Cooking With Your Kids

Queens ny farmers market November is Kids Cooking Month at Queens Mamas. All month we will be running articles on cooking with your kids, fun and easy recipes, kid friendly restaurants in Queens, and more. We would love to hear from you about your favorite family recipes, restaurants and more. Leave us a comment, send us an email, or catch us on Facebook and Twitter to give us your cooking tips.

It’s no secret kids of all ages are always trying to be older than the age they currently are. If only they knew just how well they have it, right? While there are some things they really have to wait for, like driving a car, there is something you can do with them to increase their sense of responsibility, while still nurturing and encouraging their creativity. Try cooking with them.

Cooking a meal can help develop math skills, promote the use of their imagination, and give them a sense of pride at having created something for the whole family. For your little ones, it can also give them a sense of control over what they’re eating, turning even a picky eater into an adventurous one. They will want to try what they made, even if it’s something they wouldn’t even touch if you made it. The best part is you’re still running the show by picking an age appropriate recipe to try.

Start by making an ingredient list to make sure you have everything you need. It sounds simple enough, but it will cut down on a lot of frustration, on both your part and your child’s, if you keep organized. This goes for the utensils you’ll need as well. Have everything you’ll need lined up, from bowls to measuring cups to spoons. Now comes the fun part. For younger kids, have them dump the ingredients into the mixing bowl, or help to stir. Try not to get caught up in the inevitable mess they’ll make. The mess can always be cleaned, and the result of having gained your trust by allowing them to help will have your toddler beaming for the rest of the day. Older kids can be more involved by measuring everything out, which is where the math comes into play, or using the stand mixer.

With the holidays coming up, there are tons of recipes you can try. Here is an example that is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, thanks to Not-A-Chef #1 via www.food.com.

No Bake Dirt Pie

For this show stopper you’ll need:

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

2 (3 1/2 ounce) packages jello instant chocolate pudding

3 1/2 cups milk (skim works fine)

12 ounces Cool Whip, thawed

20 ounces Oreo cookies, crushed finely

20 candy gummy worms (optional)

The directions couldn’t be any simpler, either.

1. Mix butter, cream cheese and sugar in bowl and set aside. In separate bowl, mix milk and pudding. Fold in Cool Whip. Combine the two bowls gently by folding until combined completely.

2. You can layer in individual bowls or in one large 12" pan. Start with a layer of 1/2 of the cookies on the bottom, layer mixture in middle and top with remaining cookies. Top with candy gummy worms. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

If your idea of cooking involves picking up the phone and ordering take out, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your kids involved in the kitchen. The Young Chefs Academy in Forest Hills offers age appropriate cooking classes, starting from ages 4 and up. Choose from pay as you go classes or register on a monthly basis for weekly lessons. They even offer more intensive classes for older kids who really love to cook, and are interested in pursuing a culinary career.

Whether you can give Betty Crocker a run for her money or you can’t boil water, there are many different ways to interact with your kids in the kitchen. For more information on the Young Chefs Academy, including a price list and class schedule, visit their website at www.youngchefsacademy.com. For more recipe ideas like the one listed here, visit www.food.com. The possibilities are endless.

Jesseca Stenson