Kids have a natural curiosity for food, stemming from how much of our lives revolve around it. We get together over meals for holidays and birthdays, bake cookies and bread to take to neighbors, meet friends for meals at local restaurants and go to ice cream shops for a sweet treat. Kids develop their eating preferences early on in life- what recipes they like and don’t like, whether they prefer salty or sweet.
Getting kids excited about different kinds of food and teaching them how to prepare it can be a fun way to bond. Passing down a beloved cookie recipe from Grandma or teaching a child how to make Mom’s chicken noodle soup can be a great way to create lasting memories. Kids also like to be creative in the kitchen… Turn your child loose with a spatula and few ingredients and you might end up with a delicious meal and a contestant for the next MasterChef Junior!
Three Easy Recipes for Beginning Chefs
If your child needs to master a few basic kitchen skills before you enter him into cooking competitions, that’s okay! Everyone has to start somewhere! These three easy recipes should help your tiny chef get his sea legs and help give him the confidence to start cooking up a storm!
For Breakfast: Mini Donut Muffins
You will need:
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mini Muffin Pan, greased
To Make Mini Donut Muffins:
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix dry ingredients for donuts together in a bowl.
Add wet ingredients.
Stir. Careful not to over mix.
Pour batter into mini muffin cups, filling each one about half way.
Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes.
While donuts are baking, prepare the topping:
Melt butter in the microwave.
Combine sugar and cinnamon in separate bowl.
When muffins are cool enough to touch (but not completely cooled!), submerge them in butter and then roll them in the cinnamon-sugar combo.
Let them cool and then enjoy!
Other variations to try: Add mini chocolate chips to the batter if your sweet tooth needs an extra kick; add pureed raspberries to the batter for a fruity flavor; add walnuts to the batter for a slightly nutty treat.
For Dinner: Breaded Chicken Nuggets
You will need:
1 lb. raw chicken, thawed and cut into strips
½ cup of butter, melted
1 cup of panko/bread crumbs
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
Dash of salt and pepper to taste
Optional substitutions: shredded coconut instead of parmesan cheese; crushed pretzels instead of bread crumbs; crushed pecans instead of bread crumbs.
Baking sheet, sprayed with cooking spray.
To Make Chicken Nuggets:
Fair warning- this gets quite messy! Make sure to keep paper towels nearby for sticky fingers!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place bread crumbs and parmesan cheese in bowls. Line up next to bowl with butter. Place baking sheet at the end of the row of three bowls.
Start by dunking the raw chicken in butter.
Then, roll the raw chicken covered in butter in the bread crumbs.
Lastly, roll the raw chicken in parmesan cheese.
Place chicken on baking sheet.
Repeat until all chicken is coated in butter, bread crumbs and cheese.
Salt and pepper chicken.
Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Voila! Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.
Experiment with different combinations of toppings. Pretzel-crusted chicken is fantastic with a mustard dipping sauce. Coconut-crusted chicken is great with a Polynesian sauce.
For Your Sweet Tooth: Easy Fudge (in the Microwave!)
You will need:
White chocolate chips (1 bag)
Sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
Optional add-ins: sprinkles, food coloring, crushed oreos.
8 x 8 baking pan, lined with wax paper and sprayed with cooking spray.
To Make the Fudge:
Combine all chocolate chips and all sweetened condensed milk in one microwave-safe bowl.
Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir.
Repeat the process until all chocolate chips are melted and the batter is smooth.
Add optional mix-ins. Try yellow or pink fudge for Spring. Or Oreo fudge for an extra-chocolatey treat!
Pour batter into wax paper-lined baking pan. Add sprinkles or other decorations as desired on top.
Let batter stand in refrigerator for at least one hour.
Cut into squares and serve. Yum!
Once your Junior Chef masters these recipes, let him google a few more with a longer list of ingredients or more steps. If he burns something (he probably will!) or adds to much or too little of an ingredient, help him learn from his mistake! Who knows- maybe he will end up creating a one-of-kind food masterpiece! Please be safe. Cook together, especially when heat and sharps are involved! Enjoy!
My name is John Haber. I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founder of Nogginsland. I became a COTA in 2003, and then went back to school much later, receiving my Master’s Degree in OT from Mercy College in New York in 2016.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in different settings, from school districts, to developmental disability centers, to children’s hospitals.