Cooking Ideas For Kids From A DFW Chef

January 4, 2013 5:00 AM

Kids can be some of the pickiest eaters. The key to their happiness usually lies in the ingredients and the presentation of the food. Another way to get them to eat something more creative is to let them help make it. Here are some ideas from local chefs that you can cook (and eat) with your children. Some of these chefs have children of their own, and all were once children themselves, so they have some suggestions on how to please these miniature food critics.
(credit: Emilie DesJardins)

(credit: Emilie DesJardins)

La Duni Latin Kitchen
233 Town Place
Fairview, TX 75069
(972) 549-4069

Baking time 30 minutes at 350

1 cup butter
4 oz. dark semi-sweet chocolate
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup toasted chopped pecans or walnuts

1. In a sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring constantly until smooth. Set aside.
2. Whisk the eggs until they’re foamy in a large bowl. Add the sugar slowly, then the butter and chocolate mixture while whisking constantly.
3. Add the vanilla, flour, nuts and mix until blended.
4. Line the pan with foil to easily remove the brownies from the pan.
5. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 or until done.

Dunia Terselich Borga of La Duni divulged the brownie recipe above. When baking her brownies, Borga said her favorite helper is her son. Together, they make them as gifts for family and friends, but also like to keep some sitting around their own house to enjoy. As co-owner with her husband, Dunia Terselich Borga, is also the head pastry chef for La Duni. They own three locations in Dallas with one on McKinney Avenue, one on Oak Lawn Avenue, and one in Northpark Shopping Center, as well as the Fairview location. Each offers a slightly different experience, but all have Latin-inspired breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, as well as an extensive coffee and dessert list.

(credit: Emilie DesJardins)

(credit: Emilie DesJardins)

7215 Skillman St. #300
Dallas, TX 75231
(214) 553-8100

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
2. Cut an English muffin in half and place the halves on a baking sheet.
3. Put one to two tablespoons of your favorite pizza sauce on each side, and spread it with a spoon.
4. Build it: Sprinkle just a little bit of mozzarella cheese on, put on the toppings of your choice, and then sprinkle more mozzarella over the toppings.
5. Sprinkle with dried basil and oregano.
6. Bake for seven to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and is starting to brown.
7. Let cool. Then dig in.

Kid-friendly toppings:
quartered pepperoni
diced grilled chicken
ham (cut into small pieces)
sliced olives
pineapple tidbits
sliced mushrooms
diced tomatoes
thinly sliced bell pepper or onion

Other toppings for parents or to introduce your child to new foods:
gourmet cheeses such as feta, goat, fontina, gorgonzola or gouda
minced garlic
chopped fresh basil
diced artichokes
chopped fresh spinach
sliced pepperoncini
diced yellow squash or zucchini
quartered salami or link Italian sausage

Ruben Rodriguez-Santos and Kacey Lacomini, from Picasso’s Pizza, suggested this recipe for lunch or dinner when you want to have a little fun with your food before you eat it. They offered a list of kid-friendly toppings that are a good idea to have on hand. They also gave additional topping ideas for parents to put on their own or introduce new foods to their kids. They pointed out a variation of this recipe could use fresh pizza dough available to take home from Picasso’s.

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Butter one side of an eight-inch flour tortilla. Place the buttered side on a baking sheet.
3. Sprinkle shredded Monterey jack and cheddar on the tortillas, along with your fillings of choice.
4. Bake for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
5. Remove from oven and carefully transfer one tortilla to the top of the other, filling sides touching.
6. Cut into six wedges and let cool.
7. Serve with sour cream, salsa or guacamole for dipping.

Both the pizzas and quesadillas are perfect for picky eaters because each person may customize his or her pizza. Rodriquez-Santos and Lacomini suggested parents offer diced chicken, turkey, steak and tomatoes as well as sliced mushrooms, diced bell peppers or finely chopped onions. The “let cool” part is important when cooking with kids because they will be eager to dive in as soon as it comes out of the oven, they said.

Ruben Rodriguez-Santos is the corporate manager, and Kacey Lacomini is the director of operations for Picasso’s. Both spread their time between all three Dallas locations. Picasso’s has been around for 20 years. Its menu includes pizza, pasta, sandwiches and salads, and is available for delivery as well as dine-in service.

Related: Best Indoor Play Areas In Collin County

Wackym’s Kitchen
PO Box 180871
Dallas, TX 75218
(214) 327-7667
www.wackymskitchen.comElsie Jean’s Hot Buttered Biscuit Balls
6 oz. package of tube biscuits (five-count), opened, separated and halved (like a half moon)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar plus 1/4 cup in a separate bowl
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
cinnamon (to taste)

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix the pecans, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, raisins, and butter in a bowl.
3. Flatten a half biscuit, creating a small well in the center.
4. Add 1 tsp. of the filling to the center of the dough.
5. Bring edges of filled, flattened biscuit together, pinching closed.
6. Roll in plain brown sugar.
7. Place in a muffin cup. Place in a muffin tin.
8. Repeat for each half biscuit.
9. Top each filled muffin cup with remaining filling mixture.
10. Shake lightly with cinnamon.
11. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Makes ten three-bite balls. Easily doubled using a 12-ounce biscuit tube.

Baker Paul Wackym said he remembers his mother making these when he was a child. He tested the recipe out again though before turning it over to you. “To make certain,” he said, “that they were still as yummy as I remember.” Another bonus, along with the taste, is that the ingredients are common, so they may already be in your kitchen. He suggests these be eaten fresh out of the oven.

Paul Wackym is the owner and baker at Wackym’s Kitchen. Wackym’s Kitchen is a local baking company from which delivery orders may be placed online or over the phone. These goodies may also be found in places around the Metroplex including Jimmy’s Food Store, White Rock Local Market and Bolsa Mercado.

Related: Best Fort Worth Places Where Kids Eat Free

Emilie DesJardins currently works in Dallas television and worked with KRLD Restaurant Week for several years before that. She is always trying new places around the Metroplex to find the best food and unique things to do. See her work at