Monday, November 28, 2016

Cooking with Kids: Blueberry Banana Buttermilk Bread

We've made it to our last post in the Cooking with Kids November blog series and I am thrilled to announce I've saved the best for last. This bread.....oh, readers. This bread is absolutely my number one most-loved breakfast food of all time. The girls go crazy for the sweet, subtle banana dough, soft texture, juicy blueberries, and crispy, golden crust. The very best part? As with almost everything I cook, this recipe is EASY and prep time is a breeze.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed banana
4 Tablespoons buttermilk (don't have buttermilk? Mix 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar and 3 Tablespoons of whole milk. Wah-lah! Homemade buttermilk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Handful of blueberries (I use frozen berries - I rinse and pat dry to warm them up)

Kitchen Tools Needed
Two regular-sized bread loaf pans
Large mixing bowl
Mixing spoon
Wire cooling rack

1. Grease two loaf pans. I use buttah. Oh and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix your butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add eggs, bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla to the bowl.
4. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well-combined.
5. Gently stir in blueberries
6. Bake for 50-55 minutes
7. Let cool on a wire rack and then nomnomnom

Some Cooking with Kids Moments

  • Give them that ingredient and supply list! Let them gather what you need.
  • Let them mash the bananas between their fingers.
  • Show them how to grease pans and explain why we need to.
  • Teach them how to make buttermilk using vinegar and whole milk. Get all chemistry on them if you wanna.
  • Let them rinse the berries and gently fold them into the batter. Watch their eyes when the batter starts to change colors.
  • Don't forget to assign a timekeeper!
  • Teach them the toothpick trick to check whether or not the bread is done.

This bread can be frozen and thawed later without losing any of its delicious texture. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week - if you can keep your hands off it that long. This stuff is typically gone within a few days at my house!

Looking for a simple and fun way to kick off the holidays? Double this recipe (or triple!) and make some loaves for friends and family. They will love it and will likely fall completely in love with you so gift wisely.

And with that, it's time to sign off on our Cooking with Kids series, dear readers. I hope these last few posts have showcased how kiddos can be pretty dang good helpers in the kitchen. Take a couple days every month to cook with your sets them up with the skills they need later in life, whether while in a college dorm on a small budget or surrounded by their own families around the dinner table someday. Don't let the chaos of the first few cooking attempts steer you off course, either. It's all about practice and figuring out what works best for your family.

Bottom line? Make good food with those you love. 

And just in case you missed the other posts in our Cooking with Kids series:
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Simple, Homemade Potato Soup
No-Soup Green Bean Casserole

And if you're lookin for more kid-friendly recipes, check these out: 
Easiest, Best Zucchini Bread Ever
Biscuit Pot Pie
Best Ever Blueberry Muffins


Monday, November 14, 2016

Cooking with Kids: Simple, Homemade Potato Soup

It is a new week. That's right. A brand new start. And after the pain of last week, with violence and fear felt on a national level by both sides of the election, I decided this week needed to start with something simple, easy, pure, reliable, and comforting. And that, for me, is potato soup.

Root veggies are in season right now and the chill in the air is enticing me to bundle up, snuggle in, and relax with something warm. I love the frugality of this recipe (even organic potatoes are inexpensive) and you can freeze and reheat these leftovers without losing any of the texture and tastiness.

Now don't get me wrong, I understand the appeal of opening a can and heating the contents up real quick over the stove. But this recipe, which is the Jen Version of Gimmie Some Oven's recipe, is seriously so easy that pulling out your pan very nearly gets you halfway there. And if you have the kids helping? Whew! Dinner in no time at all :)

Simple, Homemade Potato Soup

3 Tablespoons of butter
Some diced onion
1/4 cup flour
2 cups bone broth
2 cups whole milk
6-7 medium/large potatoes, mostly-peeled and kinda-diced
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 Tablespoons cream cheese
Some salt and pepper to taste

Kitchen Tools Needed
Large pot
Cuttin board
Potato peeler
Measuring cups for both dry and wet ingredients
Wooden spoon
Immersion blender or potato masher (optional)

