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cooking at home with your kids!

So, I'm a single mom with a 4-year-old and I'm always looking for new ways to spend quality time with him, We love to eat out, but my newest attempt at "family togetherness" is in the kitchen. I've started actively looking for recipes that my son can help me fix. Yesterday I decided to invite one of his friends over and make cup cakes to deliver to friends. It took way longer than I though and it was really messy, but we all had a blast! I cheated a little and used a box cake mix but we did something special that was delish! We poked mini candy bars into the middle of the cupcake batter before we cooked them, then there friends took a bite they got a gooey yummy surprise! I'll keep you posted on how the rest of my, "Cooking with Kids" adventures go! :)

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  1. When my kids were little, I was a single mom too. Cooking together is something that the girls remember now that they are grown. After I married DH, we joined two families and used cooking as the bridge. Worked like a charm.

    Last Christmas we had a tamale assembly line with grown children, spouses and grandkids. I just watched and took pictures. They had a blast and want to do it again this year.

    1. cup cakes are a great idea erina, also assemble your own pizza, get the dough, then have your child spoon sauce on, add cheese and put the vegetables she likes to eat on. They can help make assemble sandwiches. Make jello with fruit bits in.

      1 Reply
      1. re: smartie

        Make the dough. the kids love to watch it rise.

      2. I used cooking as a way of getting my daughter-units interested different foods while teaching them to be independent. They could put together a pot of pasta for their friends for a quick lunch or bake a batch of cupcakes with minimal supervision. Nowadays, all three will easily pull together full meals with ease and confidence. I often silently lament missing my kitchen but the wonderful meals keep me content.

        1 Reply
        1. re: The Ranger

          I think my daughters learned all of their early math through cooking. counting (the number of cups of x in a recipe) fractions, multiplication and division (doubling and halving recipies.). They are almost 7 now, and made their Grandfather Shrimp Scampi for his birthday. The only rule is there must be an adult in the kitchen before the oven or stove isturned on.

          It also taught them to read and write. We will make any recipe, but they have to read it and write out the shopping list.

        2. Good job, Mom! The kitchen is a great place for family bonding.

          1. Most of my best memories as a child revolve around food and cooking. I remember making cookies, cinammon rolls, and helping prep most meals. I would recommend decorating gingerbread men or sugar cookies during the holidays.

            1. erina22 continued enjoyment cooking with your child! I spend whatever time I can on the weekends preparing meals with my younger children. When they were a bit younger we focused on roasting a chicken, making homemade mashed potatoes, peeling vegtables and they helped me prep. Now they make crockpot dishes and stuffed green peppers and mix the meatloaf into small loaves, they love to use the mixer and make whipped cream from scratch. Our son really enjoys making bread with me. Before long, you'll be washing dishes while your child cooks!

              1. I have pics of my toddler son sitting on the kitchen floor stirring pancake batter.

                French toast, burritos, nachos, yogurt parfaits, and chicken salad were all fun to make. My son even invented his own version of chicken salad when he was 6: diced chicken, a touch of sesame oil, and Thai peanut sauce. Mix well. It's really good!

                1 Reply
                1. re: three of us

                  Thanks sooooo much for all the tips and ideas, keep um coming cuz I need all the help I can get!

                2. In addition to pancake batter, my daughters (ages 3 and 5) like to make pizza--we buy dough and they love to roll it out, slather on sauce, and put on way too much cheese. And of course cupcakes and muffins.

                  1. I have a 4.5yo and a 2.5yo. They both like to help me out in the kitchen. Some of the things I let them do are:

                    Pizza: I roll out the dough, they do the sauce and toppings. We do mini pizzas so they each get to do their own. I do the ones for myself and hubby. We also do english muffin pizzas this way for quick snacks.

                    Baked goods: Older son helps me measure the ingredients, younger daughter gets to dump it into the Kitchenaid mixer and turn it on. Mommy puts the batter/dough in the tray and in the oven. I have DS tell me how much he is measuring (counting) and then I have DD count how many things she put in the mixer bowl (again counting). If we do cookies or cupcakes or something that can be counted, I have them count how many items we made.

                    Mashed potatoes: DD washes them (using a stool, in the sink, but I usually have to rerinse them). I boil and peel them, DD mashes while DS measures the milk butter and salt. DD grinds the pepper. (I usually mash them a bit more when DD isn't looking).

                    Foil Packets: DD gets the carrots, potatoes and onion (I have DD count them as she gets them). DS helps me peel them and I cut them. We lay out squares of heavy duty foil and add our ingredients. DS opens up the cans of cream of mushroom soup and the dry onion soup mix pack. DD mixes them in the bowl. I put the meat (chicken breast or pork loin) on the foil. DD puts a spoon of soup mixture on the meat, and DS counts out the number of carrot slices, potato slices and onion wedges. DD grinds pepper, DS puts salt, and I fold up the packets. They both put them on the baking sheet and I put it in the oven.

                    Hope these ideas help!

                    1. www.spatulatta.com is a cute website by 2 little girls who cook with a lot of videos and kid friendly recipes.

                      1. Good for you. You get to spend quality time together and teach him about good chow.

                        You might want to look into cookbooks that are oriented toward kids in the kitchen. One of my kids' favorites when they were younger was Molly Katzen's "Pretend Soup."

