Homemade pasta is not only delicious, but it’s a great activity to do with kids. Click for recipe to make pasta in all the colors of the rainbow with your kiddos! Click to skip to the recipe
While brainstorming to come up with some activities to do with campers at my recent Camp Nana, one of my first ideas was to offer a class on baking and cake decorating.
But, here in the mountains of North Carolina, we sit in a bit of a rain forest.
A humid, wet rain forest.
This is not the best environment for cake decorating as the frosting has a hard time setting up. Get the pun?
My next thought was to do a cooking class where we eat what we cooked for dinner, doing double duty.
Then I thought about pizza which led me to think about pasta (My mind wanders in strange and mysterious ways…)!
This time, I thank goodness for strange thoughts as this class went down with pasta perfection.
My over-achiever self decided that we would make differently colored pastas instead of plain old noodles.
Why not? If you are going out on a limb, it might as well be a high one.
I amassed several pasta machines and decided to make a go of it.
I took beets and boiled them, spinach leaves and steamed them and carrots and roasted them. Then I pureed each veg into a puree.
Note to self, boiling root vegetables creates a smoother puree than roasting, although roasting gives a better flavor. The difference in the pasta is that a smoother puree will create a full-colored noodle, where a coarser puree will create little bits or dots in the noodle. How’s that for insider info?
The technique is really simple and a perfect activity for kids of all ages.
Since we were creating four different types of pasta, I used a smaller amount of ingredients per pasta maker. You can double or triple this basic recipe based on your needs. You dump the flour onto your work surface and use your CLEAN, WASHED hands to bring it together in a circle.
You then create a well and put the wet ingredients in the center. This is just like you pool gravy in mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.
Then use a fork to start swirling the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and eventually form everything into a smooth dough. Kids LOVE this!!!
Next, we cut the dough into pieces and run it through the machine. Through various degrees of thinness, we smooth the dough into thin sheets. The last setting on the machine cuts the dough sheets into the size noodles you prefer.
We let the noodles dry on a rack for a bit and then we boil them quickly in salted water and serve them with a topping of your choice.
I offered marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, and plain old delicious browned butter with just a hint of sage.
It was soooooo much FUN!!!
You don’t have to have a group of kids to make pasta. You can make pasta with just one of your favorite kids.
Or you can gather a few and take turns on the pasta machine. You can store dried pasta for several days in the fridge.
You can also purchase prepared sauces to go on top of your pasta. It’s all good.
Just as long as the smiles keep coming. Enjoy!
A Rainbow of Fresh Pasta
Homemade pasta is not only delicious, but it’s a great activity to do with kids. You can make pasta in all the colors of the rainbow, although some might take a bit of imagination! Gather a kid or two and have some fun!
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
½ cup spinach puree (substitute with beet, carrot, or your favorite)
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Serves: 4 hungry kids
Time: 60-minute cuisine
Use a fork to combine the eggs and yolk with the puree in a small bowl. Place the flour onto your work surface. Use your impeccably clean hands to scoop the flour into a circle. Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the liquid ingredients into the well. Use a fork to combine the flour into the wet ingredients starting from the center of the well and working your way to the outside. Use your hands to gently knead the dough into a smooth circle.
Cut the dough into four pieces. Flatten with your hand and run through a pasta machine on the thickest setting. Do this twice and then move to the next setting until you get a thin sheet of pasta. Run this sheet through the machine on the final setting that cuts the pasta into the noodle size of your choice.
Dry the pasta for several minutes (or longer) on a rack or swirl the noodles onto a baking sheet lined with a bit of flour. Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water for just a few seconds, until the pasta is tender. Drain and top with your favorite sauce.
To make the puree, cook (boil or steam) the vegetable until it is incredibly soft. Drain the vegetable thoroughly in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Place the veggie into the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse until it is pureed.
She and all her fellow campers (and their parents) were devastated.
In so many ways, summer camps are a rite of passage; The child leaves her family nest and flies to what will become her flock of friends, counselors, and influencers. Growing through this process allows the girls to make independent choices in activities, faith and meditation, what they wish to eat, and most especially the selection of summer friends who are destined to be friends throughout their lives.
Out of this disappointment, Camp Nana was born!
