Pasta Rocket

You’re not launching food and starting a food fight. Nor are we advocating making food that will skyrocket the most-likely already energetic nature of your little one. This week we’re focused on arugula, which is also called rocket – no joke!

Names of leafy greens don’t get more kid friendly than rocket. Given the recent heat wave, we’re using this leaf green in a simple pasta dish. Adding a bit of rocket to the menu means an extra burst of vitamin C and potassium.

Plus, who wants to be in a hot kitchen for longer than necessary?

You’ll need to bring a large pot of salted water to boil then cook 8 ounces of penne pasta. You can substitute whole wheat for a healthier alternative.

While it’s cooking, crumble 5 ½ ounces of goat cheese into a large serving bowl. Add 2 cups of coarsely chopped arugula. It’s OK to use the stems. Arugula has a rich, peppery taste that isn’t as strong when mixed with olive oil. You’ll also want to add 1 cup of quartered cherry tomatoes, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, and a ½ teaspoon of each salt and pepper to the bowl.

Lastly, drain the pasta and toss it in the mixture.


You have a nice, delicious, quick and family friendly dish to serve for dinner. It could also be a nice pasta salad for tomorrow’s lunch.

That little leafy plant giving a spot of green and a hint of peppery to the pasta traveled a far ways before ending up in your dinner bowl. Arugula has been grown in the Mediterranean area since Roman times and is often considered an aphrodisiac – although those properties are believed to have diminished over time. Now arugula’s added for the flavor and vitamin elements.

Arugula was collected in the wild until the 1990s when large-scale cultivation began. Today it’s grown in many places, specifically Veneto, Italy, but is available worldwide.

Cultures use the spicy veggie in different ways.

Many people simply add it to salads or use it instead of lettuce. Northern Italy uses arugula in pasta while those in Slovenia add it to cheese. There’s one island that creates an alcohol that aides in digestion from the plant. Arugula is part of a breakfast menu in Egypt, where they also pair it with seafood.


Perfectly pumpkiny pastries

It’s officially fall. While that means your kids are settled in their school schedule again and leaves will change, it also means gourds are all around. There are pumpkins at the grocery store, blow up play structures being set up around the area for satellite patches and farms on the coast all boasting beautiful gourds in various colors.

Even coffee and beer in San Mateo County get a hint of pumpkin this time of year, so why not add a little fall spice to a breakfast treat? We’re not going healthy this week, but it will be a delightful splurge—pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Courtesy of, this recipe does take some time. We’re spending an evening doing most of the work so breakfast will be freshly made—and baked!—in the morning.

Start by stirring 1 package of dry yeast into ¼ cup warm water to soften. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup warm milk, 1 large beaten egg, ¾ cup pumpkin puree – which can be fresh or canned, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger and a ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom to the yeast mixture and beat vigorously for two minutes. Slowly add in flour, a little at a time, until you have dough that’s thick enough to knead.

Turn dough out on a floured surface. Knead, feel free to add flour if needed, until your dough is smooth and elastic.

Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn it once to coat the ball with oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise until doubled, which should be an hour.

Take a moment before making the filling to learn about the cinnamon roll. Sweden has a national Cinnamon Bun Day—It’s coming up on Oct. 4, by the way—because that’s where the first one was made. In Sweden, unlike here, the cinnamon roll is less sweet and heavy. Instead, the dough contains a hint of cardamom, a ginger-like spice, baked in muffin wrappers for a delicate treat.

If you’re giving the original a try, ask for kanelbulle, which literally means cinnamon bun.

Cinnamon rolls are one of those things that can be changed from person to person or by country. America has a version known as Philadelphia-style, which date back to the 18th century and contains honey, sugar, cinnamon and raisins.

While the dough is still rising, start making the filling.

Once you restart, combine 2/3 cup white sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of each allspice and ginger, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon of cloves in a small bowl then set aside.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16×12 rectangle. Spread softened butter, about one stick, over the dough then sprinkle the sugar mixture. Roll the dough into a log. It should stretch to about 20 inches long as you roll it. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 15 pieces. It can help to rinse your blade in hot water first, wiping it in between slices.

Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. Or, you could allow the dough to rise overnight and bake in the morning, your call.

When it’s time to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls until they’re brown around the edges and begin to turn golden brown across the center, about 20 to 30 minutes.