1. Add your butter to a large pot and melt over medium-ish heat.
2. Add onion and saute for a few minutes until the onion gets all golden.
3. Sprinkle in your flour and stir until combined. Saute for another minute or so, stirring the whole time.
4. Stir in bone broth.
5. Stir in milk and diced potatoes. Adjust the heat until your mixture is at a nice steady simmer, not boil.
6. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
7. Once your potatoes are soft, stir in your cheddar and cream cheese. You can use an immersion blender to mix everything up and make it smooth, or a potato masher, or you can leave the potatoes chunky and stir until the cheese is melted.
8. Add salt and pepper, tasting as you go and adjusting the seasoning to your preferences.
9. Serve to smiling littles who will love it and ask for seconds :)

Some Cooking with Kids Moments...

  • Let your kids gather the ingredients and kitchen tools for you.
  • Teach your kiddos about potato peeler and knife safety and then (this is the hard part) give them a chance to use both instruments! You will be there supervising, maybe even holding their hands while they try for the first time - what better way to learn how to use a peeler. Don't forget to warn them about slippery potatoes! 
  • Explain why potatoes have eyes. 
  • Have your kids gather all the potato skins and scraps and chuck them into the compost.
  • This recipe takes you through the process of making a "roux," or a flour-and-fat mixture that thickens sauces and soups. Teach your kiddos the word and talk them through the process of making a roux - you can go as light or as heavy on the science behind it as you'd like, either way your kid's gonna learn one of the most basic and useful cooking tricks in the book!
  • Assign a timekeeper! Don't want those taters to burn! 
  • Engage your kiddos in the seasoning process. Let them taste the soup before seasoning and after seasoning. If you want to be really bold, let them decide whether the soup needs more salt or pepper. Prepping those little palates! :)
  • Clean up crew! This recipe doesn't use a ton of kitchen tools so clean up is pretty easy and quick. Let little hands scrub that pot for you! 

I am hoping you each get a chance to recuperate this week, dear readers, and turn your hearts and minds to things you can control, whether they be peaceful protests, poignant conversations with those you love, or something much more simple, like a warm bowl of soup.

What is your favorite comfort food? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below and as always, thank you so so much for reading.

And just in case you missed the first week in our Cooking with Kids series (homemade cinnamon rolls!), you can catch up by clicking here

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cooking with Kids: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Welcome, dear readers, to the Flaws, Forgiven Cooking with Kids series! I am so excited to share some of my favorite recipes with you, recipes I've tested in my own kitchen with my own kiddos.

Over the course of the next few pre-holiday weeks, I will detail ways I get my kids involved in cooking, from helping with grocery lists to gathering up garden produce, mixing up batter to cleaning up spills. We'll go over kid-centered expectations while in the kitchen and explore creative "jobs" you can assign in your own kitchen. I promise you will A) not want to run out of your house screaming and B) with enough patience and practice those little hands will actually help you get food on the table *gasp* faster!

So let's start with my new favorite fall recipe....this is the Jen Version of Ree's Cinnamon Rolls.

Now let's just get real here, the first time I made them I didn't let the kids help at all. I always do a trial-run of any new recipe alone first. You know what? That is our first Cooking with Kids tip.

CwK Tip #1: Always try a new recipe alone. 

I've gotta have a chance to gauge how tricky the steps are for safety purposes, you know? It has nothing to do with the fact that when I try new things I tend to panic and overanalyze just a lil' bit and need to concentrate and kids = no concentration and no concentration = burned, salty, wasted attempts at creating something edible combined with a delicious side of Jen tears. 

So yes. Be safe. Try it alone first.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients for Dough
4 cups whole milk
1 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
4 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 2 packets)
9 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour, plus some for the counter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Filling
1/4 cup melted butter mixed with 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or just 1/2 cup melted butter)
Sugar (impossible to quantify)
Cinnamon (also impossible to quantify)

Ingredients for Icing
1lb bag of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt

Kitchen Tools Needed:
Plastic knife of some kind
Large saucepan
Big ol' mixing bowl
Rolling pin
Liquid measuring cup
Dry measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Pans with butter all over the inside of 'em (let the kids coat them with butter!)

