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