Archives for category: Fun for Kids

Almost any homemade pizza dough recipe article will say that their pizza dough recipe is easier than ordering pizza delivery. Few things in this world are easier than calling and ordering a pizza — I am not going to lie. However, this pizza dough recipe I got from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook is very easy and fun for kids.

You need 5 ingredients:
2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of water
Olive oil for greasing the pan
Toppings of choice


1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly add water to the dry ingredients and mix with a big spoon until incorporated with the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix and don’t knead the dough. You just need to form a ragged mass shaped like a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at least three hours or up to 12 hours.

2. When you are ready, heat the oven to 500 degrees. Oil a rimmed baking pan or iron skillet. Stretch or roll out the dough and press it in the pan or skillet and add toppings. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven.


I got this recipe from Food 52. Their recipe melted extra chocolate and almonds as a topping but I didn’t think that was necessary.


1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 natural unsweetened almond butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups. rice cereal


Line an 8X8 square pan or pie plate with wax paper. In a large saucepan, bring the maple and rice syrup to a boil for 1 minute — stir frequently. Remove from heat and add the other ingredients (except the cereal). Fold the rice cereal in at the end. Press into pan and let set for 2 hours or set in the refrigerator for 1hour.



This is a super easy way to make pizza at home. Heat the oven to 475 degrees. Oil an iron skillet. Press your favorite pizza dough into the skillet (I like Trader Joe’s dough). Add your toppings and cheese. Place in the bottom shelf of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Let the pizza cool for 5 minutes and then serve.


Homemade Mac and Cheese is a bit time-consuming; so, you have to plan ahead. But, it is really easy to make and really delicious.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish or other large baking vessel with butter.

2. Grate 2 1/2 to 3 cups or so of your favorite cheese (the more cheese the cheesier your mac and cheese will be) — cheddar, jack, mozzarella are all good choices. Feel free to use a combination of cheeses.

3. Fill a pot with water and some salt. Boil water. Add about a pound of your favorite pasta. Cook according to instructions on the pasta box. Drain pasta and set aside.

4. While to pasta cooks, add 2 tablespoons of butter to a medium-sized saucepan. When it melts, add 2 tablespoons of flour. Cook the flour on medium-low heat for a few minutes. Add 2 cups of non fat or whole milk. Simmer for 15 minutes. Take off heat and add 2/3 of the grated cheese.

5. Combine cheese sauce and pasta in the a large bowl or the pot you used to boil the pasta. Add half the mixture to you baking dish. Sprinkle some grated cheese on it. Add the rest of the pasta and cheese mixture. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

I love the Pioneer Woman!  If you have not seen her blog, food network tv show, or cookbooks, I highly recommend that you check them out.  I like her recipes because they are good, easy, and she shows you step-by-step how to prepare the food.  On her blog she posted this recipe that she called, “Tortilla rollups.”  To me, they look like sushi if it were turned into a sandwich.  These are super easy to make, healthy, and really cute.  I am always looking for a quick lunch or snack recipe; and, this works well for both.  These take about 10 minutes to make and can be modified based on what you have in your fridge — as long as you have tortillas and cream cheese (or some other sticky spread like peanut butter, hummus, goat cheese, etc.).

So, first cut your veggies into matchsticks.  I used carrots, cucumbers, and turkey the first time I made these rolls.  I used carrot, cucumber, turkey, and avocado the second time.  Avocado was really good and held the roll together.

Spread cream cheese (or hummus, or peanut butter, etc.) on a large tortilla.

Place veggies, turkey, or whatever you have on the side of the tortilla.  The Pioneer Woman placed her filling in the center of the tortilla.  I tried that method and it worked as well.  The idea is to get a lot of filling into the tortilla (without breaking the tortilla) so that it is nice and round when you slice it into rolls.

Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can — like when you roll up your sleeping bag to try to get it back into that tiny sack it came  in — that tight.  At this point, The Pioneer Woman put it in the refrigerator for one hour.  I don’t usually have one hour to wait; so, I tried refrigerating it for 30 minutes — that worked well.  I also made one roll that I didn’t refrigerate at all — that worked as well.  But, if you have time, stick it in the fridge for a little while.  The roll is firmer and sticks together better if it has been refrigerated.

Slice into pieces.

Enjoy!  Feel free to improvise based on what you have in your fridge.  Let me know if you come up with some good combinations.

