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  • Writer's pictureAliya

Clean Plate Club: Our New Favorite Recipes

I have never cooked as much in my life as I have in the past year and a half. Being at home all day during the week means there are three meals every day for myself and the kids that need to be accounted for.

Sometimes that gets tough. Not only do things get played out quickly (if I have one more cheese quesadilla for lunch…), but I also try to accommodate grown up taste buds and big kid taste buds in one go. Only in rare cases am I making separate meals for the kids. So, I’m always searching for recipes that everyone will happily devour. Clean plate club!

Here are a few of my family’s favorite new entrée, snack, and drink recipes (with one grown-up only recipe thrown in for good measure):

Brown Sugar BBQ Meatballs

These meatballs are SO good. Instead of pork and beef I use ground turkey, and I usually make a pot of white rice and a side of steamed green beans to go along with it. My go-to barbecue sauce for this recipe is Sweet Baby Ray’s, but I’m sure any bbq sauce will do just fine. The kids LOVE it.

Homemade Sushi

Full disclosure: I’ve only made this homemade sushi one time. But it was fairly simple, and the family loved it. The kids have always love seaweed and rice, so I was confident going in that they would enjoy it. For the filling, I used cucumber, avocado, and carrot. Next time, I may splurge on some sushi grade ahi tuna and make a separate roll just for the grown ups.

Korean Beef and Rice Bowls

This was a go-to recipe pre-pandemic. It’s so easy and quick to make and it’s one of my daughter’s all-time favorites. Instead of ground beef, I use the shaved beef from Trader Joe’s and it is so good. I do take it easy on the sesame oil – I love the flavor, but if I put in more than a drizzle, I'll definitely be fielding some complaints from my diners (the kids).

Spicy Lightly Pickled Cucumbers

These lightly pickled cucumbers were also a pre-pandemic go-to, but it has been SO clutch over the past year. Initially out of necessity, I swapped out the white wine vinegar for regular vinegar, but now that I’ve had it both ways, I actually prefer it in the regular vinegar. It’s more tart and after a couple of days (if there are any left) the flavor really intensifies. This has been a great lunchtime snack option for the kids too; they love them almost as much as I do. (Note: I've also started pickling red onions and they are also fire).

Quick and Easy Refried Beans

I love refried beans. But the ones out of the can are…terrible. I have a few Mexican recipes in my mental rolodex (just tried this torta recipe last week, yum) and I’m always trying to find the perfect side dish to go along with them. I think this is it. I use this recipe as a guide, but I’ve definitely been trying out my own adjustments, including sauteing onions in the pot before adding the beans, and stirring in about a tablespoon of butter and a healthy handful of cheese after taking the beans off the heat.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Who cares that are muffins are basically cupcakes without the frosting? I’m eating these for breakfast every chance I get. This recipe makes the fluffiest, most addictive chocolate chip muffins I’ve had. And since I don’t eat chocolate, I swap in carob chips for chocolate chips and call it a day.

Fresh Lemonade by the Glass

The kids get such a kick out of this. We usually make this homemade lemonade before lunchtime – it’s so easy and all you need is one lemon and some sugar. They’re so proud that they’ve made their own lemonade, and I’m happy that it only took a couple minutes. Win-win.

Piña Colada

OK, so obviously this piña colada recipe is just for the grownups. And it is by no means a super simple recipe (you have to freeze your blended ingredients just to blend them again) but OMG, is it good. It’s creamy, sweet, and the perfect dessert drink. I suppose you could leave out the rum and make it kid-friendly, but I don’t. Sometimes it’s good to be selfish. Let the kids have the lemonade.


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