With all this crafting and reading, a toddler can get hungry. And just like the lions and bears at the zoo, you NEVER ABSOLUTELY NEVER let your toddler get hungry! So we are taking our month-long Ocean Adventure straight to the kitchen.
When we cook, Crowley truly helps. I am often surprised (not to be a horrible mom) at how many things he can actually do. That said this recovering Type-A has to have a little talk with herself before we begin, “Thou shalt not freak out when flour covers the kitchen. Thou shalt not become exasperated, frustrated or bitchy that this dish will never grace the pages of Gourmet. Thou shalt not take over project.”
With that out of the way, we are ready to make homemade pasta marinara… topped with fresh clams! And for dessert… a surfing bear catches a wave on homemade frozen Creme de Yogurt! (Wow? That fancy name really oversells it – just like so many news teases I’ve written. I’ve still got it!)
Step One – The Sauce
Start with the sauce so it can simmer while you are making the pasta.
Here’s what you need:
24 oz.Crushed or strained tomatoes (we use an entire bottle of Organic Strained Tomatoes from BioNaturae – easily found in places like Earthfare, Whole Foods and your local co-op)
3 cloves of garlic (crushed) or a TBS of jarred garlic.
Basil to taste
1 TSP Balsamic
A pinch of salt (avoid adding too much salt since your clams will add plenty)
Let this simmer on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of red wine a few minutes before mixing sauce into pasta.
Step Two – The Pasta
Your child will love helping with this.
3/4 Cup regular flour
3/4 Semolina flour
2 Eggs (or 3 egg whites) – Don’t cheat here – I only know because I have and it -FAILED
2 TBS water
2 TBS olive oil
Pinch of salt
- Make a mountain out of your flour right on your kitchen counter
- Make a well in the mountain, think volcano crater
- Crack each egg and pour into well
- Add water and oil to well
- Add salt
- Now start mixing this together by bring flour on the outer edges of the mountain into the well and keep doing so quickly. Point is to keep egg from rolling all the way off the counter!
- Once it’s a clump, start kneading it! Keep doing so until it’s a cohesive smooth pasta dough.
- Spread kitchen towels out on available counter space.
- Store your dough under a slightly moist kitchen towel
Now you are ready to send it through a pasta machine. Two kinds here – either the pasta attachment for your Kitchen Aid Mixer (my favorite tool) or an old-fashioned pasta maker with hand crank. Both types have instructions for making fettucine. Follow accordingly. NO PASTA MAKER? NO PROBLEM! When I was a teenager living in Italy (another story for another time) we learned to make a favorite of Italian children called Pici (pronounced Pee-chee). This is a hand rolled pasta. Remember when you made snakes out of play-doh as a child, rolling a pinch of pasta back and forth with your palms and fingers. Same concept. There are plenty of YOU TUBE videos like this one to show you how!
Once your pasta is made and laid out on your kitchen towels, boil the water.
While water is boiling, it’s time to saute the clams in their shells. THIS is Crowley’s favorite part. If you have a pot or pan with a glass top, use that, so your children can watch the clams open.
- Add a drizzle of olive oil to pan
- Add a pinch of chopped garlic to pan
- Add clams in their shells.
- Saute on Medium to Medium/High heat for about 6 minutes until clams open up. Throw out any clams that don’t open. Be sure not to over cook. As soon as they open, they are ready to eat.
Add Pasta to boiling water. NOTE: It does not take nearly as long to cook homemade pasta so stay close and test your noodles until they are al dente!
Drain pasta. Pile atop a plate. Ladle your sauce on top and add clams, right in their shells. Enjoy!
Many have asked if Crowley actually ate the clams. Yes. I find that when he’s invested in our food by helping to make it, he eats it!
Now for some dessert!
Creme de Yogurt
What you need:
2 containers of single serve blueberry yogurt
Blue food coloring
1 pint of heavy whipping cream (or one container of Cool Whip – though the ingredients list freaked me out so I went with heavy cream)
3 TBS sugar (omit if using Cool Whip)
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust
Crushed granola (enough to make a beach – at least 1 cup)
1 Milano Cookie (or any wafer like cookie that would make a great surf board)
1 Gummy bear (more if you wish to have some sunbathe on the beach)
- Place whipping cream and sugar into mixer bowl. (omit step 1-2 if using Cool Whip)
- Mix on high-speed until stiff peaks form
- Add a couple of drops of food coloring until you reach desired ocean color
- Gently Fold/Mix Cream (or Cool Whip) and Yogurt together
- Pour into pie crust. keep in mind you’ll want to make the sea level higher.
- Start shaping your sea by using spoon or spatula to create waves.
- Take gummy bear, dip his feet in yogurt/creme mix (for glue)
- Place your bear on a Milano cookie as if it’s his surf board
- Place the Milano cookie into the ocean wave of your choice
- Sprinkle granola on one section of pie to make your beach (think rocky shores of Maine)
- Place in freezer for a couple of hours
- Before serving, take pie out of freezer for 15 minutes,
- Slice, serve and enjoy
If you want to take this a step further, buy those little drink umbrellas and have additional bears sit under them on the beach!