Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kids Dinner Nights

I have always enjoyed cooking, which is good--considering the crowd I have to cook for. I am somewhat of a "recipe junkie"--I like to collect new recipes to try. I also like to take recipes and "healthify" them, by substituting ingredients to cut down on fat and calories or increase the whole grains.

Although I like to cook, one thing I hate doing is deciding what to make for dinner every night. Because of this, I started doing "Kids Dinner Nights" at our house. Riley and Kaiya each have one night a week where they help plan and prepare dinner. At the beginning of each month, we sit down together and brainstorm a list of dinners, then we get out the calendar and the kids choose what they want to make for each of their dinner nights. They have to plan well-balanced meals that include fruits and veggies and no one is allowed to repeat the same meal twice in a month. So far, our dinner nights have been a big success. Riley and Kaiya enjoy the one-on-one time with me making dinner and there are two less nights a week that I have to dream up what to make!

Here are a few of the kids favorite "kid friendly" recipes that they like to make:

Chicken Bundles

These end up on the menu nearly every month. They are fun for the kids to make and they love how they taste.

8 oz cream cheese, softened (I usually use fat free to make it a little healthier)
2 cans chicken
1 tsp dried minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans crescent rolls (reduced fat work well too)

Combine cream cheese, chicken, onion, salt and pepper. Mix well. Open crescent roll cans and lay dough triangles out on the counter. Place a large scoop of the chicken mixture on each triangle. Fold edges of dough around the chicken mixture and pinch together so that there are no holes. Place bundles on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 13 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 16 bundles.

Optional: to make this dinner a little fancier, use sliced green onions in place of the dried onion and add one can of mushrooms (diced) to the chicken mixture. Dip each bundle in melted butter and roll in Italian bread crumbs before placing on the cookie sheet. Serve with a chicken gravy made from one can cream of chicken soup mixed with a half can of water.

Another variation: instead of making "bundles", make "pillows"-- fuse two triangle dough pieces together to make a rectangle. Place a large scoop of the chicken mixture on each rectangle. Fold over and pinch edges. Makes 8 pillows.

Kaiya and Mr. Bear make Chicken bundles

Bread Bowls with Soup

These are a good comfort food for winter and the kids think it is so fun to eat out of the bread bowl.

Super Easy Version:
Thaw one loaf of Rhodes bread dough for about 2 hours. Cut into four pieces and shape into balls. Place on greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise for about 3-4 more hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool. Slice off top and scoop out middle, then fill with your favorite soup or chili.

"From Scratch" Version:
Layer the following ingredients in a bread machine:
1 cup warm water
1 T shortening
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour
3 T sugar
1/3 cup dried milk
1 T instant yeast

Set bread machine on "dough" cycle. When finished, divide dough into four balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise about one hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Bread Bowl with Chicken Noodle Soup

Bethlehem Pork

We had this meal at our church Christmas Party last year (hence the name) and it has become one of Riley's favorite dinners. I know it is almost an oxymoron to call it Bethlehem Pork, since the people of Bethlehem were Jewish and did not eat pork, but from what I understand, there wasn't enough money in the budget to get beef for the Christmas party, so pork was substituted, and the name stuck at our house!

2 lb pork loin roast (I like the kind from Costco that comes individually wrapped in a 4-pack)
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. rosemary
1/2 T. minced onion
¾ t. salt
1 t. oregano
1/2 t. marjoram
1/2 t. celery seed
1/4 t. red pepper

Mix all the seasonings together. Sprinkle over meat and gently rub in. Cook meat in crock pot (with just a little broth/water to cover the bottom) on LOW for 8-9 hours, or until meat pulls apart easily. Shred and stuff in pita pocket and serve. The kids love the pita pockets, but I actually like it better wrapped in a tortilla or on the new Orowheat Sandwich Thins.

Fruit Sundae Cones

waffle cones (one per person)
mixed fruit (we usually use strawberries, bananas, grapes and blueberries)
vanilla yogurt (our favorite is the Archer Farms fat-free vanilla yogurt from Target)

Layer yogurt and fruit in cones and enjoy!

