Cooking with kids

As the boys are getting older they have become more interested in learning how to cook and bake different things. While, I love that they are interested and want to help, I’ve been working through the challenge of them “helping” and me keeping my sanity in the process. I have always used cooking as a bit of personal therapy/calm down at the end of the day. It’s where B and I discuss our days, prep stuff together, etc. When the boys were little they would happily help me prep a few items, hand me spices, mix things, but now they want to do it all. So, I’ve worked on a few things as they are older that have made a big difference, and thought I would share.

First, helping clean up as you go. I have found cooking/baking is so necessary for J. He is a go go go kiddo and this has really helped him to learn he has to slow down. You can’t whisk as hard as possible or turn the mixer on high without making a mess. However, who cares about making a mess if you don’t have to clean it up? I’m a clean as you go baker. When we get done with a bowl, a spoon, whatever it is, it gets rinsed and goes in the dishwasher. This has helped immensely in the boys not running in to help and then leaving when they get bored and leaving me with the mess.

Second, follow the steps. Reading a recipe is a method and can be a bit of a learning curve. We will go through the recipe together and I have them help me collect the ingredients we need, so they not only know what we are using but also where it is stored.

Third, walk away when necessary. Obviously you should be standing there when they are doing tasks that need supervision, but I try to let them be independent, so I’m not over instructing and correcting them. For example, when J was scooping cookie dough, I showed him how and then I worked on cleaning up the flour from the sink. I was there if he had a question, but not right there telling him it was too much or too little.

For this particular baking session we made Picky Palate’s Jack Jack Cookie Num Nums. We altered the recipe just a tad, using milk chocolate chips because we couldn’t find chunks, and using a regular muffin tin. We lowered the baking time to between 10-15 minutes to adjust for all this and they turned out excellent!

I also made only half the batter and then refrigerated the other half to make next week (I would say this method would make about 24 total cookies:

You are supposed to eat them warm, so for any leftover cookies, we just popped them one the microwave for about 15-20 seconds to warm it up.

 

These are my new favorite way to make (and eat!) chocolate chip cookies:

 

 

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Friday Favorites

 

The kiddos have one week of swim lessons down! They boys are definitely stretching their skills this year, working on diving, backstroke, and longer periods of freestyle. And our newest swim lesson participant, my niece, is doing great working on her back float! This weekend we are headed to our local art walk downtown, and doing some hiking and biking with B’s parents if the weather holds out. I can’t believe we are winding down the second half of summer! Only three more weeks until school schedules, sports, and everything else is in full swing again!

Organization ideas from Target.

The puzzle we finished over the weekend.

Summertime lemonade options.

My yoga schedule for the month.

And a plan to get my heels on the ground for downward dog.

A cookbook dedicated to my most favorite food.

My Bible reading plan for the month.

Food meal planning ideas for high/low macro days.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe.

Six herbs to grow inside when it’s too cold or hot out.

Corn fritters for a veggie filled weeknight dinner.

And, I’m not shopping the Nordstrom sale until next week, but if there is anything left, I’m picking up these sneakers, this tank, and these pants.

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Stuffed peppers

Our mid-week meal from last week, these stuffed peppers are healthy and delicious! Super simple to throw together and I had enough left over mix to freeze for another meal down the road. The boys both ate it really well (J better than A), and an extra stuffed pepper reheated well the next for leftovers. I served it with jasmine rice (yes the frozen kind from Whole Foods) and that was it! The peppers themselves are loaded with ground turkey, beans, corn, and tomatoes, so you don’t really need anything else:

One last note, I cut the simmering time down by about half, and they still turned out fine. I hadn’t planned for an extra thirty minutes before the oven cooking time, and so I sped up a lot of the simmering, but they ended up delicious anyway!

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Low carb garlic parmesan chicken bake

On Tuesday, J’s baseball game got moved to Friday, which means we needed to move our “quick meal” of the week to Friday, and I was left without a meal for Tuesday dinner. Thanks to my following numerous bloggers on Instagram, a meal popped up that I had everything for, except the chicken. I ran by Wal-Mart on a work break and picked up a package of thin sliced chicken breast, and we were good to go. J loved this meal, A liked it only okay, but it was quick to put together and also low carb! Here’s the recipe:

Here is my collection of supplies:

I did spray the pan first with canola oil, then layered in the chicken:

Then I mixed the remaining ingredients together and topped the chicken:

In the last six minutes of baking I prepped the sides:

If you haven’t tried the frozen rice from Whole Foods it is life changing. Seriously. It’s so fluffy! Then the chicken was ready to go:

It was creamy and delicious, perfect with the rice and broccoli. It’s hard to find a casserole type meal in our house that everyone can eat, and this was a great take on a casserole!

