Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

Audrey and her mom received many cookbooks for Christmas and are very eager to try them out. Audrey's favorite is Sesame Street Yummy Cookies Baking with Kids and her mom's is Cooking Rocks! 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray.

They will start using the books as soon as the leftovers run out and publish their reviews.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One Day Late

Tuesday has been moved to Wednesday. Audrey will cook her famous Oven Fried Chicken for the entire family tonight.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

Tonight's meal was good and easy to prepare but it turned out to be more than a two-year-old cared to complete. Audrey tired of making the cheese sauce half-way through but was thrilled to put the bread crumbs and extra cheese on top at the end.
This recipe comes from The Parenting Cookbook
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup  milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp grated cheese
  • 1/2 pound dried macaroni
  • 1 tsp oil or butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Grate cheese (she still loves her food processor)
  2. Stir sauce
  3. Place noddles in water
  4. Grease dish
  5. Stir cooked noddles in dish
  6. Place cheese and bread crumbs on top
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Help with the sauce
  2. Boil water and help Audrey add noddles
  3. Heat oven
  4. Drain noodles and place in dish
  5. Place sauce over noodles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the flour and stir to create a paste. Let cook about 1 minute, or until golden brown. Slowly add the milk, a bit at a time, whisking until you have a smooth sauce. Let cook about 5 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slowly add the 1/2 cup of grated cheese and keep warm over very low heat.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add the macaroni and cook about 8 minutes, or until just tender. (Do not overcook or the pasta will start to fall apart.) Drain the pasta
Grease a medium ovenproof skillet or casserole with the teaspoon of oil or butter. Add the drained macaroni and toss gently with the sauce, stirring well to coat all the pasta. Sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs and the remaining 2 tbsps of cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling.

Menu for Dec. 21-27

Audrey will spend most of this week with relatives and will not have many meals at home. She will, however, help with many of the holiday meals and those pictures will be posted as time allows.

Monday - Macaroni and Cheese
Tuesday - Tomato-Chicken Stew

Both come from The Parenting Cookbook.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shepard's Pie

This was not a good meal for Audrey to cook as she was able to do little more than help chop the vegetables. Her family enjoyed the results but her mother was a little overwhelmed at the amount of work left to complete. Audrey is still enjoying her food processor and it goes in the dishwasher so there is little problem with cleanup. The recipe comes from The Healthy Baby Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel.
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups lean ground beef
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp catsup
  • 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper
Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Chop the onion, carrots, and potatoes
  2. Place in the pot to cook
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Everything else
    Fry the chopped onion, bell pepper, and parsley in the oil until softened. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown the ground meat. Stir meat into the onion mixture and add broth, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, and seasoning. Cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in the butter and add these to the meat when it is cooked.
    To make the topping, boil the potato in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender. Mash them together with half the butter, the milk, and some salt and pepper. Spread over the meat either in one large dish or in four individual dishes, then cook in an oven preheated to 350F for 10 minutes. Dot the top with the remaining butter and put under a hot broiler for about 3 minutes or until golden.


    Audrey did not cook last night because of last minute out of town guests. She took everyone out for Mexican instead. However, to make up for it, with the help of her dad, she cooked breakfast for the family. They used a simple mix to make pancakes and added scrambled eggs and orange juice for an easy breakfast.

    Here are a few photos:

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Hawaiian Pizza

    Tonight was another successful cooking adventure for Audrey and her mom. Audrey had her friend Donovan over for dinner tonight and he helped make the pizzas as well. They made homemade pizza dough in the new food processor and then added the toppings themselves. Before tonight Audrey had never made anything with yeast other than in the bread machine so she was a little nervous (maybe that was her mom) but it was very easy.

    The recipe for the pizza dough comes from The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczn.

