Little Miss is not easy in the morning. Like me, she may be a little cranky before she gets going, and that’s been making feeding her breakfast not so fun for anyone. She’s bored with oatmeal in all its incarnations. She is off eggs of any kind. And I’d like her to eat something other than straight granola bars. We’ve been at an impasse lately, with neither of us happy. As we had breakfast for dinner the other night, it dawned on me that I could recreate something we typically eat at another time of day and make it “breakfast” for her. And thus this granola apple crisp recipe was born.
I have a history of taking foods and simply putting them in a different form and suddenly they’re magical and special to the wee ones. I can take Mister Man’s Greek yogurt breakfast and put it into a popsicle mold and freeze it – suddenly it’s a special treat even though it’s exactly what he’s been eating day after day.
In this case, I cut up apples with a little lemon, cinnamon, and nutmeg and placed them into ramekins. I created a topping with granola, a cereal they love to eat, and a little brown sugar, flour, spices, and butter. Baking that in the oven made my whole house smell amazing, and this recipe creates six servings, which means that I can store the extras in the fridge so that Little Miss can pull out her own breakfast and eat another day. These granola apple crisps are just as tasty the second day, whether you eat them cold from the fridge (like she does) or reheat them.
While this sounds like a dessert, there’s only 1/4 cup of sugar added for 6 servings, which is about 2 teaspoons per serving, and the same holds true for the butter added. It adds a little sweetness and richness, but it’s something I’m still comfortable serving for breakfast, especially when I start looking at the sugar content of so many other breakfast options.
My brainstorm for this dessert-cum-breakfast appeared last week when I was at my wits’ end after yet another go-round with Little Miss over what she was going to eat for breakfast. She settled on an orange and nothing more, and I wanted her to have something more substantial. As I perused the cereal aisle at Walmart, looking for something I thought she’d enjoy that I’d be happy serving her (and let’s be honest, the rest of my family, too), I saw the Quaker cereals.
After perusing the options, and picking up a box of Quaker® Life that I planned to use not just for breakfast but also to make a version of my herbed chicken fingers for dinner, I debated amongst some of the other options like Quaker® Real Medleys® and Quaker® Oatmeal Squares before inspiration hit with Quaker® Simply Granola and my granola apple crisp recipe idea.
The other morning, I attempted to sneak downstairs and make these as a surprise for the wee ones, but somehow they always know when I’m headed into the kitchen to make something special. I’m lucky that they enjoy cooking and baking with me, and it’s something I encourage, knowing it’s a skill they’ll benefit from for years to come.
I’ve had them working with me in the kitchen for years, and Mister Man is now capable of cooking a full meal from cutting and chopping to the actual cooking – with full supervision, of course. There will come a time where I trust him and Little Miss to use my knives solo and to use the oven and stove, but it is definitely not at 9 and 11 years old.
Many of my friends are impressed at their kitchen acumen, but they don’t know how to start. You don’t have to start big, but there are definitely ways to encourage kids to join you in the kitchen and have them start learning how to cook and bake.
Six Jobs for Kid Kitchen Novices
Start by having them choose what to eat. One of the wee ones’ favorite things to do is to persuse my (huge) cookbook collection to decide what they might be interested in trying. Giving them this level of control and choice has encouraged them not only to get into the kitchen and want to help, but it’s encouraged them to try new foods and expand their palates.
Teach them to use a vegetable peeler. A vegetable peeler tends to not be very sharp, and it’s hard to cut yourself with it. It’s also hard to make a mistake with it. If you overpeel a carrot or a potato, it isn’t a big deal. The motion doesn’t require a lot of fine motor skill, and it’s easy for kids to see the progress that they’re making. It’s a perfect first job in the kitchen.
Let them learn to use a can opener. We have a manual can opener, and again this is another great task kids can do before they truly learn how to do more in the kitchen. Once they have a little hand strength, they can easily turn the crank to open any cans. I have a safety can opener that leaves no sharp edges on the cans once they’re opened, and I highly recommend finding one like this for their – and your – safety. I was two when I had my first stitches from “helping” my mom in the kitchen and slicing open my finger on a tomato paste can.
Be patient with measuring. Measuring items into whatever you’re cooking or baking is a great skill for a few reasons. Again, it’s fairly safe for the kids,which is key. Second, it helps to encourage math. How many scoops do you need if we’re doing 3/4 cup of sugar? What kinds of scoops could we use? If our half cup is dirty and we need to use a quarter cup measure instead, how does that change things? The key is to be patient. Spills will happen. They’ll make a mess. I’ve seen it more times than I can count, but it’s only be actually doing it themselves that they learn how to do it correctly, and getting frustrated with them only turns them off from wanting to cook.
Modify simple “recipes” to make them easier. One of the first things the wee ones learned how to make was peanut butter and jelly. It’s a traditional sandwich, and I’ve shown them how to spread the ingredients. I did modify the bread, however. Especially with kids, it’s so easy to press just a little too hard and tear the bread when spreading your peanut butter or jelly. Instead, I make homemade bread and cut it thick so that it’s less likely to tear, or I give them tortillas, which are far more forgiving and never rip, which leads to far less frustration.
Teach proper knife skills. When your kids are ready, let them start to use knives. Mister Man knows exactly how to hold a knife and how to cut with a chef’s knife and how using a bread knife requires a different motion. I’ve taught him different cuts from julienning carrots to mincing garlic to creating a chiffonade of basil and more. He uses my standard knives because they’re sharp and don’t require a ton of force that might have him veer off course in his cutting and actually make him more prone to injury. And I always always supervise him when he’s cutting to ensure he’s using proper technique, but he’s the one who’s doing the work and learning – and loving it. I still have to provide reminders and corrections sometimes, but it’s amazing the proficiency he’s developed through practice.
Needless to say, when I decided to make this granola apple crisp recipe with Quaker® Simply Granola, I quickly had two helpers in the kitchen with me who ensured we got the crisp in the oven that much faster as Mister Man took over the job of chopping the apples while Little Miss worked on the topping. And once we finished and got these beauties out of the oven? There were happy smiles all around.
We absolutely adored this granola apple crisp recipe, but there are so many other Quaker recipes out there. I already have another few brewing in my head that I think the wee ones will enjoy.
Besides a granola apple crisp, what creative breakfast ideas do you have?
A dessert for breakfast idea that includes granola and fruit with minimal added sugar per serving. A quick and tasty treat that will have you smiling to start your day.
- 4 apples, chopped
- 2 t lemon juice
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1/4 t nutmeg
- 1/4 t salt
- 2 c Quaker® Simply Granola
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 1/4 c flour
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1/2 t nutmeg
- 1/4 c butter, melted
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare your topping. In a bowl, place your Quaker® Simply Granola, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until well combined. Pour in melted butter and stir again until thoroughly mixed.
- Chop your apples, being sure to avoid the core. Cut into quarter inch pieces, or slice thinly, if you prefer. Add your apples to a bowl and mix with the lemon juice.
- Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and stir again. Divide your apples evenly into six ramekins.
- Distribute the topping over each apple filled ramekin so that the topping covers the apples in each one. Gently press down on the topping.
- Place in your 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes, until softened.
- Serve while still warm.
You may store, covered, in the fridge for up to three days. They can be eaten cold from the fridge or reheated.