Tag Archives: cooking with kids

KID in the KITCHEN: Wild (Center) Whole Wheat Pancakes

28 Feb

(Reminder: I am a FINALIST for an EDDY Award! You can vote for my Edible Long Island piece on Watermelon Mojitos  every day until March 15, 2015. As always, I deeply appreciate your support!) 

If you Google National Pancake Day, you will find a variety of dates, from September to Shrove Tuesday (before Lent) to this coming Tuesday, March 3, as declared by IHOP (International House of Pancakes). So I hereby declare that Natalia National Pancake Day shall be any day that I don’t have to be up at 5:30 a.m. and out by 7 for work and that my son wants to make them and I have the ingredients.

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift...am I smiling or grimacing?

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift…am I smiling or grimacing?

Those stars aligned during the recent winter break from school. We spent the first part of the break with dear friends Adriana and Micaela at Adriana’s sister and brother-in-law’s in the Lake Placid area (because it wasn’t cold enough downstate at -7ºF so we went for -27°F? Eek!). It was a terrific weekend of learning to ski and snowboard and snow shoe (and becoming almost casual about jumping the frozen battery of my car) and actually enjoying winter.

Barred owl at Wild Center (We literary folk thought it was the poetical "bard", but biology tends to be a bit more prosaic)

Barred owl at Wild Center (We literary folk thought it was the poetical “bard”, but biology tends to be a bit more prosaic)

But one day we decided to go to The Wild Center at Tupper Lake, a beautifully designed nature museum full of Adirondack flora and fauna that you could admire in the sunny and well-heated indoors. Funnily enough, they had recipe cards, one of which was for whole wheat pancakes, which the little man decided he wanted to make when we got home.

Independent!

Independent!

The original recipe was for 14 pancakes, so we halved most (not all) of the ingredients, keeping the cinnamon and vanilla at full-strength, and adding homemade cranberry-blueberry jam.

The original recipe card Nice, right?

The original recipe card Nice, right?

The little guy has really graduated to following a recipe, measuring and cooking on his own, except for the odd difficult pancake flip and one mild burn, so that was very cool.

Proud!

Proud!

We really liked the almost cake-like lift that the baking powder gave them. Not too sweet and very cinnamon-y, these were pancakes we will be making again and again.

Hungry!

Hungry!

Whole Wheat Pancakes (adapted from The Wild Center, Tupper Lake, NY)

Makes 9 pancakes

1 Cup whole wheat flour

2 ¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sugar

1 large egg

1 Cup milk

1.5 tsp vanilla

(optional 1-2 Tbs of smushed berries or berry jam)

butter for cooking

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix until there are no dry spots, then stop right away. You can swirl in a couple of tablespoons of berries or jam at this point, or do it after you’ve made some plain ones, then add the berries to change things up.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt a knob of butter. When the foaming subsides, spoon batter into skillet ¼ Cup at a time, leaving plenty of room for each pancake. The surface will start bubbling. When the bubbling settles and the edges look set, it’s safe to flip. Cook till the edges set again, remove and stack on a warm plate and start another batch, adding butter to the skillet as needed.

 

 

KID IN THE KITCHEN: Tembleque (Tropical Coconut Pudding)

7 Feb

We spent the better part of last summer in Puerto Rico, and among the tasty things that my little guy fell in love with was tembleque, a jiggly (temblar means to tremble) dessert that falls somewhere between pudding and flan. I promised him we’d make it back in New York, and this weekend, for a dinner with some dear Nassau Community College colleagues with whom I serve on the Latin American Studies Committee, I delivered.

2015-02-05 21.03.20 temblequeWho knew it was so, so easy to make that my seven-year-old could do it almost completely on his own? All I had to do was pour the hot mixture into the mold. I adapted a recipe from Cocine a Gusto (University of Puerto Rico Press), which is one of my go-tos for traditional Puerto Rican recipes.

2015-02-05 21.27.57 temblequeIn future we will make it with homemade coconut milk (all you have to do is pour hot water over coconut flakes and strain, but more on that next time), but in the interests of expediency (I also made pollo guisado, black beans and pink beans from scratch, and yuca salad, so I had my hands full) I just used canned.

Next time you want a fun dessert that takes your tastebuds to the tropics, tembleque is the ticket!

2015-02-06 19.21.31 temblequeTembleque

2 14 oz. cans coconut milk

½ Cup corn starch

½ Cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Powdered cinnamon

Place coconut milk, corn starch, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil at medium high, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Add vanilla, stir and pour the mix into a slightly moistened mold (a smooth pie tin for one, or six ramekins for individual servings). Chill for at least three hours or at most 48. Turn tembleque out of mold(s), sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

KID in the KITCHEN: French Toast Casserole (make ahead!)