    Thick and Chewy Pizza Dough
    • 1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)
    • 1 package (1 tbsp) dry yeast
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 2 cups flour (Audrey used the Cornell Mix from Whole Foods for the Whole Family by La Leche League International)
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    Audrey's (and Donovan's) Tasks:
    1. Put ingredients for dough in food processor
    2. Pat out pizza dough
    3. Spread sauce on dough
    4. Place toppings on pizza
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. Assemble ingredients
    2. Place dough ball in bowl to rise
    3. Preheat oven
    4. Flour pizza pan
    5. Help Audrey (and Donovan) pat out pizza and put on toppings
    6. Remove pizza from oven
    For Dough:
    Combine 1/4 cup of the water with the yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve the yeast, and let stand until bubbly, about five minutes. Pour the flour, oil, and salt into a food processor, and process about five seconds with a steel blade (Audrey used the dough blade.) Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, and process about 10 seconds, or until blended. Turn in the processor and drizzle just enough of the remaining water through the feed tube so the dough forms a ball that cleans the sides of the bowl. Process so that the ball turns around about 25 times. Put the dough ball onto a 14-inch greased pan or large cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap or a bowl, and let stand 10 minutes. Pat the dough out so that it covers the pan, leaving a ridge on the edges. Spread with toppings and bake at 425 for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.

    Audrey had several friends over for dinner and they all loved her pizza. It was so easy they made two so there would be enough to go around.

    Thursdays Off

    Audrey is spending the night with her grandma and will be making spritz cookies with her grandpa. Her mom will be eating leftovers.

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Holiday Cookies

    Audrey made holiday cookies for her mother's girl friends. It was very easy. Her mother first froze the dough and sliced it. Then Audrey put mini M&Ms on top. Only a few M&Ms never made it to the cookies. It is a quick and easy way for the little ones to participate in holiday baking.

    Spicy Black Bean-Corn Casserole

    This recipe is from Cooking Light Slow Cooker
    • 3 tbsp diced green chiles, divided
    • 1/2 cup salsa
    • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
    • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 (11-ounce) can corn with red and green bell peppers, drained
    • 1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
    • 1/2 cup egg substitute
    • 1 (81/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix
    • 2 tbsp chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers
    • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat Mexican blend or Cheddar cheese
    • 6 tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
    • 1 1/2 tsp thinly sliced fresh cilantro
    Audrey's Tasks:
    1. Chop onion in food processor
    2. Place items in crock pot
    3. Stir corn bread mixture and help place over casserole
    4. Add cheese on top
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. Assemble ingredients
    2. Open cans and rinse beans
    3. Get onion ready to chop
    4. Help Audrey get everything in crock pot
    5. Add egg to corn bread mixture
    Place 2 tbsp green chiles and next 6 ingredients in a 3 1/2-quart electric slow cooker; stir well. Cover and cook on LOW 4 hours.
    Combine remaining 1 tbsp green chiles, egg substitute, muffin mix, and roaster red bell peppers in a bowl. Spoon batter evenly over bean mixture in cooker. Cover and cook 1 hour or until corn bread is done.
    Sprinkle cheese over corn bread. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Top each serving with sour cream; sprinkle with cilantro.

    When it came time to assemble the ingredients for the corn bread stage of this recipe Audrey told her mom she was cooking dinner. Apparently she thought her mom was trying to take over. Another great meal.

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Roasted Chicken with Brown Sugar glazed Carrots

    Tonight's dinner is loosely based on the roasted chicken recipe found in Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.
    • 2-3 lbs chicken
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp butter, melted
    • 1 tbsp herbs of your preference (Audrey used oregano, basil and thyme)
    • 2 tsp garlic powder
    • salt and pepper to taste
    For Carrots
    • 1 lb carrots, sliced
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1 tbsp brown sugar
    Audrey's Tasks:
    1. mix ingredients
    2. brush chicken with sauce
    3. chop carrots
    4. place carrots in pot
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. preheat oven
    2. put chicken in pan
    3. assemble ingredients
    4. put chicken in oven
    5. help Audrey with food processor
    6. cook carrots and glaze
    Preheat oven to 375. Mix remainder of ingredients for chicken in a bowl. Brush chicken with sauce and bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through.
    Meanwhile, place sliced carrots in a pot of water and cook on medium-high until tender. Drain and allow butter and sugar to melt over top.

    Audrey really is getting a sense of accomplishment from these dinners. She proudly tells her parents that she made dinner and then she even eats many of the items she cooks. This was another easy meal to prepare and it turned out wonderful. The food processor made short work of chopping carrots and was a big hit with Audrey.

