Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Santa Tip!

Here's a little "Santa Tip" for you in the upcoming days before Christmas... 

Keep it Simple!

Save the elaborate holiday cookie recipes for another day. Reduce stress and do quick and easy peasy... so the kids don't get bored and restless... 

Make quick and FUN memories in the kitchen! If you're going to do cutout cookies... consider making the dough ahead of time (without their help) and make the cooking adventure the cutting out and icing of the cookies!

"Tis the Season to Get Kids Cooking!
Merry, Merry!
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Tip!

When you're cooking with kids one of the secrets to success and tons of fun is to "allow plenty of time!" If you're rushed, no one will enjoy this very creative time together. 

Be sure that you have all of the ingredients on hand before you start to avoid disappointments... and check for the proper baking pans. The more organized you are with the little details, the more fun everyone will have... and, it doesn't take much time to check the recipe and set everything out on the counter including the measuring cups and spoons!

Cooking with Kids makes Christmas an even merrier time! 'Tis the season to get kids cooking!
Merry, Merry!
Happy Holiday Cooking with Kids,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Santa Tip!

Plan on a mess so be ready... If you have a small table that can be set up as a temporary work station for the kids that is just at the height for them to stand and work, that is great. 

I use a small 30" x 30" table and then cover it with a Christmas plastic flannel back tablecloth from the $ store... it adds to the festivity and makes for easier clean-up!

The floor can get pretty sticky sometimes... if you're concerned buy a cloth paint "drop cloth"... I would advise you to wash it a couple of times and even throw in some bleach as they are a bit stiff when they are new. Spread the drop cloth on the floor and tape it down with blue painter's tape (it won't damage the floor)... and then you pick it up and shake it out and throw it in the washer!

A really fun thing to do is to have the kids actually paint on the drop cloth and personalize it!

Keep the waxed paper handy during your creating... it's magical stuff! 

'Tis the season to get cooking with kids! Merry, Merry!
Happy Holiday Cooking with Kids,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Santa Tip!

A little "Santa Tip" for you while you're creating wonderful holiday memories with your children by spending an hour or two with them in the kitchen!

You say you don't have kids at home any more? Well, then, rustle up a grandchild... a niece... a nephew or borrow one of the kids in the neighborhood...  I guarantee being in the kitchen with kids will be some of your most treasured memories ever!

What ages, you ask? Kids from pre-school to teenagers love baking and stirring stuff up in the kitchen! You will just need to do a bit of planning and prepping and reach out for a lot of holiday spirit!

'Tis the season to get kids cooking! Merry, Merry!
Happy Holiday Cooking, 
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas is Coming...

Can you believe it's December and Christmas is just a few short weeks away? 

It's time to spend serious time in the kitchen stirring up candies and baking goodies for family and friends. All of the spills, laughs and smiles in the kitchen with kids create something that lasts forever... sweet memories!

In the next few weeks, I'll be posting easy recipes for you and the kids to make together during this fun and festive time. So get those mugs out and stir up some serious hot chocolate using candy canes instead of spoons!

Merry, Merry!
Happy Cooking,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Chef

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Blessed Thanksgiving to all... count your blessings!

Pumpkin Pancakes for Thanksgiving Breakfast

What a great way to kick off the blessing of 
Thanksgiving morning!

These Pumpkin Pancakes with a splat of Cinnamon Brown Sugar are delish… let’s get started so you’ll be sure to have all of the ingredients on hand.

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups 2% milk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup ricotta cheese

Let the kids get all of the ingredients together and measure it all out. Use a small heavy bottom saucepan and ask the adult helper to cook the butter over medium heat for about 8 minutes while stirring constantly. Then add the maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Remove from heat and let the kids dump in the pecans. Stir and set aside.

Now the fun for the kids… In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and salt. Using another bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, pumpkin and cheese. Note: Kids love to whisk! Let them dump the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients (I know you’re supposed to stir it in… but we’re cooking with kids and that’s difficult for them :-)!

Let them stir the wet and dry ingredients together until moistened.

Drop the batter using a 1/4 cup measuring cup onto a buttered griddle. Turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until second side is golden brown.

If you are right there at the stove and the child is old enough to flip the pancakes, they will love it!

