Tag Archives: cooking with kids

Sniff and Season

My five year old makes me so proud.

My five year old makes me so proud.

Sniff and season is a very serious task.

Sniff and season is a very serious task.





We live in Northern Michigan and that is never more clear than during the winter. We get a lot of snow, a lot of ice, and now that the twins are in school we get a lot of snow days.

The kids get to stay in their pajamas all day, we get to eat on our natural schedule, the baby can nap when she’s tired. The house gets destroyed every time. It takes weeks to recover from the housekeeping nightmare that is a snow day.

Around lunchtime we always have the food debate. Soup? Sandwiches? Chicken nuggets (again)? Inevitably we can’t all agree, that is the nature of kids. Mine at least. They want something fast and NOW. I want something hot for them, since they eat cold lunch at school every other day of the week.

Today we all decided on fish. Fish is a dish that is either loved by all, or barely touched, depending on the day. So now the kids are in charge of seasoning it every time, this almost guarantees that at least three of the four will eat it. They trust each other’s seasonings more than they trust mine.

It is the same process every time, the only thing that changes is the kid. I pull out all the spices that we have. They open each one, give it a good sniff, and if it smells nice it goes on the fish. We get a nice meal, the kids gets more familiar with spices and how they work together in a dish.

Pierce and Ted are heavy handed with their seasonings, they prefer to mask the taste of the fish as much as possible. Both prefer to stick to old favorites like lemon pepper, garlic, or dill.

Lillian changes it up but is always light on the seasonings. She really gets into the concept of sniff and season. Since she is not putting much of anything on, the seasonings usually end up like a nice light nature’s seasoning. She takes her time, sometimes going back to ones she has passed over.

Today she had a lovely mix that pleased everyone, it is always amazing when one meal is enjoyed by all the members of the family! We don’t write down the fish recipes, it is more fun to do the sniff and season every time. This method keeps us from getting in a seasoning rut. I save ruts for my pot roasts and stews.

In case you don’t want to try the sniff and season method yourself here is the mix she used today:

Sniff and Season Tilapia

1 package frozen tilapia, thawed
1/2 stick salted butter, cut into chunks
Onion powder

Preheat oven to 425

Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spray with oil. Place fish on sheet so it is not overlapping. Put the chunks of butter on top of the fish. Lightly season with everything, to your own taste preference.

Bake 12 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.


The three things we learned are
1) How spices work together
2) Sniff and season can take 30 seconds or 30 minutes depending on the kid
3) Mom needs a vacation after a snow day

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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Back to Basics

Oops! Littlest one is about to learn a lesson about standing on chairs.

Oops! Littlest one is about to learn a lesson about standing on chairs.

Since I’ve been gone from the blogging world for awhile, and in the meantime added a new cook to my team, I figured a back to basics post was in order.

But first…Congratulations to Angie, the winner of the Borax giveaway! I’ll send out your prize this weekend!

Every age can cook. I have two five year olds, a three year old, and a 18 month old and every one of them helps me in the kitchen. We have a system that works well for us, but we’ve been making the kids cook for us for awhile! If you are new to cooking with your kids I have a few places for you to begin.

Charlotte, the 18 month old, is best at helping load or unload the dishwasher. She excels at eating the leftover pieces of fruit, vegetable, or sandwich when I am creating fun bento school lunches. I’ve started giving her more to do like setting the (kid sized) table, mixing casserole ingredients, and picking which vegetable to serve with the meal. I’m reminded with her that it takes a long time to learn the skill of stirring. Making sure to thoroughly clean the surface she’s using beforehand saves a lot of time and food. Scooping the majority of the spills back into the dish is something I’ve done and will do again. We are having fun and she is learning.

Ted is three and can do most everything in the kitchen that doesn’t involve a sharp knife or the oven/stove. He prefers the easy tasks like scrubbing potatoes and dumping pre-measured ingredients. I push him a little by making him fill measuring cups correctly and selecting the correct item out of the refrigerator. He can peel root veggies, make sandwiches, and fill cupcake tins with liners.

The twins are by far the most fun in the kitchen these days! Doing all that Ted does, but with a little more ease. They are learning fractions in my dinner prepartions, and usually find the correct measuring cup. Being able to make a full meal on their own has amped up their excitement to be in the kitchen. The twins read recipes, correctly fill and dump measuring cups, stir, peel, and more! Our Keurig allows them to make me coffee (win!!) and oatmeal for themselves and the little kids. The microwave has mostly been mastered, Lily has had two lessons on stove top safety, and Pierce has had one on the proper way to wash knives.

Knives and heat are a big deal for me. I want to instill in them a love to help their mom cook, but at the same time they need to respect the things that can hurt them or others.

Three things the kids learned recently:

  1. How to soak and cook dried beans
  2. Making rice in the microwave (thanks mom for the rice cooker!!)
  3. Sweet potatoes need to be peeled twice over, or mom gives them back

What are your kids doing in the kitchen? What age will they (or did they) be allowed to use the stove? Knives?


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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Lily Belle’s First Recipe

She wanted little to no help with this project.

She wanted little to no help with this project.

Lily Belle is five. She’s been cooking and baking with me for nearly four years now. Some days when I call in the troupes to peel, stir, and measure she declines. As much as she likes to help in the kitchen, she is not striving to become a chef.

Or so I thought.

She found an instant oatmeal packet that she loved. Loved, loved. Ruined all other oatmeal for her. No more wonderful steel-cut oats with apples and cinnamon, no more plain quick oats with jam. It was blueberry cream instant oatmeal…or nothing.

When our stock of instant oatmeal was gone, and she realized she had to wait for the next big sale, Lily Belle took the initiative to make up her very first recipe.

She added dried blueberries to the grocery list (please no one tell her I bought the much cheaper dried cranberries with infused blueberry juice!) and got to work.

Using this blog she was able to get a starting point, and after a few weeks of trouble shooting she came up with her perfect version. Now remember, Lily Belle is a kid. If I was making this for myself I would add more dried fruit, less sweetener, and maybe powdered milk instead of CoffeeMate. I was in no way going to get in the way of her creative process though, so this recipe is exactly as she wanted it.

Here is what we learned in this endeavor:

  1. Trust
  2. Determination to follow through must be mutual
  3. How to find the right measuring cup

Lily Belle’s Blueberry Cream Single Serve Oatmeal


  • Quick oats
  • Dried Fruit (We used CranBlueberry)
  • Stevia (or sugar)
  • French Vanilla Coffee Mate


Get out as many Ziploc, or reusable, bags as you want servings. One serving per bag. Add 1/3 cup quick oats to each bag. Add 1.5 teaspoons Stevia and 1 teaspoon French Vanilla CoffeeMate to each bag.

Have an adult cut three cranberries into six pieces each, so each piece is very little. Add the tiny pieces to the bag, shake to mix, close. Repeat this step for all remaining bags.

I must say I am very proud of Lily Belle for this. She found the exact recipe she wanted, she’s saving money, and making school mornings a little easier on me. I’m looking forward to altering this recipe further for the boys’ preferences.

Let me know if you try this! Did you add different things? What did you add?

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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


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