Archive for the ‘cooking with kids’ Category

A is for Apple #KidsCooktheBooks

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Happy fall! While our weather still feels a bit summery, we are all about the apples at the farmers market right now. We are so lucky to have some truly awesome orchards in the greater DC region. One of our favorites is Black Rock Orchard from Lineboro, Md., found at our neighborhood markets (Falls Church on Saturdays, Westover on Sundays) every weekend. They grow a wide variety of apples and the kids and I love discovering which ones are new each week. Our current apple-crush-of-the-week is the Ruby Jon, a delicious semi-sweet and, as implied by the name, ruby red apple.

ruby jon apples |

I also love discovering new books featuring apples, and below are a couple of our favorites to inspire you and your little ones to 1) go apple picking and 2) bake something scrumptious!

A is for Apples |


Apple by Nikki McClure

The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story by Allison Sarnoff Soffer


Apple Hand Pies

Apple Celery Soup

Apple Sausage Skillet Cornbread

Apple Cider Doughnuts


You can find some of our favorite places to pick apples in Virginia here.

How have you enjoyed your apples lately?

Asparagus and Egg Pizzas

Friday, May 1st, 2015

An updated take on pizza for spring … fresh from the farmers market!

My kids, no surprise to anyone who knows my husband and I, are true night owls. The boy has suddenly become a voracious reader, thanks in great part to the Spirit Animal series he devoured over the past couple months. We’d just concluded our year in Hogwarts, reading the Harry Potter series aloud each night, and this was the first series he really got into reading on his own. Now, we have to pry the books out of his hand at least twice each night to get him to turn off the light and go to sleep. The upside of their pushing the limits on bedtime is that they tend to sleep in later, and we’ve reached that sweet spot of parenting where they don’t need our attention the second they wake up — at least on the weekends. On the downside, it means we were late getting to the market this past Sunday and my good mood at getting to sleep in was quickly turning sour at missing asparagus for the second week. After we made our other purchases and were walking out, I saw the vendor at the end had a huge cooler labeled “asparagus.” I leaned over to confirm it was, in fact, empty — only to have the vendor announce, “Oh, we still have some if you need it.” Hallelujah!

asparagus ramp and egg pizza |

I’ve written before about the fickleness with which the foodie tots approach asparagus each year, alternately loving and hating it. A few weeks ago, we’d gotten some (non-local) asparagus in a veggie delivery from our dairy farm and the boy declared it one of his top favorite vegetables. The girl, however, is on an off-year with it. Likely thanks to Instagram, I had pizza on the mind and decided to make asparagus and egg pizzas. Not wanting to go back out just for pizza dough, I had the revolutionary idea to make it from scratch. I followed Mark Bittman’s Basic Pizza Dough recipe and am now completely embarrassed that I’ve never made it before. It came out perfectly, after just an hour to rise, and handled beautifully — so much better than store bought. (If you’ve already mastered this simple bit of kitchen alchemy, indulge me.) The dough comes together quickly in a food processor, no kneading necessary. It can be frozen, so I plan to make another batch ASAP to keep on hand and ready to pull out the next time a pizza craving strikes.

homemade pizza dough |

Now about the eggs. We only buy cage-free eggs from free-range chickens from local farmers. I’ve done the side-by-side comparison of grocery store eggs and local eggs, and the yolks are visibly, shockingly bright orange next to the bland yellow of grocery store eggs. Pastured eggs have nutrition benefits too — “2 1/2 times more omega-3s and twice the vitamin E in the eggs of pasture-raised hens,” according to a Pennsylvania State University study. And I will never believe that confined chickens are happier than chickens with access to fresh air, no matter what the Big Chicken industry would have your believe.

But when it comes to eating eggs, the male half of our family doesn’t like runny yolks, only scrambled. Thankfully the girl is coming around to my side, although that often means she’s swiping the yolk off my plate if I’m not careful.

making asparagus and scrambled egg pizza |

Most of the egg-topped pizzas you see have the whole egg with runny yolk, but I knew that wouldn’t go over well. I was afraid the scrambled eggs would dry out in the oven, so I cooked them on the stove only until just beginning to set. For the kids’ pizzas, I put the eggs on the pizza before cooking — they came out well done but not dry. (The brown crust is from the parmiggiano on top.) For my and the husband’s pizza, I cooked it half-dressed (oil, cheese, asparagus, ramps and radish) for 10 minutes, then added his scrambled eggs and my whole egg to the already hot crust. After another 6 minutes, his eggs were still soft and my white was set.

asparagus and scrambled egg pizza |

And yes, the girl swiped a piece of my runny yolk pie.

asparagus egg and ramp pizza recipe |

For the recipe below, I’ve written it as prepared with scrambled eggs. If you want runny eggs, see the note at the end. I also added ramps, but I’ve omitted them from the recipe due to their fleeting availability. Thin slices of garlic or green onions will lend a similar flavor, if desired. (I plan to make this again with garlic scapes, when they’re available.) I also added a few thin slices of an early radish from our garden.

