Simply Kid Chefs: Cheese and Onion Enchiladas

IMG_1191.JPGOver the summer, our youngest enjoyed borrowing the Hank Zipzer books from the library. Imagine his surprise that Holy Enchilada included a recipe at the end of the book. He knew he would want to try it but the book needed to be returned. We decided to take pictures of the recipe for future use.

He has been deciding when he wanted to try it and this week was it! The ingredient list was nice and small, making the young shopper quite happy. The recipe was pretty simple and he could do most of it himself. We decided to make up a Southwestern salad to go with the enchiladas.

The chef did everything (with very heavy supervision)! I held the items being cut and kept a very close eye/hand with the knife. He was incredibly proud of himself!!

Here are the photos of the recipe we worked with…



It was my first time making enchilada sauce and we will definitely do it again. It was easy and everyone liked it. The recipe is easy to play with. You could easily add black beans, chicken, ground meat, etc to the meal.

Our salad had lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, defrosted fire roasted corn, avocado and green onions. We used Newman’s ranch dressing.

The entire meal was a huge success!! Both boys loved it and can’t wait to have it again πŸ™‚

Have you made your own enchilada sauce? Have you taken photos of a recipe for later use?


Simply Kid Chefs: Mix and Match Mac and Cheese

Our oldest took over the kitchen this cold and stormy weekend. Seriously, it snowed! Back to cooking, he has been wanting to come up with his own creations, but still needs a little guidance in what goes together.

As we were flipping through our Food Network Magazine cookbook, we came upon the mix and match mac and cheese. Basically, they give you different types of pasta, cheeses, proteins, veggies and toppings. This is great because he had some creative control, but the ingredients all went together.

He picked medium shells, Monterey Jack, crumbled bacon, artichokes and a toasted Parmesan topping. There were a lot of moving parts to this dinner and the chef handled them like a pro. He was able to do most of it. He needed some help cutting the artichokes and I strained the pasta; but he did everything else.

We were a little slack on the white sauce, making it a little more liquid than creamy. Regardless, it was delicious πŸ™‚ The ingredients all went together well. They seemed an interesting choice by a nine year old, but he devoured it and had leftovers for lunch.

I don’t make mac and cheese very often and always stick to our family recipe when I do. It’s one of our oldest’s favorite meals so it isn’t surprising that he found a way to make it again. It was such a fun process, we’ll have to play the options a little more πŸ™‚

Do you have a favorite comfort food recipe? Have you ever tried a mix and match recipe?

Simply Kid Chefs: Crab Cakes

We are slowly getting into our routine. As we’ve been adjusting, the kids’ cooking has been put on hold. Well, we’re back!! Our youngest was chomping at the bit and our oldest had basketball tryouts so the youngest is kicking off the school year cooking πŸ˜‰

He knew he wanted to cook, but he wasn’t sure what. Suffice it to say, almost every cookbook was pulled out and perused. Ultimately, he selected crab cakes from Ellie Krieger. This allowed him to make seafood and his favorite tartar sauce. He also selected French fries and carrot/celery sticks to round out dinner.

He did most of the work. I helped with the cutting, but cut the potatoes for him. They are hard to manage with extra, little hands on and around the knife. He did put them in the bowl and add the olive oil, salt and pepper. I think he really enjoyed tossing them around before putting them on the pan.

I let him crack the egg for his first time. Let’s just say that resulted in a quick clean-up as the egg imploded on his hands and the floor. We re-grouped and mixed together the crab cakes. They didn’t stick together too well in the beginning. They were a bit of a mushy mess when we “rolled” them in the bread crumbs.

We wound up placing the cake down and covering with crumbs. Then we scooped it to the pan and shaped it. They did come together while cooking. I was a little nervous about flipping them, but it worked well for the most part.

Here’s the recipe from Elli Krieger *We double the tartar sauce as it’s quite popular around here πŸ™‚ *

Nonstick cooking spray
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Dash hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 scallion, including green top, finely chopped
1 pound lump crab, picked over for cartilage
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Smarter Tartar Sauce:
6 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 scallion, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped sour pickles
1 tablespoon chopped capers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl mix together the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning and hot sauce. Stir in the bell pepper and scallion. Gently fold in the crab, 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Put the remaining bread rumbs in a shallow dish.

