Tag Archives: Cooking with Kids

Leftover Challenge

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I posted this picture to Facebook & Instagram on Monday with the caption: “Just pulled all of these leftovers or soon to expire items out of the fridge and I’m determined to make two new meals. Will post to the blog later in the week with the results.”  So here they are.  As one of my savvy Instagram followers guessed, the hubs made a Chicken Stir Fry for dinner Monday.  On Tuesday morning, B made a Chicken & Rice Stoup.  That is not a typo; I meant stoup, and you’ll read why.

The hubs took the 2 raw chicken breasts, the partial sweet (white) onion, the pepper, zucchini, some carrots, stir-fry sauce and one box of take-out rice.  To that, he added garlic, fresh ginger, another half of a sweet onion (from our onion basket), cilantro left over from dinner guests over the weekend that I completely forgot was in the fridge (good thing he checked!) and he filled the rest of the stir-fry sauce bottle with this homemade teriyaki sauce we love and shook it all together (FYI – I do not add the cornstarch and the ¼ cup of water to the teriyaki sauce cuz the hubs does not like cornstarch.  Tastes the same, just doesn’t get thick.).

He sliced and diced everything, including the chicken breasts, and then I stole ⅓ of his ginger/garlic.  😀  He salted and peppered the chicken and cooked it in sesame oil in our wok.  Removed chicken and cooked veggies in the same wok – carrots, pepper and onions first and when they were almost done, he added in zucchini and mushrooms (that he begged me to go get from the store for him.  Which I did, cuz he’s really sexy and he was cooking for me!  He also texted me when I was in the store and asked for a can of water chestnuts.  Always nice to have a little crunch in your stir fry!).

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After meat and veggies were cooked, he added and heated more sesame oil and then pressed the container of rice into the wok to get warm and flavored.  He said was going to add a scrambled egg, but I didn’t see any in my bowl.  I also found the can of water chestnuts, unopened on the counter, when I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner.  He forgot to put them in.  My scatterbrainedness is rubbing off on him – poor guy!  Once rice was too his liking, he put meat and veggies back in wok, tossed, added in the sauce, tossed, served up and added chopped, fresh cilantro as a garnish to his and my bowls!  No cilantro for B, thank you very much.  It was, like all of the hubs stir fries, AWESOME!

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While the hubs had been furiously chopping all the veggies, raw chicken, garlic and ginger for his stir fry, I was chopping myself for a chicken and rice stoup.  From the ingredients in the top pic of this post, I took the baggie with the chicken thighs the hubs had smoked on the grill, celery, carrots, red onion and the other box of rice.  I realized that the waaaay too pungent odor of the red onion meant that it was past it’s prime and should not go into my dish and with shame and sadness, I tossed it.  I then grabbed the other half of the onion that the hubs took from our onion basket and didn’t use in the stir fry.

I removed and tossed the skin from the chicken thighs, diced the meat, placed it in the bottom of a tupperware container and covered it with a piece of plastic wrap.  Then I diced up sweet onion, carrots and celery and placed them in the same tupperware container on top of the plastic wrap.  Why the plastic wrap, you say?  Because the next day, when B made the stoup, it was easy to remove all the veggies from the container without taking meat with them nor having to pick out the bottom layer of veggies from among the meat.  I also put a little glass bowl in the container with the garlic and ginger I stole from the hubs, added the cover and popped in the fridge for the next day.  I know what you’re thinking: “You are brilliant!”  Thank you.  I have my moments.  They are few and far between but I do, occasionally, have them.

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While getting the tupperware container Tuesday morning, B found 2 opened boxes of chicken stock in the fridge and pulled them out.  He also got out the Wegmans Basting Oil and a pot.  He heated approx a tablespoon of basting oil in the pot.  How did he know the oil was hot enough?  After a minute, he wet the tips of his fingers at the kitchen faucet and then flicked some water droplets into the oil.  He knew it was ready by the height and loudness of the water droplets sizzling because his mama taught him that.  🙂  In went the onions, carrot and celery and he sautéed them for 7 – 8 minutes.  Then he added the garlic and ginger and stirred constantly while they cooked, but didn’t burn, for 2 more minutes.

He announced that all the basting oil had ben absorbed by the veggies and, before adding the chicken, he needed to add a smidge more oil. And by “smidge”, I mean that the bottle got away from him and the oil dumped in.  That’s alright, that’s alright, the finished product has a nice sheen of oil slick on top that adds to the flavor and “beauty” of the dish.  😉  While he added the diced chicken thighs and heated them through, I dumped ½ of a box of take-out rice into a bowl and broke it up with a spoon.

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He added the stock to the pan and brought to a boil before adding and heating the rice.  There was not as much stock in those 2 containers as I had thought, but I didn’t want to open up a new one.  So, I declared the Chicken & Rice Soup to now be Stoup.  It’s a word used by Rachel Ray to describe a soup that is hearty enough or thick enough to be a stew.  B’s creation did not have much liquid and so we improvised in the kitchen.  That is what I love about cooking – it is an Art, up for change and interpretation by the artist.  Baking is not my favorite thing to do because it is a Science.  You can’t constantly tweak baking recipes based on what you do or do not have on hand because certain ingredients and amounts are non-negotiable.  They perform chemical reactions to get the desired, and more specifically an edible, end result!  We tasted his stoup and decided the smokiness of the chicken was a bit overpowering.  We added some pepper and salt, which balanced the dish and allowed the flavors of the stock and veggies to come out.

