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Announcement: Sunday, September 17, 2017: Dinner No. 92: Stir Fry & Chocolate Lava Cakes
Sep 23rd, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight we wanted to have something healthy AND something decadent so we decided to make beef and broccoli stir fry with rice (healthy) and chocolate lava cakes (not quite so healthy). Both were delicious and the chocolate lava cakes were much easier than we thought they would be.  We served them with vanilla ice cream.

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For the stir fry we kept it simple: beef and broccoli, flavored with a little garlic, olive oil and soy sauce.  We blanched the broccoli before we put it in the wok so it was a little cooked already and would keep its nice green color (blanching is when you boil vegetables for 30 seconds and then plunge them into ice water.  We also tossed the beef in a little rice flour before hand (because the recipe called for it) but we won’t do that again.  The flour just got gunky in the wok and wasn’t necessary.  The rice was easy: we just used our hand rice cooker.

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The chocolate lava cakes (or molten chocolate cakes) were a lot easier than we thought.  The ingredients were simple: chocolate (bittersweet and semisweet), butter, eggs, egg yolks, flour, vanilla and powdered sugar.  First we melted the chocolate and butter together in the microwave.  Then we let it cool a little bit and added  the powdered sugar. (The only slightly tricky thing was we didn’t have quite enough powdered sugar so we figured we could make it from regular sugar using the cuisinart.  It worked!) Then we whisked in 2 eggs and 3 egg yolks, added the vanilla and finally the flour.

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The batter tasted a lot like our fudge brownies, only slightly eggier.  We poured it into ramekins and baked for 13 minutes (sides were firm but centers still soft) at 425 degrees. Then we let them sit for 1 minute and inverted them on a plate…Ate with icecream. YUMMMY, especially with vanilla ice cream

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Announcement: Monday, September 3, 2017: Labor Day Grilled Pizza
Sep 9th, 2017 by Katekoster

Today we wanted to grill something  for lunch but we had so much grilled meat already this weekend (steaks, burgers, hot dogs, sausages) that we wanted a change so we decided we would make grilled pizza!

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First we made the pizza dough: it’s really like bread dough except you use olive oil as your shortening and it only rises once.  The recipe is simple: flour, salt, warm water & yeast, and olive oil.  You add the yeast to the warm water until it dissolves, then add to the flour, salt and olive oil.  Then you form into a ball and let rise for an hour or so.

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Then you turn on the grill and rollout the pizza in a slight oiled rectangular pan.  Once it’s rolled out, you brush the top with oil slightly and fold over the pizza (this is so you can unfold the pizza on the grill….it’s too big to lift.)

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Make sure your grill is clean because you put the pizza….unfolding in….right on the grill. You let it cook on one side for 3-4 minutes (bubbles form and grill marks appear on cooking side).  Then you flip over and lay slices of mozarella on the cooked side.  You cook another 4-5 minutes and then remove from the grill.  Then you can add whatever you want. Max and I like ours just plain but mom and dad added arugula and tomato.

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Enjoy!

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Announcement: Tuesday, August 29, 2017: Dinner No. 91: Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice!
Aug 30th, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight I (Alex) wanted to try make something new so I made cauliflower rice with a shrimp topping, based on a recipe from Cooking Light magazine by Adam Hickman (Thanks Adam).  It’s really fun and simple to make: first you clean and chop fresh cauliflower, then you whiz it in the food processor until it’s finely ground.  The texture is more like couscous than rice, but everyone calls it rice.

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For the shrimp/egg topping: First you saute shrimp in some sesame oil for about 3 minutes and then take the shrimp out of the pan.  Second you beat 4 eggs together and cook them in a little more sesame oil for about 2 minutes — letting them set in a thin layer.  You remove the egg and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (essentially thin scrambled eggs).  Third, you add chopped green onions and the cauliflower rice to the pan with more sesame oil and cook till light brown.   Finally you mix the shrimp & eggs back into the onion-cauliflower rice and plate it with a few more chopped green onions (I saved the green tops for the garnish) on top and it is ready!!!!!!!  The final dish looked delicious but we all agreed it needed more flavor.  Next time we might add actual toasted sesame seeds or some sort of nut? or more salt (maybe because it was from Cooking Light it was healthier than we usually eat:). Mom suggested added bean sprouts but Max and I aren’t convinced about that. 

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Announcement: About KidsCookDinner.com
May 13th, 2015 by Katekoster

KidsCookDinner.com was started when we (Max and Alex…i.e. the “kids”) started cooking dinner every Sunday night for the family and realized how fun it was.  We decided we wanted to let other kids and their parents know that kids CAN cook and that we needed to encourage kids to cook more.  Coming up with a menu, shopping for food and then cooking it also made us understand and appreciate the importance of food and sharing it with your friends and family.  It also brings our whole family together on Sunday night–getting us ready for the week ahead.

