Ratatouille… it’s more than just a movie!

warning:  when starting your own venture of kids cooking in the kitchen… it might be a good idea to time it when they are on a movie kick of something other than the famous “Ratatouille”

If not, when it comes time for your 7 yo to make his menu decision,

His eyes might get super duper wide,

Light up like a christmas tree,

and may even send sparks that turn on the light bulb that just appeared above his head

as he shouts (yes, SHOUTS!)  RATATOUILLE!  that’s what I want to make, mom, RATATOUILLE!!

… and for about half a second you will second guess your whole venture into this kids in the kitchen program of yours and offer to send out for McDonalds on his night, just to back down.

But you don’t.  Because you are the mother and you are instilling so much more than meals with this little venture, and you know you can’t stop now.

So you get onto the internet (because, let’s be honest, the only version of ratatouille that you have seen was, indeed cooked by a  cartoon rat on the disney movie).

You see that it’s a summer dish, so you try the logical approach…

“hey honey, how about we try this in the summer when we have all of the yummy vegetables from the garden to cook it?”

“No!  I want to make it this week.”

“but honey, all of the directions say that it doesn’t taste as good in the winter – it uses a lot of vegetables from the garden, so it would be hard to find ones right now that taste very good.”

“But I really want to make it this week.  pleeeeeeeeeease????”

Put that together with his puppy dog eyes, that you know that he knows that you are a sucker for,

and you suddenly find yourself making a shopping list for ‘ratatouille’

which has eggplant.

yes, eggplant.








lots and lots of eggplant…

(which, though you have taught about the many health benefits found in this odd-looking vegetable, truth be told, you have never actually used it in your own kitchen.  And even more truth be told, it scares you to do it now).

… and chopping










lots and lots of chopping









which, I learned is a benefit of having a menu ahead of time.  When you know there will be lots of pre-prep, you can do it ahead of time (i.e. on Sunday afternoon, we did all the chopping, so come Monday – our crazy day – all we had to do was throw everything in the pot!)








wouldn’t you know it, we all loved the ratatouille!








… of course in an effort of self-disclosure, we did change up the recipe a bit (as we almost always do when cooking!). Some of the eggplant was bad, so to help us save time, I substituted potatoes for half of the eggplant called for.  Of course I had to throw in some of my Idaho roots!  I may be a bit biased, but I think it worked out even better than having the whole eggplant portion (or maybe I’m still a little bit scared of said eggplant???).

Just in case you are dying to try this great *summer* dish:

(adapted from food network and norecipes.com):

1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (1-2 onions)

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups egg plant (we did 1 1/2 cup potato and 1 cup egg plant) chopped

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 cup diced green bell peppers

1 cup diced red bell peppers

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup diced yellow squash (we couldn’t find this, so we just did 1 cups zucchini)

1 1/2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes

15 oz diced tomatoes in can, undrained

1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, sliced

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper as needed

sauté onions and garlic in the oil until slightly caramelized. Add eggplant (or potatoes) and thyme until slightly cooked (about 5 min if only using eggplant… about 10 if using potatoes).  Add all peppers, zucchini and squash.  Cook another 5 min.  Add tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.  If using potatoes, need to boil for a while until potatoes are soft.  If just using eggplant, just need to cook for about 5 more minutes.

Can serve warm or cold.  We liked it warm, served with french bread.  Yummy!!

(my other son even asked to take it for school lunch a couple of days later – true sign of success!!)

When in Rome…

“Mom, I want to do Romen Noodle Chicken!  Alex told me about it at school.”

“Awesome!” (thinking this is some fun ethnic recipe that we get to try…) “Did he give you a recipe?”

I start googling “romen noodle chicken” to find a fun recipe to try.

“No mom, he said it’s just something that you get at the store.”

oh no, he can’t mean…

he really wouldn’t be so excited about…

I have tried so hard to have us stay away from…

I google the dreaded words:





“Yes!  That’s it!  That’s what I want to make for my dinner night!”

(insert mommy face-palming herself icon here)





All was not lost… I started googling recipes with ramen noodles in them, which then added chicken and vegetables.  Lots and lots of vegetables.

Every recipe received a shake from his head.

“no, I just want the noodles”

“What about this one with fun broccoli added?”

“nope, just the noodles”

“This one with yummy chicken??”


So, I went to the store, searched diligently, and finally found the family pack size of Ramen noodles.

And on his cooking night, I finally talked him into doing two batches.

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… at least some of us got some vitamins out of the meal 🙂

And he got to have his straight-up-nothing-added-even-drained-the-juice-rAmen-noodles-chicken.










now, if you’ll excuse me… I need to go schedule his triple bypass surgery for a few years down the road… :O

Are you sick of KIK yet??

