I got the sweetest text last month. One of my friends told me that her eight year old daughter was wondering “if that girl who makes really good cake” could come over and bake with her over the Christmas holiday. And when asked what she wanted to make, the answer was German Chocolate Cake. Yep, sounded good to me! This post chronicles their (super fun) day. The food isn’t styled, the lighting isn’t perfect, there was no thought given to composition, but hopefully it encourages you to get your own kids into the kitchen. It’s amazing what they can create!…
A slight hiatus from our normal Wednesday Good Food Reads, which I promise will be back next week.
Recently my 14-year-old daughter came to me about a science project she was going to do for her 8th grade science class. She had chosen to look at basic substitutions you could use while baking, as she is an avid baker. In fact I buy her a baking oriented cookbook every year for Christmas. (Clearly I’m winning at parenting as I’m definitely reaping those rewards!).
She worked diligently on this project one fall afternoon at the cabin. There was a lot of measuring, weighing, and even testing of resistance (it’s good to have a dad who is an electrical engineer and loves to teach scientific principle!). I had promised she could post her results on the blog when she had them written up, and now I am going to deliver. My only other contribution was to buy four different colored cupcake liners so we wouldn’t confuse the four groups. Read on for my daughter’s science project in her own words. Baking Substitutions: A Fun Science Project is below. Proud mom moment…hope you enjoy it as much as I did! …
I’ve been craving something sweet lately. Something to fit with the spice of the fall season. Something simple that my whole family would enjoy. And then I remembered these Fancy Carrot Cake Muffins. And who doesn’t love great tasting baked goods full of healthy veggies?…
You know those friends who have your back? Those friends who, when you hint that you might be able to use some of the extra rhubarb from their garden, give you not only rhubarb, but also a split of their rhubarb plant to plant in your own garden? Well, Amy and Peter are those friends. Amy recently gave me a whole arm load of rhubarb, not to mention a rhubarb plant that then got planted in my backyard! The only thing Amy asked in return was to see what I made with the rhubarb. Well, that sure was easy, I made this Cherry Rhubarb Crisp! So now my WHOLE family thanks you, Amy and Peter!…
I tried to come up with a catchier name than Cabin Burgers, I really did. But the truth of the matter is, this is the meal that the kids beg for when we head to the cabin, and thus they have always been called “Cabin Burgers”. The name just stuck, boring or not. And although the name may be boring, this burger is anything but……
***Happy 4th of July***Happy 4th of July***Happy 4th of July***Happy 4th of July***Happy 4th of July***
Happy 4th of July all of you loyal readers! We had actually decided not to do a 4th of July post since both of us had family events to host. However, that was before stumbling across an amazing post by Lady Behind the Curtain! Who is that you ask? Well, a fellow blogger that I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with through social media. She creates unbelievable food and gives great entertaining tips.
One of her latest creations was a stars and stripes pie that was just calling to me! Anyone that knows me, knows that I am the least Pinterest-y person around. I never decorate for holidays (minimally for Christmas-and really only because I have kids), I’ve never made cute little kids projects (even though I have 2 kids), and I’m not at all crafty! A patriotic pie? With stars and stripes? Laugh if you will, but just you wait-I think I actually pulled this one off!
Ahhhh, vacation. Yep, that is right, vacation. Much needed, well-deserved, greatly enjoyed. Don’t we all love going on vacation? Well, my in-laws have decided to “winter” in Arizona 5 months of the year, truly living the ultimate vacation. Unfortunately that means that they aren’t always available to celebrate my youngest child’s birthday on his actual birthday date (in February). No problem, he’s now old enough to understand that not having grandma and grandpa here on his birthday just means presents in the mail (so awesome) and another celebration at a later date (even more awesome). Who doesn’t love another celebration?…
Homemade pizza, and specifically Prosciutto, Shallot, and Arugula Pizza, was on the menu for this past weekend. We spent a lovely weekend relaxing at our cabin, which means pajama days, family time, movies and of course, a lot of cooking. While at the co-op earlier this week, I asked my youngest what he wanted for dinner this weekend, and he replied “Homemade Pizza!”.
