Ever since my kids were old enough to stand up on a chair pulled up at the counter, they have been helping me in the kitchen. I am a firm believer in a few things:
Kids need to help out ’round the house
Kids are more likely to eat what they have had a hand in preparing.
Less pickiness =good!
Knowing one’s way around the kitchen is a valuable, learned skill which utilizes and sharpens other skills such as: art & creativity, science, math, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, following directions, etc, etc!!!
Hanging out with your kids opens up opportunities for great conversation and connection, which is priceless.
In other words…get your kids in the kitchen with you! Give them age-appropriate, safe tasks and applaud them for their efforts (However it all turns out). They can tear up lettuce for the salad, or wash produce. They can pour, whisk, shake, whatever. A big favorite in our house is to put clean, fresh herbs in a coffee mug, put the kitchen shears in, and while keeping the point down and in the cup, the wee ones use both hands to cut them up – almost like using pruning shears, pointing down. They take turns with this task because they love to do it so much. Ahhh, the little things!
Summer has arrived in Chicagoland. We have had some very hot and humid days, and those days call for cool, light dinners. A favorite of ours that is fun to make and eat are (aptly) Summer Rolls. The little ones love to help with these because they are made with rice paper that “magically” turns from hard and inflexible to soft and pliable only by a dip in some water. Don’t you wish some people were that easily transformed? Oh no, you didn’t! Yes, I did!
I adapted a recipe that I found in Food & Wine last summer. Their recipe is for deli roast beef, which does not appeal to me very much and I had some leftover grilled chicken. (I usually grill lots of extra chicken anytime I use it for future use – so much to do with cooked, shredded chicken!) I added a touch of sweetness with the mango, and think also peach or nectarine could sub quite nicely. If fruit with your meat is not your thing, just leave it out – no biggie. I love this recipe with the easy slaw filling and the refreshing dipping sauce. We love to make these and eat them, too. Roll up your sleeves, get your kids in the kitchen with you and knock these babies out in 20 minutes!
*These are also great for hors d’oeuvres – just quarter your rice paper after it has been soaked and roll up some minis.
Regular size – serves 6.
Chicken & Mango Summer Rolls
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. Thai green curry paste
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. coconut milk
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 c. chopped mint
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1 (16 oz.) bag of coleslaw mix
3/4 pound of cooked and shredded chicken
1 large mango, peeled and chopped finely
24 six-inch-round rice paper wrappers, plus more in case of breakage
Whisk garlic, brown sugar, curry paste, lime juice, coconut milk, and 3 Tbsp. of water together in a bowl. Add half of the cilantro and the mint. In a separate large bowl, mix mayonnaise with 1 Tbsp. of green curry dipping sauce. Add coleslaw mix, chicken and mango. Toss and reserve.
Fill a pie plate, or sheet tray with warm water. One at a time, add 2 or 3 rice paper wrappers to the water until they have softened, about 1 minute. Carefully spread them out on a work surface and fill bottom 1/3 with about 3 Tbsp. of chicken-mango filling. Roll the wrappers into tight cylinders, tucking in sides as you go. Transfer rolls to waxed paper or plastic lined sheet pan and repeat with remaining wrappers.
Just before serving, cut each roll in half and serve with dipping sauce.
The kiddos did great, didn’t they?