Cooking with KIDS!!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
What?!! Christmas is over and we’re already almost two weeks into the new year? Yes, yes, I know…and shame on me for not getting this post up sooner. In my defense, however, I was really enjoying the holidays this year and made an unconscious decision to take a little vacation from blogging. As much as I love working on my blog, there are times when the thought of cooking, photographing, touching up photos, writing and posting just doesn’t sound like as much fun as, well…doing something else. I also seem to go through phases where all I want to do is cook, cook, cook – with a bit of baking thrown into the mix – and then I get cooked out and need a break. Happily, I seem to back full throttle into another cooking frenzy, which means lots more posts and recipes going up soon! There were a few that I’ve made recently that really stand out that I’ll be posting shortly:
- Fresh Ham Baked with Cola and a Cherry-Orange Glaze
- Ciabatta Stuffing with Fresh-Roasted Chestnuts and Pancetta
- Chocolate Souffles (that you make AHEAD of time and FREEZE…then just pop in the oven!)
- Carrot Souffle (an oldie but a favorite that for some reason I’ve never posted!)
- A new Bread Pudding recipe with a fabulous – and easy – whiskey sauce that is TO DIE FOR!!
Those are just a few teasers for you ;-) They were all so delicious and I can’t wait to share them with you! But first…isn’t the title of this post about Cooking with Kids?!!
Here’s the scoop. This past November, our local elementary school held a silent auction. Not having a clue what on earth to donate but really wanting to participate (it’s a FABULOUS school that’s been around since the 1800′s, and Kylie is lucky enough to be attending Kindergarten there), I decided to go with what I know…cooking. And since I’d never taught a cooking class before, I thought it would be easiest to start with kids! Turns out it was an absolute blast with really great kids who actually wanted to learn all about cooking – how awesome is that?!! Luckily Alan stuck around and took photos, got drinks for the kids when needed and basically just took care of all the loose ends that I wasn’t able to get to. Yeah, he pretty much rocks! I didn’t anticipate needing him around as much as I did, so I’m really thankful that he was there.
I had ten kids here for three hours, and although that sounds like a long time it went by incredibly quickly. I decided to try to make healthier versions of kid favorites, along with a couple of easy cookie recipes for Christmas. The cookies were these easy star cookies as well as some pie dough that we cut into long triangles and rolled up with finely chopped chocolate and seedless raspberry jam. So easy and so good, plus something that the kids can pretty much make by themselves!
We also made Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese and Healthy Chicken Fingers. I didn’t use a recipe for the chicken fingers, but I’ll write it up as a recipe in case you’d like to try it with your own kids! I’ve been asked to either do another class or perhaps a kids cooking camp this summer, both which sound like a lot of fun! Do I hear a new career calling? ;-)
Healthy Chicken Fingers
These are very approximate estimates – just toss in whatever you’ve got!
- Flour, seasoned with some salt and pepper (or whatever other spices you feel like)
- Several eggs mixed with a small amount of milk (season this with a bit of salt and pepper, too!)
- Crushed cornflakes or instant oatmeal that’s been ground up in your blender or food processor (if you go with the oatmeal, be sure to add some spices or it will be pretty bland)
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut up (or just a package of tenders will save you the work of slicking it up)
Dip a chicken breast slice in flour then egg to coat thoroughly; allow excess egg to drip off. Roll in cornflakes or oatmeal mixture. Place each piece on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 F for 10 – 15 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce!
Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese
I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but it actually comes from good ol’ Martha Stewart herself. Why mess with a good thing, right?
- 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound) , peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
- 1 cup homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock, skimmed of fat
- 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
- 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce)
- 2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Olive-oil cooking spray
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
- Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.
- Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.