The Mess Is the Best: Cooking with Family Creates Lifelong Memories
reprinted with permission from Brandpoint
Preparing a family dinner doesn’t have to be a solo chore when there are helping hands nearby. Getting the kids involved in the kitchen not only teaches them valuable lessons, but it’s also an opportunity to create fun family memories with a few spills and messes along the way.
“The dinner table is a great place for sharing the day’s events, but it’s in the kitchen where family memories are made,” says actor, dad, and cookbook author Freddie Prinze Jr. “Some of the best moments with my kids are when we roll up our sleeves and get messy while making our favorite recipes.”
There’s no doubt that splatters, splashes, and spills are a mess, but these messy moments can lead to laughter and unforgettable memories. To encourage families to make time for fun in the kitchen, Prinze Jr. has created a series of “Messipes,” kid-friendly messy recipes that are tasty, simple to prepare, with handy cleanup tips along the way.
“One thing I’ve learned from cooking with my kids is to appreciate the time spent together and not worry about the mess,” he says. “Of course, the cleanup has to happen at some point, so I like to add a few cleaning steps to encourage my kids to help while we’re in the kitchen.”
A trick he uses is to ask the kids to fill a large bowl with warm water and a few drops of dish liquid, to quickly cut through the grease. Then, the kids help by collecting the used dishes and place them in the bowl to make cleanup easier.
The first step to family fun in the kitchen is selecting the “Messipe.” One of Prinze Jr.’s favorites is ‘The Sauce.’ This tasty tomato-based sauce has enough steps and ingredients to get the whole family involved, yet it’s also easy to make and delicious.
“Between the prep, taste tests, stirring, and adding the Parmesan cheese at the end, the whole family works together,” he says. “This time spent with family is just as good as the meals we make.”
Make Cleanup a Breeze
Cooking dinner with kids can be a great way to create unforgettable family memories over the fun, messy moments in the kitchen. When making sauce together, splashes, spills and splatters will happen.
One cleanup trick is to quickly drop some flour on any spills to avoid the mess from spreading. This way, you can keep cooking and not worry about cleaning up the mess right away.
When it's cleanup time, make it a family event. Fill a spray bottle with warm water and a few drops of dish-washing liquid to help cut through any tough grease. Let the kids squirt the bottle over the mess, and then you can easily wipe it up without a lot of elbow grease.
Freddie Prinze Jr. • Back to the Kitchen
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 pound ground pork
• 1/2 pound ground veal or beef
• 4 ounces diced pancetta
• salt and black pepper
• 1/2 cup red wine (something you would drink)
• 3 small to medium cloves of garlic
• 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
• 1 teaspoon dried basil
• 1 box or can (26 ounces) tomato sauce
• 1 box linguine
Start off with a clean slate. Ask the kids to quickly help empty the dishwasher and sink to de-clutter the kitchen. Before you start cooking, have the kid’s guess how long they think the "Messipe" cleanup will take and time it. The winner gets to try the first bite!
In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add your diced pancetta to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
Roll up your sleeves—it's time to get messy! In a bowl, take turns mixing the veal and pork with washed, clean hands. Add your salt and pepper, and then add to the pan, browning the meat with the pancetta. Stir occasionally, with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, breaking the meat up as you go.
Increase the heat to medium and add the wine, simmering until it reduces by half. Add the garlic, parsley, basil, and tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 30 minutes.
Cover and cook for 15 minutes more (aka walk away till it's done). Take turns tasting for salt and pepper and serve hot. "I like to pair the sauce with linguine pasta—and it's also my kids' favorite," Prinze says.