Posts Tagged ‘Cooking with kids’

What better way to start your Friday than whipping up a batch of GIANT chocolate chip cookies for your loved ones and kiddos. It makes them a little extra fun being a larger size, plus they are so appealing to your little ones eyes (and especially cute in their small hands). 

Note: For each cookie, use a ¼-cup measuring cup to scoop out and level dough before dropping onto the baking sheet.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: Makes 16


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until combined; mix in vanilla.
  3. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; mix until just incorporated. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop 1/4-cup mounds of dough onto ungreased baking sheets, at least 4 inches apart and away from edges of pan. (You will fit about 4 cookies to a sheet; bake in two batches, using two baking sheets per batch.) Bake until golden, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets front to back and from top to bottom of oven halfway through.
  5. Cool 1 to 2 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.


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Memorial Day weekend is next weekend and it is full of family fun! From barbeques to days at the beach to family road trips – here is a quick and tasty snack that is perfect to bring to a family friend’s house as a hostess gift or a quickie snack for the kids that is sure to bring a smile. For this presidential holiday, we decided on Pretzel Sparklers Snacks! Like most sparklers, these are extinguished with a big bite from your kiddo. Enjoy!

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To check out Le Top children’s clothing go to:

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This delicious snack/dessert helps ease us from those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer into the chill of an early fall. Change out some of the butter with  applesauce for a slightly healthier cupcake that still tastes great!

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In:  1 Hr 30 Minutes

Servings 24 cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree


  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, and crystallized ginger in a bowl; set aside.
  2. Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree with the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Frost as you like.


Source: allrecipes.com

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I keep seeing the previews flash on the television of the upcoming Sex in the City 2.  I know, I know – we all can’t wait to see the movie and Carrie’s gorg outfits, but what particularly caught my eye were the delicious cupcakes in the scene with Charlotte and her little girl.  I am a baker at heart (btw) and it inspired me to pass along these helpful hints for cooking in the kitchen with your kids, along with my favorite “clown” cupcake recipe (recipe from the one-and-only Martha Stewart). 

Having kids in the kitchen is a great way to keep them occupied, but is also fun, educates and incorporates a range of skills such as counting, measuring and reading, touching, listening, planning, smelling, tasting and above all – imagination! 

#1:  Keep It Clean and Safe
Teach your child the basics of hygiene such as sudsing your hands before beginning food preparation, and about cross-contamination (i.e. eggs and washing hands after you touch or crack them). 

#2: Describe Dangers
I think it’s important to explain the potential dangers in the kitchen and safety. Always look out for sharp knives, hot stoves and ovens, boiling liquids and invisible germs. Understand fire safety and explain how the fire extinguisher works, how to put out a grease fire, and when to call 911.  In addition, unrelated to making cupcakes, explain how metal and microwaves DO NOT mix. Any object that contains metal or aluminum should not be placed into a microwave because it could cause a fire. 

#3: Prep is Key
Save time and keep your children attentive during your cooking process by cutting and measuring ingredients before you start your baking adventure!  I have found that small children can have a short attention span and just want to dump all of the ingredients in the bowl and mix it up! Wink! 

#4:  Simplify Instructions
Try to give children quick and easy instructions one at a time.  You might have to repeat them if they forget, but no biggie! 

#5:  Give More Responsibility to Older Kids
Encourage your older children (if there is more than one) to try and read the recipe or help measure out/weigh ingredients.  For example, ask him/her to pour 1 cup of sugar or unpeel the wrapper for 2 sticks of butter. 

#6: Mix it Up for Younger Kids
Mixing in the bowl can be one of the most fun parts of cooking in the kitchen. Have your younger babes be involved in the mixing process by placing ingredients in the mixer and letting them turn on the electric mixer (just not too fast of a speed if it’s flour or you will turn out looking like a ghost covered in white flour!) or stir the ingredient in a bowl with a wooden spoon. This works perfectly for cookie dough!  

#7: Frosting is my favorite!
All ages can help with frosting and decorating cookies or cupcakes. 

#8: Pretend Play
Younger kids who are not yet able to help with the actual food preparation can still participate! Have them watch you and imitate you by playing with plastic bowls, wooden spoons, and rubber spatulas.  

#9: Mr. Clean
I love speedy clean ups! Teach your children to clean while they wait for the next stage in preparing the food (i.e. water boils, soup simmers, etc.).  It is great to encourage children to be involved in the cleaning-up process during and after your kitchen session is complete. 


Clowning Around in the Kitchen (well, not really)

Recipe for Clown Cupcakes  

Makes 4 Serving


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Vanilla store bought icing
  • Rainbow round sprinkles
  • Rainbow gum drops
  • Chocolate sprinkles (the eyes of the clown)


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with cupcake paper liners; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated and scraping down sides of bowl, beat in vanilla.
  2. Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl to assure the batter is thoroughly mixed. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling papers about 2/3 full.
  3. Bake on the center rack of the oven until tops spring back to touch, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Helpful Tip:
The cupcakes can be baked a week ahead and frozen, but decorate them no more than a day before serving. Set up an assembly line, and put kids in charge of affixing candy eyes, gumdrop cheeks, and other trimmings. Pack the cupcakes in a plastic container, and stuff crumpled waxed paper in between. 

