Confession time: I don’t have the best experience getting my young kids involved in the kitchen! There is often more clean up involved, and I tend to lose my patience while coaching. But’s time to try again. After all, the kids’ eager excitement to help only lasts for a season. So, it’s a good reminder to enjoy their nearness during this time.
Cooking with the kids comes with a host of life lessons. It helps them count, measure, follow a sequence, take direction and see the end result. Cooking also expands their palates, They are more likely to try something new if they had a hand in making it!
Here are three recipes, based on different age ranges, which you could try and get them to help you with. Two recipes have a healthy dose of veggies to get kids started on (somewhat) healthy cooking! As always, parent supervision is vital as young kids get around hot ovens/ hot pans/ knives/ graters.
1. Carrot Cake Muffins (5 years and up)
- Peeling and grating carrots
- Measuring out ingredients using cup measurements
- Cracking eggs, whisking, mixing with spatula
- Lining a cupcake tin, scooping batter into liners
1 cup plain flour, 1 tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 grated carrot, some nuts and raisins, 1 cup sugar, [ ½ cup and 2 tbsp] oil, 2 eggs
Pre-heat oven at 180°C. Into a bowl, sift 1 cup plain flour, 1 tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp cinnamon. Add in 1 grated carrot and some nuts and raisins (if using). Mix using spatula.
In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup sugar and [ ½ cup + 2 tbsp] oil (I have used canola or sunflower cooking oil) till evenly mixed. Whisk in 2 eggs, one by one. Add in flour mixture (from Step 1) and combine until even.
Scoop out about 2 tbsp of batter into each muffin hole. Bake for 18-20 mins, or until cake tester comes out clean. Let this cool.
Baking and cooking with kids involves communication and (hopefully!) pleasant teamwork (e.g. “You can sift the flour, while Mummy pre-heats the oven”). And if you’re following a recipe, you’re putting your kids’ reading skills to practice! Some mathematics and science are also involved in the baking process (e.g. “Did you know sugar not only adds sweetness, but helps with the smell and browning of cakes?“)
2. Super Simple Vanilla Cupcakes (5 years and up)
- Using a weighing scale to measure out ingredients
- Using a stand or handheld mixer
- Cracking eggs, sifting flour
- Lining muffin tin, scooping batter into liners
125g softened butter, 170g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 3/4 tsp vanilla essence, 1/2 cup milk, 180g self raising flour, 1/4 tsp salt, chocolate chips or raisins/craisins.
Pre-heat oven at 170°C. Use a mixer and beat 125g softened butter and 170g caster sugar until mixed well. Crack in 2 eggs one by one, add in 3/4 tsp vanilla essence and mix well.
Pour in 1/2 cup milk (like regular fresh milk), 180g self raising flour (sifted) and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix. Throw in some chocolate chips or raisins/craisins (if preferred), and gently mix using a spatula.
Scoop about 2 tbsp of the mixed batter into each cupcake liner. If there’s any extra batter, just use this to top up the rest. Finish off with more chocolate chips/raisins. Bake in the oven for 15 mins, or until the cupcakes are cooked. Let this cool.
Do remember that every household oven is different, so oven temperatures and cooking times might differ.
3. Chicken Sausage Stir Fry (8 years and up)
- Unpacking raw sausages, patting dry with kitchen towel, frying sausages on stove
- Finely slicing capsicum and onion, cutting snow peas and cooked sausage on diagonal
6 sausages,1 capsicum, 1 small onion. snow peas, baby corn, 1/2 a chicken stock cube, 100ml hot water, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp soya sauce, 1/4 tsp sugar.
Heat pan with some oil and fry 6 sausages until cooked through. Check to see if cooked. Slice the cooked sausages on the diagonal and set aside.
Thinly slice up 1 capsicum and 1 small onion. Cut snow peas on the diagonal. Dilute 1/2 a chicken stock cube with 100ml hot water. Mix 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp soya sauce and 1/4 tsp sugar in a bowl.
Heat up the same pan the sausages were cooked in, add in some oil and swirl to coat. Add onion and fry till soft. Add capsicum, snow peas, baby corn and cooked sausage, and fry for 2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock mix, scraping up any bits at bottom of pan and fry for another few minutes or until veggies are cooked through. Add the sauce mix, and combine everything together well. Dish out and serve hot.
You can enjoy this with white rice like we did, or as an accompaniment to noodles.
Top tips for getting kids to help in the kitchen:
- Stick to recipes you’ve made before, so you have time to both cook, guide and coach.
- Remind the young ones (over and over again!) about the importance of keeping their hands clean when helping out.
- Timing is everything. Use a weekend or a non-rush-hour weekday to get your kids to help. You will find that you might be more relaxed and less critical of them during this time.
- For the younger ones, they don’t have to stay until the entire cooking process is over. Let them partially help if they are new to this.
- Get cheap aprons or chef hats for the younger kids, if this will entice them to help!
- As kids get older, start them on rice-cooker duty or pasta cooking duty.
Have fun and enjoy the bonding time, #mumchicmumsquad!
By Hemala Devaraj
Hema loves spending time in the kitchen trying out new recipes. She also shares simple and easy recipes which have worked for her at her website, The Sudden Cook. Together with her hubby, she is parenting twins and living in beautiful chaos every day.
Looking for even more culinary tips for the family? Read our previous article: Cooking with the kids: 4 secrets to some amazing family time.