 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, combine butter, confectioners' sugar, milk and vanilla; beat until smooth. Fold in cookie crumbs. Pipe or spread frosting over cupcakes. If desired, sprinkle with additional cookie crumbs and garnish with mini Oreo cookies.

1 cupcake: 411 calories, 19g fat (10g saturated fat), 51mg cholesterol, 346mg sodium, 58g carbohydrate (40g sugars, 2g fiber), 4g protein.

 

 

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • FILLING:
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • GANACHE:
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

  • Preheat oven to 375°. Line bottoms of 2 greased 8-in. round baking pans with parchment; grease paper.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs on high speed 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in pumpkin. In another bowl, whisk flour, pie spice, baking powder and salt; fold into the egg mixture. Transfer to prepared pans, spreading evenly.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack; remove the paper. Cool completely.
  • For the filling, in a large bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. In another large bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until blended; fold in whipped cream. Spread between cake layers. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  • Place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth; cool slightly. Press plastic wrap onto surface of ganache; cool to room temperature. Spread over cake. Refrigerate until serving.

1 slice: 331 calories, 18g fat (11g saturated fat), 79mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate (34g sugars, 2g fiber), 5g protein.

  • 2 cups crumbled soft coconut macaroons (about 12 cookies)
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, divided
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 medium mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Place cookies, almonds and melted butter in a food processor; process until blended. Press onto bottom and up sides of an ungreased 11-in. a fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Place pan on a baking sheet.
  • Bake until crust is golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • For the filling, in a small bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. In another bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup honey until combined. Beat in orange juice and extract. Fold in whipped cream. Spread over crust.
  • For the glaze, in a small saucepan, mix preserves and remaining honey. Cook and stir over low heat until melted; press through a strainer. Toss mangoes with lemon juice. Arrange mango slices over filling; add strawberries and blackberries to form the eyes and mouth. Brush with glaze. Store in the refrigerator.

1 piece: 311 calories, 18g fat (9g saturated fat), 39mg cholesterol, 155mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate (26g sugars, 3g fiber), 6g protein.

 

  • 1/2 pound bacon strips, coarsely chopped
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 package (20 ounces) frozen corn
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (11 ounces each) diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 envelope (1 ounce) ranch salad dressing mix
  • 12 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cubed avocado and sliced jalapeno, optional

  • Select saute or browning setting on a 6-qt. electric pressure cooker; adjust for medium heat. Cook bacon until crisp, 5-6 minutes; remove bacon and reserve. Brown chicken in bacon drippings until lightly browned, 5-6 minutes. Return bacon to pan; top with corn and next 11 ingredients in the order listed.
  • Lock lid; close pressure-release valve. Adjust to pressure-cook on high for 15 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes; quick-release any remaining pressure. Stir in shredded cheese until melted. If desired, serve with avocado and jalapeno.

1 cup: 387 calories, 21g fat (10g saturated fat), 73mg cholesterol, 1033mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 6g fiber), 20g protein.

 

  • 3 cans (8 ounces each) unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1/2 cup plain or coconut Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 3 cups fresh cauliflower florets (about 1/2 small cauliflower)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • Toasted sweetened shredded coconut or lime wedges, optional

  • For marinade, place 1 can pineapple, yoghurt, 2 tablespoons each cilantro and lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper flakes and chilli powder in a food processor; process until blended. In a large bowl, toss chicken with marinade; refrigerate, covered, 1-3 hours.
  • In a clean food processor, pulse cauliflower until it resembles rice (do not overprocess). In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; saute onion until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Add cauliflower; cook and stir until lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Stir in 1 can pineapple and the remaining lime juice and salt; cook, covered, over medium heat until cauliflower is tender, 3-5 minutes. Stir in remaining cilantro. Keep warm.
  • Preheat grill or broiler. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Place chicken on an oiled grill rack over medium heat or in a greased foil-lined 15x10x1-in. pan. Grill, covered, or broil 4 in. from heat until a thermometer reads 165°, 4-6 minutes per side. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
  • To serve, divide cauliflower mixture among 4 bowls. Top with chicken, remaining 1 can pineapple and, if desired, coconut and lime wedges.

