Cooking with kids

Cooking with kids: Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s that time of year again – holiday time, autumn harvest, Thanksgiving, pumpkins. Time for baking! This is our favorite Pumpkin Cake – moist, delicious, easy to bake, and ALL the kids will eat it. Frost the whole thing with the yummy Cream Cheese Frosting, or only half, for the folks who like it plain. I also love this recipe, as it only makes a few dirty dishes: 1 bowl, 1 spatula, beaters. Easy peasy.

Have your little ones help with the measuring and pouring. But don’t them lick the cake beaters, due to raw eggs – the cream cheese frosting beaters, they can lick, and lick, and lick.


4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups (or 1 small can) of pumpkin

  1. Pull out your mixer, beaters, a large bowl, and a rubber spatula.
  2. Beat together eggs, sugar, and oil.
  3. Mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Then add gradually to egg mixture.
  4. Add pumpkin last, and beat well.
  5. Pour into 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (no less).


1 stick butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese (I microwave it for 15 seconds or so)
2 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar (a.k.a. 10x sugar / confectioners sugar)

  1. Cream butter and cream cheese together.
  2. Gradually add in vanilla and powdered sugar.
  3. Beat well.
  4. Frost cake when it is cool (warm is okay, but if the cake is too hot it melts the frosting and makes it look weird).

Photo: by Pumpkin Passion.

Cooking with kids

Cooking with kids: Angel Food Cake

Summertime means easy and light cooking. And of course, angel food cake – light, sweet, fluffy, no fat, delicious with seasonal strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. And a dollop of whipped cream.  This is officially our favorite summer dessert:

Angel Food Cake


1 1/2 cups egg whites (10-12 large)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cake flour or all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Step 1:  Separate eggs. Put the egg whites in large mixer bowl. Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes. (If your kids are helping separate the eggs, have them break each egg into a small bowl. Then, if the yolk is successfully separated and there is no yolk in the egg white, you can easily pick out any egg shell bits. Then, dump the small bowl of egg white into the large mixer bowl.  You don’t want ANY egg yolk in the egg whites.)

Step 2:  Sift powdered sugar and flour together 3 times and set aside.

Step 3:  Add cream of tarter, vanilla, and almond flavoring to egg whites.  Beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form (medium to medium-high speed). Watch carefully, for when soft peaks just begin to form.

While continuing to mix, gradually add granulated sugar, about 2 T at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. (Don’t over beat.) Remove from mixer.

Step 4:  Sift about 1/4 of the flour mixture over the beaten egg whites and fold in gently. Repeat, folding in remaining flour by fourths.

Step 5:  Pour into ungreased 10″ tube pan. Gently cut through batter with a table knife to remove any large air pockets. Level the top.

Step 6:  Bake 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees until golden on top. (Don’t open oven until the cake is done).

Step 7:  When done, immediately invert cake, and cool thoroughly in the inverted pan. Gently loosen sides of the cake from pan and remove.

Now, top with fresh berries and whip cream, and enjoy!

Note:  If you don’t have an angelfood cake pan, you can make this in a 9 x 13″ pan, but reduce cooking time to 30 minutes.

Another Note:  My mixer bowl isn’t very large, so I end up dumping the beaten egg whites in an XL bowl, then folding in the flour. Otherwise, it gets a bit messy.

Photo by DailyCraft(I’d love to get a photo of an angel food cake we make, but, it gets eaten so fast… by my little angels…)

Cooking with kids

Cooking With Kids: Bread machine pizza dough

Pizza dough is crazy versatile, making delicious pizza, rolls, breadsticks, or calzones.  And with a bread machine, it’s easy as pie.  Well, a lot easier than pie, actually.  I had my bread machine for a year before some wonderful friend of mine told me I could use it to make pizza dough.  It’s all in putting the ingredients in, in the correct order.  I *love* my bread machine now.

Kids love eating and making pizza.  They can help by loading the ingredients (supervised, of course), spreading the dough, pricking the dough, grating the cheese, and putting on toppings.  My kids favorite thing is making the twisty garlic knots.  So have fun with it!  Let your bread machine do the hard part, let your kids help, use paper plates, and you’ve got an easy, delicious hot dinner that everyone will love, with easy clean up.  Yum…

Bread machine – load her up!  (follow the sequence, please)

1 ½ cups warm (not hot, not cool) water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar (along the sides)
1 package active dry yeast (make a small well in the top of the flour, like the crater at the top of a volcano, and dump in there)

Set bread machine to Dough (a non-baking setting)

When cycle is finished, let rise 30 – 60 minutes.

Let’s make this pizza!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Pull out 2 pizza pans/cookie sheets, and put a Tablespoon of olive oil in the middle of each.  You’ll need to oil your hands, to be able to handle the dough.

Punch dough down once, then remove from bread machine loaf pan.

Pinch the dough into 2 equal sections.

Plop a dough ball on each cookie sheet.

Pushing down and out, firmly but gently with your oiled hands, spread the dough to make a circle, or square, or heart shape.  (If your child makes a hole, just pinch it closed and direct them to a thicker section.)

Grab a fork, and prick the dough all over a bunch of times.

Bake pizza crusts for 10 minutes.  (I have a finicky oven, so I bake 5 minutes, then switch top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top, then bake 5 more minutes.)

Pull out pizza and place on top of your stove.

Add your toppings!  I always add sauce first, then cheese, then toppings – it bakes better, and kids can see what they’re eating, and pick it off if they don’t like it.

Bake again for 8 – 12 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to turn golden.

Remove from oven, and let cool on top of stove for 10 – 15 minutes.  Slice, then serve.

