(BPT) - 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 is 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 clean-up 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, such as Palmolive Ultra Strength, 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 favorite 'Messipes' is: The Sauce. This tasty tomato-based sauce has enough steps and ingredients to get the whole family involved, yet it is 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.'
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
1. 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 kids guess how long they think the 'Messipe' cleanup will take and time it. The winner gets to try the first bite!
2. In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium low heat.
3. Add your diced pancetta to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
4. 'Messipe' moment: 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, 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.
5. Increase the heat to medium and add the wine, simmering until it reduces by half.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Cleanup tip: If sauce spills, quickly drop some flour on the spill to stop the spill from spreading. This way, you can keep cooking and not worry about cleaning up the mess right away. When you're ready, fill a spray bottle with warm water and a few drops of Palmolive Ultra Strength dish liquid. Let the kids squirt the bottle over the mess ... or maybe even at each other!
For more kid-friendly 'Messipes' and cleanup tips, visit www.facebook.com/palmolive.