Tag Archives: cooking with kids

Eric’s Broccoli Fettuccine

Eric loves broccoli in anything, and always asks for it. This is his favorite recipe because he get to help make the pasta, which is fun and messy. He also likes grating the nutmeg, but that usually ends up with the nutmeg seed in the Alfredo sauce.

I had been using Giada De Laurentiis’ fresh pasta recipe for years, when my neighbor came across her husband’s grandma’s recipe. We taste-tested, and I like the grandma’s version better! So sorry, Giada… I’ve ditched you! My Alfredo sauce is very similar to Giada’s version, I started with her recipe, and I’ve modified it a bit over the years.

Please understand, this Alfredo is not a healthy recipe. And it’s not something we indulge in very often. But it is very special and yummy! I’d rather enjoy it in all it’s fatty glory very infrequently rather than try to skinny it up with non-real-food chemically substitutes. It just has to be considered an indulgence! The fettuccine is fine depending on what you make with it, and I sometimes make it with whole wheat flour, if that’s what I have on hand.

Fresh Fettuccine
Mix in food processor:
2-⅛  cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
Whisk together in a separate bowl:
2 eggs
¼ cup warm water
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Pour the egg mixture in to the food processor, and pulse until it resembles coarse cornmeal.

Pour the dough out on to a floured surface, and gently knead it until it all holds together in one ball. Refrigerate for an hour or so while you set the table, then run the dough through a pasta machine to create fettuccine.

Wine makes everything better.

Set a very large pot of water with a handful of salt to boil. As you wait for it to boil, make the sauce and prepare the broccoli into bite-size florettes.

Alfredo Sauce
In a saucepan, stir to blend:
2 cups of heavy cream
½ cup of fresh lemon juice
zest of ½  lemon
2 garlic cloves, halved
Heat over medium temperature (do not boil) and melt in:
1 cup of butter (I KNOW! It’s a lot)
Once butter is melted, turn heat all the way down to low and grate in:
fresh nutmeg (about ¼ teaspoon).

When pasta water is at a boil, throw in your bite-size broccoli flowers. Set a timer for 2 minutes, and promptly remove the broccoli with a large slotted spoon into a large serving dish. The broccoli should be bright green, and don’t worry if it seems to be not cooked enough. It will continue cooking while it sits there waiting for everything else.

Throw your pasta in the now-broccoli-flavored water until just cooked through, then place in the same serving dish as the broccoli.  Do not drain or rinse the pasta, but rather scoop it out so some of the cooking water stays on the pasta. This helps the sauce cling to the pasta.
Remove garlic cloves from sauce, and stir in:
2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
Add salt and (white) pepper to taste, and raise temperature if necessary. Then pour the sauce over the pasta and broccoli, and toss all together.

~Krista (and Eric)

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Painting Cookies

Anna painting

I love how my girlchild sticks her tongue part way out when she's concentrating!

Getting creative with our cookies

Getting creative with our cookies


How did I not know about painting cookies before this? Thank God for Betty Crocker!


Best cookie book ever!

We learned how to paint cookies today, which was the perfect thing for these dinosaur cookies we made for our neighbor.
The “paint” is 2 egg yolks, 1/2 teaspoon of water, split into 4 bowls with food coloring. We got the recipe from this awesome cookie cookbook that I received as a gift from my former neighbor Marie. According to the inscription, it was a Christmas gift to her in 1963.

The finished product

The finished product

Happy baking,


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Mango Moms Lunch did not disappoint

I’m already a fan of mangoes, so I gladly jumped at the chance to attend a lunch for moms put on by the National Mango Board. Yes, there’s a board for mangoes. I felt a tad guilty since I already love them – I don’t need to be convinced that they’re delicious, do I? Feeling like the choir about to be preached-to, I set off.

© 2008 National Mango Board

Clearly the mango board sees a need to reach out to moms, because the recipes they shared were pretty basic, “kid-friendly” fare. I put that in quotes because my kids tend to be fairly adventurous, and are easily bored by typical kid-friendly fare.

Fortunately for me and the other women in attendance, the lunch menu was orchestrated by Simpatica Dining Hall. They have a cozy space (formerly part of La Luna, where I used to frequent mosh pits back in the day!) that would be lovely for intimate gatherings of up to 30 or so people. Take note, event planners. But the space was overshadowed by the DELIGHTFUL food! As you would expect, every course featured mangoes. I love a meal that begins at 11 a.m. with mango Bellinis!

