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kid friendly recipes

Kid Friendly vegetarian

Perfect British Pasties! Guest Post

I love pasties!  And my friend Suzie Kuflik is the Queen of pasties.  And the Queen of other fine foods like her Thai Chicken Salad, Sausage Rolls, Lemon Tarts and I could go on and on.  Suzie grew up in England and has a flair for fine food, along with a beautiful British accent.  Enjoy!

A Cheese and Potato Pasty

Let’s talk about pasties. Pasties originated in Cornwall on the southern tip of England as a lunch for miners. The miners wives would bake meat, potatoes and vegetables (usually carrot, onion and rutabaga) into one end of the pasty and then fruit (usually apple) into the other end. This tasty treat was standard fare and provided a convenient hand-held lunch that was easy to transport down the mine.

Cornwall, England

Today the humble pasty is sold in every bakery in the United Kingdom and comes in several varieties from cheese and onion to chicken curry. The tradition of baking fruit into one end as a dessert has long been lost and I can’t decide if that is for the better or not…

I always keep puff pastry on hand in my freezer. I buy it from the Cash and Carry in Bellevue (right behind Skate King) and it costs around $25 for a box of 108 (very good quality I may add) 5” squares. With these handy-dandy pastry squares I can bake up sausage rolls, fruit tarts (simply place fruit on the square leaving a small border and bake) and of course pasties in no time at all.

I have come to love transforming leftovers or all kinds into pasties but probably my favorite is Moo-shu chicken or pork which I make fairly often. I have come to adore the pasty more than the actual moo-shu itself and find myself making it just to have leftovers to make pasties with  the next day. Simply place some hoi sin sauce in the middle of the pastry and top with moo-shu, seal and bake. Chicken curry is my husband’s favorite pasty, while my children adore cheese and mashed potatoes.

So the next time you are in the grocery store grab a box or two of frozen puff pastry and throw it in your freezer and the next time you have interesting leftovers transform them into pasties… you won’t be sorry!


 18 5” squares or rounds of puff pastry or regular short crust pastry

1 lb mixed shredded cheese (cheddar, white cheddar, parmesan, smoked gouda) your choice

3 cups of mashed potatoes

½ cup of caramelized or sautéed onions (optional)

½ stick of butter

2 Tbsp of flour

1 cup of milk, warmed

½ tsp of each or the following: salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder plus a pinch of nutmeg

Milk for sealing


Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and add the flour and seasonings. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until well combine and continue to cook for one minute.

  1. Gradually stir in the milk and continue to cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens (it will be quite thick)
  2. Stir cheese, potatoes and onions if using them into the thickened roux mixture and set aside.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper; this will stop the pastry for sticking.
  4. Place about 3 Tbsp of the filling onto the middle of each piece of pastry and brush milk around the edges. Fold the pastry over and press out all of the air. Seal the edges with a fork.
  5. Transfer the pastries to the baking sheet and make a couple of small slits in the top of each pasty, this will allow steam to escape and help avoid them from bursting during cooking.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pasties are golden brown.
  7. If some of the pasties burst during cooking don’t worry… simply use a butter knife to scoop the filling back inside.

Note: if you need to reheat the pasties place them in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes. Resist the urge to microwave them since microwaved pastry becomes soggy.

Kid Friendly Sweets

Breakfast Cookies with Oatmeal, Cinnamon and Raisins

I wish my house could smell like fresh-baked oatmeal raisin cookies all the time.   The sweet smells of  cinnamon and brown sugar remind me of  my childhood, when I’d come home from school and my Mom had made her famous oatmeal cherry chocolate chip and everything but the kitchen sink cookies.  That was always a happy day.

I still bake those cookies for my family, but I’ve come up with a version that’s perfect for breakfast, and my morning coffee. 

Morning coffee in my favorite mug from Spruce Goose Cafe in Port Townsend, WA

Whole grain flour, rolled oats, raisins and cinnamon baked just a little crispy outside and soft and chewy inside.  Mmmm… these are pure heaven in a cookie.  Especially at 5am in the morning when I’m summoned out of bed by my wooly mammoth pretending to be an old sweet Airedale.

