Simply Kid Chefs: Paella with chorizo, chicken, shrimp and mussels

Our youngest took over the kitchen at the end of a fun-filled weekend.  I brought him cookbooks to thumb through while he was snuggled in the living room.  He yelled into the other room, “I picked seafood paella”.  My immediate thought was, from which cookbook?  I was hoping it was Carla Hall’s cookbook because she gives great instructions and I was going to need it!  Thankfully, it was Carla’s book.
I was a little nervous about this one on different levels.  First, I wasn’t sure I could cook a paella myself, let alone help an 8 year old.  Then there was the issue of everyone eating it.  It would be a lot of work and a lot of food if the kids didn’t eat it.
All along, I have decided to let the kids try a recipe even if I thought they wouldn’t eat it or it looked difficult, so we went for it!  We wrote out the list and were able to find everything except the rice.  We used arborio rice and substituted chicken thighs for the whole chicken in pieces. We also followed Carla’s tip and used turmeric in place of the saffron 😉
We read the recipe several times so we understood the timing and prepped everything before turning on the stove.  The chef did most of the work.  I chopped the onion and slit the chorizo to peel the casing (we were not perfect with this one, but it worked fine for us), and I cut the habanero chile (we used 1/4).  He did most of the cooking but I stepped in to remove the chorizo and chicken.  I also helped nestle the chicken back in and place the seafood.
Here’s the chef…

I was surprised at how easy the dish turned out to be.  Like everything it helps to be prepared.  We were able to move along and follow the timing pretty easily.  I was a little worried about the rice and it came out perfectly.  We have an electric stove and I was weary of the blast of heat at the end.  It absolutely worked!
The dish was delicious!!  The chef loved the mussels and went back for more.  Both boys found the chorizo a little spicy, but the beauty of so many meats, there was something for everyone.  The oldest focused on the chicken and wasn’t the biggest fan, but he ate it.
There was a ton of leftovers!  This is definitely a great dish for a bigger group and won’t keep you trapped in the kitchen 😉
Have you tried a paella?  What’s your favorite cookbook?  Do like cookbooks that give thorough instructions?

Simply Kid Chefs: Mini Meaty Pitas with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Not surprisingly, our oldest found another way to cook with ground beef :). This time, there is a bit of a back story…

Back in October, I attended Fitness Magazine’s #FitBlogNYC with my blogging friends. I mentioned in my recap how impressed I was with Carla Hall. At the time, I didn’t get into my full meeting with her.

We were lucky enough to meet and speak with any of the guests and you can bet I wanted to talk with Carla. She was gracious and really talked to each person as if no one was waiting.

We talked about the boys and their cooking. I mentioned that our oldest was looking forward to trying his own recipes and mixing up spices, but could use some guidance. She told me about her new cookbook, Carla’s Comfort Foods. Not only does it feature recipes from around the world, there is a guide to different regions and what spices they use together.

I couldn’t wait to buy the cookbook for the boys. I knew they would love everything about about it! We decided to wait for Christmas. It seemed a little lost in the shuffle, but then I found out they were excitedly telling our family and friends about it. They couldn’t wait to get cooking!

Our oldest found the burger section and wanted to try her Persia influenced burgers. If he wasn’t excited enough, the foreword for the recipe had him giddy. It turns out Carla worked for a family in Falmouth, MA (where I ran last week’s New Year’s race) and they had inspired this recipe. What?!? Mom met her AND she spent time on the Cape ~ too cool 😉

We ventured off to the store and found everything we needed. Once home, he set to work making the sauce. I peeled and seeded the cucumber, he did everything else. Initially, he was a little overzealous in his zesting, but it had stuck to the grater and we adjusted how far to zest (no white pith).

We didn’t find pocketless Pitas, but found the edges stayed together when we cut them. As for cutting the bread, we didn’t have a round cookie cutter. We improvised with a water bottle. It took some elbow grease, but we took turns and it worked perfectly!

The chef was able to prepare the burgers himself. Of course, it was closely supervised! He also learned to roll the lime before cutting it, helping to loosen all of the juice.

I flipped the burgers and we broiled the Pitas. Here’s the chef hard at work…

Here’s the recipe from Carla’s book…


The meal was amazing!! We served it with cucumber, celery, carrots, pita scraps and hummus. Everyone loved it. The flavors mixed perfectly. We even used the leftover mint and cilantro on chicken with garlic, lime and cumin. I can safely say, we will be making these again and continue to play with the flavors!!

Have you cooked with these flavors? Did you give or receive any cookbooks over the holidays?