Tag Archives: kids in the kitchen

Sweet-Tart Homemade Lemonade (made entirely by the kids)

21 Aug

My son and niece (8 and 11 respectively) had made some sugar syrup* for me last week – they are pretty good with the stove these days and eager to see how things are done.

I actually used most of it for adult beverages (mango-chile mojitos and passionfruit mojitos), but in return for their help, I promised I would show them how to make lemonade. In fact, while they were squeezing the lemons, I was taking a shower, then we just measured and mixed and that was it.

It was extremely tasty and refreshing and very easy (especially for me, because they did all the work) and looked so pretty in a special bottle! We’ll be doing it again very, very soon!

So easy, why would you buy?

So easy, why would you buy?


½ Cup sugar syrup*

½ Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 Cups cold water

Mix together and pour over ice

Makes 3 Cups

* sugar syrup: 1 Cup sugar, 1 Cup water, heated on the stovetop till clear and liquid, then cooled. Keeps in the fridge for a month.


Cinnamon Sugar Toast by and for Kids

26 Jul

Yet another easy summer hack, this time one that will let your kid practice measuring and keep him or her busy for a hot minute.

This one is cinnamon sugar. All you need is one tablespoon of ground cinnamon and three tablespoons of granulated sugar (use white; brown is too crumbly-sticky) Mix thoroughly in a clean container with a lid.

The sugar can be sprinkled on buttered toast, muffins, French toast or pancakes, or apple slices that need a bit of help. It’ll keep in the pantry and that’s that!

2015-07-23 11.04.40 cinnamon sugar

Kids in the Kitchen: Cub Scouts Make Pizza!

13 Jun

We love our Cub Scout pack (Theodore Roosevelt  Council Pack 776) and our den (10!). We have done so many fun and enriching activities both indoors and out in this first year! Part of the reason I am sharing this event with you is in case you need ideas for a kids activity…just ask your local pizzeria.

Stretching the dough and spreading the sauce

Stretching the dough and spreading the sauce

One of the nearest and dearest Scouting excursions to my heart happened this past week as Scout mom, Melissa,  organized a visit to a local pizza parlor and the boys made their own pizza!

Going for it!

Going for it!

No, they didn’t make the dough, and no it wasn’t whole wheat, multi-grain crust, or organic cheese and sauce, or free-range pork sausage…give me a break…

All hands on deck!

All hands on deck!

It was simply a local place that makes really nice pies giving the boys a chance to punch out a little pie into an oil-greased tin foil pie pan, slap on sauce and choose some toppings. The nice folks at Leonardo’s popped them in the brick oven, then: the boys ate their creations!

Serious business!

Serious business!

The joys and special satisfactions of DIY

The joys and special satisfactions of DIY

They had such a ball, it inspired me (who you would think makes homemade pizza with my kid all the time but never has!) to give it a try some time soon. Maybe it will inspire those of you who have to come up with a fun indoor activity at a reasonable price (lunch included!).

Mangia, mangia! The proud pizza maker of the one pizza I really wanted to steal!!

Mangia, mangia! The proud pizza maker of the one pizza I really wanted to steal!!

Our hosts

Our hosts

So thanks to Leonardo’s Pizza & Restaurant for showing the boys how to put a pizza together (and charging just $6 each for a drink, a garlic knot, and the individual pizza with cheese and choice of sausage or pepperoni, or both).  Thanks to Melissa for organizing and Meg and Moira for being such dedicated den leaders! It has been a really terrific year…

The professional pizza...with GARLIC KNOT CRUST...holy yumfest, Batman!

The professional pizza…with GARLIC KNOT CRUST…holy yumfest, Batman!

Natural Easter Egg Coloring Update: How-To, Cheap Tricks…Canned Beets?

17 Apr

We colored our Easter eggs the natural way again this year and learned a few things we want to share with you! In this post you will find the basic how-to for red-pink, yellow, and violet blue and you can make your own color blends from there, plus get some ideas for making it easier and more decorative.

2014-04-15 Easter eggsAnd we’ll answer the question: Can I use the juice from canned beets?


We got some interesting colors and cool effects!

We got some interesting colors and cool effects!

Click here for the original post from last year or just follow these simple instructions. Scroll past the recipe for more ideas, advice and suggestions!

DO wear an apron!

DO wear an apron!