Recipe: Asparagus and Egg Pizza

Makes: 3 personal-sized pizzas, or 2 regular


  • 1 batch pizza dough (“Basic Pizza Dough” recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half (or whole milk)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound asparagus
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • sea salt and pepper


1. Prepare pizza crust as instructed. Divide dough into 2 or 3 balls and set aside to rest while preparing toppings.
2. Preheat oven (and pizza stone, if using) to 450 degrees.
3. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Wash asparagus and trim ends. Cut into about 2-inch pieces. Prepare a separate bowl half full with ice and water. When water boils, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Immediately remove asparagus and place into ice water for a minute, then drain and set aside.
4. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium low heat. Add eggs and half and half (or milk) and whisk together. Cook, stirring frequently, until eggs just begin to thicken. Turn off heat.
5. Roll out pizza crusts and place on baking sheet or parchment paper. Brush each with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a base layer of parmigiano cheese. Spoon scrambled eggs around the pizza, then arrange asparagus over. Sprinkle with another generous dose of cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.
6. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until crust is golden and eggs are thoroughly cooked (will be firm to the touch.)

Note: To make with whole, runny eggs, skip step 4. Prepare pizzas and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully crack eggs onto the pizza (it helps contain the whites if you push asparagus to make a border on two sides). Return to oven and bake another 5 to 6 minutes, until eggs are white and mostly firm.

Pretty in Pink Picnic with Spring Radishes

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Happy Spring! We were in Florida over spring break and I was afraid we’d missed the annual DC cherry blossoms blooming — but it turns out they were much later than usual, so we still had a chance to pack a tea party picnic and enjoy eating under the beautiful blossoms. In years past we’ve been able to sneak down on a school day before the crowds of tourists invade, but no such luck this year. The foodie tot was eager to take her new bike for a spin, so we parked on the Potomac side of the Tidal Basin where the path was a little less crowded and biked down towards the Memorial Bridge to find a good picnic spot.

biking dc cherry blossoms |

I made cherry blossom green iced tea (from The Republic of Tea), sweetened with honey, to drink. To eat, we made pink radish and butter sandwiches with — of course — pink salt. The foodie tot was skeptical when I insisted on planting radishes in our garden, but couldn’t help but be intrigued when I picked up a bunch of small pink and lavender radishes at the farmers market.

radish and butter sandwich |

She made peanut butter sandwiches as back-up, but she did admit that the radish sandwich was pretty tasty. My kids will eat butter like it’s its own food group, so using it to make new vegetables enticing is a no-brainer. The butter pictured comes with our milk delivery from South Mountain Creamery.


If you don’t have a local source for fresh butter, look for a cultured butter — it has a richer, tangy flavor that is divine on toast and also adds a great flavor to roasted veggies. But I must warn you it’ll be hard to go back to the regular old sticks from the supermarket. (Though we do buy those for baking.)

pink tea party picnic |

My French breakfast radishes in the garden will be ready to eat very soon — how do you like to use radishes?

ralph lauren polo dress |
What the Kid(s) Wore: I picked up this flare-skirted, petal pink Ralph Lauren dress on sale at The Purple Goose in Del Ray — she loves it for twirling! Worn with bike shorts, of course, for biking and her new very favorite ever “Twinkle Toes” Skechers. Oh, and the coral leather bracelet is from Hanna Andersson.

Pate with Degas: Foodie Tots Cook the Arts

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

When she’s not scouting out the city’s best falafel or macarons, the foodie tot is a ballet dancer. She’s been, at her own request, in ballet classes since age two. Her program focuses their learning units around a story time to draw the kids in and keep them engaged. One day, she came out of class and struck a pose, announcing, “I’m Marie!” It turns out they had read a story about Degas’ famed sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. She wanted to know if we could go to the National Gallery to see the sculpture. As luck would have it (or perhaps it was intentional on the part of our ballet school), a musical production of the fictionalized story was about to premiere at the Kennedy Center, and I had been debating whether the tot, at age four, was old enough to attend her first grown-up production. I went ahead and got tickets for a weekday matinee, and we were off to the National Gallery to whet our appetite by exploring Degas’ sculpture and ballerina paintings.

visiting Degas' Little Dancer |

Of course, as a family food writer I’m always looking for a way to inject food into our experiences, and we had two chances in our Degas adventure. First, no visit to the National Gallery is complete without a stop for gelato in the below-ground cafeteria. We happened to run into a preschool classmate there and the two girls danced around the cafe in between bites of gelato.

Paté with Degas | chicken liver pate recipe |

During the show — which was more magical than I can describe — I noted that Degas’ housekeeper once mentioned preparing a lunch for him of “a baguette and paté.” So naturally I seized upon the opportunity to introduce the tot to paté at home. I didn’t grow up eating chicken liver or the like, but have acquired the taste for it as an adult. Liver is so rich in nutrition that I’ve been meaning to find ways to include it more in our home cooking. The foodie boy actually encountered it several years ago when we arrived at my brother’s for a holiday. My sister-in-law had made some paté and set it out for hors d’oeuvres. From the table, mouth half full, he called out to his cousin, “Come try this chocolate dip!” We all looked at him wondering what on earth he was talking about — only to notice he was scooping the pate onto crackers and scarfing it down. The foodie tot had a good laugh over this story as I tried to fend off her little fingers long enough to snap pictures for this post.