Just a few of her closest friends were invited to our camp. Our activities included hiking, a ropes course, a thoroughly harrowing tubing trip down a river in a lightning storm (email me for details on that one!), and a fully active haunted house.
The crafts were candle making, bath bombs creating, jewelry designing, making fresh pasta, and learning to grill pizza.
After all….It was MY camp! It was an action-packed adventure.
In trying to fit the traditions of Camp Greystone into Nana Camp, I replicated their recipe for Opening Day Scones and offered them to the campers upon their arrival.
These simple biscuits are light and airy and can be filled with either chocolate chips, berries, or oats.
They are delish and I kept them coming all through camp.
Perhaps inviting teens for a camp adventure is not on your agenda this summer.
But, if you dig deep and put on your thinking cap, perhaps you can come up with something special to do for a friend or family member that needs a smile.
Camp Nana: Famous Camp Greystone Scones Recipe
This is the recipe for the famous Camp Greystone opening day scones. The campers are greeted with these on the first day of camp. The parents are given some to take on the trip home and then hustled out the door. It’s a camp tradition that has met with success for generations.
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sour cream
½ cups mini chocolate chips
Yields: Makes about a dozen 3-inch round scones
Time: 20-minute cuisine (10)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in the cream and sour cream until the dough just comes together. It will be a sticky mess!
Transfer the dough to your floured work surface. Press the dough into a 2-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the chocolate chips onto the dough. Fold the dough over the chips to combine. Press the dough out to a 1-inch rectangle. Use a three-inch round biscuit cutter to form the scones. Transfer these to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake the scones until they are just beginning to turn golden on the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes.
On this day, 116 years ago, Theodor Seuss Geisel was born – or as we all affectionately know him, Dr. Seuss. If you do car pick up at a little one’s school, this day on the calendar all but guarantees you’ll see a Cat and the Hat…or two….
Dr. Suess stories are filled with crazy colors, bright swirls of truffula trees and green eggs and ham. The books are a little psychedelic when you think about it…kinda groovy.
It got me thinking of the most colorful recipe I know, my Tie-Dye or “Kaleidoscope Cake”. Because of the half dozen bright food gel colors in the recipe, it’s kind of like looking through a kaleidoscope when you make it, or when you’re eating it. Forkfuls of this cake feel like play-time, no matter your age.
Believe me, you would eat this cake in a boat…or with a goat! Here’s how it looks before I ice it!
And while it bakes, here’s a little game you can play with your children or grandchildren.
Ask them a food they’d never eat and steal a little rhyme from Green Eggs and Ham.
Example: “I would not eat Brussels sprouts here nor there, I would not eat them anywhere.”
And if you can, use this special day in American classrooms to volunteer to read to the kids.
I have, and it’s an out of this world feeling wherein my heart grows even bigger than the Grinch’s when he gives back Christmas.
If ReadingPartners is not available in your state, inquire at your child’s school about getting a background check and cleared to volunteer. And if you’re a busy bee and would rather donate to a worthy cause, I can’t think of a better one than Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which gives the gift of literacy to children who need a little help coming by books.
Have fun with your groovy, tie-dye Kaleidoscope Cake as we all March onward to a happy Spring! XOXO
Kaleidoscope Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves 8 to 12
20 minute cuisine, plus baking and decorating time
For the Cake
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
6 large egg whites
¾ cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, or 1 ½ stick, room temperature
1 ½ cups all natural granulated sugar
6 bright gel food colors
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Coat the bottom of 2 (9-inch) diameter cake pans with vegetable oil spray. Cut out circles of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the pans and spray again.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together the egg whites, milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract in another bowl.
Use the paddle attachment of an electric mixer to combine butter with the granulated sugar until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and ½ of the wet ingredients into the creamed butter and sugar. When combined, mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients with the remaining wet ingredients. Finally, mix in the remaining dry ingredients.
Divide the batter into 6 bowls. Color each with a gel color. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls into the pans. Start at the outside of the pan and circle into the middle. Bake until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Remove parchment paper.
For the Frosting
8 tablespoons (1 stick), room temperature
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Place the cream cheese and remaining stick of butter into the bowl of an electric mixer to combine. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Place one of the cakes onto a cake plate. Spread frosting over the top. Place the second cake on top of the first. Spread the frosting on the sides and top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for up to 5 days.