30 Dec

We are a fútbol-loving family ( fútbol = soccer in the U.S. and football in most other English-speaking countries except the U.S. where football — rather inexplicably – means gridiron a.k.a. that sport with the helmets and shoulderpads. There’s also Australian rules football, which is actually a form of rugby, but never mind that right now). We particularly follow the English Premier League and support Chelsea, in case you were wondering. We watch it a lot at home, but watching soccer in the U.S. has ceased to mean spectator-in-exile. Increasingly in America you can find people with whom to watch.

This is part of the spread...Can you name the team jerseys in the background? Hint: Only one is EPL

This is part of the spread…Can you name the team jerseys in the background? Hint: Only one is EPL

So that creates opportunities to invite folks to brunch or lunch (EPL matches are played at GMT and so rarely go later than 5 p.m. here in NY) with fellow travelers at home. Buffet-style is best, because the footie runs continuously for two 45-minute halves and if — like me — you are the hostess but really want to watch the action too, you want to get everything done before kick-off and then sit right down with the guests for the first half.

Yes, we used white bread. And it was good.

Yes, we used white bread. And it was good.

So, we invited friends for the 9 a.m. Southampton v. Chelsea fixture this past weekend. In addition to bagels and cream cheese, tortilla española, gravlax, ham and cheese, and mango-prosecco mimosas, my little guy made French toast. Since it would have been insane to try to make French toast to order at game time, we chose a recipe he could do the night before and pop in the oven for 40 minutes before everyone arrived. Thus this French Toast Casserole recipe we adapted ever so slightly from Love, Pasta, and a Tool Belt. It was super-easy, sweet and delicious and has a bread pudding sort of texture and was loved by one and all.

Firm, bread pudding type texture meant the kids could pick it up like a sandwich!

Firm, bread pudding type texture meant the kids could pick it up like a sandwich!

To do it with kids, make sure you have the ingredients, measuring implements, and other equipment at the ready before you get the kids going. It is a breeze!

2014-12-28 13.06.06 french toast casseroleFrench Toast Casserole

Ingredients:
1 stick salted butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
12 slices white bread

Directions:
Melt butter and mix with brown sugar and cinnamon until well-blended. Spread half of the brown sugar mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 rimmed baking pan. Lay six pieces of bread over the sugar mixture. Spread the remainder of the brown sugar mixture over the bread trying to make it pretty even. We used a butter knife to spread, but a stiff spatula would also work.
Place remaining six pieces of bread on top. Beat eggs and milk together and pour over the whole thing evenly. If, like us, you forget to put on the second layer of bread, you can lift the already covered slices one by one and slide the unsoaked slices underneath and it will work out just fine. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Heat oven to 350°F and bake uncovered for 40 minutes.

Allow to rest and then serve up!

 

KID IN THE KITCHEN: Cornbread

26 Dec

The best thing about school holidays is that the kids are home. The worst thing about the school holidays is that the kids are home.

Okay, that’s not really how I feel about holidays but it seemed like a catchy way to start this post on cooking with kids.

The little man impressed his grandfather by leveling off the measured ingredients

The little man impressed his grandfather by leveling off the measured ingredients

Regular readers know my seven-year-old is starting to learn his way around the kitchen. Part of that is giving him responsibility for certain dishes at the holiday table. He can manage roasted asparagus on his own now. He makes bread as well, from his prize-winning no-knead recipe. And with his grandfather, he makes a delicious cornbread that goes well with roasts (and chili).

What's next? Let's see.

What’s next? Let’s see.

The original recipe comes from Kids Cook! by Sarah Williamson & Zachary Williamson, a treasure trove of simple and tasty recipes that kids can manage. Padushi and Leandro have tweaked it a bit (starting with substituting the margarine for real butter and beating the eggs before mixing with the rest of the ingredients) and the results are an ever-so-slightly sweet, rich crumb that has a lovely cakey texture.

Not my most artistic image, but a good indication of the nice texture.

Not my most artistic image, but a good indication of the nice texture.

The other results are a kid who is learning to follow instructions, a grandfather who is learning to let the kid do the work, and a grandson and grandfather who accomplish stuff together.

*See tips for cooking with kids below.

Nice crumb!

Nice crumb!

Easy Cornbread

1½ Cups cornmeal

1½ Cups buttermilk

2 eggs (lightly beaten)

½ Cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ Cup butter, melted

1 tsp sugar

¾ tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, beating for about a minute.

Pour batter into a greased 8”x8” pan.

Bake at 450° for 25-30 minutes (if you use a glass pan, you’ll need the longer time) or until golden brown. Serve warm.