Serve while hot with the yummy Maple Cinnamon Butter poured over the pancakes. For a special treat, add a dollop of whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving Morning! The fun has just begun!
Happy Cooking with Kids,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fun Facts

There is a legend that when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, they stepped onto a huge granite boulder jutting out of the sand. This boulder became known as "Plymouth Rock."

 Although the boulder was in the area in which the Pilgrims landed, no one knows if the Pilgrims ever actually stepped on it. Plymouth Rock can be visited today in Plymouth, Massachusetts!

P.S. "Fun Facts" are a new addition to KidsCooking411 that hopefully will add to the "flavor" of your cooking with the kids. I'm going to try to provide you with tidbits of history and other related facts that you can have fun with in the kitchen while you're cooking!

Enjoy! Please tell your friends about KidsCooking411 and follow us on Twitter. I'm hoping to get a new Kids Cooking book out in 2012. Stay tuned!

Thanks for dropping by... I'd love to have some input from you!
All the best... and keep those kids in the kitchen cooking!
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins!

All righty… since we’re into cranberries at the moment let’s whip up some Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins! These are super easy breezy too and the kids will love them.

If you’re up for it, let them decorate the tops of the muffins after they cool. The dollar store has cute turkey and pumpkin picks that make the muffins very festive!

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 (15-oz.) can of pumpkin (that would be the real pumpkin, please)
1 cup oil (not olive oil)
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 1/12 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1 large bag fresh cranberries
Cupcake papers (maybe some fun Thanksgiving ones?)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Have the kids rinse the cranberries and drain them in a colander. Look for bad berries and toss them.

Crack the eggs in a small bowl or cup and beat slightly with a fork. Set aside.

Get out a big mixing bowl (this is a fun recipe because you can dump it all in at once)! Prepare the cupcake tins with the papers. Yep, teach them the right order of all things cooking!

Have the kids measure everything first. In doing this when measuring ingredients like baking soda and baking powder, they can measure and dump it in a little shallow bowl (this makes the whole process easier and go also go more quickly).

Take all of the measured ingredients and dump it ALL into the large mixing bowl EXCEPT for the cranberries. With a large wooden spoon, mix really well. Then fold in the cranberries (another lesson in folding here).

Fill each of the cupcake papers 1/2 full with the batter. This can easily be accomplished without a lot of mess by using a cookie scoop or a measuring cup… the cookie scoop is much more efficient.

Bake for 30 minutes. This recipe makes a lot…. About 44 muffins!

P.S. This is a great recipe for the kids to make and then color on some brown paper bags and decorate them and give a few muffins away to some of their friends for Thanksgiving… teaching them not only to prepare food with love but to share their food by blessing other people. 

Happy Cooking with Kids,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Easy Cranberry Sauce

We can’t have Thanksgiving without Cranberry Sauce! 
Oh my…

I have a super easy recipe but it uses canned whole cranberries and I’d prefer that the kids experience the “real thing”… So here we go, starting from scratch with a real bag of cranberries!

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 pound bag of fresh cranberries
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

The kids can prepare this one by themselves with an adult helper doing the cooking and stirring on the stove.

First rinse the cranberries and drain in a colander. Look to see if there are any bad berries and toss them.

Put the water and the sugar into a heavy bottom saucepan. Have an adult put the pan on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the cranberries and cook until tender.

Sit aside to cool and then put in a bowl and refrigerate until serving time.

Happy Cooking with Kids,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving is a Time of Gratitude...

Thanksgiving is a time for us to really look around and count our blessings. It’s a wonderful thing for children to become aware of the things they have to be thankful for and be appreciative… a time for sharing family traditions, stories and recipes.

Do some fun things like have a toast with some cranberry punch (yep, the recipe is coming)… Click glasses together with, “Here’s to many happy days in the kitchen cooking together!”

Getting kids into the kitchen is fun all year ‘round but can be a very special and memorable time during Thanksgiving week…. Don’t be “too busy” to let this precious time slip by…

Happy Cooking with Blessings,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sautauthig (Sawf-taw-teeg) Cornmeal Blueberry Mush

We're stirring in a bit more history while we're cooking with the kids. They will enjoy this recipe as it's an oldie and was a favorite dish of the Native Americans of the Northeast.