While baking, it’s time to make the delicious frosting topping. Add 4 ounces of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter softened, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ¾ teaspoon of lemon juice into a small food processor. Blend until smooth. Then add 2 to 3 cups of powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, blending in between, until well mixed. In this instance, less might be more.

Frost rolls while warm and eat IMMEDIATELY. Really, who would be able to wait anyway?

Totally tortilla!

Moving can be stressful — as we know!! Soon you’ll all get a close up look at the new KCA digs. But until then, we’re getting things perfect for classes.

On stressful days a little comfort food is in order. There’s nothing like sitting around and enjoying some chips and salsa, or bean dip, or pico de gallo, or whatever concoction comes to mind.

Normally the focus is on the dip; I mean a chip’s a chip, right? Sometimes the difference in an ordinary thing is the care we give when making it.

Today, let’s focus on making the chips special.

We’re turning to Katie Goodman of, a fellow chips and salsa aficionado, to get this special, not too difficult recipe.

As always, start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. Stack four to five corn tortillas together on a cutting board. Cut the tortillas into eight triangles. You don’t have to do this stacked, but it does save time. Repeat until all the tortillas are cut.

Then, pour about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a backing sheet. Using a paper towel spread the oil all over the pan, evenly coating it. Lightly spray the tops of the tortillas with olive oil. Without a spray, you can use a brush to add just a little on the top side.

Juice half a lime in a small bowl. Using a silicone pastry brush, dip and lightly brush the chips with a small amount of lime juice. How much lime juice you add can change the flavor. The idea is to have a hint of lime, but if you love lime, go crazy. Although, stay away from soaking the tortillas. You may think you like lime, but if that’s all you taste it may not be a good thing!

Lastly, sprinkle the chips with salt and cumin to taste. Then, place the baking sheet in the oven for five minutes. Remove the tray and use tongs to flip the chips over. Then bake for another three to five minutes, or to your desired crispness.

Top or dip the chips with whatever makes your taste buds salivate. Plus, it’s a great addition to any football party — it is Sunday!

Tortilla chips are an interesting snack. First mass-produced in Los Angeles in the 1940s, they are often considered to be a Mexican food.

Rebecca Webb Carranza was the brainchild behind the triangular edible dipping instrument when she needed a way to use misshapen tortillas rejected from the automated manufacturing machine. Rebecca and her husband ran a Mexican deli and tortilla factory. As any business owner knows, tossing a product means a loss in money. Rebecca cut the tortillas into triangles, fried them and began a popular snack revolution selling the bags for a dime a bag.

In 1994, she received the Golden Tortilla award for her contribution to the Mexican food industry.

Plum-tastic pastry

September is all about mixing sweet and savory. Plums are in season and the purple fruit is the perfect way to spice up a treat.

Mature plums may have a dusty-white coating which is easily rubbed off. The naturally occurring wax coating is called wax bloom. Plums should taste sweet but can also be tart, particularly in the skin. Known to be high in fiber, and thus helping to keep thing moving, plums were named based on the beliefs of a Roman historian and scientist.

Pliny the Elder is said to have maintained that the apricot was a kind of plum that originally came from Armenia. Armenians supported the claims noting a 6,000-year-old apricot pit found at an archaeological site.

Around my office there’s a tradition this time of year: German Plum Cake. This is headed up annually by the unlikeliest of characters, our friendly tech guy who grew up in Germany and loves to share his family tradition. It’s simple in design but an annual delicious treat. The great news is the cake can be a basic design allowing fruit to be changed seasonally or missed so you and your kids can experiment.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Stir together 1 cup of flour and 5 tablespoons of sugar, per a recipe from Then, with your hands, mix a stick of butter into the flour mixture. Add 1 egg yolk. Press the mixture into a baking dish.

It will take 2 pounds of plums, pitted and sliced into eight pieces. Those sections should be laid down in a nice pattern on top of the mixture in the baking dish. This can be the traditional lines, but you can also make faces, swirly designs or whatever crazy zigzag designs you can put together. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. If the plums are hard, cover with aluminum foil for the first 10 minutes.

The cake can be served with sugar, ice cream, whip cream, really anything, or simply on its own. Try mixing peaches, apples or pineapples to keep the cake creations new and exciting.

