Cooking with Kids

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Thank you to McCormick Grill Mates for allowing us to feature their delicious line of gourmet bacon. The products featured in these recipes will be available in select grocery stores!
Paige, Kendall & Anna Claire — cuties in the kitchen. Handmade aprons by Carolyn King.

Our goal as parents is to equip our kids with the basic knowledge to survive on their own. Many of these skills can be introduced at quite a young age — and that includes cooking! Just because they are little, does not mean that they can’t prepare dinner (or lunch!) for themselves or their families. When McCormick Grill Mates reached out, letting us know about their new line of gourmet bacon launching soon, we knew this was the perfect ingredient to get our kids in the kitchen. I mean, who doesn’t love bacon? But Crady and I aren’t chefs. I can follow a recipe to a T and I genuinley love cooking, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to create my own dishes. So I called on some local experts to help us come up with a few kid-friendly, easy recipes that will highlight how amazing these bacon options are!

McCormick Grill Mates marinated bacon
McCormick Grill Mates have four fabulous new gourmet bacon options launching!

Below you’ll find two gourmet BLT sandwich recipes created by local mom and private Chef Bre Bass. Mac n’ Cheese is a kid staple, so the amazing mom duo of Oh Grate! created two fancy versions easy for little hands to prepare. Both options are sure to be crowd pleasers for even the pickiest of eaters! (both the sandwich options and the casseroles have hidden veggies in them, an extra bonus!)

Chef Bre and Chef Courtney know their way around bacon!

 

Cheesy Pasta Bake featuring McCormick Grill Mates Ultimate Bacon

1 LB Penne Pasta               

½ TSP Dried Thyme       

1 TBSP Butter                     

30 OZ Diced Tomatoes, Drained   

1 CUP Chopped Onion                

½ Cup Heavy Cream   

1 Red Bell Pepper, Chopped           

½ Cup Baby Spinach

1 Yellow Bell Pepper, Chopped        

2 TSP Cornstarch

Pinch of Salt & Pepper              

  2 TSP cold Water

1 TSP Minced Garlic               

6 Slices of McCormick Grill Mates Ultimate Bacon, Crumbled

1 TBSP Tomato Puree                

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar

½ TSP Dried Oregano                

1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella

Cook noodles as directed on package. (If freezing, cook 2 minutes less than the recommended time.) Preheat the oven at 350°.  Heat the butter in a large pan, add onion and bell peppers, cook until softened. Add salt, pepper, garlic, tomato puree, oregano, thyme. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.  Stir in diced tomatoes and heavy cream. In a small bowl combine cornstarch and cold water, stir. Add cornstarch mixture to sauce and stir. Sauce will begin to thicken. If sauce does not appear to be thickening, repeat cornstarch mixture step. Add in pasta, spinach and crumbled bacon. Transfer to dish. Top with cheddar and mozzarella. Cover with foil & bake for 25-35 minutes. 

Cooking with Kids Pro Tip: have all the ingredients chopped and ready. Little hands can quickly add toss in the items then stir with large spoon. Kids can lay out the raw bacon on a tray as well as crumble the bacon (after cooked to desired crispness).

Cheesy Bacon Macaroni featuring McCormick Grill Mates Smoked Applewood Bacon

1 LB Elbow Macaroni               

2 Cups Milk

¼ Cup Butter                   

2 ½ Cups Shredded Cheddar

1 TBSP All Purpose Flour            

2 OZ Cream Cheese, softened

1 TSP Salt, ¼ TSP Pepper                       

8 Slices of McCormick Grill Mates Smoked Applewood Bacon, Crumbled

Cook noodles as recommended on package. (Cook 2 minutes less than the recommended time if freezing.) Preheat oven at 350°. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add salt and pepper. Slowly stir in flour and continue stirring until mixture is bubbly. Slowly stir in milk while continuing to stir. Once combined, add 2 cups of shredded cheddar and cream cheese while stirring. Once cheese is completely melted, remove from heat, stir in noodles and bacon. Pour into a baking dish, top with remaining ½ cup of shredded cheddar and bake for 25-30 minutes or until fully heated. 

Cooking with Kids Pro Tip: Kids can lay out the raw bacon on a tray as well as crumble the bacon (after cooked to desired crispness). Kids can also pour the milk while the parent slowly stirs. Grating cheese is fun, so let your little one use a hand grater or even ones that you just turn a handle then sprinkle it on at the end!
bacon macaroni and cheese
Cheesy Bacon Macaroni is a crowd pleaser!

 

Gourmet BLT Wrap featuring McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak

8 slices of McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Bacon — 2 slices per wrap

Package of garden spinach or sun-dried tomato basil wraps (use your fave brand!)                   

slices of Swiss cheese

slices of fresh tomatoes  

mayo          

lettuce choice — romaine or spinach are recommended

slices of turkey (perfect for after Thanksgiving with turkey leftovers!)

Cooking with Kids Pro Tip: Kids can lay out the raw bacon on a tray. Kids can also rip up pieces of romaine and with adult assistance, older kids can wash & slice the tomatoes. Cut the wraps into fun pinwheels, easier for little hands to manage. 
bacon sandwich in a wrap
Wraps are a fun alternative to a traditional sandwich. Plus bacon makes it even better!

 

Gourmet BLT Sandwich  featuring McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon

slices of McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon Bacon — 3+ slices per sandwich

a hearty loaf of multi-grain or whole wheat bread, sliced thick                

slices of Cheddar or Colby cheese           

spinach

slices of turkey (perfect for after Thanksgiving with turkey leftovers!)

whole berry or jellied cranberry sauce

 

Use the cranberry sauce as a spread on both sides of the bread. Layer on your leftover Thanksgiving turkey, cheese, spinach, and bacon! Some kids like a cold sandwich, but you could also press into a panini maker for a hot version. 

Cooking with Kids Pro Tip: Kids can lay out the raw bacon on a tray. BLTs are easy to assemble — simply lay out the ingredients and let the kids go to town! This sandwich is the perfect use of leftovers to be repurposed in a tasty lunch option! 

bacon fresh out of the oven
McCormicks Grill Mates Ultimate Bacon shown here. Pro Tip: bake bacon in an oven at 400 degrees until desired crispness.