It's a very simply pudding made with cracked corn (called samp), crushed dried blueberries and water. As time went on, the settlers would add milk to make it rich and yummy!

2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk (or your milk of choice)
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar

Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Wooden spoon
3-quart heavy bottom saucepan with lid
Wire whisk
Small bowl

Put the blueberries in the colander. Rinse under cool running water. Gently shake and dump onto a paper towel. fold paper towel over and gently pat blueberries dry.

Combine the milk and the water in the saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat with the wooden spoon. Bubbles will begin to form around the edges of the pan.

Grab the wire whisk and slowly stir the cornmeal and salt into the hot liquid (an adult helper may want to do the whisking as liquid is very hot). Stir the hot mixture until there are no lumps.

Reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pan. Set the timer for 10 minutes and simmer. Mixture will thicken.

Remove from heat and fold in the blueberries and the maple syrup (a great opportunity to teach the difference between "folding" and "stirring"). Be patient as it sometimes takes the kids to get the rhythm of folding.

In a small bowl mix the sugar and nutmeg together. sprinkle on top of the mush and serve right away.

Not only is this tasty but it's a very hearty dish!
Happy Cooking,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Monday, November 14, 2011

Maple-Nut-Berry Popcorn Balls

What a treat! Another recipe using ingredients that the Pilgrims and the Indians had at Thanksgiving and these popcorn balls are yummy!
Here are the ingredients you'll need:
Popcorn (you can use a store bought bag or fresh air-popped... I don't have to tell you which one I prefer... homemade, of course)!
Chopped walnuts
Dried cranberries
Maple syrup

Large bowl
Large wooden spoon
Serving plate

Here we go... pop your fresh popcorn or open that store-bought package of popcorn. Put the popcorn in the big mixing bowl.

Sprinkle in some chopped walnuts and dried cranberries (as many as you think will make it yummy). Pour some melted butter over all and stir with the big wooden spoon until well mixed.

Pour some maple syrup over the [warm] popcorn... you notice I said "warm popcorn"... you want enough maple syrup to just coat the popcorn so it will stick together nicely. Please ask your grown-up sous chef helper to help you judge how much to use.

Stir all together until the popcorn, nuts and berries are well coated. Shape the "sticky popcorn" into small balls on the serving plate. Place in the fridge until the syrup hardens and you have a Thanksgiving treat!

Note:  This is a great exercise for kids to begin learning about getting the "real feel" of cooking without measuring everything! They can begin to use their good judgment and eye what looks about right... this comes with the true joy of cooking!

Happy Cooking,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanksgiving & Watermelons?

Watermelons at Thanksgiving? What is up with that?

Well, this is a very different kind of post than what you're accustomed to on my blog so I had to dig up something 'off the wall' to get your attention... Hmmmm... how about a text color to match the watermelon? Well... here we go...

Yes, it's almost Thanksgiving! We see so much going on in our world today and I don't offer advice very often... but my heart says to "go for it!"
Thanksgiving means many things to many people in this great land of ours... and this Thanksgiving is very different for so many... I won't go there as I'm certainly not a financial analyst... I'm a Culinary Coach... grins...

Here's my advice for this upcoming Thanksgiving... no matter what you have this year, be thankful... be thankful for your family, be thankful for those little things that you're beginning to realize mean so much, be thankful for the memories you're making this year... no one can ever take your memories away from you!

Try really, really hard to begin operating with a "thankful heart" not just one day of the year but every day! If you're one of my regular blog visitors, you're here because you have precious children to cook with... be thankful... even in times that seem bleak, being thankful for what we have as we begin each and every day with gratitude will bring hope and healing to you and those around you.

So count your blessings this Thanksgiving and continue to count your blessings every day!
Okay... end of lecture... LOL... Have fun and get your kids into the kitchen to help you cook Thanksgiving dinner! What fun memories you'll be making!

Stop back by... there will be more fun things to cook with your kids for Thanksgiving! What blessings!
Happy Cooking,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween, My Little Goblins & Ghosts!

Just couldn't let this day go by without wishing you all a very Happy and Safe Halloween!

Fall has arrived so please stay tuned as I have lots of fun Thanksgiving, Christmas and all holiday fun in the kitchen "cooking with kids!"

Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach & Adult Helper-Sous Chef

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sailboats - It's Columbus Day!

Mixin' the fixin's with a little history of Columbus will be a really fun thing to do with the kids in the kitchen.

There are tons of sources on the internet to print out a coloring page for the kids to relate to Columbus Day. The kids can create the Sailor's Delight snack and talk about Columbus. Then eat their snack and color their little piece of history. And there's sure to be a resounding cry of, "Look what I made!"

So let's get started and make these Sailor Delight Snacks...

Depending on how many children are involved and how many will be eating snacks, they can each create the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, or share... your call, the "Adult Sous Chef Helper!"

Here are the ingredients that you're going to need:
Red Grapes
Marinated Cherries
Sliced Cheese - your choice - Swiss, Cheddar... any will work - you just need sqaure slices!

Materials that you'll need for preparation of the boats:
Large Knife
Cutting Board
Plates for all
Wooden Skewers

Let the kids wash the cantaloupe really well under running water. The Adult Sous Chef Helper should use a cutting board and a large knife and "demonstrate" how to slice the cantaloupe. Leave the rind on and cut in slices that can "sit up" when placed on a plates... think "little boats" here!

Give each of the kids a skewer. Have them place a cherry, then a grape and then a raisin on the top of the skewer.

Take a slice of cheese and poke a hole in opposite ends of the cheese squares. Put the skewer through the holes in the cheese squares. This will form the "sails" for the cantaloupe boats.

At the bottom of the skewer, have the kids add two more grapes and a couple of raisins to hold the cheese sail in place.

Stick the skewer into the cantaloupe and set those sails! The kids will be so proud of their colorful boats. Gather 'round the table and talk about Columbus and enjoy! Oh... don't forget after they have their snack and color their Columbus Day pictures, head back to the kitchen for clean up... don't do it for them, please... it goes with the program of cooking!

Oops... I almost forgot to tell you what they are going to learn on this one... here ya' go:
Making sailboats for Columbus Day will get them talking about Columbus and learning the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria (maybe you better brush up on your history...there may be questions :-D)!
Patience will be needed as they make holes in the cheese and put the fruit on the skewers.
Dexterity is sharpened when the kids are carefully placing fruit on the skewers.
Completing the task is reinforced when you head back to the kitchen for cleaning up!

Isn't cooking with the kids just the BEST? Have fun!

Happy Cooking,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach & Adult Sous Chef

Saturday, September 24, 2011

For the Love of Cooking!

Kids have a natural interest in foods and that leads them to being drawn to the kitchen!

Think about it... what is one of the major toys that parents purchase soon after little ones can walk? A little stove! And then the toddlers want a set of dishes... a table... some little pots and pans... and most of all... a spoon to "pretend stir" in a big bowl!

I encourage you to take advantage of this "natural interest" of children whether you be parents, grandparents, a favorite aunt, a childcare giver, a vacation Bible school leader... the list of possibilities to teach children cooking is endless!

The lessons easily taught and learned by children at an early age are not only management skills in food preparation but more importantly nutrition. Also, studies show that kids that cook at an early age are better students! There are so many things woven into food preparation and cooking like math... developing measuring skills... science... what happens when you stir some baking soda into a cup of buttermilk? Wow... it's a science project! Motor skills and coordination... Following directions... it's all in the "recipe!"

Yep! Cooking with Kids is definitely a "Recipe for Success!" With childhood obesity soaring, little ones learning at an early age about foods and being involved with cooking their own food carries over into their adult lives!

What a great gift you can give the kids in your life! And it's just steps away... in your kitchen! If you're totally intimidated by this concept... just relax... come back and visit often as I'll be calming those seas of doubt for you with projects that will delight the entire family!

Happy Cooking,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach & "Adult Helper Chef"

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cooking at Home with Kids!

In these days of trying to make a lot out of a little... we're all there... is a time for reining in and most certainly cooking at home is much cheaper than eating out! We're all adjusting our lifestyles.

The Chinese symbol for "crisis" is the same symbol that is used for "opportunity." So... is your cup half empty or half full?

And what does this have to do with cooking with kids?