                        1. Whenever my 8 y.o. neice and 6 y.o. nephew see me starting to cook something at my sister's, they invariably ask "can I help?" I cannot imagine anyone saying no to children asking to help.

                          Even if it doesn't come out great or if there are fewer chocolate chips in the cookies because they have been sampled during the process, their participation is more important than a perfect finished product. And they just love eating the outcome of their efforts....most recently was a strawberry pie!

                          1. I would cook what the child wants to cook

                            1. I have two girls. I six year old who will probably never be a CH, and doesn't seem to have much interest in "what's for dinner", and a 4 year old, who told her Pre-school teacher that she wants to grow up and be a "cooker" like her daddy. Unless she is busy doing something else, she expects to be able to help with dinner. She knows that anything with a knife is my job, and putting things in the oven is me also. Anything else....why not? It takes 3 times as long but I don't care! With anyone else, I'd be a huge control freak, but with my daughter...eh, that's fine honey. We have three different stools so that she has access to everything as part of the prep. My favorite part....she get's all the credit when dinner hits the table, and I'm thriled about it every night. She takes a lot of pride when dinner tastes good, and soaks up the compliements. I don't know what the future holds for her, but I'll never forget the fun we have together in the kitchen. I'm sure when she grows up, she won't either.

                              For anyone else who enjoys cooking with or for their kids, I highly recommend the book Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton. Not only is it a quick and easy read that is hilarious, but there are some good suggestions for recipes as well. The big takeaway for me was that kids taste in foods are constantly evolving. Don't get disappointed if they don't like something, and don't get too excited when they do. Before you know it, they will change on you and leave you guessing. Just enjoy the ride.

                              1. Just want to echo all the other sentiments and say: please do NOT feel bad about 'cheating' with a box mix! You're doing great getting him interested in the kitchen. Doing things from scratch can come later. I'll be watching for more of your adventures - I'm working on my own 4yo Chowpup at the moment!!

                                1. I love cooking with my 4.5 yo. Last night we made pizzas -- using TJ's whole wheat dough. she loves to help smush the dough into shape and then spread on the sauce and sprinkle the cheese and toppings. she gets to create her own pizza, which she just loves. This morning we made pancakes -- she helps measure and mix the ingredients for the batter.

                                  she helps with just about any baking project -- measuring and mixing is great practice with math and counting.

                                  I also have her help with me with any vegetable prep task -- after i wash and cut the brussel sprouts or butternut squash, she helps arrange them in the baking dish and season them. We make that into a math/counting game too. Even if she isn't eating whatever it is that i'm making, i like to get her involved in the task of cooking and prepping to get her familiar with the ingredients and the process. i LOVE the projects we do together, as does she.

                                  We have a wonderful thing called a Learning Tower that is a four sided tower-type stool that is great for containing her safely while we do cooking projects.

                                  1. That is fantastic!

                                    As he gets older he will treasure these moments. Plus maybe he'll be very thankful when he goes off to college and knows how to cook for himself.

                                    My mom did some fun things with us and she even tought my nephew about where fries come from. He was 3 at the time. You'd be surprised at how many kids don't know that fries come from a potato.

                                    Some fun things I remember.

                                    Sunday Breakfast
                                    Chocolate Chip Pancakes
                                    Breakfast Burritos

                                    Kids love to help make meatballs for spagetti and meatballs.
                                    Pizza - a lot of grocery store bakeries sell pizza dough, I've found most kids get a kick out of putting their favorite ingredients on the pizza
                                    Baked Chicken Fingers- You can show him how to dredge the chicken

                                    Box cake mix is a great way to go because he is still so young. I love that you add extras too it
                                    Rice Krispie Treats - Chow has a great recipe for them here:
                                    Chocolate chip or M&M cookies
                                    Dirt Cake

                                    If he likes pickles a cool thing to do is to take the left over pickle juice from the pickles you get. buy a cucumber or 2, slice it up and have him add it to the pickle jar. You can explain how the cucumber turns into a pickle without having to go through all of the steps of pickling yourself.

                                    Ginger Bread House for Christmas

                                    Sugar Cookies and royal icing he can decorate with

                                    His own Signature cookie. Have a good base for a chocolate chip cookie and allow him to go into the store and pick out a few things maybe three things, something like (M&M's, Rolos, Pretzels ,Potato Chips, Peanuts, etc


                                    Make his own trail mix - similar to the above but no cookie.

                                    Popsicle - http://www.chow.com/galleries/323/13-...

                                    Fruit Roll up - http://www.chow.com/recipes/29917-str...

                                    and if you do decide to do any of these. Please let us know.

                                    This is a great idea for you to bond with your son. Food always brings people together and he will be forever greatful for what you have shown him.

                                    1. It's very important to teach them safety from the very beginning, too. I remember some of the things I taught our daughters, like turning pot handles to a safe position, and never taking anything out of a hot oven unless you already know where you're going to set it down.

                                      Also, for us grownups: if the kids are just tall enough to see over the counter, they're right at the height of your elbow - an easy way to get a black eye. Use a stool.

                                      1. My kids used to help me can fruits and veggies. Everything from standing on a chair and washing them in the sink to helping me stuff jars before canning. They loved it. Another fun adventure they had (we had a farm with a big garden and also milked cows), I would put cream in a jar and they would sit on the floor and roll the jar back and forth between them and make my butter! So many fun things they can do. Enjoy this time with your little one.