*Tips for cooking with kids

1. Get all the ingredients and measuring equipment laid out before having them wash their hands and get started.

2. Make sure the surface you are using is a comfortable height for your child(ren).

3. Use aprons or smocks or clothes you don’t care about.

4.Read the ingredients and ingredients out loud with the kids BEFORE starting. Use that opportunity to make sure you have everything you need. FRom this point on, the fewer times you have to turn your back on them the better.

5. If you will be allowing the kids to measure ingredients, have them do it over a bowl that is not your mixing bowl. That way accidental overpours or spills don’t ruin your batter or dough or whatever.

6. As soon as you are done with an ingredient, close it up and get it out of the way. Many spills come from stuff left around just waiting to be knocked over.

7. Remember to have fun. This one can be a challenge for me…my little guy can be very impulsive and tends to believe that he has a better way of doing things than the instructions indicate. I am learning to hold it together and focus on recovering our recipe from whatever he’s done, but when you do get snappy (and I do), just take a deep breath and remember that you are not the only adult that has ever barked at a kid who isn’t listening or wrecking your kitchen. Keep Calm and Keep Baking, as it were.

 

KID in the KITCHEN: Easy Blueberry Pancakes

17 Dec

It isn’t easy to stand by and watch while your seven-year-old cracks eggs that land on the floor (it only happened once!) or spills too much oil into the batter (we effectively bailed the excess out) or awkwardly flips runny pancake batter on a crappy little electric stove top where not just the heating elements but the whole top gets hot. And I don’t pretend that I don’t have sharp words for lapses of care. I get nervous, you see.

The smaller the better for flipping

The smaller the better for flipping

But my little guy likes cooking with me (“Are you sure? ‘Cause I yell at you sometimes.” “Yes I’m sure. I love it!”) and I love cooking with him. And as he gets handier and can read, I am increasingly letting him do more of the risky stuff. Like reading the recipe himself and measuring out ingredients and –yes — flipping pancakes on a hot stove.

It can be nerve-wracking, but the results are worth it. I am not talking about the culinary results, although his pancakes turned out delicious, as does his French toast. I’m talking about reading and following instructions and measuring and thinking about how baking soda and baking powder work, having responsibilities and having to be focused and careful. I am happy when he takes a step in the direction of independence, but it is nothing compared to his own pleasure at becoming so competent. “I did it! I flipped it!” and “I made delicious pancakes practically all by myself!” are the seasonings that make everything taste better when you are seven. And sometimes when you are a lot older too!

Piled high and DRENCHED in maple syrup....

Piled high and DRENCHED in maple syrup….

These pancakes are slightly modified from Kids Cook by Sarah Williamson & Zachary Williamson, a terrific starter book that he got from his godmother. My important advice in cooking with kids is get all the ingredients and tools organized first. The less turning your back to get something that you do during the proceedings, the better. Click for recipe Continue reading

Strawberry and Jam Mini-Muffins

8 Feb

Here is a quickie recipe that my son and his friend from across the street helped make on a recent playdate. They did a great job. Kids love wearing aprons to cook, so try to have enough available for everyone. And set out all ingredients ahead of time. Measuring is a great way to talk about fractions!

They are the cutest little tea muffins and we used some organic strawberries I had got on sale and frozen in season. I freeze these and then toss a couple in the kid’s lunchbox for school. They thaw out and warm up in time for snack!

Easy and delicious!

Easy and delicious!

Strawberry and Jam Mini-Muffins

1 egg

½ Cup plain yogurt

¼ Cup coconut oil (or any neutral vegetable oil)

1 ½ Cups flour (mix of white and whole wheat)

½ Cup sugar (mix of brown and white)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 Cup strawberries, chopped (frozen is fine!)

1 Tbs strawberry or lingonberry or other berry jam

Topping

½ Cup sugar

1/3 Cup flour

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ Cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 400° and line mini-muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the egg with a fork. Add the milk and oil and continue to stir. Add all dry ingredients. Mix the batter well, but do not over mix (which would toughen the muffins). Fold in strawberries and stir in jam.

Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full. Then start making the topping.

In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients for the topping and crumble together with your fingers (if you are baking with children, expect to be abandoned midway when they are grossed out by the stickiness. Also expect to find bits of this topping on the floor and all over the bathroom sink as they try to get it off). Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of topping.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until plump and golden brown. Let stand for a minute, then remove from trays. Serve warm or room temp. They freeze well too!

Cilantro & Parsley Pesto Variations With Queso Fresco and Without Nuts

26 Jun

We’re moving on up! I was invited to do a cooking demonstration recently at The Old Country Road School, a K-5 school in the Hicksville Union Free Public School District. The school was celebrating its successful garden project, now in its third year! It being a school, I figured it would be a hoot to let my then-five-, now-six-year-old show everyone to make one of his favorite sauces – hand-ground basil pesto! I mean, if a five-year-old can do it, why can’t everyone?

