The boys have been home from school for ten days and I think we’re finally finding our groove. I always forget how hard it is to build in time for work when they’re around, mostly because the temptation to take off and have fun trumps the desire to sit at a computer all day.
I do need to spend a few hours focusing on my assignments, though, and in an effort to keep the kids away from the screens they love so much I’ve given them the task of alternating breakfast and lunch duties on the days we’re home. This frees me up to work, provides them with something to do, and teaches them more about making meals for themselves, something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
In four short years, Ben will leave home for University and arming him with a list of dishes he’ll need to survive – and thrive – is a huge priority for me. I want to teach him to make the meals I know he loves, the ones that can serve as a starting point for other dinners, and most importantly, I want to equip him with recipes for healthy, homemade versions of the foods he typically craves.
The greatest gift I can give myself, and my children, is to raise independent souls who are capable of caring for and feeding themselves and the people around them. At this stage of parenting, it’s tougher than it sounds. Cooking with young kids is often easy and fun, but getting teenagers into the kitchen is more of a challenge, as there are bigger demands on their time, more interesting things to keep them occupied, and plenty of their own pocket/spending money which gives them the freedom to eat away from home more frequently. They are easily swayed to buy the worst food imaginable when out with friends, because, let’s be honest, teenagers love junk food.
As luck would have it, my friends at KitchenAid Canada are also interested in helping to teach teens to cook. They understand that these teenagers will soon be setting off for University, fending for themselves in their own ill-equipped kitchens, while simultaneously cooking on a limited budget. So, together we’re working on some recipes for this demographic, and we’re keeping our cooking projects simple by using only small appliances instead of full-size stoves and ovens. I'll be sharing some ideas here over the coming months, and on the KitchenAid Canada blog as well, if you'd like to follow along.
My teens are home on their own a little more often than they used to be, and they both feel more comfortable using a countertop stove then our regular one. I’m happy if they can dish up something fabulous using this method because the reality is that some day, likely when they’re away in school, they won’t have access to the equipment they’re used to using a home.
Remember a few months ago when I asked you if you had a microwave or a toaster oven? I couldn’t believe how many of you sung the praises of the latter. In a way, it was such a relief, because I honestly didn’t want to hear that you were all devoted to your microwaves, especially since I don’t have one. But knowing there was a lot of love for the toaster oven was awesome to hear, because KitchenAid Canada and I were planning on using that small appliance for our first round of recipes for teens.
Let me start by saying that KitchenAid Canada kindly sent me their KitchenAid® 12" Architect™ Convection Digital Countertop Oven for the purposes of this project, and I absolutely adore it. It’s an oven and toaster in one, has convection technology, can reheat, keep warm, bake cookies or pizza, and even roast a chicken. In fact, in the past month or so, I’ve barely turned on my full-size oven because this little appliance is capable of cooking anything small I may need to make. The kids can work it quite easily, and I’m convinced that with years of use under their belt, it will be one of these they want when they leave home, and not a microwave.
The first recipe they tackled was baked chicken wings. These boys of mine love chicken wings, but I don’t love how high in fat and calories they are. I also don’t love a lot of the frozen varieties available, so I needed a recipe that was easy to whip up, budget friendly, and tasty enough to make them forget that the plucky pieces weren’t deep-fried. I’m happy to say we had success with what we created, and last week Jackson made these himself for a friend for lunch.
Here’s my list of what my kids need to know how to cook before they leave home. What would be on yours?
- Roast chicken
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Basic Vinaigrette
- Mac n’ cheese
- Spaghetti Bolognese
- Soup (one pot of a favourite kind)
- Birthday Cake
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Oven-baked chicken wings
Crunchy Baked Chicken Wings
I wrote this recipe with teenagers in mind, so I have also outlined the required cooking equipment they’ll need.
- Butter knife
- Baking tray (that comes with toaster oven)
- 2 mixing bowls
- Wooden spoon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/8 – ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 18 chicken wings
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Preheat the countertop oven to 375°.
2. Place the butter in the centre of the baking tray and pop it in the oven to melt while the oven is warming up. Remove when melted and set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, Dijon mustard, and cayenne pepper. Add the chicken wings and toss to coat with a spatula, completely covering the meat with the egg mixture.
4. In a second bowl, stir together the panko, flour, and salt. Dredge the chicken pieces through the panko mixture and place skin-side down on the baking sheet.
5. Bake for 25 minutes. Raise the heat to 425° and turn the chicken pieces over using tongs. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until golden and sizzling.
6. Carefully remove from the oven and serve.