Now that it’s officially fall, families will be taking advantage of some of the season’s best produce. FamilyFun magazine has shared with us great ‘roll up your sleeves’ activities from their October issue.
Cooking can be a delicious learning experience for kids and their parents. It gives kids the change to explore new foods, learn about nutrition and even develop math and reading skills as they measure and read directions.
Cooking with Kids – Growing Trend: Getting kids involved in the kitchen is definitely on the upswing. In fact, FamilyFun found that 96% of moms agree that it’s important to make meals with their kids and that it brings them closer together. Also, 2/3 of moms spend more time cooking with their children than their own parents did with them.
The Novice Chef: Introduce your kids to washing, slicing, simple chopping and even improvising. This Green Monster Salad (SEE RECIPE BELOW) is a twist on a salad paired with classic homemade dressing. Creating a DIY dressing station can make things fun too. For kids that are ready to take things further, making croutons from scratch will not only add that crunch, but will introduce your kids to working with heat.
The Apprentice Chef: Those that have graduated from the basics are ready to make a real meal. Kid-friendly quesadillas (SEE RECIPE BELOW) can teach your cook-in-training how to grate cheese, assemble ingredients, work a stove top and develop spatula skills.
The Master Chef: Reward your sous chef with dessert! Baking cupcakes (SEE RECIPE BELOW builds on the measuring and mixing techniques they’ve already learned and introduces them to new skills like cracking eggs and creaming. Kids can even try their hand at decorating their miniature masterpieces.
Kids Can Cook Recipes
Green Monster Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette (For the Novice Chef)
For the Salad
1 head of lettuce
1/3 cup of fresh herbs such as mint
1 cup of green grapes
½ cup crumbled feta
Croutons (store bought or homemade, see recipe below)
For the Dressing
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
For the Croutons
4 slices of sandwich bread (stale is fine)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
Set up your child at a clean sink or large bowl half-filled with cold water. After swishing the herbs and lettuce, your child can put them into a salad spinner. Whirl the greens dry, then tear everything into bite size pieces.
Rinse the grapes and cucumber in a small colander and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
Peel the cucumber and slice this into bite size pieces.
Place the lettuce, herbs, cucumber into a large bowl and set aside.
To make the dressing, combine the salt, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and honey to a bowl and whisk together. Or if you have a mason jar, you can add in all of the ingredients, tightly seal the jar and let kids hold the jar with both hands and shake to their hearts content.
To make the croutons, heat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic powder and salt.
Place 4 slices of sandwich bread on a cutting board and cut into ¾ inch squares (an adult’s job). Put the bread into a ziplock bag, add the oil mixture, then seal and shake the bag to coat the bread.
Spread the pieces out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they’re just starting to brown (about 5 minutes). Use tongs to flip them, then return them to the oven and bake until deeply browned and crisp, about 5 minutes more. Let the croutons cool completely before serving. These can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. Makes about 4 cups.
To assemble the salad: Pour half the dressing on the salad and toss with a pair of tongs. Taste and if needed, add more dressing. Top with the grapes, feta and croutons.
Black Bean Quesadillas (For the Apprentice Chef)
2 (8-inch) flour tortillas
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Salsa, sour cream or guacamole for serving
Lay a tortilla on your work surface. Scatter half the cheese then half the beans over one side. Fold the tortilla in half over the filling. Repeat with the second tortilla.
Warm a wide, heavy pan over medium heat. Pour in ½ teaspoon oil and tilt the pan to spread the oil around.
Put a quesadilla in the pan and cook until browned underneath, about 1 ½ minutes. Flip then cook until it’s browned on the other side and the cheese is melted, about 1 ½ minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the second quesadilla.
Cut each quesadilla into wedges and serve immediately with salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole.
ChockFull O’Chocolate Cupcakes (For a Master Chef)
For the Cupcakes
¾ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup dark cocoa powder
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup boiling water
For the Frosting
8 ounces (1 ½ cups) semisweet chocolate chips
Pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
First start the frosting. Place the chocolate chips and salt in a medium, heat-proof bowl. Pour the cream into a small pot over medium-high heat and bring it just to a boil. Carefully pour the cream over the chocolate, then add the vanilla and whisk it until it’s smooth and shiny. Let the mixture cool to room temperature (about 1 hour).
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin wells with paper liners. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda baking powder and salt. Set both bowls aside.
Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Beat in the eggs one at a time for a full minute after each addition.
Reduce the mixer’s speed to low and add one third of the dry ingredients to the batter, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. Mix until the dry ingredients disappear, then repeat twice more until all the ingredients are added. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the bowl, then beat on low for 10 more seconds. Add the boiling water and mix on low until well blended.
Fill each muffin well two-thirds full with batter. Bake until the tops feel firm, when you press them and a toothpick test yields a done result (about 20 minutes)> Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Finish the frosting by using a hand or stand mixer with the whisk attachment set on medium-high speed to beat the chocolate mixture until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Frost the cupcakes.