Friday, August 27, 2010

Cooking With My Kids - Part 3

For the final installment of this series (Cooking With My Kids - Part 1, Cooking With My Kids - Part 2), I will share my experience with my oldest daughter. To be honest, she is the motivation behind my idea for this "getting the kids to cook this summer" project because she is the least comfortable in the kitchen among my three children. Although she is still several years away from having to fend for herself with regard to preparing meals, I feel like the clock is ticking, and we'd better start working on it now.

So for her meal she chose one of our family's favorites: Olive Pasta. This is also one of the quickest, easiest meals in our family recipe collection. It's one of the few meals that my husband makes, too. I know the process was a little challenging for my daughter, including learning how to hold a peeler correctly and operate the food processor safely. In the end, she was very proud of her accomplishment and enjoyed sharing her meal with the family, and I was a little more hopeful that she'll be able to cook for herself in the future. :)


(Adapted from The 5 in 10 Cookbook, by Paula J. Hamilton, 1993)

1 6-oz. can pitted black olives, drained

1 garlic clove, peeled

½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. angel hair pasta

· Prepare angel hair according to package directions.

· Mince the garlic clove in the food processor.

· Add the olives, cheese, and olive oil to the food processor.

· Puree until the mixture is smooth.

· After draining the pasta, put it in a large serving bowl.

· Add the olive puree to the pasta in batches, mixing thoroughly. This may take a little effort and I recommend using a pasta server and a spoon to do the job.

Serves 6.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cooking With My Kids - Part 2

My middle daughter is 12 years old. She loves food and is a great helper in the kitchen. She chose to make lasagna when it was her turn to plan and prepare a family meal this summer. I have shared a recipe for spinach lasagna previously on this blog, but she wanted to make a "plain lasagna," meaning no meat, no veggies, just cheese, noodles, and sauce.

So we started with the sauce. She did most of the work, but I stayed nearby and coached her through it all. The lasagna is basically layering sauce, noodles, and cheese, so I'm not going to share that recipe here (refer to the spinach lasagna recipe for details about layering and baking), but I will share how we made the sauce.

Marinara Sauce

2 28-oz. cans of crushed tomatoes

1 can (14-16 oz.) of petite diced tomatoes

1 8-oz. can of tomato sauce

1 T olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped fine (or 2 small shallots)

4 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)

½ t dried oregano

1 t dried basil leaves (or a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped)

½ t salt

Black pepper to taste

· Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

· Add onion and cook until soft (about 3-5 minutes).

· If using fresh garlic, add it to the pan a couple of minutes after you've started cooking the onions.

· Add all tomatoes and sauce.

· Add remaining spices and seasonings.

· Bring to a boil.

· Lower heat to a simmer.

· Simmer for at least 15 minutes, longer if you have the time.

Sauce can be frozen in containers for several months.

Her meal was delicious. And we have a second lasagna frozen for a future meal ~ following my rule of never make just one lasagana! I'm saving it for the back-to-school craziness.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Operation Beautiful: A Review

Just wanted to share a link here to an article on my other blog because I think it is relevant to our relationship with food and we how we see ourselves as people.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cooking with My Kids - Part 1

This summer I set a goal to have each of my three daughters take responsibility for planning and preparing one dinner each. I remember doing that as a child myself, and rallying my brothers to join me. As I remember it, we each took turns making something from our battered and beloved copy of The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Children's Cookbook, but who knows, it could have been Betty Crocker. I'll have to check with my mom.

Anyway, my goals for involving my kids were to help them feel more confident in the kitchen and to experience (and hopefully enjoy) the process of putting a meal together for their family. I see too many adults who lack confidence and comfort with preparing meals so I want to do what I can now to help my kids gain skills they'll need later in life. Plus I really want them to enjoy food. My kids have helped me to varying degrees in the past in the kitchen, but this summer I wanted them to take on a little more responsibility. Each had her turn and I will describe what each one made in separate articles, starting today with my youngest, my 8 year old daughter.

Her first idea was to make mashed potatoes and fruit kabobs. While I am very open to non-meat meals, I wanted to help her create a more balanced menu including a protein. Also, I wanted her to be able to do most of the work herself and the draining of a pot of boiling potatoes was something I felt was beyond her ability. So I sent her back to our collection of cookbooks and she decided on Oven-Fried Fish, McCain's Smiley Fries, and fruit kabobs.

While preparing the fish, she also learned the lesson of improvising recipes using ingredients you have on hand. The recipe called for seasoned bread crumbs, which is typically a staple I have in my pantry, so I was surprised to find that I did not have them when it was time for her to cook. Instead, she substituted panko bread crumbs.

This is what she made, adapted from a recipe from The Everything Kids' Cookbook, 2nd Edition, by Sandra K. Nissenberg:

Oven-Fried Fish

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
1 pound tilapia fillets
cooking spray

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spay a large baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Put the milk in a shallow bowl.
  • Combine the bread crumbs and cheese in another flat dish.
  • Dip the fish into the milk and then into the bread crumb mixture.
  • Place the fish into the prepared baking dish.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until fish is fully cooked (white and flaky).
For her fruit kabobs, she used some of her favorite fruits: watermelon, strawberries, and grapes. Fruit on a stick just always seems to be so much more appealing!
My daughter's take on the experience: "It feels so cool eating something that you know you made."