June 1, 2013

We're Back! Summer 2013: Session 1

Earlier this month marked the first session of our THIRD summer at PS24! Both Little and Big Sprouts alike were full of anticipation to begin a new season of planting, harvesting, and cooking delicious meals... and perhaps the most exciting part? We were joined by a bunch of new little faces!

The session began with our inaugural welcome circle led by Big Sprout Cam.   You know what this meant! It was time to give names to our new faces. We went around the circle, each new sprout picking a food that began with the first letter of their name- our favorite Cooking Sprouts tradition!

 We moved to the garden next, as believe it or not, thanks to a Big Sprouts small planting session a month earlier, there were a few things ready to be harvested! One of our resident Little Sprouts was able to harvest our first vegetable with ease: a perfect radish, which we set aside. With her help, the new Little Sprouts were able to harvest several more, learning all about the rules of the garden, and the way to which we tend to the plants.

We were also greeted by an overflow of leafy greens- a forest of all different kinds of lettuce! Teaching our new Sprouts the difference between a vegetable and a weed, the team began to weed and harvest.

Planting  and gardening was next on the agenda, and there was quite a bit on our to-do list! We began with a lesson on transplanting: for we had several pots of Basil, Brussels Sprouts, and more to be moved into the dirt in our beds! Gardening using seeds of peas, leeks, kale, and tomatoes were also on the agenda-- and following the vegetable specific instructions on each package, we sewed, pushed, and sprinkled the tiny pods into the ground with ease.

Using the posts of our beds, we also created our very own trellis for our pea plants! After a Big Sprout safely hammered little nails, using twine, our  Little Sprouts strung the posts as high as they possibly could!

And then, to the cutting boards! Since we had our new sprouts, we began with an agreeable meal for all: chicken and vegetable kabobs with three different dipping sauces (to be made from scratch, of course!), and a watermelon and feta salad. Delish!

The meal also proved to be a perfect introduction to some primary cooking techniques: and our new sprouts learned how to chop and dice with safety and ease! Our little sprouts chopped everything from mushrooms, to eggplant, to zucchini and onion!

The day was full of fun, and we of course left with bellies full as well-- a perfect first session of 2013!

Here are some of our recipes below:

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Watermelon and Feta Salad is a perfect go-to summer treat: perfect for days when it's hot and you need something refreshing to cool down! Our Little Sprouts loved the combination of sweet fruit with the saltiness of the feta: and of course, the mint for the refreshing kick!

Makes 6 servings
  • 1 Whole Watermelon, cubed
  • 1 Red Onion, finely diced
  • 12 oz Feta Cheese
  • 1/3 C. Fresh Mint, chopped

  • The juice from 3 limes, about 1/3 cup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

1. Mix watermelon, and onion lightly together. Add in feta, and then mint. Put into a large rectangular serving tray.
2. Evenly pour the dressing on top, and serve!

Making Kabobs
Making Kabobs is always a fun introductory way to get our Little Sprouts excited about being in the kitchen! They love to chop up all of the vegetables, which, when at home, can be chosen to cater to your Little Sprouts vegetable likes and taste! Though you can use everything from steak to shrimp, for our first session we used boneless chicken breast, which we cut into cubes and marinated with salt, pepper, olive oil, and some fresh lemon and parsley.  Your Little Sprouts will also love to create their own combination of protein, vegetables, and fruits!

You can buy Kabob Skewers at your grocery store in the kitchen supply section, or of course, at any BB&B!

