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Family Dinners: Cooking Together

Family dinner can be as simple as ordering pizza or take-out barbecue and eating together.

But to up the fun factor, you could also cook together, says Bobbie Ames, Good Life Family Food and Entertainment Editor. Ames suggests these mouthwatering ideas:

Bobbie Ames’ 



Non-stick vegetable cooking spray

1 cup short-grain rice (such as Arborio)

1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or use vegetable broth and/or white wine if serving vegetarians)

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon saffron

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left intact

1/2 pound langoustines or scallops

1 pound mussels

1 pound cherrystone clams

3/4 cup canned chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers

1/4 cup green olives (such as Cerignola or Castelvetrano), pitted, sliced

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1 preserved Meyer lemon, chopped or grilled slices from one lemon


Arrange rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Coat rimmed baking sheet or *cazuela with cooking spray. Spread rice on the bottom and put into oven to toast for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan bring broth, bay leaf, pepper, paprika, saffron, and 1 tsp. salt to a low boil over medium heat.

Remove rice from oven and stir. Arrange shallots evenly over rice and pour broth mixture carefully over. Cover baking sheet or cazuela with foil and bake 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil, stir rice mixture, and continue to bake uncovered, 5 minutes more.

Combine shrimp with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Remove baking sheet from oven, discard bay leaf, and stir rice mixture again. Scatter shrimp, mussels, langoustines or scallops, tomatoes, red peppers, and olives over rice. Continue baking until rice is tender, shrimp is opaque and pink, and mussels have opened, about 8 minutes more. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl and toss with parsley and preserved Meyer lemon.

4 to 6 servings

*Cazuela: a Spanish dish that can be used to serve and cook food in the oven or on top of the stove. You can find cazuelas and other Spanish specialty food items at

Bobbie Ames is owner of Capers ( and Food Editor of Good Life Family.


Chef Kenny Bowers’

meatballs7smallMidnight Meatballs


12 ounces (3/4 of a loaf) white bread

3 cups whole milk

salt, iodized, to taste

black pepper, table grind, to taste

1 cup parmesan cheese

1 ounce basil, fresh, chopped 3/8” no stem

2 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 1/2 pounds ground pork


Tear bread into small pieces approximately 1”.  In a large bowl, combine milk and bread.  MIX TOGETHER BY HAND, making sure bread is completely dissolved in milk to form a soupy paste-like consistency. Add salt, pepper, cheese, basil and mix.  REFRIGERATE FOR AT LEAST 1 HOUR BEFORE NEXT STEP.

Gently mix in meat making sure everything is evenly mixed.

With slightly wet hands form 4 oz. wt. balls (approximately 20).

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes until medium brown and an internal temperature of 160.

Place meatballs in oven-proof dish, top with favorite marinara sauce, cover with mozzarella cheese, and bake until cheese is brown & bubbly.  Approx. 3 minutes at 450 degrees.

6 to 10 servings

Kenny Bowers is owner and executive chef of Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill (Dallas), Kenny’s Burger Joint (Plano and Frisco), Kenny’s Italian Kitchen (Dallas) and Kenny’s Smoke House (Plano).


Chef Tim Byres’ and Chef Josh Trunnell’s

Sweet-Potato-and-Andouile-soupSweet Potato and Andouille Soup


1/4 cup butter

2 onions, medium diced

1/2 bunch of celery, small dice

1/2 cup garlic, minced

4 quarts chicken stock

5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, large dice

3 pounds Andouille sausage, small dice

1/2 cup Tabasco sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons salt

ground pepper to taste

fresh sage, fine chiffonade, to taste


Melt butter in a 12-quart soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, and garlic.  Sauté until vegetables are tender.  Add stock and sweet potatoes.  Bring soup to a simmer and cook until sweet potatoes fall apart, about 1 hour.

Pan-fry sausage in 1/2 cup oil until done and lightly caramelized.  Drain.

Remove soup from the stove and puree with immersion blender.  Return soup to the stove and bring to a simmer.

Add sausage, spices, and 2 tbsp. of salt.  Mix well and bring to a simmer.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce.

Hot hold soup, covered, for service.  Garnish each serving with fresh sage.

Yields 8 quarts

James Beard award-winner, Tim Byres, is co-owner and food mastermind behind Smoke (Dallas and Plano), The Theodore (Dallas), Spork (Dallas), Bolsa (Dallas), and The Foundry (Dallas). He is the author of Smoke, New Firewood Cooking.  Josh Trunnell is the new executive chef of Smoke (Plano).


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