Braised Lamb shank, etc.     Ribeye, mashed potatoes, artichokes and arugula salad     Making vanilla ice cream (and tasting it)    Fun with whipped cream

When we started the website, we entered the domain name in a domain name contest sponsored by Verisign.  Then we forgot we had entered…so we were really surprised when we got an email that we had won $5000 and had advanced to the second round of the contest.  We had to make a video about why our website name was a good name, and then judges and the public voted on the best names.  We were even more surprised when we actually won the grand prize of $30,000! (Thanks to everyone who voted for us.)  Click HERE to hear the story of the domain name.

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Because we have plenty to eat however, and millions of other people in the world don’t have enough food, we decided to donate 1/2 of the prize (or $17,500)* to Action Against Hunger, an international hunger relief charity dedicated to saving the lives of malnourished children, while helping vulnerable communities become self sufficient.  Worldwide, 1.2 billion people have less than $1.50 a day to spend on food! Can you imagine that?? We calculated that the cost of our typical breakfasts (bowl of cereal with milk, juice and a piece of fruit) cost about $1.50! And we could not imagine that being the only food we got all day. We even tried to survive on only $1.50 of food for a day (see below) and we were all so hungry (and grumpy). *Note originally we donated 1/3 of the prize, put 1/3 in our college fund and reserved 1/3 to help fund the website. But we realized we don’t need that much money to run the website so we donated another $5834 in July 2016 to bring our donation to $17,500.

We were lucky enough to get visit the Action Against Hunger office in New York.   Thank you Asif, Alex, Andrea, Elizabeth and the whole team at Action Against Hunger in New York for meeting with us, giving us a tour and explaining some of the amazing work you do when we dropped off the check. Wow! You are all truly inspiring! We continue to stay in touch with Action Against Hunger, including participating in their Students X Hunger year-end donation drive.

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

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

Mom says that the more we can encourage kids to make healthy choices, from what they eat to what they do, the better off they will be in the long run. And, the more kids can participate and own their activities (like what they cook and eat), the more they seem to enjoy those activities. So let’s all cook more! Let’s all try to take the time to enjoy what we cook together! And, at least for our family, let’s all be thankful for the fact that we can afford to eat plenty of healthy food.

Help us X out hunger!

Help us X out hunger!

Thursday, August 17, 2017: Grasshopper Pie!
Aug 21st, 2017 by Katekoster

Today for a late celebratory birthday dinner for dad (his birthday was July 27), mom and I made braised lamb shank and I made grasshopper pie for dessert. Right about now you are probably wondering what in the world grasshopper pie is… Well don’t worry we didn’t eat real grasshoppers (although I hear they’re quite delicious).  Instead we ate an oreo crusted, marshmellow fluff and whippped cream stuffed pie.  It’s called grasshopper pie because it’s green (like a grasshopper).  And the green color comes from Creme de Menthe…unless you decide to change the recipe a little in which case the green color comes from food coloring. 🙂

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These are all the ingredents thst you need for grasshopper pie

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The first step is to grind oreos in a cuisinart mixed with a little melted butter.   Then your press the oreo-butter mix into a pie tin.

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The next step is to melt the marshmellow fluff in a saucepan with a cup of half &half. You can let it cool on a rack but to speed up the process, it’s best to put it into a ice bath. (See picture)

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The third step is to add Creme de Menthe and Creme de Cacao.  However, we did not add the Creme de Menthe because it tasted like toothpaste!!!  The Creme de Cacao tasted pretty good, however, so we did add that.  (If you really love the taste of mint, or the taste of toothpaste, go ahead and add Creme de Menthe, but if you don’t add some green dye for color.  The next step is to whip a cup of heavy cream (without adding sugar)  and fold it into the green marshmellow fluff mixture. Then you pour it into the oreo-crusted pie pan and sprinkle a few crushed oreos on top.   Stick it in the freezer for a few hours and voila! It is good to go (we even stuck a canddle in it for dad’s birthday.)

Sunday, August 14, 2017: Maine Vacation Feasts
Aug 14th, 2017 by Katekoster

Hi, we just spent a week in Maine hiking and biking, and enjoyed some delicious food at a bunch of different restaurants.  Also, since we stayed in a great hotel with a full kitchen, we had time to cook a little.  We are each going to describe our favorite meal out and also what we made to eat ourselves over the week.

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Max:

My favorite meal was our first one we had in Bar Harbor, ME at the Side Street Cafe. I had quesadillas, filled with beans, cheese, avocado and chicken with salsa on the side. The dish was amazing. Everything came together to produce wonderful flavors, and Dad and Mom couldn’t stop themselves from having some!  Dad had a lobster roll which looked pretty good as well.