Some topping and dough ideas:

Cheese pizza – pizza/tomato sauce, grated mozzarella cheese, pepperoni.

Feta veggie pizza – drained and crumbled feta cheese, grape tomatoes (cut in half), diced red peppers, mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkle of dried basil (even better – wait until after pizza cooks, then tear up some fresh basil and sprinkle it on top).

Garlic knots – pinch off small handfuls of raw dough, then twist into knots, or shape them.  Let them rise (a second time) on the tray for 30 minutes, then bake for 10 minutes or until just golden.  While they’re in the oven, mix up some melted butter, olive oil, chopped garlic, a sprinkle of parsley, and some parmesan cheese.  Brush on the garlic sauce while the rolls are still hot.

Mini pizza’s – same as above, except instead of 2 big pizza’s, keep pinching dough in half until you get 8 pieces, then flatten to 8 mini pizza’s.

Calzones – spread out your dough, then layer one side of each circle with your toppings.  Fold the empty other side of the dough over the top, and crimp the edges with a fork.  Bake for 10 – 15 minutes.  Ideas for fillings include mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, or mozzarella cheese and sausage, or an assortment of different cheeses.  Usually you don’t put sauce inside, but warm up a good-sized bowl of sauce and dunk your calzone pieces into it.  (Good sauces include pizza sauce or marinara sauce.)

Photo by Oakleyoriginals.

Cooking with kids

Cooking With Kids: Lemon cheesecake


This is the best cheesecake I’ve EVER made, and it’s perfect for little helpers.  You’ll need to plan ahead for this delicious dessert – if you want this cake for dinner, then cook it before lunch.  This recipe takes time to soften the cream cheese, 20 minutes to make, 1 hr 15 minutes to bake, an hour to cool, then a couple hours in the fridge before eating.  Plus, everything takes longer when cooking with kids, and you don’t want to rush and get stressed out.  The goal is to have fun, and end up with something tasty to eat.


¼ cup melted butter (that’s ½ stick)
1 pack graham crackers (they come 3 packs to a box usually), crumbled
Have your child open the pack of graham crackers and put them into a freezer (sturdy) ziplock baggie (at least as big as quart size).  Squeeze air out of the bag, then have your kid put the baggie on the floor and dance on it, til the crackers are stomped to bits.  (If crumbs start coming out, stop immediately, and get a new baggie.)
¼ cup sugar (for crust)
1 ½ cups sugar (for cake mixture)
3 packages cream cheese, 8 oz each, softened
A couple hours before, pull 3 packages of cream cheese out of the fridge, and place on the counter to warm up and soften.  (If you forget, just unwrap and microwave each pack for 15-30 seconds until soft.)
4 eggs
¼ cup lemon juice, or juce from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


9” springform cheesecake pan; spray with nonstick cooking spray.
3 bowls – 1 small plastic, 1 medium glass, 1 large mixing.
Rubber spatula

Step 1:
Melt butter in medium glass bowl in microwave.
Add graham cracker crumbs.
Add ¼ c. sugar.
Dump crumbs into cheesecake pan, and press down with the back of a spoon evenly until flattened.

Step 2:
Unwrap 3 packages of cream cheese and put in large mixing bowl.
Beat till fluffy.
Add 1 ½ cups sugar.
Add eggs.
Never have kids break eggs directly into the mixing bowl – break eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl.  Pick out any stray eggshells, then they can dump the egg into the mixing bowl.
Add lemon juice and lemon zest.
Add vanilla.
Mix on low.
Pour on top of graham crust in cheesecake pan.

Step 3:
Place in oven at 300 degrees for 1 hr 15 min – I do bottom rack for 1 hour, then top rack for 15 minutes.
After cooking, set on top of the stove to cool, and take a knife and carefully run it around the outside edge of the cheesecake.  This will keep it from cracking as it settles and cools.  When cool, place in the fridge for a couple hours, then enjoy!


Cheesecake photo: by Juanelos.

Lemon photo: by Axhaaarry.

Cooking with kids

Cooking With Kids: Bean dip


A tasty and super easy to make Mexican taco bean dip.  Fast and kid friendly recipe.

Bean dip


Can of refried beans
2-3 avocados – peel, pit, and smoosh
Jar of medium salsa (or mild, if you prefer)
½ container sour cream
1 packet taco seasoning
Colby jack or cheddar cheese – grated
Scallions – thinly sliced
Tortilla chips


Grab a large dish with sides
1st layer is refried beans
2nd layer is avocados
3rd layer is a thin layer of salsa
4th layer is sour cream and taco seasoning – mixed together
5th layer is grated cheese

 Sprinkle scallions on top

And chopped up tomatoes, if you like.

Pour tortilla chips into a bowl, and enjoy your dip!

(Note:  you can substitute guacamole for avocados and salsa.)

Photo: by imelda.

Cooking with kids

Cooking With Kids: Blueberry muffins

It’s almost blueberry season here, and this is our favorite blueberry muffin recipe.  Easy to make with kids, and fabulously delicious.  Throw some blueberries in your freezer, and you can even make these in the middle of winter.

Blueberry muffins
(Makes 12 regular or 6 jumbo muffins)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease muffin pan.

In a large bowl mix:
1 ¾ cup flour
¾ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoon butter (soft)

With 2 butter knives, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.

In a small bowl beat:
1 egg
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel or 1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir egg mixture into flour mixture, until flour is moistened (will be lumpy).

Fold in 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries.

Spoon batter into muffin cups.

Bake until golden – 20 minutes for regular, 25 minutes for jumbo.