Homemade Pasta- Kids Cook Monday

Few things in life are as yummy as homemade pasta. Nothing from a box can ever taste as fresh or light. For years, Chris had been saying he wanted to learn how to make his own pasta. Finally, last year he got his own pasta maker. Today he taught Brady to make pasta. It was somewhat time consuming, but really fun! And, Brady was SO into it!


Homemade fettuccine! (The finished product.)

Here’s the ingredients for a basic pasta…

3 Cups flour
4 eggs
1 1/2 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 Tablespoon Salt


Here’s how the pasta came together…

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, and oil together.


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Add 3 Cups of Flour to your mixer.


Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour with the mixer on low for about a minute, or until all the egg mixture is incorporated into the flour. Dough should be sticky between fingers. If it seems a little dry, add a splash of water.

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Roll dough onto a counter that has been dusted with flour. Form into a ball. Let dough sit under plastic wrap for about a half hour.


Cut dough into about 5 sections. Roll each section flat.

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Carefully press each sheet of pasta dough through the pasta maker 3 times until it is very thin. (Each time you put the sheet of pasta through the machine, you decrease the width setting on the pasta maker.)


I love that part way through the process Brady had to go get his dinosaur and “Man with the Yellow Hat” hat.

Run the thin sheet of pasta through the pasta cutter to make your desired noodle shape. We made fettuccine.

Lay noodles flat to dry out for about 30 minutes. Turn the pasta over and let the other side dry for another 30 minutes.

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Boil the pasta for about 5 minutes. (This part goes way quicker than dried pasta!)


Once your noodles are cooked, top with your favorite sauce, veggies, or meat. This fettuccine would be fabulous with a marinara or alfredo sauce. We tossed ours in some butter, salt and pepper, and threw in some green peas and Parmesan Cheese. It was super simple and the pasta was definitely the star!


Pasta with Peas and Parmesan!

Yay for homemade, fresh pasta! And, yay for time in the kitchen with daddy!

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes {Kids Cook Monday} *Farmer’s Market*


One of our favorite things to do is to take a trip to the weekly Farmer’s Market in Downtown Raleigh. Besides the abundance of farm fresh produce, there’s always fun free samples, live music, and lots to look at. My boys always get a kick out of checking out what’s in season and sampling different vendor’s goodies. For this week’s Kids Cook Monday recipe, we headed downtown to see what was in season this time of year. We were inspired by all of the apples and sweet potatoes for sale. Not only did we get to sample some yummy granola and peanut butter, but we also got the ingredients for this week’s Kids Cook meal.


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I should note that not only is the Downtown Raleigh Farmer’s Market entertaining, but the produce is SO cheap! This slow cooker apple/sweet potato dish cost about $2 for the whole batch. Even if you doubled the batch, it would still be a super affordable Thanksgiving side dish!


Sweet, tart, and slow cooked goodness!


3-4 apples, peeled and chopped
2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup water
3 Tbs. Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Ground Ginger
2 Tbs. Butter


I used a combo of sweet and tart apple varieties. You could also mix up the spices you use- nutmeg would be delicious!


Mine and Brady’s favorite part of cooking- chopping!


As you can see, we gave the apples a very rough, not perfect, peel and chop.


Dump the apples and sweet potatoes into the slow cooker. Pour the water over them and toss your butter on top.


Sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Give the pot a big stir and then put the lid on. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. The apples cook faster than the potatoes, so check your potatoes to make sure they are nice and soft.


Patiently wait for your sweet potatoes to finish cooking…


Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through, remove from the crock pot. We ate ours just like this, but you could also top with more brown sugar and pecans. Or, even add a little cream and mash them up a bit for a apple sweet potato mash. Yum!


Not only do these sweet potatoes end up tasting like apple pie filling, but your whole house will smell delish!

This would be the easiest Thanksgiving side dish ever. Plus, it won’t take up that precious oven space! Our kiddos enjoyed this farm to table treat, and hopefully yours will too!






