We grandparents love to cook for our families.We bake cookies, prepare their favorite meals and enjoy seeing the smiles on their faces. But we can do more, we can teach our grandkids to learn the basics of cooking and help them hone their skills.
Even four and five year olds can help to measure, mix and pour ingredients. They will need help with anything sharp or hot, but they can do a lot to put a recipe together and enjoy helping while they learn. They’ll need to learn to thoroughly wash their hands and then put on an apron to protect their clothing. They may even enjoy wearing a chef’s hat to play the part.
Older children can do nearly all cooking chores with supervision. Learning to slice and chop carefully, and knowing how to use a hot pan or oven safely must be covered before turning a child loose to cook on his or her own.
Here are some easy recipes to teach your grandkids with suggestions for each age group and their level of cooking expertise.
Begin with your favorite tortillas and toast them on a griddle. Choose any of your favorite breakfast items such as scrambled eggs, cooked potatoes, fried sausage or bacon, and add refried or whole beans. Assemble your tacos with cheese and tomato, onion if you like, and then warm in the oven. Add avocado or fresh fruit on the side.
Scrambled Eggs with Cheese
The youngest kids can crack eggs and mix them up. Add a bit of salt and pepper and pour into a hot frying pan. Use a rubber spatula to keep the eggs from sticking and sprinkle on shredded cheese. Remove from heat when the cheese is melted.
Overnight Hot Cereal
Use a slow cooker for this tasty breakfast meal. Put one cup of whole grain cereal into a slow cooker, add four cups of water, 2 T butter and ½ t. salt. Set on low overnight. Add fruit or berry syrups when serving in the morning.
Let the kids help with measuring and mixing. Have an older child or adult supervise the frying of the pancakes, but young children can pour each one. Then, before the batter has completely set, allow them to use a spoon to “pull up” bunny ears at the top of each cake. Sprinkle with blueberries or chocolate chips.
Buy frozen bread dough in your freezer aisle. When thawed roll the dough into inch-sized balls, roll in a sugar and cinnamon mixture and pile into a non-stick pan. Bake at 325 degrees until the bread has risen and browned well. It’s so much fun to pull it apart as you eat it. For added fun use a bundt cake pan and sprinkle chopped nuts on the bottom of the pan before adding the dough. When you turn it over, the crunchy top oozes yummy syrup.
Kids can do all of this one on their own. Find some deep cups or glasses. Clear glasses show off the pretty colors. Layer granola, yogurt, and fresh fruit pieces then top with nuts or more granola. Place in the refrigerator and serve them cold.
Fruit Slices with Dips
Banana slices, apple wedges, or whole strawberries work nicely for this dish. Dips can be plain whipped cream, peanut butter, or a mixture of whipped cream and lemon or vanilla yogurt. Greek yogurt would also make a nice, smooth dip.
No-bake Energy Bites
Mix together equal amounts of peanut butter, oats and either coconut or flaxseed meal. Add a t. of vanilla, honey and chocolate chips to taste. Roll into one inch balls and refrigerate. You can substitute dried fruit or use other nut butters. Yummy and so easy to make.
Lunches or Dinners
French Bread Pizza
Slice a loaf of French bread in half the long way. Place both pieces on a baking tray. Spread with butter or oil, and then with canned marinara sauce. Add shredded mozzarella cheese and any other pizza toppings you like. Pepperoni is always a favorite. Place under the broiler in your oven and watch carefully while the tops brown and the bread crisps on the edges.
Use muffin tins. Place uncooked biscuit dough in the bottom of each tin. Poke a hole in the middle. Fill the hole with cooked hamburger, ham or other cooked meat and cover with grated cheese. Cook in the oven at 375 until dough is done. Older children can do this all by themselves. Younger ones will need help with opening and closing the oven.
These double tortilla treats are double easy to make. Using a griddle or frying pan, lay down one flour or corn tortilla, fill with shredded cheese and onion or red pepper pieces if desired, then close with another tortilla. Cook on one side until slightly browned and the cheese is melted. Turn and brown on the other side. All done! Kids can do all of this with supervision.
These fun and easy meals are really a hearty salad, but don’t tell the grandkids. Begin with a layer of crunchy corn chips on a plate. Add cooked hamburger with black beans, then layer on grated cheese, chopped tomato, onion if you like it and shredded lettuce. Top with Ranch dressing. Kids can help shred cheese, and can help to assemble the haystacks after the hamburger and beans are cooked. Older kids can brown the beef and add the beans, too.
Tacos on a Stick
Use pieces of cooked chicken or leftover cooked beef. Using wooden skewers alternate the meat chunks with cherry tomatoes, onion chunks and green or red pepper pieces. Adults can toss these skewers on the barbecue and kids can help baste with soy sauce, barbecue sauce or sprinkle on taco seasonings.