Sandwich Sushi

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman


Soft cream cheese

Large flour tortillas (1 tortilla makes 6 rolls)

Turkey, shredded or thinly sliced length-wise

1 carrot (per roll), peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 cucumber (per roll), seeds scraped out and cut into matchsticks

1 avocado (per roll), sliced

Spread cream cheese on to a tortilla.  Add veggies and meat to the side or the middle.  Roll tightly and wrap in plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes – 1 hour.  Slice into 6 pieces.

My son isn’t a very good eater.  I read this article in the New York Times about this woman who lets her sons pick a dish to cook once a week.  I thought that might be a good way to get him to eat more.  I was reading Food 52 digest and I came across a recipe for baked pasta with cheese and tomatoes.  I modified the recipe to make it more pleasing to a young palate  — I took out the gorgonzola and added more mozzarella cheese so it would be gooier.  I discussed the recipe with my young chef and he approved.

The other thing I liked about this recipe is that children can make most of this dish with a bit of adult help. First, we boiled 1/2 pound of penne — any other short noodles would work. I drained the pasta. Meanwhile, the Junior Chef mixed a cup of cream, 1 cup of chopped canned tomatoes, 1/2 bag of Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio mix which equals 6 ounces of a mix of shredded parmesan, asiago, fontina, and provolone), 1/4 pound of thinly sliced mozzarella cheese, and a pinch of salt.  We poured the mixture into a small baking pan and let it cook at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Junior Chef dotted the top with some butter and a bit more sliced mozzarella.

I took it out of the oven after the cheese looked bubbly and light brown.

The Chef was very pleased with his work.

I really enjoyed cooking with my son.  It was nice for him to have something to do while I was making dinner.  And, he was very proud that he could make dinner.  I may make this a weekly event.  Maybe next week, I can convince him to put some more vegetables into the lasagna — maybe some spinach or broccoli.  We’ll see.

Crazy Mixed-Up Lasagna

Adapted from Food 52 — Al Forno’s Penne with Tomato,Cream & Five Cheeses

Serves 4 (can easily be doubled)


1 cup of heavy cream

1 cup of chopped canned tomatoes in heavy puree

6 ounces of a mixture of shredded asiago, fontina, provolone (like Quattro Formaggio from Trader Joe’s)

2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese

1/4 pound thinly sliced mozzarella cheese

a pinch of kosher salt

1/2 pound penne

2 tablespoons of butter, sliced thinly

1.  Heat oven to 500 degrees.

2.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3.  In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the pasta and butter.  Reserve a few slices of mozzarella.  Stir well to combine.

4.  Cook the pasta according to instructions on the box.  Drain the pasta and add it to the mixing bowl, toss to combine.

5.  Place mixture in a small baking dish.  Dot with butter and the reserved mozzarella, and bake until brown and bubbly on top, 10-12 minutes.  Keep on an eye on this while it is baking; because, baking times may vary.

This week the Edamamemonster visited a local preschool to do some cooking with a classroom of 2-3 year olds.  I tried to find a good recipe; but, it is hard to find a recipe that children this young can do by themselves.  So, I invented fruit pizza.  The idea is to spread some low-fat cream cheese on a tortilla, add some finely chopped fruit, and sprinkle with shredded coconut and/or sesame seeds.  Then, a grown up helper can cut the pizza into slices.

I used low-fat cream cheese (you could also use strawberry cream cheese or other flavors to add flavor and color).  I finely chopped strawberries, grapes, and watermelon.  I also put out blueberries.  The kids had a lot of fun!  They were really proud that they could make a pizza all by themselves.

The fruit pizza can easily become a fruit burrito by rolling it up.  This is a fun and safe activity for preschoolers.  I think older kids would also have fun making this healthy snack.

Fruit Pizza


Finely chopped fruit

Shredded coconut

Sesame seeds


Cream Cheese


Paper plates

Plastic knives

Saran wrap

Masking tape or stickers (to write names on)

Permanent Marker


1.  Put the cream cheese containers on a table with a plastic knife in each container.  Put the fruit into bowls and put them on the table.  Put the shredded coconut into bowls.  Put spoons in all the bowls so that the children can take the fruit, coconut, etc out and put it on their pizza.  Put a paper plate on the table for each children.  Place a tortilla on each paper plate.

2.  Let the children put the cream cheese on their tortillas and put fruit, coconut, and sesame seeds on their “pizza.”    Take a knife and cut the pizza into slices.  Put the child’s name on a sticker or masking tape on his/her plate.  Cover with Saran Wrap.