Here are some suggestions for some foods to Kabob:
Chicken, Steak, Shrimp, Fish (Swordfish, Tuna, Mahi Mahi)

 Zucchini, Eggplant, Mushrooms, Peppers, Onion, Carrots, Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes

Pineapple, Peaches, Plums

Dipping Sauces

Yogurt & Avocado Sauce


  • 2 Avocados
  • 1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 2 Limes (the juice only)
  • 3 cloves Garlic (pressed)
  • Fresh Cilantro
1. Chop avocados, and mash until smooth. 
2.  Whisk in Greek Yogurt, Cumin, and Lime Juice, until smooth.
3. Stir in the fresh garlic and cilantro.
Honey Mustard


  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1/4 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
  • pinch of salt (to taste)
1. Stir ingredients together, adding salt to taste.
BBQ Sauce


  • 1 15oz Can Tomato Sauce (or you can use our recipe for tomato sauce, as posted last year)
  • 1 12oz Can Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup pure raw honey
  • 1/3 cup molasses
1. Stir sauce and tomato paste together for several minutes.
2. Add in vinegar, then applesauce, then honey/molasses at the very end.
3. Whisk until smooth.


February 5, 2013

Cooking Sprouts Winter Session #2: J'Adore France!

For our second Winter Session of 2013, we decided to do things the French way! Ooh la la.

We began the day with a geography activity-- and on a large map spread on the floor, had our little sprouts locate France.  It was then the perfect time to have a little talk about the country itself-- did you know that France is not only one of the centers of agriculture in Europe, but also the world?  Due to a variance in the country's climate in different regions,  France is able to to grow an abundance of fruits and vegetables, as well as wheat. As for the cuisine, well, that was a hard one to review! Given how old France is, history has very much impacted the development of the country's cuisine! Thus,  French cuisine boasts an interesting diversity of dishes-- and though perhaps once each a considered a fusion, now all considered a classic french dish. We also explained that cuisine also differs in each region. One thing has stayed the same through the years, however, and that is the abundance of cheese!

On the menu was of course a warming veggie filled ratatouille,  chicken with tarragon,  and as a treat, crepes with Fruit Compote! There's something very comforting and warming about French food, and the sprouts thought so too :) We focused our food skills one more on dicing and chopping veggies, and also, on knowledge of spices and herbs! A successful day it was once more!

Tarragon Mushroom Chicken

Makes 4 large servings

  • 2 thick chicken breasts, cut in half to 4 thin chicken breasts
  • ½ cup of chicken stock
  • 1 package white button mushroom, 8oz. (any mushroom you like will work)
  • 3 big spoonfuls of dijon mustard
  • 1 small onion

  • Dried Tarragon
  • Salt / Pepper
  • Olive oil for sauteing


  1. Slice the mushrooms and saute them, on med-high heat. The goal is to brown them, not necessarily completely cook them. In a regular sized saute pan, you will need to do 2 batches. Salt the mushrooms lightly after they hit the pan. 6 minutes or so per batch. Pre-heat the oven to 375.
  2. While the mushrooms are sauteing, mix two big spoonfuls of mustard in a bowl with 2 pinches of tarragon and just a touch of chicken stock (water will work fine too). Mix well and rub the chicken with the mixture.
  3. Arrange 4 piles of mushrooms in an oven safe dish or sheet. Put a chicken breast on top of each pile and put in the oven.
  4. Chop the onion finely and saute it in a touch of olive oil. After 5 minutes, add in a spoonful of mustard and the rest of the chicken stock. Mix, let reduce by about a ⅓. Spoon over the chicken. Take out the chicken when the internal temperature is 160 degrees. About 20 minutes total cook time for the chicken.


Basic Crepe Recipe

Makes recipe makes 8 crepes

  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached or whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • oil spray for cooking


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and the eggs, slowly pour in the milk and water, stirring to combine until smooth.
  2. Heat a medium size frying pan over medium high heat, oil lightly. Pour ¼ cup of the batter onto the frying pan (less is the frying pan is small), tilt the pan with a circular motion to evenly coat the bottom of the pan
  3. Cook one side for about 2 minutes, until the edges start to brown and the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a large flat spatula, turn and cook the other side.

Fruit Filling
Serves 6

  • 2 pears
  • 2 apples
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup water (probably won’t use it all)
  • 2 TBsp of brown sugar
  • Cinnamon

1. Peel, core and dice the pears and apples. Cut the banana into little pieces too. Any fruit will work. Make sure the pieces are the size you want in the compote.
3. Simmer the fruit in the water, adding about half the sugar. After 15-20 minutes, the mixture should begin the thicken.
4. Add the rest of the sugar, and continue to cook down until the consistency is thick. Remember it will thicken a little when cooled. Ladle a tablespoon of the filling into a cooked crepe, roll it up and enjoy!

