Growing up, my siblings and I always spent time in the kitchen with our mom and dad. From as early as I can remember, our kitchen was the heart of our home. Long before I knew how to drive a car, I knew how to cook spaghetti and meatballs from scratch, how to roll out cookie dough "the right way", and how to cook enough food to feed an army.
I don't ever recall our parents forcing us into the kitchen. It just sort of happened. Maybe we wanted to spend some one-on-one time with whoever was baking. Or maybe we wanted to learn how to make something new. Or better yet - maybe we just wanted to taste whatever was cooking on the stove!
With such fond memories of my own parents cooking and baking, it's no wonder that I've been inviting my kids into the kitchen with me since they were wee little munchkins. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But now that they are older, we have many more successes, and more importantly, we just have a really good time together.
Since they are still young, I am very respectful of their little wandering minds - so I try to keep their tasks fun and to the point. As much as I would love to have them by my side for an entire meal prep, I know it's just not going to happen - yet. So for now, I'm happy with them smashing graham crackers and saving me the hassle of whipping out the Cuisinart!
As we quickly approach the Fourth of July, I wanted to test out this No-Bake Red, White and Blue Cheesecake from my new issue of Everyday Food. It's a simple dessert that lets my kids help out in the kitchen with me because there's no cooking involved - not even the graham cracker crust is cooked!
The kids loved the pudding-like texture and I loved that it included Greek yogurt! I highly recommend letting it set in the fridge overnight; we couldn't wait, so ours wasn't as firm as it could be. Regardless, it was super tasty and the macerated fruit made it a tasty summer treat.
NO-BAKE RED, WHITE AND BLUE CHEESECAKE
* 15 graham crackers (8 ounces)
* 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
* 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 2 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature (We used Kraft / Philadelphia Neufchâtel cheese to cut calories; if you want a firmer cheesecake, go with the full-fat version).
* 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt (We used Oikos Banana Cream yogurt)
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
* 2 cups fresh berries
Step 1: If you're cooking with your kids, divide the graham crackers into two ziploc bags. Hand them each a "good-for-smashing" kitchen utensil and let them go to town. If you're flying solo, pulse graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground (you should have about 2 cups). Add butter, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; pulse until combined. Press crumbs evenly onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
Step 2: In a large bowl and using an electric mixer on high, beat cream cheese until fluffy, 3 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, yogurt, vanilla, and a pinch of salt; beat until smooth. With a rubber spatula, fold in whipped cream. Pour cream cheese mixture into crust and smooth top. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours (or overnight).
Step 3: Combine berries and remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; let stand 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake; release sides to remove from pan. Top with berries and juices.
Happy 4th of July everyone,