Tag Archives: cooking with kids

Scones? Yes, please!

What could be better than hot scones from the oven? Not much … Maya and Nico enjoyed them in the doorway this morning … you can’t see it, but they are holding a scone each …




At Maya’s request, we ate waffles for breakfast outside this morning. I make them from scratch from one of my older cookbooks: Bread & Soup Cookbook by the Culinary Arts Institute (published in 1978!). It’s a super easy recipe and makes light, delicious waffles.


  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • blueberries (optional)

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Whisk the eggs, milk, honey, and melted butter together in a separate bowl. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and mix just to combine. Heat the waffle maker. Spray with non-stick spray and ladle in batter. Sprinkle on the optional blueberries. Close the lid and cook the waffles for about 3 minutes. Remove the waffles with a fork. Serve with butter and syrup. Enjoy!

Guest Chef: Bread Sticks (Grissini)

The other night, I come home to find my 16-year-old stepson RJ making bread sticks. He’s always had an interest in cooking and baking, and he’s not half bad! He’s even enrolled in the culinary academy at his high school. One graduation requirement is to conduct 20 hours of community service. “He’s doing this for community service hours credit,” my husband says. “Nice. Who are you making the bread sticks for?” I asked thinking they must be for the homeless shelter or something like that. “No one. I’m just making them,” he replies. Cooking something and showing pictures to the school counts for 2 hours towards his community service requirement. I still don’t understand why that counts as community service, but who am I to judge? In any case, our family got a great new recipe. They turned out great and go well with a pasta dish or a big salad.

I have several very old cookbooks, and my stepson took this recipe from A World of Breads by Dolores Casella published in 1966! The recipe is titled Grissini (Bread Sticks). He had to adapt the recipe a little, but here’s the way he made them:


  • 2 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 6 cups flour
  • oil, for brushing baking sheets
  • 1 egg white, for brushing tops of bread sticks
  • topping options: garlic salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or sea salt


  1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water.
  2. Pour the milk into a large bowl and add the sugar, salt, butter, and 3/4 cup warm water. Cool until lukewarm and add the yeast mixture. Slowly stir in half the flour. Beat until smooth, and then add the rest of the flour. Combine thoroughly.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball, place in a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.
  4. Punch down dough. Turn out onto a floured board again, and roll to a thickness of approximately 1/2 inch. Cut into long strips and roll so that each will be long and pencil-like.
  5. Place on an oiled cookie sheet, cover, and let rise again until doubled.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425.
  7. Brush with egg whites and sprinkle with garlic salt.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Enjoy!

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The Most Awesomest Strawberry Tall Cake Ever

Grammar teachers cringe! I apologize, but, as much as it offends my grammar sensibilities, this cake does deserve the label “most awesomest ever!” My good friend is leaving for far-off lands in just a couple days and for her going-away party, I made this most awesome of awesome tasty treats. It’s impressive to look at, but easy to make, I swear. As with most of my baking adventures, Maya (4) was there to be my stand-in stand-mixer. Why use a machine when little muscles can get the job done?

I adapted this recipe from Sunset Magazine. I do recommend that the first time you make a recipe (especially when baking), you follow the recipe to the letter; after that, however, it’s great when you can tweak a recipe to make it your own as I have done here: a little less sugar, a bigger pan, a little more frosting … and now I make it just the way I (and all my people) like it! Here’s the run-down:

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2/3 cup milk

Whipped Cream Frosting Ingredients

  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream (1 pint = about 2 cups)
  • 8 tablespoons sugar (or a little less if you find this too sweet)

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, sliced
  • save 4 of the best-looking strawberries to cut in half (for the top of the cake)


  1. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
  4. In a larger bowl, combine the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Combine thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
  6. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean: 20-25 minutes (it takes exactly 22 minutes in my oven).
  7. Cool cakes for 5 minutes. Invert them onto a rack, remove pans, and let them cool completely before frosting.
  8. Wash and slice the strawberries.
  9. Put the heavy whipping cream and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Set the mixer on the lowest setting first so the cream doesn’t slosh out. After a minute or so, raise the speed. Whip the cream and sugar until it becomes thick – you want it to be spreadable. You will actually be able to hear the whisk slow down once it comes to the right consistency.
  10. Pick a serving plate. Once assembled, the cake will be impossible to move, so assemble on the plate you want to present it on. In addition, pick a plate that will fit in your fridge as this cake is best when cold.
  11. To assemble, use a serrated knife to slice both the cake layers in half horizontally, giving you 4 layers to work with. Pick the prettiest rounded top for the very top of your cake. Place one layer on your serving plate. Generously frost with the whipped cream, but do so gently – spreading too roughly with a knife will cause the cake to tear. Lay down one layer of strawberries. Repeat with the 2nd and 3rd layers. Place the last layer on top, again generously frosting. Decorate the top with the halved strawberries, or in any way you wish.
  12. Refrigerate until ready to eat, then enjoy!

