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September 20, 2003
Issue #001

*******Table of Contents:*******

1. The Casserole is Back
2. Getting Your Kid Involved
3. What's New
4. Special Delivery


1. The Casserole is Back

Well, the weather here in the U.S. is cooling down as fall approaches. (For those of us here in Texas, that means it's only 89 degrees instead of 105 outside!) One of the great food memories for me as a kid was when my mom pulled a steaming hot casserole out of the oven on a crisp autumn night.

The word casserole comes from the Old French word "casse" meaning ladel or pan. The great thing about making a casserole is you get to dump a bunch of ingredients (leftovers are ideal for this) into one pan, bake, and serve it in the same dish. My family had our favorite casserole that we called Chicken for a Crowd. Back then Mom bought a whole chicken, boiled it for hours, and cut it up into cubes...a time-consuming affair. Then she baked it at low temperature in the oven for at least an hour.

Nowadays most of us busy moms don't have that kind of time or energy. To save time, you can buy a roasted chicken at your local grocery store or rotisserie or take a couple of chicken breasts, cut them up, and lightly stir fry before adding to your casserole. Another tip is to bake your casserole at a higher temperature (400F degrees instead of 300F degrees) for 30 minutes instead of an hour or longer. For healthier casseroles, use 2% cheese, yogurt in place of sour cream, and low fat, low sodium soups. You can also use a skillet to cook the main ingredients, add your soup, then put the skillet in the oven to bake. You can even serve it in the same skillet.

I've recently added some more chicken casserole recipes, beef casserole recipes, and vegetable casserole recipes. so check them out and be sure to send me any of your favorite kid friendly casserole recipes.

Try this easy (and yummy) casserole recipe sent in by Mike Giro:

Tator Tot Casserole

1 pound of beef (ground beef or cubed round steak)
American or cheddar cheese
1 bag frozen tator tots
1 can cream of chicken soup

Cook beef and place in a medium sized casserole dish. Spread the cream of chicken soup over beef (do not add water to the soup). Next spread enough cheese on top to cover and then spread enough tator tots on top of cheese. Bake in a 350F degree oven for 1 hour.

Serves 4.

2. Getting Your Kid Involved in the Cooking Fun

My son, Thomas, had his fifth birthday this week. Since birthday celebrating in my home usually involves cooking and eating, Thomas got to request his favorite meals and cake for the big day. The best part about this is that he gets to be involved in the cooking. When we made the pancakes for breakfast and later made the chocolate cake batter, I loved seeing the real joy on Thomas' face and the pride he felt because he was the chef for the day.

This is just a reminder to celebrate happy times by cooking together with your kids in the kitchen. Here are a few pointers:

*Buy your kid his own cooking apron.
*Don't worry too much about the mess--it's part of the fun!
*Do teach him to clean up afterwards (or at least help). You'll be developing his life skills.
*See the experience as an educational opportunity. Young children learn math skills in the kitchen by measuring and setting the timer. They practice reading skills by learning to read recipes and by learning to follow instructions.
*Praise your child for his efforts and don't criticize if his cooking creation doesn't turn out looking (or tasting) the best. Teach him to learn from his mistakes.
*Most of all, have fun and enjoy!

3. What's New

Fall also means Back to School and I've added a new recipe page for easy lunches.

So far I've included some simple sandwich recipes and burger recipes. I'll be adding more recipes soon and a snack recipe page of quick snacks for after school munchies.

Click here to check out the new Easy Kids Recipes lunch box.

4. Special Delivery

Exciting news...I had a baby boy named Luke on August 6. He's our fourth child and he's happy and healthy--and getting a lot of attention from his older siblings! Time goes by so quickly with a newborn (I can't believe he's already 6 weeks old now).

Before I know it he'll be eating real food. I made all my own baby food for my first three and I'll do the same for Luke. I plan to add a recipe page for baby food soon. So send me any of your ideas for baby food recipes, including preparing, freezing, etc.

Please send me your feedback, requests, and your easy recipes and cooking ideas.

Happy Kid Cooking!

Clarissa, mom chef
Easy Kids Recipes

P.S. I'll have some Pumpkin Day recipes in the next issue, so stay tuned.