Announcement: Baked Orange Cauliflower
Oct 3rd, 2021 by Alex Koster

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Recently I’ve been trying to find healthier recipes that don’t use as much meat but are still easy to prepare. I was in the mood for orange chicken and decided to try and replicate it with cauliflower, I used Simply Health Kitchen’s recipe and it was both easy, and fun to make.

  • To make the actual cauliflower you cut it into bite size pieces ( this is honestly based on preference but I made mine smaller so they would be crispier), then set up a work station of sorts, one bowl with panko crumbs, one with a whisked egg, one with the cauliflower and a lined baking sheet. The prep might seem like a lot but I promise it’s worth it and makes everything much easier. Start by dipping one cauliflower floret into the whisked egg, then dip it into the panko crumb, the egg should make the panko stick onto the cauliflower but you can alway use your fingers to help coat it. Once you do that to all the florets, bake them at 400F for about 15-20 min.

Okay, now for the orange sauce, I followed the recipe and actually made the sauce and though it tasted good, I would recommend just buying an orange sauce, because the flavors can be really hard to replicate when you’re trying to make it at home. But in case you do want to make it here are the steps:

  • Whisk together orange juice, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ketchup, sriracha, ginger and garlic and pour it into a sauce pan, bring it to a low boil, stirring constantly. The recipe says to add a water-cornstarch mixture to thicken but I found that that made the sauce clumpy, so instead I recommend slowly adding plain cornstarch while whisking, until you get the consistency you want (about 2 tbsp).

Then just put some of the orange sauce on the cauliflower and you’re done! One great thing about the recipe is that it’s incredibly versatile, you can serve it with whatever you have: I personally used leftover quinoa, but have made it with rice and beans.

Announcement: Copycat Levain Cookies
Aug 18th, 2021 by Alex Koster

If you’re a foodie and live in NYC you’ve probably had the famed Levain bakery cookies. Today I made them and they taste nearly identical to Levain’s. To make this surprisingly simple recipe you will need: 1 cup cold butter cut up, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 & 1/2 cups cake flour, 1 & 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 2 cups chocolate chips and 2 cups chopped walnuts. 


To start preheat the oven to 410 degrees then cream the butter and sugars till creamy. Then add the eggs and mix, meanwhile combine the dry ingredients (flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt), then stir into the butter-sugar-egg mixture. Lastly, add the chocolate chips and walnuts. Scoop onto a baking tray and bake for 9-12 minutes, then let them set for 10 minutes.

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  • If you don’t have cake flour you can make it by measuring 1 cup of flour, removing 2 tablespoons of it and replacing the removed flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • Walnuts are optional
  • If you want you can add 1 tsp vanilla extract with the eggs
  • We made pretty big ones so they were more similar to the Levain ones but you can adjust the size.


Announcement: July 12, 2021: Pasta Night: Penne alla Vodka
Jul 18th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website my sister Alex and I started more than five years ago to talk about cooking, food, and helping hungry people.  To read more about the charities we support, our adventures on Chopped Junior and the website, scroll down to About Kids Cook Dinner. To see what we’re cooking right now, just stay here.

Tonight I wanted to make Penne Alla Vodka, one of my favorite kinds of pasta.  This recipe is based on Colu Henry’s Pasta Alla Vodka available at I really like this recipe because it has pancetta in it.  You can leave it out if you want to, but I really like the taste.

The ingredients for the sauce are straightforward.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta (optional)
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced or 1 teaspoon pre-chopped, bottled garlic
  • One 28 ounce can of crushed or chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving


For the pasta, you need one pound of penne pasta.  (Alex wanted to try a new low calorie, high protein pasta so I made a pot of that, as well as a pot of regular penne, so we could have a taste test.)


The first step is to saute the pancetta in the olive oil  until crispy brown and start a pot of water boiling (or if you are taste testing two kinds of pasta…obviously start two pots of water boiling.)


