Sous Chefs

Fully committed to washing dishes or managing the mise en place, kids make the perfect sous chefs. But even better than the help they offer is the joy they bring to the experience. Whether cooking together encourages your kiddos to try new foods or serves as your nightly family catch up, quality time in the kitchen fills more than just bellies!

By  Lucy Morris

Photography by  Rich Smith

The Pouliots

Becca, Olive, Noah, and Marco

CHATTANOOGA

 

“We enjoy cooking together because it engages the five senses. When all of your senses are engaged, you are more likely to file those memories away long term. As parents, we want to create intentional moments with our kids that will last a lifetime, while also teaching them that great food can always be at your fingertips.” – Becca Pouliot 

 

Gather Around Your Sushi Roll

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar 
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 carrot 
  • 1 cucumber 
  • 1 avocado
  • 6 large green olives
  • 6 oz. cream cheese 
  • 8-10 oz. smoked salmon 
  • 2 packs Seaweed Snacks (we like wasabi flavor) 
  • Soy sauce, for serving 
  • Wasabi, for serving (optional)

Directions

Cook sushi rice according to package directions. Once finished, add sugar and rice wine vinegar. This should make a sticky rice. Set aside to cool. Slice veggies, cream cheese, and salmon into thin strips. Divide Seaweed Snacks onto plates and put soy sauce in individual bowls for dipping. Make your own roll by topping a Seawood Snack with about 1 Tbsp. of sticky rice and desired toppings, then roll!

Photos by Matt Reiter

 

The Settles

Tawambi, Zuri, Dalilah, and Taj

CHATTANOOGA

 

“I enjoy opportunities to cook with my kids when my wife is out for the evening showing houses. These opportunities have provided easily manageable and inexpensive ways to spend quality time with them. My former responsibilities as a football coach required me to be out of the house and away from the kids far too often. I missed a lot of those intimate moments fulfilling duties and meeting obligations. Trading in the whistle to be an administrator at the Baylor School has been one of the wisest career decisions I’ve made. It has enabled me to spend more time at home (in the afternoon) interacting with the kids and experiencing them in ways previously foreign to me. I have come to cherish these opportunities for the perspective they provide into the personality and individuality of my kids.”
– Tawambi Settles

 

Chicken Salad Croissant Sandwiches

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup red grapes, halved
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Paprika, to taste (optional)
  • 4 croissants

Directions

Chop cooked and cooled chicken and place in a large bowl with diced onions, diced celery, and halved grapes. Mix in mayonnaise and mustard and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve on sliced croissants.

The Weldons

Ivey and Tobi

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN

 

“I didn’t cook before Ivey, but her love of cooking has made me want to learn to cook. We are learning to cook together and have so much fun making a mess in the kitchen. Ivey wants to cook daily, and I love her passion for the craft. We are making wonderful memories in the kitchen. I can’t wait to see her talent grow!” – Tobi Weldon

 

Sweet Potato Hash with Sausage and Eggs

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. avocado oil, divided
  • 1/2 lb. fresh bulk sausage
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small/medium bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 small/medium sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. paprika or smoked paprika
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 4 eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat with 1 Tbsp. avocado oil. Once sizzling, crumble sausage into the pan and stir while cooking to evenly brown. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. When sausage is about 3/4 of the way done, add chopped onions and peppers. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until onions and peppers are soft and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 2 Tbsp. of avocado oil. Add chopped sweet potatoes and stir to coat. Sprinkle with paprika, sea salt, and pepper to taste. Cook and stir, uncovered, until the sweet potatoes begin to brown, then cover skillet and continue to cook to soften the inside of the potatoes, stirring occasionally. This step should take about 7 minutes.

Once potatoes are softened and browned, transfer them to the sausage mixture and stir to combine. Create 4 holes and crack an egg in each. Put the entire skillet in your preheated oven to bake the eggs to preference, about 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook the eggs by covering the skillet and cooking over medium-low heat until the eggs are done.

Serve hot and enjoy!

The Weathersbys

Grey, Dannis, and AdaReece

MCDONALD

 

“I like to blast music while we get dinner going. The kids have always liked to be in the kitchen while I’m prepping – mainly to laugh at me and have a dance party – but they have slowly learned to help by setting the table and getting things laid out. They also really love to make things that are easy for them to stir up, like batter for muffins or scrambled eggs. I feel like the more ownership they have in the preparation – and the more colorful the entrée – the more likely they are to eat. Now that I have a few fun sandwich/cookie cutters and bright utensils, they really get into it. Michael, my husband, is a great complement to our cooking – he gets home in time to eat with us and then wash the dishes! During the week, dinnertime is the only time we are all together, so while some days it is overwhelming, I know it is important to come together, bless our food, and discuss our day.” – Dannis Weathersby

 

French Toast

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Butter, for frying
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream or milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 slices challah, brioche, or white bread 
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar mixture (1 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, and 1 tsp. cinnamon)
  • Maple syrup, warmed

Assorted topping options:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Fruit syrup or chopped fruit
  • Whipped topping
  • Sprinkles

Directions

In a 10-inch or 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk together cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, eggs, cream/milk, and vanilla to make egg mixture and pour into a shallow container such as a pie plate. Dip bread slices in egg mixture, soak briefly, and flip to coat both sides. Sprinkle with sugar mixture (this caramelizes as you cook it). In skillet, fry bread slices in melted butter until golden brown, then flip to cook the other side. 

After removing toast from the skillet, you can use cookie or sandwich cutters to create fun shapes. Choose desired toppings and serve with warmed syrup. We usually serve with assorted fruit and bacon and/or sausage.

The Beises

Lily, Jena, Meara, and Michael

SOUTHSIDE

 

“Cooking with my kids turns a chore into quality time together. While I love that cooking teaches them some life skills, they also get to be proud to eat something they helped make. I swear it makes them better eaters and more willing to try new foods.” – Jena Beise

 

Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas

Yields: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

For the mojo sauce:

  • 1 cup beer (or chicken stock)
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

For the carnitas:

  • 1 (4-5 lbs.) lean boneless pork roast, cut into 2-inch chunks (with excess fat trimmed off)
  • 1 batch mojo sauce
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil or olive oil

For the pineapple salsa topping:

  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste


Directions

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together mojo sauce ingredients until combined. Set aside. Season pork chunks on all sides with salt and pepper. Click the “Sauté” setting on the Instant Pot. Add oil, followed by half the pork, and sear — turning every 45-60 seconds — until pork is browned on all sides. Transfer pork to a plate and repeat with remaining pork. Press “Cancel” to turn off heat.

Place all cooked pork back into the Instant Pot and add mojo sauce, tossing to combine. Close lid securely and set vent to “Sealing.” Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, followed by a natural release (about 15 minutes).

Set oven broiler to high heat. Remove Instant Pot lid. Shred pork, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a large baking sheet. Spoon about 1/3 of the leftover juices evenly on top of pork and toss to combine.  Broil for 4-5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork begin browning and crisping up. Remove baking sheet from oven, then pour 1/2 of the remaining juices from the Instant Pot evenly over pork and toss to combine.  Broil for an additional 5 minutes to get meat even crispier. Remove baking sheet from oven, then ladle the remaining juices over pork and toss to combine.

Combine all the pineapple salsa ingredients and serve on tacos, burritos, salad, or whatever sounds good to you!

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