Jan 7

January is loaded with New Year traditions and celebrations. Every culture (probably since the beginning of time) has some way to acknowledge, welcome, and bless the New Year. Being from the South, my family is steeped in New Year’s tradition mostly related to food. It was a must that every New Year’s we went to visit my grandmother and eat black-eyed peas and cornbread with a side of cabbage. The black-eyed peas were for luck and the cabbage was for money in the coming year.

The ingredients for Hoppin’ John are inexpensive, easy to find, and there are many variations, limited only by your personal preference. Black-eyed peas (also known as cow peas) are a great source of protein and fiber, making them a bang-for-your-buck nutritional powerhouse. While I personally can’t stand black-eyed peas my family adores them, so this is my take on a Southern staple.


1 pound dried black-eyed peas*   4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbl olive oil (or vegetable)        2 stalks celery, diced

2 tbl butter                                 1 red bell pepper, diced

1 pkg salt pork**                          1 medium onion, diced

4-5 C chicken stock                      salt & pepper, to taste

Cayenne pepper, to taste

2 tbl white vinegar or hot-pepper vinegar, optional

white or brown rice, for serving

*fresh or canned black-eyed peas can be used

**4-6 strips of thick-sliced bacon can be used, but salt pork is now readily available at Wal-Mart, Target and most grocers; it adds a richer flavor


Start by sorting the peas to remove any stones or “bad” peas. (Look for discolored, broken, or blemished peas.)This is a great job for the kiddos!


After sorting, soak your black-eyed peas in cool water for a few hours. If you don’t want to soak your beans first, you will have a considerably longer cooking time…the longer the soak, the shorter overall cooking time. I usually soak mine for 3 hours or so, which gives me about a 1-hour cooking time; 6+ hours or overnight can get the cook time down to 30 minutes or less. This is also easily adaptable for a slow-cooker, so you can “set and forget” if you prefer. When they are through soaking, rinse and drain and set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, and celery and stir. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the veggies are lightly browned. Add peas, salt & pepper, and cayenne; stir until everything is well combined. Pour in the chicken stock until the peas are just covered with liquid; add the salt pork. If more liquid is needed you can add additional stock or finish off with water. Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer (covered) until peas are tender. (I start checking after 30 minutes, then every 15-20 minutes, depending on how firm they are. If you are used to cooking with dried bean or lentils, it’s the same process.) Stir in vinegar (if using), then taste for seasonings.

For a thicker, creamier consistency, take a cup of peas (with a bit of liquid) and smash with a fork until it’s basically a starchy mush. Mix back into the pot to thicken. Serve spooned over a bed of white or brown rice. Round out a complete meal by adding a salad and serving of protein like a pork chop, chicken breast or small steak. Salud!



New Year’s Fun Facts:

Traditions abound on New Year’s Day! Customs and celebrations cross all cultures, ethnicities and religions. Many traditions are steeped in superstition, and are intended to bring good luck and fortune or prevent bad fates. Most of us think about the ball dropping in Times Square, toasting, fireworks and football games. Here are some of the more common, less known, and truly unusual

Auld Lang Syn

This is the most commonly sung song on New Year’s Eve. It is an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in 1796. It has been remarked that “Auld Lang Syne” is one of the most popular songs nobody knows the words to. Translated it means “old long since” and refers to times gone by. It was made popular by bandleader Guy Lombardo at a New York New Year’s Eve party in 1929.


Scotland is also the home of the Hogmanay (hog-mah-NAY), a New Year’s celebration which includes the tradition of “first footing”. Shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve, neighbors pay each other visits bearing gifts and New Year’s wishes. Traditionally visitors carried a piece of coal, some bread, some money, and some greenery…all for luck. The coal was to ensure the home was always warm, bread so everyone in the house would have enough food to eat, money to  assure prosperity, and greenery for a long life. The visitor would also take a pan of dust or ashes out of the house with them when they left, symbolizing the departure of the old year.


In Japan the most important holiday is the New Year, and is a symbol of renewal. Bonenkai (forget-the-year parties) are held in December to say goodbye to all the problems and concerns of the past year and get ready for a new beginning. Houses are scrubbed clean and misunderstandings and grudges are forgiven. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Buddhist temples strike their gongs 108 times to banish 108 types of human weakness. New Year’s Day is joyous and no work is to be done. Children receive small gifts with money inside and sending New Year’s cards is a popular tradition.


The ritual in Spain of eating twelve grapes at midnight is to secure twelve happy months in the coming year. The tradition, dating back to 1909, is to eat one grape at each stroke of the clock (not as easy as it sounds). Each grape represents a different month of the year, so if the 5th grape is a bit sour, May might be a difficult month. The goal is to swallow all of the grapes before the last stroke of midnight.

Pork & Fish

We already know that beans, peas and lentils are eaten for luck and cooked greens are symbolic of fortune. There is also the custom of eating pork on New Year’s to symbolize progress. The idea is that the animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. It is also served to signify wealth and prosperity.