2. The second step is to add your chopped onions and garlic to the saucepan with the pancetta and cook until the onions are translucent, about five minutes.  Turn off the heat if using a gas stove, add the vodka, and then turn heat back on to low and cook till the liquid is reduced by half,


Stir in the tomatoes and swish about half a can of water in the tomato can to pick up the remaining tomatoes. Add no more than half of that liquid and simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Meanwhile, add your penne to the boiling water if you haven’t already.  Note, if you are using chopped tomatoes instead of crushed ones, your sauce will be a little chunky. Either break it up with your spatula or, if you really want a smooth sauce, puree the chopped tomatoes in a blender before adding.


Add the cream, stir, and cook for about a minute (and keep track of your pasta!)


Once the pasta is done, drain and return to the pot to keep warm.  Here are photos of the two types of pasta; they look almost identical but the “light” pasta is actually lighter in color.


Regular Pasta above


Light, Enhanced Protein Pasta above

When the vodka sauce is ready, set up your serving station and let your guests choose their penne and chow down.

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I tried both types of penne and, while they were very similar, I preferred the regular pasta.



Announcement: Wednesday, June 16, 2021: Turkey Sloppy Joes
Jun 22nd, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website my sister and I started five years ago to talk about kids cooking, healthy food, and the issue of hungry people. COVID has only made food scarcity a bigger problem so please consider donating to a hunger-relief charity or even a local food bank.  Scroll down to the About Us  page to learn more about the hunger-relief charities we support.

Tonight I am making Turkey Sloppy Joes because I want to make sure I practice making some of my favorite family meals (since I’m going to college in the fall).  This is a very straightforward, 4-step recipe, especially if you can find pre-chopped onions and carrots:

Here’s what you need:

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And here’s the recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Sloppy Joe recipe)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 carrots, coarsely chopped or grated
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove minced.
  • 3 tablespoons tomato pasta
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 15 ounce cans crushed  tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional, but good if you have it)
  • 4 hamburger buns (brioche = best)

Step 1: chop your carrots and onions (even if you brought them already chopped, they probably need to be chopped more finely.

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Step 2: heat the oil at medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and carrots and cook until soft, then add the garlic (if you add it too early, it may get too brown.) Salt and pepper.


Step 3: add the tomato paste and cook for one minute, then add the turkey, breaking it up with a spatula, until no longer pink (about 4-5 minutes).

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Step 4: finally add the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, and Worcestshire sauce. Cook for 12-14 minutes, stirring once in a while until thickened.


Serve over your brioche buns.  (Note Koko’s photo-bomb)


Announcement: May 10, 2021: Crème Brûlée
May 11th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a site my sister Alex and I (Max),  started in 2015 to talk about healthy food, kids’ cooking, and how to help hungry people. To learn more about why we started the site and what hunger-relief charities we support, please scroll down a bit to the “About Kids Cook Dinner…Chopped Junior” page and consider donating to a hunger-relief charity.  We recommend Feeding America, Action Against Hunger, or if you’re local in NYC, City Harvest.  (Click the name of the charity to donate.) COVID has made hunger even worse both in the United States and worldwide,  so please if you are able to, think about donating to support hungry families.

Although I have been focusing on cooking meals that don’t require many ingredients (since I am heading to college soon), today I really craved Crème Brûlée.  I also wanted to use the butane torch that has been sitting in our cupboard since the last time Alex and I made this dessert. (That was five years ago, for Valentine’s Day, 2016.  I can’t believe my mom let a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old use a butane torch!) Anyway, this recipe is courtesy of Mark Bittman and The New York Times and is simple and delicious.  If you don’t have the butane torch, you can use the oven broiler, but the torch is more fun.

Here are the ingredients you need:

  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 5 Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar (plus more for caramelization
  • 1/8 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla


You will also need some enamel ramekins.  The recipe calls for four 6-ounce ramekins, but I used six 4-ounce ramekins since that’s what we had.


The first step is to preheat the oven to 325 degrees, heat water in a teapot, and find a shallow rectangular pan to eventually place the ramekins in.

Then heat the cream and salt on low just until hot.


