With the intensified hustle and bustle at this time of year, cooking with your little ones can get put on the back burner—but we need to remind ourselves what the holidays really mean and find time to have holiday fun with our kids.
So, fire up the stove: who knows what pint-sized Martha Stewart or Emeril may be budding in your very own kitchen?
Safety, Learning, and Comfort First
Never leave young children alone to cook, cut, chop, slice, dice, or otherwise use sharp instruments. Likewise, children should not be in the kitchen while the stove or oven is on unless you are there. Teach them to stay clear of dangerous situations: Mock touching the stove by saying, "Hot! Ow!" to show toddlers and younger ones what can happen if they touch it, and remind older children to be careful around the burners, too.
Don't forget to turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so eager hands can't grab them. Use up your back burners first.
Read the recipe and ingredients together. Gather everything you will need in one spot; then figure out what each step of the recipe is asking you to do.
Make the kitchen more child-chef friendly by getting a tall, sturdy chair or footstool so your youngster can better see the countertops. Make or buy child-sized aprons, kitchen utensils, and potholders. Teach kids to measure out ingredients with measuring cups and spoons. This not only proffers their cooking skills, but takes math out of the realm of school-only and into real life.
Gifts from Your Child's Kitchen
Cookie Hands: Put a personal twist on store-bought cookie dough. Have your child trace his hands in the dough., cut out with a plastic knife, and bake. Add red frosting for fingernails, white for a big diamond ring. Bake as directed.
Apple Surprises: Core an apple. Place on a cookie sheet. Let your child fill it with granola cereal and then shake some cinnamon on it. Bake until the apple begins to get soft. Drop chocolate chips on the top and continue baking until the apple is soft and the chips are melted. After it cools, wrap in colored plastic wrap with a bow. Your child can cut out small tags for writing instructions to reheat about five minutes. This is also a nice snack to leave out for Rudolph.