I can’t tell you why exactly kids’ cookbooks have always appealed to me. Maybe it is the fact that they aren’t consumed with lengthy preparations or elegant presentations, two things that just don’t interest me. Instead these books tend to deal with seriously good, basic food that is easy to prepare and tastes great.
Consider these creative culinary gems: Pancake Sandwiches, which are made in a sandwich maker, letting kids cook without the inherent hazards of an open flame. Panini Wraps, a great lunchbox idea, which involves smearing a wrap with cream cheese, filling it with fresh basil, roasted red peppers, avocado, cheese and lettuce and then popping the entire concoction into a Panini maker for quick grilling. Ramen Deli Salad, which pairs romaine lettuce with strips of turkey breast and grape tomatoes, dressed in a vinegar soy sauce combo and finished with a Ramen noodle-slivered almond-sesame seed crunch. Hot Dog Garlic Knots? Honestly, I think the name says it all and my only complaint is that the recipe makes just 36 pieces which is nowhere near enough.
The list of tempting treats goes on and on with dishes like Toasted Bow Tie Crunch, cooked pasta seasoned and baked on a cookie sheet, transforming it into a panful of heaven for those of us who like to pilfer the crunchy top off the macaroni and cheese when no one is looking. Knowing how much kids of all ages love frozen blended drinks, Leah and Victoria have included a healthy and low calorie Skinny Berry Coolata as well as a totally decadent Iced Vanilla, the equivalent of a coffee-less frozen iced coffee and most likely the first recipe that I will be trying from this book.
Taking things one step further is a fabulous section titled Sweets and Crafts which includes recipes for button candy, a working solitaire game made out of a giant cookie and Zours candies, candy spray, edible sand art and an erector set made out of marshmallows and colored toothpicks. I mean, really, who doesn’t love playing with their food?
Another very important component of Kids Cooking Made Easy are lots of helpful tips and advice. Kids are shown how to slice, french, dice and sauté onions and how to mince, crush and slice garlic. A step by step guide to melting chocolate in the microwave is welcome and practical and a conversion guide helps young chefs understand the relationship between measurements, with practical tips translating tablespoons to cups, teaspoons to tablespoons and even identifying just how big a pinch really is. All recipes are marked with icons showing what appliances are needed and cooking tips and definitions are sprinkled liberally throughout the book.
Distributed by Artscroll, Kids Cooking Made Easy is one book you might want to buy for your kids. Then again, you might just want to keep it for yourself.
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Cardamom-Scented Chanukah Cookies
Prep: 10 minutes; Chill: 30 minutes; Bake: 12 minutes; Cool: 10 minutes; Total: 1 hour 2 minutes; Yield: About twenty-four 2-inch cookies.
I really feel like a good mom when I bake with my kids, especially for the holidays. Chanukah cookies can be a lot of fun to make, but they’re usually so blah and one-dimensional, no one really craves them. With just one touch of cardamom, this recipe immediately transforms those bland little cookies into something super special. You don’t even need to decorate them. Just pile ‘em on your party tray and watch ‘em go!
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Blue sugar or sprinkles, for decorating
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and ginger in a small bowl. Beat together the butter, and granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and orange juice and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.