For Christmas, my cousin gave Jake his own set of cooking tools – a mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a whisk, an apron… the works. He’s absolutely enthralled with it. We rearranged a cabinet so all of his stuff could be kept where he could reach it and – you guessed it – he’s been begging to help with dinner nearly every night since.
I love cooking with the kids. I really do. But on a Thursday evening when I’m just trying to get something on the table before everyone start melting down, the last thing I want to do is slow down enough for toddler hands – so I’ve been working on giving him his own, supplemental project to help with.
Like guacamole as I work on the burritos.
This, by far, isn’t the fanciest guac recipe out there, but it’s perfect for a kid to help with (or do mostly themselves – Jake did!)
- Scoop out and mash the avocado
- Stir everything together
- Older kids can measure the lime juice and salt, younger kids can add in pre-measured ingredients
Adults will need to:
- Cut the avocado and remove the pit
- Chop the tomato
- Measure ingredients, if working with a younger child
(from Jake’s Amazing Chef set!)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
2-3 ripe avocados
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
Tortilla chips, for serving
Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash.
Stir in the lime juice, tomato, and salt.
Serve with chips.
I hosted Thanksgiving for years before I tried making my own cranberry sauce. I always assumed it would be difficult and not worth it. It’s not – and it is.
This only takes about fifteen minutes to make and tastes so, so much better than the canned version. It’s also make-ahead friendly and is the perfect dish to bring with you if you’re travelling because it can be served warm, cold, or at room temp.
(from Savory Sweet Life)
Makes about 2 cups
1 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
3/4 cup orange juice
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is mostly evaporated.
You’ll hear the cranberries popping as this cooks – that’s okay! You want them to open up!
This can be served warm, chilled, or at room temperature.
Disclaimer: I received free product in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.
I never really considered macaroni and cheese a cookout food – until I had kids. Now, macaroni and cheese is an all-the-time food. I’ve been dreaming up an on-the-grill version for a while and I knew Cookout Week was the perfect opportunity.
It was also a great chance to try out Smokin O’s. Smokin O’s is one of our Cookout Week sponsors and they sent us a sampler pack to try out. Smokin O’s are a great way to add smoked flavor on a gas grill – this recipe features an Applewood Smokin O.
And this makes a creamy, delicious, smoky mac and cheese with almost no effort. It’s a perfect cookout dish!
Smoked Macaroni and Cheese on the Grill with Smokin O’s
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
2 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
2 Tbsp. melted butter
3 cups milk
2 cups half and half
16 oz. shredded cheddar jack cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 Applewood Smokin O
Green onions, for topping
Chopped bacon, for topping
Prepare the grill with the Smokin O. Directions are here.
Spray a disposable 9×11″ pan with non-stick spray. Pour in the elbow macaroni. Pour the melted butter, milk, and half and half into the pan an stir to combine. Stir in the cheese, salt, pepper, mustard and paprika.
Place the pan on the grill over indirect heat with the cover closed. Cook for 1 hour 45 minutes to two hours – stirring every 10 minutes for the first 40 minutes.
When cooked, top with green onions and chopped bacon before serving.
It’s officially November which means my Facebook feed is all “hey! let’s do Christmas!” Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and I totally have Christmas prep going here (like, the fill-it-yourself advent calendar I bought about a month ago and have been obsessing over what to put in it), but I also don’t want to brush other holidays under the rug. We did Halloween big (as it should be!) and now I’m thinking about Thanksgiving.
One of the hardest things about coordinating a Thanksgiving dinner is getting everything on the table at the same time. Either space in the oven/on the stove top is at a premium or there are just too many balls in the air to keep track of it all. Using other kitchen appliances other than the stove can help things go more smoothly. I’ve always been a big fan of the slow cooker, but this year I’m excited to throw the instant pot in the mix.
These mashed potatoes are basic, but they’re hands-off and perfect for your Thanksgiving meal. I used my stand mixer to make things go super fast but if you don’t have one (or it’s tied up with other Thanksgiving prep!) a hand mixer would work just fine too.
Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
(adapted from The Baker Upstairs)
2 lbs. potatoes
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Wash the potatoes. Peel, if desired, and quarter.
Add the rack to the instant pot, then the potatoes. Pour the chicken stock over the potatoes.
Using the manual setting, set to cook for 8 minutes and then quick release the pressure.
Drain the liquid and add the hot potatoes to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add remaining ingredients and mix until you reach the desired consistency.
I jumped on the Instant Pot bandwagon when they were on sale on Prime Day, but honestly, aside from cooking chicken to shred, I haven’t used to much. What seemed so versatile and useful on my computer screen now seems overwhelming on my kitchen counter. I guess that means I’m getting old? This recipe seemed simple enough so it became my first real Instant Pot test – and I fell in love.
What I loved here was that it was simple and hands-off. When I roast potatoes, I feel like I’m checking them a million times, they have to be flipped, etc. – with this I just threw potatoes in the IP and went on to do the rest of dinner. They cooked and you could switch up the seasonings to make it fit whatever meal you’re making.
I’m really excited about playing with the Instant Pot more and seeing what else I can do – is anyone interested in seeing more IP recipes here?
Instant Pot Garlic Rosemary Potatoes
(slightly adapted from Pressure Cooking Today)
Serves 4 as a side
1 lb. potatoes
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste
Wash and slice the potatoes and add them to the steamer basket of the Instant Pot. Pour 1 cup of water into the pot. Lock the lid in place, set to high pressure with a 4 minute cook time.
