Monday, January 30, 2012

Cooking with Kids - Creamy Garlic Penne


I've involved my kids with cooking and food prep, pretty much since they could stand on a chair and add chocolate chips to cookies.   As they each get a little older, I've taught them more and more skills in the kitchen.  My 7 year old is now pretty sufficient at the basics like making sandwiches, orange juice and snacky food.  He often will get his younger brother and sister drinks and snacks on a Saturday morning allowing me to sleep in just a little bit longer.  A couple of weeks ago, my husband went out of town for just over a week.  At some point while he was gone our son decided that he wanted to make his dad a special meal to welcome him home.  I have to laugh because my husband confessed to me that he was expecting hot dogs and Kraft Dinner, but was prepared to like whatever it was our dear boy had prepared.  He was pleased and blown away with what recipe was served to him.   
Our son just loves Penne pasta.  It's his favorite, so he asked me to help find him a good penne recipe that he could make for Dad.  I found this one on  There were not a lot of ingredients, it had easy to follow directions and it was tasty!  All key points in letting a child do the cooking.  It is also a quick recipe to make, taking about half an hour all together.  I was working right beside him to keep him on track, but he did the majority of it himself.  There were a few things I wouldn't let him do (nor, would it have been safe at his age) - like drain the boiling hot noodles, but the measuring, stirring and mixing he handled quite well.

Here's the recipe:
  • 1 (1 lb) box penne cooked as directed, drained and kept hot
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (he crushed them through a garlic press)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth 
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons parsley flakes
  • grated pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (we didn't have quite this much parmesan cheese on hand, so we used about a 1/4 cup of that and added a couple of slices of havarti to the mix)


  1. Melt butter and add garlic in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Cook over medium for 1 minute.
  3. Add flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in broth and milk and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce boils and thickens.
  5. Add parsley, pepper and cheese. *my kids won't eat anything with parsley in it, so we left it out and just sprinkled a bit on top of Dad's and mine to look 'fancy'
  6. Stir until cheese is melted.
  7. Toss hot pasta with sauce and serve immediately.

My boy stirring the sauce on the stove.

Mixing the noodles and sauce together.

Dinner is served.

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