We sipped the Bellinis and tried the sliced Ataulfo mangoes on the tables. These little babies are also marketed as “Champagne” mangoes, which I learned is a trade name, not a type of mango. But the Ataulfos are my new favorite. Who knew? They’re less fibrous than other mangoes, and as you might guess by the Bellini application, much more like a peach in texture than your typical mango. In fact, the kids keep calling them peaches. I’ve got to work on that, clearly. One thing I learned is that while you can tell your typical mango is ripe if it has a little bit of give to it (like a peach or avocado), the Ataulfos want to me much softer – and even a bit wrinkly of skin.

Our first course was the most delicate salad that I just have to attempt to recreate. The chef at Simpatica claimed the lettuce was baby romaine from Groundworks Organics, but it was so tender I’d swear it was baby butter leaf. A simple dressing of citrus and good olive oil (my standard already) also included some mango. I’m not sure quite how, it must have been pureed in. The amazing part of the salad, however was the Bellweather Farms Fromage Blanc, accompanied by local olives and olive oil from Durant Vineyards. Melt. In. Your. Mouth. That salad makes me salivate.

In between courses, our host Wendy demonstrated the preferred way to get into a mango. I have to admit, I’ve been peeling them first, then cutting the cheeks off the pit. But the Mango Board recommends cutting the cheeks off first, then slicing or dicing in without cutting through the skin, and scooping it out like an avocado. So much easier! In fact, the kids can even do it, as they’ve demonstrated several times since I showed them. I can’t seem to keep them away from the mangoes now.

The main course was accompanied by two side dishes served family-style. The baby Yukons were fantastic, but the mango wasn’t really prominent. No complaints here, potatoes aren’t included in my anti-inflammatory diet so I don’t eat them very often. These were DELICIOUS, just not very mango-riffic. The beet salad, on the other hand, had chunks of mango and whole basil leaves with a citrus vinaigrette. It was so good that another gal at my table took seconds on that, even though before that day she swore she didn’t like beets.

I chose the vegetarian option for the main course, a mushroom pastilla with Indian spices and a tangy mango sauce. It was so so good – smoky spicy mushrooms, offset by the light mango sauce. I have to admit, though… I was a little obsessed with the forbidden potatoes.

Grilled king oyster mushroom pastilla with mango sauce, with mango beet salad... and POTATOES

I thought the chefs at Simpatica did a great job of incorporating the mangoes into each course, and I certainly found some inspiration to use them more frequently. The frequent peach references made me wonder if my peach cardamom pie might work with mangoes instead of peaches… stay tuned!

If you redefine “local” as “North America” then you can feel good about getting mangoes year-round.

I made pancakes for the kiddles for breakfast this morning, and served a mango sauce with them. 2 Atoulfos with the juice of half a lemon and about a tablespoon of local berry-flower honey. Nobody needed butter or syrup!

It could have been the bellinis, but I had a great time meeting Carrie, Sofia and Laurel and some other fun local moms, as well as the Mango Proseletizers (who were always gracious and never heavy-handed, by the way). I’m glad I attended this lunch. I ate delicious food, discovered a new event venue, and learned a few things about mangoes. Turns out preaching to the choir can still have some benefits!

This lunch was sponsored by the National Mango Board and Fred Meyer. I received complimentary lunch and a gift bag. All opinions are my own.

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Perfectly Imperfect Cake {Wordless Wednesday}

The cake is a fairly simple chocolate, from The Joy of Cooking. We used Trader Joe's lemon curd for the filling, and added the zest and juice of a lemon to the frosting. All that was wonderful, but in my haste to make the cake I accidentally added a bunch of cinnamon instead of cocoa to the cake batter. Everyone loved the cinnamon, but it completely overshadowed the lemon. Oh well! We made homemade ice cream to go with it, made with Oregon seascape strawberries purchased at the farmers market that morning.

Anna decorated this cake for Brian's birthday all by herself!




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Tofu Curry Recipe

The kids and I created this fine meal yesterday in honor of #MeatlessMonday. Here’s what we did:

Marinate firm, silky tofu with a couple splashes of soy sauce and one splash of fish sauce (nam pla). I did the splashing, Anna stirred it all together. Eric sampled the tofu.

Meanwhile, smash with a mortal & pestle a palm full of coriander seeds and a palm full of cumin seeds. Both kids wanted to do this step, but both lost their patience with it after a few moments.

In a mini food processor, blend together 2 cloves of garlic, about 2″ of fresh (peeled) ginger root, the crushed coriander & cumin, a small palm full of sugar, and a handful of basil leaves. Anna is really good at pulling the leaves off the basil stems. Both took turns pushing the buttons on the mini prep.