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What to do with the leftover whipped cream and sliced strawberries? Hmmm … that’s a tough one! If you can’t figure it out, my husband, 4-year-old and 16-month old can help you figure it out. Enjoy!

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One of my favorite things to do is reading cookbooks. During a snack with Maya today (one of many snacks since she is always hungry), I was reading a couple and came across a picture of a calzone. So, I said, “Do you want to make calzones?” Not even knowing what a calzone is, she of course said, “yes.” She loves helping me in the kitchen. And I love cooking with her too. Why use a stand mixer when you have a willing 4-year-old? Not to mention that I have been trying to find more ways to use my homegrown zucchini. Although I’ve never made calzones before, they turned out pretty good. Here’s the run-down:

Dough Ingredients (adapted from Jamie Oliver)

  • 4 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 3.5 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 2.5 tablespoons honey
  • 3.5 teaspoons salt (I use kosher)
  • 1.5 cups warm water (from the tap is fine)

Filling Ingredients – The possibilities are endless, but here is what I included today:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium-sized zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • mozzarella, shredded

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I believe that the original purpose of the calzone was to use up odd bits and ends of things leftover in the kitchen. I can see adding bits of salami, prosciutto, leftover meats, ends of cheeses, artichoke hearts, olives, pickled peppers, etc. Like I said, the possibilities are endless!

First, make the dough. I wish I had a large cutting board because then I could make the dough right on there and not have to wash any bowls, but my largest one isn’t big enough. So, we used a bowl. Put all the flour in a bowl (or on a large cutting board), make a well in the center, and fill the well with the yeast, honey, and water.

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Mix the ingredients in the center, then start to incorporate the flour into the mixture. Add the salt.

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After the dough has come together, put it on a lightly floured board, and knead 10-12 times.

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Cover loosely with a cloth and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet. Lightly brown the filling ingredients (except for the tomatoes) over medium heat.

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After a few minutes, add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. The goal is to evaporate as much of the water from the tomatoes as possible. After all, you don’t want soggy calzones! When the mixture is relatively water-free, put it on a wide, shallow plate. This allows it to cool quickly.

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Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll into 7-8 inch circles (about 1/2-inch thick). Put a little cheese on half, spoon on the filling, and add a little more cheese. (At this point, I added olives to one of the calzones. I kept it separate from the mixture because not everyone likes olives.) Fold the dough in half, pinch the edges together, score with a knife to allow steam to escape during the baking process, and place on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

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Nico (1) has decided that homegrown zucchini is the vegetable of the week, so he ate almost all of my filling. Hopefully you can eat more of yours than I got to! Enjoy!

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Let’s Make Pizza!

Although I harvested lots of snow peas, radishes, kale, spinach, arugula, garlic chives, and scallions earlier in the year, I had my first true summer harvest a couple days ago. Check out my Black Beauty Zucchini, Red Russian Kale, and Lacinato Kale. All of these plants were started from seed by my sister over at East Sac Edible.2014-06-04 17.40.26One of my favorite things to make at home is pizza. Pizza can be so bad for you, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s really not that difficult to make yourself – you can control all the ingredients and, more importantly, the amount of each ingredient. It’s also a great meal to make with children. It’s my 4-year-old’s favorite recipe to help with, and she can pretty much put it all together herself. She helps pick the vegetables from the garden, can roll out the dough, and tops the pizza herself! The pizza dough recipe I use is adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties. It makes 2 16-inch pizzas.

Pizza Dough Ingredients (92 calories per slice, not including the toppings)

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 packages dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt (I use kosher)
  • 3-4 cups flour (I use all-purpose for the 1st 3 cups and wheat for any additional flour needed)

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Pizza Toppings (These are what I put on this pizza, but the topping choices are endless!)

  • pizza sauce
  • mushrooms
  • zucchini
  • kale
  • mozzarella cheese

To make the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Set the mixer on the lowest setting and let it stir for a minute or so.

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Add 3 cups of flour and the salt. Let the machine mix for 3-4 minutes until the dough forms. Slowly add more flour (up to a cup) until it comes together as a soft dough. I have found that the hotter the day, the more flour I need to add.

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After it has come together, turn it out onto a floured board. Knead by hand 10-12 times. Put a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a metal or glass bowl. Turn the dough in the oil to cover lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and set in a warm place in the kitchen for 1-2 hours.

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The dough should double in size.

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 Preheat the oven to 475. Wash the garden greens, and lay out on towels to dry.

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After the dough has doubled, punch it down, and divide in two. Take out half and keep the bowl covered with the towel to prevent the remaining dough from drying out. Place the dough on a board floured with whole wheat flour and cornmeal. Roll out the dough into a circle. Place on a pizza pan and add the toppings. This is usually my daughter’s job!

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Bake for 17 minutes at 475. Place on a cutting board, slice into 12 pieces and enjoy!

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