January 11, 2013

Winter Session #1: Lebanese Day!

... And we're back! This past Saturday marked the first session of our second ever Winter Session at PS24. Everyone-- both little and big sprouts alike-- were itching with excitement to begin a new season together.  It was a great day from start to finish.

The first thing on our agenda was a circle-- and plans to discuss a new design plan for our gardens. We showed the sprouts pictures of all different kinds of creative ways to garden, most recycling heavy. The sprouts were amazed. Did you know that you can transform an old dresser into a vegetable bed? How about a guitar? #excitingsurprises!

Since we spend the majority of our Summer Sessions keeping gardening skills in mind, we use our time during the winter to focus on our cooking techniques: kitchen safety is always a first priority! It's always important to ensure that all of the Little Sprouts are well prepared for all of the chopping and cooking techniques we use in the Summertime. However, we began the day with a little treat.

All summer long, the Little Sprouts begged, pleaded, and begged some more... for flowers. And so, as a surprise, with a variety of bulbs in tow,  lined up, and took a surprise trip to our summer gardens!

So, the Sprouts learned all about planting bulbs, and dug away, planting a crazy amount of flowers that will be blooming just in time for our Spring session.

We then went back to the kitchen to begin cooking. The theme? Lebanese day. Not a single hand was raised when we asked the sprouts if they had had the cuisine before. We knew we had picked something  new and exciting for them.

Lebanon. Geographically located in the East Mediterranean, the country contains three major types of terrain: a Coastal plane, mountain ranges, and a valley. All three are conducive for different types of agriculture, which operates as the third most important sector of the country. Fruits and vegetables are able to thrive in the valley (and even avocados!), citrus has the ability to grow on the coast, and olives grow in abundance in the mountains up North. Grains, specifically corn, is the number one crop of Lebanon, and then, apples and potatoes. 

Thus, the Lebanese cuisine is based on starches-- particularly whole grains. But also, fruits, vegetables, and for protein, fresh seafood, lamb, and goat. For seasoning, there is lots of lemon and olive oil. Dishes are small-- like tapas-- and so, we organized our menu this way as well!

On the menu? Fresh Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, Rice Pilaf, Roasted Cauliflower and a Lamb Stew! The Sprouts had to do an enormous amount of chopping: everything from potatoes, to cauliflower, to garlic, onions, you name it! And our one rule was particularly in effect today: all sprouts- little and big alike- MUST try the food! And we all did-- and a successful day it was! 

Katya was our team leader for the day-- here are the recipes she drafted!

Rice Pilaf
Makes 6 servings
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot grated
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup uncooked white or brown basmati rice

  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable  broth (or plain water)
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the onion and carrots in the butter until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, cook until the rice is lightly toasted, pour in the broth and season with salt. Bring it to boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is done, fluff with a fork, mix in the peas then serve.

Hummus (Lebanese)
Makes 1 cup

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled (could use roasted garlic for milder flavour)
  • 1 (15 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika


  1. Process garlic, olive oil, tahini, water, lemon juice and salt in a food processor until foamy. Add garbanzo beans and blend until the paste is smooth and creamy.
  2. Place hummus in the serving  bowl and sprinkle with 1/4 cup teaspoon of smoked paprika, serve with whole wheat pita bread or fresh vegetables

Roasted Cauliflower and Cherry Tomatoes (Lebanese)
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup)

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 2 garlic bulbs, cloves peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 475°.
  2. Toss all of the ingredients except parsley in a large bowl. Spread cauliflower in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 475° for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once after 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the dish from the oven, let it cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle with chopped parsley , serve warm or at room temperature.

Tahini Sauce:
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the tahini, garlic, parsley, water, and lemon juice together in a bowl until no lumps of tahini remain. Season to taste with salt and pepper.