Wednesday, December 22, 2010


STUFFED PASTA SHELLS - a holiday recipe for kids.

Happy holidays from The Chef's Emporium! With the coming of the new year, amends have been made for the past years frailties. Gratitude has been spread to those who brighten and inspire. Resolutions have been written for encouraging development and enrichment. And a hope, a wish for the new year has found home in our hearts. Inspired by our customers, you Chefs who feed, who nourish, who comfort, who pleasure, who sustain through food. We say, let us join forces, let us feed the world!

We invite you to support the efforts of the World Food Program in their quest to alleviate chronic world hunger. We like their focus on children, we love their School Meals program. "The School meals programs involve just what the name implies – providing meals in schools. The idea is simple; the impact is significant. Serving food at school not only helps alleviate hunger among the world’s poorest children, it also helps get them into school, providing them with an important key to a better future – an education."

On our own home front, the focus and attention that Chef Jamie Oliver has brought to School Lunches here across our nation is remarkable, commendable - and long overdue. Chef Jamie is on a mission to protect the health of our youth and stop the obesity epidemic. You can show your support for The Food Revolution by signing the petition and by keeping fresh, home prepared meals in your child's lunch box and on your child's plate.

In keeping with the fresh, home-cooked, nutritious mindset I venture to feed my children spinach. Spinach & Ricotta stuffed Pasta Shells, a simple, yet simply elegant dish my little chefs are creating for a New Years Eve party.

1 (8 ounce) package Jumbo Pasta Shells
1 (15 ounce) container Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup finely diced Onion
2 cups Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
1 minced Garlic Clove
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese (divided)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Egg
1 jar of your favorite Pasta Sauce

Our young chef begins the dish by adding her Jumbo Pasta Shells to the basket/strainer of a Pasta Pot. An adult adds the filled pasta basket to a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water. The pasta is cooked according to the package directions. Ours boiled for 15 minutes and was then strained and set aside.

To a medium sized mixing bowl, our chef adds 1 (15 ounce) container of Ricotta Cheese.

As our young chef's knife skills are yet nil, he adds the pre-diced 1/4 cup onion to the bowl.

The 2 cups of fresh baby spinach leaves are cut into a chiffonade (again, by an adult or older child with experienced and tested knife skills) and added by our chef to the mixture.

Working in tandem, our chefs mince one Garlic Clove into the bowl.

Approximately 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper is added.

Our young chefs measure and add 1 cup shredded Mozzarella and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese to their mixing bowl.

As our young chefs always like to sample their creations, the ingredients are now thoroughly combined, and the chefs allowed to taste their efforts. *Before the raw egg is added.

An egg is now incorporated into the mixture.

Our chef stuffs each cooked pasta shell with ~ 1 1/2 tablespoons of the Ricotta mixture. The stuffed shells are placed in a lightly oiled baking dish and covered with aluminum foil. The dish is baked in a 350º F oven for 30 minutes.

The foil is removed and the remaining 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella is sprinkled over the top of the shells. The dish is returned to the oven for ~15 minutes until the top cheese layer is melted and nicely browned. The shells are served atop a warmed bed of Pasta Sauce.

Best wishes to you and your little chefs. We hope your New Year is full of many tempting dishes and many delicious memories. As always, if you have a recipe or cooking project that was a winner with your child, please email it to me at:, and we hope to see you again soon at The Chef's Emporium.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


LEFTOVERS in a TURKEY POT PIE - a recipe for kids

I hope a lovely Thanksgiving weekend was had by all. Food, family, feasting - football? - and turkey to boot, I'm sure. There is no particular recipe for this pot pie. Simply open your refrigerator door and do a "calling all leftovers, calling all leftovers" and see what comes forth. Your little chef will have a ball assembling a personalized pot pie based on their Thanksgiving Day favorites.

1 Ready Made Pie Crust
Thanksgiving Leftovers, i.e.:
Roasted Turkey
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans

Our chef begins her dish by assembling an assortment of Thanksgiving Day leftovers into a mini casserole dish. In lieu of a pie shell at the base, our chef places a layer of stuffing at the bottom of the casserole. Our chef then tops the stuffing with a good drizzle of gravy.