Meanwhile, separate the 5 egg yolks and beat them with the 1/2 cup sugar until light.

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Stir one cup of the hot cream into the sugar-egg mix, beat, and then pour the sugar egg mix in the remaining cream and beat.

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Carefully pour the combined mix in the ramekins and place in the rectangular pan.


Move the pan as close to the oven (to minimize how far you have to carry it).  Add the boiling water to the pan with the ramekins, about halfway up the sides of the dishes.


Bake for 30-40 minutes till centers barely set.  Remove the ramekins from the baking pan and let cool for several hours.  You could also prepare this a day ahead and keep well covered in the fridge.


When ready to serve, sprinkle each custard with a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer.  Carefully read the instructions of your butane torch if you are using one!  (If you don’t have a torch, broil in the oven for 3-5 minutes but keep a close watch on them.)


Then fire away! (This was the best part of the recipe)

Our torch was really powerful.  I realized I needed to move it around a bit more: otherwise, some areas would get a little too brown.

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Decorate with fresh berries if you have them (they can also hide brown spots).



Announcement: About Kids Cook Dinner and Max and Alex’s Adventures on Chopped Junior
Sep 29th, 2017 by Katekoster

Welcome to a website/blog dedicated to kids cooking (usually dinner, but not always) and also to draw attention to the fact that a lot of people don’t have enough to eat.   And thanks for all of you who watched us compete on Chopped Junior on Food Network which first aired in 2017, and then still occasionally reruns.   We were thrilled to compete to raise awareness (and hopefully money) for Action Against Hunger, an international hunger relief charity that we have supported since we first won a prize for our website domain name: and donated $17,000 to that charity.  If you want to find out more about Action Against Hunger or donate to this charity, please click HERE.  But if you just want to see what we cooked this week or other weeks, just scroll up or down! 

2021 Update: as our city, state, nation, world continue to struggle to deal with COVID-19, hunger is not going away, in fact it’s getting worse.  As we see it affect our fellow New Yorkers, we have also been donating to local hunger relief organizations, such as City Harvest.  Please consider giving locally if you can (HERE is City Harvest’s link.) Another great charity is Feeding America (link HERE). Stay safe and well!


Dinner in 2015


Dinner in 2020

As you may know, we (Max and Alex…the kids) started cooking dinner for our family once a week back in 2015.  We realized how fun it was to cook and we wanted to share our experiences (and encourage kids to cook), so we started this website.  We also randomly entered the website in a national domain name contest.  Amazingly enough, we won the contest and $35,000!  Click here for more about the story of our domain name.


But because we have plenty to eat, and millions of people around the world don’t, we donated half of our prize ($17,000) to Action Against Hunger–a charity dedicated to saving the lives of malnourished children and helping vulnerable communities become self-sufficient. We were lucky enough to get to visit the Action Against Hunger office in New York and meet some of their amazing staff. (Below we are sitting with Alex Cottin, Director of External Affairs, and Andrea Tamburini, CEO of AAH-USA, in August 2015)

Max and Alex with Alex Cottin, Director of External Affairs and Andrea Tamburini, CEO, of AAH-USA

We hope you enjoyed watching us compete on Chopped Junior and we hope you are inspired to cook more.  Let’s all try to take the time to enjoy what we cook together. And, at least for our family, let’s be thankful for what we have and try to help those in need.


April 21, 2021: Sheet Pan Chicken with Paprika and Tomatoes
Apr 25th, 2021 by Max Koster

Hi Welcome to, a site my sister Alex and I (Max),  started in 2015 to talk about healthy food, kids’ cooking, and how to help hungry people. To learn more about why we started the site and what hunger-relief charities we support, please scroll down a bit to the “About Kids Cook Dinner…Chopped Junior” page and consider donating to a hunger-relief charity.  Feeding America, a charity we support, projects that 42 million people (1 in 8), including 13 million children (1 in 6) will experience food insecurity in 2021 due to the economic impact of COVID-19, so every dollar donated helps… and that’s just in the United States.  It’s even worse worldwide so please if you are able to, think about donating to support hungry families.

