The oven as we know it has played a starring role in American kitchens for more than 100 years, but there's nothing like shaking up tradition. Whether it's hot outside and you want to keep the house cool or you don't have access to an oven, enjoy the freedom and creativity of preparing delicious oven-free dinners.
For picky eaters, offer different salad ingredients, such as baby spinach, garbanzo beans, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, croutons, black olives and a choice of different salad dressings. Encourage your kids to play chef by assembling their own personalized salads. Prepare a salad with plenty of kid-friendly flavor, crunch and nutrition that is tasty as a full meal or starter course. Arrange diced turkey, roasted almonds, chow mein noodles and poppy seeds over lettuce, and top with a light vinaigrette or creamy dressing.
Pita pockets are a convenient and tasty base for hearty sandwich fillings. Use fresh deli meats, such as turkey and chicken, and a flavorful creamy dressing in place of the mayo. Take this opportunity to introduce your kids to creative vegetable options, such as banana peppers, sliced mushrooms or artichoke hearts, as well as staples such as tomatoes. Make tuna sandwiches a little more fun for kids and adults alike by wrapping tuna in tortillas and slicing the wraps into smaller circles, resembling sushi rolls.
Whip up some chilled pasta salad that tastes good enough to be the main dish. Boil pasta noodles on the stove top. Use fun shapes, such as fusilli, bow tie or rotelle. Blend the pasta with mayonnaise or creamy dressing, mustard, and spicy seasonings, including pepper and celery salt. Mix in diced ham and your family's favorite fresh veggies. Red onion and yellow bell pepper are tasty options. For variety use turkey or make a vegetarian version with carrot curls and broccoli florets.
Microwave or Slow Cooker
For hot sandwiches, mix frozen meatballs with a jar of tomato sauce. For more kid appeal, use mini meatballs. Add chopped green peppers or olives. Cook the meatball sauce in the microwave until hot, then add to a whole wheat roll and melt cheese over the top. Slow cookers build up less heat than ovens. Add canned beans, tomatoes, chili powder, corn and cheese to your slow cooker in the morning for basic and tasty chili that evening. If the chili powder is too spicy for your kids, season the chili with ranch seasoning mix instead.