I had visions of sitting down and doing individual catch ups on all of the dinners that have been cooked in the past month of the KIK program.  But let’s face it, I’m just too lazy, and am letting too much time go by without writing just because I feel like I have to get the old entries done first.

So, here is the super speedy catch up…

Menus for the past few weeks:

chicken pot pie

tater tot casserole


meat loaf mini’s

pink pancakes (okay, we haven’t actually made these yet… they are from the sneaky chef cookbook about making vegetable purees and then ‘sneaking’ them into food.  Daughter wanted to do pink pancakes… which requires making a beet puree.)  We missed this on the menu (who wouldn’t choose going out to dinner on a Saturday night??! We certainly didn’t pass up the opportunity when daddy offered!).  So I’ll get back to you on that dinner choice…

oven baked chicken strips

apricot chicken

indian dish (can you guess this was dad’s night… another crazy dive into the gourmet guru… turns out we loved it!)

and some other ‘interesting’ choices.




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it’s been quite the ride, but such a fun time with so many tiny benefits that I didn’t even see coming.

Join our journey and let’s KIK it together!!


Give a son a fish, feed him for a day. teach him how to fish, feed him for a lifetime…

…have daddy to the teaching and you just got yourself a night off!








yep – it really pays to have a dad who loves bon appetit.  Especially when the mom hates any and all sea-life forms (in food aspects, at least).  Seriously – I don’t think hubs truly believed me when we were dating and I said I wasn’t a fan of fish.  and by ‘not a fan’ I mean that I would prefer sucking an onion bone dry before chomping on any sea forms.  I mean really, you have to wonder about a food group people describe it as being good only if it doesn’t taste like itself (i.e. “this ____ (any random type) fish is great – it doesn’t taste fishy at all!”)

Just thinking about the squiggly texture of shrimp makes me a little queasy… so we’ll just move on, ahem.

Add daddy’s love of the fishy things of life with his love of bon appetit magazine, and we can get some pretty ‘interesting’ dinners when he is in charge.

Fish Tacos was one of those dinners.

Seriously – even the name sends my stomach into a lurch.  But I know fish is healthy and should be a great part of everyones diet.  So I love that he is teaching the kiddos the fine love of fishery.

He made this a few months back, and the kids went gaga over it.  So it really didn’t overly surprise me when 9 yo’s first choice of the KIK program was “Fish Tacos!”

And the next day, I was off to the store to buy fish all by myself for the first time ever.  I felt like there should have been some sort of celebration/mother of the year award when I walked up and requested 3 pounds of red snapper.  But alas there wasn’t.  Just me.

And the fish.

taking a big gulp and getting ready to dig in with the son to do some serious fish frying.







Imagine my excitement when daddy actually made it home early and jumped at the chance to help out with the dinner.



(Since daddy is rarely early, I saw this as a minor miracle in our little family’s universe!)












They cut, they battered, they fried, and they garnished.


























Ben even made cole-slaw topping to go with it!



And since I’m just plain too lazy to copy the recipe down, I’ll simply give you the link, and you can get all the goods right from the horses mouth (well, at least from the bon appetit website!)


Orange Fluff!!

… that was 5 yo daughters first request for dinner.  Orange Fluff.  Wow.  Mac n cheese and orange fluff as the first two dinner requests.









My dietitian heart… well, it had seen better days.

My mother heart was just grasping at the fact that they were excited about dinner duty, so I went with it.  …and managed to convince her that chicken Alfredo went really well with orange fluff.

She could hardly wait for her night!  (who knew it could take sooooo long to get to Tuesday??!)

Orange fluff is super easy:

Add 1 large package of cook and serve vanilla pudding to 3 cups of water









Stir until it boils (and let little brother join in on the stirring fun)

add 2 small boxes of orange jello.  Chill for at least 4 hours (or overnight)


take out of fridge, let settle at room temperature for a while (by ‘a while’ I mean about 30 minutes if you remember ahead of time, or 30 seconds if you forgot about it until right before dinner time)





mix well with a mixer, then add 1/2 – 1 small container of whipped topping (depending on how much you have eaten straight from the tub before you mix it up.  Oh c’mon, don’t pretend like you’ve never dipped your finger for a quick lick!)











Scoop into a bowl, and then just try to keep everyone from snitching before dinner!









… it helps stave off the attackers to let them lick the beaters 🙂











… and then serve with a ‘side’ of pasta, chicken in alfredo sauce, and of course some freshly homemade bruschetta.