Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Start a Cooking Club for Kids


This year I started my own cooking club. I had a handful of friends that wanted to learn how to cook so I thought what better way to spend time with them  than in the kitchen
If you are interested in starting a cooking club here are some things to help you get started.

Invite Others
Picking friends for your brand new cooking club is easy. Try to choose people who already do some cooking already or who have an interest in it and want to learn.





Choose a Location
How many kids you have join your cooking club varies on the kitchen space you have available and the level of experience each kid has. I think the more comfortable the kids are with cooking, the more kids you can have. For my club there are 4 other girls and I host it in my home. You can rotate houses if other parents want to get involved. I find it easier to do it in my own home, with my mom, because we are sure we have everything we need and I know how to work my appliances.

Choosing a Good Recipe
For your first cooking club, try to chose a simple recipe that you already know how to make. Later on in the club, you can choose more complicated ones that you haven't done before. For my club I chose 3 recipes which included a drink- Strawberry Basil Lemonade,  a main course - Low Country Boil Packets from my favorite show The Kitchen, and a dessert - No Bake Cheesecake.  





Your meal can be any combination of drinks, entrees, appetizers, or desserts, When choosing recipes consider the time it takes to cook, and complexity of the recipe. The plan the steps out so you aren't confused about what to do first.

Have a Plan
Our club is usually held around 5 o'clock in the evening, so we usually finish dinner around the same time as a normal school night dinner. We usually end at 7, inviting the grown-ups who would like to eat with us to join us for dinner at 6:30. 






Always have your ingredients laid out and grouped into "stations". At each station have a slip of paper containing the recipes. And as soon as the girls or guys get there assign them tasks to do. For example, I had two friends make the dessert, two friends make the lemonade (from real lemons), and we all pitched in with the main course. Some kids measured and added ingredients, and others cut up the meat and vegetables My mom cleaned up. 




Always make sure that you have a parent around and medical equipment near by in case of a small or serious cut.

Now its Your Turn
With all the tools and tips I have given you can start a cooking club of your very own. Do you have a cooking club? I'd love to hear any tips you have. 

Wanna follow me and my friends as we try new recipes? Subscribe so you never miss recipes and tips from my cooking club.     


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spicy Chicken Fried Rice


Some nights when my mom doesn't feel like cooking so she orders in Chinese food. It's one of our family's go to favorites.


During cooking camp this summer I learned you don't always have to order in when you have a craving for restaurant favorites you can make it yourself. Each day at Classic Thyme Cooking Camp this summer we cooked recipes from different cuisines. For example, one day we made all French food and another day it was all Polish food. On the final day of camp, we learned how to cook Asian food.


One of the recipes we made that day was fried rice. I really enjoyed this recipe because it was not only delicious to eat... it was also fun to make! Here is a modified version of Spicy Chicken Fried Rice with Tempeh


This is what you will need…





2-3 tablespoons regular olive oil

1⁄2 cup chopped scallion, green and white

1⁄2 cup chopped celery

1⁄2 cup chopped red pepper

2 minced garlic cloves 

1 pound chicken breast, cut up into small pieces

2-3 eggs

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 cups cooked white rice

2 cups tempeh chopped (optional)

Before you begin chopping up your ingredients, start cooking your rice according to the package.

Heat olive oil in a wok or medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallions, celery, red pepper and garlic. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.




Next add the chicken and cook thoroughly. To save time, I use Perdue Short Cuts Chicken Breast or any other precooked chicken I have on hand such as left overs.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, then gently add to the vegetables. Stir continuously until the egg is cooked and evenly distributed.



Add the cooked rice, tempeh, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cook until almost dry. If you are wondering what tempeh is, it's a soy product from Indonesia. You can find it in the section of your grocery store that has tofu. It looks kind of funny but, just like tofu, it takes on the flavor of the dish...which make this fast yummy.



Once it is ready serve it in bowls or on plates to your whole family. Season with additional soy sauce or sesame oil if needed. I like to serve the fried rice with edamame.

Spicy Chicken Fried Rice

2-3 tablespoons regular olive oil

1⁄2 cup chopped scallion, green and white

1⁄2 cup chopped celery

1⁄2 cup chopped red pepper

2 minced garlic cloves 

1 pound chicken breast, cut up into small pieces

2-3 eggs

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 cups cooked white rice

2 cups tempeh chopped (optional)

Before you begin chopping up your ingredients, start cooking your rice according to the package.
Heat olive oil in a wok or medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallions, celery, red pepper and garlic.
Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
Next add the chicken and cook thoroughly.
In a bowl, whisk eggs together, then gently add to the vegetables. Stir continuously until the egg is cooked and evenly distributed. Add the cooked rice, tempeh, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cook until almost dry.
Season with additional soy sauce or sesame oil if needed.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Crepes - My Favorite Thing to Make for Breakfast















One of my favorite things to make for breakfast are crêpes. My friend's au pair was from France and made them as an after school snack when I went her house to visit. They were delicious. I kept asking my mom if we could make them and she always said no. I think she thought it was too hard to make.