 

  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or gluten-free tamari soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Thinly sliced green onions, optional

  • Select saute or browning setting on a 6-qt. electric pressure cooker. Adjust for medium heat; add sesame oil. When the oil is hot, brown chicken in batches. Press cancel. Return all to the pressure cooker. In a small bowl, whisk honey, soy sauce, water, garlic and pepper flakes; stir into the pressure cooker. Lock lid; close pressure-release valve. Adjust to pressure-cook on high for 4 minutes.
  • Quick-release pressure. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into the pressure cooker. Select saute setting and adjust for low heat. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Serve with rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and, if desired, green onions.

1 serving: 311 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated fat), 94mg cholesterol, 1004mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate (17g sugars, 0 fiber), 37g protein.

 

  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (10-1/2 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 can (10 ounces) green enchilada sauce
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 9 corn tortillas (6 inches)
  • 3 cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
  • Optional: minced fresh cilantro, lime wedges, salsa and sour cream

  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. Spread 1/4 cup chicken mixture over bottom of a Dutch oven. Top with 3 tortillas, overlapping and tearing them to fit, a third of the chicken mixture and a third of the cheese. Repeat twice.
  • Bake, covered, until a thermometer reads 165°, 50-60 minutes. If desired, serve with additional cilantro, salsa, sour cream and lime wedges.

1 serving: 541 calories, 27g fat (15g saturated fat), 116mg cholesterol, 1202mg sodium, 36g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 6g fiber), 39g protein.

 

  • 2-1/2 cups ketchup
  • 2/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional

  • In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 tablespoons: 55 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 323mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate (15g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.

 

  • 2-1/2 pounds chicken wings
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Oil for deep-fat frying
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

  • Cut wings into 3 sections; discard wing tip sections. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. Add wings, a few at a time, and toss to coat.
  • In an electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375°. Fry wings, a few at a time, until no longer pink, 3-4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. In a large bowl, combine butter and seasoning. Add wings; toss to coat. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

1 piece: 107 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated fat), 18mg cholesterol, 92mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 0 fiber), 5g protein.

 

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  • 1/2 cup guacamole
  • Optional toppings: sliced red onion, lettuce leaves, salsa and sour cream

  • In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Add chicken; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape into four 3/4-in. thick patties.
  • Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, rub on grill rack to coat lightly. Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat 7-8 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165°. Serve on buns with guacamole and additional toppings as desired.

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 corn tortillas (6 inches) or taco shells, warmed
  • Optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes

  • Place chicken in a Dutch oven; add water to cover. Bring just to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 170°.
  • Using tongs, remove chicken from pan; reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Cool chicken slightly. Shred when cool enough to handle.
  • In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth; cook and stir until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.
  • Stir in tomato sauce and seasonings; return to a boil. Stir in shredded chicken; heat through, stirring occasionally. Serve in tortillas with toppings, if desired.

 

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup chocolate or plain almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon baking cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter, warmed
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Miniature semisweet chocolate chips, optional
  • In a small container or Mason jar, combine oats, milk, cocoa, peanut butter and maple syrup. Seal; refrigerate overnight. If desired, top with additional peanut butter and mini chocolate chips.

Regardless of what recipe that you’d like to try, the most important thing is making them together with the family - happily and wholeheartedly. A family who cooks together, stays together. 

References: Tocaboca.com and Tasteofhome.com (All images are from Tasteofhome.com)

 

 

15 things you should never order at a restaurant, according to people who work in the industry

15 things you should never order at a restaurant, according to people who work in the industry

We surveyed dozens of people in the restaurant business on what they never, ever touch, whether it's to avoid outrageous markup, food poisoning, or germ minefields. Watch for these offenders.