We are seeing more people getting back to basics... not necessarily a choice but a necessity... ahhhh... and so presents a real opportunity with kids in the kitchen. We're finding our way back to the kitchen and the kitchen table!

Let's face it, little ones love to do what big people do and kids WANT to cook! The combination of fun and creativity in the kitchen is a win/win for all! Kids will be learning so much without even knowing it and without the lectures.

The first step to success in cooking with kids is to "put them in charge." Hey... come back here! I know that a lot of parents are too busy and very intimidated about letting their kids in the kitchen...

When my grandchildren come to Nannie's, we have a blast in the kitchen! A few spills? Sure... don't you ever spill anything in the kitchen?

Let's get back to putting kids in charge in the kitchen now that you're back... It's all in the presentation... I learned in sales a long time ago that "presentation is everything"... and that applies to many, many things in life... even to the dishes that we prepare in our kitchens!

Okay... I'm not intentionally skirting this issue... LOL... things just keep popping up! Bottom line, just hand the spatula over to the kids! You become the "adult sous chef aka adult helper!" Hand them the reins! And don't be a "hover craft!"

You are going to be so surprised what a positive outcome this has on your experience... before long not only the kids will be looking forward to preparing special treats and then meals but you'll be right in there too!

Come back soon... I'm currently writing an e-book that will to help you get started cooking with kids!

Happy Cooking!
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach & "Adult Helper Chef"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

For the Love of Avocados!

Homemade guacamole is just the best!

Letting the kids make guacamole can be enlightening, fun, very educational plus there's an added benefit when the guacamole is "all gone!"

Let's get started...

Here's what you'll need to have on hand for this double-fun project!

3 ripe avocados
1 green onion
1 ripe tomato
1 tablespoon lemon juice (you can use fresh squeezed or out of the bottle)
Fresh garlic or garlic powder (yes, some kids like garlic)!
Salt to taste
1 bag "healthy whole grain" dippin' chips

Let the kids wash the green onion and the tomato. The adult helper can use the cutting board and the knife, demonstrating knife safety and how to chop in tiny pieces. If you have one of those handy dandy little electric choppers... use it (I really like mine!). Meanwhile, be sure when you use these electrical devices, begin teaching the kids kitchen safety... talk the talk and walk the walk!

The adult helper will need to halve the avocados and remove the avocado pits. Save the pits for later.

Let the kids scoop out the inside of the avocados into a small, deep bowl. Mash the insides of the avocado with a fork... yes, the kids can do this!

Have the kids add the cut up tomato, the lemon juice, a dash of salt and a dash of garlic salt if they want it. This is where you can supervise and let them start learning how to stir things up with a dash of this and a pinch of that without measuring... they will think it's pretty special!

Let them stir all the ingredients together until smooth and mixing thoroughly. Now it's time to literally dig in with some healthy chips!

Meanwhile, let the kids wash the pits and stick four toothpicks in each one. With the pointy end of the pit up, place the rounded end down. Balance on a clear glass and add water so the rounded end is resting in the water.

Yep, we're windowsill gardening now! The kids will be excited because it will only take about a week for the avocado to start sprouting. New growth is exciting in all areas of life! This helps kids learn where their food really comes from and how it grows.

Have fun for the love of avocados!
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach for Kids

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Simply Patriotic Fresh Fruit Splash!

When the kids are preparing food for special occasions and holidays, it's important that they get a little background information on the holiday. You don't have to be a "history teacher" but the basics are great and fun. Not only is it a natural addition to their knowledge bank, it also adds a special credence to the celebration of the holiday.

This colorful dessert is especially easy and is fun to make on the spot even if you have a bunch of kids participating. It "shows off" best in clear glasses so you can see the patriotic layers... that is simply solved by purchasing small plastic tumblers or if you want to make it really special, the dollar store have plastic stemware... Kids love special glasses! Make it really special with tiny flag picks to top it off!

Here's what you'll need for the easy fruit splash that the kids can do all by themselves:

Patriotic Red, White and
Blue Fruit Splash

Fresh blueberries
Fresh strawberries
Star fruit
Cool Whip (thawed)
Special clear plastic glasses

American flag picks (optional)
Red, white & blue sprinkles (optional)

Grab the colander and let the kids wash all of the fruit. If you have a "child proof" knife, let them grab the cutting board and practice their cutting skills on the strawberries and the star fruit.
a "food palette!"