This is another one of my favorite ways to get my kids into the kitchen. My kids have been making their own pizzas since they were very young. I make up a batch of dough in the morning and when it gets closer to the time we are going to start making the pizzas, I prepare everyone’s preferred toppings. Everyone gathers around and stretches their own dough, adds their own sauce “decorates” their pizzas and then anxiously awaits the finished product. Since it’s a meal so easy to customize, it’s perfect for even the pickiest of kids!
For my son, homemade pizza means a pizza with pineapple chunks and mozzarella cheese. For my daughter, who will not touch cheese, it means a pizza with a ton of sauce and heaping mounds of pepperoni. It’s a little more complicated for my husband and I. On our very first date-almost 21 years ago-we went out for pizza. The big problem then was that I was a vegetarian, and he had not yet met a vegetable he was willing to put on a pizza. That first we night we settled on a cheese pizza, yep, plain cheese pizza. I am happy to report we have come a long way since then! Tonight’s masterpiece was one of our favorites-Prosciutto, Shallot, and Arugula Pizza. (I am happy to report, I am no longer a vegetarian, and my husband is no longer afraid of vegetables)
In order to make Prosciutto, Shallot, and Arugula Pizza, I crisp up some prosciutto in the oven. I always make a little extra since this goes so well on salads, pasta and just to munch on. I also caramelize some shallots in butter, which gives the shallots a sweet, rich taste, plus a few shallots always get crispy and are perfect for garnish. This pizza also features goat cheese and parmesan cheese for depth of flavor, although if you don’t like either of these two ingredients, never fear, you could always substitute all mozzarella cheese instead. Arugula finishes this pizza off with a hint of pepper and a beautiful green color. Prosciutto, Shallot and Arugula Pizza satisfies all of my pizza cravings with each perfect salty, peppery, crunchy bite.
So no matter if you like the same toppings we do, or something completely different, this recipe is for you. You can modify it to please any preferences. And it’s a great recipe to get the kids involved in-after all, kids are always more likely to eat foods that they helped prepare! You never know, you may even get lucky and inspire your older kids to keep on cooking-and make dessert! (My daughter, inspired by my time in the kitchen this weekend, spent her afternoon making us frosted brownies!)
- 1 envelope instant dry yeast
- 1½ cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3½ cups bread flour
- 2 ounces prosciutto
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large shallot (sliced-when sliced it will form rings, try to separate these rings)
- 1 Tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 Can/jar of pizza sauce (our favorite is Muir Glen Organic)
- 2 ounces goat cheese
- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 handfuls of arugula leaves
- Place instant dry yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
- Add water, sugar, salt and olive oil.
- Turn mixer on and slowly add flour until dough forms a ball.
- Place into a lightly oiled bowl or plastic ziplock bag lightly oiled with olive oil
- Allow dough to rise for at least 1-2 hours, or until dough doubles.
- Split dough in half (for 2 14-inch pizzas). You will use one half of the dough for the remainder of the recipe-save the second half to make pizzas for the kids!
- When dough has 30 minutes left of rising (or you are 30 minutes from cooking your pizza), preheat oven to 400ºF
- Place proscuitto slices on a sheet pan (since my prosciutto comes in a 3 ounce package, I always crisp the whole 3 ounces, extras are useful!)
- Place into 400ºF oven for 10-15 minutes until crispy (keep an eye on this, burnt prosciutto is not good and thinner slices cook faster).
- Melt butter in a small skillet.
- Add shallot slices and caramelize at low heat, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Remove from heat.
- Turn oven up to 450ºF with pizza stone inside.
- Remove warm pizza stone and sprinkle with cornmeal (you may use less than 1 tablespoon).
- Stretch pizza dough (half of total recipe above) until it is in a circle (rustic is fine!).
- Spread desired amount of sauce onto pizza dough (I use no more than ½ cup-otherwise crust gets soggy).
