After a month long vacation it has been nice to jump back into a routine. Once of the most important routines is Dinner. My philosophy is to make time to enjoy the process and to involve the kids in preparation. This will help you for several reasons. First, if you can give them tasks to work on while you cook they will not be pulling at your legs to get your attention. By including them in the process, you will be able to focus on the meal and enjoy preparing it but most importantly, if your children can be part of the food prep process, they are going to take ownership and most likely will endeavor to try new foods- if for no other reason than they made it so it has to be good, right?
Of course it takes a little more thought and preparation on your part to set up age appropriate activities for them. If this is new to you, start by planning 1 meal a week that everyone gets to help with. Or always set aside certain tasks that your kiddo can help with during each dinner prep night. The goal of this blog is to show different ideas for age appropriate tasks that will help get your kids in the kitchen.
My daughter is 2 so I had her & friend help prepare a Grape & Apple Salad with Honey-Yogurt Dressing. I prepared a cutting mat and sliced apples for each of them to chop. It is best to cut the apples into slices so they lay flat, then the kiddos can work on cutting uniform chopped pieces to match your example piece.
They each received a bowl of grapes to de-stem & slice in half. After they completed their chopping, they helped measure the remaining ingredients. Scooping with a measuring spoon is great fine motor practice. They each rolled the lime, and took turns twisting it on the citrus reamer to see how much Juice they could yield. Afterwards they measured yogurt and stirred it all together. Wait to dress the salad until it's time to serve- store both covered in the fridge.
I did have to provide direction as they as still little. So the game plan is to start on rice before I had the girls help, then get their station ready and have the start. I started the Green Bean Water to boil. You can have kids help prepare the beans by trimming the ends off with their fingers. Prepare the sauce and let them watch. A big part of cooking for me is engaging all the senses! Let you kids smell, taste, & touch everything. You can even talk about the sounds different ingredients makes or talk about the different colors & shapes they see.
Apple & Pear Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing:
- 1 Granny Smith Apple
- 1 Honey Crisp or Fuji Apple
- 1 cup Grapes, halved lengthwise
- 1/4 cup Craisins
- 1/4 cup Raisins
- Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts, Roasted & Chopped
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 T lime juice
1.. Wash and dry apples and grapes.
2. Measure the craisins and raisins into the large mixing bowl.
3. Slice or chop apples and grapes. Suggestion: Half and core one apple. Cut each half into halves and then thin slices. Dice the remaining apple into bite-size chunks. Place into large mixing bowl.
4. Optional: If using walnuts, spread nuts on half sheet pan and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Dump the walnuts onto a dry towel. Fold the cloth over the nuts and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Cool slightly before adding walnuts to the apple mixture.
5. Start with the dressing: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until thoroughly combined.
6. Fold the yogurt sauce into the apple mixture with a rubber spatula. Refrigerate until service. Serve with the meal or use as a dessert course.
Now to the main dish, the Pork Tenderloin. It is a lightly used muscle that does not contain a lot of fat so it is the most tender cut of meat. It benefits from faster cooking methods like roasting & pan-searing. It can be cooked whole, as I am showing, or cut into medallions or cutlets. Because of its mild flavor it can be easily combined with sweet & savory ingredients.
When purchasing a tenderloin it often comes pre-wrapped. When removing from the package, pat it down with a paper towel. Mix together a simple, yet delicious, seasoning consisting of Salt, Pepper, Paprika, & Dried Thyme. Coat entire piece of meat evenly with rub.
Why not add Bacon?! Using a toothpick secure 1 piece to the end and begin slightly wrapping, layering each piece until the tenderloin is covered.
Heat a pan on medium heat & don't forget to pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Once the pan is hot, add a thin lawyer of oil or butter and place the tenderloin seam side down and sear for about 2 minutes or until the bacon starts to brown. Rotate 1/4 turn and repeat until all sides are brown. Place the seared meat on a roasting pan that is on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes or until the inside temperature reaches 145 degrees.
When it is a done, create a tent with Aluminum foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. This is a VERY IMPORTANT step that you do not want to skip. When removing the meat from the oven the liquids are all at the surface, by letting it cool & cook further on the counter the liquids move towards the center ensuring that each bite is juicy & delicious.
Slice into medallions & serve!!
Pork Tenderloin Recipe:
1 Pork Tenderloin
6 strips thin sliced bacon
2 Tbsp oil, butter, or (rendered bacon fat)
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, warm skillet over medium heat, line sheet pan with foil.
2. Remove pork from packaging, blot dry with paper towels.
3. Combine seasoning mix in a small bowl. Season tenderloins on all sides. Tuck tails under to achieve uniform thickness.
4. Beginning at tail end, secure a strip of bacon to the tender with a toothpick. Wrap the bacon in an overlapping spiral around the tender. Use additional bacon strips to repeat this step until the tender is completely wrapped.
5. Film the bottom of the heated skillet with the oil. Place the roasting rack on the foil-lined sheet pan. Place tenderloins into the skillet seam side down. Cook for two minutes or until bacon browns. Use tongs to give tenderloins a quarter turn. Continue this step until the tenders are browned on all sides.
6. Transfer tender to roasting rack and place in the oven. Pour the rendered fat into a heat proof bowl. Set timer for seven minutes. Test for doneness using a probe thermometer. Internal temperature should be 145 degrees for medium. Remove from the oven and tent with foil. Allow the meat to rest for five to ten minutes before slicing for service.