Kitchen Tools that Kids Can Use: Apple Corers

Apple corers are a nifty little device that makes making apple pies, apple crisp, and baked apples so much easier! Apple slicers are similar but instead of just coring the apple it slices the apple into even slices. Although the apple corer may need some practice with handling, an apple slicer doesn’t take that much practice to use.  In fact, kids ages 6-7 can use these kitchen tools.

To be completely honest with you this blog post was meant to be on double boilers and posted last month. The highlighted recipe was on candy apples (love this fall treat!). Unfortunately, the recipe fell through as it didn’t turn out as planned.

So, onto plan B! (Personally, I think planned B worked out much better.)

Below I have provided a fun fall dessert for families to make together using above tools. Happy Cooking!

Fruity Apple Crisp

Makes 4 servings; Preparation Time: 30 mins; Cooking Time: 45 mins.

Ingredients: 

6 medium Macintosh apples, cored & thinly sliced

1/2 cup of fresh cranberries or blueberries

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping:

2 tablespoons of flour

1/8 cup of sliced almonds

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3 c. of oatmeal

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2.) Wash all apples & peel with a peeler. Then use an apple slicer to slice all the apples on a clean cutting board. Then take the sliced apples and slice them into thinner slicers. Place into the prepared baking pan.

3.) In a medium bowl mix flour, sugar, lemon juice, & cinnamon. Whisk together & pour over the apple slicers in the baking pan. Use a spatula to coat evenly.

4.) In a small mixing bowl combine the remaining ingredients for the topping. Add the melted butter and stir. Spread evenly over the apples.

5.) Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 mins. Let cool before serving with a little bit of Greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Note: little ones can also help out by peeling and washing the apples. Younger kids, ages 2-4, can help wash & mix ingredients while the older ones, 6-7 can peel.

 

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Kitchen Tools that Kids Can Use

A year ago I posted a blog article that listed the tasks children can help with in the kitchen by age. Today I decided to expand upon that idea, highlighting kitchen equipment and tools that kids can use and an easy recipe that kids can do with little to no supervision.

A Blender

This tool is versatile in the kitchen. It can be used to make smoothies, sauces, dips, and for combining ingredients in some recipes. It’s also a tool that kids ages 6-9 can use on their own. For the first time though it might be beneficial to have some supervision.

The two recipes I chose to highlight in today’s blog are dips and smoothies. These two I have found while working at WIC to be something of a fan favorite for kids. If your child is texture sensitive try experimenting with recipes to see if you can change the texture  or even taste. Personally, I like smooth/creamy textures and have an aversion to gritty textures so these two recipes highlight the first two texture combinations.

Green Monster Smoothie

1/2 c. of milk

1/2 c. of ice cubes

1/2 c. of vanilla yogurt

1 large banana

1/2 c. of baby spinach

1.) Add all ingredients in a blender.

2,) Blend on high for 2-3 minutes or until smooth.

3.) Pour into cups and enjoy!

Monster Mash Yogurt Dip

1 c. of greek yogurt

1 c. of baby spinach

1/2 small green pepper

1 medium sized chive

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1.) Put all ingredients into the blender.

2.) Pulse mixture until well blended and smooth

3.) Serve with tortilla chips of veggie sticks

 

Put your Family’s Best Fork Forward

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Image courtesy of marin at freedigitalphotos.net 

It’s that time of year again. This March is the annual National Nutrition Month, which means that all month long nutrition professionals will be hitting up social media surrounding this month’s theme: Put Your Best Fork Forward! It’s an initiative built up around the main message of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that says, it’s  not a singular food that makes the difference but entire meal plans made up of a variety of different foods working together.

The theme Put Your Best Fork Forward reminds us that healthy eating and living is only small changes built up over time. You don’t have to do something drastic, go on that special diet, or lose 20 lbs for a better, more healthier you. Instead it’s all about building good habits that’ll last a life time! (That includes exercise just as much as it is what we eat.)

Healthy habits, just like anything else, begins in the home  with what you cook for your family and yourself everyday. Your children will learn from the habits you build, so starting mindful eating habits right in your own home is the best place to start!

And this is exactly where I started when thinking about what would be this month’s blog post. At first I didn’t know what to write about, then, while cooking with my boyfriend, it suddenly occurred to me that the simple dish of sauteed vegetables and cashews could be the base of any dish.

