Kids in the Kitchen

Okay, I’m going to admit something that I’m not all that proud of… Wait for it… I don’t cook! There, I said it. Now we can move on.

I guess I should explain. It isn’t that I don’t cook, because I do. It’s just that I have a few dishes that I am really comfortable making and I kind of get stuck making the same things over and over. Which, of course is boring, for my husband, for my kids, and of course for me. In the end it leads to my husband doing most of the cooking. Besides he is a pretty picky eater, he prefers his own cooking, and he is actually a really good cook. Therefore, I have learned, over the years, not to take it personally and instead to just feel lucky that my husband wants to do the cooking.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not totally incompetent in the kitchen. I actually love to bake. Though my husband doesn’t really eat sweets. That leaves me and the kids to finish every brownie, cake, cupcake, pie, etc. Therefore, I am now on a diet. Isn’t life grand.

You might be wondering how this blog ties into the title of ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ well, let me tell you. With my kids getting older I would have hoped to have more time to spend with them one on one, but that isn’t the case. Between working full-time; carpooling the kids to school, daycare, t-ball, girl scouts, week-end playdates, the park, shopping, and everywhere else; my theatre, my husbands golf, etc., etc., etc. there is little time to just sit and relax enjoying some mommy time with the kids. The kitchen then becomes a  place to catch up on what my kids did during school and all the other great parts of their day.

So, my challenge to myself, and to all of you is this… wait for it…

Spend some quality ‘KIDS IN THE KITCHEN’ time over the next few weeks. I have given a few great recipes below that are easy to make, and even more fun to make with your kids. Start easy, make it fun, but always remember safety comes first in the kitchen. Follow my three easy rules of the kitchen:

(1) No kids by the stove!!! Depending on their hight they may not be able to see that the stove is hot, and it only takes a second to burn their little hands.

(2) Wash your hands!!! Kids put their hands everywhere and don’t always remember to wash them. The first thing you should do when starting to cook with kids is wash your hands and theirs, and its alright to wash them again throughout the cooking process if needed.

(3) Have FUN!!! Cooking with kids should be fun, and its okay if it’s a little messy. Brooms, vacuums, even dogs are great for clean-up. Enjoy your time and don’t worry about the mess until the end.

Now, what should you make? Good questions. Like I said, start easy. If you’ve never cooked with your kids before then pick up a box of Kraft macaroni & cheese Deluxe. You boil the water and make sure the noodles are all cooked and drained, and the rest is up to the kids. It’s really just two easy steps:

(1) squeeze the Cheese

(2) Stir, Stir, Stir

My kids have so much fun making this dinner. One gets to be the cook and the other gets to dish out the food onto the plates.

So, you think you’re ready for some more elaborate dishes? Good, I have just the thing. I picked up a great cookbook for kids and have found that the dishes are pretty easy to make and actually really yummy for kids of all ages.

(1) Berry and Yogurt parfait for Breakfast – This one is great because there is NO COOKING involved, and the kids can create it anyway they want. All you need is vanilla yogurt, fresh or frozen mixed berries, and granola. Let your kids put it together in their bowl in layers or mixed all together. Either way they’ll have fun and get a healthy breakfast too.

(2) Monkey Bread – This sticky treat is sure to put a smile on your kids faces for breakfast or just a mid day snack. You will need 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans (and a couple of tablespoons finely chopped), 2.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, sweet white bread rolls (store-bought frozen rolls work just fine), a little all-purpose flour, and a bundt pan. Your going to melt a little butter and brush it all over the inside of the bundt pan. Then mix  together the brown sugar, 1/2 cup of pecans, and cinnamon – Set it aside. Sprinkle the rest of the pecans over the bottom of the pan! Now place the thawed rolls on a lightly floured surface and then roll the rolls through melted butter, and then into the brown-sugar mixture. As you do this place each roll into the pan. You may have to work to make them all fit, but they will! Now, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees for about 5 minutes then turn the oven off. You will cover the dough and let it rise, in the warm oven, for about an hour. Remove the pan from the oven and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake until richly browned and a toothpick comes out clean (about 30-35 minutes.). Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm. Remember – let your kids do everything that doesn’t involve the oven, that part is for you mom!

(3) Crescent-Wrapped Hot Dogs – for lunch. Remember pigs in a blanket? This is more like hogs in a comforter because they are bigger and more filling. So, you will need store-bought crescent rolls (I like Pillsbury), All-purpose flour for dusting, shredded cheese – if your kids like it, hot dogs, and of course condiments for dipping: ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, etc. First lay out wax paper all over your kitchen table, and sprinkle with a light dusting of flour. Then unroll the crescent. this is the time to let you kids sprinkle on the cheese if they want, and roll up their dogs! More cheese can be added to the outside if they want. Bake the hot dogs until the dough is golden brown 10-13 minutes at 350 degrees. When they’re done take them out of the oven and allow to cool slightly and serve warm. Your kids will love putting them together and then tearing them apart as they eat them up.

(4) Nutty Caramel Apples – Snack. Okay this one is messy, but oh so yummy. You will need: Apples, Chopped Pecans, and 1 container of soft caramel dip. Mom you’ll want to cover the table in wax paper because caramel can be a little hard to clean. Then, slice up a few apple, any will do. Give the kids the apple slices to dip them half way into the caramel (you can also use chocolate), then they will roll the caramel-coated part of the apple in the nuts. You will want to help them press the nuts gently into the caramel to help them stay on better. Line all of the apple slices onto a wax paper lined baking sheet and let stand until the caramel has set, normally about 10 minutes (Some brands need to be cooled in the refrigerator to set). Then, ENJOY!!!

I hope you and your little ones have fun in the kitchen!!!