Someday our kids will be making their own meals, and it never hurts to have a head start. Even if you are not a chef, meals have to be made so it is good to start kids early when they are usually curious about and want to do everything you do.
First Things First
Beginning at an early age will allow kids to work their way up to larger tasks and feel more confident in the kitchen. Get a feel for what each child likes to make. Never force or coerce kids to cook. You are defeating your purpose – teaching kids a love of cooking and the joy that comes with making meals from scratch with your own hands.
#1 — Maple Pecan Baked Apples
You might think this is too much for kids to make, but any recipe will generally have tasks that can be parceled out.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and mix ½ cup of granola, 1/3 cup of dried blueberries, currants or raisins, and ¼ cup of chopped pecans and set aside. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in the microwave then add 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon; stir well and pour over the nut and granola mixture.
Wash 5-6 medium pie apples, remove the core, but do not cut all the way through or your filling will not stay in your apple. Enlarge the hole with a knife to hold more filling and stuff with the granola mix. Get in as much as you can, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Make sure the apple is cooked through; apples should be soft. Depending on the age of the child he or she can stir, stuff, and mix the filling.
#2 — Five-Minute Mac and Cheese
This is a fast weeknight cheesy creation and can be your side dish or the main course depending on your preferences. This is great for kids and it’s so easy.
Mix ½ pound of pre-cooked pasta, 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup of whole milk, ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt and ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Mix ingredients well, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes, stir, and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir until all the cheese is melted and smooth.
#3 — Buttermilk Chicken Fingers
Chicken fingers, strips, and nuggets are a kid favorite, but they don’t have to be unhealthy.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees; meanwhile mix ½ cup of buttermilk, salt & pepper and ½ tsp of paprika in a small bowl. Add 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips and marinate while preparing the crumb mixture. In a food processor, crush 1 cup of corn flakes and 1 cup of panko bread crumbs. Place crumb mixture in a shallow dish, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the strips from the buttermilk mix, dredge in the crumb mixture, and place on a baking sheet, coated in a non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 5 minutes, turn the strips and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until both sides are crunchy and chicken is done.
There are dozens of recipes kids can make or help with. Take a look with fresh eyes at your recipes to see where your kids can help with cooking or make it themselves. Foster a love of cooking early, for it is one of life’s great joys.