Coloring Easter Eggs the Natural Way

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, cooled (make patterns with crayons or wax pencils before dipping)

Three pots, each filled with 2 Cups water

HOT PINK – 1 large beet, chopped (peel can stay on)

YELLOW 2 Tbs turmeric

VIOLET BLUE – 12 oz frozen blueberries

3 Tbs white vinegar

crayons or wax pencils

Put one coloring ingredient in each pot. Bring to a boil, turn off and let steep five minutes. Strain into three separate bowls (removing chunky bits*). Add one tsp vinegar to each bowl. Start blending, dipping and cross-dipping until you achieve the colors you like. Dry in the egg carton and add any decorations you see fit.

Now for the updates and cool ideas: Continue reading

You Need No-Knead Bread Dough in Your Fridge!

9 Apr

500th POST!!!! 500th POST!!!! Thanks to all of you for following, commenting, liking, and cooking with Hot, Cheap & Easy these past few years. I appreciate your support and love having your company on this food and life journey…Don”t forget to sign up for email alerts if you haven’t already! xoxoxo

As we were learning about yeast for my first-grader’s Science Fair Project, it was obvious that blowing up balloons with anaerobic respiration, while cool, was not enough to fully demonstrate the wonders of this delightful fungus.

The best way to appreciate how useful and all around terrific these little creatures are is to tear into a loaf of steaming, fresh-from-the-oven, homemade bread. Yeast lifts flour from its one-dimensional powder form into the sublime airy, nutty, soft, comforting cloud of tasty goodness that is bread. Add a slab of good butter, and you know that manna from heaven must’ve been a yeast bread.

Basic ingredients

Basic ingredients

The problem is, bread is a pain in the ass to make. You knead, you wait, you punch down. You do it again. Or you have a standing mixer with the right paddles and let the machine do much of the work. And you still have to wait.

Sticky dough

Sticky dough

I don’t have a standing mixer. I don’t have the space for it. I don’t have the money for it. I don’t have the time to read all the reviews to find the best standing mixer with the best ratings and the best price that I anyway have no room for and no money for…so usually I don’t make bread. This is why bakeries exist.

After a bit more than an hour

After a bit more than an hour

But a bit of digging around the internet found me a fabulous recipe on Jezebel called Foolproof Refrigerator Bread by Jenna Sauers. It required no kneading, no standing mixer, and very little waiting and one batch is enough for three loaves that you can make one at a time when you get the urge. SOLD!

Slash the top for good looks

Slash the top for good looks

Here is our version, which doesn’t really stray much from the original. The measurements and instructions are easy enough for a little kid to follow. We shamelessly took a fresh loaf to the Science Fair and offered still-warm slices to the judges and voila! Leandro won the Creativity Prize (the K-4 category was otherwise non-juried except for a few special recognitions). Talk about fostering a sense of pride and joy in a little boy who loves science and food.

No sense skimping on the butter.

No sense skimping on the butter.

And ever since we have been keeping dough on hand to pop in the oven when we need a snack. It’s done in a half-hour….what could be better for a dinner side or something to wow impromptu guests? Continue reading to get the ever-so-simple recipe. Continue reading

Kids, Kitchen, Bread…Science Fair Success! (book recommendation)

5 Apr

I love food. My kid loves eating. I love cooking. My kid loves science.

And it all comes together for Science Fair Projects, where you can play around with fungus and eat the results!

How did he do that?

How did he do that?

Science Fair participation is not obligatory in the first grade in our school district, and in fact as far as we can tell, only a handful of first-graders participate, but for us, it is a wonderful opportunity to take our mucking about in the kitchen to a molecular level. We’re talking fungus, we’re talking yeast, and not only are we going to blow up balloons without expending any breath of our own, we are also going to massage the judges with some still-warm bread.

Hmmm...further exploration required

Hmmm…further exploration required

Our new favorite book is Kitchen Science Experiments by Sandipta Bardhan-Quallen. Full of quick and easy food experiments and explanations in a kid-attractive format, we borrowed it from the library and ended up buying it because they wouldn’t let us renew it anymore. And it gave us this year’s science fair experiment for which my little guy won a special K-4 prize for creativity.

Explaining it to the boys (while they noshed on fresh bread)

Explaining it to the boys (while they noshed on fresh bread)

For our experiment we used the power of yeast to blow up balloons. We learned about yeast and the conditions it prefers (won’t tell you the results because you need to try it yourself) and to take it a step further, we made no-knead refrigerator bread (which eliminates variables if you are doing science and dodges serious kneading and proofing if you are an overwhelmed mom) that we took, still warm, as part of our presentation.

Great job!

Great job!

I will give you the no-knead recipe tomorrow (because you need it!), but for now…it’s just the book recommendation and a couple of pictures. Enjoy!