Riley displays his fruit sundae cone

Ryder, Riley and Rustin enjoying the results of Kids Dinner Night

Kassidy, Kyndall and Kaydence

Here are a few more recent pictures:

GG takes the quints out for a walk in the rain

Ryder and Rachelle



Kaiya fell face first off of her scooter :-(

Riley is doing Volleyball this season and Jayson is the coach. They both love it :-)

In other news, Jayson gave our website a new face lift. Check it out HERE. Now if only I can talk him into giving the blog an updated look as well!



Heather said...

Love the recipe ideas and menu planning solutions! And the things your kids are learning about nutrition - it's excellent! Great pictures too - as usual!

Tami said...

I am mom of 5 children They are all teens now but I want to have more. we read your web site all the time . we also have a dry erase board we plan all the months menu on there then go food shopping for the month from the menu. my children have 1 night a week to cook a meal for the family.

Marlene said...

Good idea! Kids Dinner Nights! Wish I had thought of it when mine were small and still at home! Just think, when the babies are bigger you won't have to cook for 7nights! Yea Rachel! Even tho my kids are gone, I love the recipes! Mainly cuz I'm getting lazy in my old age and easy is much better! Thanks for the great blog, as always! And tell Riley the website looks GREAT! He did an awesome job.

Julie said...

I have a not-as-healthy version of your Chicken Bundles. We call it Chicken Rollups. Mix chicken and cheese (we use cheddar) and put that in the crescent rolls. Place in baking dish, spoon (one can) undiluted Cream of Chicken soup over them. Pour one cup of milk over the whole thing and add a little more cheese (if desired). Then bake at 350 for 1 hour.
I am looking forward to trying your version out on my kids! It sounds delicious! Thanks!

Diana Lopez said...

wow, sorry about Kaiya, hope shes doing better

The Dorns said...

omg I cringed when I got to Kaiyas photo. Poor thing that looks like it really hurt. I hope she heals with no scars =(

Pam said...

Great idea, it will also help the boys as they are grown to help their spouse in the kitchen. I know my son use to help me, now he helps his wife. Poor Kaiya...hope she is better! A friend in East Texas, Pam.

Apis Melliflora said...

Great idea. I've noticed my kids love to help make dinner too. Chicken bundles look yummy!

One year we did "New Food Fridays" and tried a new recipe every Friday. The kids got to pick the recipe every 3rd week, when, guess what, we always seemed to be trying a new dessert recipe.

lori said...

oh, i love new recipes....and i look forward to trying these. i have a new one for you that is a "cousin" of the chicken pockets recipe you listed. we call this chicken pockets, too, but it's like this :

bake some chicken breasts
dice up the cooked chicken
sautee the cooked chicken with some onion and garlic
stuff the diced/sauteed chicken and savories into a crescent roll the same way you listed for your chicken pockets
place the pockets around the outside of a 9x13 baking dish
mix up some cream of chicken or mushroom soup
steam some broccoli or other favorite veggie
when the soup is mixed, pour it into the middle of the baking pan so that it comes up around the chicken pockets, but not over them
spoon the broccoli into the soup, but not over the top of the pockets
put the whole thing in the oven at 350 and bake until the tops of the chicken pockets/crescent rolls are golden brown

ENJOY! i got this idea/recipe from a mom in my local mom's meetup group.

HaideeCallaghan said...

hope Kaiya is better, same thing happened to me when i was wee, but diffrent way scaped my right side of my face right down a hill it really was sore, so i hope that it wasnt to sore for her !

Schauers Hours said...

Ouch! Kaiya's poor face. did she lose her two front teeth like Shane? that was pretty sad too!

Rachelle said...

Lori & Julie--

Thanks for the different spins on the Chicken bundles recipe. They sound yummy----I think I will try them out this week!

Anonymous said...

your kids are adorable:)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I love the food idea. I love the pics and your kids are getting so big! Keep up the good work!

HST said...

I will definitely try some of these out! Thanks!

Kristen said...

Ouch, Kaiya! You should do a seperate blog for recipes...you know, it would do us all a great service:) I love that pic of you and Ryder!

My Boaz's Ruth said...

I'm going to make those Chicken Bundles at home. They seem very easy for a 2-year old to hold and eat themselves (and hopefully warm up well too!)