Hey, Good Lookin, Whatcha Got Cookin?

As much as I would love to be able to sing, I’m not very good at it, and as my daddy would often say, “She can’t carry a tune in a bucket!”, but that didn’t stop me from popping in a cassette tape in  my parent’s car radio in the early 80's, and belting out Barbara Mandrell’s version of “Hey, Good Lookin, Whatcha Got Cookin? How’s about Cookin Somethin Up with Me?"  Whether it was a five-hour car ride or just five minutes down the road, there was a good chance I would be singing those lyrics in my parent’s backseat.

Flash forward thirty years, and you may just hear those same lyrics in my kitchen these days.  I’m really making an effort to get my five-year-old son involved in cooking.  It helps him learn math through measuring, teaches him about healthy eating, promotes better eating habits, teaches him some valuable life skills plus it allows him to spend some quality time with me.   My goal is to send him off to college in hopes that he won’t just eat nachos with cheese, boxed, processed macaroni and cheese, and frozen pizza.

Homemade pizza is his favorite meal to make.  I try to include it our meal rotation often, and he does everything from painting olive oil on the crust to decorating his own pizza pie with pepperoni, cheese, and veggies.

I make one as well so that the pepperoni and mushrooms are evenly spaced.  I have to admit that it bothers me just a little that all the mushrooms are in one big circle on his pizza, but I let him do his thing. We eat both versions then we always declare his pizza the BEST.

He’s also learning his dad’s secret chili recipe, and jokes with me by saying, “I can’t tell you what is in it.”  One day, I opened a can of Rotel tomatoes for a casserole I was making for dinner that evening, and my son blurted out, “That’s dad’s secret ingredient!  How did you know?”

I asked the Hines-Sight Blog Facebook fans if they cooked with their children.  Many of them do especially when it comes to baking sweets.  Some children even cook in their own pre-school these days.  One mom has her children help her with dinner nightly because she says it cuts down on what we moms call the “witching hour” chaos and turmoil.   If you don’t know what a “witching hour” is then my advice is to walk into a home with kids around 5 P.M.   In some homes, it can be earlier or later. Kids are bored, hungry, and tired and parents are occupied with trying to get dinner on the table.   My husband gets a phone call around 5:00 P.M. or 5:15 P.M. almost daily.  I speak in a fast, exasperated voice, and there is usually crying or yelling in the background.  He answers, and before he can finish saying hello,  I say,  What time are you going to be home?  I can’t start dinner.   She is on my pant leg, and she keeps getting in the spice rack.   She’s tired.  She didn’t nap long so we need to eat dinner early.  Hurry up!  Bye”.  He usually doesn’t get a word in the conversation, and that call is his cue to wrap things up at the office.  As he makes his ten minute ride home, I’m sure he hopes that the house is still standing when he pulls in the drive-way.   Miraculously, when he walks in the house from the garage, the scene has changed drastically from when I called him earlier, and even though it’s not as serene as a family TV show from the 50’s, we somehow appear that we have our act together.  My son is playing, the baby is eating puffs, and dinner is in the making.

I wish that I had my act together more often to get my son to help with nightly dinner preps so I will make that a future goal in our household.  I think as my 15-month old daughter gets older that can be a realistic goal.   Several years ago, I bought this cookbook by Southern Living.  It’s great, and has some good, wholesome meals in it along with some cute cooking projects.
Courtesy of Oxmoor House Publishing

I highly recommend this book.  This colorful cookbook has 124 recipes for you to enjoy.  I’ve actually cooked several recipes found in here by myself and without the help of my children for dinner.  I hate to admit that especially when I’m talking about the benefits of cooking with your children in this post, but I try to keep it real, and sometimes, you don’t have enough time.  You need to cook something quick, alone in peace, and with a glass of wine in your hand.    The great thing about Southern Living is that I think you can really count on them for delicious recipes.  I know I have through the years once I started cooking, and when I see their name on a recipe, I’m more likely to try it.

Here are two recipes in the book that I thought would be perfect to share with you as we end dog week on the blog today.   These recipes would be great to cook with your kids or grandkids one afternoon.

Click Here to Print Recipe courtesy
of Oxmoor House
These peanut butter based, no-bake cookies look not only cute, but will satisfy your sweet tooth.  

Incredible Edible Nutty Putty

1 cup creamy peanut butter. (We use Jif Natural)
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup instant nonfat dry milk
Decorations: colored sugar candy, sprinkles, raisins even M and Ms.

Stir together peanut butter and honey in a big bowl.  Add dry milk, stirring until blended.  Spoon a small amount onto a plate.  Shape and decorate it anyway you wish.
Stir remaining putty in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.
**You can make any shape you want and be as creative as your hands will let you. 

The cookbook also has a wholesome recipe that you can make with your children for your furry, four-legged friends.  There is a dog version and a cat version.  I’ll share both.  This would be a great activity to do with your child especially if you have a pet.

Doggie Treats

½ cup of quick cooking oats
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
¾ cup very hot water
1 (2.5 ounce) jar beef baby food (recommend Gerber)
1 large egg
¼ cup instant nonfat dry milk
¼ cup (1 ounce) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/1/2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup wheat germ
1/8 teaspoon of salt

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
2. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a big bowl and let stand 10 minutes.  Add baby food and next 3 ingredients, stirring until blended.  Add remaining ingredients; stir mixture until a stiff dough forms.  Roll dough to ½ inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Cut with a 2 to 4 inch cookie cutter.  Place on lightly greased baking sheets.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned and firm.  Remove from baking sheets from oven using oven mitts.  Cool treats completely on a wire rack.  Makes 1 ½ dozen.

To Make Kitty treats:  Stir in 2 Tablespoons dried catnip with flour mixture in Step 2.  Continue as directed.

I want to thank everyone for entering their dogs in the Hines-Sight Blog Facebook Page Dog Photo Contest.  Your dogs are so cute.  Voting ends Monday, February 28th at 8 pm EST.  The winning dog will be featured right here in the blog, and I bet he or she would love to have these doggie treats.

Until next time, I’m grabbing a cup of tea and asking you, “Whatcha got cookin in your kitchen tonight?

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