I thought they were going to be hard too, and the first time I made them they didn't turn out great. But we tried again and after a little practice I got the hang of it.

You can get the hang of it too. And it only takes 5 simple ingredients, ones you should have on hand. This is really simple to do, so don't think you missed something!

This is my grandma's recipe, and to make it you will need...
  • 1 cup of flour (sifted)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/8 a teaspoon of salt


Add all of your ingredients to a medium size bowl and whisk together until super smooth. Use a spatula to push the extra flour to the center so the whisk catches it. Then scoop batter with a ladle and pour into a 12" inch nonstick pan on medium heat. ( I don't have a crepe maker but this does the job.) Then twirl the pan around so the batter coats the whole bottom.







Once the batter in the pan gets a little bit darker then the batter in the bowl, use a spatula to loosen the crepe. Once its cook it won't stick to the pan. I like to use a wide spatula to flip the crepe.

DON'T be frustrated if your crêpes come out too thick or if they rip. It will take a few times to get it right.

When I finish making crêpes, I like to fill them with nutella. But you could fill them with every thing from peanut butter and jelly to marshmallows, chocolate, gram crackers, and everything in between! My mom and dad like them with ham and Swiss cheese. If you are making a ham and cheese crêpe (or something along those lines), then you need to add the ingredients into the pan. This helps the cheese melt.





When I went to Crate and Barrel I found this awesome spatula that is about 9" inches in diameter. It is an pancake/omelet spatula, but I think it is best spatula for flipping crêpes. To buy an omelet spatula for your kitchen, click this link.

Grandma Carol’s Crepes
1 cup of flour (sifted)
1 cup of milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup of water
1/8 a teaspoon of salt
Mix the flour, water, eggs, and salt in a bowl. Ladle ¼ cup of batter in pan. Keep thin. Depending on the heat flip after 30-90 seconds.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why I love Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, also known as Triple D, follows Guy Fieri as he travels around the country from Jersey to California and from Texas to Canada and every where in between. He visits great restaurants that are diamonds in the ruff and gives them the shine they deserve.

Every summer on our annual RV trips we visit these places in all the states we go to. My favorite Triple D restaurant that I have been to is Perfectly Franks just outside of Charleston, North Carolina.  South Carolina. Here they serve delectable hot dogs, delicious fish tacos, and cheese fries that rival the Jersey Shore.

I love this show because when you are staying in a hotel and you are tired of pizza you just look up a Triple D near you. Its your free pass from box pizza. You can find these free passes all over. To find one near you look at this link.

On our last RV trip we visited many Triple D places but some of my favorites were Southern Soul Barbeque in Saint Simons Island, Georgia and Dots Back Inn in Richmond, VA.
The very first Triple D I went to was Hillbilly Hot Dogs in West Virginia in 2011. This bus on the side of the road is dishing up some killer hotdogs that certainly aren't from the dirt. Upon entering you are given a Sharpie and asked to sign the walls of the restaurant. Watch out for spider that comes out of nowhere and spookes you.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Food Network Show - The Kitchen

I love the Food Network because you don't have to go to culinary school or cooking camp to find a great tasting recipe that's easy to cook. I love cooking my family's favorite meals but this is where I get new ideas for meals to cook at home. 

I like many shows on the Food Network like Cutthroat Kitchen, Good Eats, Rewrapped, and Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, but one of my all time favorite shows is The Kitchen. It is hosted by Sunny Anderson, Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro, Marcela Valladolid and Geoffrey Zakarian and airs Saturday @11am. I love this show because it is different from all the other shows on that channel. It is a talk show style format. They don't just share recipes with you, they teach you tips and tricks, and they do it while making you laugh.




My mom works for the company that produces the show so I often get to go see an episode be taped.  The chefs have as much on set as they do on the show. Some times I even get to be in an episode. I was on the Cooking with Your Kids episode not too long ago.  





One of my favorite recipes on the show is Katie Lee's Low Country Boil Packets which I will be making with my cooking club this week. I love this recipe because you can prepare it ahead of time and throw it in the grill once your guests arrive.