I am heading to college soon, so Alex will be taking over the website, but I’m focused on learning (and remembering) simple meals to cook.  So tonight I interpreted another “sheet pan dinner” from The New York Times, “Sheet-Pan Chicken with Jammy Tomatoes and Pancetta” by Melissa Clark.   I always change things up, but maybe I made too many changes because this wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.


The ingredients are as follows:

  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a bit more for drizzling)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil for serving.

First, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Salt and pepper the chicken on a plate.


Smash all the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and finely mince the largest one.  Combine the minced garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, oregano, and cumin in a medium bowl.


Pour over the chicken, mix till chicken coated, and then put the chicken on a sheet pan.


In the bowl that you mixed the garlic, lemon juice, paprika, etc. (and which is now empty) add the tomatoes and the remaining 9 smashed cloves of garlic. Salt and pepper them, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and add to the sheet pan.


Sprinkle the pancetta on top of the tomatoes/garlic.

Put the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes: then toss the tomatoes/garlic/ pancetta, and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown.


To plate, transfer the chicken first to the plates. Then stir the tomatoes/pancetta/ garlic (add salt and pepper if necessary) on the sheet pan and spoon it over the chicken. Top with shredded basil.  I also cooked some pasta to go with it.

max paprika chicken,final

OK: I have to be honest: I didn’t love this dish, and maybe it’s my fault because I added a bit more paprika than Melissa Clark recommended (I would cut it to 1/2 teaspoon), but it was definitely edible and you have to try new stuff.  But next time I’m just cooking steak and potatoes!

Saturday, April 10, 2021: Crispy Gnocchi with Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil
Apr 11th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website I (Max) started with my sister Alex 5 years ago to talk about kids’ cooking, healthy eating, and the challenge of hunger worldwide.  To learn more about why we started the site and what hunger-relief charities we support, please scroll down a bit to the “About Us” page and consider donating to a hunger-relief charity.  Feeding America, a charity we support, projects that 42 million people (1 in 8), including 13 million children (1 in 6) will experience food insecurity in 2021 due to the economic impact of COVID-19, so every dollar donated helps.

As I prepare for college next year,  I plan on handing over complete control of this site to Alex.  However, in the meantime, I am focusing on cooking simple one-sheet or one-pan dishes, with minimal ingredients, since I know next year I won’t have the luxury of my parents’ well-equipped kitchen when I get hungry for home-cooked meals.  Because of this, a recipe in this weekend’s New York Times from Ali Slagle appealed to me.  Tonight’s dinner is largely based on her recipe for Crispy Gnocchi With Burst Tomatoes and Mozzarella.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 1 Tablespoon, plus more as needed, of olive oil
  • 1 12-18 ounce package of either shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Teaspoon storebought minced garlic  (OK to use fresh minced garlic but use 2 cloves)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-pint grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup thinly sliced basil leaves (optional)
  • 6 Ounces of fresh mozzarella cut in 1/4 inch thick rounds


The first step is to heat the broiler with a rack 6-8 inches below the heat source. Then, in a 12-inch oven-safe saucepan (i.e. stainless steel) heat the olive oil.  Make sure the oil coats the whole surface of the pan and add the gnocchi and spread evenly.  Cover and cook for 4 minutes.


Meanwhile thinly slice the basil.


Once the gnocchi are golden brown and crispy on one side, remove from the saucepan and add the butter to the pan.


Once the butter is melted and slightly brown, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons water.  Salt and pepper the mix.


Let the tomatoes cook for 5 minutes and when they start to soften, push down on them to make them burst.

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Add back the gnocchi, sprinkle with most of the basil (reserve a bit for garnish), and lay the mozzarella slices on top.

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Then the pan goes into the oven and broils for 1-2 minutes (until the mozzarella is melted and starting to brown). Keep an eye on the dish, as you don’t want the mozzarella to completely brown. Sprinkle your reserved basil on top and, as my mom always tells me, remember the handle of the pan is HOT.


