March 28, 2011 by Flora Dawn
It’s no secret that my two kids (ages 4 and 15) are always in the kitchen with me. My youngest really enjoys measuring, stirring, sifting and making a mess; she’s ready with her favorite spoon whenever she hears we are baking a dessert. On the other hand, my teenager enjoys grating, chopping and sauteing, basically she wants to use knives and hear food sizzle.
Regardless of your children’s ages, I really think families can create meals together. Planning meals, selecting recipes, cooking, and actually eating together as a family is really fun and a great way to make memories. Even if the food isn’t perfect, the process can be really enjoyable. You don’t have to be an excellent cook, nor do your children, to have fun in the kitchen together.
We’ve made it a priority to sit at the table and eat dinner together on a nightly basis; and while I realize this isn’t always practical for all families, I think setting aside as much time as possible to cook and eat together is really important. This is why I am excited to be part of The Kids Cook Monday campaign.
Here is a brief summary directly from the Kids Cook Monday website
The Kids Cook Monday initiative encourages families to set aside the first night of every week for cooking and eating together as a family. The Kids Cook Monday provides examples of family friendly recipes and video demonstrations along with a free starter family dinner toolkit- making it easy for families to cook and eat together every Monday.
When kids pitch in making meals, they’re empowered to consider the portions, the vitamins and the nutrients of what they’re eating. And since the family that cooks together eats together, parents can check in with their children during dinner.
Evidence links family dinners to healthier life choices:
- Research from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse suggests that kids who eat family dinners get better grades in school, develop communication schools and are less likely to try drugs.
- The American Dietetic Association found women who cook regularly consume a more nutritious diet than those who ate out often.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics found kids who ate dinner with their family regularly were less likely to be obese.
Cooking also reinforces skills to help kids succeed like math, teamwork and following instructions. So start your week off right and make Monday family night!
The Kids Cook Monday is a project of The Monday Campaigns. The Monday Campaigns is in association with the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Syracuse Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Although I actually have lots of kid-friendly recipes on my site already, every Monday I plan on posting a recipe that my kids actually helped prepare. I am going to try to keep these practical, family-friendly dinner ideas, with the occasional dessert or breakfast item (since kids especially love to prepare these!).
This week’s recipe is Enchilada Casserole. My oldest daughter, Hailey, and I made this together; it’s a great recipe for an older child or teenager to help with, as there’s grating, chopping, and using the stove top and oven. However, even a young child will enjoy smashing the tortilla chips and topping the casserole with cheese.
We like to make our own baked tortilla chips using corn tortillas; they are super easy to make and a healthy alternative to the store-bought variety. Instead of cutting into triangles, strips are easier for soups and casseroles like this one.
I hope you’ll start your week off right and make Monday family night!
The casserole bakes for about 30 minutes in the oven; this is a great time to make a salad and set the table.
- 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup your favorite salsa
- 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans or black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup corn frozen corn (canned corn, drained could be used)
- 1 cup sour cream (light is fine)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3 cups broken tortilla chips, divided
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (Colby-Jack, Pepper-Jack, etc would work too), divided
- 3 scallions, chopped (white and light green parts only), optional
- 1/2 cup black olives, sliced, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 and find a 9×13 pan or large casserole dish.
- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, brown the beef, onion, and garlic until the beef is cooked through (no longer pink) and the onion is softened; this takes about 8-10 minutes and you’ll want to stir frequently. Add tomato sauce, salsa, beans, and corn; reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
- In a small bowl, blend together sour cream, cilantro and cumin.
- Spoon half (about 2 cups) the meat mixture into the bottom of the pan. Top with 2 cups of the broken chips and 1 cup of the cheese. Cover with the remaining meat mixture; spoon the sour cream mixture on top and spread to cover. Sprinkle with the remaining chips and cheese. Top with scallions and olives if desired. (And don’t worry if the layers aren’t perfect, it’ll still taste great!)
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 20- 30 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted. Using hot pads, remove from oven and carefully lift off foil. Serve hot.