I love summer just as much as the next girl, but I’m the first to admit that summertime used to be much simpler for me. When my kids were little they’d nap in the afternoons, play happily in a tiny paddling pool on a hot summer day, and be entertained by a new toy for hours. Now that they’re older I have to get more creative in how we spend summer days, because the ‘I’m boreds’ basically started the day after school ended.
How do we spend the summer? This year we’re playing Pokemon Go, inline skating at the local park, building a tree house in the yard, and playing around in the kitchen. Because they’re all older I don’t have to make separate meals anymore, but I’ve found a great way to spend a boring afternoon is by creating some summer-themed kid-friendly food. We might grow older but we don’t have to grow up, so it’s a lot of fun planning a meal around recipes your kids will love. You can always go back to salads and vegetables tomorrow.
Here’s a few kid-friendly recipes you can try with your kids this weekend.
Emeril’s Mini Corn Dogs
The best corn dogs come from Disneyland, but these are a close second in my books. Make a bunch of these and set up a picnic outside in your backyard for some summer fun. Photo and recipe from Food.com.
|Ingredients: 1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons Emeril’s Original Essence, Seasoning
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
3⁄4 cup yellow cornmeal
1⁄2 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 (50 count) package miniature hot dogs
1 cup yellow mustard
Tip: Dry mini hot dogs with paper towels (rolling a few around at a time). this will help the batter stick to the dogs.
Preheat the fryer. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Whisk in the Essence, baking powder, cornmeal, flour, and sugar. Whisk until smooth. Season with salt and cayenne.
Spear the sausage links leaving a 1/2-inch from the top. Dip each sausage in the batter, coating the sausage evenly.
Gently lay the corndogs in a deep fryer or pot of hot oil (350F) and fry until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally for overall browning.
Remove the corndogs from the oil and drain on a paper-lined plate. Season the corndogs with Essence. Serve the corndogs with warm mustard.
Mini pesto sliders
Sliders are delicious, bite-sized, and kids love them. Parents love them too, and they’re a great main course for a kid-friendly summer meal. Photo and recipe from Cookinglight.com.
|Ingredients: 1 pound ground beef, extra lean
8 (1.3-ounce) mini sandwich buns
2 tablespoons commercial refrigerated pesto
1 large plum tomato, cut into 8 slices
2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Gently combine ground beef, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Divide beef mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/4-inch-thick patty. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties to pan; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Spread the bottom half of each bun with 3/4 teaspoon pesto, and top each with 1 tomato slice and 1 patty. Top each patty with 3/4 teaspoon shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the top half of bun.
Easy Mac and Cheese Bites
Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, and these bite-sized morsels are so good, you’ll need to make extra for everyone. If we’re off to the park for an hour or two I’ll make them and take them in a thermos so they have a warm, filling snack. Photo and recipe from Allrecipes.com.
|Ingredients: 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, olive oil and salt; set aside.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook for about 8 minutes, it should still be a little bit firm. Remove from the heat, drain and return to the pan; stir in the butter and egg until pasta is evenly coated. Reserve 1/2 cup of sharp Cheddar cheese and stir the remaining Cheddar cheese, milk and mozzarella cheese into the pasta. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle the reserved cheese and the bread crumb mixture over the tops.
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the topping is nicely browned. Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan. This will allow the cheese to set and they will hold their muffin shape.
Nutella is our summer ingredient of choice, and there’s literally nothing that Nutella can’t make better. Try these smores and you’ll agree with me, and you can even make a night out of it by toasting them over a fire. Photo and recipe from food.com.
|Ingredients: 4 graham crackers
4 teaspoons nutella
4 large marshmallows
Break each graham cracker square in half and spread about a teaspoons (or more!) nutella on 4 of the halves.
Top the halves with the nutella each with either a large marshmallow or about 9 minis. Set other 4 squares aside.
Place assembled s’mores on a sheet and place under broiler. Be sure to keep an eye on it as it really won’t take long to start browning and then you will want to turn your sheet to evenly brown each one.
When browned to desired amount take out and top each with the remaining graham cracker halves.
The days might drag by slowly in the summer, but the years go by fast. Take advantage of your time with your kids and have some fun with them. Even just cooking in the kitchen is a great way to bond.
Here’s a few kid-friendly appliances I like to use when cooking for the kids.
|Smores are better when marshmallows are toasted on the fire||Don’t have room for a fire pit? Try the Salton S’Mores maker set||
A lemonade stand is a fun way to spend a summer day. Try these lemonade recipes.
Main image: tabletop.texasfarmbureau.org/