And we are ready to eat! Delicious and truly a one-pot pasta dish: you don’t even have to boil water for the gnocchi.

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Puffed Apple Pancake
Mar 15th, 2021 by Alex Koster

Puffed Apple Pancake is a fairly simple yummy Saturday morning treat that doesn’t take much effort and is perfect if you have extra apples that may be close to going bad. After cooking the apples in cinnamon sugar, an egg mixture gets poured on top, then the mix gets baked until it puffs up and is ready to serve. The more specific recipe that we use is below, but of course, tweaking it by adding more cinnamon or sugar is always an option:)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Peel and slice 4 apples
  3. Mix ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and 5 tbsp sugar (adjust for preference).
  4. Combine the sugar mixture and the sliced apples
  5. Melt 6 tbsp of butter in a shallow pan or skillet, remove 2 tbsp butter and set aside in a bowl.
  6. Add apples to the remaining 4 tbsp of butter
  7. Cook at medium heat until apples are tender but still hold their shape.
  8. In a separate bowl combine 3 eggs, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ cup of all-purpose flour, ½ cup milk, and the 2 tbsp melted butter  (previously set aside)
  9. Beat until smooth
  10. Spread apples evenly on the bottom of the skillet and pour the batter on top. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and puffy.
  11. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy
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Sunday, March 14, 2021: Apple Pi Pie (because its Pi Day)
Mar 14th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website I (Max) started with my sister Alex to talk about food, kids cooking it, and world hunger.  To learn more about our website and the hunger-relief charities we support, scroll down to About To learn what we are cooking today, stay right here.

Today, because it’s Pi Day (March 14, or 3.14), we celebrated by making, of course, Apple Pi Pie.  (Pi, as most of you know, is the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle which is always approximately 3.14).  March 14 is also Albert Einstein’s birthday so that’s another reason to celebrate.  We don’t always celebrate Pi Day, but here are a couple of previous attempts:

Apple Pi Pie 2014

Apple Pi Pie 2014

Apple Pi Pie 2018

Apple Pi Pie 2018

For the apple pie, you need

  • 2 sheets of store-bought pastry*
  • 5 large apples
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons butter


*recipe for homemade piecrust is below if you want to make it from scratch.  Honestly, it’s better made from scratch.  Store-bought is more convenient but doesn’t taste as good. (Trader Joe’s is easy to use but tastes and looks a bit more like bread dough than pie crust.  Pillsbury is more pastry-like.)

To make Pi Pie, it helps if you have a Pi cookie cutter as well.  We have made it cutting out Pi shapes by hand, but that’s pretty difficult (see 2014’s attempt). Also, I recommend Gala apples: if you use more tart apples such as Granny Smith, you will need to increase the amount of sugar.

The first step is to thaw the pastry if it’s frozen.  Either leave in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for 45 minutes or so.


Once it’s thawed, roll each sheet out into a circle, keeping it between the wax paper if possible, and place it in the fridge to rest


Peel the apples, quarter, and slice thinly.



Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and stir into the apples.

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Then remove one of the pastry rounds from the fridge and place over a 9-inch pie pan.


Trim extra pastry from around the sides and fill with the apples.  Dot with cut up pieces of butter.


The next step is to prepare the top of the pie. Remove the other pastry round from the fridge and use your Pi cookie cutter to cut out a couple Pi shapes (or if no cookie cutter, cut by hand)

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Let the top rest in the fridge again and then place gently on top of the filling.  I also decorated the pie with the Pi shapes I had cut out.

Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 15 minutes and then turn down the heat and cook for another 30 minutes (checking every so often to make sure not to brown).

Happy Pi Day!


Ingredients for Pie Crust (if you want to make from scratch)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5-6 Tablespoons ice cold water

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Add the butter pieces and combine using a pastry cutter or 2 butter knives.  When the butter is in pea-sized pieces, add 5 tablespoons of butter and form into two balls.  Add additional water sparingly if needed.  Let two balls of pastry rest in the fridge for 15 minutes and then roll out into rounds and follow the directions above for making the pie.

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