IMG_20141107_094319  And here is B’s end result!  I put some in a mug this morning, added some water from the tap and heated it up in the microwave.  Look at the beautifully shiny circles of basting oil sitting on top!  When I was done eating my stoup, my lips were so soft from that oil, I won’t need to apply lip gloss today.  😀  I love the dark flakes from the smoked chicken thighs!

I hope you are inspired to create new dishes from your leftovers and soon to expire kitchen items!  I have other posts on here about using leftovers.  If you are interested in seeing more, just search “leftovers”.

 

Breakfast Cooking Lesson for B

B gets up before me and makes himself a bowl of cereal in the morning.  Then when I get up, he’s ready for some protein to give him go power.  I wasn’t making a big breakfast for myself today, I only had a hard boiled egg, but B still wanted a big breakfast.  So, I decided it was time he expanded his breakfast repertoire.

I decided cooking one item in a pan was enough, so I had him do the turkey bacon in the microwave.  He got a paper plate, lined it with towels, added 3 pieces of bacon and covered with more towels.  He read the directions on the bacon packaging – 1 to 1.5 minutes for 2 slices and 1.5 to 2 minutes for 4 slices – and he decided 1.5 minutes wold be good for his 3 slices.  He was right because the bacon turned out exactly how he liked it and he was happy.

While the bacon was cooking, B got out the toaster and sat a slice of Wegmans Honey Apple Oat Bread (delicious!) in it but did not start toasting.  He cracked an egg into a bowl, added 1 tsp of water, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper and beat that all together.  He broke half a slice of American cheese up into small pieces, turned the heat on under our wok and added a little pat of butter.

My boy scrambled those eggs like a champ, turned the heat off before they were done cooking because we like our eggs a little wet, and mixed in his cheese bits.  He pushed the toast down to brown and then plated the bacon and eggs.  I buttered his toast because we didn’t have any softened this morning, but he has been buttering and jellying his toast for a few years already.

He said this morning’s breakfast was “..the best EVER!” because he made it himself.

Series: Cooking Around The World With My Son – Mexico

Inspired by Inner Child Food’s Kids’ Culinary Passport, we have added international cooking lessons to our 5th grade homeschool lessons.  Read about our first country, Italy, here. Today’s post is about Mexico.  Like Italy, Mexico cooking day fell during that last week of the pay period: suck-it-up-I’m-not-going-to-the-store week, so we used a recipe as a guide, but worked with what we had on hand.  I have been making my own tortillas this Summer using this recipe from Taste of Home and they are so easy! Ben made the dough and rolled out and cooked the 1st tortilla, but after that he was done.  At least he tried it!  I finished the rest of the batch.  But he did make the fajita filling.  We used The Pioneer Woman’s Beef Fajitas recipe.  I love her!  Scouring the fridge and freezer for ingredients I found a quarter of an orange pepper and half a yellow pepper, a tomato from the farmers market that was on the use-or-lose threshold, half a mason jar of homemade salsa and a frozen sirloin steak.  The rest of the ingredients, minus the sour cream, are alway present in my kitchen so B got to work.  

First he made the marinade and then he chopped the peppers and onions.  Although the hubs has supervised B at the cutting board many times, I’ve only done it once or twice and I’m such a Nervous Nelly!  I have been cooking for 33 years and I cut myself at least a few times a year.  Plus the hubs was at work and he is designated first aider in this house.  However, I need to get over it and B needs to get more practice, so I let him at it.  His favorite part was smashing to garlic cloves to make peeling the skin off a breeze.  He wasn’t strong enough to work a traditional garlic press and, since I refused his request to “…chop it up really fast like the professionals on Iron Chef!”, I had him use The Garlic Zoom.  He loved it!  Put a clove or two inside, close it up and run it back and forth like a Hot Wheels car.  He did great slicing the onion, peppers and chopping the tomato but I was a wreck.  (I chopped cilantro right before dinner was ready.)  Thank goodness the steak marinated as a whole because I was not ready for him to cut raw meat!

The meat and veggies were put in their separate marinade bags in the fridge right after lunch and at dinner time B cooked the veggies and steak.  I sliced the steak after it had rested and we made our fajitas.  The picture, above, is of mine.  Since the tomato had to be used, I put that on my fajita and kept the salsa on the side with some chips.  I didn’t even add cheese and these were muy bueno!

B pointed out Mexico on our world map and we talked about the origin of the fajita along the Mexican/Texas border.  Some of the Mexican cowboys were provided with “leftover” or less desirable pieces of beef, including the skirt steak, as part of their pay so they made fajitas.  “Faja” is Spanish for girdle (or belt or strip) and adding “ito” or “ita” to the end of a word in Spanish indicated affection or smallness.  We have not covered Mexico at all in our History studies, but we will later this year as we progress through American History.