Busting bad culinary habits

Urban legends are a funny thing. Often there’s some kernel of truth in the situation but far from the whole truth. Not knowing how to properly clean your kitchen or your food is a recipe that breeds illness. And while we’re 100 percent behind learning from mistakes, no one should be sick because of them!

This month is National Food Safety Education Month! We’re going to celebrate by busting some common kitchen myths thanks to, a website by Partnership for Food Safety Education.

Myth: I don’t need to wash my produce if I’m going to peel it.

False. All fruits and veggies should be run under water before eating, cutting or cooking. That may sound strange but the reality is, you can transfer bacteria from a peel to the part you, or your little one, eat. Be sure to wash under cool, running water. Blot delicate produce, like lettuce or grapes, with a clean cloth or paper towel. Firm-skin fruits and veggies should be washed in running tap water or scrubbed with a clean produce brush. Never, ever, use detergent, bleach or soap! Think about it, would you want a soapy taste to dinner? Plus, those cleaning tools weren’t made for eating.

Myth: The stand time recommended for microwave food is optional; It’s just a guide so you won’t burn yourself.

False. Actually, stand time is a cooling off period that is rather important. Be patient. Normally it’s only a couple minutes anyway. But waiting will do more than save your tongue from being burned. It also keeps the food at a safe temperature. Read and follow directions closely, know how strong your microwave is and use a food thermometer to be sure the food is safe for you and your little ones to eat.

Myth: Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad.

False. Clearly, you should not be eating smelly food. If you can tell something’s not right, it isn’t. Unfortunately, food is often bad long before it smells. Different types of bacteria affect food differently. The type that makes you sick doesn’t result in the smells that you may rely on when deciding to serve a dish. Rather than question it, freeze or trash leftovers within 3 to 4 days. Never risk it, if you don’t know how old the food is, throw it away! Also, get better at labeling to avoid the questions in the future.

Myth: I use bleach and water to clean my countertops and the more bleach I use the more bacteria I kill.

False. More bleach does not make for a cleaner kitchen. Using too much bleach can actually be a bad thing. The cleaning agent is a chemical and truly not meant for anyone to eat. It always comes back to following directions. Use 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid bleach per gallon of water. Flood the countertop with the solution, allow it to sit for a few minutes, then pay it dry or let it air dry. Anything left over can be stored, tightly covered for about a week. After that, the bleach won’t be effective.

Wonderful waffles for all

Tiny little crispy squares that make up this breakfast food serve to keep in place whatever fruit masterpiece you and your little one can create.

Last week was hope to National Waffle Day, Aug. 24, which happens to be the anniversary of the first U.S. patent for a waffle iron. Granted to New Yorker Cornelius Swarthout, the patent for a device to bake waffles was granted in 1869. His early invention required the use of a coal stove and simple offered a griddle with a cover that required flipping to cook both sides. While this patent inspired the national holiday, it is far from the beginning from this cherished breakfast treat.

In honor of all things waffle, and getting a good, healthy start to your morning, we’re going to make the crispy, delicious breakfast food this week.

Altering a recipe from, sift together 2 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of baking powder and a ½ teaspoon of salt then set aside. In a small bowl, beat 2 egg whites until stiff, then set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the two egg yolks well. Then stir in 1 ¼ cup of milk. Add sifted dry ingredients to egg yolks and mix until moistened. Be careful not to over mix! Add 1/3 cup vegetable oil then folk in the egg whites. Lastly, add 1 cup of freshly-washed blueberries into the mix.

Preheat any waffle maker for at least 4 to 5 minutes, then put your batter in. You’ll know the waffles are down when they’re crisp and brown. You may want to slice some peaches to put on top.

The waffles you’re about to make can be traced back to the 13th Century when ancient Greeks would cook flat cakes between two metal plates. They preferred topping the morning meal with cheeses and herbs.

The modern waffle originated with a wafer, very light thin crisp cakes baked between wafer irons in the Middle Ages. They made the crispy food by using two metal plates connected by a hinge with each plate connected to a wooden handle. It was placed over a fire and flipped to cook both sides. By the 14th Century, street vendors called waferers began selling wafers.

