Posts Tagged ‘cooking with toddlers’

Banana Mini Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting

Friday, February 6th, 2009

We were invited to a toddler pre-game playdate on Super Bowl Sunday and brought these mini cupcakes. The bananas added enough sweetness that I was able to reduce the sugar in the recipe by half; the frosting of course more than compensates for the not-too-sweet cake. I called it Nutella frosting, but I actually used an organic chocolate hazelnut spread from Whole Foods.

banana chocolate hazelnut cupcakes

Banana (Mini) Cupcake Recipe
From The Cupcake Project


  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup raw sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 bananas

Instructions: Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl. Mix in eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add sour cream, flour and baking soda and mix just until ingredients are combined. Add vanilla and mashed bananas and mix until smooth. Drop batter by tablespoons into lined mini cupcake tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean, but be sure to remove before they start to turn brown. (For full-size cupcakes, bake 20 minutes.)

Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting


  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, melted
  • 1 pound confectioners sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk, additional as needed

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix until smooth. Add additional milk as needed to reach spreadable consistency. Frost cupcakes and top with banana or chocolate flavored jelly beans. Enjoy!

Tapas for Toddlers

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

It’s no secret that tapas are one of my favorite foods and Jaleo, the first outpost of gregarious local chef Jose Andres’ growing empire is my favorite local restaurant. When you think about it, tapas (“little plates”) are really the ideal toddler-friendly meal, with small portions, varied colors and textures that catch their eye without being intimidating.

I recently posed a question to Chef Andres via the PBS Engage blog‘s “Five Good Questions” feature (a great read, by the way).

I am a long-time fan and Jaleo was one of the first restaurants we took my son out to eat in. He was a big fan of the (original) patatas bravas. I know you have young children too so I’m curious what their favorite tapas recipes are? Colleen

My girls love croquetas! I think all children do. Crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. They also love pan con tomate, the classic Catalan tomato toast. Many parents tell me that their children love tapas. They love the little plates and the fact that they don’t have to make up their mind and can try a little bit of everything. I think it also reflects the pure straightforward nature of Spanish cooking. Children respond to the pure flavors of dishes where ingredients speak for themselves. – Jose Andres

For our Los Reyes feast this week, I made the croquetas from Andres’ previous cookbook, Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America. The book includes all our favorites from the restaurant and is a great introduction to traditional Spanish flavors. (I don’t have his newest book, Made in Spain, yet, but it has even more inspiring recipes.) These croquetas are a fried, meat-filled (chicken and serrano ham) bechamel sauce, and while I added some finely chopped red peppers, they are still not exactly a healthy dish. But, as an occasional alternative to chicken nuggets (which the toddler thought they were, at first), these are a great treat. There’s not too much toddlers can do to help prepare this recipe, unless you put them to work rolling the dough into little logs. Of course, be sure to distract them away from the kitchen when you begin the frying.

Along with the croquetas, I adapted another Andres recipe for cider-braised chorizo, using a fresh non-alcoholic cider and adding carrots and garbanzo beans to make a main-dish stew. The toddler loves eating sausage with toothpicks, so this was designed especially for him. It would work for younger kids learning to eat with their fingers, too. Just use a mild chorizo or even a sweet Italian sausage if your little ones aren’t ready for the spicier ones. And we rounded out the dinner with a red pepper and orange salad and some citrus roasted olives. (My toddler actually hates olives, because he always thinks they are grapes and is then greatly disappointed by the salty taste. I’m sure he’ll come around eventually.)

Recipe: Cider Chorizo Bean Stew
Adapted from Jose Andres


  • 8 ounces chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch slices (or milder sausage)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 carrots, cut in thick slices
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • fresh parsley, optional

Instructions: In a medium saute pan, brown chorizo over medium high heat for a 2-3 minutes. Add carrots and beans, cook 1 minute. Pour in apple cider and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 40 minutes, until cider reduces and becomes syrupy. Top with a little fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread to sop up the juices. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Update: Jose Andres cooked some recipes from Made in Spain on Martha this morning.

