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Cooking demo for kids

I volunteered to give an interactive cooking demo for grade school kids and their parents. Need some fantastic ideas, because if all goes well, it.l turn into a part time job

There can be anywhere from 10-30 participants. So whatever I teach needs to able to be split up.

There's limitations....
- equipment available: microwave, blender, hand mixer, toaster
- kosher, dairy (no meat)
- healthy & easy to recreate at home

I definitely want to make smoothies. Figured the kids would work in groups cutting/peeling fruit, and as a class come up with different fruit combinations. Lots of blending and tasting going on.

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  1. I would toast slices of storebought pound cake, make whipped cream with the hand mixer, puree fresh fruit, then warm the puree a little in the microwave. Spoon over pound cake, dollop of whipped cream.

    Want healthier? Summer pudding. Puree some of the fruit, dip trimmed slices of buttered bread into it, line a mold, pour in fruit mixed with the puree, top with more dipped bread, weight down. Explain that chilling for several hours is needed. Unmold a premade one, make whipped cream to top wedges of it.

    Cheese fondue with toasts and lightly microwave-steamed vegetables like baby carrots, broccoli florets.

    Personally, I would not consider blending smoothies to be "cooking".

    1 Reply
    1. re: greygarious

      I think smoothies would be a good idea only because I have NO idea how old/how many kids are showing up. The littlest kids can peel bananas and pick thru berries.

    2. I think what you demo to a group of 1st graders should be completely different than what you demo for a group of 5th graders.

      For younger kids, smoothies are fine. Maybe a BLT, where you microwave the bacon, and they help prep and assemle the sandwich? For young and old, salad works. My 8yo did a cooking class last summer and they made sugar cookies, english style trifle, taco salad (the ground meat was cooked before they got there), fruit skewers, and pizza quesadillas. they had access to an oven though.

      You could do quesadillas or mini english muffin pizzas and just heat them in the microwave.

      3 Replies
      1. re: boogiebaby

        Uh.....OP specifically says kosher, no meat

        1. re: greygarious

          Ignore the BLT suggestion then. You can make quesadillas and pizzas without meat.

      2. wow not much to work with.
        If I were you I might try to tie it into a kids story so that it it is more of a using food as way of connecting with your child thing.. depending on the age....
        you could do an easy hummus or tappianad .My hunch is these kids come fromsmoothie making houses ,

        1 Reply
        1. re: girloftheworld

          They're definitely not smoothie making kids. Most of the kids go to school/after school programs and are used to takeout.

          For a future class was planning on:
          Pita chips
          Israeli salad
          Pickles (assemble and take home)

        2. i did this for about 30 weeks with 25 kids (a school year). we were a vegan classroom. we did foods from around the world. i remember vegan sushi as the biggest hit - especially with the kids who LOVED rolling the rolls. we also did a bunch of things with grains the kids didn't eat often - polenta and quinoa being among them. Oh! and spring rolls with rice paper. THAT was quite a hoot - everyone got stuck! one thing we did that really worked well for us: we made it for only ourselves the first week.. then we recreated the meal the second week and invited others to join us. That gave the kids some confidence with skills, allowed us to tweek recipes/flavors, and i only had to come up with half the number of recipes. it also helped with the budgeting and shopping since we were recreating things twice.

          it was fun! hope it goes well for you!

          4 Replies
          1. re: rmarisco

            Love the idea of summer rolls!

            Was thinking also to do quesadillas, guacamole, fresh salsa, mango/jicama salad.

            1. re: cheesecake17

              question: what's a summer roll? we only have spring rolls around here..

                1. re: rmarisco

                  Rice paper wrapped around thinly sliced vegetables, slivers of tofu. Sometimes they have rice noodles. (Non kosher versions may have shrimp)

            2. Going ethnic is a great idea. Don't just stick to "kid" food and don't underestimate the skills of the kids. A few years ago we made a full Chinese New Year's meal with a group of 1st - 3rd graders and it worked beautifully. The kids CAN use real knives, not silly little plastic knives. They CAN saute and they CAN measure and mix ingredients for baked goods.

              I know you don't have a full kitchen available to you, but my point is not to underestimate the abilities of the kids. Supervision may be necessary but don't limit yourself unnecessarily.

              7 Replies
              1. re: rockycat

                The ethnic theme is what I'm sort of planning, if a series of classes works out. At this point I don't know what to expect- I could have a room full of 4 year olds and only 15 minutes.

                I used to do baking classes with kids. One of the BEST tips someone gave me was to split up the measurements . (Use 12 1/4c scoops instead of 3 cup size scoops)

                1. re: rockycat

                  +1 on not underestimating kids and food, and don't assume they're all drive-through derelicts.

