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Teen cooking class ideas- Mardi Gras/Carnaval/Superbowl?

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I am leading a teens cooking class in February and trying to brainstorm some simple, fun recipe ideas to do with them. I was considering maybe a Mardi Gras or Carnaval theme to explore new cuisines, any ideas? I try to include as many non-processed ingredients and veggies and whole grains as possible, but the main point is to get them to have fun with food.

To give you an idea of what works, the most successful dishes I've done in the past were:

-potstickers- they loved being able to individualize the different wrapping methods and fillings
-chocolate dipped strawberries- they loved decorating them with chopped nuts, chocolate designs, sprinkles, etc
-banana bread- they each chose their own add-ins, like choc chips, nuts, and picked the shape, as in loaf, muffins, etc.

I am brain dead on new creative ideas and appreciate your help!

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  1. Jambalaya, Gumbo, muffaleta.

    1. Red beans and rice is always something good to know.

      1. I would totally do a Kings Cake. It may be that for time's sake you would want to have the dough prepared. But you could do the filling, roll it up, bake and decorate it.

        There will be some down time while it proofs but you could talk about the tradition of the Kings Cake and have a beads swap if you had everyone bring enough beads for the whole class and a baby to go in the cake/s.

        I think the cake/s would be highly visual and have enough tradition to interest teens. Plus it's delicious and rewarding.

        1. This isn't a Mardi Gras-themed idea in the sense of New Orleans cuisine, but another Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday tradition is pancakes. You could do American-style pancakes, which they could personalize with additions (fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.) and make toppings for, or even better, they could make crepes (more fun to cook, from a technique standpoint, and more novel to eat) with a variety of sweet and savory fillings.

          For Superbowl-type food, what about pizza? I don't know if you have time to handle a yeast dough (it could be made one day and given a slow rise overnight in the fridge, used the next), but I'd bet they'd enjoy making the dough and sauce, then creating their own pizzas.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Good idea -- but pair up with a local franchise of one of the big chains and have them donate the pizza dough. Their corporate HQ likes for them to "participate in the community" and this would be an ideal, cheap & easy way for them to do so.

          2. There are some fun mardi gras party ideas and a recipe for gumbo that is sooo easy.. a crab dip and quick King Cake recipe there too. you can see them here:http://www.celebrationideasonline.com...

            1. What about making better versions of superbowl classics? You can do nachos- make the chips, cook the beans, shred the cheese, make fresh salsa.
              You can also try making baked buffalo wings with blue cheese dipping sauce. Or baked chips and french onion dip.

              They may be surprised at the "good" versions of typical junk food..

              1 Reply
              1. re: cheesecake17

                I like that idea!

              2. How about a Cinco de Mayo theme. What kid doesn't like tacos and Tex-Mex.

                1. Chinese New Year is Feb. 14th as well as Valentine's Day, Washington's Birthday is the 22nd-Cherry pie, cherry ice cream, cherry donuts, cherry dip, cinnamon candies, cinnamon-cherry muffins, egg rolls, fried rice, beans & rice, gumbo, chili & corn bread, muffins or sticks, tacos, tortilla chips or veggies or fruits for dips, pizza, veggie fritters and pancakes with fruits & syrups.