"Kitchen Playdates is every parent's best friend! Lauren Bank Deen gives you new fun ways to spend time with both the kids and the grown-ups. Her easy, stylish recipes and craft projects keep the kids busy and happy, and everyone has a great time." —Bobby Flay, Chef/Owner Mesa Grill, Bolo and Bar Americain

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Kitchen Playdates Video

So what exactly is a KITCHEN PLAYDATE?

It's a playdate that includes the grown-ups, complete with great food and if you're up for it, a cooking project with the kids. I realized that many of the old entertaining rules are outdated and don't reflect the way we really live now. With such busy weeks, we want to see our friends and our kids. Now Saturday night includes everyone; we don't send the kids to bed and get a sitter. Granted, things start a bit earlier, but it's just as much fun. I invite the parents and their kids over at three so we can all relax and enjoy each other before the young ones melt down. When you entertain other families, you can have everything prepared beforehand, or ask friends to pitch in. You can cook with the kids or without. There are suggestions for tasks that are child appropriate, and the rest is up to you, depending on your schedule and state of mind and the kids' moods and ages.

As far as I'm concerned the words "perfect" and "parent" just don't go together. And there's nothing wrong with that. These informal get-togethers with friends and family are low stress and are meant to be loosey-goosey. These are get-togethers you actually get to attend. The kids help, and the adults help. Flexibility is one of the qualities you need most when you're a parent. The same applies here. I've organized things so you can make your events as casual or refined as you want them to be.

These recipes are meant to be mixed and matched, and come with suggestions for items you can buy ready-made to reduce the workload. Most can be halved easily, or doubled. The point is to revel in your little imperfect bit of paradise, not to tend to the party, but attend the party and enjoy your friends and family. The recipes are simple yet stylish, with easy-to-find ingredients with a global range that reflect the multiethnic markets, restaurants, and neighborhoods I've been lucky enough to live near and visit. I've test-driven and adapted these dishes so they are sophisticated in spirit, yet firmly grounded in the reality that comes with being a busy parent. You're not sacrificing a thing. It's all about flexibility and fun, not fuss.

There are no hard-and-fast rules to follow, and you will have plenty of chances to relax with good food, family, and friends. Ready to schedule your first playdate?



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“Tot Chef” interview ....

Today Show Appearance

Modern and Easy Food for Busy Parents and Children ....view show>>

Yahoo Food Video Appearance

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Take a look at Lauren's segment that aired on ABC San Francisco's "The View from the Bay".... view show>>

Bon Appétit

Kitchen Playdates by Lauren Bank Deen is based on a situation that every parent will recognize: Once you have kids, your Saturday night just isn't the same anymore. If you're nostalgic for the days of long, leisurely....read more >>

Yahoo Food Blog

Try Lauren's parmesan chicken finger recipe with your children or friends....read more >>