    Very helpful

    Audrey's mom found an inexpensive food processor to assist in cooking with Audrey. They tested it by shredding the cheese for Friday night's pizza. It was a success. Her mom found the processor at the local Dillon's (Kroger) grocery store but if you do not have one close by there is a link to purchase it from on the left. They plan to use the processor to chop vegetables, shred cheese, and maybe even make pizza dough. It comes with chop, shred, slice, and dough disks. The 10-cup capacity means it is large enough to make a pizza crust in. Audrey is very happy with the purchase.

    Monday, December 14, 2009


    This recipe is from Moosewood Cookbook, New Revised Edition by Mollie Katzen
    • 1 batch Italian Tomato Sauce (pg 80) (Audrey used canned)
    • 12 lasagna noodles, half-cooked
    • 1 1/2 to 2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
    • 1lb grated or thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
    • at least 1/2 cup grated parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese
    Audrey's Tasks:
    1. slice cheese
    2. spread sauce in pan and help assemble lasagna
    3. sprinkle parmesan cheese on top
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. preheat oven
    2. assemble ingredients
    3. help Audrey assemble lasagna
    4. put lasagna in oven
    Preheat oven to 375. Spread a little sauce over the bottom of the pan. Cover with a single layer of noodles (1/3 of them. Break as necessary to fit.) Place mounds of cottage cheese here and there. Use half. Add 1/3 the sauce, followed by 1/2 mozzerella, randomly scattered, then another 1/3 the noodles, and the remaining cottage cheese, followed by another 1/3 the sauce, which gets covered by the remaining mozzarella. Add every last noodle, and the final sauce. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top. Bake for 45 minutes. Cover loosely with foil toward the end of the baking, if it is getting too brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

    Audrey had a lot of fun with this recipe, especially slicing the cheese with a cheese slicer. Her mom had to guide her a bit about the placement of ingredients but other than that it was an easy recipe for her to make. Audrey's dad really liked this meal even though he does not like meatless dishes (something about Hitler and Mondays.)

    Menu for Dec. 14-20

    Audrey's Plan:

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    Plan B

    Always have a Plan B for those days when the children are too much or you have a headache. The best Plan B is to make daddy cook dinner. Understand that you cannot criticize him for feeding the children boxed macaroni and cheese and cookies.
    Audrey's mom took the night off. Audrey spent the evening with her dad.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Chicken and Broccoli Pizza

    Chicken and Broccoli Pizza by Audrey and her mom
    • Pizza crust, purchased or homemade
    • Alfredo sauce
    • cooked chicken, diced
    • frozen chopped broccoli
    • red onion, diced
    • shredded cheese

    Audrey's Tasks:
    1. help spread sauce on crust
    2. place toppings on top of sauce
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. chop ingredients
    2. preheat oven to 450
    3. place pizza in oven
    There is not much to this recipe. Place items of your liking on pizza, in the amounts you desire. Bake until cheese is melted and toppings are heated through.

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    A night off for Audrey's mom

    Audrey is spending the night with her grandma and grandpa so she will not be home for dinner. Last week she made meatloaf with her grandpa and there will be a picture of that posted soon. Her mom will find out what she is cooking tonight and post it later. Instead of cooking tonight it looks like dinner out for Audrey's parents (a belated anniversary dinner.) Audrey will save the Egg Brunch for another week.

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    Sans Culotte

    Why yes she is wearing an apron and no pants. She insisted on the apron so she could make dinner. Her mom is not certain what happened to the pants.

    Tomato Lentil Soup

    This recipe is from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two by Beth Hensperger.
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 ounces pancetta, chopped
    • 3/4 cup lentils
    • 1 small onion, finely chopped
    • 1 carrot, diced
    • 1 stalk celery, diced
    • 4 cups water
    • 2 tbsp tomato paste
    • 1/2 bay leaf
    • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
    • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
    • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
    • 1 to 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
    Audrey's task:
    1. put everything in the crock pot
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. chop veggies
    2. measure ingredients
    3. turn on crock pot
    In a medium-size skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until translucent, 5 minutes.
    Place lentils, onion, carrot, celery, water, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme into the slow cooker. Use a heat-resistant rubber spatula to scrape the pancetta into the crock; stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours, until the lentils are completely soft.
    Season the soup with the salt and pepper, then add the vinegar, starting with 1 tbsp and adding more if desired. Serve hot.