I couldn’t avoid making Matzo Brei this year.  The editor of Bon Appetit had an article about it.  Then, the grocery stores started stocking matzo for Passover.  I couldn’t resist.  Matzo by itself is pretty bland; but, if you add a bit of egg, fry it in a bit of vegetable oil, and sprinkle some sugar on top, it is really good.  I used the recipe from Bon Appetit; because, I don’t have a written recipe.  My Bubbie didn’t believe in using measuring cups or spoons or writing recipes down.  The Bon Appetit recipe makes a pancake type of fried matzo.  My Bubbie and my Mom made more of a scrambled matzo; so, that is what I did.

I took 5 matzos, ripped them into 1/2 inch pieces, and soaked them in hot water for 30 seconds.  This was enough for 4 people. If you want to make more just add more matzos.  I then beat 5 eggs (you need one egg per sheet of matzo) in a large bowl and added a bit of salt.  I drained the matzo and added it to the egg and salt to form a chunky batter.

I heated 2 tablespoons of vegetables oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Then, added the matzo batter in a single layer.  The rest of the process is very similar to scrambling eggs.  Let the batter sit for a minute or so and then keep stirring until the egg is cooked.

Top with sugar, jam, maple syrup — whatever you like.  We always had sugar sprinkled on ours.  I guess I don’t use sugar very often; because, when my daughter ate her matzo she said, “Mama, this salt tastes really good.”


Matzo Brei

from Bon Appetit Magazine, April 2012

4 servings


5 matzos

5 eggs


2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

sugar, maple syrup, or jam for drizzling on top

1.  Break the matzo into 1/2 inch pieces and soak in hot water for 30 seconds.  Drain the matzo.

2.  Beat 5 eggs in a large bowl, season with a bit of salt.  Add drained matzo to the bowl; mix until combined and a wet batter forms.

3.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the matzo mixture in a single layer.  Let the matzo mixture set for a minute or so.  Then stir around the mixture until the egg looks cooked.  Sprinkle with sugar, jam, or syrup.  Serve.

I know this isn’t an authentic Mexican recipe.  The inspiration for this dinner came from the fact that my son would rather eat at Chipotle then eat anything I cook.  So, I decided to try to bring Chipotle home.  First, I wanted to figure out how they make their rice.  I was shocked when I saw my son scarfing down the rice at Chipotle; because, it has cilantro in it (yes, green things)!  I searched the internet and found the recipe  This website has (unofficial) recipes for all the food at Chipotle.  The rice recipe was basically a pilaf with a lot of lime and cilantro.  I took this information and just adjusted the rice pilaf recipe I make from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.

I started by getting my chicken in the oven.  I rinsed the chicken, tied its legs with kitchen twine, and then lathered it with butter and a spice rub that I got from Martha Stewart’s Great Food Fast.  The rub had chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, oregano, and kosher salt. I roasted it at 425 for an hour.  Many cooks and chefs believe that chicken is done when a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees.  I have read various things regarding the temperature a chicken needs to be before it is considered done.  The U.S. government states that it must be 180 degrees at the thigh.  This means that the breast is way overdone.  Martha Stewart’s book says that the temperature should be 160 degrees at the thigh for the chicken to be done.  I have followed Martha’s advice and it has served me well.  You can also just cut into the chicken and see if it is cooked all the way.  This will cause the loss of some of the chicken’s juices and will lead to a drier chicken.

Back to the meal.  Then, I got to work on my rice.  I have a rice cooker; so, making perfect rice is really easy.  I just melted some butter, coated the rice in the butter, then added fresh lime juice, water, salt.  When the rice was done,  I added a ton of minced fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice and salt to taste.  I closed the lid and let the rice steam with the added cilantro and lime.  I highly recommend investing in a rice cooker.  I use mine several times a week for sushi rice, pilaf, etc.  It is the one way to make perfect rice with a minimal amount of effort.

To complete the meal — I chopped up some avocado, drained a can of pinto beans, added some pico de gallo.  I sprinkled some chopped cilantro over the plates for the adults.  This rice bowl was easy to make and delicious!  I like this kind of dinner with children; because, they can pick what they want to put in their rice bowl.  You can add different kinds of steamed or roasted vegetables to make this more nutritious and add some variety.  You can also use different types of beans.  A variety of color and texture can help to get a child  (or picky grown up) to eat a healthy meal.

