Announcement: Penne alla Vodka
Jan 22nd, 2022 by Alex Koster

Today I made Gigi Hadid’s famous Penne alla Vodka… it was a fairly simple recipe with minimal ingredients: (serves two)

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ green onion
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjusted for preference)
  • 225 grams of shells pasta (anytype)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup pasta water
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese

To make the sauce start by dicing the garlic and green onion (use the white part of the green onion- it has the most flavor and the green part is typically used for a garnish). Then heat a sauce pan with olive oil, add the garlic, and the onion, once softened add the tomato paste. After letting that simmer (don’t burn it!) stir in the heavy cream and vodka. When the vodka has evaporated, add the red pepper flakes. At this point it’s okay if the sauce isn’t fully coming together!

Remove from heat and cook your pasta… you can use any type- I used penne but want to try it with Conchiglie. Save 1/4 cup of the water for later!

Put the sauce back on medium heat and add the butter while stirring until it melts. Add pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

Remove from heat and serve with more cheese and fresh basil. The pasta was perfect for a cozy winter night in, and I can’t wait to make it again. Enjoy!

Announcement: Greek Yogurt Bagels
Jan 19th, 2022 by Alex Koster

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when suddenly I came across an incredibly simpleand healthy bagel recipe, at first I thought it was fake… surely making bagels is a long process- but after some more research I verified the recipe:

Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp kosher salt, 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt, 1 egg white, seasoning of choice

Simply preheat the oven to 375°F.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk well. Then add the yogurt and mix with a fork or spatula until well combined, it will look like small crumbles.

Flour a surface and knead the dough a few times enough so that the dough isn’t left on your hand when you pull away.

Divide the dough in 4 balls and roll them into 3/4-inch thick ropes and join the ends to form bagels.

Cover both sides with egg wash and seasoning of your choice (I used Trader Joe’s “everything but the bagel” seasoning). Bake on the top rack of the oven for 25 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting and enjoy!!!!

**I didn’t realize how much they would rise and should have made the hole a bit bigger… still delicious!**

These are an easy, healthy alternative and seriously good, as a bagel enthusiast I would definitely recommend them!

Announcement: December 20, 2021: Crispy Sheet Pan Teriyaki Tofu, Broccoli, and Garlic
Jan 1st, 2022 by Alex Koster

Welcome to, a website my brother and I started in 2015 to talk about food and kids’ cooking. Since then we’ve tried to use it to raise awareness about social issues such as worldwide hunger (see post below “About Kids Cook Dinner…”. And now, since I’m really concerned about climate change, I want to raise awareness about food’s carbon ‘footprint”. I am trying to learn more about it, but what I understand is that the mass production of meat, dairy, and eggs has a big negative impact due to the greenhouse emissions these activities produce. I love meat but I am going to try to eat a more plant-based diet to do my part. Accordingly, today I am going to cook something healthy, high in protein–but with no meat, dairy or eggs. This tofu dish, loosely based on a recipe in Recipe Runner (I added garlic!), looked delicious.


For the tofu, broccoli, and garlic mix:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce*
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10-15 peeled garlic cloves

For the teriyaki sauce

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce*
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch whisked with 1 teaspoon water.

* you can substitute tamari sauce if you have it.

Once you have everything assembled, drain and dry the tofu with paper towels. Cut the tofu into about 50 cubes by slicing the tofu into 5 slabs, stacking them on top of each other and slicing lengthwise and then across again.

Line a sheet pan with paper towels, or a soft clean cotton towel, and lay the tofu on top in a single layer. Place a towel on top and them put something heavy on top and let the tofu rest for at least 20 minutes (longer is better).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and oil a rimmed baking sheet. After at least 20 minutes, toss the cubed tofu with 1 and and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in a large bowl. Keep mixing until no corn starch is visible.

Spread the tofu onto1/2 of the baking sheet. Then add the broccoli to the same bowl along with the remaining olive oil (1 and 1/2 teaspoons) and salt and pepper. Mix and then spread the broccoli on the other half of the baking sheet, leaving a little room for the garlic

Slice the cloves of garlic in half if too big, toss with a little olive oil.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20211219_175132-1024x1024.jpg

Bake for 12 minutes, remove the pan from the oven. Toss the broccoli and tofu around and add the garlic. Cook for another 12 minutes or until the tofu is gold and crispy on the edges.