CwK Tip #2: Let your kids get the things you need.

Kids love feeling helpful. I let my youngest get the kitchen tools because most of them are within her reach. My oldest knows where all the baking ingredients are because I am constantly asking her to grab ingredients and organize them (in order, if I really want to give her a challenge) on the counter. This step works in two ways - it allows you to bypass gathering everything and focus on the recipe you're about to follow and helps the kids familiarize themselves with the kitchen.

Ok so you've got all your ingredients ready to roll? Let's do a quick safety briefing before we get started. I don't go nuts here. In Europe kids cut with knives and stuff. Children tend to be more cautious and quick to learn than we sometimes give them credit for. I focus on the major areas of concern - burns, cuts, and contamination.

CwK Tip #3: Clean and clearly define danger zones

Before we even get started I'll be sure the girls wash hands and wipe down our countertops. You will not believe how quickly pet hair jumps onto my counters, I swear. We always do a quick wipe-down before we begin. Then I point to my gas-powered stovetop and say, "Don't touch this, this will hurt you, this will melt your skin off, this will light your hair and clothes on fire, this is dangerous and can hurt you very badly because it makes fire," to my youngest. She is four and needs to be reminded. My oldest, who is ten, gets it. She makes wide-eyed expressions next to me for dramatic emphasis. Then I pick up any knives I'll be using and again tell my youngest, "Don't touch this, this will hurt you, this will cut your finger off and it will hurt very very badly." Again, my oldest makes the "it's true" face. Lastly, if we are cooking with any raw meat, I will pick it up and hold it in my hands and say, "If you touch this you need to wash your hands. This is not cooked and all the blood on it could make you sick. If you touch this you need to wash your hands so you don't get sick and poop a lot." Both my kids need this reminder so I add the wide-eyed look myself.

And that's it, those are the only "safety" concerns I address. Then we're ready for cookin.

Dough Instructions:
1. Heat milk, olive oil, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside, off the burners, to cool - it should be cool enough to touch. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit there (no stirring yet!) for a couple minutes.
*CwK Moment* Kids can add ingredients to the saucepan and sprinkle on the yeast. Kids can also keep time by either counting or watching a timer. 

2. Add 8 cups of flour (only 8 - we're saving one cup for a few steps down) and stir until combined. Try not to overmix it too much or terrible, terrible things will happen to your soul.
*CwK Moment* Let the kids add the flour and stir. Be prepared to take over as the dough starts to form.

3. Cover the pan o' dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for an hour.
*CwK Moment* Put a kid in charge of the timer. They will absolutely go bonkers when it goes off and come running at you with the passion of a thousand samurais. 

4. Remove the kitchen towel and stir in your baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup of flour. Mix it good, but not like a crazy person. You want to combine well. That is it.
*CwK Moment* Kids love to stir so I say, let them. 

5. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
*CwK Moment* This is a great time to teach kids who can reach the controls how to use the oven controls. I am not talking about the burner dials, my dear readers, because I don't promote burning your house down, nope. I am talking about the oven controls - how to preheat, what the buttons means, how to turn the oven off, those types of things. 

Assembling the Rolls Instructions:
6. Take half the dough out of the saucepan. I use this super-accurate method of grabbing the whole ball of dough and ripping it in half, holding one half in each hand and tipping them back and forth like a scale. It stays classy and upscale in my kitchen, people.

7. Plop your dough-halve (half-dough? halve-of-dough? dough-half?) on a floured surface. I use my bare counter, but a table works well, too. You need room, so I do not suggest using a cutting board unless you have one that's like 3 feet long.
*CwK Moment* Give your kids free reign to flour the surface for you. I promise it's worth it.  