Iceberg lettuce

Wedge Salad
Germs can hide inside lettuce’s cracks, corners, and edges. 
Ralph Daily / Flickr

The iceberg wedge salad is one of the industry’s biggest rip-offs. Take into account that iceberg lettuce is about 98% water, and it’s easy to see why. “It’s marked up at least 20 times,” says Peter Chastain, executive chef and owner of California’s Prima Ristorante. Plus, germs can hide inside lettuce’s cracks, corners, and edges. “You think lemons in water are dirty? The salads are filthy,” Cannon says. Even if restaurants do decide to wash their greens, the lettuce is often served soggy, which is big red flag—standing water mixed with lukewarm, mayo-based dressing is a disaster waiting to happen.

Best sellers

vegan burger
Best-selling items are often pre-made. 
Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

You might think best-selling items have high turnover. But to keep up with demand, fast-food restaurants and some other places pre-make their top sellers, which gives these wrapped and bagged choices plenty of time to develop food-borne illnesses. Instead, opt for the less popular options which are more likely to be prepared to order, says Howard Cannon, CEO of Restaurant Expert Witness and author of "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting A Restaurant," who adds, “Anything sitting in holding, covered with mayonnaise, is probably not that great.” Whatever, you do, don’t order these 8 dishes that are basically a heart attack on a plate.

Tap water

tap water
If you’re handed anything warmer than ice-cold, ask for a new glass. 
Cate Gillon/Getty Images

“One of the most dangerous items in a restaurant is water,” Cannon says, although anything that sits between 40 degrees to 140 degrees for more than a short time has a high potential to harbor bacteria. If your table is already set with a carafe of water, or you’re handed anything warmer than ice-cold, ask for a new glass.

Free bar snacks

Bar
Bar snacks are covered in germs. 
Flickr/riNux

Since these nuts, pretzels, and other munchies are free of charge, restaurants and bars often don’t set out a fresh serving for each new customer. It’s like eating out of a stranger’s hand! Then at closing time they’re dumped back into a container, to be re-poured into dishes the next day. Try these bar snacks that are actually good for your heart.

Meat with the bone in

pork chop
Bone-in means less meat. 
ilovebutter/Flickr

Small cuts of meat, like bone-in pork or chicken breasts, are harder to cook thoroughly because their outsides easily char. This often translates to crispy on the outside and raw on the inside. Unlike undercooked beef—say, a rare burger or a steak tartare—undercooked pork and chicken are highly dangerous and could causes food-borne illnesses, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, bone-in means less meat.

Sauced-up specials

Chicken Marsala
Be wary of meat that’s been cut, braised, and disguised in a pasta, stew, or soup dish. 
smpics / iStock

To avoid running out of ingredients during the dinner rush, restaurants often order more food than they need. At the end of the day, surplus ingredients that haven’t expired can turn into tomorrow’s specials, disguised with sauce. “Watch out for an expensive item used in a way that’s minimizing its flavor,” says Stephen Zagor, founder of consulting firm Hospitality & Culinary Resources, in Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney. Be wary of meat that’s been cut, braised, and disguised in a pasta, stew, or soup dish. Check out these 20 tricks to eating healthier when dining out.

DIY grilling

korean bbq
Leave the cooking to the chefs. 
George N/Flickr

Restaurants with a built-in-grill dining table sound like fun. But: “Braised food from a steam table is fraught with peril—sneezing customers, improper cooking,” says Chastain. One Korean BBQ joint in Las Vegas shut down after earning an astoundingly disgusting 53 demerits from the Southern Nevada Health District. Leave the cooking to the chefs.

Meatloaf

meatloaf
Order a burger or a steak. 
AS Food studio/Shutterstock

First, there’s often more filler than meat, but restaurants think if they drown the dish in enough sauce and seasoning, you won’t notice. To help sell it further, many menus use descriptive words like “homemade,” “home-cooked,” “home-style,” or worst of all, “Mom’s.” Don’t insult your mama! Order a burger or a steak.

"From-there" seafood

seafood
The seafood typically won't come from the location it's advertised. 
Flickr Creative Commons/y6y6y6

Unless the joint is known for its seafood, there’s no guarantee you’re going to get what’s on the menu. “About 70 percent of the time, for example, those Maryland crab cakes weren’t made using crabs from the Chesapeake Bay,” says James Anderson, chairman of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at the University of Rhode Island, in Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney. And while the kitchen might swap snapper for a cheaper tilapia, many times the distributors do a bait and switch, too. Make sure you avoid these fish you should never order at a restaurant.

