DIY At Home Cooking Camp for Children

SUMMER!!! CAMPS!!! Aaaaaaah!

I was looking at a local children's magazine in hopes to sign my children up for swim lessons this summer when my oldest took it from my hands and began to read about summer camps.
"Mom, this sounds so fun! Look, cooking camp!"
"Sure", I said, "that would be fun! Let me look at it."
One hour a day, far, far away, $150 a child... plus all I could think about is my children sneakily eating tons of colorful icing they gave them when they are teaching them how to decorate cookies...
"Alright kids! Why wait until the summer? We will start our summer cooking camp on Monday!! Call your friends!" And were they excited!

Note: My children are 7 and under, your teenager might want to try something more advanced ;)

Monday morning came and the recipe book was already waiting for them.

My oldest read the instructions while the younger ones start measuring.
I only helped them with putting it and taking it out of the oven. The rest they had to master themselves.

Here is the recipe:

8 cups of air-popped popcorn
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 slivered almonds
1/4 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract

In a bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients. In a small saucepan, cook honey, butter and syrup over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and add the almond extract. Drizzle over the popcorn mixture and put in the oven at 325 F for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
If you have any left, store in an airtight container.

Tuesday came and there was a new surprise recipe:

I think this was everyone's favorite. The kids did not even mind the onion and garlic in there. We served it with tortilla chips, but some ate it with a spoon.

4 avocados
1 package (8oz) of cream cheese
1 small tomato
1/4 onion
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
1/2 lime (juiced)
salt and pepper to taste

Put everything in a food processor except the tomato. Cut the tomato into small pieces and add to the mixture.


It was a quick but necessary thing on my to-do list. I do think it is important for kids to know how bread is made. It is something that doesn't come free. There is work to be done and this work has to be appreciated and bread never to be wasted. I just let the kids play with the dough as it was a play-dough and make little balls. It turned out great!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 water
2 tablespoons butter

Combine 3/4 cup flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Heat milk, water and butter until very warm (120 degrees to 130 degrees F). Add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/4 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces; shape into balls. Place in greased 8-inch round pan. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Bake in preheated 375 degrees F oven for 20 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; brush with additional melted butter, if desired. Serve warm.

Thursday was a sunny day, so we made some…

They were so much fun, we ended up making two kinds. The first flavor was made from a simple fruit recipe- Peaches and lemon juice mixed with a little bit of honey. They were very refreshing and great to eat in our garden as a fun light snack. The second flavor we made was more like a... "don’t you say ‘I am hungry’ until dinner" kind of a popsicle. We made it from 2 cups of coconut water blended with 1 cup of peanut butter. Freeze! Enjoy!

Friday approached and all I had energy for them to do was a fruit salad. They washed and chopped the fruit themselves, and couldn't be happier or prouder for what they have learned.

FRUIT SALAD: bananas, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, peaches, melon ... anything you have available at home.

Happy cooking, happy campers!

Article contributed by Maria Dittus


Tortas de Papa/Potato Cakes

The liturgical season of Lent has been my favorite since I entered the Church years ago.  I imagine it has something to do with the beauty of the intense time of penitential practice that had been missing from my spiritual life for so long.  One challenge that I encountered in the beginning was how to feed my family meatless meals since I was inexperienced in this area.  Fortunately, I have a devout Catholic mother-in-law who is also an amazing cook!  She passed this recipe onto me and I now enjoy making these for my husband and children during Lent.

Great Balls of Snow

I recently tried this recipe in the attempt to feed my children healthy food in the midst of Christmas season. My husband always laughs at me when I am baking because my greatest weakness (or strength) is that I do not follow any recipes. Please don't judge me. I often ask Our Lady to help me cook when I am in need, and it always turns out miraculously edible.

These "Great Balls of Snow" (as we call them) are a creation of my Christmas gifts put all together. As a mom, my favorite present is... food! In all simplicity, it's perfect because it comes and goes and doesn't leave much clutter. For example, this Christmas I got 5 gallons of honey, 1 gallon of coconut oil, and 2 pounds cocoa nibs. Whoa! Time to think up a recipe! Praise God that honey never goes bad, otherwise we would be in a serious trouble.

If you don't like coconut, don't bother to make this treat since 90% is pure coconut. Please, adjust the portions of honey and cocoa to your own taste, and feel free to exchange cocoa nibs for raisins or chocolate or whatever holiday candy you can find at home. Add chia seeds, flax seeds, or pumpkin seeds... This is your treat! Make it as healthy or as unhealthy as you like. Here is what I did for the first time:

Great Balls of Snow

1 cup of shredded coconut (I had sweetened at home but unsweetened would be much better)
1/2 cup of coconut flour or almond flour
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1 handful of cocoa nibs (or chocolate chips or MMs)
A squeeze of honey according to your taste

Mix it all together and shape it into balls. Put it in the fridge, and wait until firm. Enjoy!

Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us!