Begin with blueberries in the bottom and then a layer of Cool Whip topped with the strawberries. Just keep layering the red, white and blue ingredients until the plastic glass is full.

Plop a slice of star fruit on the top and chill. When serving, maybe let the kids plop a dollop of Cool Whip on top with some red, white and blue sprinkles and a flag pick!
How proud they will be of the red, white and blue!racken, Culinary Coach for Kids
nary Coach for Kids

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Tire Garden!

Even if you have room for a real garden at your house, the kids will love a special spot to call their own. You can accomplish this by picking up an old car tire can be "all theirs!"

The idea with this project is for kids to learn where their food comes from and to be able to actually plant little seeds and watch them grow. Kids are fascinated with the entire process!

To make this project even more fun, pick up an old tire (one for each child, if you have the room). The tires can be spray painted colors like bright yellow and then the kids can personalize them with paint pens or acrylic paints. Let the tire dry overnight before planting.

I suggest that you take the kids to pick out their seeds. Just make sure that it makes good sense and if it they want to grow watermelons, keep in mind that is all the tire will hold! Grins...

edlings in. Pour a little water in the hole, then put the seedling in the hole and fill around it with dirt... instant garden!With their little sprinkling cans, have them water everything until it is just damp... make sure they don't drown their little seeds as too much water will make them rot before they have a chance to sprout! 

The seeds will be sprouting in no time! Have the kids check their "tire garden" daily and see if it needs water. They will be thrilled when the little seedlings get bigger and bigger and will be especially thrilled when the first little sprout pops through the soil from the seeds they planted!
You might want to consider letting the kids pick out one type of plant that is already growing as well as some seeds. They can plant the seeds on one side of the tire and plant the seedlings on the other side. Another fun suggestion is for them to plop a whirly gig in with their plants, making it look like a real garden!
By the way, you can get almost everything at one of the dollar stores for this project!
Here's what you're going to need for this project:
Old car tire
Various paints for decorating and personalizing the tire
Potting soil
Seeds and seedlings
Little plastic water sprinkling can

All righty... here we go... place the tire in a spot that gets plenty of sunshine. Fill the tire with soil all the way to the top. Pack the soil firmly... let them get their hands in the dirt! Explain that the soil can't be packed down really hard as their won't be any air in there. Also, you want the soil to be loose to cover the seeds.

Read the seed packet instructions together as how deep to plant the seeds and how far apart... I wouldn't worry about the "how far apart" part of it... just let them plant the seeds! Let them use their finger and draw a line in the soil for a "row" to plant their seeds... no, it doesn't matter if the row isn't straight! Let the kids do this, k? Make sure they don't plant the seeds too deep.
Now let them cover the seeds and gently pat the top... keyword is gently! 

Have them use their hands to dig little holes to plant the se

Make plans for a special recipe to make something from what they've planted when it's ready to harvest.

Happy gardening,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach for Kids

Friday, April 8, 2011

Eggs, Eggs & More Eggs...

Well... there's the "before" of coloring Easter eggs... and then there's the "after"... oh, and I guess there's the "during"... that would be the coloring and decorating of the eggs! Oh my...

So this would be the "during"...

Try something a little different after the kids have colored their eggs... let them use pretty scraps of buttons, bows, velvet ribbon, old-fashioned rick rack (yes, my age is showing), and even tiny artificial flowers (you'll find them at the dollar store!)...

Let their creativity soar... give them each a pair of scissors to cut scraps and a bottle of Elmer's glue... just watch the masterpieces emerge!

Stay tuned... I'll be giving you the "after of Easter eggs"... a simple recipe to use some of these hard boiled egg!

Hoppy Decorating,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach for Kids

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Has Sprung... the Grass is Riz...

Does anyone remember that old rhyme? I think the rest goes something like this...

Spring has sprung,
The grass is riz,
I wonder where
the birdies is...

LOL! Well, let's "think Spring!" I've got a lot of fun things coming your way for spring and gardening, and, and, and...

The first official day of Spring (even though it may not 'feel like Spring) is Saturday, March 20th. So let's kick it off with a Spring Breakfast next weekend!