    Audrey's grandparents joined her for this meal so the recipe was doubled. It was received well by all except Audrey's dad who does not like lentils. The key, as was pointed out by Audrey's grandma, is the vinegar. Audrey's mom forgot to add it and Audrey's grandma took one bite and said it was needed. Also, apple cider was used instead of red wine because that was all that was on hand. This goes on the secondary list of meals to serve when Audrey's dad is not eating with her. To accompany the meal Audrey made her Italian herb bread in the bread machine and her grandparents brought a salad.

    Who is coming to dinner?

    Audrey and her mom had just finished putting the items in the crock pot for tonight's dinner when they learned that her grandma and grandpa would be joining them for dinner. Audrey hope they enjoy her cooking as much as her parents do. Audrey and her mom will post the recipe, tips and feedback after dinner but her mom just has to say that this was by far the easiest meal they have prepared. Even easier than last night. Audrey knew that she was to take the items in the measuring cups and pour then into the pot. With a crock pot meal it does not matter in what order items go in so her mom could let her just grab and pour. After nap they will run to the store to grab a salad mix and maybe a crusty bread.

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Oven Fried Chicken

    This recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.
    • 3 cups cornflakes or 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
    • 1 tsp dried herbs
    • 2lbs chicken pieces
    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    Mix crushed cornflakes or bread crumbs with herbs. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Brush chicken with melted butter. Roll chicken in coating mixture. In a 13x9 pan arrange chicken so that pieces do not touch. Drizzle any remaining butter over chicken. Bake in a 375 oven for 45 to 55 minutes.

    Audrey's tasks:
    1. crush cornflakes or process bread crumbs
    2. measure herbs
    3. brush chicken with butter
    4. pour breading on chicken
    5. put chicken in pan
    Mom's tasks:
    1. heat oven
    2. melt butter
    3. help with bread crumbs or crush corn flakes
    4. measure herbs
    5. place chicken in oven
    Audrey and her mom found that putting too many pieces of bread in the blender caused it to not work well. After shredding Audrey was able to place the bread crumbs on the chicken with a small spoon. This was by far the easiest task Audrey and her mom have completed to date. Audrey proudly told her dad that she made the chicken when he came home for dinner. They did not get a picture this time because they were too wrapped up in what they were doing.

    A quick tip

    Our dinner last night was a great learning experience for Audrey and her mom. They found that the chopper they wanted to use in order for Audrey to help prep did not work anymore. It is believed to just be old. Until they are able to afford the nice food processor shown at the left they will just replace the chopper with one similar to this one found on Amazon. Any other tips for having little hands help would be much appreciated.

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Macaroni & Cheese Lite

    This recipe is from Moosewood Cookbook, New Revised Edition by Mollie Katzen. Audrey and her mom altered it a bit to accommodate their likes. Here is the update:
    • 2 cups pasta
    • 1 tbs butter
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 1 tsp minced garlic
    • small can mushrooms
    • 2 cups chopped frozen broccoli
    • 2 cups frozen cauliflower
    • 1 cup cottage cheese
    • 1/4 cup yogurt
    • 1 tsp dried dill
    • 2 cups grated cheese
    Audrey's tasks:
    1. help chop onion and grate cheese
    2. pour pasta into measuring cups and then place in boiling water
    3. stir the items as they saute
    4. stir everything together
    Mom's tasks:
    1. gather and prep
    2. boil water and preheat oven
    3. grease 13x9
    4. saute
    5. pour items into a bowl & stir
    6. place in a pan and bake
    Here are the instructions:
    Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 13x9 baking dish. Cook the pasta until just barely tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet, and add the onions. After 5 minutes add mushrooms and other vegetables. When almost tender add the garlic, cook for a few more minutes and them remove from heat. Add to the pasta. Stir in cottage cheese, yogurt, dill, and half the cheddar. Spread into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar and bake 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through.