It’s always hard coming home from work after a long day and not having anything prepared. It’s even harder to come home with the daunting task of whipping something up to eat when it’s 6:30 pm at night! What I needed was a quick dish that could be accomplished in 30 minutes or less. For many of us that would include frozen meals, I know it has for me many times and I’m a Nutritionist! But, my boyfriend Michael had whipped up this quick vegetable dish that can easily be built upon within 30  minutes. The best part was that the meal was only vegetables, spices, cashews, and a little olive oil. Talk about a marriage of antioxidants and healthy fats working together in perfect harmony.

My boyfriend’s a genius!

That being said I was quick to propose to him the idea for this blog and if I could share his recipe with my readers. Success! The downside though is that the recipe would have to be prepared ahead of time on a weekend and then frozen in containers for the rest of week. Other than that you could defrost the vegetable mix, add your own spices, meats, fish, or just add brown rice or whole wheat noddles for a variety of meals in 30 minutes or less. Just make sure the rice is cooked ahead a time. Batch cooking is how you get home cooked meals when you work 5-6 days a week.

Here is the basis of the recipe:

3 Sweet Peppers diced (Try for yellow, red, & orange)

1/2 c. of diced onion

1 c. of celery chopped

1 1/2 c. of chopped or matchstick carrots

2 c. of unsalted cashews

2 tablespoons of olive oil or another oil of your choice

Your choice of spices

Directions:

1.) Wash the fresh produce in a colander. Afterwards place on a towel to dry.

2.) On a cutting board dice all the vegetables except the matchstick carrots. Place aside.

3.) Place a wok of skillet on the stove. Turn it up to medium heat and add all the vegetables w/ 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Add cashews last. 

4.) Put a cover on top of the vegetables and let cook until vegetables are tender. 

Now that you cooked dinner you have more time to gather round the table with your family. Happy National Nutrition Month!

 

Cooking with Kids on Valentine’s Day

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Image courtesy of Sicha Pongjivanich at Freedigitalphotos.com

Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, it’s still February and you don’t have to wait for the 14th to celebrate the meaning behind the special day all through the year.

Growing up in a Catholic Christian home I read, and was told, countless stories about the saints. One of them was St. Valentine. There are many legends about him, but the focal point of all those legends is the kind of self-sacrificial love that St. Valentine showed while he was alive. His life can easily be summarized from scripture with the passage, “No greatest love has man but this,  that he lay down his life for his brother”.

As a Catholic Christian Valentine’s Day can be celebrated in many different ways: sharing a meal, doing something nice for a loved one, or going out of your way to do something kind for a stranger.

Today I will share with you a sweet recipe that my mom makes around the holidays. I personally think it’s great for Valentine’s Day! It’s also a fun activity to do with your kids.

Food is a way of saying “I love you”!

It’s also a way to bond with family. Your kids will just love making these, just as much as eating them.

Fruity Cheesecake Mini’s*

Makes a dozen

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Ingredients: 

1 c. of graham crackers (crushed)

4 tablespoons of butter

2 (8 oz.) cream cheese packages

1/4 c. 2 tablespoons of sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

21 oz. can of  Hannaford’s fruit pie filling (Cherry, Blueberry)

Instructions:

1.) Take a zip lock bag and place a few graham crackers in the bag. Seal it, and crush the crackers within the bag until they are crumbs. Place aside.

2.) In a small mixing bowl, measure out 1 c. of graham crackers and mix with butter until it has a damp consistency to it.

3.) Take out a cupcake tin and line it with cupcake liners. Put the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the cupcake liners in an even layer.

4.) In a separate mixing bowl combine cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice.

5.) Fill the cupcake liners 2/3rd’s full.

6.) Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cool. Put your choice of pie filling on top (blueberry, strawberry, or cherry)

Note: For the more daring chef you can add fresh fruits to the top of your cheesecakes by slicing strawberries on top, or blueberries. 

As a reminder, you can get your younger kids involved by mixing/combining/stirring ingredients. Older ones can layer the ingredients in the cupcake tins. Everyone can help spoon fruity pie filling on top.

 

*Original Recipe came from Cooks.com

Tactics to Talk Food Waste with Kids

How do you start a conversation with our children about food waste and its importance? Well, this was exactly my question and part of the reason why I wanted to write this blog post.

The other reason was simply for the purpose of my blog: to encourage cooking with kids and to teach them about food!

I began my search by brainstorming some ideas with my boyfriend. This is what we came up with:

Take the chance at family meal times to bring up food waste. One simple way to do this is by creating topic cards. Place them in a jar where you can take them out during meals and have one of your children take a card (or slip of paper) and read the prompt. Remember: keep question complexity to the grade level of your child. Check out this link to a previous blog for more ideas on family meals.