Paté with Degas tea time |

I’m not going to lie, the cornichons likely made all the difference in enticing the foodie tot to try our paté. I also set the table with our china tea cups (purchased at a thrift shop) and when she came into the room and saw the table she gasped, “Oh, are we having a tea party?!” Another reminder that sometimes it’s simply how you present a new food that will encourage little ones to give it a try.

chicken liver paté with cornichons |

Recipe: Simple Chicken Liver Paté

Makes 16 servings, as an appetizer


  • 1 pound chicken livers, preferably from free-range chickens
  • 1/2 cup plus four tablespoons butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 4-6 fresh sage leaves


1. Melt two tablespoons butter in skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook for a minute, then add livers and saute, stirring occasionally, until outsides are browned, about five minutes. (Insides should still be pink.) And sherry and cook for an additional minute, until steam subsides.

2. Remove from heat and let cool a little before transferring livers and cooking liquid into a food processor. And 1/2 cup butter, two sage leaves, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.

3. Spoon paté into individual ramekins or small jars. Place a sage leaf on top of each. Melt remaining two tablespoons butter and gently spoon over tops. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving, and be sure to serve with toasted sliced bread or baguette and cornichons.

Cooking with Kids notes: Little ones can carefully chop the shallot (it doesn’t need to be perfect since the mixture will be puréed) and press the buttons on the food processor.


Sadly Little Dancer has already ended its (too short) run at the Kennedy Center, but thanks to the magic of social media, we now follow the dancer who plays young Marie on Instagram — and you can only imagine how thrilled the foodie tot was when Tiler commented on one of her own ballet photos. You can still see the Little Dancer sculpture, and the famous Degas ballerina paintings, at the National Gallery of Art.

@foodietots instagram

Kids Cook: Cider-Braised Bok Choy and Sausage #52NewFoods {Giveaway}

Friday, October 24th, 2014

A fellow family-food blogger, and creator of the game “Crunch a Color,” Jennifer Lee, has a new book out next week: The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes. The premise of the challenge is simply to cook a new food item together each week. In addition to recipes, the book offers advice for shopping together (at the farmers market, preferably) and other strategies to help children develop a healthy relationship with food. And then it leads you through 52 foods grouped by season with kid-tested recipes. I particularly like that these aren’t cutesy recipes for kids, but real dishes that the whole family will enjoy. My son quickly flipped to the edamame section and asked to make the Edamame Pasta Salad next.

FoodieTots #52NewFoods Challenge

We accepted Jennifer’s challenge to create a recipe around one of the 52 new foods in the book, and started with Bok Choy. We may have had it once or twice in the past, but it never really caught the kids’ attention until the boy started playing Plants vs. Zombies. Yes, sometimes a video game can lead to healthy food discoveries — who knew?! One day we were strolling through the market and he pointed to a table exclaiming, “look, bok choy!” Of course I seized the opportunity and brought several bunches home to try. Bok choy may have an odd sounding name, but it’s really a fairly mild vegetable and can be cooked in ways that bring out the sweetness, like the cider-braised technique I used here. I added sliced sausage to make it a main dish, but you can simply omit the sausage if you want to keep it vegetarian and serve it as a side.

foodietots taste bok choy #52NewFoods

When they realized I was going to take pictures of them prepping the bok choy, they decided to get a little silly. Much to my surprise, my leafy-green-loathing foodie tot quickly followed her big brother’s lead and chomped down on a raw leaf, declaring, “Oh, now I love bok choy!”

This recipe provided a good opportunity for knife skills practice as the bok choy just needs a simple trim of the bottom (and check out the neat flower shape that remains), and the sausage was easily sliced as well.

Cider Braised Bok Choy and Sausage |

As for the finished dish …. well, the foodie tot stuck to the sausage, but the foodie boy asked for seconds. At least now I know to just give the tot her leaves fresh!

Today is Food Day, and in my opinion, the single most important thing we can do today is to welcome the kids into the kitchen and cook something together. Will you join us and take the #52NewFoods Challenge?

Recipe: Cider-Braised Bok Choy and Sausage


  • 5-6 bunches of bok choy
  • 4 chicken and apple (or other mild) sausages
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • sea salt & pepper


1. Help children trim ends from bok choy and separate leaves. Place in colander to rinse and let drain.

2. Slice sausages into 1/2 inch pieces.

3. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Brown sausages, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

4. Add bok choy to pan, pour cider over and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, until bok choy is tender.

GIVEAWAY ~  One lucky reader will receive a copy of the 52 New Foods Challenge book: Simply follow the instructions below to enter. A winner will be selected Friday, November 7.

52 new foods challenge cook book