Proud, Proud Mama!

Proud, Proud Mama! Photo: Kara Gallagher

He was a star, waving the garlic around, handing out basil for the kids and their parents to feel and smell, and smashing the pesto into a paste with great gusto. He wasn’t a bit nervous, but I think there are a few Food Network stars who should be…Come to think of it, maybe I should be nervous too?

This pesto holds its bright green-ness much better than basil pesto!

This pesto holds its bright green-ness much better than basil pesto!

Continue reading

Spider Dogs, Octo-Dogs:The Hottest Dogs for Kids!

31 May

We’ll be camping and grilling again this summer, so here is a reminder for you (and me) on the coolest way to grill hot dogs for kids!

Click here for original post, or follow the directions below!

Quick grill idea for kids!

Quick grill idea for kids!

Grilled Spider-Dogs

Packaged hot dogs

1 skewer for each hotdog

You’ll want a hot grill going for this.

Stick a skewer halfway through each hot dog lengthwise.

Carefully cut the free half into quarters, lengthwise.

Lay the sliced ends of the hot dogs on the grill. The slices will curl back away from each other as they cook. When the sliced end is cooked and curled, carefully remove the dogs from their skewers, skewer through the cooked end and slice uncooked half into quarters lengthwise. Lay the uncooked ends of the dogs on the grill and cook until they are also curled back and you have a spider (or octo-) dog!

Hurray!!

Hurray!!

Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake – A Crowd-Pleaser, Homemade or Not!

11 May

It is spring and the rhubarb is out and the strawberries are actually in season (even though the season is in California and not here just yet) so it’s time to make fresh strawberry rhubarb jam and smear it over everything you can! So welcome to Strawberry Short Cut.

Mind you, I did it the long way. We were invited to our first barbecue of the season (Thanks to the Orr-Ciarlo’s for a wonderful evening!) and charged with bringing dessert. Me being me (and having made strawberry-rhubarb jam recently), I thought it would be a great idea to do a pound cake berry pile-up topped with whipped cream. And then of course I had to make the pound cake myself…and then wouldn’t it be fun to have the kids make the whipped cream?

And it was. So…here’s how

Make or buy strawberry rhubarb jam (What is rhubarb? you ask? Click the image for my easy Strawberry Rhubarb Jam recipe — no pectin required– and a run-down on Rhubarb  – one of Hot, Cheap & Easy’s top posts ever! ).

We're jammin'. we're jammin', hope you like jammin' too

We’re jammin’. we’re jammin’, hope you like jammin’ too

Make or buy pound cake

Homemade pound cake - click image for recipe!

Homemade pound cake – click image for recipe!

Buy some strawberries (if you can’t afford or find organic, make sure to wash thoroughly and take out the white core — I have heard tell that that is the part that holds a lot of residual pesticides), core, slice and marinate in a teaspoon of sugar (or not)

Whipped!

Whipped! Click for easy recipe!

Whirl up some fresh whipped cream (don’t buy this if you don’t have to…fresh is much, much better, so, so, easy, and so entertaining for the kids!!! They  all had a turn at the non-electric hand beater  –there’s no school like the Old School)

Then pile them up in bowls and enjoy the prettiest, sweet-tartiest, creamiest, lightest, fruitiest, just-rightiest dessert spring has to offer!

Strawberry Shortcake...a crowd pleaser!

Strawberry Shortcake…a crowd pleaser!

Whip It Good (Make Your Own Whipped Cream in Minutes)

27 Nov

Making your own whipped cream and is easy and fun for kids.

The texture is much more velvety than store-bought and it doesn’t bring extra additives.

Whipped!

Leandro and I made an apple crisp for Thanksgiving, but we didn’t actually start eating it until a couple of days later because we were so full! Instead of ice cream, we made our very own whipped cream.

It is so simple – takes five minutes! – and the results are so satisfying.

With warm apple crisp

Whipped Cream

Before you start: put the bowl and whisk or beaters in the freezer so they are ice cold when you are ready to use. Another note – whisking can take awhile, especially when you have eager little helpers. We use a hand beater instead of a whisk, which Leandro could manage quite well (as long as he kept the beaters in the cream) and then got to lick after!

Ingredients

1 Cup heavy cream (whipping cream is actually not the best choice!)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbs confectioner’s sugar

How-To

In a large bowl, whip cream until you begin to get thick waves that threaten to peak. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Stop there! Don’t overbeat it into buttery lumps.

You can store by lining a sieve with culinary cloth, putting the whipped cream in and then setting the sieve over a bowl, but it never lasts that long around here. You can also freeze it apparently, but I have yet to try! This makes about 16 generous tablespoons worth.

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