- Sprinkle crumbled prosciutto onto pizza.
- Sprinkle cheeses (goat cheese, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese) over dough.
- Place in 450º oven for 15-18 minutes or until cheeses are melted and crust is golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Sprinkle arugula leaves over middle of pizza.
- Garnish with caramelized shallots.
- Slice and enjoy!
I spent the weekend making Peanut Butter Cup Bars. Simple ingredients, simple recipe, no oven involved. This is one of my very favorite recipes, not only because of its simplicity, but because of the fact is that it gets my kids into the kitchen every time. In the interest of full disclosure, these particular peanut butter cup bars pictured above were actually made by my 4 year old with only some minor help from me. My journey to the kitchen was so much later in life, that I’m hoping that by getting my kids into the kitchen early in their lives, I will spark their interest in cooking.
I have 2 kids, currently aged 13 and 4, and when it comes to food and kids in the kitchen, I have learned a lot of lessons between number 1 and number 2. When my now teenager was tiny, I was in the throes of my education and training. That meant long days, long nights and meals that involved the path of least resistance. Our then toddler wanted butter noodles for dinner 7 nights a week? Sure-we could handle that, we had a fast casual Italian joint down the street. I’m not sure I knew where my kitchen was back then, and I’m pretty sure that even if I could have found my kitchen, I wouldn’t have known how to make noodles anyway! No surprise that food rapidly became an issue with my firstborn, as her preferred menu involved very few types of foods and none of them could be considered nutritious.
When I started my full time job, one of my new colleagues asked me what we liked to eat for dinner. Unfortunately, my honest answer did not impress her, to say the least. Who would be impressed by our crazy array of fast food dinners? From that day forward, my colleague (now one of my great friends) vowed to teach me how to do better. She encouraged me to cook, encouraged me to try new recipes (even if they were simple desserts like these Peanut Butter Cup Bars) and encouraged me to do a better job of feeding my family. In my free time, I took some demonstration cooking classes, tried tons of new recipes and read cookbooks like novels (I’ve actually developed quite a cookbook addiction, but that it is a whole other conversation). I rapidly improved my skills and discovered a true passion for cooking.
When I had my second child, many years after the first, I was in a different place in my life. I had more time, more energy (it’s all relative, right?) and much more in my repertoire. I got smart, and fed my youngest child whatever we were eating, and what we were eating had vastly improved by then. He greedily ate everything including the garlicky pureed beef stew I fed him, the beet borscht his Polish nanny fed him, and the various vegetables we insisted he have at every meal. I also learned that getting my kids into the kitchen with me was a great way to get them enthusiastic about trying new foods. There was so much they could help with-dumping, mixing, spreading, crushing. My 13 year old, initially very finicky, is now exploring her own talents in the kitchen and her palate has greatly expanded (she now orders salmon everywhere we go-and together we can make a fabulous salmon at home!). My 4 year old tells people he’s going to be a “daddy chef” and asks me to put his apron on him so he can help me cook. Now, this Peanut Butter Cup Bar recipe certainly isn’t a healthy recipe, and it certainly won’t give your kids any nutrition, but it is so easy and gives my 4 year old such a sense of accomplishment to be able to make a dessert that everyone enjoys. It is a great recipe to start getting your own kids into the kitchen with you! And who knows, maybe if you get them interested in making dessert, helping you make vegetables will soon follow!
- 1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 Cup Butter
- 2½ Cups Powdered Sugar
- 2 Cups Crushed Graham Crackers
- 1½ Cups (12 ounces) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Mix peanut butter, melted butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl.
- Stir in crushed graham crackers.
- Spread peanut butter mixture in a 9 x 13 pan.
- Melt chocolate chips, stirring frequently to ensure the chocolate doesn't burn. (This can be done using a double boiler over low heat, or using a microwave on medium power, stirring every 30 seconds until melted)
- Spread melted chocolate over peanut butter mixture.
- Refrigerate until chocolate is hardened.
- Cut into squares, serve and enjoy!