When I asked the moms on the Gilt Baby & Kids team what they liked to cook with their kids, I got a resounding “Bake ‘N Brake” “mac and cheese,” and “I don’t cook. I order in.” Some help they are! So in an effort to think outside the (cardboard) box, I asked Colleen Levine of Foodie Tots for simple recipes that even the most kitchen-phobic moms can pull off. A mother of two, Levine knows that stirring the pot is the best way to get kids to try new things (here are some items to prep your little Top Chef), so she came up with three meals even the youngest toddlers can help prepare.
Kale Salad with Strawberry Dressing
Look for red kale, which is more tender than other varieties and perfect for salad. Kids will love smashing the berries for the dressing – just be sure to use a large bowl and have them wear aprons in case of splattering juice!
1 bunch red kale, washed and stems removed
1 cup strawberries, hulled and extra for salad
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Tear kale into bite-sized pieces and place in salad bowl
2. In a separate bowl, mash the strawberries to a pulp using a potato masher or fork. Add vinegar, olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper and stir to combine
3. Gently toss the greens and dressing, then top with additional sliced strawberries
Chilled Asparagus Pea Soup
Your kids aren’t fond of salad? Let them slurp their greens in this delicious “green monster” soup. If you can find fresh English peas at the market, shelling them is a great project for little ones.
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup shelled fresh peas (or frozen peas, thawed)
1 small yellow onion
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
6 leaves fresh mint
1/2 cup half and half (or cream)
salt and pepper
1. Warm olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add asparagus, a pinch of salt and pepper, and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Add peas and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Asparagus should be just tender when pricked with a fork. Remove from heat and let cool a little.
3. Add mint. Process in small batches in a blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl, stir in the half and half or cream, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. (You can accelerate the cooling by setting the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice and water.)
4. Garnish with additional mint leaves to serve
Whole Wheat Cherry Crumb Cake
Baking a simple coffee or crumb cake is a great way to bond in the kitchen on a weekend morning – and mixing up the crumb topping is the perfect job for your little helper.
For the crumbs:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
For the cake:
1/3 cup whole milk yogurt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.
2. Toss cherries with tapioca starch and set aside
3. To make crumb topping, melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and stir until combined. Use a fork to mix in flour and set aside.
4. For the cake batter, whisk together yogurt, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. In the bowl of a mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Gradually add yogurt/egg mixture and mix until smooth.
5. Pour the batter into the baking dish. Spread cherries over the batter, then spread crumb mixture evenly over the top. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until crumb topping is lightly browned and cake is cooked through. Cool before cutting, and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.