Divide the crab mixture into 8 mounds. Shape 1 mound into a round and coat in bread crumbs. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and flatten the crab cake to form a patty about 1-inch high. Repeat to form the remaining crab cakes.

Bake until golden on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Gently flip the crab cakes and cook until the second side is golden, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Smarter Tartar Sauce:
Spoon yogurt into a small bowl lined with paper towels. Place in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour until some of the liquid from the yogurt is released. Scoop thickend yogurt into a small bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Copyright 2005, Ellie Krieger, All Rights Reserved
Read more at:


Our youngest LOVED the crab cakes! Our oldest was a little unsure as he doesn’t like stuffed quahogs or other seafood cakes, but he tried it and did eat his whole crab cake.

Have you made crab cakes? What’s your favorite dinner inspiration?

Back to BOKS training

Last week I ventured up to Reebok (again :)) with two moms for BOKS training. I am the lead trainer and thought it is great team building and frankly, just fun.

We were a little early and snuck in some shopping before the event began. The training was full at 75 people! It felt like double from last year’s training. How awesome is that?!?

While I knew it would be fun and I love going to Reebok; I had forgotten how contagious everyone’s energy and passion is. It felt like a BOKS pep rally as we sat and listened to Kathleen talk about starting the program and how far it has come.


They made the point that it has really been a grass roots movement. The trainers and people bringing it into the schools have to be passionate about it. In districts where it’s been mandated, people feel forced and it doesn’t have the same impact. They also mentioned Eli Manning as a spokesman didn’t go very far either.

Like any training, the group makes or breaks it. We had an awesome group. It was large and diverse. There were other parents, grandparents, retired educators and people from a YMCA in the Boston area. This allowed for great questions and discussion. It also made the games fun and realistic from a size/chaos perspective.

75 adults running around and playing toilet tag was a fair representation of what it feels like in the gym when running BOKS. We all did sit-ups and planks, ran around and laughed. It’s a great way to meet new people as you’re cheering on your team of strangers πŸ™‚

This year’s training touched a little bit more on the numbers side of things. The original school has been tracking performance based numbers and they are currently being analyzed. They know that attendance is better for children enrolled in BOKS. Test scores are showing improvement as well. Of course, there are the testimonials from teachers in favor of BOKS.

At our school, kids didn’t want to miss a BOKS day. There are many stories from parents saying how easy it is to get their kids up and out on BOKS day because the kids can’t wait to get there. To the adult eye, it might seem basic; but that is the beauty!

The games are simple and easy for all children to understand. We have a wide range of kids involved and they cheer each other on. It was asked at the training about handling kids who were maybe faster/more athletically inclined and those who are not. Most of us agreed that it isn’t the issue adults think it will be. We break our kids up into even groups and emphasize cheering on your team. So far, this has brought smiles to even the shyest kids.

Another question that surprised me but seems worth mentioning, do trainers have to be fit. The answer – no! It was emphasized that a good trainer is charismatic, has control of the room and has fun demonstrating and playing the games.

Keeping the program volunteer run and free allows all children the opportunity to be involved. We were shocked at how many people signed up the first time we offered it. This year has been no different. Even finding volunteers was easier than I anticipated it. The kids love it so much, you don’t need any publicity πŸ˜‰

Does your school offer BOKS? What was your favorite game to play as a kid? When was the last time you played tag?

Simply Kid Chefs: Grilled salmon with oregano oil, avocado tzatziki sauce and grilled lemons

This week, our youngest took over the kitchen and stuck with his favorite, seafood! He was excited to try the grill and knew immediately that he wanted to make a salmon dish.

I suggested one of my favorite salmon recipes from Bobby Flay that I had found in the Food & Wine Best of the Best cookbook.Β I had never tried the avocado tzatziki sauce, but we have tons of oregano in the garden and love grilled lemons. Β The chef was on-board and we decided to give it a go πŸ™‚

After a great morning at the beach, we went off to the store and found a new seafood guy. For a treat, we picked up stuffed quahogs for an appetizer and the chef selected broccoli on the grill for a side.

The chef did most of the work in the kitchen. I cut open the avocados and chopped the Serrano chile, while he put everything in the food processor. He also cut the oregano from the garden and prepared the salmon. I chopped the broccoli, but he seasoned it and helped out it on the grill.

My husband handled most of the grilling, but explained everything as he was doing it. The chef was able to help turn the broccoli, but the grill was pretty hot and a little smoky near the fish.

