Cooking with Kids - Sausage & Cheddar Strata

Written by: Melissa Graham

The holidays are a magical time. On almost every street, homes sparkle in the dark December skies. Even with the busy-ness of the season, we seem to enjoy our families more as the holidays close in and our everyday work slows down.

Whether dinner is a quick casserole after a shopping trip or a multi-course weekend feast, December is the perfect time to rediscover the family table. While you are enjoying the holidays - enlist little hands to assist with cooking.

While your kitchen helpers might initially be more enthusiastic to bake a batch of cookies, once you show them how to properly perform their tasks, you’ll more likely need to shoo them out of the kitchen then coax them in.

Whisking and Stirring: Few tasks are more tempting for little hands. Hand a child a whisk, a spoon, even a fork and they’ll enthusiastically stir up salad dressing, whisk up eggs, and mix together ingredients. Simply remind them that only those that stay in the bowl make it to their stomachs.

Scooping and Pouring: Measuring provides both fun and learning. The practical application of math is easily shown with kitchen measures. Just be patient with unsteady hands.

Rolling and Kneading: Whether cookie or bread dough, give kids a rolling pin and some flour and they’ll make both a meal and a mess. They’ll also see the effect of balance and imbalance when you show the results of unevenly rolled dough.

Cutting and peeling: Show your young chefs that some ingredients we ordinarily cut can be torn by hand. It shows them that ultimately their most important kitchen tool is their hands. However, even the littlest of cooks can learn to cut safely. Some ingredients can be cut with a butter knife. As they age, you can work progressively up to one with an edge. Teaching your children safe knife skills is as important in my view as it is to ride a bike.

The following’s one of my favorite recipes to cook with little helpers. Bread can be torn, eggs can be whisked, and cheese can be grated. While you might make a mess, that can be cleaned up. The memories you create will be more sticky.

Sausage and Cheddar Strata (Serves 4)

  • 5 cups cubed yeasted cornbread or brioche
  • ½ pound bulk pork sausage
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup 2 % milk
  • 1/3 cup tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup grated cheddar

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Lightly toast the bread until firm, but not browned. Cook the sausage until it’s no longer pink. Whisk together the eggs, milk, tomato, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Scatter the bread in a medium casserole dish. Stir in the red pepper, cheddar, and sausage. Pour over the liquid ingredients and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the eggs are just set in the middle. Serve warm and enjoy!

For more delicious nutritious kid-friendly dishes, check out my blog, Little Locavores.

Posted on December 19, 2011 at 10:16 PM