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Drumming Up Dinner for an 18-Month to 2-Year-Old

Dinner can often be a bit of a challenge for children who are 18-months to 2-years-old. Kids that tend to eat an afternoon snack are often uninterested in dinner, but the delicious recipes below help alleviate that problem.

Naturally, dinner is the last meal of the day, providing balanced nutrition for your child before he goes off to sleep, so it's important to work with your child to establish a pattern of healthy meals and healthy snacks. Just remember that some children are often uninterested in dinner. If you're having this problem, watch out for oversnacking or milk or juice intake before dinner. Work to establish a pattern that keeps your child from eating or drinking milk or juice for at least an hour and a half before dinner.

This standard chicken "bake" recipe works well for dinner, and you can freeze the leftovers for use later.

Mushroom Chicken

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Yield: Four 1-cup servings

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

10-1/2 ounce can of condensed cream of mushroom soup

1/4 cup whole milk

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place the chicken in a 9-x-12-inch baking dish.

3. Mix the soup and milk together in a bowl, then pour the soup evenly over the chicken. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Serve warm.

If your child is a bit unhappy about broccoli, and let's face it — sometimes kids scrunch their noses at veggies — this cheesy rice mix should change those attitudes from grim to glad. If you don't serve this dish by itself, it also makes a great side dish.

Cheesy Rice and Broccoli

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Yield: Six 1/2-cup servings

10-ounce package frozen broccoli florets

1 cup instant rice

1 cup water

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. In a medium saucepan, combine broccoli, rice, and water.

2. Bring to a boil, and then remove from the heat and cover for 5 minutes. The water should absorb into the rice and broccoli.

3. Stir in the cheese until it's melted. Serve warm.

Here's a quick chili dish with a twist: It uses turkey meat, which is less fatty than hamburger or other chili meat. Chili can be a bit spicy, which kids aren't acclimated to, but most toddlers will love this version because it's blander than typical chili.

Quick and Easy Turkey Chili

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Yield: Three 1-cup servings

1/2 pound ground turkey

14-ounce can pinto beans, undrained

14-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

10-1/2-ounce can of condensed tomato soup

1 soup can water (10-1/2 ounces)

1 teaspoon chili powder

Salt to taste

1. Over medium heat, fry the turkey in a large frying pan until brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain extra grease if necessary.

2. Stir in all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, stirring occasionally. Serve warm with crackers, carrot sticks, and ranch dressing.

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