As part of a neighbor's 8 year old birthday gift I was asked to teach her how to make my famous (at least in her mind) enchiladas. Yesterday we met up to begin our cooking adventure and I'm still smiling.
Olivia is a daughter I don't have so I love when the opportunity arrives to give some loving girl style - often for me it is through food. I really, and I mean really enjoy cooking - the only time I don't is when I feel like I HAVE to do it versus I'm choosing to do it.
Anyway back to teaching kids to cook. We arranged a meet up time to review the recipe, make our list of ingredients and head off to the store. She knew she wanted to learn how to make enchiladas but filling them with things she loves. The yummy enchilada recipe is at the bottom of the post.
Interestingly, although Eli does on occasion help me in the kitchen and can cook a few items on his own he's never said - I want to make the dinner. So when Olivia was there to plan and make the dinner - the eye of jealousy with a few tears arrived much to my surprise. Maybe it's only child syndrome, or maybe it's because he's still 7 and thinks I the most amazing mom in the entire world (I'll keep that as long as possible).
Olivia said he could help choose the fillings. They choose: pinto beans, cheese and corn for the kids and the adults would add spinach to the mix. The adults would have swiss cheese and the kids a mixed mexican cheese. I added onions and garlic because in my opinion most food isn't food without them. You can see I'm already prompting Olivia to cook like me - using a recipe for the idea but allowing personal tastes to dictate.
We also made the list for the sauce which is poured on top and baked into the corn tortillas. As well as they planned out dessert items.
I did tell her that generally the first time I make a recipe I do try my best (although it's very hard to resist) to follow the recipe and the next time I make it I always change it - sometimes I make notes in the cookbook or on the sheet other times I don't.
Off to the store to buy the ingredients. At this point Eli had to literally be carried away because this was Olivia's gift and experience and her little brother Curran was adamant that if Eli was going to the store he was too. Can I say too much kitchen love?!
She had a lot of fun at Trader Joe's picking the items - and then we made our way back to the house. I was punched 3 times for a yellow, silver and red punch bug. Luckily I saw a couple too in the University District which is VW bug rich.
Back at the house Curran disappeared back home to go make the chocolate chip cookies which would be sandwiched with homemade vanilla ice cream and topped with "whupped" cream.
Olivia, Eli (with her permission) and myself pulled out cutting boards, knives, pans, etc.
Eli eagerly offered to peel and chop the onion after Olive declined and was soon digging at the onion, which was a huge distraction because I wanted all fingers in tact - but the tears in his eyes gave him permission to abandon the onion and ask for another task - I thought stirring the sauce was perfect.
Both kids learned how to use the grater, garlic press, the flexible cutting board to carry and dump ingredients into the pan, melt cheese, make onions translucent, make roux which was the base of the sauce - they can tell you what it looks like when it's golden, they learned that spinach reduces to about 1/4 of the size. Eli also learned that no it's not appropriate to lick the wisk (in the sauce) even if it does taste good because no one wants his germs.
The only thing they couldn't do is use the can opener which I realized takes bigger stronger hands - note to self to look for a kid friendly one.
We had both the sauce going, the steamed spinach and the pan with the enchilada filling - so they learned a little about timing.
Once that was ready we set up a production line to heat the corn tortillas (my job) which would go to be filled with filling, cheese added and then rolled and placed in the pan. I never realized that keeping them from unrolling is an art.
Olivia took the final honors by ladling the sauce over the to be cooked enchiladas and sprinkling with cheese. Once the pan hit the oven I gave them the option of helping clean up while they cooked or picking a family movie. A ll three kids asked if they could start the "family" movie and raced off.
The table was set: wine glasses were filled with the pink lemonade Olivia had chosen, the enchiladas were piping hot, and I had made a small salad for the parents.
We toasted Olivia's amazing meal - and she beamed because she was "head chef" and Eli was only "helper cook". Curran wanted a title so he became "dessert cook" and then Olivia remember that I had helped so I became "assistant."
They all asked, when can we do it again! Their creative cooking spark has been lit! WOO HOO
Eli has already planned to make - tacos and then candy tacos stuffed with gummies for dessert. To which Olivia chimed that her next meal would be sushi and candy sushi for dinner. So I know I'll have more to report.
I hope this sparks and idea or two for you and your family - as they never are too young to make a meal. And the smiles and sense of self satisfaction is enough to fill you up with your own sense of contentment. Simply disregard wisk licking, a stove that looks like it hasn't been cleaned in months, sauted onions and such all over the floor - because that really isn't what is important. It was the chink, chink of the glasses and the smiles that went ear to ear!
I'm looking forward to more kid created meals and basking in the creative food glow!
Recipe for yummy enchiladas:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 rounded tablespoon four
- 1 cup heated milk, rice milk (your preference)
- 1 cup sour cream room temperature
- 1/2 cup or so of grated swiss or gruyere cheese (this works best with the recipe below, but if you change the filling ingredients you may want to change the cheese)
- 1 small can of roasted mild green chilies
Melt butter, with a wisk add the flour and keep stirring over medium heat until it is golden, add milk once it begins to thicken add sour cream and stir. Add cheese and chilies. Put on low and stir on occasion as preparing the filling.
Turn on the oven to 375.
Make Enchilada Filling: this is the basic recipe
- 1 lb of spinach
- grated swiss ( 1.5 to 2 cups or more depending upon how cheesy you want them - reserve 1/3 to 1/2 cup of your total cheese to sprinkle on top)
- 1/2 lb of sliced mushrooms
- medium onion chopped
- 2 or more garlic cloves chopped (to taste)
- olive oil to saute
Add enough olive oil to saute - onion until translucent, add garlic and mushrooms and cook for 5 or so minutes. I then add the spinach, gently mix and put a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to low. It will steam in a few minutes. Take the lid off so that the excess liquid can evaporate.
Variations: I've made this with pinto beans, black beans, chicken, pork, mexican cheese, zucchini, corn - it's really alll about what you like
Heat: 10 Corn Tortillas (not flour tortillas)
I use a cast iron pan, and gently spray with olive oil (misto) or you could use a brush - try to use as little oil as possible. Flip the tortilla. Tortillas are only pliable when they are heated through or else they will crack. FYI to save time I have also previously layered the tortillas like a lasagna without heating them through.
Put a ladle of sauce in the bottom of the pan before arranging the filled tortillas in your pan. Ladle sauce over the filled pan. Sprinkle remaining cheese. Put in heated 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. They will be golden on top and crunchy in places.
Enjoy with pink lemonade and chocolate chip cookie sandwhiches and "whupped" cream.