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My favorite meal that I made in Maine was Mac and Cheese. Missing New York food, I decided to make my own, recreating Max Brenner’s tasty mac and cheese dish.

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Here are the directions:

  • First,  preheat the oven to 400 degrees and heat water for pasta (macaroni noodles).
  • Cut a cup of cherry tomatoes into quarters and sautee 6 pieces of bacon. Then cut the bacon into small bits. Set aside.
  • Add pasta when water is boiling and remove at an al dente (don’t forget to salt the water).
  • Meanwhile, with the heat on low, melt 1/4 cup butter hot and then stir in 1/4 cup flour, careful to avoid clumping.
  • After the butter and flour are mixed, add 2 cups of warm milk, and stir until the mixture is thickened.
  • Then gradually add 8 oz of combined grated cheddar and parmesean cheese while stirring constantly to avoid clumping. When combined, add another 8 0z of parmesan and cheddar and stir in. You have just made a cheesy béchamel sauce
  • Combine your béchamel sauce and al dente pasta in a baking dish.  Add the tomato and the chopped bacon and stir until sufficiently distributed.
  • Finally sprinkle bread crumbs and more shredded cheese on top of the dish and place in oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees (till golden brown).

Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!

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Alex:

My favorite two meals (that we ate at restaurants) were the burger that I had at Black Cap Grille in North Conway, New Hampshire, and the popovers that we had at Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park, Maine.  What was also nice about both of these restaurants was that we could bring our dog Koko (so we could hike with her and then share a meal with her).

The Burgers at  Black Cap Grille:

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Not only was the burger perfectly cooked, the fries were as well. I had to fend off Dad and Mom who tried to eat them.

The Popovers at Jordon Pond House:

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The Jordan Pond House popovers were huge and delicious. They were crispy on the outside but light and  airy on the inside.  We ate them with butter and strawberry jam (just watch out for the bees–they like the jam too).

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My favorite meal that I made in Maine was pasta with bolgnese with an arugula salad and brownies (for dessert).

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Bolgnese is a pretty simple dish that is supper yummy, all you really need to do is:

  • Chop onions and saute them till transulucent
  • Get ground meat (veal, lamb, pork) and put it in a sauce pan with olive oil and soft onions. Brown.
  • Once the meat is all brown (not the least bit pink), add diced tomatoes that can be from a can or fresh.
  • Mix and let simmer for 15ish minutes; be sure to add salt and pepper
  • Pour the sauce on cooked pasta, mix a bit, grate some parmesan cheese and voila it is ready to be served!

For the salad, I made a simple arugula, tomato and parmesan cheese salad but then added some chopped almonds for some texture.  Dressing was just olive oil and fresh lemon juice. The brownies are our family recipe that I have already shared so I won’t tell again.

 

 

Friday, July 14, 2017: Rainy Day Baking
Jul 21st, 2017 by Katekoster

Today was the last day both of us were in New York before we leave for sleepaway camp AND it was raining so we decided that we were going to bake a lot of stuff.  On the baking menu: Lemon Bars, Short Cakes, and Blueberry Crisp.  I (Max) decided to make the lemon bars because I love lemon curd pie but I wanted something a little easier to eat.  I (Alex) decided to make short cakes because we love Joe’s Short Cakes (available at Thompson Finch Farm) with strawberries and I wanted to try to replicate them.  We both decided to make blueberry crisp because blueberries were on sale for $1 a pint and mom bought 5 pints…so we had to do something with them. Plus we love it!

Lemon Bars

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For the lemon bars, first you make a sweet crust base, which includes sugar, butter, flour and baking powder.  You press that into a pan and bake until golden brown.

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Meanwhile you make the lemon filling: shredded lemon peel, lemon juice, eggs and a little bit of flour and baking powder.  Once the crust is baked, you pour the lemon mix directly on top and cook for about 15 minutes more. Delicious: both sweet and tart.

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Shortcakes

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We can’t tell you the recipe (THANKS JOE) but we can tell you that there is flour, butter, sugar, eggs and some other ingredients in it.  And while these shortcakes are great just by themselves, they are even better with fresh strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

Blueberry Crisp

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Sorry we didn’t take photos of the process, but we were getting tired by the time we got to this.  The key to a good crisp (besides great fruit, of course), is a good crisp and we love this one.  First you combine butter and sugar (cream it together like you are making cookies), then you add baking powder, rolled oats and flour and squeeze it all together till it forms clumps.  If you want to be gluten free, use finely chopped walnuts instead.

