Kids in the kitchen! Five holiday recipes just for them

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had been on hold for almost twenty minutes with a certain shipping company who will remain nameless. At the exact moment the agent came on the line, my two year old stood up and started the show that only occurs when I talk on the phone. He started shaking the maraca, jumping up and down singing Jingle Bells at the top of his lungs. I didn’t even know he had heard the song, let alone memorized it.

A couple days later, he informed me it was Christmas day. It was still November, and it occurred to me that if he was already anticipating the holidays at two years old, then he was certainly old enough to get in on a bit of holiday cooking action. So in the hustle and bustle, pull the kids into the kitchen. Give them an apron, a hand wash, and one more reason to love the holidays. Depending on the age of the kids in your life, some might need more help than others, so I’ll leave that up to you.

Butter holds a special place on the holiday table, so while this task may be wildly easy to make, the outcome is awesome, not to mention the coolness factor. I mean really, how many kids can go back to school after Christmas break spouting the tales of being put in charge of making butter for Christmas dinner? This is also a great project for a crew of siblings or cousins, because little arms may appreciate the break that comes from taking turns. Fun upbeat music will also add some shaking inspiration. You can even go a step further and make different flavored butters, folding in herbs, spices, or honey before serving.

3 c. heavy whipping cream
½ t. sea salt (optional or to taste)

Prepare the Kids Station

  1. Fill glass jars halfway with heavy cream. Use jars with tight fitting lids like mason, pickle or mayo jars. Depending on the size of the jar, you may need 2-3 jars. If kids are small, use a tight sealing Tupperware style plastic container. Let the jars/containers come to room temperature on the counter for about 30 minutes.
  2. Set out a small rubber spatula, a medium mixing bowl lined with a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth, a medium bowl with a handful of ice cubes, sea salt, a pint sized container with a lid to store leftover buttermilk, and a serving bowl or jar for finished butter.
  3. Put a pitcher of water in the fridge. You want a good source of ice water to work with.

Make with the Kids

  1. Let the kids start shaking a jar of cream. As they shake, the cream will transition into stages they will be able to feel, see and hear. First it will start to get really thick. This is whipped cream! Keep on shaking.  Then all of a sudden they will hear a sloshing sound. This is a great sign and means you are almost there.  Keep on shaking until when you peek inside the jar, the butter has formed into a solid mass.
  2. Strain the buttermilk into a small container with a lid. Reserve this for dressings or my favorite buttermilk application-pancakes.
  3. Pour water from the pitcher in the fridge into the ice bowl.  gently knead the butter in the ice water. The water will get cloudy with any buttermilk in the butter. Pour off the water and add more ice water, continuing to knead until the water stays clear.  
  4. Transfer the butter to the medium bowl lined with cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel. Gently dry the butter and squeeze out any remaining water. Turn out butter into a dry bowl.
  5. Fold in sea salt.
  6. Transfer to serving bowl or jar.
  7. Be sure to let everyone know at the holiday table who made the butter! (makes 1/2 # of butter)

Pumpkin pie wouldn’t be the same without this luscious holiday staple.

1 c. heavy whipping cream (higher quality=more amazing butter)
1 t. powdered sugar (or to taste)
1 t. vanilla extract

Prepare the Kids Station

  1. Put an empty quart size jar in the freezer for 15 minutes (make sure the lid is on tight).

Make with the Kids

  1. Put cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in the cold jar.
  2. Shake vigorously until cream thickens.
  3. Enjoy with your favorite holiday desserts!

Save all your pie dough scraps for these fun little cookies. As you collect pie dough scraps, form them into a single 1″ thick round patty. Wrap with parchment paper then with plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month, or refrigerate for the same day. The night before you make the cookies, transfer dough to fridge to thaw. The day of, remove dough from fridge for a few minutes to make it easier to roll out.

Pie Dough Scraps
1 egg + 1 t. water
1/2 c. raw or granulated sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. flour (just for sprinkling under the pie dough to keep it from sticking to counter)

Prepare the Kids Station

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (f)
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the egg and 1 t. of water to make egg wash. Set pastry brush next to bowl.
  3. In another small bowl combine sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  5. Get out your favorite cookie cutters.
  6. Clear, clean, and dry some counter space for rolling out the dough.

Make with the Kids

  1. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the counter to keep the dough from sticking. Roll out pie dough to 1/2″ thick.
  2. Cut out cookies and place on baking sheet. They won’t rise much so you can place them close together.
  3. Brush with egg wash.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from baking sheet. These will store wonderfully in an airtight container for a few days.

This time of year we could all use some spa action and kale is no exception. This is a simple technique that will make the toughest kale relax and mellow out. Kids get the chance to release some energy in the process too.

Not sure about serving raw kale at your holiday meals? Try one of my favorite quick kale salads: massaged raw kale, sliced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, shaved Parmesan, toasted breadcrumbs, salt and red pepper flakes. Trust me, this is one side that is small but mighty.

1 bunch of kale
1/2 t. kosher salt

Prepare the Kids Station

  1. Fill large bowl with water in the sink.
  2. Put dirty kale on one side of the counter, and a clean kitchen towel on the other.

Make with the Kids

  1. Holding kale by the stem, dip leaves in water and swirl around until clean. Lay leaves on clean kitchen towel and repeat until all kale is washed. Depending on how dirty the kale is, you may need to change the water a few times.
  2. Rinse out the washing bowl and dry.
  3. Fold towel over kale and press gently to dry the leaves.
  4. Pull leaves off the stem and tear into bite sized pieces, putting them in clean bowl.
  5. Sprinkle kale with salt and start massaging. You will notice the bulk of the kale starts to wilt a bit. This is tenderizing in action! Keep massaging for about a minute.
  6. The kale is now ready for a raw salad.

Easy and beautiful, this is a gorgeous addition to a holiday dessert spread, or even a festive cheese platter.

4 oz. dark chocolate
2 c. dried fruit pieces (the larger the better. my favorites are dried mango, papaya, apricots, pineapple)

Prepare the Kids Station

  1. Line a tray or baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Make some room in the fridge to set the tray when you are done.
  3. Chop chocolate and put into a microwave safe glass bowl.

Make with the Kids

  1. Put chocolate in microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until fully melted. Or melt chocolate in a double boiler by placing glass bowl over a sauce pan filled with 2″ of water over low-medium heat, stirring until melted.
  2. Dip dried fruit into the chocolate, only submerging the fruit 3/4 the way.  This will leave a nice place to hold and pick up the fruit without a chocolate melty mess now and later.
  3. Lay dipped pieces of fruit on parchment paper lined tray.
  4. Cool in fridge until set.
  5. Enjoy!

Free Holiday Magic!

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