If you grow a garden in the backyard and your kids love helping you, take advantage of that moment to teach about ways to stop food waste such as composting. Show your kids that scraps of food that would normally be thrown away can be re-purposed.

Kids in the kitchen offers another opportunity to approach food waste, composting, or even re-purposing of leftovers. Have your kids come up with creative ways to transform leftovers or show them that the stems, leaves, and roots of some veggies/fruit can be eaten as well.

As an example here is one idea to try next time you cook.

Sauteed Radish or Beet Greens

1 pound of radish or beet greens

1 tablespoon of peanut or canola oil

1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder or 1/2 garlic clove

Pepper and salt to taste

Directions

1.) Rinse the greens first. Set aside.

2.) In a skillet combine garlic , pepper, peanut or canola oil, and radish/beet greens.

3.) Set on low to medium heat.

4.) Cook until leaves a slightly wilted, but still have a bright color. Serve.

For more ideas go to: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/teaching-kids-waste-less-food

Re-inventing Holiday Leftovers

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Photo courtesy of Carlos Porto at freedigitalphotos.net

A few days ago on Thanksgiving I spent time with my boyfriend’s family for the day. It was a wonderful afternoon with good company and lots of food. Though we were only four there was so much food that between my family’s Thanksgiving and theirs we’ll have leftovers for two or three weeks.

Since my family hates to waste food, this time of  the year has always proved to be creative with transforming thanksgiving leftovers into two or three different meals. We then have to freeze the rest of it.

Today I’ll share with you some of the ways you and your family can waste less this year through re-inventing holiday leftovers! This will also prove to be a great teaching moment for young kids about the importance of wasting less and helping their parents in the kitchen.

1.) Hot Turkey Sandwich: Homemade gravy, turkey, peas, and carrots mixed together and ladled over an open faced sandwich. This quick meal was one of my favorites growing up because it was similar to a chicken pot pie. Which brings me to my next idea.

2.) Chicken Pot Pie: If your feeling creative you can make a chicken or turkey pot pie and throw in leftover veggies. Add in some potatoes and your all set.

3.) Homemade Stock: Not wanting to waste even the bones of a Thanksgiving turkey or chicken I made my own stock this year with carrots and celery. Freeze the rest and you’ll have stock for meals months after the holidays are over.

4.) Turkey Cranberry Wrap: Before I went to collage I never thought of this possibility, but it’s a delicious one. Take a tortilla wrap and place slices of turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and spinach leaves in it. Roll it up with some mayo or mustard and your finished.

5.) Meat Stew: Make stew with leftover veggies, potatoes, and meat either turkey, chicken, or lamb.

6.) Potato Latkes: And here’s another idea. Take those mashed potatoes and turn them into Potato pancakes with homemade applesauce.

These are just six of the ways you and your family can get to transform holiday leftovers. There are many other ways that would work and incorporate cultural foods as well.

Get cooking this holiday season! And if your stumped as to how to get your kids involved visit some of my past blog articles such as Kids Kitchen: Tasks for Every Age

 

Last of Summer Turkey Burgers

 

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Photo courtesy of KEKO64 at freedigitalphotos.net

Looking for ideas for dinner? These turkey burgers are sure to please. This past week I was up in New Hampshire with my boyfriend at his aunt’s cabin. We hiked, played video games, and watched movies. We also cooked up a few meals together including this one. I have to say cooking is one of our favorite date ideas. Hopefully cooking with loved ones is fun for you too. If not, that’s okay because these burgers don’t take too long to cook.

It’s a play on the classic salmon burger, which was one of my fav’s growing up. I combined my family’s traditional recipe with a new one I found on Pinterest from thelivefitgirls.com. The goal, to create a new delicious burger that would please the whole family!

Pepper and Onion Turkey Burgers

Serves:6, Prep time: 10 minutes, cook time 10-15 minutes, total time, 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound of ground turkey (85% lean)

1/2 c. diced onions

1/2 c. diced peppers (orange, yellow, or red pepper adds color)

1 egg

3 tablespoons of canola oil

1/2 c. of Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon of ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

1.) On a clean cutting board wash and dice the onions and peppers. Place aside.

2.) In a medium bowl mix the ground turkey with all of the above ingredients. Add the peppers and onions. Make sure the ingredients are uniform throughout the mixture.

3.) In a skillet heat the oil on medium high heat. Form the turkey mixture into patties. The mixture will make 4-6 patties in total.

4.) Cook until there’s no pink in the center. Add your own buns and additional toppings as wanted. Enjoy!

 

This recipe is great to make as a family. Younger children can help form patties while older ones can help dice the vegetables with an adults supervision.