Fish, particularly cod, is a popular celebration food. Fish can be preserved and transported easily, even before refrigeration and modern means. In addition, the Catholic Church’s policy against red meat on religious holidays helped make fish common at feasts. Many countries and cultures include fish in their celebrations and traditions.

Say What?

Not only are there traditions and superstitions regarding luck and prosperity in the New Year, there are also superstitions regarding bad luck. In addition to eating lucky foods and performing certain rituals, there are also some things to avoid.

For example, it is considered bad luck to eat lobster on New Year’s because they move backwards, and this symbolizes setbacks. Chicken are also discouraged because they scratch backwards, which could generate regret or dwelling on the past. Another superstition warns against all winged fowl because your good luck could fly away.


Jun 29

Hi everyone! July is almost here which means that the Fourth of July is too! This is one of my favorite holidays! I love the fireworks, parades and barbecues with all that yummy summertime food. For the holiday, I’ve found a great (and easy) recipe for something sweet to celebrate the holiday with. Here’s what we’ll need to get started:

  • 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 6 large marshmallows
  • Finely shredded coconut
  • Chocolate sandwich cookie (chocolate covered Oreo’s work great!)
  • 6 Cashews
  • Black decorator’s gel

 Once you have all the ingredients you need, have an adult help you melt the chocolate chips. Most packages should have melting directions. If not, a double boiler is the best way to do it. Fill the bottom of the pot with water and put the chocolate chips in the top part. Make sure to keep the chocolate away from direct heat and water. If you don’t have a double boiler available, a bowl that fits snug inside a pan will work fine too. Just make sure the steam doesn’t escape into the chocolate.

For each bird you make, drop a large marshmallow into the melted chocolate, using a spatula to make sure that it’s fully covered.

Remove the marshmallow from the chocolate and roll it in finely shredded coconut. Make sure to leave one of the ends uncovered.

Immediately set the marshmallow (the end without the coconut) on top of a chocolate sandwich cookie.

Let the chocolate set for a bit, then use a toothpick to make a hole in the side of the marshmallow and use one of the cashews for a beak!

The final touch is using the black decorators gel for the eyes.


And that’s it! Now you have a tasty, sweet, patriotic treat. Happy cooking and Happy Independence Day!!!


Learning Corner:

Q: What exactly is Independence Day?

A: Independence day (or the Fourth of July), is the day that we celebrate our country declaring independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, 1776, it was voted and approved by congress to separate ourselves as our own nation. Two days later on July 4th, the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Q: Who signed the Declaration?

A: The members of the Continental Congress singed the document. Some of the more famous signers include John Hancock who was the President of the Continental Congress at that time. Also, Benjamin Franklin (who was 70 and the oldest member to sign), John Adams (2nd president of the United States of America) and Thomas Jefferson (3rd president of the United States).

 Fun Fact:

After signing the declaration, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife which read “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

He was only off by two days with his “prediction” but, 236 years later, this is still how we celebrate our countries birthday.

May 31


Hi everyone! Dwenlynn here again! If your kids are anything like me, they may not want to eat their vegetables all the time. Try this sweet approach to making carrots yummy! This is a quick and easy way to make plain ol’ carrots turn into something new and exciting!

The ingredients (makes about 4 servings):

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water

First you will nedd to peel the carrots and slice them into small rounds. Next, steam the carrots until they are soft, but not mushy. Set these aside for now.

Using a frying pan, melt the butter, stir in the brown sugar and water. Let these ingredients cook together for about 1 minute. Or as my Papa might say “let them get to know eachother!”

Add the sliced carrots to the pan and toss them in the brown sugar mixture until they are completly covered with it. Let them finish cooking on low heat for about 3-4 minutes.



And that is it! I could eat these carrots all day! Happy cooking!

Learning Corner:

  • Why are carrots orange?
  • Are there carrots with different colors?
  • Which vitamin is found in carrots and can help your eyes to see better?






May 1


Hi! My name is Dwenlynn, I’m six years old and I will be your new chef for Kid’s in the Kitchen! My mom Landi will be helping me out as I show you how to make some of my favorite foods!

What we’re making today is a really easy breakfast cake. But, instead of baking it in the oven, we will be baking it with steam! Here is what you will need:

  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 1/2  cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of Bisquick

Break the egg into a medium sized mixing bowl


Then, add the milk, sugar, Bisquick and…

Whisk it all together until it’s well blended (or not bumpy)!

Next, pour the mixture into the pie pan. I like to scoop mine with a measuring cup, but I still needed a little help!




 Next, put 3 custard cups, upside down, in a large pan. Fill the pan with water.

Slowly and carefully! Lower the pie pan into the larger one so that it rests comfortably on the upside down cups.

Cover the pan with a lid and bring water to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce heat to medium and and let it cook for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean! 