8. Make your dough blob rectangular-like. Then roll it out - you want it to be a larger rectangle. Ree suggests 30x10 inches but I don't know what that means so I just made it a nice, long rectangle. My dough always comes out to about an inch thick....but it's not perfect and the edges are thicker and I promise it all comes out ok. Just make sure that surface is well-floured or your dough won't roll nicely.
*CwK Moment* Let them roll!! Show them how to pat the dough down, show them how much pressure to use, show them how to add flour so the dough doesn't stick. 

9. Pour your melted butter and coconut oil on the dough. Spread it around so it covers the dough - you don't want tons of huge puddles but you can be generous. I aim to cover from edge to edge with a nice, decent, relatively-even layer.
*CwK Moment* Show the kiddos how to use their fingers to spread the butter and oil around. Draw pictures and letters and then smooth it out. 

10. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon. I let the kids do this all by themselves. I put a pile of sugar in their little palms and then tell them sprinkle it all around. Same with the cinnamon. The key is using your kids' palms - they're small enough to limit the sugar and cinnamon so it doesn't become overwhelming.

11. Time to roll. Let the kids watch - this is definitely an adult step as it's a bit tricky. You want to roll the longest edge toward you tightly. Use two hands and reach over there and go slow and roll as evenly and tightly as you can toward you. Stuff will spill out the edges and that's ok, just keep rolling as tightly as you can. You're supposed to pinch the seam when you get to the end but I tried that and it did absolutely nothing so give it a whirl if you feel like it, or not.

12. Now it's time to cut the rolls. I use a plastic knife that doubles as a spatula because I don't want to slice into my counters. There is really no clean way to do this part, from my experience. The filling will get all over and again, it's ok. Cut 1/2 inch pieces off your roll. I cut down directly and swiftly and then pull the roll off and kinda straighten it out with my fingers before placing it in my buttered pans. Keep doing this until your rolls are all cut and placed in their pans. I used one pie pan and one 9x13 pan.
*CwK Moment* Put one kid in charge of roll spacing. This is a very important job! These rolls will expand in size and putting them too close together can be disastrous and extend your baking time significantly! You want them spaced apart so they have room to grow, grow, grow!

13. Place a kitchen towel over your rolls and let them rise for about 20 minutes. Then pop them in the oven and bake for 17-20 minutes, checking for brownness. You want them nice and golden.

Icing Instructions:
14. Whisk the powdered sugar, milk, melted butter, syrup, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. I mean really whisk it so it's so, so smooth. You can also use a stand mixer, the kids get a kick out of turning on the high-tech appliances.
*CwK Moment* You measure, the kids whisk and/or turn on the mixer. Since you want this real smooth, the more whisking, the better. No worries about overmixing here! 

15. Taste the icing and add more syrup if you wanna.

Ding! Rolls are Done Instructions:
16. Pull the rolls out of the oven and pour that sweet, sweet icing all over them.
*CwK Moment* Kiddos will just eat the icing if given the chance. I give them each a spoon and tell them once the rolls are covered, they can lick their spoons. Rationing and helping every time. 

17. Now you can repeat steps 6-13 with the other half of the dough, or you can do what I did and put the other half of the dough and half the icing in separate freezer baggies and freeze. When you're ready to bake again, pull the dough and icing out and let them thaw in the fridge, then move to the counter and let warm up slowly. The dough and icing hold up great after freezing.

More ways kids can help?
Watch the rolls rise! Tell mommy when they get too brown.
Keep the cat off the counter!
Time to clean up! Put things in the sink, wipe down the counters, clean off the floor, wash hands, wash can clean just as well as grown ups, it just takes a little longer. Give them a chance!

This is a great recipe to try with your little ones because the sweet ingredients will hold their interest and the only truly technical part of the recipe takes no time at all. The end results are fantastic and delicious and special, just like your babies.

Cooking with kids doesn't need to be a hassle. It will be messy and it will go slow at first, but the more you cook with them, the better they get. Give it a try! And be sure to tune in next week for another delicious, kid-friendly recipe.

Do you bake with your kids? What are your challenges and triumphs? I'd love to hear about them in the comments down below and as always, thank you so much for reading :)