Teaching your kids to cook and cooking with them can be one of the most rewarding things. Not only can it help you strengthen your connection, but it gives them a sense of accomplishment and builds memories that will last a lifetime. Here are some tips to start cooking with your little ones, from toddlers on up.
- Start small. Your little one’s first foray into cooking doesn’t have to be a full-blown recipe. Give them small tasks that they can easily handle, like sprinkling spice or cheese in a dish, stirring dishes or measuring out ingredients.
- Embrace the mess. Just prepare yourself. It’s likely to get messy and that’s fine. There are going to be lessons learned and it should be fun. Ask them to help with clearing up a few things after so they start to connect cooking with clean up.
- Celebrate imperfection. Everything is not going to go exactly as planned, and that’s fine. Give them ample praise on what they do right and accept the rest.
- Stay calm and make it fun. This isn’t the time to yell. Be cheerful, calm and in control but give them as much freedom as you can.
- Engage their senses. Have them smell the herbs or the bacon sizzling in the pan. Let them knead the dough and feel the textures of different ingredients. Invite them to taste along the way but don’t make it a big deal for picky eaters.
- Give them power. Let them choose as many things as possible. The shape of the pasta. The toppings for the pizza. The color for the icing.
- Pick an easy recipe to start. The first time you cook with your kid is not the time to break out Julia Child’s Coq a Vin, or any recipe that demands absolute precision.
Take pictures. These are the moments you and your kids will want to remember years later.
Recipe 1: Yogurt Unicorn Bark
This Yogurt Unicorn Bark is a fun and easy recipe to make with your toddlers or kids and uses only 3-ingredients.
Here are some ways they can help:
- Measure 1/2 cup of yogurt into 3 separate bowls.
- Squeeze a couple of drops of plant-based food dye into each bowl.
- Mix the food dye into each yogurt.
- Drop the yogurt into a baking dish in any order they prefer.
- Swirl the yogurt colors together.
- Add the sprinkles.
- Pop the baking dish into the freezer.
- 1 1/2 cups yogurt
- 2 tbsp sprinkles
- food dye
- Line a 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper.
- Divide the yogurt into 3 separate bowls.
- In one bowl, add 4-6 drops of red or pink food dye to the yogurt, stir until completely mixed.
- In another bowl, add 4 drops of red and 4 drops of blue food dye to the yogurt, stir until completely mixed. You can also use any color combinations you want with your sprinkles.
- Drop spoonfuls of the different color yogurts into the baking dish in a random fashion (see video for more guidance). Using a spoon, swirl the yogurts together and gently smooth out. You don't want to over stir or your colors will get completely mix together.
- Sprinkle the sprinkles on top.
- Place the baking dish in the freezer and let chill for 4 hours or until completely frozen.
- Once frozen, take the baking dish out of the freezer and break the yogurt pieces into hand size chunks. Serve and enjoy.
Recipe 2: Elephant Ears
Source: dulcis in fundo (Inspired by Cocina de Yolo)
Makes about 40
- 500g puff pastry (in a block, not the already rolled kind)
- 1 cup golden granulated sugar
- 4 tsp cinnamon
- A few tbsp of flour
- A bit of butter for the tray (optional)
- In a bowl mix the sugar with the cinnamon. In a big and well-floured surface roll out the pastry into a rectangular shape until it's about 4mm thick. Sprinkle with half the sugar mix and roll out more with the rolling pin, making sure the sugar gets embedded into the dough. Turn upside down, sprinkle the other half of the sugar and embed it again into the dough by rolling further.
- At the end of this you should have a 2mm-thick long rectangular dough. Grab one of the long sides and start rolling it tightly with your hands towards the centre, creating a little "snail" shape. Stop when you get to the middle and roll in the same way from the other side. You'll get a very long tightly rolled together "double snail". With a sharp knife cut off 4mm-wide pieces from the rolled dough and place them on a very lightly buttered tray (or if you have a very good non-stick one, you can skip the butter). You need to make sure that you place them in the tray very near each other, leaving not much space, otherwise they will grow to immense proportions and "uncurl" (I learnt that the hard way the first time I tried to make them!)
- Finally, put the tray in a preheated oven and bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes. They're ready when they're nicely colored.
Recipe 3: Cinnamon white hot chocolate
Sourced from Epicurious
- 4 (3") cinnamon sticks
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 ounces white chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup) or white chocolate, chopped
- Unsweetened whipped cream and ground cinnamon (for serving)
1. Toast cinnamon sticks in a medium dry saucepan over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add salt and 2 cups milk and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let steep 10 minutes.
2. Whisk cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl. Add to warm milk mixture and heat over medium. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until warmed through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add chocolate and vanilla. Let sit until chocolate is melted, about 30 seconds, then stir to combine. Discard cinnamon sticks.
3. Divide hot chocolate between mugs. Top with whipped cream and dust with ground cinnamon.