After it is done cooking you may top with whatever you like! I love chocolate chips!

Isn’t that cool?! I never knew that you could make a cake with water!! Enjoy!!

Learning Corner:

What other types of heat are there?

Why does the steam cook the cake?














































Apr 11

Chocolate Covered Bananas!

This will be my last posting for Kids in the Kitchen.  My coworker will be taking over for me and will be sure to keep you and your family in the kitchen having fun for a long time to come.  For my last posting I am sharing my favorite kind of popsicle, a frozen chocolate covered banana.  They are great tasting and good for you. 


Bananas: a little more green means more firm which makes the dipping process easier in my opinion

chocolated melted

popsicle sticks

chopped peanuts if desired


Peel the bananas and insert the popsicle stick into one end until about 3/4 of the stick is in the banana.  Dip the entire banana into chocolate that you have melted either in the microwave or over a double boiler.  Place the chocolat covered banana on cookiesheet that you lined with wax paper.  Freeze for at least 3 hours.



Learning Corner:

Try making other types of frozen treats with your families favorite types of fruit.

Apr 4

Strawberries, Sour cream and Brown Sugar!

This is my all time favorite dessert.  I crave it all the time and cant tell you how many times during the summer I treat myself to this great treat.  Best part it is a no bake dessert that even your little ones can put together.


Strawberries cut into slices

Sour Cream

Brown Sugar


Take a big spoonful of thick sour cream and spread it on the bottom of a plat or bowl, thick enough that you can scoop it up with a spoon or for easily.  Next slice up your strawberries and cover the sour cream with them.  Take a tablespoon or so of brown sugar and sprinkle that on top of the strawberries. 



Mar 29

Jell-O Jigglers

These are fun and can be made to fit with any type of holiday, party or just a fun week night.  For the original posting and picture make sure to check out http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/jell-o-jigglers-53920.aspx. They also offer a lot of other fun ideas for Jell-O. 


2 ½ cups boiling water (Do not add cold water.)

2 pkg. (8-serving size each) JELL-O Gelatin, any flavor, pick different colors that match the holiday or party theme


Stir boiling water into dry gelatin, mix in large bowl at least 3 min. until completely dissolved. Pour into 13×9-inch pan

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until firm, the more you make the longer it will take to harden

Dip bottom of pan in warm water 15 sec. Cut the Jell-O into decorative shapes using  cookie cutters of your choice, being careful to cut all the way through gelatin to bottom of pan, you will have to push and wiggle the cookie cut back and forth a little to make sure it goes all the through. Lift JIGGLERS® from pan. Reserve scraps for snacking. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Learning Corner:

Find a shape and color of Jell-O the fits each member of your family and make them all a special Jiggler.  Explain to them why these shapes and colors reminded you of them.

Mar 21

Italian Breaded Pork Chop

I remembered a commercial from my childhood for shake N bake, so I decided to use that same idea and get a new generation of kids involved dinner.


Dried Italian Bread Crumbs

Pork Chops



In a small bowl beat the egg until it is well mixed, brush lightly on each side of the pork chops.  In a large zip top bag place bread crumbs and 2 pork chops at a time.  Have your kids seal the bag and shake until each pork chop is well covered, remove and place them on a cookie sheet that you sprayed with none stick spray.  Repeat for the rest of the pork chops.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until pork is fully cooked.

Mar 8

Lucky Mini Pizza

I found this original recipe on www.familyfun.go.com, under St. Patrick’s Day ideas.  It is a great snack for your kids to make for themselves that might just give them a little lucky of the Irish.


1 English muffin cut in half


Tomato sauce (optional)

1 green bell pepper


Cut the English muffin in half and cover with tomato sauce if you like it.  Top with cheese to make it look like a pizza.  Cut the bell pepper starting at the pointed end to make shamrock shaped rings of bell pepper.  Also cut a little slice to make a stem for the bottom.  Place the bell pepper on top of the cheese and cook in either a toaster oven or broiler until the cheese is melted.



Learning Corner:

Why do we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?

What is St. Patrick’s Day all about?

Feb 29

Fresh & Fruity Popsicles

I love to make my own popsicles, and nothing tastes better in the winter than a tropical pop that reminds you that summer is soon to come.


Fresh squeezed fruit juice & vegetable juice

I juiced 1.5 grapefruits, 2 oranges, 3 carrots and chopped up 1 kiwi.

Container to freeze the popsicles in



Squeeze the fruit and vegetable juices into a container and mix them together.  I used an automatic juicer so I could add carrots.  Cut up a kiwi into small chunks and put into the bottom of the Popsicle containers before you add the juice.  Pour juice over the kiwi and put containers into the freezer for 2 hours.  Then once slightly slushy add the sticks so they stay upright.  Put back in the freezer for 4-5 hours or until solid.



Learning Corner:

What about the color of the popsicles reminds you of summer?

How about the smell?

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