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Delight kids with these tasty dishes full of new flavors

Exciting new tastes jazz up weekday dinners

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During the winter you can emulate grilling by baking the chicken thighs at a high heat before broiling them to finish with a lovely brown char.
Jessica Rerick / On the Minds of Moms
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Getting kids to step out of their comfort zones when it comes to dinner time can be difficult. As a parent, it’s also tough to decide when to “rock the boat”. It’s certainly easier to give kids what they want, but I also don’t enjoy eating a different meal than they do.

As a chef, I have a lot of different flavor cravings, and, most of the time, my kids are willing to try the new items. One of the flavor profiles that I always have good luck with the kids being willing to try is curry.

Curry is typically a blend of cumin, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, black pepper, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise, and cayenne. The blends of curry will always be slightly different, but for the most part, it’s full of seasonings that my children are already familiar with. Some curry powders can also be hot with the addition of dried chiles, but most curry powders that you find in a supermarket will be mild.

If you want to add more heat, feel free to add a little cayenne. I like it spicier, but because I know my children want it a little milder, I usually keep a bottle of chile flakes out for myself when it comes time to eat.

A great way to get kids to try something new is to make it seem familiar by adding new spices to foods they already eat. A great place to start is with Yogurt Curry Marinated Chicken. If you didn’t know already, yogurt is an amazing way to tenderize meat. Without getting too sciency about it, the lactic acid is a more gentle way to tenderize and add moisture to the meat than the usual vinegar and acid-based marinades. The ideal length of time to marinate your chicken is anywhere from 4-12 hours.

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You can use the same flavorings as you would in your usual marinades, but today, we are going to stay focused on curry. For the marinade, I stirred together plain yogurt, curry powder, the juice of a lemon, salt, pepper, and garlic. I add my boneless, skinless chicken thighs to a gallon-size resealable bag. You can use other cuts of chicken, but I’m using thighs because they were on sale last week!

I generally use a grill to cook chicken, but this time of year, I use a high-temperature oven and broiler combination. I place the marinated chicken on a rack on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes. Next, I turn on the broiler and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until it starts to brown on the top. Then I remove the pan from the oven, flip the chicken over, and brush with melted butter before returning the pan to the oven for an additional 3-5 minutes. The chicken should still have a “grilled” appearance, and the yogurt will be cooked down enough to no longer look like yogurt on the chicken.

Serve the chicken with coconut rice, french fries, tater tots, veggies, and any other food your kids are familiar with.

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This Yogurt Curry Marinated Chicken offers flavors kids may already like such as pepper, garlic, onion, cinnamon and cumin.
Jessica Rerick / On the Minds of Moms

Yogurt Curry Marinated Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

Directions:

In a small bowl, add yogurt, lemon juice, curry powder, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir until well blended. Place the chicken in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Add yogurt mixture, seal the bag, and work the yogurt mixture all around the chicken. Place the bag in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours.

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Letting the chicken marinate in the yogurt mixture for 4 to 12 hours will ensure your meat is tender and flavorful because the lactic acid in the yogurt acts as a natural tenderizer.
Jessica Rerick / On the Minds of Moms

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a baking rack over the top of a rimmed sheet pan. Remove the chicken from the yogurt marinade and let the excess yogurt drip off. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn the oven broiler on high and let the chicken cook for 3-5 minutes or until browned. Remove the pan from the oven, flip the chicken over, and brush with butter. Place the pan back in the oven and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes or until browned. Remove the pan from the oven and check that the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees. If it has not, flip the chicken again and broil for a few more minutes. (Serves 6-8)

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Chicken Curry Tater Tot Hotdish is a fun twist on a classic Midwest casserole. I used finely chopped meat from a rotisserie chicken, frozen mixed vegetables, cream of chicken soup, curry, spices, and tater tots. It doesn’t get much easier! This recipe also works great as a make-ahead meal. You can prepare the dish up to the point where you would place it in the oven and then either freeze or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to make dinner. I sometimes find that I have more time to assemble dinner in the mornings before I wake the kids up!

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It looks like a standard Tater Tot Hotdish, but this version incorporates a fun new flavor your kids may really appreciate!
Jessica Rerick / On the Minds of Moms

Chicken Curry Tater Tot Hotdish

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups shredded or diced cooked rotisserie chicken
  • 16 ounces frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cans (10.5 oz. each) of cream of chicken soup
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Tater tots to cover the pan (1-1.5 pounds)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl add chicken, cream of chicken soup, curry powder, garlic powder, and ground ginger. Stir until evenly combined. Add frozen vegetables, stir again, and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Cover in rows of tater tots. Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. (Serves 8-10)

Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup isn’t one that I have made for my kids yet, but it is one that I make for my own lunches. Self-care is important, too! As busy as we can all be from time to time, I like to make this soup on a Sunday afternoon then keep half in the fridge to eat for the week and freeze the other half to use later.

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Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup is easy to make ahead of time so you have a warm and comforting lunch ready to go all week.
Jessica Rerick / On the Minds of Moms

Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup

Ingredients:

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  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil (I used butter flavor)
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) of pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Coconut flakes and pumpkin seeds for garnish

Directions:

In a large kettle, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the onions are tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. If the heat gets too high, turn the heat to low. Whisk in salt, pepper, curry powder, pumpkin, vegetable stock, and coconut milk. Let simmer for 15 minutes. If desired, use a stick blender to puree the soup until smooth. (Serves 6)

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Jessica Rerick of Grand Forks is a freelance writer, trained chef and mom to four boys. Her food blog, wineandhotdish.com, is filled with recipes that quickly become new weeknight favorites. She also owns and operates Craveable Kitchen, an expanding line of dry mixes and seasonings.
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