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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!

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.

Baked Zucchini Fries: May 4, 2022
May 4th, 2022 by Alex Koster

If you are looking for a quick and healthy snack then look no further! I was craving french fries but wanted to lighten them up a bit while getting in my veggies for the day so I found the perfect thing… Zucchini Fries! I was honestly very skeptical of this recipe (I’m not a big fan of Zucchini) but it’s definitely legit and definitely worth trying out.

Assembly line”
Fries before oven
Zucchini Fries!

Ingredients: 

  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1/4 cup flour (if you are gluten free, recommend chick pea flour)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs 

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees and slice your zucchini into fries. Then using three bowls set up an assembly line: one with the flour and spices, one with milk in another, and breadcrumbs in a third. Dip each zucchini stick in the flour, then the milk, then the breadcrumbs. Place on a lightly greased cooling rack and bake for about 20 minutes. **Credit to Chocolate Covered Katie for the recipe**

And they were delicious!

Belated Earth Day
Apr 30th, 2022 by Alex Koster

As I’m sure you know, Earth Day was last Friday, April 22, so in honor of Earth Day, I wanted to make a quick post about the importance of food and climate change. We all know that the production of food takes a toll on the environment, but what exactly does that mean? Are some foods worse than others? If so, what’s the worst type of food? Do I have to go vegan to save the world? Well… let’s find out!

It’s meat (particularly red meat) and dairy production that create the most greenhouse gas emissions each year, accounting for about the same amount as the emissions from all the cars, trucks, airplanes, and ships combined. Meanwhile, plant-based foods have the smallest impact on the environment, soooo does that mean you should swear off meat and cheese? Well, not necessarily.

While limiting your meat and dairy intake is a great way to work to reduce your carbon “foodprint”, there’s definitely a middle ground. Cows are a key component in the agricultural cycle, not just for their meat, but because they are used to dispose of massive amounts of waste like corn husk or leave. Additionally, they produce manure that can be used as fertilizer and are also pretty cute (especially the Swiss cows pictured below lounging in the Alps). So while going vegan is great, keep in mind the importance of moderation.

Aside from changing your diet, there are other ways you can work to reduce your carbon “foodprint”, namely by reducing your food waste. Food waste is a HUGE contributor to climate change and is often overlooked. Americans throw out about 20% of the food they buy. Luckily, there are some small steps you can take to address it. First, you can try to compost organic materials. Even in NYC, there are lots of places to drop compost off. Here’s our compost pail, which we will empty at our local Farmer’s Market tomorrow.

Second, there are other ways to reduce food waste: when grocery shopping: plan your meals, make a shopping list and buy what you actually need (and then follow that meal plan!). I realized that our family was wasting fruit like cantaloupe and strawberries because no one wanted to cut them and they went bad before we could eat them. So one of my small changes is chopping that fruit up as soon as we buy it.

Certain items also don’t go bad as quickly as you might think: “Sell by” labels are usually manufacturer’s suggestions for peak quality. Almost all foods can still be safely consumed after that date, so don’t throw out your food just because it’s a few days past its peak quality.

We all have a “carbon foodprint” but with diet changes and limiting our food waste, our gradual changes can add up. A crucial part of battling climate change is recognizing that there’s only so much an individual can do when it comes to making mass changes policy changes are the most effective. Support politicians who are advocating for sensible climate change policies: whether it’s encouraging electric vehicles, restoring public lands and waters or encouraging more environmentally friendly farming practices.

Want to know how your diet contributes to climate change? Take this quiz to find out!

Sunday, April 9, 2022: Cold Noodle Salad with Nutty Dressing
Apr 24th, 2022 by Alex Koster

Tonight I wanted to try out a vegan noodle salad recipe from plantyou.com. The recipe called for rice noodles, veggies, and a nut-based dressing. I also steamed some asparagus as a side because the asparagus looked so good at the Farmers’ Market. My interpretation of the plantyou.com recipe is listed below (their original recipe is available here):

Ingredients:

Two Nut Dressing:

  • 3/8 cup peanuts soaked in water for 2 hours*
  • 3/8 cup pecans soaked in water for 2 hours*
  • Juice/segments from 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup of water from the soaked nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce

*plantyou.com’s recipe called for walnuts as well, but I decided to try just a peanut/pecan mix

Salad

  • 8 oz rice noodles
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot ribboned
  • 2 green onions diced
  • 1 cup red or green cabbage, diced (red looks prettier)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 cup chopped parsley (optional)

*plantyou.com’s recipe called for parsley but I am not a fan, so I left it out.

The first step is to soak the nuts in water for at least 3 hours.

The next step is to prepare the noodles: I used Thai Brown Rice Noodles so I soaked them in hot water for about 10 minutes (until tender), drained them, and then refrigerated them until they were cool.

Once the 3 hours soaking is up, drain the nuts, reserving 1/4 cup water, and chop your veggies, including the garlic.

Make sure you have all the ingredients for the nut dressing ready to go (drained nuts, orange, garlic, nut water, and soy sauce. If the nuts you use are salted, only add 2 Tbs soy sauce to start so your dressing isn’t too salty.

Then combine the nuts and the other dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until only slightly chunky (or add a bit more water if you want a smoother dressing).

Finally, put it all together: prepare your salad–add the noodles and veggies and top with the dressing. Feel free to substitute or add vegetables (the more colors the better)!

Here’s the final beauty shot! Healthy and pretty!

And don’t forget the asparagus (I just steamed these on the stovetop and then sprinkled them with grated parmesan cheese and a little truffle salt).

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