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The Pioneer Woman’s Comfort Meatballs Remix

I’ve made The Pioneer Woman’s comfort meatballs so many times, the binding on my cookbook has broken in that exact spot. They are the boys very favorite type of meatballs, and we make them at least once a month, if not more often. However, over the years I’ve streamlined the recipe so it is faster to put together because I rarely have time to individually cook the meatballs in a skillet before baking them in the oven. Here are some of my favorite tips for making them a little quicker. First, I make the normal meatball recipe, but I leave out the diced onions (food allergies) and add a tsp of garlic powder instead. I then divide the meatballs out onto a nonstick foiled lined pan:

And bake them for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Then, I take them out of the oven and turn the temp down to 350 degrees. While the meatballs are cooking, I make the sauce that goes with the recipe, and line the bottom of the pan with about 1/4 of the sauce:

Once the meatballs have “pre-cooked” I put them on top of the sauce:

Then I add the rest of the sauce on top:

And then I bake them in the 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly, and the meatballs are cooked through. We serve them with mashed potatoes, corn, or sweet potatoes depending on the week. Either way they’re delicious!

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Making pasta

B gifted me a pasta maker for Christmas, and while I’m still getting the hang of it, it’s alot of fun to test out! Our favorite current recipes are from the fall edition of Magnolia Journal:

The pasta was good, but the sauces were amazing. I’ve got to step-up my pasta skills to match the sauces!

You can get a copy of the Magnolia Journal Fall 2018 here! I highly suggest picking it up, you’ll refer to it again and again!

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Chicken enchilada casserole

I made this on a whim last week, so this is definitely something you could create easily if you have some pantry and fridge essentials on hand. It was creamy, delicious, and reheated for next day’s lunch really well!

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

  • 2-3 cups cooked shredded chicken (you can use rotisserie chicken, or bake 1 lb of lightly oiled chicken breast in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1-2 packages or cans of green Chile enchilada sauce (we use Frontera brand)
  • About 12 white corn tortillas
  • 2-3 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream, divided 
  • Optional toppings: cilantro, salsa, extra sour cream, olives

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8×8 glass pan with canola oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix shredded chicken, spices, about 1/3 of the enchilada sauce and 1/2 cup sour cream
  3. Layer about 4 corn tortillas to cover bottom of pan.
  4. Spread half chicken mixture over tortillas.
  5. Cover chicken mixture with a light drizzle of enchilada sauce and then 1/2-1 cup of cheese
  6. Repeat step 3-5.
  7. Cover with remaining 4 corn tortillas.
  8. In the empty chicken mix bowl add remaining enchilada sauce and remaining 1/2 cup sour cream and mix well.
  9. Spread enchilada sauce mix over corn tortillas and top with remaining sharp cheddar cheese.
  10. Bake for thirty minutes and let it stand for about five minutes after taking it out of the oven.

Here’s a breakdown of the set-up. From pre-bake:

 

To post bake:

To cutting slices:

Happy eating!

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Notebook favorites

Part of my path to organization (and stopping the on going list from running constantly in my head when I’m trying to go to sleep) is keeping great notebooks around. Here are my favorite planner, list book, and recipe index:

Favorite notebooks[Recipe book] [Notebook] [Planner]

I love the notebook because it’s pretty, but also has wide lines for making lots of lists (before I create a typed copy to hand out to family members…cause I do that.):

Notebook ListMy favorite thing about the planner (besides the tabbed edges) is that it has both full month view and day by day conversions:

Planner PlannerWhich is helpful if I need to organize day by day appointments or activities, but also to put items on the list for months out planning.

After years of using this recipe folder:

Recipe folderI needed something that was not as clunky and was updated with recipes we don’t use. I love the Kate Spade recipe book because it’s cute:

Recipe BookBut also super functional:

Recipe bookSo I can stop being kicked out of Pinterest when I try to make bagels:

BagelsWhich makes recipe conversion to my new book much easier! Happy organizing, planning, and baking!

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Lemon white chocolate chip cookies

Lemon white chocolate chip cookiesThese are the cookies that my husband brings for his work party every year, and every year they get eaten the fastest.

Lemon White Chocolate Chip Cookies*

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • Zest of one large lemon
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3.4 oz vanilla pudding instant mix
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 11 oz bag of Ghiradelli white chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Cut butter into tablespoon slices and place in the bottom of the mixer. Set your egg out on the counter. Do this first then prep the rest of your ingredients
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, vanilla pudding. Set aside.
  4. Crack egg into a small cup and whisk with vanilla.
  5. On medium speed cream butter for about three minutes.
  6. Add sugars to butter and mix until light and fluffy about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Scrape down the sides and then add in the egg mixture. Mix until it resembles cottage cheese (so slightly lumpy, but well mixed).
  8. Add in lemon and lemon juice to butter mixture and mix until just blended.
  9. Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl. Mix just a little by hand (so it doesn’t puff out when you start the mixer), and then mix on low speed only until barely blended.
  10. Stir in white chocolate chips chocolate chips.
  11. Bake for nine minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for two additional minutes. Let cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  12. Will keep in an air tight container at room temperature for 3-5 days.

*Recipe based on Picky Palate’s white chocolate lemon pudding cookies.

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