Pumpkin Pancakes- Kids Cook Monday

It’s Fall! Which means it’s time for all things pumpkin to show up on the shelves. I love pumpkin scented candles slightly more than pumpkin flavored foods or drinks, but by nature I am a sucker for any kind of marketing, so naturally I buy into the pumpkin madness that October brings. My favorite things to indulge in are the Target brand pumpkin spice K-Cups (much tastier than the infamous PSL, in my opinion.) I also LOVE my grandma’s pumpkin bread recipe. But now, I’m obsessed with these pumpkin pancakes. They are perfect for a cool Fall morning or a fun “Breakfast for Dinner” night. But mostly I love them because pancakes are the easiest meal for kids to get in the kitchen and help with. Plus, my boys ate them up like crazy!


Brady (and Nolan) loved getting in on the measuring, whisking, and pancake flipping! I’m guilty of feeding them frozen/microwavable waffles and pancakes during the week, so I think they especially enjoyed watching the process of how “real pancakes” were made.

Here’s how it went down…

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 Cups Milk
2 Eggs
1 Tbs. Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
3/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice


I don’t have Pumpkin Pie Spice on hand so I made my own mixture with cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.


Mix together all your ingredients and get your griddle pre-heating.

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Add a little butter to the griddle and then pour your batter on. Flip pancakes once they begin to bubble in the middle.

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Chris and I topped our pancakes with butter and syrup, but the boys ate theirs plain (as they usually do.) Both boys asked for seconds. I think if we make these again, we may make a big batch of silver dollar ones and freeze them for busy mornings. Happy Pumpkin Season!




Quinoa Chili – Kids Cook Monday

It seems as though Fall temperatures were out in full force this weekend. I even saw Florida Facebook friends remark about needing their jackets…which means it must have dipped down below 70! Between endless football games on television and cooler weather, we were desperate for some chili around here.


I almost always make my chili meatless. It’s just how I like it. Sometimes I put it on something like spaghetti. Other times we use it to make nachos. But today I just wanted a big bowl of chili. We did however mix things up a bit by bumping up the flavor and texture by adding some quinoa. This made the chili so thick and substantial. I was completely surprised by how much I loved it! Plus, quinoa is like, SO good for you. Score!


I rarely am down for healthy versions of recipes, but this one is an exception.

Here’s how me and my little sous chef made this chili happen!


Quinoa Chili

3 cans of beans- I used black, red & white (drain and rinse)
1 Large can of tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes- I used one Italian and one Rotel version (don’t drain!!)
1/2 an onion
1/2 a green pepper
1/2 Cup Quinoa
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar


Brady is super into helping me chop up veggies so we started by dicing up our half onion and half green pepper. He ate a lot of the green pepper though…


We got our veggies cooking up in a big pot with a little EVOO and S&P.


Once the veggies were tender we added the tomato sauce to the pot. (Another good job for your little helper!)


At this point we measured out and added our seasonings- salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and sugar. Sidenote: is anyone else just obsessing over chalkboard labels?!

Then we drained and rinsed all 3 cans of beans and added them to the pot. We also threw in the 2 cans of tomatoes with all the juices- don’t drain them! That extra liquid helps cook up the quinoa.

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Next, we added our 1/2 cup of quinoa. Check out the label of the black beans and quinoa. Holy protein! (Who needs meat?!) At this point we put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. The quinoa starts out very visible, but once it cooks it becomes more transparent and the chili thickens up.

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Here’s a glimpse at what the big ol’ pot of chili looks like once the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid and is nice and tender.

The great thing about chili is you can just let it keep doing it’s thing for a while before you’re ready to eat and it keeps getting better. We kept ours on the stove, on low, for about an hour or so until we were ready to eat.



We topped our chili with cheese, sour cream (or plain Greek Yogurt) and some green onions. Healthy never tasted so good.

I should mention that while Brady did most of the cooking today, Nolan was WAY into the eating part. The boy just loves chili. Always has! Let’s not think about tomorrow’s diapers…

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And the best part is…there’s leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!



Football + Fall + Food= Freakin’ Fabulous!