Once those ingredients are smushed up and look a bit like pesto, add a couple handfuls of peanuts (and eat a couple handfuls as well), a few splashes of soy sauce and fish sauce, the zest and juice of a lime, then blend some more to make a paste. Sometimes I let Anna zest citrus with the microplane. It doesn’t seem as treacherous as other graters since it’s so fine, but I pay close attention to her technique so she doesn’t grate her knuckles. Eric, being three, hasn’t gotten to use a grater yet!

Anna squeezing the lime. Too bad my camera sucks.

Sauté a chopped onion in a large skillet (or wok) until soft, then add the tofu for a few minutes, then the veggies. We used red bell pepper, green & yellow beans, and broccoli. I wasn’t going to use broccoli, but Eric insisted on it. That boy loves broccoli.

Remove all that from the skillet so the veggies don’t get overcooked. Toast the paste for a few minutes in the now-empty skillet. Heating up the curry paste opens up the flavors of cumin and coriander seeds. It smelled so good ~ warm and spicy and peanuty, but bright and fresh from the lime.

toasting the curry paste — so very fragrant!

Stir in about half a can of light coconut milk and blend with the now-heated spice paste. Once the sauce is all warmed through, toss the tofu & vegetables in and POOF! Dinner is ready. Oh yes, after microwaving the Jasmine rice for 3 minutes!

This was a yummy, easy meal that pushed a couple buttons for me: it was vegetarian for Meatless Monday, the kids were involved with prep every step of the way, it was super healthy and didn’t take too much time out of playing! The lime was crucial for brightness against the peanuts and spices, and the tiny bit of sugar in the paste helped balance all the flavors.


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Cooking with Kids vs. Cooking in a Rush

I love cooking, and am so pleased when my kids want to help me in the kitchen. But every mama knows that kids aren’t always truly helpful, and it takes a real commitment to patience to involve them with meal preparation.  As they get older, they surprise me with what they’re capable of handling in general, but in the kitchen, their role is typically limited to measuring, pouring and stirring ingredients and washing veggies. Anna is also reasonably skilled at cutting soft things (like mushrooms and cucumbers) with a butter knife.

When I was at Disney World for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we had the opportunity to interview Disney chefs and stars about their new Magic of Healthy Living initiative. I’m really impressed with the commitment Disney has made to helping kids and families lead healthier lives. My question for the panel?

“We all know that kids are more likely to eat healthy foods if they are involved in the preparation of the meal. But we also all know that kids in the kitchen aren’t as “helpful” as they think they are. What advice can you share for busy parents who want to involve their kids, but also just need to get dinner on the table?”

I was hoping to hear new ideas of tasks the kids could do that I hadn’t thought of yet. The best piece of advice, however, was a time-saving tip as opposed to a kid-involvement tip. Basically, “Give yourself permission to buy pre-cut, washed veggies.”

What? A shortcut? But that’s cheating! I was raised to not spend money on something that I could do myself. Like chop veggies. Or clean my house. But I’m finding that my time is more valuable to me than the money these days. {Which is why we pay some lovely folks to come clean our house once a week, but that’s another subject.}

Even though I’ve been telling myself it’s acceptable to buy pre-cut veggies, I just haven’t talked myself into it until yesterday. I was having too much fun playing outside with the kids and visiting with my lovely neighbor, and didn’t want to go inside to make dinner until the last minute. A quick trip to Trader Joe’s, and I had all these veggies for our tofu curry creation. In fact, I even bought pre-cooked rice!

With the veggies and rice ready in an instant, it gave the kids and I time to invent a new curry.  It was delicious and fast and best of all, we did it together.

Now that Farmer’s Market season is upon us, most of the veggies I buy will be not only whole, but dirty as well. I’ll need to spend the time each weekend to wash and prep them so we’re ready to go all week. And I’m fully giving myself permission to make other shortcuts, like using the pre-cooked rice.

How about you? Any advice for involving kids in the kitchen? Talking mine into it isn’t my problem, it’s keeping my patience when they do silly things like pour soy sauce all over the freshly heated rice. Yes, that really happened. No, it wasn’t the end of the world.

In good health,

I attended the 2011 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. Although we paid for our own trip to Disney World, the conference fee included 3 nights at the Grand Floridian, the conference and meals for me, several amazing meals for our entire family, park hopper passes for each of us, and some pretty incredible swag items to take home. Disney did not ask me to write about this event, and all opinions are my own.

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