The meal was a huge success! We will definitely be making the avocado tzatziki again πŸ™‚ The entire meal was easy to prepare and didn’t take long at all. Can’t beat a quick and delicious meal!!

Here is Bobby Flay’s recipe originally from Grill It, but I found it in Food and Wine’s Best of the Best


What’s your favorite way to grill salmon? How is your summer going? Does your routine change in the summer?

Simply Kid Chefs: Taco Burgers

20140714-063427-23667433.jpgAfter some busy and fun weekends, our oldest took the kitchen back this weekend. Over the winter, the boys wanted to know if they would be cooking over the summer and I said, yes. They were beyond excited to think about using the grill.

As we talked about them getting back in the swing of cooking, they were both excited to return to the kitchen. I reminded this week’s chef that he could pick a grilling recipe.

It is no surprise that cheese burgers on the grill was his immediate decision. I suggested that we should do something to mix it up, a special sauce or flavoring. Without pause, he wanted to add taco seasoning to the meat. Why not?

After the beach, we went to the store and he selected toppings to go with his burgers. He decided on cheddar cheese, salsa, guacamole, crushed tortilla chips and Dad requested green chiles.

We came home, watched a little World Cup and got to work. He crushed the chips (I think one of his favorite parts) with a potato masher in a bowl and then got to work mixing the meat.

I helped him divide the meat, but he made the burgers himself.

Then it was time to grill and he had a great teacher!

He did everything except take the burgers off the grill. There was a little re-adjusting at times by Dad, but overall – he did the grilling.

We kept everything pretty simple. The burgers were about 2 pounds ground beef with one packet of Old El Paso taco seasoning.

There are so many ways you could play with this. Fresh garlic, onion, cilantro with chili powder and paprika is one variation that jumps to mind.

As for easy and yummy, this meal received four thumbs up! Our youngest, who generally doesn’t eat burgers (he is a devout hot dog eater) ate his entire burger and complimented the chef πŸ™‚

How do you mix up burger recipes? Did you watch the World Cup?

If you missed it, last week I was featured by My Fit Family πŸ™‚ Click here to read it!

Travel through the eyes of our children

Over the years, we have been lucky enough to travel with our children. While they have both been to California, it has been about five years. Basically brand new for the kids.

On the day of our departure, we woke up early and enjoyed muffins on the way to the airport. While waiting for our flight, we saw a Red Sox player named, Mike Carp. He’s no Papi, but the kids were thrilled – even more so when he was on our flight!

We have the flying down. One kid gets the window, mommy in the middle and the other on the aisle. Daddy gets the other aisle seat ;). The youngest had the window for the flight out (of course we switch on the way back) and enjoyed all of the different sights.

He was surprised to see the quilt-work of the farms and then the Rockies appeared. He had us get the camera and took a picture himself. Then, the Grand Canyon.

It is nice to have a reminder of just how BIG the United States really is! The excitement and commentary of the kids is infectious!

Once we were settled into Cayucos, we spent a lot of time celebrating the upcoming wedding of my brother-in-law with friends and family. We were sure to get out and explore as kids don’t do well cooped up in a hotel and really, isn’t exploring part of the fun?

I’m the daughter of a naturalist (you can check out my mom’s nature blog, here) who was raised to observe and enjoy my surroundings. My husband was also raised to enjoy nature and to be aware. As a result, our kids LOVE looking at different animals.

A different coast means plenty of different wild life! We ventured to San Simeon to see the elephant seals and were lucky enough to see many zebra along the way. The zebra are from Hearst Castle and often surprise people along highway 1.

20140618-065117-24677681.jpgWe saw a bunch of sea otters in Morrow Bay, a heron rookery full of nests and babies and plenty of new birds. Our youngest and I even saw a whale breaching off in the distance as we went for a morning walk.

Each day, the kids ran down the beach and checked out the many tide pools along the way. When traveling with kids, you have to be prepared to stop (often) along the way.

It is fun to see them so excited about how different a squirrel or sea gull is from the ones at home. They also notice the similarities of some crabs, and birds. It’s great for them to experience a completely different ocean and all that it has offer.

I love that traveling with the kids brings a whole new perspective and causes us to slow down and really soak in our surroundings!

Have you traveled with children? Do you make a point of stopping and soaking it in? Where is your favorite place to travel?