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Announcement: Monday, January 15, 2018: Dinner No. 104: Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes and Chocolate Ice Cream
Jan 16th, 2018 by Katekoster

Today we didn’t have school so we had time to make a special meal for our dad.  We wanted to try to recreate one of our dad’s favorite dishes from when he lived in Texas: Chicken Fried Steak.  We also were in the mood for chocolate ice cream despite it being super cold outside so we made that from scratch.  For sides we had mashed potatoes and a kale/avocado salad.

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The first step was to make the chocolate ice cream batter (because it needs to sit and chill in the fridge for a while).  The ingredients for this simple recipe are brown sugar, white sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, heavy cream, vanilla and milk.  You combine the dry ingredients and add the milk and vanilla, then you slowly pour in the cream…then you whisk it until all the lumps disappear.  Then you let this sit in the fridge for a couple hours. Pop it in the cream maker and voila…amazing tasting chocolate ice cream. (Also, it’s really cool to watch the cream being whisked into the chocolate mix…click here for that: HERE

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For the Chicken Fried Steak, we bought thin sliced top round steaks and then got to tenderize them by hammering them with a meat hammer…that was fun!

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After we got out all our agression by pounding the steaks, we dipped them in a batter of seasoned flour and sauteed them in a mix of butter and canola oil.  (Max and I set up an assembly line to dip the steak in the flour mix, then into egg/milk, and then back into the flour mix.)

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We made mashed potatoes as a side, a lot of gravy to go with the steak and a chopped kale and avocado salad.  We had never really made gravy before so it was interesting to brown the flour in the oil/butter left in the pan and then add milk.  Ours was a little to thick but it was our first time.  Next time we will remember to save some water from the potatoes we boiled to thin out the gravy.

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Anyway, dad loved the chicken fried steak.  We liked it too but honestly we like chicken fried chicken better.

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Announcement: January 12, 2018: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jan 16th, 2018 by Katekoster

Today I (Max) wanted to make one of my favorite cookies: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies.  The recipe is a simple cookie batter (butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, milk, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda) with the two very important additional ingredients: oatmeal and chocolate chips.

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The first step is to cream the butter into the white and brown sugar.  This is a quick and simple process so long as your butter is soft.  If it’s not soft, then you should just want 1/2 hour to do this.  Then you add an egg, vanilla and a little milk.  Combine that, and while that’s mixing, combine your dry ingredients:  flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and then add that into the butter/sugar mix.  I asked my mom why we added both baking powder and baking soda, and what the difference was between the two and in her typical annoying mom fashion she said to look it up.  So I did and here’s the answer:

Baking powder and baking soda have a lot in common in that they are both chemical leaveners (they both generate gas during mixing/baking that raises the dough or batter). The big difference between baking soda and baking powder is that baking soda only has ONE ingredient: sodium bicarbonate. Whenever it comes into contact with both a liquid and an acid (buttermilk,  yogurt or vinegar for example) it produces gas which creates the lift (or rising) of a batter.  The important thing to remember about baking soda is that the reaction starts immediately (think about when you add vinegar to baking soda to make a volcano model) so you need to get that batter in the oven fast.

Baking powder on the other hand contains sodium bicarbonate with another powdered acid mixed in.  That means all you need is moisture to activate it. And most baking powder is double acting, meaning there is a two part reaction: one immediately when moisture is added and a second reacton when the batter/dough is heated.  So baking powder allows a little more flexibility (you don’t have to put the batter in the oven right away)  So why not just use baking powder?? Because every recipe has different acidity levels and sometimes you need to balance them out. Baking soda neutralizes the acid when it reacts with it so often you need both baking soda and baking powder to have a balanced recipe….so that’s my science lesson for the day. PS: And don’t ever substitute one for the other.

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The next step is to add the oatmeal and chocolate chips.  I usually do this by hand (easier to taste test).  Then you drop teaspoons of cookie dough on a baking tray and cook for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

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Finally, you enjoy!

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Announcement: Monday, January 1, 2018: Homemade Hostess Cupcakes
Jan 4th, 2018 by Katekoster

When my mom was growing up she wasn’t allowed to eat any junk food (don’t feel bad for her: her mom, my Grandma Jean, is a greak baker so Grandma Jean baked all kinds of cookies and pies and cakes for the family).  However, on New Year’s Eve my mom got to choose a packaged sweet to eat and she always chose Hostess Cupcakes.  So now every New Year’s, she has to have a Hostess Cupcake.  This year I (Alex) decided to see if I could make a homemade hostess cupcake to give to my mom.  They turned out really well.  Mom says they are better than the storebought ones.  (But they were a lot of work…)

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The first step is to make a chocolate cupcake.  The batter I used (from Leite’s Culinara’s recipe) used natural cocoa powder for the chocolate flavor and seemed pretty stiff/dry.  Apparently it is supposed to be that way because the filling makes it really moist.

