One of the most brilliant gifts of motherhood is watching your kids develop their own personalities, likes and dislikes. I am blessed to mother two strong, brilliant, adventurous kids who don’t think anything is beyond their reach. It’s amazing.
If you are a regular reader, you know that both of my kids adore cooking with me. Will, who currently wants to be an archeologist, will undoubtedly love spending time in the kitchen no matter how old he is. I love that he goes through cookbooks with the same intensity that I devour them and that he will pick and choose recipes that look good to him.
This morning, he was flipping through a cookbook and selected a recipe that he wants to make this week. It involves stuffing peppers with a brilliant veggie mixture. It’s colorful and pretty and filled with things that they absolutely love. Tomorrow, we will make it and if it goes well, then you will be hearing more about it next week.
In the meantime, I decided to turn the tables on the kids today. Rather than cooking with me, I gave the kids the tools to cook for themselves today.
Will gave me the idea when he saw the photo with the recipe and started talking about couscous since it looked like it included Israeli couscous (it didn’t though). Since Will wanted couscous as a result and I wanted an easy lunch before rushing Will off to school, I improvised.
I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I loved the idea of anything with a Make-Your-Own component. Make-Your-Own Sundaes was (and still is) an incredible favorite of mine. More toppings? Yes, please! But seriously, this is a great kid-friendly way to make lunch fun and exciting, while also making it a little easier for you. Being empowered to choose and make your own food is just so exciting, especially when you are little. My kids definitely feel the same way. Once I explained what they would be doing, they couldn’t get to the table fast enough.
The process is easy: arrange potential mix-ins for the couscous in bowls with spoons for easy cutting. You can cut up veggies, pull out leftovers leftovers, and get out oil, nuts, seeds, cheese, beans … the possibilities are endless. Then you just let the kids put their own concoctions together. Easy peasy.
Be sure to use oversized bowls so that they have room to stir without knocking everything out of the bowl. Trust me on that one.
- 1 cup cooked couscous, (I used whole wheat couscous), prepared with vegetable stock
- butter, (about 1 pat/bowl)
- mix-ins, (such as chopped red and green peppers, corn, black beans, cheese, sauteed onions, sauteed mushrooms, chopped meat, etc)
- kosher salt
- Divide the couscous between bowls for each person. Top with a pat of butter. Allow kids to scoop ingredients in (remember, this should be fun so they don't have to take everything). For younger kids, ask how many scoops of each item and have them count them out with you. Once each child has added all the ingredients desired, sprinkle with salt. Then, have them mix well.
- Eat and enjoy.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.