How-To Decorate your Clown Cupcake:
This (see photo) clown is hiding a bellyful of icing. To make this cute clown cupcake, cut a cone-shaped piece from the center; set aside to use as the hat. Pipe vanilla icing (just buy a simple vanilla premade at the grocery store) into the cavity and on top for the head. Use mini uncoated gum-drops for the collar and a cinnamon candy for the nose; insert chocolate sprinkles for eyes. The hat has a vanilla-icing pompom covered in sprinkles. 

Final Cooking Note: For children interested in creativity with decoration provide your kids with paper and crayons to whip up “masterpiece” place mats for each family member for the kitchen table. 


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Kristin's Ready to Bake

Kristin's Ready to Bake

Baking…a fun activity with a built in reward!   Although I am not an expert cook I just LOVE to bake!  My mom always created ‘special time’ for the two of us by inviting me into the kitchen when she was cooking; and although I didn’t pick up on her cooking skills, I thankfully did pick up on her baking skills.  These were great bonding moments for us – mom would dress me up in my own little apron, and gave me the important job of letting me read from the cookbook and pour in the ingredients that she had carefully measured out:

Mom: “a teaspoon of salt”

Little Kristin: “like this mommy?”

Mom: “yes – very good!”

I think many people share similar memories in the kitchen with their mom.  Robyn, our Assistant Credit Manager here at le top, has a beautiful daughter – Kira.   (Kira has been a “le top baby” for a very, very long time!  The announcement of Kira’s upcoming birth came very soon after Robyn began working with us ten years ago!  She modeled clothes in our ads from the time she was a baby until she outgrew our sizes!)  Robyn and Kira were baking cupcakes (and building memories together) in the kitchen, and as usual Kira was “Chief Decorator.”  Robyn left the kitchen for a few moments and came back to find that Kira had made a present for her – a custom cupcake proudly exhibiting mommy’s company logo “le•top!”  Robyn was in awe at the quality and accuracy of the logo…she just had to take a picture to share with us!  We knew we had to pass on this work of art to our loyal bloggers, so…TAT  DAA!  We present Kira’s le•top cupcake masterpiece.

Kira's Surprise for Mom

Kira's Surprise for Mom

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thumbnail1Perfect activity for little hands, and perfect to eat for little mouths!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Grill: 8 minutes

Makes 12 mini burgers


  • 1-1/2  pounds ground beef (90 percent lean)
  • 1  tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1  tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4  teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4  teaspoon black pepper
  • 12  small round dinner rolls (such as potato rolls or dollar rolls)
  • 24  leaves fresh arugula or other leafy green, cleaned
  • 12  slices sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces total)
  • 12  slices plum tomato


  1. Heat gas grill to medium-high or prepare charcoal grill with medium-hot coals. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion flakes, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, Italian seasoning and black pepper. Mix until well combined.
  2. Shape seasoned beef into 12 small patties, about 1/4-cup mixture for each, forming patties that are 2-1/2 inches across and 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Split the rolls in half and toast the cut side on the grill, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large platter. Top buns with arugula leaves.
  4. Transfer hamburger patties to the grill and cook 2 minutes. Flip and cook 2 additional minutes or until cooked through. Top burgers with cheese. Slice should be roughly the size of the burger; if not, cut or fold it to fit. Grill until slightly melted, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Transfer burgers to lettuce-topped buns and place a plum tomato slice on each. Serve warm.

source: parents.com

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…In under 30 MINUTES!
adapted from a recipe in the San Francisco Chronicle Food and Wine Newsletter

Make the whole family happy by putting out the basics for the kids and lots of spicy options for the adults. If your kids like helping in the kitchen, have them mash the avocado for the Guacamole (fun for the kids).

2 small, ripe avocados
1/4 cup finely chopped white or sweet Walla Walla-type onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Juice of half a fresh lime
Salt and black pepper to taste

Fish Tacos:
1 pound thick fish fillets, such as salmon or halibut, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons corn or peanut oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
8 or flour corn tortillas
Optional garnishes: Small head of cabbage, cored and thinly sliced; fresh salsa; chopped cilantro; Mexican crema or sour cream; slices of lime; diced tomatoes; shredded cheeses; sliced jalapeno peppers (fresh or canned)

INSTRUCTIONS: To make the guacamole, pit the avocados and place the flesh in a bowl. Use a fork to mash roughly. Mix in the onion, cilantro and the juice of half a lime or to taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Coat the fish in flour, dusting off any excess. Set out a plate lined with a paper towel. In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the fish and let cook in the pan for about 2 1/2 minutes per side without moving, turning individually with tongs, a total of 5 minutes. The fish should be a light golden brown. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove the fish the paper-towel lined plate.

To prepare the tortillas, place directly over a medium gas burner flame, turning with tongs, about 20 seconds per side. If you don’t have a gas burner, place in a hot, dry skillet for the same amount of time. As you warm them, place them on a plate and cover with foil.

Place the fish, the tortillas, and the fixings in separate dishes and let your family serve themselves.

Serves 4

PER SERVING: 375 calories, 28 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 17 g fat (3 g saturated), 36 mg cholesterol, 124 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.

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