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One of the things I’ve been most looking forward to with Adeline is cooking with her in the kitchen. She’s just now at the age where she’s interested in what we’re doing and she wants to see everything for herself. I used to loathe cooking, but now that we have Adeline to teach, it’s much more fun and makes me actually want to think of recipes that are easy for her to help out with.
It’s been hard to find the perfect stool though – something she can’t easily fall off of but also one that can grow with her. And, something that would hold up to the beating of toddlers. I’d been eyeing the Little Partners Learning Tower for a while and we recently got to test it out. We’ve been using it daily ever since! It’s truly been a game changer for us during our dinner routines and Adeline constantly begs me to pull it into the kitchen.
So, The Original Learning Tower is actually a really cool and well made piece of woodwork. The tower is extremely stable, has railing all the way around for added safety, and is wide enough for young toddlers to stand on without falling off. I can’t tell you how many times Adeline has slipped off her stool in the bathroom so I desperately wanted something her fidgety self would be safe on! The really cool part is that the tower is adjustable, and can grow with your toddler for several years – it’s rated for kids 18 months up to 6 years. There are 4 different levels, which makes it not only safer but more convenient for different level counters. (Or, if you want to limit their reach a bit more!) It’s easy for Adeline to climb in and out of, and so far she hasn’t fallen out, or tipped it.
I think what I most love about it is that it gives her such a new found sense of independence, and freedom. She’s getting to see things from a whole new perspective, and gets to be hands on with us in the kitchen instead of pulling at our legs or watching even more TV. I think she’s really proud of it too, it’s like she knows it’s her special place in the kitchen.
It’s gotten a lot of use lately, and definitely takes some of the stress out of dinnertime prep because I’m not trying to keep her entertained the whole time and cook. Or if Adam is cooking, which is more often the case, she can watch him cook while I pick up from the day or get the table ready.
One of the recipes we’ve been cooking together lately is my sister-in-law’s turkey meatballs. They’re super easy, (one bowl easy!) and are kid friendly. Adeline actually calls them pizzi balls because they basically come out looking like mini pizzas. They’re one of those things that’s even better as leftovers, so meatball sandwiches are always a hit on day 2, even day 3.
Here is what you’ll need:
- 1 small onion, grated or very finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic (recipe actually calls for 3 minced garlic cloves, but I’ve guessed each time)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp salt (I just guess)
- 1/4 tsp pepper (I just guess)
- 3 Tbsp ketchup (I forgot this the first time I made them, but they seemed to taste fine either way!)
- 1 lb lean ground turkey
- 1 jar pizza sauce of choice
- Mozzarella cheese of choice (I like shredded)
In a large mixing bowl, add your onion, followed by your minced garlic.
Next, the egg.
Add the breadcrumbs and the parmesan cheese. Also add your ketchup, if you choose to.
Add salt and pepper (I just guess and season to taste) followed by your ground turkey. I’ve learned that I prefer to actually add the turkey first, but it really doesn’t matter.
Next, mix it all up! It’s best to use your hands to get it all really mixed together, but you can also use something like a potato masher. I let Adeline play in it with her hands, but she kept threatening to stick her hands in her mouth and I didn’t want her accidentally eating raw meat. So, potato masher it was! Works like a charm.
In an olive oil coated glass casserole dish, use an ice cream scoop to form your turkey balls.
Once formed, and you don’t want them too big, bake at 350* for 20-22 minutes. I’m really weird about my meat, and like to make sure it’s extra, extra done so I tend to bake mine closer to 22 minutes just out of paranoia. But, 20 minutes is really plenty.
After 20 minutes, take them out of the oven and cover them with your pizza sauce using a spoon. Then, put them back in the oven for 10 minutes.
While they cook, have a dance party in your learning tower. Or do dishes, but that’s super lame.
This time when they come out of the oven, cover them with mozzarella cheese and pop them back in the oven for a third and final time until the cheese is completely melted.
We like to go a little heavy on the cheese in our neck of the woods. Most of the cheese will fall off anyway, and kind of become part of the sauce, so feel free to not hold back!
They’ll look pretty messy once completed, but once you scoop them out individually you’ll have a beautiful turkey meatball. Or pizzi ball, if you’re Adeline.
Adeline likes to eat them just cut in halves or quarters, and she will devour them in the amount of time it takes me to make my own plate! You could serve yours either on toasted sourdough bread, on a sandwich, or on their own maybe with some steamed broccoli. EASY! If you try them out, let me know! But, all the credit goes to my sister in law, not me! 😉
The Original Learning Tower retails for $199 but is absolutely worth every penny. Don’t be fooled though, it’s not just a learning tower. I’ll be sharing some super fun extensions soon too, like her popcorn stand playhouse kit, ice cream stand, and her learn and share easel. Oh my goodness, the possibilities are endless and I can’t WAIT for Adeline to use it in so many fun ways! Stay tuned!