                  I used to be a teacher's assistant at the elementary school, and we worked food into a lot of lessons -- after the segment on counting and graphing that involved sorting and counting beans, I brought in 13-bean soup (and left with an empty crockpot)....we studied Thanksgiving and what the Pilgrims might have had (empty dishes again)

                  I also worked as an instructor at a Young Chef's Academy -- the kids help prepare bits of everything, and it's real food. My favorite was a curried pumpkin soup - it was delicious (and I lost the recipe, darnit) -- and I was utterly floored when a 3rd grader took a bite, took another bite, and thoughtfully said "you know, this needs crab meat". Crabmeat would have ROCKED in that soup.

                  They're a lot more savvy, and a lot less picky, than you think they are...have fun with it!

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    I LOVE that story. My daughter took a cooking class at around 2. They helped chop veggies with plastic knives, clean, mix etc. it was simple stuff but great fun. I remember that thy made hummus, veggie lo mien, smoothies of course, quiche, cookies of various kinds, among others. She's now 5 and quite a helper. Your kids will be older so I definitely encourage you not to dumb down too much.

                    In addition to some of the ideas you have, consider pancakes with fruit compote, frittata, different kinds of pasta-- with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, lasagna, pizza starting with making fresh dough, bread-- focaccia with a range of toppings. Obviously you'd have a few batches of dough to show the progression with some already proofed and baked.

                    1. re: MAH

                      I may be getting a space with a real kitchen!
                      In addition to the school age kids, I'm going to be doing a mommy & me cooking class. (Moms and toddlers)

                      If we do something that'll take a while to bake (quiche etc) the moms can take it home unbaked

                      1. re: cheesecake17

                        probably not a good idea to try to move an unbaked quiche -- that's an invitation to having scrambled eggs all over the back end of the car....

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          I pour the mixture into a ziplock bag. Transport it that way. Works for me!

                    2. re: sunshine842

                      Oops, just realized the limited equipment will be a problem. I like the summer roll idea. Maybe also a veggie banh mi sandwich. What about making dumplings and steaming in the microwave?

                  2. Personally i think introducing kids to fruits and vegetables is very important.
                    What about a hearty salad? The kids can chop veggies and measure to make a salad dressing in a jar that they shakeshakeshake to mix together. Adding canned beans and hard boiled eggs could make a great meal.

                    Tostadas are great since you could toaster oven a tortilla and then they help prep ingredients to assemble their own.

                    Banana soft serve would be good for very young kids, and then different versions of with berries or nut butter (or sunflower seed butter if the school is nut free)

                    You could do a version of the spring rolls using lettuce leaves since the rice paper sheets are a PITA and tear easily

                    Fruit kebobs with a yogurt dip would be good for really young kids

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      I like the salad idea. Will definitely include that in the future classes. I have a good creamy avocado/herb blender dressing recipe. Vinaigrette is a great science lesson too!

                    2. Have a look at Chop Chop magazine (www.chopchopmag.org) --lots of great recipes and ideas for getting kids to cook.

                      1. The classic - making butter from cream, shaking the jar and passing it around the room. You could be ready to make multiple jars/batches so everyone can be hands-on.

                        Microwave English Muffin bread. Gives your group a chance to talk about yeast, see yeast working, experience yeast smell, kneading bread dough, etc.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: MidwesternerTT

                          Ok, that's seriously awesome. Any way to do jam in the microwave?

                          1. re: cheesecake17

                            maybe with carageen or zanthym gum?

                            you can also do the ice cream thing with salt and two baggies

                            1. re: cheesecake17

                              Apple sauce or apple butter, but how many microwave units do you have to work with? If you are making the bread in there, fitting in time for this also could be tough. I recently made the "20 minute apple butter" recipe, but in reality it's a couple of hours of work for one cook by the time apples are quartered and cored and the halt mid-way to remove the peels and cool enough to blender the VERY hot apple/juices mixture.

                          2. I once measured out ingredients for two breads for some boy scouts who were in a cooking contest (dutch oven outside).

                            They won first prize for both and best of show for one of them.

                            This could go along with the shaking up butter and making jam segments - they could do these things while the bread bakes.

                            We did Carol Field's Chocolate Bread and Irish Soda Bread with raisins and caraway.

                            All depends upon the ages, of course.

                            1. Did I miss how old the kids are? I'm a little nervous about cutting the fruit for smoothies if they're under 6 or 7.

                              Quesadillas - what kid doesn't love those and how easy are they? Especially if you have pre-grated cheese (for the younger ones) and some black beans.

                              Pastas are great too; that was the first thing Lulu learned to cook - pasta with butter and parmesan.

                              Eggs are also easy, especially scrambled eggs. Make a little toast on the side and bingo - they've made themselves breakfast (or can show of their skills to their parents on the weekend).

