Cooking with Kids - Thanksgiving Fun!

Written by: Elena Marre

With Thanksgiving upon us, Elena Marre of The Kids' Table has shared a few fall favorites from The Kids' Table recipe collection.  These healthy, tasty and seasonal dishes can warm your families' bellies and souls during these chilly late autumn and winter months.  Turn meal prep into family time by enlisting your child(ren)'s help.  Kids as young as two can mix batter or dressing, mash squash and tear herbs.  By helping in the kitchen, children will learn about basic cooking techniques and ingredients, develop a sense of pride and ownership in the meal, be more likely to taste the end result and experience cooking as a fun, communal and adventurous process.  Enjoy!

Quinoa Stuffing (Makes 6 servings)

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 3 medium (or two large) leeks
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4-5 leaves fresh sage (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Combine broth and quinoa is a small pot. Have your adult assistant bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Let stand covered for 5 minutes, then remove cover and fluff with a fork. Meanwhile, have your adult assistant toast pepitas in a small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking pan frequently, until lightly browned (about 5 minutes).

Have your adult assistant trim the leeks (leaving only the white stem and a couple inches of pale green), and halve them lengthwise. Carefully wash them, making sure to get all of the dirt out from between the leaves. With your adult assistant nearby, thinly slice leeks with kitchen scissors and set aside.

With your adult assistant nearby, chop celery into 1/4 inch pieces. Remove papery skin from garlic and mince. Tear (or use scissors to cut) sage leaves into small pieces. Have your adult assistant heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add celery and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add leeks, garlic, sage and a few pinches salt, and saute for an additional 5-8 minutes, or until leeks and celery are tender. Mix in quinoa, cranberries and pepitas and cook, stirring, until well-combined and warmed through. Enjoy with or without turkey!

NOTE: We adapted this from a recipe from Cooking Light (November 2006).

Spiced Squash Bread Spiced Squash Bread

  • 1 small butternut squash, halved lengthwise
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Couple pinches black pepper
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Have your adult assistant preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Scoop seeds* out of squash. Place squash cut side down on prepared baking sheet and have your adult assistant roast until fork easily pierces skin and flesh, about 25-35 minutes. Let cool.

Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine yolks and whites. Add brown sugar, butter and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, allspice, salt and pepper and stir well. Stir in flours.

Scoop squash flesh out of skins into a large bowl. Mash well or puree. Add 2 cups mashed squash to batter. (Enjoy any remaining mashed squash with a little butter and salt as a snack!) Stir well to combine. Spray loaf pan with nonstick spray. Transfer batter to loaf pan and have your adult assistant bake at 350 degrees until top is springy and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the middle, about 50-60 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in pan on a rack. Carefully remove bread from loaf pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Frost with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting (below), if desired, and enjoy!

*You can roast these seeds, just as you would pumpkin seeds. Separate them from the strings, put them on a baking pan, drizzle with canola oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir well. Have your adult assistant roast them in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned, about 8-12 minutes

Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting (Makes about 1/2 Cup)

  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened*
  • 1 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Combine cream cheese and butter in your mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Sift powdered sugar over the mixture. (You can do this with a flour sifter, or use a small fine-mesh strainer and gently push powdered sugar through it with a spoon.) Add vanilla, molasses, and cinnamon and whisk until frosting is smooth and creamy. Use to frost Pumpkin Muffins or Carrot Cake.

* Ideally, the butter and cream cheese should be left out at room temperature to soften (1-1 1/2 hours). If you need to soften them quickly, you can do it in the microwave. Just make sure

Posted on November 17, 2011 at 2:20 PM