Tag Archives: cooking

Kids in the Kitchen

Kids in the Kitchen

Several years ago (before twins), my first two children enjoyed helping me cook, and I enjoyed teaching them. I took pictures of them and created a digital scrapbook with some of our favorite recipes at the time. I gave these to all the grandparents and great-grandparents for Christmas that year. We use this as a cookbook frequently in our home.

I had intended to create a new scrapbook each year, but life got busy, and we had more kids, and sometimes it was hard to cook at all. I had my son take this photo so I could look back on it one day and smile. It was so exasperating at the time to have two toddlers crying and clinging to me while I tried to cook dinner, but I knew it wouldn’t always be that way.

Once all four of the little people started asking to help in the kitchen with me, I was quickly overwhelmed. They all started doing different things, and I wasn’t ready! Oh, the messes! I was also stressed about not being able to keep an eye on each one for safety reasons. A wise friend told me she has her boys take turns helping her on different nights of the week. I need to work out a calendar for my children to take turns helping.

This evening, we had breakfast for dinner, and I decided to delegate some tasks to the kids. The twins went to the barn to get more eggs, and then they took turns whisking the eggs. Big brother wanted sausage, egg, and cheese burritos. The twins wanted pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs. (Big sister is staying the night with a friend.) Then the girls took turns mixing up the pancake batter and posing for some silly photos.

While the bacon cooked in the oven, I had the girls help cook the eggs in each pan. They swapped pans when the eggs were almost set. Silly girls! Big brother kept an eye on the bacon and removed it from the oven when it was done.

Once the girls had bacon and eggs, I started on the pancakes and let them start eating. It’s a little chaotic having two five year olds help with dinner, but their smiles make it worthwhile. Maybe I’ll start on volume two of our Kids in the Kitchen scrapbook series, but don’t look for it to be completed any time soon. At the rate I’m going, I won’t have enough photos for a cooking scrapbook for a few years! I need to get that cooking schedule for the kids figured out first.

Click here for a pancake recipe. We still use this basic recipe. Unfortunately, the girls prefer white flour and no flax seed in their pancakes, so we just use 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour in place of the whole wheat flour and ground flax seed.

For the breakfast burritos, we use one pound of pork sausage, crumbled and browned on medium heat. Then we lower the heat and add a dozen scrambled eggs. Once the eggs are set, we add about 1 1/2 cups of freshly shredded cheese and stir until it starts to melt. Don’t cook it too long, or the cheese will melt completely, and you won’t be able to tell it’s in there. My son hates that. Enjoy!


August Menu


I have finally completed our menu for next month.  Planning ahead saves time, money, calories, and frustration, so it is definitely worth the effort.  I probably overthink the entire process, but I need variety or cooking becomes another chore for me.  I try not to have chicken two nights in a row.  I alternate with beef, pork, or shrimp.  I also mix up our cuisines, alternating Italian, Mexican, and American dishes.  My son and I could eat Mexican food every night, but my husband would rather have Italian more frequently.  I do my best to keep things fairly even.  I also try to incorporate recipes using produce from our garden.

Busyness complicates our menu planning as well.  School starts in a few weeks, and we will have a few school functions in the evenings, which will require quick dinners or leftovers.  The girls have gymnastics one afternoon a week, so I plan a crock pot meal that day to have dinner ready when we get home.  My husband has a few meetings in the evenings, and I don’t cook if I have to clean it all up by myself, so we have leftovers then too.  We attend church on Saturday nights, so we are away from home during dinner hours and always pick up fast food on our way home.  

That being said, I have come up with a menu that will work for our family for the coming month.  You are welcome to use my menu or just use some of these recipes.  I have included links for all the recipes I use, most of which I found on Pinterest.  I love trying new recipes.  I hope you find a new recipe that your family will enjoy. 

August 1:  Southwest Skillet Chicken and Rice, side salad
August 2:  church function with meal

August 3:  Baked Ravioli, broccoli

August 4:  Pecan-Crusted Chicken BreastsLyonnaise Potatoes

August 5:  Breakfast for Dinner–bacon, scrambled eggs, Biscuits, fresh fruit

August 6:  eat out

August 7:  Caramelized Chicken with Jalapeño Cream, rice, salad

August 8:  Spicy Sausage Pasta, grilled squash

August 9:  leftovers

August 10:  Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin, baked potatoes, Spicy Garlic String Beans

