The Inspired Cook

Column 16 of The Inspired Cook for the Canton Herald

                Summertime is the perfect time to teach your children an essential life skill that they can utilize for the rest of their lives—how to cook. With this knowledge, they not only can improve the quality of their lives but also their health.

                Research shows that children who help cook family meals are more inclined to eat a more healthful diet. Another benefit of helping to cook involves their eagerness to try new foods, which should please many parents.

                Since school is out for summer break, your family schedules should include more free time to begin cooking lessons. If not, then use your weekends for instruction. Whether on a week night or a weekend, cooking together, elbow to elbow, creates an intimacy through which both parents and children can connect with one another.

                Today I’m sharing some newly formulated recipes to help you get started with your cooking lessons. I’ve created a breakfast dish and a dessert, both of which are easy to make.

Although many steps in these recipes can be performed by children, there are some that only adults should do. You will be the judge as to what you believe your children should attempt.

Please remember to praise them for their efforts. And, do not expect perfection. If their results are imperfect, so what! It’s their effort that is important.

Have fun. Be silly. Create a relaxed environment. Above all, have fun together cooking, followed by dining together as a family unit. Then, after summer is over and school resumes, continue with your cooking lessons at least one night per week.

Breakfast Eggy Pies


                1 1/3 c. Ore-Ida Potatoes O’Brien

                1/2 c. Ham, cut into 1/2-in. dice

                4 Large eggs, beaten

                1 Sliced green onion, white and green parts

2 T. Half & half milk

1/4 t. Sea salt, finely ground

Dash (1/8 t.) each Black pepper; garlic and onion powders

3/4 c. Fiesta-blend shredded cheese or preferred cheese


                Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a nonstick 6-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Pour about a third of the bag of frozen potatoes into a large bowl. You may need to pound the bag a bit to break apart the potatoes. Then, using a meat mallet, hit the potatoes to break into individual pieces. Place a scant 1/4-cup of potatoes into each muffin cup. Replace any unused potatoes back into the bag and refreeze.

Bake the potatoes for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are baking, place the eggs and seasonings into a large glass measuring cup, whisking to combine; set aside.

After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the oven. Coat the bottom of a small glass with cooking spray. With the glass, press the potatoes down in each muffin cup. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Divide the ham and onions equally and place in each muffin cup. Then pour a scant 1/3 of a cup of the egg mixture over the ham and onions.

Sprinkle each cup with 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Eggy pies are done when set in the middle.

Note: Cooked bacon or sausage can be substituted for the ham. If your children do not like red and green peppers, then use regular hash-brown potatoes instead. Onions also can be omitted.