Even the common spelling of waffles took some time. Pilgrims brought Dutch wafles to America in the 1600. The word waffle, specifically with two f’s, didn’t appear in English print until 1735. Long after he served as president, Thomas Jefferson brought a long-handled, pattered waffle iron to the U.S. after a trip to France.

Moms could start relying on frozen waffles in 1953 when Frank Dorsa’s Eggo appeared in supermarkets. Did you know the Eggo was invented in San Jose?

The great thing about waffles is the endless possibilities. Change up the fruit depending on what’s in season to create new flavors, and new family favorites.

Learning from the lunch lady

School’s back… from… summer. You’re little one may not be excited to go back to class — completely opposite from you, right! — but that time apart doesn’t give him or her free reign to eat junk. Knowing what’s on the lunch menu is a big part of ensuring your little one’s eating habits are healthy even when you’re not around.

Kids Culinary Adventures is writing healthy lunch menus for The Lunch Masters, a Bay Area Lunch Program monitored by a professional dietitian that serves 100 percent organic, hormone-free foods that are completely biodegradable. Check to see if your school participates with the program. If not, chances are the food offered is high in saturated fats and lacking in nutrients.

Just because your school doesn’t subscribe to Lunch Masters doesn’t mean your child can’t eat well. Chef Gigi has some great tips!

  • Did you make your child’s favorite dinner last night? Use an insulated lunch box and serving dishes to maintain the food at its proper temperature and send them what remains.
  • Avoid pre-packaged lunches whenever possible! They’re typically high in fat, sugar and empty calories as they’re processed and packed with sodium.
  • Involve your child in both planning and preparing their lunch. Not only are they more likely to eat it, but they’re learning as they go!
  • Lean lunch meats and whole grain breads can make a healthy sandwich, but eating one daily is boring! Switch it up with other healthy offerings like crackers and cheese, a hardboiled egg, or—gasp! Dare we say veggies? —a salad.
  • Planning can save you lots of time. Get in the habit of making lunches with leftovers while you’re serving dinner. This might mean slicing and bagging a few additional fresh veggies or fruits.
  • Make fruit juice your friend. Freeze a 100 percent juice box overnight; remove from the freezer and place in a plastic baggie. Your plastic-wrapped drink will be super cold when lunch time rolls around and will keep foods cool—i.e. super safe for your little one —at the same time.

Lastly, try something new! Getting into the kitchen together can mean creating a meal at home that then doubles as tomorrow’s lunch.

Here’s an idea to get you started:

Wild Banshee Banana Bread, Cream Cheese and Honey Sandwich

Spread one inner surface of banana bread with 1 ounce of plain cream cheese. Spread the other piece with honey and sandwich. Serve with a whole or sliced wedge apple.

Step one might be making banana bread. Here’s a recipe courtesy of our dear friend Marion Cunningham who scribes the Fannie Farmer Baking Book.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a baking pan. Stir and toss together 2 ½ cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and two teaspoons of baking soda. In a large bowl mix 1 cup vegetable shortening, 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of mashed ripe bananas (which should be about 6 medium-sized bananas), 4 eggs slightly beaten and 1 cup of chopped walnuts.

Pour into a prepared pan and bake for 65 to 70 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you can insert a knife and it comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack and let it cool completely.

Now you have banana bread to enjoy on its own or as a tool for making new lunch time goodies.

Kabob Kaleidoscopes

Drawing and cooking often have the same goal—creating something colorful!

Colorful will also mean a variety of tasty fruits, veggies and meats brought together. Kabobs are a great way to not only experiment with making different color combinations, but also a way to allow your little ones the independence to make their own creations!

Despite the unseasonably chilly weather, it is summer. And grilling is a wonderful way to cook these delicious treats.

The key to a good kabob is a variety of colorful options to put on the sticks. Remember, wash all veggies before starting to chop. Start with about 2 pounds of meat; that can be fish, shrimp, pork, chicken or beef. The sky is the limit! Do remember to be extra careful when working with raw chicken to clean all the areas you touch with the raw chicken after.

Veggies will offer the most color options. Chop a large green bell pepper, large red pepper and corn on the cob into 1 ½ inch pieces. If you want zucchini, cut it into 1 inch pieces. A red onion should be quartered. There could be mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. I like adding fruit like pineapple.