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The second step was to make the white cream filling.  This was fun: just combine marshmallow fluff, powdered sugar and softened butter.  We waited till the cupcakes had cooled, made a little hole in the top and then piped in the filling.  The hard part was knowing if I put enough cream inside so I tried to overcompensate.  The recipe said to be careful to not put too much in in case the cupcake exploded…but I think that would have been cool if it did!  (And none did anyway)

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The third step was to make the chocolate frosting.  The recipe called for using bittersweet chocolate only (mixed in with heated heavy cream and soft butter) and I was worried it would be too bitter so I did have semi-sweet and half bittersweet.  It was still slightly on the bitter side (which was ok because the rest of the cupcake is so sweet) but next time I am going to try making it with just semisweet chocolate.

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Finally, after we frosted the cupcakes with the chocolate frosting we let them set for half an hour then put the white frosting on top. It was really simple… only softened butter and powdered sugar. Then the whole family experimented with making curlique (and other) designs on them.  They were really good.  NOTE: the recipe said to let the cupcakes sit for 6 hours in an airtight container before you ate them so that the cream filling made the whole cake more moist…are you kidding me??? Of course we couldn’t let them sit for 6 hours before we tried them! But to be fair, the ones we did let sit were a little more moist.

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Announcement: Max and Alex on Chopped Junior
Sep 29th, 2017 by Katekoster

Thanks for all of you who watched us compete on Chopped Junior on Food Network on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 at 8:00 PM.   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: kidscookdinner.com.  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! 

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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 too 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.

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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.

 

January 8, 2018: Baked Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels
Jan 11th, 2018 by Katekoster

You know when you are stuck at the airport because your flight is delayed…and you’re bored and miserable? The one thing that always makes us feel better is Auntie Annie’s Pretzels, especially the cinnamon sugar ones. So we decided to try to recreate those pretzels at home.  We like ours better! And we didn’t have to sit in the airport waiting for a flight to get them!

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First we made a quick yeast bread. It only has to rise for an hour.  We combined yeast and milk, along with a little sugar, flour, salt and softened butter and kneaded it for about 5 minutes. Then we let it rise for an hour while we did homework.

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After the dough had doubled in shape, we cut it in half and made half into little pretzel shapes and half into four pretzels.  To make the pretzels we rolled a piece of dough into about a 15 inch strip, then we shaped it into a pretzel. The next step was an interesting one…we dipped each pretzel bite and pretzel into a mix of baking soda and water. We think this added the hard shiny texture to the pretzel as well as little saltiness. Then into the oven till golden brown.

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Final step: dip the pretzels into cinnamon sugar and enjoy. YUM!!

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January 6, 2018: Happy Three Kings’ Day.
Jan 8th, 2018 by Katekoster

We didn’t have a chance to cook much this weekend  (we both had soccer games and exams to study for), but we did celebrate Three Kings’ Day with our good friends, the Coronas. They provided this amazing Rosca de Reyes.

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Rosca de Reyes is a traditional sweet yeast based cake with a baby Jesus figurine hidden inside. Whoever finds the baby Jesus figurine is king (or queen) for the day and is supposed to bring the tamales to a party on February 2 (Candlemas Day).  We have changed that tradition slightly so that the family who finds the baby Jesus has to provide tamales for (and host) the Super Bowl party!!

 

This year there were four baby Jesus figures in the cake and both the Kosters and the Coronas found them. So we struck a compromise on the Super Bowl party. Kosters will host and be in charge of Enchiladas Suiza and the Coronas will bring the tamales.  We are still negotiating on who is bringing the guacamole and chips. 

 

 

December 31,2019: Dinner No. 103: Rack of Lamb with Potatoes, Raclette and Cauliflower
Jan 2nd, 2018 by Katekoster

For New Year’s Eve we wanted to make something special so we decided on rack of lamb. We served it with multicolor baby potatoes and roasted cauliflower.  And in a call back to our Swiss roots, we also served melted raclette cheese to go with the potatoes.  It was a special dinner for a special night. Happy New Years!

Rack of Lamb:

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For the rack of lamb you first make a lamb rub by mixing chopped rosemary, thyme and garlic with salt, and pepper. Then you marinade the lamb in the herb mix by spreading the mix on the lamb and putting in a plastic bag with olive oil. You can either let it marinate overnight in fridge or until it comes to room temperature. Before cooking score the fat of the lamb with a sharp knife, making shallow cuts about an inch apart. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and wrap the bones in foil so they don’t burn and throw it in the oven!  You start it at a high heat (450 degrees) for about 10 minutes and then you lower it to 300 degrees for another 20-30 minutes.  Then you need to let it sit for 10 minutes (this is the hard part!)