Sweet Treats- Kids Cook Monday

So, it’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth. My favorite food is birthday cake. I get that that does not bode well for my health and waistline, but I come by it honestly. My whole family is full of dessert loving people. Nolan has been a sweets lover from the beginning, but Brady has always been my healthy eater. He’s always preferred a fruit smoothie to desserts.  So, in an effort to appease mine and Nolan’s sweet tooth, but not forgo Brady’s healthy ways, we tried a few new dessert recipes this weekend.

The first was inspired by our love of Rice Krispie treats. Traditional Rice Krispie Treats are full of rice cereal, butter, and marshmallows. Delicious, but no nutritional value. I decided to use that same rice cereal but combine it with bananas and some all natural peanut butter. We made them into bite size balls and stuck them in the freezer. The result was a sweet, gooey, moist, ball of peanut butter goodness. It took about 5 minutes to come together and a half hour in the freezer to set.

Choco-Peanut-Banana-Rice Balls


3 Cups Rice Cereal
3/4 Cup Peanut Butter
A squirt of honey
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
1 Ripe Banana



All we did was throw the peanut butter, banana, and honey in a large pot and heat until melted. Once it was liquid-y we added the cocoa powder.


We added the rice cereal and stirred it into the peanut butter mixture. We took it off the heat and let it cool for about a minute or two.


Then we used our hands to roll the rice mixture into bite sized balls.


We stuck the plate full of balls into the freezer for about a half hour to let them set. Then they were ready to eat!


We kept these guys in the freezer so they were nice and cold when we wanted one. They never got super hard so they were always ready to eat. This batch lasted us less than a day.










Now on to dessert #2 of the weekend…

Since the weather has cooled off so much lately, I’ve really been in the mood to make something pumpkin flavored. I LOVE my Grandma Dot’s pumpkin bread recipe, but I’m saving that one for when I’m really ready to indulge. Today we tried a Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffin recipe I found on Pinterest that is low in added sugar and gets it’s sweetness from bananas and some protein from Greek Yogurt. I’m posting the link to the recipe, but note that we added about a 1/2 teaspoon salt (because I really think it enhances the flavor of baked goods) and half a teaspoon of ground cloves (it’s in my Grandma’s recipe and SO tasty with pumpkin.) These are so great for a breakfast on the go or a sweet treat in the evening. The kids loved this one and have a blast any time they get to help bake! 

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Here’s the recipe…



‘Tis the season of Pumpkin!

Fiesta Mac-N-Cheese {Kids Cook Monday}

What’s better than mac-n-cheese? I pretty much love all kinds. Fancy versions with truffle butter, super cheesy ones at BBQ restaurants, and even the kind you make from a blue box. While I have no shame in stocking up on Annie’s Mac-N-Cheese when they go on sale at Harris Teeter for 10/$10, every once in a while it’s nice to make a big home made batch that you can eat leftovers of for days. This mac-n-cheese recipe is substantial enough to have as a main dish, and has a fun Mexican flair. Who doesn’t love flair in their mac-n-cheese?!




Fiesta Mac-N-Cheese



I actually used 2 of those bags of cheese (just forgot it for the picture!)

1 lb. Elbow Macaroni
1/2 stick of butter
1/3 cup of flour
2 1/2 cup whole milk
4 cups of shredded cheese
1 can tomatoes with green chilies
1 can black beans
1/2 bag of frozen corn (or 1 can)
1/2 bag of spinach leaves
1/2 tsp. Chili Powder, Cumin, and Garlic Powder
Optional Toppings; Green Onion, Crushed Taco Chips, Sour cream

Here’s how this one went down…


Begin by boiling the macaroni in a big pot. Cook until just tender. Don’t overcook it because it will cook a little more in the oven.


Drain canned tomatoes. Rinse and drain can of beans.


Begin to make cheese sauce by melting your butter in a big (oven safe) pot.


Whisk flour into melted butter and cook on low for about a minute.


Slowly stir milk into the flour/butter mixture. Cook on low and stir until smooth.


Stir in your Cumin, Chili Powder and Garlic Powder along with a little Salt & Pepper.


Stir in 3 Cups of your cheese into the sauce. (You save your fourth cup of cheese to top it with before it goes in the oven.)



Delicious Cheese Sauce!


Now you add in the cooked macaroni, can of tomatoes, can of beans, corn, and half a bag of spinach.