                              Sounds really fun - good luck!

                              22 Replies
                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Things is, I don't know how old they'll be for the demo. Kids ages 4-12 will be invited, but not sure who will show up.

                                The you get kids can pull grapes off stems, peel and break bananas, and the older kids can cut. (At this point it'll be plastic utensils)

                                No eggs or pasta- there's no stove or oven avail

                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                  Oh sorry, didn't catch the no stove problem.

                                  I'm very excited for you - there is nothing like teaching a kid to fix something to eat for him/herself. Again, good luck.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Thanks! Should be fun.

                                    If all goes well, I'd be giving a class for the parents as well. Basic family meals- how to shop, prep, cook simple and tasty meals. Ultimate goal would be to have a fully stocked pantry/fridge and not rely on recipes, rather on knowledge

                                  2. re: cheesecake17

                                    Scrambled eggs can be done in the microwave.

                                  3. re: LulusMom


                                    We gave our little creature her own chef's knife when she was 6. She wasn't allowed to use it unsupervised until she was at least 9 or so, but paring knives were allowed on her own. I'm a big proponent of teaching proper knife skills - for both kids and adults. Plastic knives weren't even available in her school, only real blades, and every kid was at least safe. A few handled my own 8-inch chef's knife like pros. And yes, I hung over them and was nervous but I did not intervene.

                                    FWIW, the first thing I learned to cook was matzah brie, sort of like scrambled eggs, but less chance for overcooking.

                                    1. re: rockycat

                                      matzah brie- Ahhhh one of my fist kitchen memories is making this with my merer in the kitchen,,,,

                                      I got my first chefs knife for my fifth bday---
                                      Keep your minature going!

                                      took my first cooking class at three

                                      1. re: rockycat

                                        I"m just so nervous about Lulu with a knife. She's done a few little things (cut vegetables for an omelet she made) but still - she's not got the best small motor skills in the world. You think she's up to it? She's been wanting to make us dinner. Everything else I've kind of stood over here while she was working on it. She did make a two layered cake (with frosting) on her own, which was pretty impressive.

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          if she's old enough to manage a frosted layer cake, she's old enough to start learning knife skills.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            She's 7; she's done some knife work, as I mentioned, but, to be honest, she's a bit of a klutz so I get nervous. The cake didn't involve anything sharp. Yeah, ok, I'll get her to start helping with the chopping (can you tell I was just having an internal argument there?)

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              LM - We know each other's kids. Seriously, you have to ask if Lulu is old enough for knives? The important part is that she's smart enough to pay attention to your instructions and to remember what you've said about safety. And feel free to repeat your instructions until she's ready to scream at you. Then you know she's really heard you. :-)

                                              Don't worry about the klutz thing. The least klutzy of the 3 of us was the one who ended up in the ER this summer after amputating his fingertip (only the very, very end) trimming ears of corn. When you know you're klutzy you tend to pay closer attention to what you're doing.

                                              1. re: rockycat

                                                Laughing - we're definitely good on the "repeat your instructions until she's ready to scream at you" thing.

                                                I will ask her how she feels about using a knife. My guess is that she'd love to cook for us, but to do so without having to use a knife. But we'll see. As to the klutziness factor, I don't know if she has that much self-knowledge about this aspect of herself, if you get my drift.

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  My aunt took my cousin when she was 7/8 to Williams Sonoma to learn to use a knife. Salesman was very patient and gave her a lesson. The other employees got so excited that they all started finding things for her to chop

                                              2. re: LulusMom

                                                she'll be fine!

                                                just make sure it is sharp

                                            2. re: LulusMom

                                              My DD is 8 and I've only just let her start using a "real" knife. I had her practice for 2-3 months using a butter knife (ours have little teeth on them) and had her cut the ends off green beans, trim asparagus, slice bananas, etc. I wanted her to practice keeping her fingers out of the way and learn how much to cut off the veggie. Now she is using a smaller chef's knife, and is still cutting those same types of food (nothing round or slippery) so she gets the feel. I stand over her like a hawk to make sure her fingers aren't inching towards the blade though.

                                              1. re: boogiebaby

                                                Oh, I love the idea of cutting bananas as a start. Regular old knife should do it. Maybe I can think of some other relative easy stuff. Somewhat softened butter cut into tablespoons for some meal would work. Thanks for the tip.

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  head over to Amazon and search for "kids knives" in Home and Cooking-- multiple options, including a cut-proof glove.

                                                  and here: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-k...

                                                  I bought the one from Pampered Chef for my niece when she was little, used it with my pups, and she was thrilled to find it in my kitchen drawer when she came to visit a couple of years ago.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    I did order some kids knives and they are due today. Lulu is excited to help cut something when she gets home.

