A few months ago, my 10-year-old son came home from a neighbor’s yard sale clutching a cookbook. The neighbor had let him have it. I asked my son if that meant he would be cooking dinner, and indeed, he did cook a few times before lacrosse season took up all our spare time.
Now that school is out and we have more time to fill, I decided to hand the cooking over to the kids again. For this meal, my son chose a recipe for dinner, planned side dishes and made a shopping list. My daughter, 8, chose dessert and made her own list. Lists in hand, we headed off to ShopRite.
My boy is old enough and confident enough to shop on his own, so he grabbed a cart and took off. My daughter needed a little help navigating the store. We met up in the frozen foods aisle, pooled our items into one cart and checked out. At home, we set to work.
My son chose to make spaghetti and ambitiously, he wanted to make sauce from scratch. This is a great time of year for homemade sauce, since tomatoes are starting to peak, along with peppers. He chose a loaf of Italian bread from the bakery and fresh asparagus from the produce section as side dishes, and also used my homegrown lettuce and cucumbers to make a green salad.
The weather has been hot and sticky, so my daughter’s choice of Triple Chocolate Ice Pops was right on.
Thanks to ShopRite, my effort to turn over dinner to my kids turned out great. The well organized store and great prices made it easy to choose ingredients without spending a lot of money and the great quality produce and bakery items contributed to a delicious meal. (My kitchen, however, needed an intervention after all the cooking was finished. Perhaps the next lesson will be “how to clean up as you cook.”)
If you have kids on summer break, cooking at home is a great way to reinforce math lessons (fractions!) and teach about fresh ingredients and healthy eating.
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1/2 cup chopped sweet green pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP cooking oil
4 cups chopped, peeled tomatoes (6 large) or two 14.5 ounce cans tomatoes, undrained and cut up (for instructions on peeling and seeding fresh tomatoes, click here.)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 TBSP fresh parsley, snipped
1 TBSP snipped fresh basil OR 1 tsp dried basil
1 TBSP snipped fresh oregano OR 1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp snipped fresh marjoram OR 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 box spaghetti of your choice
parmesan cheese, optional
In a Dutch oven, cook the onion, sweet pepper, celery and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in 1/3 cup water, tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, dried herbs (if using), sugar, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, chopping up tomato pieces with spoon.
Stir in fresh herbs, if using.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Serve sauce over pasta. Top with cheese if desired.
TRIPLE CHOCOLATE POPS (recipe source: Fun Stuff Frozen Pops cookbook)
1 cup chocolate ice cream
1/4 cup milk
1 TBSP chocolate syrup
1/2 cup crushed chocolate wafers
3 (5 ounce) plastic or paper cups or pop molds
3 pop sticks
6 TBSP quick-hardening chocolate shell dessert topping
Combine ice cream, milk and chocolate syrup in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add crushed wafers and pulse until just combined.
Pour mixture into cups, filling 2/3 full. Freeze for one hour.
Insert pop sticks. Spoon (or squirt directly from bottle) shell topping into each cup over ice cream layer. Do not cover with foil. Freeze 4-6 hours or until firm.
To serve, peel paper cups away from pop or gently twist to remove from plastic cups or pop molds.
POP RECIPE NOTES: for the crushed wafer cookies, we chose cookies and cream sugar wafers. You could use any chocolate cookie. We also skipped the blender step, softened the ice cream at room temperature and mixed the ingredients in a bowl. We also used 3 ounce Dixie cups to make the pops, doubled the recipe and ended up with ten smaller pops.
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