Tag Archives: cooking with kids

Kid Food: Salty Pretzel Dogs & Sweet Coconut Soup

IMG_5144[2]What’s more kid friendly than a cooking project that doubles as dinner?  In my book, nothing.  Tonight we had pretzel dogs with coconut squash soup.  The mix of the sweet soup with the salty dog was divine enough to keep my taste buds happy while also providing that added mix of comfort.  Comfort food – yay!

Creating this perfectly simple dinner is even more fun when you hit rewind.  It all started with making the pretzel dough.  (Sorry friends, yes, I am still obsessing about pretzels).  B and CJ were involved from this point on.  The ingredients are few and simple.  The process provides short bursts at a time that are perfect for the attention span of my active brutes.

There is activating the yeast. Pouring, stirring and waiting for bubbles.  Each part captivating for young chefs.  Next there is creating the dough.  Followed by kneading.  Then, letting the dough rise.  Followed by shaping.  If your lil ones are playdough junkies, then they’ll love this. Why not make a pretzel in the shape of their favorite animal or superhero?

Frankly B’s favorite part was shaping the pretzels; whereas CJ’s was tasting everything.  Ahh yes, I’m proud to say he gets it from me.

While you are letting the dough rise, throw a pumpkin, preferably kabocha or a butternut squash in the oven and let it cook.  You can later use the baked pumpkin or squash to create a yummy soup.

Want to try it out? Here’s my adaptation of the Pretzel bite recipe.  Thank you Epicurious for getting me started on this!

Pretzel Dough

  • 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°F)
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter melted
  • oil for bowl

Hot dogs

  • Will make 6 bun length hot dogs or 8 shorter ones

Baking Pretzels

  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • kosher salt

Squash Soup

  • 1 kobacha pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 1 can of light coconut milk

Making the Dough

Add yeast to water.  Make sure the water is the right temperature.  Mix.  Add the sugar.  Let sit until yeast is activated.  You’ll know when it is frothy and bubbly.  If it doesn’t bubble, then toss it out and start over.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.  Then, four a work surface.  Knead dough until elastic.  This takes a few minutes.  It’s great for little hands.  But be forewarned that this is fun, yet messy process.
Frankly I loved the impromptu visitor while I was in the middle of this.  Coated in flour and sticky hands – yes, my kitchen and I (not to mention the boys) were in quite a state.
I digress.  After the dough is elastic, get out a bowl or a larger tubberware – lightly coat in in oil.  I use Canola or Olive Oil.  place dough in it, turn it over so it’s coated.  Then cover with a kitchen towel.  Let it rise until it is at least doubled in volume.
Starting the Soup
While the dough is rising, bake your squash.  You can bake it whole if you like, or cut it in half and take out the seeds.  Either way works.  It takes about an hour in an oven at 375 degrees.  You’ll know it is done when the squash is soft.  Once soft, then let sit and cool.
Baking the Dogs
Once it has risen, then (1) preheat the oven to 375 and (2) boil a pot of water with 1/2 cup of baking soda.  If you are making just pretzels, no dogs, then go on to shaping the pretzels.  If you are making pretzel dogs, then roll out the dough, and cut in pieces to cover the hot dogs.  Wrap the hot dogs completely in the dough.
Once all of your dogs are wrapped.  Place them three at a time in the pot of boiling water.  Let them cook there until they rise.  Once they rise, gently remove them and place on a baking sheet coated with nonstick spray or parchment paper.  Dust with salt if ya like.  Repeat for the rest of your dogs.
Once all of your dogs are on the baking sheet, then bake for 30 minutes or until the hot dogs reach at least 160 and the pretzel dough is golden brown.  The dough browns towards the end of the baking process.
Finishing the Soup
While the dogs are baking, then make your soup.  Scoop out the baked squash or pumpkin and put in a pot at a medium temp.  Then add a can of light coconut milk.  Mix with a whisk or an immersion blender.  Cover and let it warm.  Voila – soup!  If it’s too thick for your taste then dilute with a bit of water, cream or milk.  If you want to add more flavor, then consider curry as an fabulous option.
Dish it out and enjoy!
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Pizza Pizza

Making pizza provides a fabulous kid friendly activity and meal.  It’s amazing how many vegetables I can get Bobby to eat just by offering them as pizza toppings.  He likes piling them on his little pizza.   Pizza 1And, then when it’s all baked, he’s so proud and happy to gobble up his creation.

To be honest, it took me a long time to find a good pizza dough recipe.  In the process, I made many a pizza dough Frisbee, that ended up being tossed into the trash.  To save you that trouble, here’s my “go to” pizza dough recipe adapted from Alice Waters, the Art of Simple Food.  The dough even freezes well!  So, make a batch and freeze half of it.

Ingredients

2 teaspoons dry yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm water

3 3/4 cups unbleached white flour (can use mix of flours as well)

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup olive oil

(if you like it sweet add a tablespoon of Honey)

(consider adding herbs to the dough)

Parchment Paper

Method

Stir together yeast and warm water until yeast is dissolved. Add 1/2 cup flour and stir well. Allow the mixture to sit until bubbly (30 minutes).  Add flour, salt, cold water and olive oil.

Mix thoroughly.  I use a KitchenAid Stand mixer with a dough hook.  Knead on low until the dough is soft and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add more flour, but only enough to form a soft, slightly sticky dough.

The dough is the right texture when it pulls away from the sides of the bowl of the mixer, but still adheres to the bottom.

Put the dough in a large bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. For an even better-tasting and more supple dough, let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge 2 hours before shaping.

Divide the dough into balls.  Allow the dough balls to rest at room temperature, for an hour or so.  Shape pizza dough on Parchment Paper.  Shape into desired shapes.  If doing fogaccia, you can make it into rectangles.  For a thicker dough, let the shaped pieces  sit for about an hour before baking.   Brush with olive oil and garlic.

Top with desired sauces and toppings.  My favorite is brushed with a salted garlic oil, then top with prosciutto, pears, white cheese and fresh herbs.  Bobby’s favorite is brushed with garlic olive oil, then topped with marinara sauce, veggies (mushrooms, zucchini & broccoli), and sausage.

Preheat the oven (and a baking stone if you have it) to its maximum.  Preheat for about a half hour.  Put in pizza and turn down oven to 400.  Bake for about twenty minutes. Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Toddler Treasure Chest Treats – Sweet Potato Banana Scones

Within the last few months Bobby’s imagination has bloomed!  The other day we made these treats for breakfast and he decided to call to call them treasure chests.  When he bit into them, he found a special surprise.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll probably guess what that ingredient is – chocolate.   You might think I’m nuts to give my tot chocolate for breakfast, and maybe I am, but when the chocolate is surrounded by sweet potatoes, whole wheat and bananas, it seems a bit healthier.

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup milk (half and half or cream works too)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 super ripe banana
  • 1 medium sized sweet potato
  • ½ cup to 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Set your oven on 400.  Prepare your cookie sheets.  I just line mine with parchment paper.

While the oven preheats, make your dough.  You can make these scones in either a food processor, stand mixer or by hand.  Peel and cook your sweet potato.  I cooked it in the microwave for 4 minutes.  Then, blend the sweet potato and banana in a food processor.  Add the butter.  Blend well.  Then add the liquids, milk, egg and vanilla.  Add the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.   Blend.  Add the chocolate chips.

This dough is super sticky.  So, using two tablespoons just drop bits of dough on the sheet.   Brush the dough balls with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 17 minutes or until you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Let your little one marvel at the chocolate chip treasures that await within the baked goodness!