Quick for Kids
Have you ever needed to whip up a rave-able dessert but you only have a few minutes? Yeah, I’ve been there, too.
I came up with these mini tarts last Thanksgiving. I needed something with dark chocolate for dessert but I didn’t have time to bake up a pie or a cake. Plus, I wanted something bite-sized. These mini tarts come together quickly – your kids can even do these while you’re cooking something else. The key to making these mini tarts ah-inducing is all in how you plate them. One approach: Drizzle the plate with chocolate syrup (Hershey’s is fine), add a swirl of raspberry jam, and pair with an assortment of other sweets. Or, top each one with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, dust with cocoa powder, and insert an orange sliver.
Prep time: 15 minutes + chill time*
Servings: 30 mini tarts
2 packages of Mini Fillo Shells (15 each; I like Athens brand)*
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup orange zest
Dash of salt
Whipped cream (optional)
- In a glass bowl melt together the cream and chocolate chips in the microwave for 90 seconds; stir until smooth (some microwaves may take longer – be careful not to burn).
- Add in orange zest and salt. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Pour filling into shells. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
- To serve: Garnish with fresh whipped cream and dust with cocoa powder.
*Note: You can either use the shells thawed and right out of the package. Or, for a crisper exterior, bake them for 9 minutes at 350°. Cool, then fill.
Growing up I never liked tomato soup. Maybe it’s because tomato soup so often is thought of–and served–as the thin, salty version that comes right out of a can. A few weeks ago my husband and I escaped for a brunch date at Nosh Eatery just outside the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the soup of the day? Tomato soup. We decided to give it a try.
Simple, fresh and soothing the tomato soup at Nosh had a thicker consistency perfect for dipping when paired with rye sourdough crisped with sharp American cheese inside. We’ve started a tradition since then of making tomato soup with grilled cheese every Saturday. We’ve finally come close to Nosh’s.
Next step? How to entice kids to give it a try. My first approach is not to overwhelm my kids with a big bowl. I gave them a small amount and encouraged them to use it to dip. So far, my kids have gradually been asking for more soup. It helps that we’ve been having it…every weekend.
Prep time: 30 minutes including cooking
1 white onion, diced
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
2 28-oz. cans whole plum tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)
2 cups chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tbsp. fresh basil, divided
1/4 tsp. sugar or agave
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika (mild) or cayenne powder (if you like it hot)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh tomatoes, diced
- Bring the oil to medium heat in a large soup pot and add the onions. Saute until translucent (about 5 minutes) – I cover the pot for the last 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
- Pour in both cans of whole tomatoes along with 3 tbsp. basil. Heat until it just simmers. Use a mixing stick to puree the tomatoes.
- Add in the chicken broth and fresh diced tomatoes (if using). Blend again with the mixing stick.
- Sprinkle with seasonings listed and adjust to taste. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Serve with a dollop of pesto and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and the remaining fresh basil.
We’ve all been there – forgot you were having guests over for dinner or maybe needed a dessert in a hurry? That’s how I came up with this idea for chocolate croissants.
Regular chocolate croissants have dark chocolate tucked inside the buttery layers. No way I have time to make croissants from scratch, let alone the filling and then roll it into the croissant dough. My quick fix is to use premade croissants and then dip them into melted chocolate, making sure to drizzle a little extra chocolate all over the pastry.
I buy my croissants from Costco where they come in large packs available just outside the bakery. I freeze them in sets of 4 to save as something special in my kids’ lunches or for a quick dessert. While you can buy fresh-made croissants, if you’re making these in a hurry it helps if the pastry is a bit cold so that the chocolate sets faster.
Here’s how to make simple chocolate croissants:
- Ingredients to have on hand – 6 croissants, 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips, 1/2 cup chocolate candy wafers, waxed paper, fresh fruit and powder sugar (opt.)
- Chill the croissants if they’re not already frozen.
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 1 minute increments until the chips appear shiny. Whisk with a fork.
- Dip one end of each croissant into the chocolate and then place onto waxed paper. Use the extra chocolate to drizzle the side that wasn’t dipped.
- Place the croissants in the fridge until the chocolate is set.
- To serve, place one croissant on the plate and dust with powdered sugar or cocoa powder. Put fresh fruit like peach or banana slices to the side.
- Savor each bite.
Happy National Chocolate Chip Day! To commemorate the invention of chocolate chip cookies by a creative baker back in the 1930s, May 15th is the day to bake up a batch. But cookies are so 2013. Make muffins instead to pair chocolate chips with something a little healthier – oats.
Makes 12 regular-sized muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour (or go half whole-wheat, half all purpose or use just all-purpose)
1 cup oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (opt.)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup mini-chocolate chips
2 tbsp. ground flax seed (opt.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl mix together the dried ingredients.
- In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
- Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones until just softened.
- Fill each of the muffin tins up 2/3 full. (You can use muffin papers or generously grease the pan with baking spray.)
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until just browned around the edges.
Optional: Add sugar crystals, chopped nuts, or extra mini-chocolate chips on top of the batter before baking.
*Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is.
Ramps are the first sign – and taste – of spring. In appearance ramps look like tulip leaves outfitted with green onion bulbs. And the flavor is a mild to robust garlicly zing with undercurrents of onion.
Now how to get your kids to try leeks … there’s no disguising ramps green color but you can meld the flavor in with other foods that are familiar to your kiddos. Here are a few ways we’ve used them so far, so good.
Mixed into shredded lettuce on tacos
Thin sliced ramps can be tossed into shredded iceberg lettuce and then used to top tacos.