My wooly mammoth giving me a grin

Makes about 24 Cookies


1 Cup organic coconut oil, or ½ cup butter and ½ cup organic coconut oil

3/4 Cup dark brown sugar (sometimes I use only ½ cup and they still taste great)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups organic whole wheat pastry flour (King Arthur)

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups uncooked oats (quick cook or rolled oats)

1 cup organic raisins


Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, beat together coconut oil and brown sugar until light and creamy.  Next, add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. 

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Add the flour mixture to the oil brown sugar mixture and mix well.  Mix in the oats and raisins until thoroughly combined. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Using a small ice cream scoop, drop cookies onto the baking sheet two inches apart.  Bake 12 – 14 minutes or until the cookies are a golden brown.  Cool for one minute on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack.  Store tightly covered.

Beef Kid Friendly Pasta Pork

Italian Meatballs – Simple and Delicious!

I believe I’ve made twenty different types of meatballs over the last few years.  Each time hoping I’ve come up with the perfect meatball recipe.  I’m not sure there is such a thing, especially with my family’s diverse taste buds.  However, I think I’ve come up with one darn good recipe that’ll be sure to please even the pickiest of meatball connoisseurs.  And the best news is, they are easily prepared with minimum fuss and maximum flavor.

To save time, make a double batch and freeze half for another meal.  Then, when you need a meal in a pinch, just thaw the frozen meatballs (or meatball mix) and bake as directed in the recipe.  The meatballs also make a yummy appetizer for a casual dinner party.  Hold the meatballs and sauce in a chafing dish or warmer and serve with party picks for easy self serving.

I’ve included a simple tomato sauce recipe for the meatballs.  This sauce can be doubled and then half of the sauce can be frozen for your next meal that requires a fresh tomato sauce.  A quick tip:  I often spend one weekend day a month making homemade tomato sauce.  It’s easy to freeze and can be used in a multitude of recipes.

However, if time is a factor, feel free to substitute your favorite jarred sauce.  Cooks Illustrated recently rated jarred pasta sauces.  Bertolli’s Tomato and Basil Sauce won the highest recommendation for not being over seasoned and having a fresh tomato taste.  If you’re looking for an organic sauce choice, my personal favorite is Muir Glen Cabernet Marinara.  All the Muir Glen sauces are delicious and make suitable substitutions for homemade sauce.   Bon Appetito!

Italian Meatballs and Simple Tomato Gravy


½ lb Ground Pork

½ lb Ground Beef

½ lb Ground Veal

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

½ cup yellow onion, small diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs or seasoned bread crumbs mixed with 1/3 cup warm milk

¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup fresh chopped Italian parsley (optional)

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 egg whisked


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Mix lightly, all ingredients together with a spoon or hands.  Form into tablespoon size balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Repeat the process until all the meatball mixture has been used.

Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.  Remove from the oven and place the meatballs in the pot of tomato gravy.  Serve over your favorite pasta and garnish with additional parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese.

Simple Tomato Gravy

1 28oz can tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes for a chunkier sauce)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion diced

2-3 cloves garlic, diced

1/2 cup dry red wine (optional)

1 tsp dried oregano (or ½ tsp fresh chopped oregano)

1 tsp tomato paste

Pinch of red pepper (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup water (keep on hand to thin out sauce)

Heat a sauce pan on medium heat and sauté the onions.   When the onions have become translucent, add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant.  Do not brown the garlic as it will taste bitter.  Add the red wine and reduce by half.

Add the tomatoes, oregano, tomato paste and red pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer.  Add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Let the sauce simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  If the sauce appears to think, add about ¼ cup of water at a time to thin the sauce.  Taste for seasoning.

A few tips:  If your sauce tastes a little to “bright” or has too much acidity, try adding a pat of butter to your sauce to mellow out the acid.

Although it is a rare occasion, I sometimes run out of staple ingredients such as garlic and Italian parsley.  Not to worry.  Simply substitute with a teaspoon of garlic powder and, either fresh chopped basil or a teaspoon of dried basil.  Basil is not parsley, however, just like parsley, basil compliments the meatball mixtures flavor.

Bon Appetito!