Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Cooking is more than just a necessity when kids are along for the ride. Youngsters can learn about nutrition, fuel and water conservation, sanitation, and manners. As little hands gain dexterity, they acquire a new hobby that lasts a lifetime. Here are several recipes children can tackle. Some are best for older children; all require adult participation to some degree.
Youngsters can make this easy lasagna, but it’s best if a grown-up prepares the meat part and handles the oven baking. If you’re like me, you always keep a cooked ground beef and vegetable mix in the freezer. I prepare the mixture without adding salt because usually it gets added to recipes such as this one that contain salty ingredients. With this mixture on hand, it’s easy for kids to assemble the casserole.
1 pound lean ground meat
1 medium onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
10-ounce can enchilada sauce
1 cup creamy cottage cheese
6-ounce package grated, Mexican-style cheese
Round tortilla chips
Brown the meat, onion, celery, and pepper, stir-frying until the meat is done and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain off any excess fat. This can be done ahead of time by a grown-up and set aside. Or, thaw a pint of your homemade meat-onion-celery-pepper mix. Add the tomatoes and enchilada sauce to the meat mixture. Coat a 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and arrange a layer of round tortilla chips in the bottom. Spoon half of the meat mixture over the tortilla chips and then add another layer of chips. Whisk together the cottage cheese and egg until well mixed and stir in half the grated cheese. Spoon this mixture over the casserole and top with the remaining meat mixture and another layer of tortilla chips. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the foil; top with the remaining cheese; and bake for another 10 minutes uncovered. Let the lasagna stand for 10 minutes, then cut into squares using a serrated knife. Use a pancake turner to place the lasagna squares on plates.
Twinkie Petits Fours
This recipe comes from the exciting new Twinkies Cookbook ($12.95, Ten Speed Press). This slim but sturdy 112-page hardbound volume is filled with recipes that start with Twinkies snack cakes. The book, a perfect gift for your kids or grandkids, has color photos to show youngsters how to present each recipe.
4 ounces chocolate chips
4 maraschino cherries
Freeze the Twinkies for an hour. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Slice each Twinkie crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. Using a microwave-safe container, microwave the chocolate chips on high for 30 seconds; or, if you’re using both light and dark chocolate chips, heat them in separate containers. Continue cooking for 15 seconds at a time, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip each piece of Twinkie in the chocolate and place on the prepared baking sheet. If you’re using both milk chocolate and dark chocolate, decorate with drizzles or dollops of the other color chocolate. Freeze for five minutes, then top each with a dollop of whipped cream and a piece of cherry. Serve immediately.
Ladybugs On A Stick
This is just one of the ideas from Batter Up Kids: Delicious Desserts ($19.95, Gibbs Smith). This recipe makes six ladybugs, but you’ll probably want to serve two or three per person.
6 seedless green or red grapes
6 whole strawberries, with green stems intact
1 package chocolate chip mini morsels
6 decorative or plain toothpicks or wooden skewers
Place a grape on a wooden toothpick or skewer, sliding it all the way down to the end. This is the ladybug’s head. Place the strawberry on the toothpick or wooden skewer, upside down, stem first. Slide it down to touch the grape. This is the ladybug’s body. Lay each ladybug down and carefully push the chocolate chip mini morsels into each strawberry. The chocolate chips make the ladybug’s spots.
Cooking school secret: The “trick” to getting the chocolate chip morsels to stay in the strawberries is simple. Just stick the pointed end of the chocolate chips into the strawberries.
Malt Shop Pie
This recipe from Teens Cook Dessert (see below) is easy to prepare ahead of time and keep in the freezer. The taste appeals to everyone’s inner child. The authors make their own crust, but they note that prepared chocolate cookie crusts, sold in the supermarket, are a time-saver.
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
1/4-cup butter, melted
1 quart vanilla ice cream
2 cups crushed malted milk balls
1/2-cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons marshmallow fluff
3 tablespoons malted milk powder
2 tablespoons chocolate milk powder or chocolate syrup
To make the crust, place the cookie crumbs in an 8-inch or 9-inch pie pan. Add the butter and stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using the back of a spoon to make a flat, even layer.
Allow the ice cream to soften slightly, and then press it into the pie shell. Working quickly, press in the malted milk crumbles with the back of a spoon. If you let the ice cream melt too much, warn the authors, it will crystallize when it re-freezes.
Place the topping ingredients in a bowl and beat for three to four minutes until soft peaks form. Spread over the pie and freeze it for at least two hours.
Note: To make this pie at home to take on the road, cover with plastic wrap; freeze until firm; then add a layer of foil.
The fun part for children when making this recipe is the chance to “play” with the dough. Parents should help with the baking; a very hot oven is required.
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups biscuit mix
1/3-cup fruit-flavored soda, regular or sugar-free
1/3-cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking pan or sheet with nonstick spray. Mix the sugar, biscuit mix, soda, and sour cream until the ingredients are evenly moistened, then turn out onto paper towels that are dusted with flour or biscuit mix. Add the raisins and knead the dough only 10 or 12 times. Do not overwork the dough. Using floured hands, pat the dough into a circle about 1 inch thick. Cut into six wedges and gently transfer the biscuits to a baking sheet that has been coated with non-stick spray. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Split and serve hot with butter and cinnamon sugar for breakfast.