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Top everything with the remaining cup of cheese and put into a 350* oven and bake until bubbly and hot (about 15-20 minutes.)


Patiently stare at it in the oven…


Take a quick selfie!


Put your party hat on. It’s FIESTA Mac-n-Cheese afterall!


The finished product! This recipe makes a boat load. I put a couple containers in the freezer to have for quick, easy meals when Chris is out of town.


I’m loving that I have tons of leftovers of this meal. I also love that you could really throw in whatever veggies you have on hand and it would still be delicious!


A kid friendly meal that is full of protein, fiber, and cheesy goodness.


End of Summer Corn Chowder- Kids Cook Monday


Here in North Carolina we’ve had a little Fall tease. Highs in the 70’s, windows open, and it. is. awesome. Brady and I made the most amazing corn chowder and it was the perfect cool September evening meal. This chowder uses up lots of fresh corn which is still super cheap at the grocery store and readily available at the Farmer’s Market, but is rich and filling and warms ya right up! This meal was just the right balance of Summer meets Fall.


I mean, seriously.

This is my favorite kind of meal to make. Lots of chopping (for some reason I love to chop!), easy jobs for the kiddo’s to get involved in (lots of shucking!), and it all cooks in one big pot.


I use this thing every chance I get! Best birthday present (that I bought myself) ever. I named her Ina. #dork

End of Summer Corn Chowder



5 Ears of Corn
6 Red Potatoes
2 cloves of Garlic
1 onion
1 carrot
3 stalks of celery
1 box of Vegetable Broth
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper
About 1//2 teaspoon Cumin

Chopped Green Onion
Cheddar Cheese


Chop the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic.


Sautee the veggies in olive oil until just tender. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin.


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Get your helpers to shuck the ears of corn and cut it off the cob.











Wash and chop the potatoes into bite size-ish pieces. No need to peel.


Add entire box of broth to the onion mixture, bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender (about 15 minutes.) Add corn and cook another 5 minutes.


Reduce heat. Once potatoes and corn are tender, use an immersion blender to smooth the soup out a bit. (Fun tool for kids to use!) We did it just a little bit because I liked some pieces to be a bit chunky. You could also transfer it to a blender if you don’t have an immersion blender.


Love this part- stir in the cream. Yum!


Give everything a couple minutes to simmer on low and then you’re good to go!


Top the soup with cheese and green onions and serve with something warm and bread-ish.


Brady enjoying the “fruits of his labor.”


Good bye Summer, hello Fall, in a bowl!


Veggie Egg Muffins- Kids Cook Monday

Every once in a while, we get Chris home on a Monday morning with us while he’s working from the house. We take those opportunities to do our “Kids Cook Monday” meals in the mornings and have a big breakfast as a family sitting at the table. Of course, I’m always a fan of “Breakfast for Dinner”, but this time around we did “Breakfast for Breakfast.” What a concept!


I recently found these new biscuits that were marketed as “Junior” size. Chris jokes that I’m the exact target that marketing teams salivate over, because I will literally buy anything that looks new or shiny. These biscuits looked new and shiny so I went for them. They are just a cuter little version of the normal Grands biscuits- and they were perfect for stuffing into a muffin pan and making the perfect 3 bite, portable breakfast.


Veggie Breakfast Muffins

6-8 eggs
About 1/4 cup milk
A dash of Salt and Pepper
1-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 can of biscuits (I used Junior Size)
A couple handfuls of chopped veggies (whatever kind you like!)


Here’s how these little cheesy, eggy bites came together…


Grease a muffin pan with a non-stick spray. Pull apart your biscuits into two halves. (One half a biscuit goes into each muffin)


Press each half biscuit into the muffin tin. (You’ll have leftover biscuits to make another tray or just bake them up on their own.)


Whisk your eggs, milk, salt and pepper and then pour the egg mixture onto the biscuits. Your biscuits might float a little in the eggs, but that’s OK!


Get your favorite veggies prepped and ready.


Throw your veggies onto your egg mixture.


Top with cheese. Yummm….


Bake in the oven at 350* for about 13-18 minutes (until the eggs have set and aren’t wiggly.)