Treats: Grandmom’s Snowball Cookies

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

On the ninth day of Christmas …

… Grandmom D.’s Snowball Cookies. These are hardly unique, but it’s the only recipe I have passed down from my English grandmother, and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them. The toddler was quite happy to help by sprinkling “sugar snow” on them.

Cooking with Toddlers, Get-Out-the-Vote Edition

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

In honor of Election Day, the toddler and I cooked up some political sugar cookies. Our circus animal cookie cutter set had an elephant but no donkey, so we went with the “O” Obama logo for our Democratic cookies.


Cooking with Toddlers, Sushi Night

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Something I have been wanting to start for a while is a Cooking with Toddlers series. I firmly believe that involving kids as much as possible in choosing and preparing their foods helps them develop a healthy and curious attitude towards eating. For our first installment, I wanted to kick it off with something fun and sure to please. A word of advice, though — don’t attempt this when your toddler is overly tired and hungry. He was doing just fine until I had the nerve to try and roll up his sushi roll. Oy. So he had a truly free-form sushi, uh, salad.

Sushi Night: The toddler definitely inherited my love of sushi. It was his first dining experience, both sleeping in the car seat at 3 days old and the first eating-on-his-own (avocado rolls) at 9 months. Sadly, our sushi place has since changed management and our beloved server left, quality declined and prices increased. Throw in the new sustainable sushi guides which confirm that my favorite fish are both contaminated and unsustainable, and the time was definitely right to try sushi making at home. The toddler was gifted a lovely wood sushi set for his play kitchen on his birthday (thanks Aunt J!), and has been assembling and serving us sushi regularly with his great little velcro chopsticks.

Recipe: Sesame Veggie Rolls (vegetarian)

Preparation: The key to cooking with toddlers or young kids is prepping as much as possible before they join you at the counter. The last thing you want to do is leave a toddler with a measuring cup and container of sugar while you’re digging around for a forgotten seasoning … trust me! Sushi rice should be made ahead anyway to allow it to cool for easy handling. The tofu and vegetables were sliced and refrigerated until it was time to begin. Of course you can use any combination of vegetables, so make sure to include your kids’ favorites. While you can find sushi kits in many kitchen stores, the only thing you really need is a rolling mat. But even that you could do without if needed, just use a piece of parchment paper folded in half. We ate these as a side along stir-fry, but you could double the amount of vegetables and make several variations to make a full meal.


for the rice

  • 2 cups sushi rice, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

for the tofu

  • 1/2 block firm Silken tofu, chilled
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar


  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 1 avocado, pitted
  • sesame seeds
  • 4 Nori seaweed sheets
  • additional tablespoon of rice wine vinegar in a small bowl

Instructions: Cook the sushi rice – I used Lundberg’s organic sushi rice – according to the package instructions. At the end of the rice’s cooking time, put vinegar, sugar and salt into a small saucepan and heat over low until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and mix gently with the cooked rice in a non-metal bowl; allow to cool to room temperature. Thinly slice the tofu and sprinkle with garlic powder, sesame oil and 1 t vinegar. Cut the carrot and avocado into thin matchstick-sized slices. Sprinkle a little lemon juice over the avocado to keep it from browning.

When you’re ready to assemble, line up all the ingredients above your cutting board in the order you’re going to add them (rice, vegetables, tofu, sesame seeds and vinegar). Place a sheet of Nori on your rolling mat and help your toddler spread a layer of rice along the bottom inch, making sure it reaches to the side edges. Allow toddler to arrange toppings in the center of the rice, helping fill in any gaps. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, then carefully roll it up pressing gently to mold it together. Dip your finger in the vinegar and moisten the edge of the Nori to seal it closed. Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut it into 1″ pieces and let your child help arrange them on the platter. Will make 4 6-piece rolls, with plenty of extra rice. Serve with (reduced sodium) soy sauce, pickled ginger and (diluted) wasabi if your child’s brave enough, and enjoy!