Moms

Let the kids help prepare the Thanksgiving feast

Thanksgiving brings families together, so why shouldn't everyone in the family get in on the cooking part of the holiday? That's the reasoning offered by Barbara Beery, children's cookbook author and owner of Batter Up Kids, an Austin cooking school and store.

Beery says, "Let the kids cook." She believes that the holiday meal becomes more memorable if the smaller family members are invited to help, and she provides easy recipes for their preparation. And this isn't just child's play -- the dishes are those that everyone in the family will like.

See more about Beery's kid-friendly cooking and baking ideas at www.kidscookingshop.com.

Baked-up baby turkeys

You'll need:

1 roasting pan sprayed with nonstick spray

1 small mixing bowl

1 pastry brush

Ingredients:

2 Cornish game hens

1 tablespoon rosemary

1 tablespoon thyme

1 tablespoon tarragon

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

2 teaspoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons olive oil

Flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Grapes, for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse hens with cool water and dry with paper towels. Place hens in roasting pan. Combine herbs, seasonings and olive oil in small mixing bowl. Stir to blend. Brush herb-oil mixture evenly over both hens, reserving about 2 tablespoons (divided equally) to pour in the cavity of each hen.

2. Bake hens at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 40 minutes, or until golden brown and juices run clear. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before cutting each hen in half to serve.

3. Before serving, pour remaining pan juices onto each serving and garnish with parsley and a small bunch of green or red grapes.

Sweet potato puffs in apples

You'll need:

1 medium-size baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray

1 large mixing bowl

1 melon baller or teaspoon

Mixing spoon

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into equal-size chunks, cooked until fork-tender

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice

2 medium-size red delicious apples cut in half

1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine sweet potatoes, brown sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and pumpkin-pie spice. Set aside.

2. Scoop seeds, core and some of the fruit out of each apple half using a melon baller or teaspoon. Discard scraps. (Or save to scent a simmering potpourri pot!) Place 4 apple halves into the prepared baking dish and fill each with equal amounts of the sweet potato blend. Sprinkle the top of each sweet potato with nuts, then drizzle with syrup.

3. Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are "puffed" and apple skins are slightly shriveled.

4. If you like it hot, lightly sprinkle ground cayenne or chipotle pepper on potato puffs before serving.

Cranapple tortilla tarts

You'll need:

1 foil- or parchment-lined sheet pan/cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray

1 medium-size mixing bowl

1 wooden spoon or spatula

Ingredients:

4 6-inch flour tortillas

1 tablespoon softened butter

4 medium or large red delicious or gala apples

2 tablespoons orange juice

4 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place tortillas on prepared sheet pan. Brush the top side of each tortilla with some of the softened butter.

2. Peel and thinly slice apples and place in the mixing bowl. Add orange juice, honey and cinnamon. Stir to blend flavorings. Starting on the outer edge of each tortilla and working in a circle, place sliced apples on top of each tortilla to cover completely.

3. Equally divide dried cranberries among the tortillas, placing decoratively between the apple slices. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately or at room temperature.

4. Top your tortilla tart with a dusting of powdered sugar, a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt or a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

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