How Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka Conquer Family Mealtime — EXCLUSIVE
For actor Neil Patrick Harris and his husband, chef and actor David Burtka, family dinners are everything. Despite their hectic schedules, the celebrity couple always makes it a point to sit down and connect over a meal—sans electronic devices—with their 11-year-old twins, Harper and Gideon.
In the spirit of helping other busy families take on home cooking, Harris and Burtka recently partnered with meal kit company HelloFresh to offer customers access to new family-friendly recipes developed by Burtka.
"Our family's been a HelloFresh family for a while," Harris tells Eat This, Not That! in an exclusive interview. "David, as a chef as well as an actor, tends to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the cooking world, so it's nice to give him a break every now and again, and HelloFresh arriving in a box filled with everything that you need is kind of a perfect way to do it."
The recipes, which were inspired by dishes from Burtka's cookbook, Life is a Party, were crafted to be simple yet elevated takes on the classics. Available from now until September 4, the recipes include:
- Cheesy Chicken & Bean Enchiladas with Tomato Rice, Pico de Gallo, & Lime Crema
- Herb-Roasted Chicken Legs with Brown Butter Veggies & Rice
- Zesty Shrimp & Slaw Tacos with Creamy Guac, Salsa, & Blue Corn Chips
- Grilled Steak & Asparagus Salad with Farro, Mushrooms, & Lemony Ricotta
Aside from whipping up HelloFresh meals as needed, Burtka and Harris have some other tricks up their sleeves to conquer the kitchen as a family. Read on to discover the couple's mealtime essentials, and next, check out Keanu Reeves, 57, Lives By These Healthy Habits.
They include their kids in the cooking process.
From working with fractions and sharpening organizational skills to learning about different cuisines and understanding where food comes from, Burtka highlights the skills gained from inviting his children into the kitchen.
Although the actor-turned-chef has been cooking with Harper and Gideon since they were young, he explains how they've become independent when it comes to meal creation.
"Now they're older and they're taking the reins themselves," he says. "I'm able to look at my daughter, and she's making rice from a rice maker and pulling out kimchi, and that's her snack for the afternoon. So, my kids really take pride in being little chefs in our house."
They stock up on their favorites.
The couple's East Hampton estate features a garden where Burtka grows fresh produce for his family. The chef says he spends much of the summer preparing and preserving dishes that can be defrosted later, such as tomato sauce, tomato soup, carrot ginger soup, and bolognese—a staple in the Burtka-Harris household.
For Harris, having foods that remind him of his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., is also a must.
"Whenever I'm hungry, I want chips and salsa, and then whenever I'm sad or depressed, then I want chips and salsa," the Uncoupled star says. "So, I would say Pace Picante Sauce—medium—is my number one call. I also love chicken quesadillas."
They prioritize freshness.
As far as healthy eating goes, Burtka emphasizes the importance of sourcing high-quality, fresh ingredients.
"If you pick it from the ground that morning, you can taste the nutrients just entering your body," he says. "Know where your meat's coming from. Know that you're getting it from a good source. Line-caught fish is always better than fish that's being caught in big giant nets."
In addition to growing his own produce, the cookbook author purchases food from local farmers' markets, pointing out that late summer (i.e., now) is the best time of year for them.
They keep a clean kitchen.
Burtka's go-to tip for those looking to hone their culinary skills is staying organized. Before you start cooking, he recommends having all of your ingredients measured out and ready. Then, you should clean as you go, he explains.
"I'm always cleaning, always doing dishes as I go because you don't want dishes piling up and getting overwhelmed because the more your space gets crowded and crazy, the more your mind gets crowded and crazy," Burtka adds. "Those are some of the techniques that I tell people if they're starting out."