August 11:  Spaghetti, salad, garlic toast

August 12:  leftovers

August 13:  eat out

August 14:  Tomato Basil Chicken, corn

August 15:  Chicken Tortellini Skillet, green beans

August 16:  Beef Enchilada Casserole (recipe to come), guacamole, salad

August 17:  Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole, broccoli

August 18:  leftovers

August 19:  Spicy Shrimp Pasta in Garlic Tomato Cream Sauce, grilled veggies

August 20:  eat out

August 21:  Beef Tacos

August 22:  Cajun Chicken Pasta, salad

August 23:  leftovers

August 24:  Hobo Dinners

August 25:  Tortilla Chip and Pepper Jack Crusted Chicken, sliced avocado, corn

August 26:  Crock Pot Sloppy Joes/Stuffed Bell Peppers (omit the bun, fill bell peppers with the meat mixture, bake at 350 for about 30 minutes), Hassleback Potatoes

August 27:  eat out

August 28:  Julia Child’s Quiche, fresh fruit, French bread

August 29:  Italian Chicken Bake with Homemade Basil Pesto, pasta, salad

August 30:  Mexican Skillet Casserole, guacamole

August 31:  Sausage Spinach Pasta Toss, corn

My Semi-organized Kitchen


Let me be honest and say up front that I am nowhere near finished organizing my kitchen, but I have made some progress this week, and I wanted to share one thing I did because I am so excited about it.

When we were planning our house, we met with the owner of the cabinet company and told him what we wanted, and he showed us what he could do. We have been very pleased with our cabinets and drawers. They look nice and are completely functional. One thing we insisted on was a counter-level microwave. Our two older children are very independent and were caught climbing on the counter to access the microwave over the cooktop in our old house. So many safety hazards in that situation. Our microwave now sits at counter-height and is built into the cabinet with drawers below it, and this arrangement is perfect for our family. An added bonus are the deep cabinets above the microwave.

In our last two houses, our children climbed on the counters to get themselves a cup when an adult was not present. {I don’t think independence and impatience are a good combination.} Therefore, we now have one drawer below the microwave that is full of the kids’ favorite cups. These wide and deep drawers are very nice, but they can be difficult for adults to keep organized, so you can imagine the state of disarray in the kids’ drawer. Monday I decided to do something about it. I have seen ideas on Pinterest using small tension rods in cabinets and drawers for other things, so I decided to try it with the kids’ cups. Granted it has only been two days, but the drawer has stayed organized even with the kids using it.

20130828-121037.jpgThese are just cheap ($2.17 each) metal tension rods from Walmart, but they are a sanity and time saver! When I’m unloading the dishwasher now, it is simple to see where to put the cups, and I don’t waste time digging through the drawer trying to match the same-sized cups or reorganizing every time. I had threatened to throw away several cups, but now they all fit nicely and neatly, so the kids can hang on to their souvenir cups and multiple water bottles and thermoses.

My kitchen


I honestly enjoy cooking. I like finding new recipes and trying them out. I make things from scratch so I can know what ingredients are going into our food. I love baking and making pretty food. My parents and grandparents taught me the basics and some candy-making, which has become a family tradition around the holidays. I sold Pampered Chef for awhile and honed some cooking skills. I have tried many new recipes over the years and found that I’m a decent cook. In the spring of 2012, I had this great plan to prepare meals and sell them to friends who hate cooking or are too busy or tired to cook dinner. I started preparing meals for two to five families in addition to ours three days a week, and I was enjoying it. I don’t think I made any money, but I was cooking and serving others, which gave me purpose and joy. Then we sold our house and moved about 30 minutes away from all of the friends and neighbors who were ordering meals. I had considered preparing meals for friends in our new town, but I found out I was pregnant a few weeks after we moved, and the smell of chicken nauseated me.

We moved into a rent house on June 1st of last year and have been working on our new house for the last several months. The kitchen in the rent house is only tolerable. Three of the four burners on the stove work consistently. With the help of an oven thermometer, I can bake in the oven without burning things. There are just four narrow drawers for utensils, so I left most of my kitchen things packed away in boxes. (It will feel like Christmas morning when I start unpacking everything that has been boxed up for the past year!) Between the nausea and this kitchen, I have not enjoyed cooking for far too long, but that is about to change. We will be moving into our new house in the next week or two, and I can’t wait to cook in my new kitchen! It’s not quite as spacious as my “dream kitchen”, but it is functional and beautiful. It’s not completely finished, but I saw it yesterday for the first time since they put in the backsplash, and I’m already looking forward to being in my kitchen with its gas stove, accurate double oven, quiet dishwasher, large pantry, multiple wide, deep drawers, and everything I thought I wouldn’t miss and left in storage boxes. Here is a photo I took yesterday. It’s almost finished!