Stay tuned for the country of our next cooking adventure, Japan…

B Makes Pancakes By Himself

This morning B asked me, “Can you make pancakes for breakfast?” To which I responded, “No.”  I am not a pancake fan, it’s labor intensive and most of the batter goes to waste.  “Can I make pancakes then?” he asked.  “Sure.”  He’s cooked before, including pancakes, but I’ve been by his side, guiding, suggesting, pouring the heavy liquids.  This time I stayed out of it unless he asked me a question and I, of course, turned on the stove.  It was hard for me to let him do it all by himself.  I told y’all how I’ve struggled with the hubs doing things his way in my series last July – 31 Reasons The Hubs and I Have Lasted 17 Years.  #17: Just because it isn’t done my way doesn’t mean it’s done wrong, was my mantra this morning as B made his breakfast.  I am a “destination” person when it comes to tasks and B, like the hubs, is a “journey” person.  Right off the bat, though, he totally made me proud and proved he is the son of a chef by starting out with mis en place.  It means “everything in place” and in the kitchen, it refers to ensuring you have everything you need and ready to go before you start cooking.  Halfway through mixing his batter, he decided to add Nutella to his pancakes, too.

 

I made a notation in the cookbook with the pancake recipe to use less milk than it called for because they are too runny and flat.  B told me he forgot to use less milk, but they still tasted good.  Lesson learned for next time.  He was proud of himself when it was all done and these were the best tasting pancakes ever because he had made them himself. Unfortunately, he got a rude awaking when he tried to walk out of the kitchen when he was done and I called him back to put everything away and clean up his dishes.  He declared that “the not so fun part of cooking”.  Tell me about it!  ;o)  

Jessica Seinfeld’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

B woke up yesterday morning and decided he wanted to make chocolate chip cookies.  The hubs and I were still asleep, BTW.  He started looking through my cookbooks to find a recipe. The 4th book he went through was Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious.  She had a recipe for chocolate chip cookies in there and B looked over the ingredients list to see if we had everything.  He found all the ingredients in the pantry except for one – chick peas.  That’s right, chick peas.  He had no idea what chick peas were, but he absolutely loved her Sloppy Joes so he was willing to give it a try.

Luckily, at this point, he remembered he is not supposed to use the oven!  He figured he’d mix up the batter and get it all ready for us when we woke up.  How thoughtful of him!  ;o)  But he still didn’t know what chick peas were.  So he woke up the hubs and asked if he could get him some chick peas, please.  Imagine the hubs’ surprise and confusion, being woken up with that question.  It still doesn’t top me being woken up by B at the age of 5 saying, “Mama, my balls are gone.”

After going for a lovely late afternoon walk, we came back to the house and B made the cookies.  The same friend who recommended Jessica Seinfeld’s Sloppy Joes to us also told me her husband loves these chocolate chip cookies with chick peas.  She is 2 for 2 with her recommendations; these cookies are good!  You don’t taste the chick peas at all.  I thought maybe they’d melted during baking, but they didn’t; you cans till see them in the cookies.  But they are just soft like the dough and blend in.  No taste difference at all.  I don’t know what made Mrs. Seinfeld think to add chick peas, but it works!

Using the stand mixer allowed me to stay out of it and ensure B could do it all.  If he used a bowl adn a spoon, I would have to do the stirring. 

Once the chick peas and chocolate chips went in, we had to cover the mixer with a towel to prevent flying chick peas!
Look at that scooping concentration!
YUM!  Can you spot the chick peas?  Only if you know they are there and look for them. Going to try them on my parents this afternoon and not tell them about the chick peas.

 

B Taking on a Bigger Role in the Kitchen

This past weekend, the hubs decided that B should take a bigger role in the kitchen and help us cook dinner every night.  We started last night, Meatless Monday.  We made Creamy Portobello Pasta, my version of Food & Wine’s Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese. Once again, I just used what I had on hand and our finished product tasted fabulous but looked gross.  SMH  I don’t know how Food & Wine get such a light colored finished product!  Portobellos release their liquid and it’s dark, so it colors my pasta.  Oh, well.  Onto B cooking.

I wasn’t ready for B to be using a knife, so I sliced up the onions.  But B turned on the heat under the pan and added the butter and oil.  This is him adding the sugar.

 Stirring the onions so they all get nice and caramelized.
The hubs said B should start learning to cut (my heart stopped) so he sliced up the portobellos.  And did a darn good job at it, too!
Here he is adding a wedge of Laughing Cow’s Garlic and Herb cheese.
The chef always has to taste his dishes to make sure they are properly seasoned before serving.

 

 

I made a loaf of artisan bread to go with the pasta (YUM!).

 

 
 Ben really enjoyed making dinner last night and enjoyed eating the meal even more than when I make it!  He was proud for what he accomplished and happy he was trusted to take on more responsibility at the hot stove and was allowed to use a santoku knife.  This morning, he asked me if he could make himself an egg instead of me doing it.  <: -o=”-o” ahead=”ahead” es=”es” go=”go” mama=”mama” nbsp=”nbsp” p=”p” right=”right” roud=”roud” sir=”sir” sniff=”sniff”>

 
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