For the fruit: you need 6 cups of blueberries, sugar, a little lemon juice and a tablespoon of either flour or cornstarch.  We also added some chopped apples.  So then you put the berry mix in a 8 inch square baking dish, cover with the crisp topping and cook till crisp is grown and berries are bubbling.  You can use the same crisp topping for peach crisp or apple crisp, you may just want to adjust how much sugar you use depending on the sweetness of the peaches or apples.

 

 

Monday, July 10, 2017: Dinner No. 90: Lamb Chops & Chocolate Mousse Cake. Yum!
Jul 13th, 2017 by Katekoster

For this meal I (Alex) wanted to cook something I knew the whole family would love so I grilled lamb chops, made a big kale salad and for dessert made a chocolate mousse cake.

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These lamb chops are one of our favorite meals and takes us back to the late night walks along the beach in Greece two summers ago. With just a little bit of effort (and some salt & pepper) slabs of meat can become a wonderful meal. The kale salad was kale and every vegetable in the fridge (and leftover vegetableI could find–like corn-on-the cob) with a little grated mozarella.  Last but definitely not least, the chocolate mousse cake is anther big favorite in the Koster family. It’s simple, but delicious and it only  contains FOUR basic ingredents that you can find at any food store: eggs, butter, semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla. Raspberries and powdered sugar are optional.

 

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The few steps to make this spendid cake are:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • butter an 8 inch cake pan and cut out a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan
  • gently melt 12 oz of semi-sweet chocolate with 8 oz butter (1 stick), let cool slightly
  • beat 4 extra large eggs together for 5-7 minutes till rich & foamy
  • combine eggs and chocolate mixture (which should be cool enough so it doesn’t scramble the eggs)
  • bake for 18-20 minutes (top should be soft but just set); let cool
  • flip cake over using a plate, peel off parchment paper, and garnish with raspberries and powdered sugar if you want.

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Sunday, July 1, 2017: Dinner No. 89: Kuka Paka (Chicken with Coconut)
Jul 3rd, 2017 by Katekoster

Today we wanted to make something we had never made before and we were inspired by an article we saw in The New York Times on June 21, 2017 about a Kenya dish called Kuku Paka (Chicken with Coconut).   It’s a traditional Kenyan dish that apparently “invites tinkering” according to the NYT so it sounded perfect for us. Here is the before and after:

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First we trimmed the fat of chicken thighs, wings and legs. Then we cut scores into the chicken pieces so the marinade we were about to make could sink in better.

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Then we made a marinade.  We chopped up onions, ginger, tomatoes, garlic and added cumin, salt and coriander.  The recipe called for serrano chiles but we forgot to buy those so we added some chili powder.  Then we blended it in a blender and spread 1 cup of it over the chicken. We let that marinade for about 5 hours and saved the rest of the marinade.

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After about 5 hours, we started making the sauce.  We combined the rest of the marinade with coconut oil and coconut milk and let simmer for about 20 minutes.  It turned a really cool orange.

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Meanwhile we grilled the chicken.  When the chicken was cooked through, we added it to the sauce and let simmer some more.

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It smelled so good! Finally we served it over couscous along with an arugula/tomato/burrata salad.  Some of the “tinkering” we did included garnishing the dish with basil instead of parsley (which was what the recipe called for.) We also added corn to the dish.  It was delicious–creamy and very sweet. The coconut added sweetness to the sauce and kept me constantly returning to the kitchen for more.

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Fresh Strawberry Pie! June 26, 2017
Jun 26th, 2017 by Katekoster

Summer Update from KidsCookDinner: Get out and go berry picking! And what do you do when you pick 20 pounds of beautiful organic strawberries? (from the wonderful Thompson Finch Farm in Ancram, NY).  Well of course you eat a bunch, then you make strawberry pie!!! And if for some reason you don’t have time to bake anything, pick up some Joe’s ShortCakes.  They are available at Thompson Finch Farm and are some of the best short cakes we have every had…somewhere between a scone and a biscuit.  Flakier and lighter than a scone but sweeter than a biscuit.

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Strawberry Pie: The first step to make the pie is to cut all off the green leaves and stems of about 6 cups of strawberries. The second step is to put half of the berries in a pre-baked pie crust. We love our pie with a ton of strawberries so we tried to fit as much as we could in the small pie crust.

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Third, you create a sauce: you mash the other half of the strawberries and sugar to form a kind of chunky paste, then put the strawberries in a pot and heat on the stove. When the mixture starts to boil, add your thickener (water and corn starch) to the mashed strawberries.  You then stir constantly for ten minutes until thick.

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Forth, you pour the strawberry glaze pour over the strawberries in the pie crust.  We put a plate under the pie crust in case some of the glaze spills over.

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Finally the hardest step: you have to wait 3 hours until the pie is set.  So hard to do!  Luckily there was some extra strawberry glaze that we snacked on.  To find out why we started this blog and to read more yummy recipes. Read on!

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