                                                  2. re: LulusMom

                                                    I started cutting bananas and such with a butter knife in motnessori school- maybe i was 3?- and by 1st grade was using a steak knife next to mom helping chop harder things like cheese and some veggies.
                                                    Oh yeah, and then we figured out i couldn't see for $hit and needed glasses. Never cut myself tho!

                                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                      You know, now that you point it out, Lulu went to Montessori for pre-school, and I think she did some cutting there with a very dull knife. Stuff like playdough - very easy to cut through.

                                                      And I'll look into those kids knives sunshine. Thanks.

                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                        Same here. Mine went to Montessori through 5th year. As we say around the house, "It's a Montessori thing." When I asked the 1st - 3rd teachers if the kids should be using sharp knives they looked at me like I was the one who didn't get it. And I was.

                                                  3. re: boogiebaby

                                                    I have started teaching my 8 year old grand daughter knife skills. However, want to make sure nothing bad happens on grampaws watch so I bought a stainless steel finger guard that she wears when cutting.

                                                    It is something similar to this. http://www.amazon.com/Deglon-2-Inch-F...

                                            3. I think you would have to concentrate on making after school snacks. Here are some websites that have a lot of what your looking for.





                                              Some interesting sonding ones included

                                              Fruit Dip Mix
                                              Cheesy Chex Mix
                                              Apple Quesadillas
                                              Pita Nachos
                                              Granola Mix

                                              However, I would teach my children (haven't had any that age for 25 - 30 years) how to heat up a can of soup; pour a glass of milk; shell a hard boiled egg (which would be kept in the fridge); dip apples or celery in peanut butter; heat up a Marie Callanders pot pie; Show them where the cereal is stored; how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and yep smoothies are a necessity I suppose. The school even showed my 8 year old grand daughter how to make em and that was last year.

                                              1. "Baked" sweet potatoes or regular potatoes in the microwave, top with cheese and/or microwaved steamed veggies.

                                                  1. Phili "Sushi" rolls, using cooked rice (can be made in microwave), avocado, cucumber, cream cheese - nori/seaweed wrappers or sesame seeds
                                                    This Idea courtesy of a comment over on the baking thread (of all place)

                                                    1. tuna salad, deviled eggs using pre-cooked eggs, microwave mug cake/bread pudding, hot-mulled apple cider

                                                      1. We did the granola & smoothies. Turned out great!
                                                        Had the kids measure and mix the granola ingredients and scoop into takeout containers to take home and bake. The kids also made topping mixes from dried fruit to add into the baked granola.

                                                        Smoothies worked out well. Kids washed, cut, and prepped strawberries and bananas. They added fruit, ice, yogurt, and milk to the blender, along with a bit of honey.

                                                        One kid was totally reluctant to taste- but once he saw everyone else drinking, he had a taste and declared it "better than melted strawberry ice cream!"

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                                          make it interesting, and shazam....it's amazing what they learn that they like!

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            They LOVED it! I blended thru 2 bunches of bananas & 4 boxes of strawberries... They couldn't get enough

                                                          2. re: cheesecake17

                                                            Awesome! Do you send the kids home with the recipes? I'm sure the parents (and kids!) would appreciate that- especially if it better than strawberry ice cream ;)

                                                            1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                              The recipes were emailed to the parents later in the day, along with pictures from the class.

                                                          3. Variations on building a grilled cheese sandwich
                                                            Pizza dough
                                                            Bread dough
                                                            Brownie in a mug
                                                            Meringue or meringue cookies

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              Guacamole (with prechopped ingredients: let the kids smoosh the avocados themselves.
                                                              Instant pudding -- easy to make and ready to eat in 5 minutes! (Not sure if kosher, though, check label).
                                                              Assemble trail mix.
                                                              Homemade nut butter or tahini. Kids can dip apple slices or celery sticks in it.
                                                              Miso soup, assuming you can find kosher miso, dashi, tofu, and wakame.
                                                              Pretzel dip -- anything from honey mustard to ranch to tangy BBQ.
                                                              Microwave oatmeal-- kids add their own sweetener and/or dairy, dried fruit and nuts.
                                                              A sundae bar might go over well if you decide not to do smoothies.
                                                              How about homemade lemonade/limeade?

                                                            2. Here's an out there idea - homemade mayonnaise. I helped my mom make this as a kid. You can have one set of kids juicing lemons with a reamer. separating the yolks from the whites and another set slowly pouring a thin stream of oil into the yolk that would be in the blender. You can even have them flavor their own with pre-chopped fresh herbs, little ramekins of spices - salt, pepper, curry, paprika, etc. Then they can build their own sandwiches using the mayo.