Note: Strawberry or lemon-lime sodas are best; grape soda and cola give these biscuits an unappealing color.
Snake-A-Bobs For Breakfast
Nothing starts the day better than a fire in the grill and breakfast in the open air. For this recipe you’ll need eight wooden skewers, so be sure to have them on your shopping list.
16 slices of bacon
15- or 16-ounce can pineapple chunks
1/3-cup brown sugar
Place the bacon on layers of paper towels and microwave it on high, turning every two minutes, until it’s partially done. Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice. Set the bacon aside to cool while you cut the apples and pineapple into bite-size chunks. If the apple turns a little brown, that’s okay, because cooking will brown it anyway. Begin by sticking a skewer through one end of a piece of bacon, then adding the fruit chunk by chunk, weaving the bacon back and forth between chunks so as to resemble a snake. Each snake-a-bob uses two pieces of bacon. Using tongs, place the skewers over medium heat and cook, turning often, until the bacon is done through and the fruit is nicely toasted. While the kabobs cook, stir the brown sugar into the reserved pineapple juice until it’s dissolved. During the last few minutes of cooking, gently brush the pineapple juice mixture on the snake-a-bobs.
Candy Corn Pie
A variation on the chess pie theme, this sweetly citrus pie surprises everyone with its tangy custard filling. The leftover cornbread mix can be used to make cornbread by adding just a little less liquid, or pancake batter by adding milk. To make preparation easy for children, start with a ready-made pie shell. The filling is sloppy before it goes into the oven, so parental help is advised.
1/3-cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1/2-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornbread mix
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, orange juice concentrate, water, lemon or lime juice, vanilla extract, and sugar. Stir in the cornbread mix. Pour into the pie shell and bake on the bottom shelf of the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes or until the filling is set and the crust golden brown.
More kid-friendly ideas
Make salads. Wash and dry leaf lettuce and place a piece on each plate. Drain a can of pear halves and place one or two on each plate. Using a melon baller, place a scoop of cranberry sauce in the cavity of each pear. Sprinkle with grated coconut, if you like, and lightly drizzle with creamy dressing.
Work 2 tablespoons of mint jelly and 1 cup of marshmallow cream into 1-1/3 cups of chocolate cookie crumbs. Spoon the mixture into dessert dishes or plastic cups. Just before serving this treat, top with a squirt of whipped topping.
Cut up fruit for dipping and arrange around small individual bowls of butterscotch ice cream topping.
Let two sticks of butter come to room temperature and mix in 3 tablespoons of honey and 1/2-teaspoon of cinnamon. Press into small, individual-size serving containers (such as bathroom-size paper cups or egg cups) and chill. Serve with hot pancakes or biscuits for breakfast.
To make cookies, place 1-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs in a bowl with 3/4-cup finely snipped dried apricots, 1/2-cup powdered sugar, and 1/2-cup chopped nuts. Stir together 1 tablespoon of orange juice and 1/4-cup light corn syrup and pour over the dry mixture. Combine with a rubber spatula until everything is well mixed. Form the dough into walnut-size balls and roll them in additional powdered sugar.
Books for cooks
One of the best cookbooks for young people is the new Teens Cook Dessert by Megan and Jill Carle ($19.95, Ten Speed Press). Without talking down to teens, it provides little tidbits of extra information they may need, such as explaining how to cut fat into flour and how to flute a piecrust. These sophisticated desserts would do any table proud. The only drawback is that the book doesn’t address nutrition issues or suggest alternative ingredients to lower fat and sugar content. Adult guidance can come in handy in substituting sugar-free, low-fat ice cream or whipped topping. Teens Cook Dessert is available at bookstores, online booksellers, or at www.tenspeed.com.
Cooking as a craft
The new line of Crayola Crafty Cooking Kits encourage kids’ creativity in the kitchen. In one box youngsters get a dessert mix, easy-to-follow instructions, decorating ideas, stories, and more. Kits include Fun & Hot Pretzel Shop, Inside-Out S’Mores & More, and Funny Face Crispy Rice Treats. Others let kids design custom snacks. Find them in supermarkets and online at www.crayolastore.com and keep the kits in stock for creative fun on a rainy day.
Rich and Dolly Ross, F261252, full-timers since 1998, recommend NutriCook software. Enter any recipe and it will give you nutritional values for the whole recipe as well as individual items. Try the demo online at www.nutricook.com. If this program works for you, you can download it for $39.95, or for an additional $5 you can have the CD shipped to you.
Visit Janet at CampAndRVCook.blogspot.com. The blog’s newest feature is a Campground Potluck Recipe of the Week. If you have a recipe that you enjoy making in your coach, share it with Janet at email@example.com (put FMCA in the title line) or write to Janet Groene, Family Motor Coaching, 8291 Clough Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45244.