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Before cooking score the fat of the lamb with a sharp knife, making shallow cuts about an inch apart. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and wrap the bones in foil so they don’t burn and throw it in the oven!  You start it at a high heat (450 degrees) for about 10 minutes and then you lower it to 300 degrees for another 20-30 minutes.  Then you need to let it sit for 10 minutes (this is the hard part!)

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Potatoes and Cauliflower:

Making cauliflower is very straight forward. First you remove the cauliflower core and chop it. Then you drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper then put it in the oven to cook for about 10 minutes.  We cooked it with the lamb.  For the potatoes we just boiled them for 20 minutes (they are small so they don’t take too much time.

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Plated Dish:

We probably should have made a salad because the plate is a little boring but it sure tasted good.

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Monday, December 25, 2017: Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding and Yule Log
Dec 29th, 2017 by Katekoster

Merry Christmas! For dinner tonight we stuck with tradition and made roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roasted brussel sprouts and a sponge cake yule log.  Everyone helped (even Dad…he carved the roast beef).

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Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

Roast beef is actually really easy to make, assuming you have a good piece of beef.  You cover it with salt and pepper and then roast in the oven at 325 degrees.  Depending on how big your roast is it takes 1- 1/2 to 3 hours for medium rare Our roast was 5 pounds so we figured it would be 2 -1/2 hours to 3 hours.  We started testing with a meat thermometer at 2- 1/2 hours. It was only 122 degrees internally so we let it cook another 30 minutes.  By 3 hours it was 142 (we like it 140-145).  We removed it from the roasting pan, covered it with foil, and poured off all but 1/4 cup of the drippings in the roasting pan.

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Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire pudding is a simple, eggy mix (4 eggs, 2 cups flour, 2 cups milk) that you cook in either the roast’s drippings or in butter. Either way you want to pour it into a hot pan and cook at high heat.  As soon as we took the roast out of the oven, we increased the heat to 450 degrees. Then we poured our mix into the hot roasting pan with the drippings and let it cook.  It puffs up and is delicious!

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Yule Log

The key to making a yule log is making a flexible sponge cake and then as soon as it is out of the oven, rolling it up in a clean towel dusted with powdered sugar.  Then when its cooled you unroll it, spread the inside with chocolate frosting, roll up again and cover with more chocolate frosting.  We used a fork to draw bark lines on it, sprinkled powder sugar on it (to look like snow) and also decorated it with plastic animals we had saved from a yule log someone gave us last year.  (Ours was better.)

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Brussel Sprouts

Not much to say here (we really made these for mom).  Hardest part is coring and cleaning them.  We got a new brussel sprout cleaner for Christmas (see photo below) but honestly it was easier to use the knife because our sprouts were pretty small.  Once they were FINALLY cleaned we just tossed them in olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted them.

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December 22, 2017: Happy Holidays: Snowflake Cookies
Dec 23rd, 2017 by Katekoster

For the holidays, we always make sugar cookies and this year we decided to make snowflake cookies in different sizes.

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Making sugar cookies is actually a lot of work.  First you make the cookie dough (very simple ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla).  Then you shape it into discs, wrap them in plastic and let the dough rest in the fridge for at least an hour.  Then you roll it out flat and cut out the shapes and bake.  You can use the scraps left over to cut out more cookies but sometimes you have to put the dough in the fridge again if it gets too sticky. Then you have to let the cookies cool and finally you get to frost them (and eat them).  We made the dough the night before we baked and frosted them.

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Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, December 16, 2017: Dinner No. 102: Steak and Potatoes
Dec 19th, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight I (Alex) got to cook just for myself (because mom had to go out to dinner and Max and dad were away) so I cooked one of my favorite meals: filet mignon and mashed potatoes.  Although I am half Swiss (from my dad), my mom is from Iowa so I am half mid-Western…and I love beef!  I cooked 2 filets for myself and made quick microwave mashed potatoes…this is when you microwave potatoes as if you were making  baked potatoes (unpeeled) but then you peel them while they are hot and add butter and milk.  Maybe not quite as good as the traditional way of making mashed potatoes but they are quick and tasty.  Here’s what my final plate looked like:

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And here are the steps:  1. salt and pepper the filets both sides. 2. Wash potatoes and prick all over with fork. Microwave in 4 minute intervals until mashable. 3 Heat your grill pan (it will be ready when a flick of water on it sizzles).  4. Cook 4-5 minutes each side, flipping a couple times to get grill marks.  5. Test for doneness…if your filets are thick you may want to finish in a 375 degree oven for a couple of minutes. 6. Peel the cooked potatoes (careful they will be hot!). 7. Mash potatoes with butter and milk. 8. Salt to tasted.  9. Plate and enjoy!!!

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PS: Since I was cooking just for me, I skipped the vegetables. Don’t tell mom…

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