Tag Archives: kids cooking


My dad lives out of state and we only get together a few times a year, making those visits very special. While it takes some coordination we always get together at the start of the new year and it has become our tradition for my dad and the kids to make pasta together.

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Over the past five years we have tried a variety of pastas – lasagna noodles, plain noodles, spinach and beet flavored fettuccine – every year is a new experiment.010511 148

This year we opted for a simple ricotta filled ravioli served with a mushroom and pancetta sauce. It was delicious and a wonderful way to end our season of eating.010216 a (1)

If you haven’t made pasta before I highly recommend you give it a try and to make it even better, make sure you get your kids to help. It is a wonderful hands on activity, easy for the kids to do and gives them a huge sense of accomplishment. It is one of those things that gives a big wow factor, but is easy for all. 010511 146

One of the great things about pasta is you don’t need any special equipment. A pasta roller is helpful, but not necessary. You can use a rolling pin to flatten and a knife to cut it into shape. If you feel you really want to use a pasta machine I recommend heading to the thrift store. I always see them in our local stores, usually for less than $10.  We got ours for $5.00 a few years ago. Granted it doesn’t have the attachment that lets us attach it to the table, but we use an extra set of arms to hold it in place and it has served us fine for the last 5 years.

We like to make our dough right on the table. It’s a little risky and can be messy, but if you work carefully it is actually easier than using a bowl.010511 125

To start make a big mound of flour on the table (or in your bowl). Shape it in to a volcano with a hole in the middle. In a small bowl whisk the eggs and olive oil together. Pour it in the volcano hole and then, with a fork, slowly start incorporating the flour into the eggs.010216 (18) 010216 (22)

Once it has formed into a rough dough begin kneading until smooth. Let the dough rest, at room temperature, for at least an hour. Then you get to move on to the fun part – rolling and shaping the dough

As I said you don’t need a pasta roller, but it is really cool to watch a thick piece of dough quickly grow into a long and thin sheet with just a few passes through the roller. 010511 129

After a piece of pasta is rolled into a thin sheet it is time to shape it. Again, you can use a specific tool to get the job done, or simply use a knife to cut the pasta into the desired shape. This year we had gotten my Dad a ravioli cutter as a Christmas gift, so we put that to use.

pasta cutter

Image courtesy of Amazon

There are a lot of different types of ravioli cutters and pans, but the handheld cutter is my favorite. It cuts and crimps at the same time, but most importantly it seals the two sheets of pasta together tightly so the cheese doesn’t leak out when cooking. 010216 a (5)

Once all the dough has been shaped it is time to cook and eat. Simply cook the pasta the same way you would store bought pasta and enjoy!

Below are the recipes for the pasta dough and the sauce. Experiment, share and enjoy!

Pasta Dough  (printer ready)

1 lb (about 4 cups) all purpose flour
5 eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil


In a small bowl whisk eggs and olive oil together, set aside. Mound the flour on a large cutting board, or table. Make a wide hole in the center of the mound and add the egg mixture. Using a fork slowly mix the flour into the eggs. Once the mixture has come together use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Knead until smooth, it will take about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover the dough and let rest at room temperature for at least one hour. Roll and cut dough into desired shapes.

Mushroom and Pancetta Sauce (printer ready)

½ cup pancetta diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 cups wild mushrooms (any combination of oyster, cremini or shitake)
1 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
Olive oilDirections:
In a large saute pan, drizzle olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once oil has heated add pancetta and cook until lightly crisp. Add mushrooms, lightly season with salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms are soft. Add garlic allow it to brown slightly then add stock. Raise heat to medium high. Continue cooking until stock has reduced by half. Add butter, stir continuously until butter is melted and sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Enjoy!

Mini Fruit Tarts

One of my favorite cooking activities with kids are mini fruit tarts.  They are a perfect project for kids of all ages.  Kids get an opportunity to practice cutting, mixing and presentation. They are a great way to introduce new fruits  and best of all they can be eaten right after making them, no waiting necessary

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The filling and crust are just as versatile as the fruit.  This time I use leftover sugar cookie dough for the crust, but you can also use a pie dough, graham cracker crumbs or any sweet dough.  For the filling I used cream cheese lemon curd, but again this could be substituted or a different flavor curd or a jam and or even pudding which is always a favorite with my kids.

fruit tarts1
This is the perfect treat that gives kids the opportunity to create their own unique dessert that is a sweet treat for all!

