Deb Perelman of the blog Smitten
Kitchen talks family meals—and
offers Brussels sprouts your
kids want to eat. (Hint: Add pasta.
And lots of cheese.)

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People have this idea that if you cook for a living, everything that comes out of your kitchen is homemade, and when you bring it to the table, Instagram-perfect children cheer because they know how blessed they are. This theory holds up better if you haven't actually met any real live children in the wild (like mine, Anna, 2, and Jacob, 8).

In reality, my dinner routine is  a lot like everyone else's—rushed, often a compromise and  always paired with some nagging to ensure vegetables are consumed and not just flung from high chairs. 

But two things keep me sane: I don't get precious about it; using, say, pre-shredded Brussels gets the job done. And we all eat the same meal; I do not make alternative options if Child A or B has decided they're not going to eat it. 

How I do dinner
"Cooking with my kids is twice as messy and slow, but it’s also a riot,” Deb says.
| Credit: Photography by Tara Donne

Does it always work? Do I never cave? Do I never use the promise of a giant cookie to get kids to try new things—like this Brussels sprouts–filled take on mac 'n' cheese? If you've ever met a real live parent in the wild, I bet you already know the answer.

Brussels and Three Cheese Pasta Bake

Brussels and Three Cheese Pasta Bake
It’s a family tradition to “cheers” the first bite—clink!
| Credit: Photography by Tara Donne

Deb’s Favorite Vinaigrette

Deb’s favorite Vinaigrette
Credit: Photography by Tara Donne

In a large bowl, whisk 3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar and 1 tsp. mustard; season with salt and pepper. Toss with greens and veggies.

Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Credit: Photography by Tara Donne
Smitten Kitchen Every Day Book

Call it an early Halloween treat for grown-ups: Deb's new book comes out October 24!