Blueberry Whole Wheat Pancakes

7 Jan

The recent snowy days led many of us to use our housebound, lazy mornings to make big breakfasts. The little guy had been begging for pancakes for a while and I ran out of excuses, so we put together some delicious whole wheat blueberry pancakes. He has been baking with me for a long time, so he was able to do a lot of the mixing and we are moving into measuring and understanding that

1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 1/2 teaspoons,

when we can’t locate the 1 tsp measure. The teachable moment is ever-present and just waiting to be exploited.

While recipes often recommend lighter flours, I actually used stone-ground whole wheat with just a bit of white flour and the results were not heavy at all. While I call these blueberry, I did make a few without the fruit (I just made a batch without and then added the blueberries to the batter) and both were excellent. This recipe gives the right amount for the whole batch.

We like a bit of maple syrup on our pancakes. It adds umami...nice rich mouthfeel

We like a bit of maple syrup on our pancakes. It adds umami…nice rich mouthfeel

“These taste like heaven, Mom,” was the verdict. And I’ve got six leftover pancakes frozen in wax paper and a plastic tub to crisp up in the toaster oven one of these cold, but not leisurely mornings soon! Read on for recipe! Continue reading

Kids Learning Spanish the Fun Way: By Making Fantastic Latino Dishes!

2 May

This is a half-Spanish- half-English-speaking household. Just as we cook Latin sometimes and American (whatever that is) sometimes, we bounce back and forth between languages. The linguistic term is “code-switching” and Puerto Ricans in particular are the acrobats of the code-switching word – leaping off the English sentence into a whirl of Spanish and flipping backwards to finish in English. Or not. We understand each other, but other people think it’s gibberish. And while some derisively call it “Spanglish”, we know they’re just jealous of our daredevil dual language skills!

An equal opportunity eater!

An equal opportunity eater!

So of course I have done my best to help my son become bilingual.

Miss Susana introduces the recipe and its ingredients

Miss Susana introduces the recipe and its ingredients

This is not easy. These days most of my life is conducted in English – both my writing and my teaching, my social life, his school, the T.V. news. My parents have gradually abandoned speaking to him in Spanish altogether. Some days I forget to switch back to Spanish at home. I am that tired.



So I am lucky to have the support of Spanish All Year, the cultural language school that he attends a couple of hours a week. Which brings me to the reason why I am telling you – who are expecting to read about food and are instead hearing about language acquisition woes – about this. Continue reading

Apple Crisp (and the answer to the contraption challenge)

15 Oct

Yesterday I asked if you knew what this was:

Peel Away Peeler, Corer, and Slicer, courtesy Hatti Langsford.

And I got numerous responses, most of them correct! The hair removal comment was pretty funny! (Thanks Conor from One Man’s Meat)

It is indeed an apple corer, which can be set to peel and slice as well. Want one? Click here to shop around….

My dear friend from college (The New School, if you’d like to know), Hatti Langsford, whose recent “sustainable” wedding  to Chris Moratz, was covered in these pages, gave it to Leandro when we were visiting them in the New Paltz area last fall. It has since traveled, not just home to us, but to Leandro’s school during Apple Week last year! The kids (and teachers) loved it! And it is a terrific way to get kids eating fruit and involved in the kitchen!

It is a marvelous contraption, that Hatti wants me to remind you can also be used for peeling potatoes, and it can be used for pears as well. It came in particularly handy for this simple apple crisp recipe, as the spiral slice was the perfect thickness for the dish (1/4 inch); all I had to do was slice each apple once in half from top to bottom after Ashley and Leandro had peeled, cored and spiral sliced them.

Make sure the butter is well-distributed through the dry ingredients or you’ll have dry patches. I eliminated the dry patches by covering with foil; the heat finished the topping!

I made it in two 8×8 baking dishes so that I had one to take to this month’s Single Mother’s By Choice meet-up (where it met with general approval and most people took seconds), and one to keep! You could also do one large baking dish.


Apple Crisp (adapted very slightly from Betty Crocker!)

10 small-medium cooking apples (we used Gala this time), cored and sliced (peeling is optional)

1.5 Cups mixed brown and white sugar, packed

1 Cup all-purpose flour

1 Cup quick-cooking oats (old-fashioned can also be used)

2/3 Cups butter, softened

1.5 tsp ground cinnamon

1.5 tsp ground nutmeg

Whipped cream or ice cream, if desired

Heat oven to 375°F. Grease bottom and sides of two 8×8 or one 8×13 rimmed baking dish with shortening.

Spread apple slices in pan(s). In a large bowl, stir remaining ingredients except cream, wetting thoroughly with the butter. Spread over the apples.

Bake 30 minutes (add five minutes for glass baking dish), or until top is golden and apples are fork-tender. Serve warm with cream.

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