Sauteed in scrambled eggs
In a skillet add 1 tablespoon of butter and bring it to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of thin-sliced leeks to the butter and saute for 1 minute. Add in whisked eggs and scramble.
Stirred into cream cheese as a dip for chips
Purchase a container of whipped cream cheese and mix in chopped ramps along with salt and pepper to taste. Offer this as a dip for your kids with tortilla chips, baby carrots, and/or celery sticks.
Blended into sauces
Time to whip out the blender. Use it to mix ramps into spaghetti sauce or other colorful sauces that love garlic.
I used ramp leaves instead of lettuce on sandwiches.
Now it’s your turn: Have you tried ramps? How do you like to serve them?
For dinner, we’ll often do a big salad–especially now that spring is finally here.
But salads can be boring. And kids know it.
So I like to play with the lettuce, toppings, and dressing to keep my kids asking, Can we have salad for dinner?
Berries–dried or fresh–are a great way to enliven a salad and add a burst of sweetness. I also like to add them into the dressing.
You can make your own vinaigrette from scratch by using equal parts vinegar (or fresh lemon juice) and olive oil along with seasonings such as dried herbs but I usually don’t have time on a weeknight meal to do all that. Instead, I start with a good quality store-bought vinaigrette as a base and then pump up the flavor.
Here’s how to make your own blackberry vinaigrette–this is the perfect starter salad dressing recipe for kids who like to help in the kitchen and are old enough to be trusted with the blender.
Yield: About 1 1/3 cups dressing
1/3 cup blackberries (or any other kind of berry, fresh or frozen)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (opt.)
1/2 tbsp. fresh parsley or other fresh herb you have on hand–basil would be fabulous (opt.)
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and puree. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Drizzle on your salad.
Romaine lettuce or green leaf, topped with grated carrots, pumpkin seeds, cubed cheese like Gouda, thin sliced onion, rotisserie or grilled chicken
When I first approached my kids about having lettuce wraps for dinner I was greeted to a collective yawn. Not so when I mentioned we’d be having lettuce tacos. Sometimes, getting your kids to eat more greens is all in the phrasing.
You can fill your lettuce tacos with whatever fillings you usually use on taco night – or go for something different. We decided on a Thai-themed version.
Thai Taco Recipe
! head Boston or Romaine lettuce*
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. white pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper (opt.)
Salt to taste (I prefer sea salt on this one)
Thai slaw (opt.)
1 1/2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 1/2 tbsps. Greek or Italian vinaigrette salad dressing (I use Matsos)
2 tbsps. mayo
Salt and pepper to taste
- Sriracha sauce
- Chopped bell red pepper
- Golden raisins
- Wash and clean the lettuce pieces – try to keep them as large as possible.
- Meanwhile, add the oil to a large saute pan and bring to medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the hot pan and saute until no longer pink. Stir in the garlic and seasonings. Finish cooking through (about 5-7 minutes total, depending on how small you diced the chicken pieces). Remove from pan; squeeze the chicken with the juice from the fresh lime.
- Lay out your DIY tacos with filling ingredients – lettuce pieces, chicken, red peppers, golden raisins, slaw, Sriracha and let your kiddos serve themselves.
*Use Boston lettuce leaves (for softer tacos) or Romaine lettuce (for a stiffer taco)
Admission: I’m a Broncos fan and fully expect them to win the Super Bowl this Sunday (even though Peyton Manning has a 0-4 playoff game record when it comes to temps under 40 degrees).
These easy chocolate almond footballs are a fun way to dress up your Super Bowl party table or top game-day cupcakes.
Here’s how to make them.
- Melt a few wafers of white almond bark in the microwave.
- Use a toothpick to draw the threads on chocolate almonds (tasty football stand-ins).
- Place the almonds on waxed paper to set. That’s it!
I’m happily drowning in apples around my house–we’re snapping up every last Honey Crisp apple until the season is over. But all those extra apples need a place to go (when we’re not munching on them). My idea? Waffles. To up the apple-y flavor I thinned the batter with apple cider and a touch of maple flavoring.
But I wanted these apple waffles to be filling enough to serve for dinner. So I used plain Greek yogurt for a dose of protein in the mix and added in some whole-wheat flour. Walnuts round out the nutrient boost to make these waffles worthy of dinner.
Servings: 5 waffles
Prep time: 10 minutes + baking
1 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 cup all-purpose, 1/2 cup whole-wheat)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plain yogurt
4 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup apples, diced small
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup apple cider
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped small
1/2 tsp. maple flavoring
- Preheat your waffle iron.
- In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Whisk together yogurt, butter, milk, maple flavoring, and the egg.
- Stir in walnuts and apple dices; thin the batter with apple cider.
- Add batter to the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Cook through.
- The waffle will be soft when you remove it from the iron and will then firm up as it cools.
Pumpkin loves garbanzo beans–the proof is in the hummus. Add pureed pumpkin into your hummus for a subtle, earthy underlying flavor.
The basic recipe is fast and easy to put together:
1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans
4 tbsp. tahini
4 tbsp. pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
- Drain beans (reserving liquid) and place them into a food processor along with the pumpkin.
- With the blade running add in the olive oil and half of the reserved bean liquid.
- Remove the top of the food processor, scrap down the sides and add salt and tahini.
- Adjust the texture and flavor of the hummus using seasoning and more pumpkin, bean liquid, and/or spices.
For pumpkin pie hummus:
Add 1/2-1 tsp. pumpkin pie seasoning (or a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves) and more pureed pumpkin
For Lebanese pumpkin hummus:
Add 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika, and the juice from one lemon