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Mini Fruit Tarts

1 recipe sweet dough (sugar cookie or pie dough)
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup lemon curd (or any jam) – amount can be adjusted if you want more or less flavor
Assortment of fruit, cut into small bite sized pieces.

Preheat oven to 350. Roll dough to 1/4″ thick. Cut into rounds slightly larger than the cups of a mini muffin tin. Press a round of dough into each cup. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool. In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese and lemon curd. Stir until combined. Place mixture in a pastry bag.Fill each cup with lemon curd mixture, top with an assortment of fruit.

Breakfast Pizza

Excuse me for a moment  while I do a little proud mama bragging.  Today I’m not going to share my latest recipe, but instead I’m going to share a recipe by a budding young chef. This chef has been in the kitchen since he was 3. He has great knife skills, is confident and loves to try new foods.  He also happens to be my son who just competed in his first cooking competition.

breakfast pizza

It was a small local contest open to kids in grades 4-8. They contestants were challenged to create a healthy and nutritious breakfast or lunch entrée or snack, using any combination of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and natural sweeteners.

Will’s submission was a breakfast pizza.  The inspiration for this recipe came from his uncle who made a version of it for us this summer while down visiting.  Will took the idea and made it his own by adding his favorite vegetables, cheeses and seasonings.  It is a super simple yet yummy recipe and is perfect for beginner cooks.

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The recipe got him to the semi-finals and gave him the opportunity to cook the recipe at our local Williams-Sonoma store.  He didn’t make it on to the final round, but he did an outstanding job and we couldn’t be more proud of him.  He was confident, poised and did an excellent job of demonstrating his cooking skills – what more could a mom want!

Egg Pizza   (print)
created by Will
Serves 2

Pizza Dough
2 Eggs
⅓ Cup of Milk
⅛ tsp. of Onion Powder
⅛ tsp. of Garlic Powder
⅛ tsp. Salt
⅛ tsp. Pepper
Small handful of roughly chopped spinach
2-3 Strips of cooked Bacon
1 small tomato diced
½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly spray a baking tray with oil.
Take a small fist sized piece of pizza dough and form into a circle bringing up the edges. Place on baking tray. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until dough is lightly baked. Remove from oven and set aside
While pizza dough is baking crack eggs into a small bowl. Add Milk,Onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.Whisk ingredients together.
In a small skillet, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Once butter is melted add egg mixture.
Cook eggs for about 3 minutes or until they begin to firm but are wet looking.Remove from heat and add ¼ cheese and spinach. Stir until the spinach begins to wilt.
Sprinkle half of remaining cheese onto dough, top with eggs, tomatoes and remaining cheese.
Place in oven, bake for for 5-6 minutes.
Remove from oven and enjoy!

Dinner Dash: Taco Salad

Salads are one of my favorite dinner dash meals.  Not only do they come together quickly, but the recipe list is super flexible and easily adjustable to your families likes and dislikes. Plus, they are a great way to use up vegetables or leftover chicken or beef.   A few years ago I discovered another secret to salad making that makes the process even faster  – my kids.

Usually when I ask my kids to help with something I get ignored or a lot of complaining. When I ask for their help and bribe them with the use of a knife or a cool gadget I get volunteers and only a few complaints (I would like to say I get no complaints, but complaining is a skill my kids excel at -they’ve been known to complain at having to go to their own birthday parties).

Ever since they were very little my kids have loved to help make salads because they felt pretty big time being able to use a knife.  I learned pretty quickly to let go of the need to have all the vegetables the same size. In like so many other things when they had some freedom and the ability to make their own decisions they were more likely to stick with the task.  Some days the kids wanted to chop away and we would have tiny pieces of everything, other days they went large.

As they are getting older my kids are beginning to become more aware of the details.  They realize it is easier to eat a salad when the tomatoes are cut into bite sized pieces.  They are also beginning to see the consistency is more visually appealing and they like the challenge of getting everything in a consistent size.

This week I called my oldest in to help make a Taco Salad.  This is a meal he can make on his own, but still likes to have me in the kitchen to serve as his sous chef.


The kids love having this salad in taco bowls, which are super easy to make – a great project for the little ones.