Diced turkey thigh meat, roasted sweet potatoes and chopped green beans are added to the dish. The mixture is moistened with additional gravy and a ready made pie crust artfully tops the dish. Our chef uses festive holiday cookie cutters to cut designs from the excess pie crust and decorate her pie. The pie is baked in a 450º F degree oven for approximately 20 minutes.

I do hope this recipe not only gives new life to the remaining leftovers in your fridge, but puts a contented smile on your little chef as well. As always, if you have a recipe or cooking project that was a winner with your child, please email it to me at:, and we hope to see you again soon at The Chef's Emporium.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


APPLE CINNAMON ROLLS - a recipe for kids

Johnny Who? The only Johnny we are well acquainted with in my home these days is a Gentleman that goes by the name of Walker; Johnnie Walker that is, and preferably the Black Label of sorts. That is until . . . my daughter brought home her kindergarten project referencing a Johnny Appleseed. I had long since forgotten the tales of this enchanting legend. It is said that he pioneered his way west, resourcefully acquiring the unwanted apple seeds from cider houses and planting nurseries along his many travels.

Johnny Appleseed was an American folkloric hero in the truest sense. It is said his love blossomed beyond the fruit and reached down to the very roots of humanity. While he could have been a notorious entrepreneur, he chose rather to live a simple life, providing the bounties of nature to even those without means of payment. He wore rags, often bartering his better clothing, and even shoes, with ones that he suspected were in deeper need than himself.

I was pleased to hear that the exceptional efforts of this extraordinary man are still being taught. In honor of Johnny, we baked these very tasty, commemorative Apple Cinnamon Rolls and presented them to my daughter's kindergarten class on their "Apple Day" celebration.

4 cups All Purpose Flour
2 tbs Granulated Sugar
1 tbs Honey
1 pkg. Dry Active Yeast
2 tbs. Butter
3/4 cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Egg
1/2 cup Milk

2 cups Peeled & Diced Granny Smith Apples
3 tbs. Butter
3 tbs. Granulated Sugar
2 tbs. Maple Syrup
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 tbs. Cinnamon
1/8 cup Quick Oats

Our young chef begins the dish by adding 1-1/2 cups All Purpose Flour to a large mixing bowl and sprinkling in the Yeast. To a small (cold) sauce pan, she adds the Unsweetened Apple Sauce, Milk, 2 tbs. Butter, 2 tbs. Granulated Sugar and Salt. The pan is stirred and warmed over medium heat until the butter is almost melted (about 120º F). This mixture is then added to the Flour & Yeast along with 1 Beaten Egg.

Using an electric mixer, our chef beats the ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds. After scraping down the edges of the bowl, she beats the mixture on high speed for about 3 minutes. An additional 2-1/4 cups Flour are spooned into the mixture and stirred with a wooden spoon.

The dough is then turned out onto a lightly floured work surface where it is kneaded by hand for approximately 3-5 minutes. The remaining 1/4 flour is added as needed to keep the dough from sticking. The end result should be a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic.

Our chef shapes the dough into a ball and places it in a large lightly greased bowl. The bowl is covered and set to rest in a warm area while the dough doubles in volume (about 1 hour). Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover the dough once again and allow it to rest while the filling is prepared.

Our chef begins the filling by peeling and dicing 2 cups of Granny Smith Apples. The 3 tbs. of Butter is melted in a sauce pan over medium heat and the Apples, 3 tbs. Granulated Sugar, 2 tbs. Maple Syrup, 1/2 tsp. Vanilla and 1 tbs. Cinnamon are added. This is stirred and cooked over medium-low heat until the apples are soft. The 1/8 cup Quick Oats are added and the mixture is taken off the heat to cool.

Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 375º F

Our chef divides the dough into 2 halves and forms a 12" rectangle out of each section. She spreads the apple filling evenly over both rectangles and rolls them up, sealing the edge with a gentle pinch closed. The roll is sliced into 12 pieces. Our chef places each piece, cut side down, into lightly buttered individual cups of a muffin tin. The tins are covered and placed in a warm area while the rolls double in size (about 30 minutes).

