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Announcement: Labor Day Part II: Peach Cobbler
Sep 21st, 2022 by Alex Koster

As promised here is the recipe for the peach cobbler that I made on Labor day. There are lots of recipes online but I liked this one from allrecipes.com linked here, but I’ve also included it below with my suggestions.

Peach Cobbler Ingredients

  • 8 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced thin (about 4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar*
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar*
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Optional Additional Topping

  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

1. First mix the peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Toss to coat and pour into a 2-quart baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F.

2. While the peaches pre-bake, combine the flour, remaining white and brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the cold butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the boiling hot water until just combined.

3. Remove the peaches from the oven and drop spoonfuls of the topping over them. If you like cinnamon, mix the optional additional topping above (cinnamon and sugar) and sprinkle on top. Bake until the topping is golden brown (about 30 minutes).

**NOTES**

  • We made this recipe twice and the second time we used all brown sugar which I honestly preferred to using half white and half brown sugar.
  • If you want to add a little more crunch or make the cobbler more like a crisp you can add 1/4 cup of oats
  • While this is technically a “dessert”, it’s really good for breakfast as well.

Announcement: September 5, 2022:Labor Day!
Sep 11th, 2022 by Alex Koster

My family and I went upstate for Labor day and so I took the opportunity to buy as many local ingredients and eat as many fresh foods as we could. We stopped at a farm stand and bought fresh corn and tomatoes and then went to a local farmers market in Hillsdale, NY, and bought peaches, zucchini, basil, and kale. Then we displayed our cornucopia of fresh produce on our picnic table. Now how to use it all?

Zucchini Bread

With the zucchini we made (you guessed it) zucchini bread! Was I a weird child if this was my favorite desert growing up? We usually grew it in our own garden and had so much of it, my mom would try to use it lots of different recipes–zucchini soup, zucchini and basil frittata, zucchini fries–but zucchini bread was the best.

The recipe for this is quick and easy.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (plus more for buttering 2 bread pans)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional but really tasty)

The first step is to grate the zucchini using a box grater. Be sure to leave at least 1/2 the skin on so you get some good green color. Also, if you have time, let the grated zucchini drain in a colander for 1/2 hour, particularly if it’s fresh–either homegrown or from the farmers market, like ours.

The next step is to combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon and mix with a fork or whisk.

Then whisk the wet ingredients (eggs and vanilla) with the sugar and salt and stir in the grated zucchini. Add the melted butter, stir and finally fold in the nuts, if using. Pour into two buttered bread pans.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes or when a knife comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Fresh corn is one of my all-time favorite foods so when it’s at its peak (like right now), we buy a lot and try to freeze some. To do so, husk and clean the corn and then slice the kernels off and put in a ziplock bag–then it’s easy to use when you are really missing it (like in the dead of winter).

The easiest way to slice the kernels off is to break the ear in half and put the flat (broken) edge of corn on cutting board and slice down from the top, turning ear as you go.

Luckily we had bought enough corn to freeze half and use the rest for a warm corn salad with fresh basil and tomatoes (which we served with roasted chicken thighs)

For the corn salad you will need:

  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels –about 4 ears (you can use frozen, but fresh is better)
  • 1/2 cup torn, fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced, or chives, for serving (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and let melt till just starting to brown (don’t let it burn). Add the fresh corn and sautee until tender and starting to brown. Add the tomatoes and cook until just breaking down. Salt and pepper to taste, and add the basil. Cook until basil just wilting then serve, adding scallions or chives if you prefer.

Chicken:

I served the corn salad with oven-roasted chicken thighs (although you could also cook the thighs with the corn if you prefer–just be sure to use skinless boneless thighs, not bone-in, and pre-cook them. See the New York Times easy recipe here https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1023412-skillet-chicken-thighs-with-brown-butter-corn). However, for my dinner I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.

Again this is an easy delicious way to cook chicken. All you need is

  • 6-8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating, mince the garlic finely and season the chicken all over (both sides) with salt and pepper. Rub the minced garlic in and let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Cook for 35-40 minutes–checking and turn at 20 minutes, and then again at 35 minutes to make sure they’re not too brown. Skin should be crispy but test with sharp knife to make sure done (clear juice should come out)

I also made peach cobbler but that deserves a post of its own so stay tuned for recipe!

Announcement: About KidsCookDinner.com
Feb 12th, 2022 by Alex Koster

Welcome to KidsCookDinner.com: a website my brother Max and I (Alex) started in 2015.* Originally we posted about kids’ cooking (usually dinner, but not always) and tried to draw attention to the fact that a lot of people don’t have enough to eat.  Along the way, we won a prize for our domain name, donated over $17,000 to Action Against Hunger, and competed against each other on Chopped Junior on Food Network.  