While the potatoes cook, whisk together the oil, garlic and rosemary in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments until the garlic is fragrant.
When the Instant Pot beeps, turn it off and do a quick pressure release. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and pour the oil over. Toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Does anyone else crave fresh produce in the summer? I’d blame it on pregnancy, but this happens every year. Farmers’ markets become crazy dangerous because I just want to buy everything.
Summer also makes me lazy, though. I can’t tell you how many times I end up cooking up those impulse farmers’ market just before they go bad. Salads like this that require no cooking are always my best bet.
To my surprise, the toddler really liked this too. I fully expected him to just pick out the cranberries and apples, but the dressing was just sweet enough that he would happily eat it all.
Broccoli Apple Salad
(from The Recipe Critic)
Serves 6-8 as a side
4 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 large Gala apples, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
In a large bowl, toss together the broccoli, carrots, onions, apples, pecans and cranberries.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the broccoli mixture and toss until evenly coated.
Refrigerate until serving.
One of the fun parts of #CookoutWeek has been getting acquainted with some of the sponsors. I got the opportunity to try out True Made Foods sauces and I’m a total convert.
If you haven’t heard of them, the gist is this: they infuse their sauces with vegetables and cut back on the sugar to make a product you can feel good about. Why am I so obsessed with this? I have a toddler that LOVES to dip anything and everything. If I can get some extra veggies in him while he slathers his dinner in ketchup, I’m all about it. This isn’t just a toddler ketchup, though – they’re really good and will easily please a more sophisticated palate. Wins all around.
I used two of the sauces they sent – the ketchup and the bbq sauce – to make up a batch of slow cooker baked beans. They were amazing. While most baked beans are loaded with sugar, these are pretty modest – but you don’t miss it at all. They’re full of flavor and a perfect accompaniment to any cookout.
Slow Cooker Barbecue Baked Beans
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Serves 8-10 as a side
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet onion, finely diced
1/2 cup True Made Foods Ketchup
1/2 cup True Made Foods Barbecue Sauce
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
Add beans and onions to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
In a small bowl, mix together remaining ingredients until well combined. Pour over beans and stir to combine.
Cook on low for 6 hours. Vent the lid for the last 15-20 minutes to thicken the sauce, if desired.
I’m just starting to get back into some solid meal planning. Even though I’ve been feeling better for weeks, I haven’t been mentally ready to prep big meals more than once or twice a week. We’re on about week 3 of a real meal plan again and it feels good. Even if I’m mostly just doing main dishes and praying that the sides figure themselves out.
These delicious potatoes were mostly an after-thought. We were planning to make dinner on the grill and I decided to throw these on too instead of roasting them. The simple seasonings made them a breeze to throw together but they were still really good. And using a foil packet meant no dishes to clean up – always a plus!
Italian-Parmesan Grilled Potatoes
(adapted from Kraft)
4-5 red potatoes, cut into chunks
2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. Italian dressing
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parsley, for garnish
Preheat the grill to medium heat.
In a medium bowl, toss together the potato chunks, olive oil and water. Transfer to a large sheet of foil and fold into a packet.
Grill the foil packet of potatoes for twenty minutes, turning halfway.
Once cooked, transfer to a bowl and toss with dressing, cheese, salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Every time I make a batch of muffins, I wonder why I don’t make them more often. And then we inhale them in about two days and I remember why they’re a “sometimes food.” Jake and I both loved these. I think he ate three the day I made them.
The recipe calls for canned sweet potatoes but next time I’d go for just mashed sweet potatoes. Also, the sugar can be reduced and the dates omitted if you like a less-sweet muffin.
Sweet Potato Muffins
(from The Homesick Texan Cookbook)
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 15 oz. can sweet potatoes, drained and mashed
1 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup pecans
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and prepare a muffin pan with liners or by greasing and flouring.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, vanilla and vegetable oil until well combined. Whisk in the sweet potatoes until evenly combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until everything is moistened. Fold in dates and pecans.
Divide between muffin wells and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Remove from pan and serve.
For the first time since I started this blog, one of our local grocery stores stocked hatch chilies. I feel like I’ve been watching my more-Southern food blogger friends rave about them for years and could never participate in the hatch chili fun. So now that they’re here? I’m making hatch chili everything.
First up: mac n cheese. I really, really loved this. The roasted chilies paired really nicely with the jack cheese sauce. I had split this into two pans with intentions to freeze one for later – but it all got eaten before it made it to the freezer. Oops!
Hatch Chili Mac ‘n Cheese
(from Life’s Ambrosia)
Serves 6-8 as a side
5 hatch chilies
2 cups elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
4 Tbsp. flour
2 cups whole milk
3 cups shredded jack cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. olive oil
On the grill, roast the chilies over high heat until charred and blistered. Transfer to a bowl. When cool enough to handle, peel the chilies, seed, remove the membrane and dice.
Cook macaroni according to package directions.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the diced onion and cook until nearly translucent. Whisk in flour until the mixture is a play dough consistency. Add milk, whisking constantly, and cook until starting to thicken, about a minute. Stir in cheeses and stir frequently until melted. Stir in cooked macaroni and diced chilies and season with salt to taste. Spread the macaroni in a greased baking pan.
In a small bowl, combine the panko and olive oil. Spread over the top of the macaroni.
Bake at 350F degrees until bubbly, about 15 minutes.