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Simply light brush the tortillas with oil, place in between muffin cups and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

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Taco Salad

1/2 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa
1 tablespoon Taco Seasoning

1 head Butterhead or Romaine Lettuce, roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 8oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 avocado diced
2-3 large handfuls of Tortilla chips, lightly crushed

For the dressing:
In a small bowl combine mayonaise, sour cream, salsa and taco seasoning. Stir until combined.

For the salad:
In a large salad bowl combine lettuce, tomatoes, corn, black beans and avocado. Add dressing and toss to combine. Top with tortilla chips, gently toss.

Serve and Enjoy!

Party Season

It is that time of year when it seems like there is a party every weekend.  Mother’s day, Father’s day, graduations, recitals – it is the season of celebrations.  And if your kids are like mine they want to be a part of every aspect of the celebration, including the planning and the prep.  And if you are anything like me it might be a little difficult to let go of some of that planning and prep.

I like things a certain way, mainly my way and it is sometimes a little difficult to turn things over to them.  I want them to learn how to cook and be able to throw a great party, but they don’t always do the things the way I want, and they have their own thoughts and opinions on how things should be done – ah! the nerve of them!  Over the years I have come up with ways to include my little independent spirits without giving them complete control.  One of my, and their, favorites are skewers.  Through much experimentation we have discovered you can put anything on a skewer.  It is an activity anybody can do and it just makes things a little bit more festive.

Our most recent skewer creation was Greek salad on a stick.  We served these at a going away party we hosted this past weekend and like so many other times the kids were happy to assemble the skewers while Mike and I pulled the rest of the food together.


Having the kids serve the “salad” was also a great ice breaker for the kids at the party. They were the only kids at the party and they didn’t know most of the people.  So, while they wanted to be a part of it all they were also a little nervous.  Those nerves quickly vanished when they proudly offered their dish.



Rainbow Cakes

After the never ending winter spring is finally starting to make her appearance.  Little bits of color are coming up from the ground and out on the trees.  With the changes in color happening outside it makes me want to change the colors inside as well.  I’m not talking about painting walls or any drastic changes, I am happy with just adding a little color to our meals.  And I don’t mean fresh fruits and veggies, although that is one of my favorite ways to bring spring inside.

This little burst of color comes from the simple pancake.

rainbow pancakes

My family loves pancakes.  We eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  They can be sweet or savory. Are super simple to make, yet always make an impressive impression.  You feel a little extra special when given a plate of pancakes.  It’s as if someone is giving you a little extra love.   You feel some extra love with just a regular plate of pancakes.  Imagine the love that is felt with rainbow pancakes.  These are sure to make any day extra special.

The other thing I love about pancakes is that they are a great food for kids to learn how to make.  There are only a few ingredients, measurements are simple and there is wiggle room if mistakes are made.  The youngest of chefs can easily make a batch of pancakes with little to no help.  This batch was made by my 7 year old, I was around to supervise and offer some help when needed, but from the measuring to the mixing to the flipping she did pretty much everything on her own.


When it comes time to cook them up I like using a griddle. I find it is easier and more stable for the kids to use, plus you can cook off a bunch at once.  If you don’t have a griddle any flat pan will work.  If you want to make a rainbow of pancakes, simply evenly divide the batter.  The number of colors you choose to use is up to you.  If you want to get even fancier pour each color into a squeeze bottle, then squeeze the batter onto the griddle in various shapes and designs.  You can use pancake molds or go freehand, if the kids are doing it, they will want to go freehand.

I am a big fan of buttermilk pancakes and my favorite recipe is below, but you can easily find recipes that don’t use buttermilk.  And one quick, but very important tip – if you want super fluffy pancakes do not over mix the batter.  A good batter should have some small lumps.

Buttermilk Pancakes       printer ready

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat griddle to 375०

In a large mixing bowl add eggs, buttermilk and melted butter, whisk together.  Sift dry ingredients into the liquids, then gently fold together.  Do not over mix there should be some small lumps remaining in the batter.

If needed, lightly coat griddle with butter or cooking spray.  Using a cookie scoop or ladle pour batter onto griddle, leaving 1”-2” between each pancake.  Cook until bubbles begin forming on top of the pancakes and the edges are slightly dry.  Flip pancakes and cook until golden, about 1-2 minutes.

Cooked pancakes can be kept warm in a 125०