    The plan to have Audrey help with the onions fell through when the chopper did not work. It was also tough to have her help grate cheese because she could not put enough pressure on the grater with the turn handle. She also wanted to pick the individual pieces of broccoli out with her fingers and throw them at the saute pan. All in all it was an easy recipe to make and it received good ratings from the family.

    Sunday, December 6, 2009

    Menu for Dec 7-13

    We are back in Lawrence and now we have a plan. What remains to be seen is whether or not Audrey and I can pull it off. Here is the general layout:
    • Meatless Mondays
    • Chicken Tuesdays
    • Crock Pot Wednesdays
    • Breakfast Thursdays
    • Friday Night Pizzas
    • Leftover Saturdays
    • Sunday Casseroles
    The menu this week is as follows:
    • Mac -N- Cheese Lite
    • Oven Fried Chicken
    • Tomato Lentil Soup
    • Egg Brunch
    • Broccoli and Chicken Pizza
    • Leftovers (or sandwiches)
    • Shepard's Pie
    These recipes are not of my invention but I will be making them over to allow for assistance of little hands. Audrey will not be able to do everything but she will help in every way possible. I am going to try to let her do some actual cooking and not just dropping ingredients into a pot. Another hope is that these recipes are easy to prepare and good to eat. Wish us luck!

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    A Plan

    Because of Audrey's recent birthday and party she has not been able to get in the kitchen much. She helped her Papa make meatloaf and I have been promised pictures which I will upload soon. After our return to Lawrence we will start working on more dinner options and a few more Christmas gifts. Audrey will start helping with the evening meals on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Her Danya keeps her Tuesday afternoon allowing her mom to prepare items for cooking and Wednesdays will become crock pot days. Friday will be a special Audrey centered meal such as pizza, pasta, or chicken. She loves to put the toppings on pizza, help stir the pasta sauce, and will be able to add ingredients to the chicken dishes. Maybe soon she can help with every meal.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Chicken and Pasta

    Audrey cooked dinner for her family tonight. She poured the sauce over the chicken, added beans, and tomatoes. The chicken was already in the pan and the pasta did not go into the pot until she had moved on to another activity. She really enjoys being a part of making the meals even if her contribution is small. The only item she consumed at dinner was the chicken she helped cook. This is likely more to do with taste but there are many days she wants to eat nothing on her plate. We are going to start working on these meals to find ways she can help. This is a picture of her stirring the sauce to mix all the herbs and onions.


    The bread has emerged and it was not a success. I believed we cooked it too long and did not grease the pan enough. However, the resulting lump was just tasty enough to think we should try it again. This time with less sugar and raisins.
    Next we will show our chocolate covered peppermint sticks and explain how to set up the project for little hands to help.


    I am having problems posting pictures in the story so here they are in a seperate post. If I continue to have problems I may change this blog to another format.

    Green Tea Bread

    Audrey and I made Green Tea Bread from Super Foods for Children, a British cookbook published by DK. I mention this because many of the recipes are a bit different than those found in American cookbooks. Green tea is one of the last things I would think to put in a quick bread but the recipe sounded good. First we put the raisins to soak in the tea and brown sugar. This ended up causing problems when we went to add the fruit to the bowl as the sugar had settled to the bottom of the bowl overnight and clumped together. Other than that it was an easy recipe to follow. It is cooking in the oven right now so we cannot speak to the flavor of Green Tea Bread. Here is the recipe:
    12 oz raisins
    1 1/2 cups green tea
    1 cup soft brown sugar
    2 cups whole wheat flour
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 egg
    1 tsp mixed spice
    grated zest of 1 lemon
    3 oz chopped mixed nuts
    • Put the dried fruit in a large bowl and stir in the tea and sugar. Cover and set aside to soak overnight.
    • Next day, preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 2lb loaf pan.
    • Add the remaining ingredients to the dried fruit mixture and beat well. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan, pushing the mixture into the corners of the pan.
    • Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Turn the bread out of the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

    Audrey and I will post tips and ideas as soon as we taste the bread and rate the recipe.