Lightly brush the meat with olive oil and season. You could use a prepared rub for the meat. Or, minced garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper is always a good alternative to add a little extra something to any meat.

Prepare charcoal grill with hot coals or preheat gas grill on high heat.

Then start the fun! Traditionally, meat and veggies should be alternated on a skewer. But let your little one experiment. Maybe make a challenge out of creating color combinations. While making these rainbow-inspired food kaleidoscope talk with your kids about how kabobs have changed over the years.

Kabobs, originally kebabs, are of Persian origin. Arabic tradition traces the dish was invented by medieval Iranic soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires. But others claim the dish has Mediterranean ancient ties. An early version of the kabob was mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 8th Century BCE. In India, there are records that kabobs were served in royal houses. During some periods, kabobs were enjoyed by commoners in India for breakfast with naan, a traditional style of bread served in India.

Once your kabobs are complete, place the kabobs on a the hot grill. Turn the kabobs frequently, about every two to three minutes, until cooked 10 to 15 minutes, until the desired doneness.

You can enjoy right away or try adding a little sauce. For me, a little bit of barbecue sauce lightly brushed on the kabob adds a nice touch. Maybe add it to some and not others and try both. Which do you prefer?

Salty, sweet peaches

You know what’s great about making a salad?

The possibilities are ENDLESS! Sure when you go to a restaurant the ingredients are pretty set, but that doesn’t have to be the case at home. Even better, adding in super sweet, ripe fruits can be a wonderful way to introduce children to a salad they won’t turn their nose up at.

Right now is a great time for peaches! Picking the right peaches is easy. Look for fruits that are fragrant and soft but not mushy. Skin near the stem should be yellow or cream colored, but not green.

Let’s mix salty and sweet flavors with peaches this summer.

Of course, start by washing your hands. But also wash all the produce. For this recipe, created by San Francisco Rubicon chef Stuart Brioza, we’ll be using peaches, arugula and basil.

Try the ingredients before putting it all together so you and your little one can talk about how combining these flavors and cooking them changes each piece. Do the peaches become sweeter after grilling? How does adding pancetta change the peach’s flavor?

Halve and pit two medium freestone peaches. Then cut into 8 wedges. Use 16 slices of pancetta — a cured meat similar to bacon. It’s pork belly that has been salt cured and spiced.

Lay the pancetta slices out on a work surface. Set a peach wedge at the edge of each slice. Have your little one season with salt and pepper and top with a basil leaf. Roll up the pancetta covering the peaches.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add half of the wrapped peaches and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until the pancetta is browned and crisp, about four minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat until all the peaches are cooked.

Then, lightly drizzle the peaches with aged balsamic vinegar.

These can be eaten now, but let’s add a little more green.

Place the peaches atop arugula salad with blue cheese crumbles and toasted walnuts. Blue cheese may be too strong for your little one’s palette. If that’s the case, add a mellower cheese like feta and enjoy!

Try to work fast. The peaches are best when still warm.

Fruity smoothie concoctions

The weather may not have gotten the memo about summer, but your kids probably did. And they most likely want some kind of mid-afternoon snack. While the weather may not be extra hot, all that running around could mean a need for your little ones to cool down.

A plethora of tasty treats await any eager shopper regardless of their store of choice. The problem, often, is sugar.

Making frozen treats can mean a fun chemistry experiment of mixing tastes without adding a ton of sugar to the snack.

It’s simple, thanks to some inspiration from Start with popsicle molds. Then gather up a grouping of possible ingredients: Fruit, yogurt, juice. You can even throw in healthy additives like flaxseed oil. Make sure to clean all fruit in cold water and remove leaves and peels.

Experiment with flavors by making smoothie puree. Put the yogurt in and make new creations. Start with basics like strawberries and bananas. Let your little one mix flavors. Challenge them to new flavors like carrots and a mango and apple juice. Mixing new foods with familiar ones will be a fun experiment for you and your child. Plus, he or she will probably give the carrots a go.

Once you have a puree — or many purees — that you enjoy, fill the popsicle molds. Be sure to leave room for expansion. Lastly add sticks.

A four-hour rest in the freezer and vwala! Smoothie pops.

If you start the process in the morning, you’re house will be clean in time to serve the frozen fruity concoctions. Just in time  for the kids to drip all over the house and allow you to start the cleaning all over again!

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