There will come a time when you’re working hard in the kitchen and your sweet little child comes in and says, “Can I help?” Many of us overlook the fact that a lot of kids are fascinated by what they see happening in the kitchen and want to get in on the action. It can be difficult to think of ways that children can help out since many meal-time tasks are dangerous or difficult to do. We’ve put together 5 tips that will have your child feeling like a sous-chef in no time!
Safety first – No matter what meal you choose to allow your kids to help with, safety always comes first. Make sure there are no sharp objects within their reach, that they understand that only grown-ups are allowed to tinker with things like the stove and knives, keep pot handles turned away from the edge of the stove and try to use the backburners when possible.
Choose a meal that is quick and easy – You don’t want to choose a meal that a child won’t understand or be able to play a major role in preparing. If you choose something difficult, the most a small child can do is watch and that’s no fun! Also, children get bored easily so you want to choose a recipe that won’t take all day to make.
Don’t stress kitchen mess – Be aware that cooking with kids most likely means more mess than you are probably used to. Don’t stress it, be prepared. Allow kids to help clean up as you go along.
Choose a recipe that allows for options – a good way to get kids involved in meal preparation is to allow them to choose what goes into the recipe. Good examples of this are salads, pizzas, trail mixes and fruit kabobs.
Make it fun – While cooking, play games such as counting games and color games. Another way to make cooking fun is to create cool shapes or characters with the food presentation. For example, cookies with happy faces are always fun.
Here’s a recipe to get you started:
Tomato, Onion and Bacon Pizza
Makes one 12" pizza – 8 servings
3 strips bacon
1/3 recipe pizza dough
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup hearty pizza sauce, strained
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 plum tomato, cut into ½-inch slices
¼ medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon thinly sliced basil
Lay the bacon slices evenly on the broiler pan of the Cuisinart® Convection Toaster Oven Broiler with the rack in position C. Broil for about 8 minutes, or until bacon is almost crisp. Reserve. Preheat oven to 425°F on the bake setting with the rack in position A. Roll out dough into a 12-inch circle.* Brush the outer edge of the dough with olive oil. Bake in preheated oven for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until dough is lightly golden. Spread the sauce evenly over the dough. Top with the cheese, and then finish with the tomatoes, onions and basil. Bake pizza in preheated oven for about 12 to 14 minutes, or until the dough is nicely browned and the cheese is melted and bubbling on top. Remove the pizza from the oven. Cut into slices and serve immediately.