Mum To Mom

Musings of an Aussie Mother Living in the USA

Category: Recipes

Cooking With Children: Toddlers

From the time they could walk, my kids have helped me in the kitchen. My mum let me bake on my own from an early age, I think I must have been around 9, so it seemed natural to me to have the children in the kitchen with me. If they ask me can they help, my default answer is “yes.” There is always something they can help me do. If I’m baking something, I’ll usually ask one of them to help me. I know that cooking with children can make the task take longer than usual at first, but as they gain experience, skills, and confidence, I’ve found it becomes a help in the long run.

Last week the toddler was all hands on deck.

Cooking with toddlers might sound crazy, but it really is as simple as having them put the chopped or measured ingredients into the pot or bowl; or mash the bananas for the chocolate banana oatmeal; or help you hold the hand beaters as you beat together cookie batter. It might take a little patience from you, but they feel so accomplished. And when you praise their efforts to their siblings, the young toddler, being so proud to have cooked a meal worthy of eating, may even be persuaded to eat the meal himself.

We had extra Kale in our organic box this week. My kids don’t love kale. They don’t like the texture. So I try to find ways of giving it to them without them knowing. Last week I decided to make a kind-of pesto out of it and throw it over some pasta. A proper pesto has pine nuts and parmesan cheese in it, but I didn’t have either so I had to work with what I had, with help from the little man of course.

It was delicious! The kids even liked it and had no idea that they were eating kale.

Recipe

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale, leaves removed
1 medium onion, peeled, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup of oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt
Pepper
1 box penne pasta
2 chicken breasts, chopped 1-inch cubed
1/4-1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 carrots, roasted
2 sweet dumpling squash, halved, roasted (any pumpkin squash will do)

Method:

1. Cook pasta per directions on the packet.

2. While pasta is cooking, combine kale, onion, garlic, and lemon juice into food processor. Blend until a finely chopped consistency. Add oil, salt, and pepper and blend for 5 seconds. If the consistency of the pesto is too dry, add more oil, a tbsp at a time, until it has the consistency of a dip.

3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in fry pan. Once hot add chicken and cook through.

4. Once pasta is cooked and drained, put pasta back into the saucepan and pour the kale mixture over the pasta. Add cooked chicken, chopped roast carrots, roast squash and mix well. Sprinkle grated cheese over the pasta. If you are a cheese lover, add extra cheese to taste. Stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: I stirred through roasted carrot and sweet dumpling squash because that was what I had. The squash added a sweet creaminess to the dish that helped balance the slight bitterness of the kale, but when I cook this again I think I’ll swap the roasted carrot with grilled cherry tomatoes. They will look so much prettier and be a better match for the dish.

The 2 older girls were also in the kitchen last week.

E-Age-8 made bread (in a bread machine) all by herself. There is nothing like the smell of fresh homemade bread. Especially when it’s made by your 8-year-old.

A-Age-10 prepared and browned the chicken for the chicken goulash. A staple mid-week meal in our home.

She also made my birthday cake on her own from scratch. This chocolate cake is so good! I forgot to take a picture of the cake before we hoed into it, but here is a pic of what remained of it after the birthday celebration.

What have your children been cooking recently?

I’m thinking of making “cooking with children” a regular segment on the blog. If you want to see more recipes and cooking with children posts, let me know in the comments.

Australian Classic Pavlova Recipe

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Earlier in the week my husband attended his first ever Thanksgiving lunch at his work. To give it an Aussie twist he took along an Aussie favourite dessert, Pavlova. This old Australian classic was new and well received by his American friends, so here is the recipe adapted from Donna Hay Magazine, if you think you might like to try it out at home.

Ingredients
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups castor sugar (superfine white sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 1/2 cups cream (heavy whipping cream), whipped
250g (1/2 lb) strawberries, halved or quartered

Method
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C (300 F). Place the egg whites in an electric mixer and whisk on high until stiff peaks form (hand beaters work just as well). Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking for 30 seconds before adding another tablespoon. Once all the sugar has been added, whisk for a further 6 minutes until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the vinegar and whisk for a further 2 minutes or until glossy and combined.

Draw a 26cm circle on a sheet of non stick baking paper and place on a baking tray.* Place large spoonfuls of the meringue mixture into the circle. Reduce temperature to 120C (250F) and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow Pavlova to cool completely in the oven. Top the pavlova with cream and strawberries.

*The easiest way to do this is to trace around a dinner plate.

Note
It is really important to allow the pavlova to cool down slowly in the oven. If you take it straight out of the oven without it completely cooling first, the sudden change in temperature will cause your pav to crack and sink in to itself. If your pav does crack, don’t despair. Simply cover the cracks with cream and you won’t be able to see it. Trust me, it will still taste good.

Variation
Instead of strawberries, try changing the fruit on the top. Kiwi fruit, banana, rasberries, blueberries, and cherries all work really well. My mum used to shave peppermint crisp over the top. Yum!

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