I don't know whether you've noticed... kids seem to eat and try more different foods if you present them on fun plates and in fun containers... it's all in the presentation and the packaging... so they say in life!

I know my grandkids, love it when they come to visit and Nannie has a new "frog plate" or special parfait glasses that you can "see-through!" What fun!

Take a stroll down the kitchen aisle of your closest dollar store... you don't have to spend a fortune on special dishes to make foods fun! For this one, I suggest you pick up some clear glass (they are usually heavy glass)... parfait or sundae glasses at the dollar store. You can use these for so many fun and healthy foods.

You'll probably find tall ones and shorter ones... depending on how old your kids are, the shorter ones seem to make more sense... they don't get knocked over quite as easily (a real plus)... and it doesn't take that much to fill them up (the kids won't get bored with their specialty)... and they will most likely eat the whole thing!

So, back to the Spring kickoff... how about a Spring Breakfast Parfait?

Start off the evening before (if you can) by giving the kids their new, special parfait glasses. Have them go into the kitchen and wash and dry them. Then have them set them out on the counter so they will be ready first thing for their Spring Breakfast.

By the way, this is not only teaching the kids cooking, it's teaching them about planning and time management, all while getting them excited about their breakfast project!

Okay... here's what you need for this recipe... please substitute any of the fruits and make them ones that your kids really like... there's enough ingredients in here for four parfaits!

2 cups either canned pineapple tidbits or, if possible, chopped fresh pineapple
1 cup fresh red raspberries
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 banana
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted, sliced almonds
Red cherries for a topper (optional)

Let the kids do this! Don't you get tired of me saying that?

I suggest that you put each ingredient in a small bowl so the kids can dip out of the larger bowl and fill up their individual parfait glasses. If you elect for the fresh pineapple, yes, this is the adult helper's job!

You have a couple of choices here... the ingredients are presented in the order that they were intended to be placed in the glass. However... if you would like to just allow your kids to be "creative" and just put it in any way they want to... go for it!

Try to get the kids to think about "equal amounts" of each ingredient... which is teaching them to balance things. Then tell them that the last ingredients are "toppers" and they should be just "sprinkles"... like the raisins... the almonds... and one cherry each!

Hey... this is fun and oh so healthy! And, the kids are going to love their new "sundae glasses!" You can use them for so many fun and healthy creations!

Welcome Spring!
Getting Kids into the Kitchen,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach for Kids

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How 'Bout Those Sprouts?

You've got sprouts! Are the kids just thrilled? Watching things grow absolutely fascinates kids!

I promised you a recipe with sprouts so let's do it. This helps the kids understand how their food grows and it will tickle them to eat something that they nurtured from just a seed. Rinse the sprouts from the jar really well under running water... yep, let the kids do it!

Let them try a few "fresh sprouts" on a sandwich... easy though as the texture and taste is a bit funky for some...

A really easy way to try sprouts that the kids may really like is a simple stir-fry. Purchase one of those bags of frozen stir-fry veggies (the kids will like the ones with the baby corn in them) and just add sprouts!

If the kids are small, let them get up on their little stools by the stove... if you have two children, then put one on each side of you. I'm sure you've already taught them about the stove being hot. However, let them get the big skillet out and measure the olive oil into the skillet. Let each of them measure out a cup full of frozen veggies to dump into the skillet.

With supervision, don't let the oil get very hot (it doesn't matter this time!)... and let them dump their veggies into the skillet. Then let them grab some fresh sprouts and throw them in on top of the veggies. Now it's their turn to watch Mom do the stir-frying.

If the kids have a favorite stir-fry sauce, by all means add it to the mix! This is a great way to get kids eating their veggies... they are usually fascinated with the baby corn and will be very proud that they grew the sprouts they are cooking!

I'll be back with more suggestions for planting so stay tuned!
Happy Cooking with Kids,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach for Kids

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

May you have a wonderful 2011! Heartfelt wishes to each and every one of you... yes, you know who I'm talking to...

2011 is going to take me in a different direction but you'll be hearing from me... yes, maybe in all those old familiar places...

Ahhhh... nostalgia on New Year's Eve... the ball has dropped in New York!

Thanks again for your support in 2010,

Jan McCracken

Personal Chef/Author