The rolls are baked in a 375º F oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

I do hope this recipe inspires you not only indulge in the sweetness of the apple, but to return the favor to Mother Nature by opening a small hole in the soil and returning the seed to whence it comes. As always, if you have a recipe or cooking project that was a winner with your child, please email it to me at:, and we hope to see you again soon at The Chef's Emporium.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


INDIVIDUAL MEAT PIES - a recipe for kids

Reminiscing about my childhood, Chicken Pot Pie from Marie Calender's is about the only "American Style" Meat Pie that comes to my mind. It wasn't until I married a South African that I received a proper introduction into the world of Savory Meat Pies. Curry Lamb Pies, Cornish Pasties, Shepherd's Pie, and even Steak and Kidney Pies (yes - real Beef Kidney) have graced my plate, and I have made room in my gastronomic repertoire for every single one of them. Likewise, I have developed a particular fondness for the Chutneys and Gravies that always ride sidecar.

Perhaps my fascination with pies is merely the packaging? Aahhh, it goes far deeper than that. However, anything wrapped in a flaky, buttery, golden, crisp crust is destined to be divine. Regardless of whether the edges are precisely crimped or rustically rough, the savory contents of the package becomes even more delectable.

These individual "Mini" Meat Pies were such a hit with my little ones. For some reason they relish in the idea that they can have their very own - individual - eat the entire thing - all by themselves, pie - on their plate. And for my dear Husband, well, in honor of the man that first introduced me to savory beef pies, I spiced the meat filling similarly to Boerewors - the indigenous Farmer's Sausage of South Africa. Devoured they were!

1 lbs. Ground Beef
1 Egg
1 Garlic Clove (minced)
1 tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp. Ground Pepper
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tbs. Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp. Allspice
Dash of Nutmeg and Cloves
1 tbs. Dried Bread Crumbs

1 Box Puff Pastry - Thawed and brought to room temperature

Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 350º F

The one appliance that gets my 3 year old boy cooking in the kitchen with me - every time, is the spice|coffee grinder. I used whole Coriander, Peppercorns, and Allspice Berries and let my little chef grind them fresh for this recipe. The aroma is fantastic when done this way.

My young chef begins this dish by measuring and combining all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Small measuring spoons filled with the fragrant fresh ground spices keeps him very interested in the task at hand. I allow my chef to stir, and stir the dry ingredients to his hearts content (he could do this till well past dinner time and far into bed time, if I let him).

Our chef then adds 1 table spoons of Worcestershire Sauce to the bowl . He stirs again.

Our young chef next tests his grip strength with the garlic press as he adds one minced clove to the bowl. And again, he stirs.

I give my little chef a metal spoon and hold an egg in the palm of my hand, wherein he delivers a healthy rap to crack the egg shell. I empty the contents of the shell into a cup and allow him to pour the egg into the bowl. Our chef stirs yet again.

I then add 1 lb. Ground Beef to the bowl and mix with my hands. I roll 9 balls out of the mixture and place them in a small baking dish. About 25 minutes a 350º oven should bring the internal temperature of the meatballs to 160 degrees.

Using one of the Puff Pastry sheets, I cut 3 long strips, which are again cut into 9 equal squares. I lay the squares on an un-greased cookie sheet and pre-heat the oven to 400º.

Our little chef places a meatball in the center of each pastry square and pulls all four corners up around the ball to overlap on the top.

Using a fork, he scores the top seams to seal the dough. As one can imagine, manufacturing these little packages was quite thrilling for the young chef.

Bake at 400º about 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

I do hope this recipe gives you and your little chefs some cherished time together in the kitchen, and ultimately some satisfied and content tummies. As always, if you have a recipe or cooking project that was a winner with your child, please email it to me at:, and we hope to see you again soon at The Chef's Emporium.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


MEATLOAF - a moist, meaty recipe for kids.

"Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf. I hate meatloaf." For movie buffs, that meatloaf quote is courtesy of Randy, the little brother in "A Christmas Story". The quote is followed by, some of the all time funniest attempts by 2 quintessential mid-century parents to "encourage" their child to eat. I do hope your kids will open up for at least one bite of this moist, meaty meatloaf. I assure you, they will love it!

Personally, I am not a fan of the sweet, acidic Ketchup glaze atop the traditional meatloaf. I think it may also be offensive to younger palates that have not yet acquired our liking for the sweet/sour combination. My meatloaf recipe does have a few surprise ingredients, but overall, I have tried to limit the amount of interfering or overpowering flavors.

