Bring your kids as young as preschool-age into the kitchen and help them advance to age-appropriate tasks in the coming years.
Young kids can help stir and measure; older elementary kids should be able to handle the electric mixer, can openers and some cutting jobs. Let them help you gather the ingredients when cooking and devise the week's menus.
When using knives or any hot appliances, make sure they are well-supervised. Never force them to do any tasks they seem frightened of or you'll scare them off for a while. My son was nervous around the knife so we started with a vegetable peeler. Even then, he was unsure with the blade so we stuck to stirring and measuring for a while. Now, as a 13-year-old, he's pretty comfortable in the kitchen.
The following recipes are simple dishes that can be prepared with the help of your children.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at email@example.com or (727)893-8586.
1 store-bought rotisserie chicken
2 cups store-bought red or green salsa
8 taco shells
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
8 sprigs fresh cilantro (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 avocado, chopped
1 lime, quartered
Remove the meat from the chicken and shred. Heat the salsa in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and heat until warmed through. Fill the taco shells with the chicken mixture and top with the cheese and cilantro (if using). Serve with the sour cream, avocado, and lime wedges on the side.
Note: You can use soft corn or flour tortillas instead of crisp taco shells, or leftover roast beef or pork in place of chicken.
Makes 4 servings.
Source: Real Simple, 2005
Pasta with Smashed Peas
1 pound pappardelle, tagliatelle, fettuccine or linguine
1 16-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
3/4 cup ricotta
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, pulse the peas in a food processor or blender until chopped but not pureed. Add 1/2 cup of the ricotta, season with the salt and pepper, and pulse to combine.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the pea puree and reserved pasta water and toss. Divide the pasta among individual bowls. Top with the remaining ricotta, a sprinkle of chives, and a drizzle of oil.
Makes 4 servings
Real Simple, 2006
Barbecue Potato Chip Chicken Nuggets
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
6 to 7 cups (6 to 7 ounces) barbecue potato chips, crushed
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch nuggets
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place flour on one plate, eggs in a large shallow bowl and crushed chips on a separate plate. Dredge the chicken in flour, dip in egg and roll in chips to cover completely with crumbs. Place nuggets on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with butter. Bake for 10 minutes, turn over and bake another 10 minutes.
Source: 5:30 Challenge, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert Recipe
1 box (12-count size) ice cream sandwiches
1 bottle (24 oz. size) chocolate or carmel syrup
6 Butterfinger candy bars (large), chopped
1 medium tub whipped topping
Line 13x9 pan with ice cream sandwiches, pour 1/2 of syrup over them and 1/2 of the chopped candy bars go over this.
Cover with whipped topping (such as Cool Whip). Sprinkle the other 1/2 of candy bars on top of whipped topping. Drizzle remaining syrup on top. Put in freezer.
Source: CD Kitchen
1 cup firm strawberry-sour cream ice cream
1/3 cup sliced strawberries
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons raspberry vinegar
3/4 cup chilled club soda
In a tall glass (at least big enough to hold 2 cups), layer scoops of ice cream and strawberries. In a 1-cup measure, mix sugar and raspberry vinegar until sugar is dissolved. Add chilled club soda. Pour mixture over ice cream in glass. Serve with a spoon and straw.
Source: Sunset Magazine/myrecipes.com