Max and Alex Cooking in 2015

We have had a lot of fun but recently I’ve become really concerned about climate change and its relationship to food. I’ve learned about food’s carbon foodprint (the greenhouse emissions produced by the growing, harvesting, processing, transporting, cooking, and disposing of the food we eat).

I’ve realized the way I eat (and most Americans eat) has a negative impact on climate change. The mass production of food, especially of animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs generates a really big foodprint. For example, commercially produced beef has a really high carbon footprint because of the methane produced by the animals themselves and the methane from manure lagoons and pits. (Methane is a greenhouse gas linked to global warming.)

I also learned that food waste is an enormous hidden contributor to climate change. The United States wastes roughly 40% of its food, and when it goes to landfills, it breaks down and produces methane. Finally, the warming global temperatures and increasingly violent weather linked to climate change are negatively affecting communities’ ability to grow sustainable crops–resulting in more global hunger. (If you want to learn more about food’s foodprint, I recommend these two sites:

https://foodprint.org/issues/how-our-food-system-affects-climate-change/ and

https://www.earthday.org/our-work/#food-and-environment )

Given all that, I decided I wanted to try to change the way I eat and also use this website to encourage others to be more mindful about the food they eat (and the food we waste). I am trying to reduce the amount of meat and dairy I eat as well as try out more plant-based recipes on this website. And, I want to try to be more conscious of food leftovers. I want to try to find ways to use them in new recipes, and when we do have compostable waste, actually compost it! We used to compost vegetable scraps every week at the local farmers’ market but we stopped during COVID. Now, I’ve started doing it again and want to work with local organizations to raise awareness of the availability of compost drop-off containers in the neighborhood. For example, I found one close to the dog park where we take our dog!

*For those of you who want to learn more about the story of our website, we created it when my mom said we couldn’t keep posting food and cooking pictures on her Facebook page. When we registered the domain, we checked a box to register it in Verisign’s national domain name contest and then had to make a video about the website.  Amazingly enough, we won the contest and $35,000!  Click HERE for more about the story of our domain name. Since we have enough to eat, we decided to donate $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

September 20, 2022: Giant Meringue Cookies
Sep 26th, 2022 by Alex Koster

I find a lot of recipe ideas on Instagram and loved this one from Apple Cake Annie’s — giant meringue cookies. With only a few ingredients and the ability to customize based on what you like, this recipe is extremely popular. It’s also easy and delicious, especially since you can choose your favorite flavor.

Ingredients 

  • 150 g Egg Whites (4 egg whites)
  • ¾ tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 220 g Caster Sugar (normal granulated sugar OK)
  • Optional flavors: Nutella, caramel, jelly, melted chocolate (or whatever else you dream up)
  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F 
  2. In a stand mixer bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks
  3. Slowly add the caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and whisk each tablespoon for 30 seconds (set a timer!)
  4. Once all of the sugar has been added, continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy 
  5. Scoop the egg white mixture onto a lined baking tray and make a small divot in the center of each scoop. 
  6. Optional- Dollop a teaspoon of the filling of your choice onto each mound, then swirl it with a toothpick.
August 22, 2022: Poke Bowls
Aug 31st, 2022 by Alex Koster

Welcome to kidscookdinner.com (you can read more about the site and how it started below, but this post is about today’s meal!) I was really in the mood for a salmon-based poke bowl today but I couldn’t find sushi-grade salmon so I decided to use tofu instead.

There’s no actual recipe because I made this one up as I went along, using many items we had in the pantry, but you can see the full list of ingredients and approximate amounts below.

An essential step in cooking tofu is to try to remove some of its excess moisture so the first thing I did was to cut the block of tofu into cubes, cover it with paper towels and put two heavy saucepans on it to sit for approximately half an hour. Meanwhile, I started cooking the rice in our rice cooker and sliced the vegetables I was using (mushrooms, red onion, and carrots).

After 30 minutes, the paper towels were very damp and the tofu was ready to sautee. I wanted it to be crispy so I coated the cubes of tofu in a mix of cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then I fried the cubes in a little olive oil for about 3 minutes on each side until they were browned and crispy. I removed them and placed them on a plate lined with paper towels.

The next step was to quickly sautee the sliced mushrooms (using the same pan) and slice an avocado (Cook’s tip: wait to the last minute to slice the avocado so it doesn’t turn brown.) Then it was time to put everything together.

I gathered all of my ingredients, including the tofu, cooked rice, sautéed mushrooms, sliced carrots, sliced avocado, and sliced red onion, and assembled them in a bowl. Then I topped it with strips of dried seaweed, sliced scallions, and sesame seeds. It is probably the most colorful and aesthetic dinner I’ve ever had and is easily customizable to anyone’s preferences.