Also — do not be afraid to roast a chicken.  I was freaked out by an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they made roasting a chicken seem like a feat that only Thomas Keller could pull off.  But, then I discovered Martha Stewart’s method and I have successfully roasted many chickens.  It is very easy and really delicious.  A good quality chicken roasted at home is a real treat.  Try it.  If you need help let me know.  I am an experience chicken roasting coach — I can walk you through it.

Mexican style roast chicken

Adapted from Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart

Chile Rub (optional)

Mix the following ingredients in a small bowl:

1 tablespoon of chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed and patted dry

2 tablespoons of butter, at room temperature

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen twine (tuck the wings under the chicken, if desired, for a neater presentation.  Place the chicken on a rack set in a roasting pan.

2.  Rub the chicken with butter.  Season with the chile rub or just salt and pepper  Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees (see note above regarding cooking temperatures) when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding bone), 45 minutes – 1 hour.

Cilantro & Lime Rice (for a rice cooker)

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups of long-grain white rice (such as basmati)

2 3/4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 limes

1/4 cup or more fresh cilantro, minced

1.  Set the rice cooker for Quick Cook or regular cycle.  Place the butter in the rice bowl.  When melted, add the rice.  Cook, stirring a few times, until are the grains are evenly coated and hot, about 5 minutes.  Add the water, the juice of 1 lime, and salt.  Close the cover and reset for the regular cycle.

2.  When the machine switches to the Keep Warm cycle, open the cover and add the rest of the lime juice and the cilantro.  Close the cover and let the rice steam for a few minutes.  When ready to serve, fluff the rice and add salt to taste.

Cilantro & Lime Rice for the stovetop

1 cup of basmati rice

1 1/2 cups of water

1 tablespoon of butter

2 limes

1/4 cup of cilantro

1 teaspoon of kosher salt (or more to taste)

1.  Heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat.  Melt the butter and add the rice.  Coat the rice in the butter and let it heat up for about 5 minutes.  Add the water and salt.  Bring the heat up to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for 12-14 minutes.

2.  Remove from heat and let stand cover for 5-10 minutes.  Add the cilantro and remaining lime juice cover and let steam for a few more minutes.  Add salt to taste.

To Make the Mexican Rice Bowl

Add some chicken, some rice, diced avocado, drained canned pinto beans, and pico de gallo to a bowl.  You can also add other vegetables or other types of beans.  Sprinkle some chopped cilantro over the top.

I have been experimenting with various skillet mac and cheese recipes.  My goal was to find a recipe that is as easy or easier then the stuff in the box.  I was discussing my quest with my friend (and co-conspirator in the kitchen) Eva.  She said that she just puts cream cheese and shredded cheese on hot pasta to make a mac and cheese for her daughter.  Based on this information, I went to the internet and searched for recipes that had pasta and cream cheese and I stumbled upon a recipe on that made a sauce for pasta by putting milk, parmesan cheese, and cream cheese in the microwave.  The microwave!  I always forget to use my microwave.  So, I took the recipe, tweaked it a bit, and created this recipe that is so easy that a 3 year old can make it in 10 minutes or less (depending on the cooking time for the pasta).

First, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.  Put the pasta of your choice in the pot of boiling water and cook it according to the instructions on the box.  I prefer small shapes like macaroni, shells, bow ties, etc.  Then, put 6-8 ounces of cream cheese in a medium-size bowl with 3/4 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, and about 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Put the cheese mixture in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  The sauce should look smooth and creamy.

At this point, I add a bit more shredded cheddar cheese and stir it into the sauce.  This isn’t necessary; but, I am a cheese freak and I like my mac and cheese extra cheesy.  When the pasta is ready — drain it.

Pour the cheese sauce over the hot pasta and stir well.


The only problem with this recipe is that it may be too good and too easy.  I find myself making it at odd hours of the day when no one else is around.  And, when I am not making it — I am thinking about making it.  So, be careful!

10 Minute Mac & Cheese


6-8 ounces of cream cheese, cubed

3/4 cup of milk (I use non fat)

1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1- 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1 pound of pasta (preferably small shapes)


1.  Boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta according to instructions on the packaging.

2.  Put cream cheese, milk, parmesan cheese, and 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Check the sauce after 1 1/2 minutes to make sure it isn’t overcooked.  When the sauce is smooth and creamy take it out of the microwave.  Stir in more shredded cheddar cheese to taste.

3.  Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir well.