Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Monkey Muffins

Waking up to the smell of cinnamon is the best way to wake up.  One thing children can do early on is learn to make cinnamon toast.  They can put bread in the toaster, butter it, and add a mixture of cinnamon and sugar that can be prepared ahead of time and stored in tupperware.

Children can learn to make their own breakfast at a young age.  I suggest placing cereal, bowls, spoons in a cabinet within easy reach of your children.  You may even want to portion out the cereal in a plastic bag that can be reused for the next day's portion.  If your children are very young this step helps keep bowls from overflowing.

Using a small pitcher of milk that you store in the fridge will help children from spilling as they pour milk on their cereal.  My grandmother had a cow pitcher and I loved using it!

Teach your children to put away the cereal and milk right after using it.  After they finish their cereal they should bring their bowls and utensils to the sink or dishwasher.  Children can learn to load the dishwasher if they are shown how to do it.
Making a special breakfast on Sunday mornings is always a treat!  Pancakes, waffles, muffins, are all choices children love.  They can help mix batters, add ingredients, set the table and clean up!  Make it a family time.

Here is a delicious recipe that children love to help make.  It is based on Monkey Bread.  See my kitchen rules in the previous post.  Using the same ground rules each time promotes consistency which is very important when raising children.

Monkey Muffins
Wash your hands. Prepare your ingredients and tools.
Secret ingredient - !/2 capful of vanilla extract added to melted butter. You can experiment with almond or orange extract.
1 tube of biscuit dough
1/2 stick butter
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ Teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 C brown sugar


Clean scissors (I have a pair of child sized scissors that are only used for food.)
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
1 microwave safe bowl
1 large bowl
Muffin tins and liners
Small sauce pan
Oven mitts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease the muffin tins or line with muffin cup liners.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in the microwave safe bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave, it should take less than 1 minute. Ask an adult to help you take the butter out of the microwave
  4. Mix the cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg in the other bowl.
  5. Open the biscuit package.
  6. Cut the dough with the scissors so that each biscuit is in 4 pieces.
  7. Dip each piece into the melted butter. Be careful, it will be hot.
  8. Coat the piece of buttered dough in the sugar mixture.
  9. Fill each muffin cup with the pieces of dough.  About 6 pieces in each cup.  Do not pack them tightly.
  10. Bake for 20 -25 minutes.
  11. While this is baking take the extra sugar and butter and melt it in a pan. You can drizzle it over the cake when it is done.
  12. Clean up materials and work area.
  13. Using the oven mitts, remove from the oven, Ask for an adult to help you.
  14. Let it cool
  15. Remove the muffins by inverting the pan over a plate.
  16. Enjoy.
  17. .


Monday, May 30, 2011

A Recipe to Get You Started

Kids Can Cook
by Debbie Vale

Some of my fondest childhood memories were made in the kitchen.  I loved making homemade noodles with my grandmother, baking with my dad, and putting lasagna together with my mom.

Cooking with your children is fun and teaches valuable lessons.  Among these are fractions, measuring, self sufficiency, independence, and following directions.  As a teacher, I have watched children’s eyes light up when they get the chance to work in the kitchen and share their endeavors with others.

Before you begin, go over the kitchen rules with your children.  Remind them that clean up is a part of this activity.  Here are my kitchen rules:

Wash Your Hands
Before you start.
When changing ingredient types.
After you are finished.
Wear an Apron
Help protect your clothes.
Tie your Hair Back
No one likes hair in their food.
Ask for an Adult to Help
Whenever you are working with hot items
Or sharp items.
Or if you are confused.
Clean up when you are done
Put away all your extra ingredients
Load the dishwasher
Clean any items by hand
Sweep the floor
Clean your work area.

Here are a few tips:
When introducing a new ingredient to children it is helpful to let them smell or taste it first.  I always let them smell any spices we will be using and taste any vegetable they wish to try.  I like to show them the fresh form of the spice and the dry form . Ask if they think there is a difference in the way they smell.

When the stove or oven is on and there are young children around, I like to put a beach towel in front of the oven and ask the kids to walk around the work space.

When children are working at a table or counter, I always put a kitchen towel on their work space so they can easily clean up when finished.

Children can use knives when they are supervised closely and given instruction and practice.  Start by cutting a banana with a butter knife, when that is mastered, move on to sharper knives that they can easily hold in their hands.  I have bought regular child sized scissors which I use only for cooking.  These are great tools for snipping herbs, or other ingredients.

It helps to organize all of your tools and ingredients before you get started.

Children like to crack eggs, so do this in a separate bowl to avoid getting shells in your mixtures.

It is always fun to have a secret ingredient.  See the bottom of this recipe where there is such an ingredient listed.

Have fun, clean up together ( I like to put on music while we are cleaning up), and make happy memories.

Here is an easy recipe to get you started:

Lasagna Rollups
1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 C chopped zucchini or chopped pepperoni
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil, garlic powder
1/2 C breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups marinara sauce
12 lasagna noodles, cooked for 6 minutes, drained, and rinsed under cold water
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Wash hands and organize ingredients and tools
Cutting board                     Measuring cups and spoons
Mixing bowl                     Box grater
Paper towels                     Colander
8 inch square baking dish             Aluminum foil
Oven mitts                     Cooking spray (Pam)
  1. Cook lasagna noodles for 5 - 6 minutes, drain and run under cold water. Set aside. Ask an adult to help cook and drain the noodles.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Wash and dice zucchini
  4. In a medium-size mixing bowl combine ricotta, Parmesan cheese, zucchini or pepperoni , egg, all spices except oregano and bread crumbs.
  5. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a square, 8-inch baking dish.
  6. Place a cooled lasagna noodle on a cutting board, and scoop some of the filling on top at one end.  Roll up the lasagna jelly-roll style and place roll, seam side down, in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
  7. Spoon the remaining sauce over and top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and oregano.
  8. Cover with foil that has been sprayed with Pam, and bake for 25 minutes.
  9. Clean up materials and work area while lasagna rollups are in the oven.
  10. Ask an adult to help you remove the foil and continue to bake about 15 - 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Have an adult help you remove the pan from the oven.
  11. to help you remove the foil and continue to bake about 15 - 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Have an adult help you remove the pan from the oven.
  12. Serve immediately.

* Secret Ingredient - Toast !/4 C of pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat.  Watch them or they will burn.  When you smell them they are ready.  Add to cheese mixture for a little crunch.