Ingredients:

For the tofu:

  • 5 oz block of tofu, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Bowl

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 carrot, sliced thin or curly peels
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, sauteed
  • 1 avocado
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced thin
  • Sesame seeds to garnish
  • Dried seaweed to garnish
August 1, 2022: Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
Aug 21st, 2022 by Alex Koster

I’ve always wanted to try making lemon loaf (mainly because I love the one at Starbucks) and the addition of poppy seeds makes the loaf look much prettier and adds a gentle crunch. I found a recipe from delscookingtwist and it turned out great. The loaf was the perfect snack on our road trip to Lake George for a family vacation.

The recipe is pretty simple but has a fair number of steps starting with sifting the flour into a bowl and adding the baking powder and salt. Then in a different bowl use a mixer to cream the butter and sugar until smooth then add the eggs one by one along with the lemon juice, zest, and poppy seeds. Finally, mix in the milk and the flour mixture and pour the batter into a butter loaf pan to bake! Your oven should be preheated to 350 degrees and the cooking time is 50-60 minutes. (Toothpick inserted into the middle should come out clean.) Once cooled you can add a glaze which is incredibly easy to make (just combine lemon juice, powdered sugar, and milk). Ingredients listed below:

For the loaf:

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups unsalted, soft butter (but not melted)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 3/4 cup milk

For the glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons milk

Simple Southwestern Salad
Jul 26th, 2022 by Alex Koster

Since summer has started I’ve been making my own lunch everyday and this personalized southwestern salad is by far my favorite. It is quick to make, customizable, and DELICIOUS!

I usually make mine with corn, beans, feta cheese, onions, and peppers, but if I have the right them I’ll add lettuce, tomato, avocado, or even turkey or chicken for protein!

Southwestern Salad

June 12, 2022: Sur La Table – Croissants
Jun 12th, 2022 by Alex Koster

For Mother’s Day, I bought a Sur La Table cooking class on how to make Croissants from scratch. You may remember that my mom and I did a sushi-making class at Sur La Table earlier this year and since we had so much fun learning to make sushi, I decided to get my mom another class on how to make delicious pastries. 

During the class, we learned how to make morning buns, pain au chocolate, and classic croissant dough. It was a long process (especially for an early Saturday morning) but it was really fun and interesting to create the flaky layers of the ultimate French breakfast treat. (Morning buns are essentially cinnamon rolls made with croissant dough –I’d never heard of them but they are delicious!)

The basic croissant dough process involves making a very buttery batter and then spreading butter across that batter and folding and folding and folding, all while trying to keep the butter from melting (and from escaping out the sides).

I would definitely recommend taking a class at Sur la Table, they are super fun and offer a wide variety for everyone.

Banana Chocolate Muffins
May 22nd, 2022 by Alex Koster

I made these muffins a while ago but was going through my camera role today and found them. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the exact recipe I used but this one from spendwithpennies is pretty similar. They are a perfect sweet snack especially if you have some brown old bananas. Also, pro tip: sprinkle your muffins with cinnamon sugar before putting them in the oven.

I might have forgotten to take a few photos but still how amazing do they look 🙂

Final product!!

Spring Break
May 11th, 2022 by Alex Koster

Hi! I just came back from an eventful spring break… we toured colleges in DC, Virginia and North Carolina then ended up in Florida for a relaxing getaway 🙂 Along the way, we found some amazing restaurants and I wanted to post about some of them!

First off is Luke’s Lobster which is a quick lunch place that we went to in DC (but they have a few in Manhattan). They, believe it or not, serve lobster but more specifically lobster rolls (and some other sides). The rolls were amazing with large portions of fresh lobster that weren’t overpowered by too much mayo, served on fresh bread. As good as the food was what really stood out to me about Luke’s Lobster was their environmental consciousness. They use sustainable lobster fishing to take care of oceans and preserve natural resources. Luke’s is also a certified B corporation meaning they work to achieve social and environmental good, not just profit.

Not only was the lobster delicious, but it was also great to eat at a restaurant that practices “traceable, sustainable” seafood. Luke’s buys directly from fishermen in Maine who they know are working to protect our oceans.

Also, I hadn’t heard of certified B corporations until I saw it on Luke’s menu and investigated. This certification is an international certification that verifies that companies meet the highest standards of overall social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. When I read Luke’s mission statement (available here), I realized I needed to look out for more restaurants like them.

Besides Luke’s, we had several other great meals…

Rocco’s Tacos serves amazing Mexican food with fresh ingredients and a fun environment. We went to the one in Delray Beach along Atlantic ave and ordered shrimp, chicken, and chorizo tacos, chips & guac, and margaritas (for mom). The restaurant gives an exciting experience with wacky decorations and guacamole prepared in front of you. The food was great, the highlight being the guac! 

Boston’s on the Beach is a beachside restaurant good for lunch or a quick dinner. We got Bibb Lettuce Wraps with marinated chicken and carrots, Ahi Tuna Poke, and The “Power” Bowl with greens, quinoa, and chickpeas.

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