Simply Kid Chefs: Meaty Quesadillas

Apparently we are on a Mexican kick around here ;). Our oldest was up and he selected the meaty quesadillas from our cookbook. After looking at the recipe, I realized he could handle all of it, except slicing the garlic cloves.

I informed him that it would be his show and he was a little overwhelmed. Once he was ready, we broke it down step by step and he was good to go. Imagine his surprise when he realized he did it!

Here he is hard at work..

Here’s the recipe from The Food Network:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 pound lean ground beef or lamb
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced
4 10 -inch flour tortillas
3 1/2 cups shredded muenster or monterey jack cheese
Fresh salsa and/or sour cream, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beef, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and cook 5 to 6 more minutes.

Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium heat. Brush 1 side of each tortilla with olive oil. Place 2 tortillas on the griddle (or 1 if using a skillet), oiled-side down, and scatter about one-quarter of the cheese on each. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the cheese is melted. Put about a quarter of the beef mixture on half of each tortilla and fold into a half-moon. Continue to cook until the quesadillas are crisp, turning once. Repeat to make 4 quesadillas.

Cut into wedges and top with salsa and/or sour cream.

Per serving: Calories 813; Fat 48 g (Saturated 23 g); Cholesterol 155 mg; Sodium 1,889 mg; Carbohydrate 43 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 52 g

Read more at:

We added carrot sticks, sliced cucumber and tortilla chips to the meal. The dinner was a big hit!

We used ground beef, but I would substitute it with ground turkey or chicken in the future. The meat isn’t particularly spicy which was great for the kids and could easily be adjusted with more chili powder or adding jalapeΓ±os. We made exactly 4 quesadillas, but you could easily thin out the meat and make more πŸ™‚

Have you made quesadillas? What’s your favorite Mexican recipe?

Simply Kid Chefs: Quesadilla Pizza

Our young chefs spent Saturday night with their grandparents and we didn’t plan cooking ahead. I called Sunday and spoke with our youngest about what he would like to prepare as I was heading out for the big weekly shop. He wanted to re-make quesadilla pizzas from Rachael Ray and we decided because it hadn’t been on the blog – it was ok πŸ™‚

This time, he was excited to try chorizo (not surprising as he loves ALL meat in tube form). I only put the pans in and out of the oven. The chef did everything else! He was pretty excited to slice by himself and do everything with minimal help.

Here’s the recipe from Rachael Ray

8 flour tortillas
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup salsa, red or green, mild or hot
3/4 pound brick smoked cheddar or pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup sliced green olives and pimentos, drained
3 scallions, cut up with kitchen scissors or chopped into small pieces
8 ounces chorizo or linquica sausage (available near the kielbasa in your grocery store’s meat department), thinly sliced or diced

Preheat oven to 400Β°F.
Take out two nonstick cookie sheets. Place two tortillas on each cookie sheet, one next to the other.
Top each tortilla with lots of cheddar cheese.
Place another tortilla on top of each cheese-covered tortilla.
Put the tortillas in the oven and bake five minutes. Take them back out of the oven using pot holders.
Press the tortillas down a bit with a spatula to set them in place with the melted cheese.
Top each cheese quesadilla with some salsa, a sprinkle of smoked cheddar or pepper Jack cheese, olives, pimentos, scallions and some thin slices of chorizo or linquica sausage.
Put the pizzas into the oven and cook until the edges are brown and crisp and cheese is melted on top, 5-6 minutes more.
Take the pizzas out and transfer one whole pizza onto each dinner plate and serve.

It was a great, easy dinner on a football Sunday :). Like most recipes, it can be played with. The amount of cheese, salsa or meat can be easily changed and it was a huge hit with the entire family!!

Have you tried combining Mexican and pizza? What’s your favorite recipe to change up?

Simply Kid Chefs: Baked penne with fennel

Our oldest was up and yet again he chose a yummy, comfort meal. Originally, he wanted to try another mix and match recipe but he came across this baked penne with fennel recipe from our cookbook and decided to give it a go.

He is becoming quite the pro in the kitchen! I still help with some of the cutting and keep a very close eye, but he is doing most of the work. His confidence continues to increase and he’s definitely enjoying the independence!

I love his expression squeezing the tomato πŸ˜‰

Here’s the recipe from the Food Network:

Kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1/2 pound pancetta, trimmed of excess fat and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 28 -ounce can whole plum tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 ounces penne
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
1 3/4 cups grated fontina cheese (about 6 ounces)

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 450. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until the fat renders, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour off the fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan. Add the onion and fennel and cook until the fennel is soft, about 5 minutes. Crush the tomatoes into the pan with your hands, then pour in the juices from the can and bring to a simmer. Fill the empty can with 1/2 cup of the boiling water and add to the sauce. Stir in the cream and simmer while you cook the pasta.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce. Stir in the basil and 1/2 cup parmesan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and toss.

Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Layer the pasta, mozzarella, fontina and the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan in the dish, alternating pasta and cheese. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake, uncovered, until browned and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Per serving: Calories 757; Fat 45 g (Saturated 22 g); Cholesterol 117 mg; Sodium 939 mg; Carbohydrate 56 g; Fiber 6 g; Protein 33 g

Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine
Read more at:

The meal was a big hit. Even our youngest ate it – he’s anti-pasta but pro-cheese ;). Our youngest picked out a piece of fennel and asked what it was. I told him and he tried it. Turns out, he loved it and kept picking it out of the dish to eat. It is pretty tasty!

Clearly, not the healthiest meal, but there are plenty of ways to cutback. You could use less heavy cream or just use mozzarella cheese. We made the recipe as is and chose to eat light, healthy meals for the remainder of the week. It’s really about what works for you πŸ™‚

Have you tried fennel? What’s your favorite way to use it? How do you feel about squeezing tomatoes into a dish?

Simply Kid Chefs: Cheese and Onion Enchiladas

IMG_1191.JPGOver the summer, our youngest enjoyed borrowing the Hank Zipzer books from the library. Imagine his surprise that Holy Enchilada included a recipe at the end of the book. He knew he would want to try it but the book needed to be returned. We decided to take pictures of the recipe for future use.

He has been deciding when he wanted to try it and this week was it! The ingredient list was nice and small, making the young shopper quite happy. The recipe was pretty simple and he could do most of it himself. We decided to make up a Southwestern salad to go with the enchiladas.

The chef did everything (with very heavy supervision)! I held the items being cut and kept a very close eye/hand with the knife. He was incredibly proud of himself!!

Here are the photos of the recipe we worked with…



It was my first time making enchilada sauce and we will definitely do it again. It was easy and everyone liked it. The recipe is easy to play with. You could easily add black beans, chicken, ground meat, etc to the meal.

Our salad had lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, defrosted fire roasted corn, avocado and green onions. We used Newman’s ranch dressing.

The entire meal was a huge success!! Both boys loved it and can’t wait to have it again πŸ™‚

Have you made your own enchilada sauce? Have you taken photos of a recipe for later use?

Simply Kid Chefs: Mix and Match Mac and Cheese

Our oldest took over the kitchen this cold and stormy weekend. Seriously, it snowed! Back to cooking, he has been wanting to come up with his own creations, but still needs a little guidance in what goes together.

As we were flipping through our Food Network Magazine cookbook, we came upon the mix and match mac and cheese. Basically, they give you different types of pasta, cheeses, proteins, veggies and toppings. This is great because he had some creative control, but the ingredients all went together.

He picked medium shells, Monterey Jack, crumbled bacon, artichokes and a toasted Parmesan topping. There were a lot of moving parts to this dinner and the chef handled them like a pro. He was able to do most of it. He needed some help cutting the artichokes and I strained the pasta; but he did everything else.

We were a little slack on the white sauce, making it a little more liquid than creamy. Regardless, it was delicious πŸ™‚ The ingredients all went together well. They seemed an interesting choice by a nine year old, but he devoured it and had leftovers for lunch.

I don’t make mac and cheese very often and always stick to our family recipe when I do. It’s one of our oldest’s favorite meals so it isn’t surprising that he found a way to make it again. It was such a fun process, we’ll have to play the options a little more πŸ™‚

Do you have a favorite comfort food recipe? Have you ever tried a mix and match recipe?

Simply Kid Chefs: Crab Cakes

We are slowly getting into our routine. As we’ve been adjusting, the kids’ cooking has been put on hold. Well, we’re back!! Our youngest was chomping at the bit and our oldest had basketball tryouts so the youngest is kicking off the school year cooking

Simply Kid Chefs: Grilled salmon with oregano oil, avocado tzatziki sauce and grilled lemons

This week, our youngest took over the kitchen and stuck with his favorite, seafood! He was excited to try the grill and knew immediately that he wanted to make a salmon dish.

I suggested one of my favorite salmon recipes from Bobby Flay that I had found in the Food & Wine Best of the Best cookbook.Β I had never tried the avocado tzatziki sauce, but we have tons of oregano in the garden and love grilled lemons. Β The chef was on-board and we decided to give it a go πŸ™‚

After a great morning at the beach, we went off to the store and found a new seafood guy. For a treat, we picked up stuffed quahogs for an appetizer and the chef selected broccoli on the grill for a side.

The chef did most of the work in the kitchen. I cut open the avocados and chopped the Serrano chile, while he put everything in the food processor. He also cut the oregano from the garden and prepared the salmon. I chopped the broccoli, but he seasoned it and helped out it on the grill.

My husband handled most of the grilling, but explained everything as he was doing it. The chef was able to help turn the broccoli, but the grill was pretty hot and a little smoky near the fish.

The meal was a huge success! We will definitely be making the avocado tzatziki again πŸ™‚ The entire meal was easy to prepare and didn’t take long at all. Can’t beat a quick and delicious meal!!

Here is Bobby Flay’s recipe originally from Grill It, but I found it in Food and Wine’s Best of the Best


What’s your favorite way to grill salmon? How is your summer going? Does your routine change in the summer?