"Gourmet" burgers

truffle burger
Truffle oil is an overrated ingredient. 
Kurman Communciations/Flickr

By working in one expensive ingredient in small batches (see: truffle oil, fois gras), many customers are cheated into believing they’re getting a taste of highbrow fare for a relatively low price. Beware: Most commercial truffle oils are created by mixing olive oil with a lab-produced chemical. Zagat ranked truffle oil as one of the 8 most overrated ingredients, comparing the oil to trendy fashion labels: “it’s obnoxious, overpriced, and made with cheap material.”

Ice cream

Cookies and cream ice cream in a bowl
Just buy your own ice cream from a grocery store. 
Shutterstock

Unless it’s exotic or made in-house, it’s not worth your time, money, or caloric intake. “The idea of dropping big dollars in a restaurant to pay for the same brand I can get from the local grocery doesn’t make me want any,” says Mark Ladisky, senior operations consultant for Synergy Restaurant Consultants.

Chicken

chicken
Be bolder. 
Oksana Shufrych/Shutterstock

He who orders chicken is, in terms of ordering outside the box, a chicken. “There is typically nothing unique about the preparation that is worth my attention on the menu,” says Ladisky. It’s also cheap meat that gets marked up substantially. Be bolder. These are the secrets your restaurant server isn’t telling you.

Pizza

pizza
The price of a pizza from a restaurant isn't worth it. 
Shannon O'Hara/Getty Images for Pizza Hut

Pizza is a gold mine for restaurants: cheap ingredients and big mark-ups. So buying pizza from a restaurant that isn’t dedicated to doing it right is a waste of money and tomatoes, according to Ladisky. “I can’t recommend throwing money away on a slightly upgraded freezer-section pizza baked in a toaster oven,” he says. One New York City pizzeria spends $3.64 on ingredients for a Margherita pizza and sells it for $10—that’s a 300 percent markup. Check out these 24 things restaurant owners wish they could tell you.

Edamame

Edamame
It's not worth the money. 
Man-Zu/Shutterstock

Though it might be the cheapest appetizer on the menu, it’s never worth as much as it costs. A giant 12-oz. steamable bag of edamame at the grocery store will run you the same price on average, if not cheaper. And all that goes into preparing edamame is a little heating up.

Bread baskets

bread basket
Don't be tricked into spending money on something that's usually free. 
Alice Salles/Flickr

 

A basket of bread is a restaurant standby—and more importantly, a complimentary restaurant standby. Don't be duped into doling out a few bucks, even if it's artisan-quality. Make sure you know the foods chefs never order at restaurants.

Read the original article on Reader's Digest. Copyright 2019.

Easy Mac and Cheese!

Easy Mac and Cheese!

Craving for something cheesy? Try this easy and hassle-free recipe and enjoy!

This homemade version is so worth the little bit of extra effort. Oh and feel free to add bacon bits for more flavor.

I altered the recipe a bit to add milk, use reduced-fat (not fat free) ingredients and eliminated the bread crumb topping. (That is my personal preference, but if you like a crunchy topping on your mac, mix 1/4 c. melted butter with 1 c. bread or cracker crumbs and sprinkle over the top before baking.)

Prep Time                                               15 minutes

Cook Time                                              40 minutes

Serving                                                    5

Ingredients:

12 ounces of macaroni or any of your choice of bite-sized pasta

8 ounces of reduced-fat sour cream or just plain yogurt

16 ounces of low-fat small-curd cottage cheese

8 ounces of 2% milk sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup of milk

1/2 tsp of kosher salt

And some pinch of black pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Cook the pasta, drain and set aside.
  • Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Spray a 1-1/2 qt. casserole dish with cooking spray.
  • Stir the pasta with your cheese mixture, then spread into the casserole dish.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes in preheated oven, or until hot and bubbly.
  • Stir together before serving to evenly distribute the cheese sauce.

I hope your family enjoys this simple recipe too!