My goal with this Meatloaf recipe was to accent the natural flavor of the lean, organic, grass-fed, humanly raised, environmentally sustainable ground beef that I am lucky enough to have access to though my local Whole Foods Market. Yeah, it's healthier and "Green" but most importantly it's downright TASTY! The supplier is White Oak Pastures, a family owned southern farm that is doing an absolutely superior job of conscientiously raising cattle.

My 3 year old boy assisted me with this recipe today. Like his Papa, he is a Meat & Potatoes Man in training. As always, I find that he much more apt to try (at least one bite) of what's on his plate if he feels a part of the cooking process.

2 lbs. Lean Ground Beef
1/2 Onion, finely diced
2 Celery Stalks, finely diced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Large Egg
1/2 Cup Hummus
2 Rye Wasa Crackers (finely "crumbled")
2 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Pepper to Taste

Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 350º F

My young chef begins the preparations by placing 2 Wasa Crackers in a Ziplock bag. Using a wooden rolling pin, he then "crumbles" the crackers into a fine grind. Meanwhile, I dice the onion and celery and saute them in the olive oil over medium heat until transparent (about 8 minutes). Then set aside to cool.

I then give my young chef a large mixing bowl and allow him to add his ground crackers and the spice ingredients ( 1/2 tsp Cumin, 1/2 tsp Coriander, 1/4 tsp Salt). Using a pepper mill, my chef adds some fresh ground black peppercorns to the bowl. With a wooden spoon, he stirs the Hummus and Worcestershire Sauce into the mixture.

The Garlic Press is a favorite kitchen utensil of my 3 year-old boy, an apparatus with which to exert his strength. He triumphantly minces 2 garlic cloves into the bowl.

Though my little chef would love to get his hands on the delicate shell of the egg and gingerly knock it against the edge of the counter, as he has seen me do countless time before, I know where the egg will end up. Instead, I place the egg in the palm of my hand and give him a spoon to "tap" and crack the egg with. In this manner, one large egg is added then stirred into the mixture.

I then add the cooled onions and celery along with the ground beef and mix by hand. I then transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2-lb. loaf pan and, again using my hands, shape the mixture into an oblong loaf.

Bake (350º F) until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat loaf registers 165ºF, about 1 1/2 hours.

If you have any great kid's recipes, we'd love to hear you at Thanks for joining us and we look forward to seeing you again soon at The Chef's Emporium !

I do love the nostalgia of this picture perfect Meatloaf dish. Though I don't know which is more politically incorrect these days, the Pipe in the Papa Duck's Mouth or the Golden Swimming Pool of Melted Butter in the Mash Potatoes! Well, at least the Meatloaf has entered the 21st century with ingredients I'm proud to feed to my family. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Matzo Ball Soup Recipe for Kids

Keeping traditions. Remembering the past. Honoring our heritage. The holiday of Passover marks the exodus of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. So rushed to escape were the Jews, that their bread did not have time to rise. Instead, they ate Matzoh, or unleavened bread. Typically, Jews replace all bread and bread products with Matzoh for the eight days of the Passover holiday.

At the core of Jewish Passover cooking is Matzo Ball Soup - and it is so good.

1 Box of Matzo Ball Mix
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (-OR- Schmaltz if you are lucky enough to have it)
2 1/2 quarts cold water + 2 Teaspoons salt
1 pot of wholesome Chicken Soup (From scratch - again if you are so lucky)

Our young chef begins by adding 2 eggs to a small bowl.

2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil are added to the egg.

Our chef then thoroughly mixes these two ingredients.

1 packet of Matzo Ball Mix is added to the mixture.

Our chef again combines the ingredients, covers the mixture and places it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

A stock pot is filled with 2 1/2 quarts water, to which 2 Teaspoons of Kosher Salt is added. The pot is put on the stove at high heat and brought to a boil.

With wet hands to prevent sticking, our chef then forms the batter into balls, approximately 1 inch in diameter.

The Matzo Balls are dropped into the boiling water (by an adult, please) tightly covered and allowed to simmer for 20 minutes on reduced heat.

I do highly recommend chicken soup from scratch. It is nothing more than chopped carrot, onion, celery, a kosher chicken, kosher salt and a bay leaf or two thrown in for good measure. Cook on a very low simmer for 3 hours - I like to boil my soup until the chicken is literally falling off the bone.

Chag Sameach. Matzo Ball Soup, a tradition of centuries a true goodness for the soul.