Meanwhile, make the teriyaki sauce (this is what makes the dish really good)! Over medium heat in a small saucepan, whisk together all the ingredients listed above, except the cornstarch and water. Bring it to a boil and then whisk in the cornstarch-water mix. Reduce the heat and continue stirring until the sauce thickens.

Once the tofu, broccoli, and garlic are done baking, combine with the teriyaki sauce and serve over rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

January 5, 2021: Fun with Composting
Jan 9th, 2022 by Alex Koster

Welcome to, a website my brother and I started in 2015 to talk about food and kids’ cooking. We also tried to raise awareness about social issues like worldwide hunger. (See post below, About Kids Cook Dinner, for more info about that.)

I am also trying to educate myself and others about climate change and I’ve learned that the food we eat can be a big part of it. And the food we waste is a huge issue! Not only does it waste water and energy to produce food that is then wasted, but food waste also generates greenhouse gases and the United States is the worst. We discard more food (40 million tons) than any other country in the world.

So instead of talking about cooking today, I wanted to talk about what we can do to help reduce food waste. The first thing is to buy groceries more thoughtfully: make a list before you go to the store about what you need and stick to it.

The second thing you can do is compost some of the food waste. We have always done this at our house in the country because it’s easy there. Our compost bins are close to the house and we just empty our compost bucket into them when it’s full. The things we compost are:

(We have two bins, one is for new compost and the other is aging, and we use that in our garden)

  • fruit, vegetable scraps
  • egg shells
  • coffee grounds
  • dried flowers/leaves
  • old bread, grains or pasta

For the new year, I wanted to try to make sure we tried to compost stuff in the city. So I got another compost bucket and found a compost bin along the Hudson River near where we walk the dog.

If you are interested in composting your food waste, it’s easy to find a drop off spot in New York City. Just check out

The link will show you your nearest drop-off spot and what it accepts. Good luck and happy composting!

December 12, 2021: Holiday Cookies
Dec 18th, 2021 by Alex Koster

Holiday Baking!

Frosted sugar cookies are delicious any time of the year, but are particularly fun for Christmas. Our family always bakes them, and we follow (generally) a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, Feast. This weekend I made our first batch.

The ingredients are as follows:

12 tablespoons soft, unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 scant teaspoon salt

The first step is to take the butter out of the fridge and let it soften! Don’t melt it in the microwave. It just won’t work. Once it’s soft, cream it with the sugar, and then add the egg and the vanilla. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mix gently and make sure you stop and clean the sides of the bowl so everything is combined, especially if you are using a mixer.

Form the batter into two balls and then press each flat into a cylinder and wrap in saran wrap to chill in the oven for an hour or more.

Once the dough is chilled, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and then roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out your cookie shapes and place them on buttered cookie sheets. Chill the cut-out cookies for 15 minutes while the oven heats, and if you have scraps, form them into the ball and let them chill until ready to cook.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until slightly brown around the edges–the thinner and more pointy shapes will brown faster so keep an eye on those or put them in the middle of the baking sheet. The photo below shows what they should look like.

Let all your lovely cookies cool completely before frosting. (You can see that a few of mine got a bit too brown…just add more frosting!)

For frosting, you can make it from scratch but we like the store brought vanilla frosting. Add whatever color you want and add whatever topping you want. (Gel coloring is always better because it doesn’t add too much liquid to the frosting and makes a more intense color.)

Happy Holidays!


Baked Orange Cauliflower
Oct 3rd, 2021 by Alex Koster

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_1909-2-1024x797.jpg

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.

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.

IMG-0941 (1)    IMG-0944  Levain6

  • 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.


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
  Screen Shot 2021-03-15 at 6.22.41 PM Screen Shot 2021-03-15 at 6.19.25 PM DSC_5314
Sunday, February 14, 2021: Valentine’s Day Cookies
Feb 17th, 2021 by Alex Koster

Welcome to, a website my brother Max and I started five years ago to share our thoughts about food and cooking and helping hungry people.  It’s also a digital cookbook for our family to make sure we remember the meals we love (as well as the ones that didn’t work out so well…)

To learn more about the website, scroll down a few posts to About KidsCookDinner.  But to see what we are cooking today, stay right here.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I decided to make Valentine’s Day cookies as my valentine to my family.  I used a traditional sugar cookie recipe (this one is based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her cookbook, Feast) and then go crazy with the frosting.


