Cooking With Toddlers?

[sub]they taste just like chicken![/sub]

My son, who is 2 1/2, has recently become enamored of my kitchen. He’s always in there when I’m cooking, trying to see in the pot, pull stuff out of the fridge, sprinkling pepper on everything, etc. I think this is the bees knees and I want to encourage it. Right now, he’s mainly my “helper”. I’ll let him unwrap the butter sticks or stir the salad (in a VERY big bowl) or whatnot, but I’m wanting to try and help him actually make something of his very own. He’s not very patient yet, so it would have to be fairly quick. And it should be something he’s actually going to be interested in eating once it is finished.

Does anyone have any simple recipe suggestions, or good websites about cooking with small children? Ideally, I’d like it to be easy enough that he could pretty much do it all with me there just a his “helper”.

Any ideas?

I think I’d just stick with what you’re doing. I also would pick mine up to help me stir things on the stove. Adding ingredients is fun too, as long as he has the dexterity to do so. As for actually creating something you might start with sandwiches and see if you can work up from there.

My earliest kitchen memories are of helping with pancakes–batter stirring, carefully supervised griddle-pouring, that sort of thing.

When cooking with toddlers it is best to marinate them overnight and bake slowly for a long time.

(sorry, couldn’t resist)

When my boys were toddlers, I’d let them make pepperoni rolls. I’d open up a can of crescent rolls and let them separate the dough, lay on the pepperoni, sprinkle on some mozzarella and roll them up. (Of course, I’d put the pan in the oven.) I’d make a salad in the meantime. They loved the fact that they made dinner. It didn’t matter that they weren’t rolled up perfectly or that it took them a while to make them.

Good on ya for letting the little one cook!

I Googled “cooking toddlers” (now, now) and got a whole mess (heh) of promising-looking links.

Have at it! At our last potluck, my friend’s six-year-old presented me with a salad that she had invented herself, out of pears, basil, and (I think) blue cheese. It was a hit!

English muffin pizzas are good too. Toast the English muffins, top with a little canned or jarred sauce (I use plain tomato sauce and add a tiny bit of oregano and a drizzle of olive oil) then sprinkle on some mozzarella. You can use the pre-shredded so it’s easy for him.

You’d want to put it in the toaster oven or under the broiler yourself, but he could do the rest of it.

There are a lot of good simple cookbooks for young children with things he could do in them. Betty Crocker children’s cookbooks come to mind. Maybe I’ll take a look at some of mine later and see what I find for you.

Woohoo, Lots of ideas. I especially like the little pizzas because I know he’d eat those like a madman!

Thanks everyone, keep 'em coming. :slight_smile:

That would be really good with walnuts or pecans and a raspberry vinagrette!

My mom bought us those little pans and mixes that went with an Easy Bake Oven. We never had the oven itself, though I wanted one, guess it was too much of a girl’s toy or something. But we had fun mixing the cakes and cooking them in the full-sized oven, with mom’s supervision of course.

Some replies here reminded me of a couple of other things:

  1. Some friends of ours have a frequent “top your own pizza night” with their girls. It’s sort of cooking, they get to decide how much sauce, cheese, etc to add. I think that they used Boboli crusts. We’ve done a similar thing a couple of times but I like to also make the crust, although I don’t get much help from the kiddoes on that one. Which leads to point 2.

  2. We have one of those hand cranked pasta machines. It often comes out as a rainy day kind of activity. It’s a bit of an effort to make the dough, but if you can get past that, they love to crank the handle while you flatten and cut it. My son hasn’t shown much enthusiam for cooking, but he has been dubbed “The World’s Most Expensive Pasta Maker”.

My youngest is 7 and he loves to help cook–he’s currently taking a cooking class offered afterschool.

Emeril has a kids cookbook and one of our favorite things to make together the pretzel recipe–it’s very hands on and no matter what he does, they’ll come out just fine.

Hey! I received one of those as a wedding gift and I do believe it is sitting in my garage, still in the box, collecting dust. That’s a great idea, because he’s really into machines and gagety type stuff right now too. Thanks Shibb!
And IP, don’t feel too badly about missing out on the easy-bake. It was basically a lightbulb in a box. I hated mine, and couldn’t wait for the day my mom let me use the real oven. :slight_smile:

I had a blast with this recipe when I was little, and it’s still fun to do this one with kids now:

Peanut Butter Playdough
3 1/2 Cups peanut butter
4 cups Powdered sugar
3 1/2 Cups honey
4 Cups Dry milk powder

Cream together the peanut butter and powdered sugar, then add the honey and powdered milk. Voila! Moldable, edible play dough. Good for making shapes and then eating (as in, “It’s a scary snake!” CHOMP!).

My mom says my brother was like this as a young child, and he turned out to be a great cook. So it’s definitely something you want to encourage.

Let’s not knock easy bake ovens. I keep forgetting to get a hold of one with this book. I want to make one serving of Roasted Quail Breast with Wild Mushrooms and Pomme Anna under a lightbulb.

Anyway, roll up sandwiches are good. (it’s a sandwich, but you roll it up, to make it fancier). As are toddler favorites like Ants on a Log or peanut butter and apples.

When I was his age I always wanted to crack the eggs (so much so that one unsupervised afternoon, I cracked several of them directly on the floor). Anyway, anytime you use eggs, let him crack them–though you may want him to do it into a small bowl so you can fish out the shells before adding it to the other ingredients).

mmmmmmmmmmmmm… Toddlers . . . :drools: