Mar 12, 2019

Let’s Talk About Kids Cooking

By MaryAnn Miano

Kids Cooking

Cooking with kids can be great family fun! The kitchen is one of the best places to spend time together. While you try to get dinner on the table, turn your kids into kitchen helpers and introduce an interest in food (the sights and smells), nutrition and their way around the kitchen.

Now is a great time to share stories about your own childhood memories and favorite foods, or just listen to your kids talk about their day.

Some tips to create a kid-friendly kitchen:

– Teach kids good habits, like washing their hands before touching any foods.

– Read the recipe together and explain the importance of following directions.

– Have kids help collect the ingredients and set them out, along with measuring utensils.

– Show kids the importance of handling kitchen equipment safely. Monitor them if they are old enough to handle a knife.

– Teach kids how to measure and level ingredients, both dry and liquid.

– Explain the kitchen gadgets and their purpose as you use them to cook.

– Forgive lopsided final products or messy work stations. Hands-on learning will spur interest in chemistry and creativity.

Many kids are reluctant to try new foods. Get your kids involved in the process of the dish’s creation. Have them help make the meal plan with the ingredients and preparation, and they will be more apt to give the food a try. Kids can help with the shopping, which gives you an opportunity to talk about where foods come from.

Here is an easy recipe that kids can try. It’s great fun for them to mix meatloaf ingredients with their hands in a big bowl.

EASY CHEESY MEAT LOAF

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds lean ground beef

½ pound sweet pork sausage, casings removed

1 cup cubed cheddar cheese

2 eggs

1 medium onion, finely chopped

½ green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon celery salt

½ teaspoon paprika

1 cup milk

1 cup fine, dry bread crumbs

Directions:

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking pan with oiled aluminum foil and set it aside.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to blend everything together until it is evenly mixed.

3. Transfer the meat to the lined baking pan and form it into a long, fat loaf, about 10 by 5 inches. Bake the loaf for 60 to 70 minutes, until the center is cooked. Serve hot, warm or cold. Makes 8 servings.

BONUS RECIPE: Mac and Cheese (kids’ simple version)

Ingredients:

1 pound elbow macaroni

Butter for greasing the dish

3 cups half-and-half

12 to 18 slices American or cheddar cheese

12 Ritz crackers

Salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but still firm. Drain well.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13 by 9-inch baking pan or large casserole dish.

3. Spoon a third of the pasta into the pan, then pour in 1 cup of the half-and-half and cover it all with 4 to 6 slices of cheese.  Add two more layers of pasta, half-and-half and cheese.

4. Place the crackers in a zip-close bag and crush. Add salt, pepper and paprika, then sprinkle the crumbs on top of the pasta and cheese. Bake until bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.