For more recipes from The Kitchen click here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Yummy Cauliflower and Leek Soup

Over the summer I attended Classic Thyme Cooking School. While I was there I learned how to make many recipies such as Creme Dubarry or as I call it Yummy Cauliflower and Leek Soup. As soon as my mom picked me up from camp that first day I told her it was a must for the dinner table, especially on chilly Fall days. The ingredients for this recipe can easily found on our weekly trips to the farmers market.


I love the rich flavor of the recipe. It's simple to make but may take a few tries making it yourself to perfect the recipe that gives you a consistency right you enjoy.


Here's what you will need:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 pound leek (or 2 leeks), white bottoms only, washed and sliced 1/4 inch 
2 tablespoons flour 
2 pounds cauliflower (or 1-1/2 heads of cauliflower), cleaned and chopped 
2 quarts chicken
1  cup heavy cream
2  egg yolks, (optional)
freshly chopped herbs (for garnish)
Salt and fresh pepper
Melt the butter in a medium sauce pot, over medium heat. Once you have cut the leeks remember to rinse well in a strainer, they can be sandy.  Lightly sauté the leeks, long enough to soften but not long enough for them to change color.




Sprinkle in the flour and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the chopped up cauliflower and the stock and mix until smooth. 






Cover the soup and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the cauliflower is soft and tender. You know ti;s ready when you are able to easily poke a fork into it. Puree the soup using an immersion blender then add the cream. 

*The immersion blender is on of my favorite gadgets in the kitchen. It makes pureeing so easy. Instead of transferring the hot soup to a blender and risk spilling it you blend it right in the pot. Hold it tight while it's on. It will suck itself towards the bottom of the pot. You will be tempted to pull up on it but be careful. If you lift it out while you are blending the soup will go everywhere. I am sure your parents will not be too happy about that! 





The recipes suggests to bind with the egg yolk if necessary, but I didn't. Season with salt and fresh pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh herbs.



We served it with crusty bread from our local bakery. My mom likes to garnish with croutons. I think it's the perfect soup to dunk your grilled cheese in too. 

This recipes says it serves 8 but I think it serves more. 

Disclosure: This post has affiliate links.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Love the Farmers Market


Every Saturday in my town there is a farmer's market. It's in the train station parking lot and is full of all sorts of things. What makes this the ultimate food destination? From fruit to vegetables, pastries to sausages, they have it! I love the sights and smells there. 

All the food is grown in our area or are made at a local small businesses. You always know where it is coming from. Another great thing about this market is that it inspires you to try new food. 









One trip we bought beets, purple beans, zucchini, and sweet onions with scallions growing on top. Four things that we don’t usually buy at the grocery store.

Each weekend, throughout the fall, I will be going to the farmers market to buy ingredients for the things I cook. On Tuesdays I will share with you what I find and the recipes I used them for. I am going to call it Farmer's Market Finds.

I am looking forward to the things I discover, I hope you are too!

Want to find a farmers market near you? Check out this site. All you have to do is type in your location and tons of locations pop up.




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Churros


I love churros, every time we go to Costco we always look forward to getting them. At my school they sell churro as a fundraiser which are very popular. The line is always out the door and sometimes they would even run out of them. 


A churro is basically a Spanish doughnut, a fried dough pastry. Churros are popular in Spain, France, The Philippines, Portugal, South America and the United States. They are normally eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate.

I have always wanted to make churros myself but always thought they were too hard to make. It wasn’t until the saw them on one of my favorite shows on the Food Network, The Kitchen, that I decided to try to make them.  They were featured on the Cinco de Mayo episode. 

It's way easier to make them that you think. Churros have now become one of my favorite things to make.

Here is the recipe so you make them at home.

Show: The Kitchen 
Episode: Cinco de Mayo with Bobby Flay

Ingredients
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Canola Oil (for frying)
2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 medium eggs


Directions

In a large bowl stir together 1 cup sugar with the cinnamon and set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, bring to a simmer 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, butter, and salt. 

Preheat a deep fryer to 360 degrees F. We didn't have one so we used a heavy-bottomed pot with enough oil to come 3 inches up the sides.



When the dough mixture in the pot reaches a simmer, dump in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate and remove lumps, about 1 minute.



Remove the flour mixture from the pot and put into a heat-proof bowl. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until fully incorporated. 



Spoon the batter into a pastry bag or a plastic resealable bag with a star tip on the end. Carefully squeeze the dough into the hot oil, forming strips. 



Depending on the size of your pot, fry about 6 at a time. Be sure not to overcrowd the pot. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, turning each of them over when as they brown. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on paper-towel-lined sheet tray or plate. Repeat for the remaining churro batter.






Then place the hot churros in the bowl of cinnamon sugar, shaking a bit to coat.




These are delicious. Enjoy!