Making Fresh Pasta with Children

Making fresh pasta: A fun activity to share with your children

Cooking with Jason and Jenna is something I wish I did more often. They’re getting older, but I don’t always recognize how much they can handle these days – especially Jenna who loves to help out in the kitchen. This weekend was a serious reminder of just how much that little girl can do.

On Friday night, I made a batch of pasta and saved some dough so that Jenna could make her own noodles the next day. I thought it would mostly be for fun and didn’t really think we’d end up with an edible batch. But the fettuccine noodles for lunch, shown above, were almost entirely Jenna’s creation.

The dough was already prepared, a step I’ll likely do in advance next time too since I used a semolina pasta recipe, which is a little hard to knead. Once I showed her how to flatten a piece of the dough and guide it through the KitchenAid attachment, she worked through the entire batch. My only role was adjusting the levels during the flattening step and turning off the power between each piece.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve made fresh pasta, but now that I have a helper, I’ll be making it more often!

Making fresh pasta: A fun activity to share with your children

 

 

Cake Pops

chocolate pound cake cake pops

chocolate pound cake cake pops

chocolate pound cake cake pops

One of our favorite Christmas gifts this year is a cake pop machine. It’s like a waffle-maker, but it creates little balls of cake. Jason and Jenna love cake pops, but I’ve never liked the overly gooey texture and overly sweetened taste of most cake pops. Since receiving the cake pop machine, I’ve learned that most cake pop recipes involve mashing together cooked cake and frosting in order to make them pliable enough to shape into the little balls. The nice thing about the machine is that you can make cake pops out of cake – no frosting needed. We’ve tried a couple of recipes so far: first, a chocolate cake recipe, next a pound cake recipe and, yesterday, I tried a chocolate variation of the pound cake recipe. Our favorite so far is the vanilla pound cake – the density of this type of cake is well-suited to cake pops. I used a recipe known as Elvis’s favorite pound cake, which resulted in amazingly moist and buttery cake. But since pound cake doesn’t use baking powder or baking soda, the batter didn’t rise enough to form perfectly round balls. So the next day I tried again, this time adding a bit of baking powder and baking soda and substituting cocoa for a small portion of the flour – because we’re a family of chocolate lovers.  The result (photos above) tasted good, but didn’t have the richness or moistness of the original Elvis recipe. I may keep playing around with the proportions to see if I can get a better result, but it’s going to be hard to make anything other than the Elvis recipe. My family is hooked.

Favorite Summer Dessert: Fruit Pizza

My mom recently reminded me of my favorite dessert as a child: fruit pizza. I made one this morning for J+J as a surprise for when they get home from school.

It’s super easy to make and can be made with homemade sugar cookie dough or store-bought dough.

Step 1: Make the Cookie Crust

I used store-bought dough and pressed it into a pan and baked a little bit longer than the package instructions (about 15 minutes at 350 degrees).

Step 2: Make the Topping

I think the cream cheese topping is my favorite part. I mixed 1/2 container of whipped cream cheese (about 6 ounces) with 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/8 cup sugar. You can make it sweeter, but I find that the fruit and cookie dough provide enough sweetness.

Step 3: Top the Pizza

Once the cookie dough is completely cool, top the pizza with the cream cheese mixture. I added a fairly thick layer.

Step 4: Prep the Fruit

I think this would make a great 4th of July dessert with blueberries and raspberries, but today I had peaches, canned oranges, strawberries and raspberries on hand. You can pretty much use any fruit. Kiwi was always a favorite topping of mine as a child.

Step 5: Add the Fruit

I worked in circles from outside to inside, but you can arrange the fruit in any pattern you’d like. If J+J like this, I’ll probably try making it with them next and let them do the decorating step. Once all of the fruit has been added, I brushed a layer of lemon juice over the top.

Step 6: Chill and Serve

You can definitely eat this right away, and if the kids were home while I was making this that’s exactly what we would have done. But this is one of those desserts that tastes better the next day, so I recommend leaving it in the fridge for at least a few hours.

Enjoy!

Recipe for a Heatwave: Watermelon Gazpacho

The triple digit temperatures in Texas are making it very hard to grill outside, so we’ve been looking for more recipes for foods that can be served cold and, preferably, uncooked. Gazpacho is a clear favorite in this category, and I recently came across this recipe for a gazpacho with watermelon. I expected it to be sweeter and lighter than traditional gazpacho, but the addition of toasted almonds and smoked paprika give it a a much heartier, smoky flavor. I hope we don’t get tired of this soup too soon, because I plan on making this A LOT.