Nolan loves being in the kitchen. This was him watching the biscuits saying “hot, hot, hot!”


Fresh out of the oven!




Everything you need- protein, veggies, all mixed up with a cheesy squishy biscuit!

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Our meal times are not fancy. In fact they’re usually quite loud and chaotic, but anytime we’re together in the kitchen and eating as a family, it’s all good!


Breakfast To Go {Oatmeal Smoothies} – Kids Cook Monday

We have been on such a smoothie kick here in the Smith household! It’s such a fun way to use up all that fruit that’s so ripe at the market these days. Plus, it’s an easy way to get the kiddos in the kitchen helping out with some of the “cooking.” Brady has been in love with smoothies for a while now, but recently Nolan has become addicted.  He takes them very seriously.

With back to school (pre-school for Brady) just around the corner, I wanted to try out an Oatmeal Smoothie recipe because it seemed like the perfect quick breakfast that can be taken in the car…for those days that we’re running late! This recipe is full of oats, fruit, and protein packed yogurt and skim milk. I can’t think of a better way to start the day!



About a cup of chopped peaches (or whatever juicy fruit you have on hand)
About a cup of frozen berries (I had blueberries and strawberries on hand)
1 ripe banana
1 cup of milk
1 small container of Greek Yogurt (I used Blueberry flavored)
1 cup of ice
1/2 a cup of rolled oats (do not cook)


All you have to do is throw everything in the blender and blend until it’s smooth. This made enough for about 2 good portions. The oats give it a very thick consistency and make you feel so satisfied!


Smoothie ingredients (plus a little ice!) I love having frozen fruit on hand. Whenever I realize I’m not going to be able to finish up my fresh fruit, I throw it in the freezer for smoothies!


Nolan’s face while the blender is on. He HATES it!


Yummy breakfast to go!



And all is right with the world again.


Quinoa Salad with Peanut Lime Dressing- Kids Cook Monday

The Smiths are just now venturing into the world of quinoa. Here’s what I’ve learned about this ultra healthy pseudo-grain. It’s great- when doctored up with lots of other flavors. So, that’s what we did this week! I recently found a recipe for a Thai Quinoa Salad. This inspired me to make a similar version with Brady. It has lots of veggies and the dressing has peanut butter in it! Which, admittedly sounds a little odd to me, but actually is quite tasty. There’s a lot of ingredients, but not a lot of work that goes into this salad. It’s colorful and crunchy and Brady described it as, “Yummy! Delicious!” (Future food critic, for sure.)


Perfect as a side dish (you can leave it outside at a BBQ without fear of going bad!) or as a salad on it’s own. Tons of protein and good for you stuff!


Quinoa (about 3/4 cup)

Salad ingredients:
One red pepper (diced)
1/2 a cup chopped green onion
1/2 a cup chopped cilantro
2-3 cups of cole slaw mix with carrots
About a 1/3 of a red onion, diced (optional, I may leave it out next time!)
1/2 a cup of chopped cashews (I used lightly salted)


Quinoa and salad fixins.

Dressing ingredients:
1/2 a cup smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
juice of one lime
1 Tbs. Sesame oil (optional, just a fun flavor!)
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. honey


Peanut Lime Dressing ingredients. Melt the honey and peanut butter for about 20 seconds in your microwave before whisking all the other ingredients in with it.



First we cooked up our quinoa according to package directions. Once all the liquid was absorbed, we put it in a bowl and let it chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes to cool off.


Then, have your kid clean up all the quinoa you spilled all over the floor…


While the quinoa was cooking, we chopped up our veggies. I would most definitely use less red onion next time. Or leave it out altogether!


While the quinoa is cooling in the fridge, start the dressing by microwaving the peanut butter and honey together. Let you kid (or husband) lick the spoon.


Whisk all the dressing ingredients into the melted peanut butter/honey. Taste for seasoning or consistency. You want it smooth, thick, but pourable.



Here’s what our dressing looked like. Yum!


Toss the veggies, cole slaw, cooled quinoa and sauce together in a big bowl.




May he always be this adventurous of an eater!