Recipe contributed by Maria Dittus

Whole Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots


1 (3-4 lb )  whole chicken
2 c.  baby carrots
3 baking potatoes, cubed or 1 lb. small new potatoes
1 Vidalia onion  or yellow onion, chopped
Olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp.  sea salt
1 tsp.  pepper
1 Tbsp.  garlic powder
1 ½ Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped or 1 1/8 tsp. dried rosemary


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Rinse whole chicken and pat dry with paper towel.
Put chicken in a pan fitted with a lid or one that can be covered with aluminum foil.
Arrange carrots, potatoes and onion around chicken in the pan.
Drizzle chicken and vegetables with olive oil. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, garlic powder and rosemary evenly over chicken and vegetables.
350 degrees F for 1 ½ hours.
Remove cover or foil from pan and return to oven for 10 mins. or until chicken begins to brown.

Serve with salad, broccoli or vegetable of choice.


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Strawberry Balls

Is this a main meal or a dessert? In my family, we always made it into a main meal, and we would make a lot of it. I come from Slovakia, and this is everyone's favorite traditional food, especially children's top favorite. Once strawberries or plums are in season, we would make 100 of these balls and freeze them for later. Because my parents came to town, we made some (only 60) out of frozen strawberries. They disappeared within couple minutes.


I learned to eat this delicious recipe when I met a friend from Syria and her mother was an excellent cook who introduced me to many new meals. Now my family and I enjoy it as one of our favorite snacks. The great thing about Hummus is that we can have it with anything; crackers, veggies, pita bread, in a wrap or in a sandwich.

1 Can Chick Peas (drained, rinsed, and dried)
2 Cloves garlic
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lemon juice or Apple Cider Vinegar.
Sea Salt

Optional: Fresh parsley
Cayenne Pepper

Servings: 4-6
Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth: chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice or vinegar, olive oil and salt.  Add the optional ingredients according to your taste.
Enjoy it!

Recipe contributed by Nancy Rodriguez

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A Mexican Feast for Our Lady of Guadalupe

It’s a feast fit for a most glorious feast day!  I do not know many people who do not love Mexican food and who needs a better reason to dine on this mouthwatering cuisine than the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe? I’m going to share with you a simple yet delicious recipe for flautas, Mexican rice, and charro beans.  Don’t worry-it may sound like a lot but there are a few short cuts in here to aid those with busy schedules!


For the flautas:

3 cups of shredded chicken (I use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for shredding)

24 corn tortillas

Olive oil (or other frying oil of your choice)

For the Mexican rice:

1 cup of white rice

2 cups of water

¼ cup of canned diced tomatoes in their juice

1 tbsp of chicken bouillon granules

2 tsp of garlic powder

¼ cup of frozen mixed veggies

For the charro beans:

1 lb dry pinto beans

2-32 ounce boxes of chicken broth

Additional water

1 tbsp of salt

2 tsp of pepper

5 slices of cooked bacon, chopped (cooked to a soft consistency not crispy)



Let’s start with the beans since they take the most amount of time to cook to completion. 

1. After rinsing and soaking your beans, add them to a large stock pot. 

2. Add 2, 32 ounce boxes of chicken broth and then add water until the beans are covered, plus about 3 inches more of water.  (As they cook you will want to check on them periodically to stir and add more water if necessary).  

3. Next stir in 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of pepper and the chopped bacon.  

4. Bring the beans to a rapid boil.  Then bring the heat down to a simmer, put a lid on it and stir it every so often.  It should need to cook for about an hour and a half or until the beans are soft to bite into.


Now for the rice!  

1. Put 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauce pan.  Turn the heat to medium.  

2. Add one cup of white rice.  Stir the rice frequently so it doesn’t burn, just slightly browning it for about 3 minutes.  

3. Next add 2 cups of water and ¼ cup of canned diced tomatoes with their juice.  

4. Now mix in 1 tablespoon of chicken bouillon granules, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and finally, ¼ cup of frozen mixed vegetables.  

5. Bring all of this to a boil.  Once it is boiling turn the heat down to medium-low and cover it.  Do not stir the rice.  Let it cook for approximately 25 minutes or until soft and fluffy.


Lastly, here is the recipe for the star of the show, the flautas!  Fortunately these are simple and scrumptious at the same time!  

1. Heat up your tortillas before using them so that they do not break.  You can do this easily on of two ways-either by heating them up on both sides on a griddle or hot pan or by putting 4-5 tortillas at a time in a wet dishcloth or hand towel and microwaving them for about one minute.

2. Add about a tablespoon of shredded chicken to a tortilla, placing the chicken close to the edge of where you will begin to roll up the tortilla.  Then roll it up tightly and place it seam side down on a plate until you are ready to fry all of them.

3. Add olive oil to your frying pan to a depth of about one half an inch.

4. Heat the oil on medium heat.

5. Carefully add your flautas to the pan one at a time, laying them side by side, seam side down.  You will want to fry the seam closed first before you flip them.

6. After about 1 ½ - 2 minute, use a pair of tongs and flip each flauta over in order to fry the other side.  Once they are fried to a golden crisp remove them and let them drain on a platter layered with paper towels to absorb the oil.

Now you are ready to feast!  ¡Buen provecho!

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