Ingredients are as follows:

  • 12 ounces softened butter (unsalted if possible, if not, reduce salt by 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1  cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

The first step is to make sure the butter is soft so it’s easy to cream.  If you want to take a shortcut you can microwave it, but for no more than 15 seconds.  It needs to be soft, not melted.

Then you cream the sugar into the butter and beat it till it is well blended and pale yellow.


Beat the egg and the vanilla, and add to the butter mix.

20210214_163929  20210214_164036

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir with a whisk


Add the dry ingredients to the butter-egg mixture and stir well. The dough will be pretty stiff and crumbly.

20210214_164514  20210214_164640

Form into two balls and flatten into discs.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour (the dough needs to rest.)

20210214_165032  20210214_165208

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and then roll out the first ball of dough and cut your cookies out and place on greased tray (or one with a silpat).  I mainly cut out hearts but I threw in a few frogs in the valentine spirit of frogs being kissed and turning into princes.  Put the cut-out cookies in the fridge while you roll out the second disk of dough and cut shapes from that disk.

20210214_173453  20210214_171637

Bake until just light gold around the edges and let cool completely. Watch carefully so you don’t burn them!


(Now the fun part).  After the cookies are cooled, get your frosting and decorations ready.  I used 2 cans of store-bought white vanilla frosting, mixing red gel color into one.  We also had assorted sprinkles and M&Ms to decorate.


Max even helped frost, but I think that was mainly so he could eat the ones he over-frosted.




January 2, 2021: New Year’s Train Cake
Jan 9th, 2021 by Alex Koster

Happy New Year and welcome to, a website my brother Max and I (Alex) started 5 years ago to post about food, kids’ cooking, and the serious issue of hunger in the world.  Unfortunately, the need for hunger relief has only gotten worse since then, so if you have time, check out Action Against Hunger’s website here.  To see what we cooked today, read on.  As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Max is pretty busy with his college applications so I have been doing most of the holiday baking.

One of our annual traditions is a holiday train cake.  The end result is cute and delicious but this does take all day to make.  Here’s a teaser photo of the end result.


Here are the ingredients: the most interesting one is sour cream.  I was very skeptical about including it, but it made the cake very light and fluffy.



  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

The other key element is a train cake mold.  Mom got our mold from Williams & Sonoma maybe 8 years ago: it’s really cute with 9 cars, including an engine, coal car, and caboose.  When we were younger, we pretended it was the Polar Express.  The recipe is from W&S as well.

20201231_133622   20201231_133613

The first step is to preheat the oven and grease and flour the cake pan (this is tricky because there is so much detail, but super important, otherwise you will lose those details when you flip the cake out.  The second step is to sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and, in a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, sour cream, 4 eggs, and vanilla.


Then with an electric beater (using flat beater if you have it), gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on low till the dry stuff is just moistened.


Scrape down the bowl and increase speed to medium for 30 seconds.  Make sure everything is combined but don’t overbeat.

20201231_140806  20201231_140757

Then per the W&S recipe you are supposed to divide the batter in half and set half of it aside.  (Then after you’ve cooked the first half of the batter, and the mold has cooled and been cleaned and greased and floured, you cook the second half of the batter.  From prior experience, we know that 9 cars are a lot of train cars to decorate so we decided to make cupcakes instead of 9 more cake cars.) Anyway, once the batter is complete, you spread it evenly in each car mold and bake 18-22 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean).


Do not, do not fill the molds all the way up as we did. The recipe says to spread the batter so it reaches the top edges of each mold with the batter a little lower in the center of the mold….that is what we tried to do (see photo below) but this is still too much batter.  We found out the hard way.


As you can see, this resulted in overflowing cake cars.


Fortunately, I was able to slice off the extra cake with a large bread knife (which left us with good snacks while we waited for the cake to cool).  You should let the cake cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack and then invert and let cool for at least an hour before frosting.

20201231_150634   20201231_151538

When I finally flipped the pan, I was delighted.


Once the cakes were cooled, I mixed up red, green, and white frosting and got out holiday sprinkles and M&Ms. The M&M are ideal for the train wheels.


Then it was frosting time.

20201231_183559  20210101_151427

And here’s the final, full train cake — it tasted great.


PS: the cupcakes turned out nicely as well and were a little easier to decorate. 🙂

.20201231_145523   20201231_195218




»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa