7 Tips For Introducing Kids To The Joys Of Cooking

Between school, sports, and other extracurricular activities, it can be hard for parents to find quality time to spend with their kids. One of Sinisa’s favorite ways to bond with the boys is by inviting them to help out in the kitchen. It can be a fun and educational experience.

Having grown up in the age of television food programming, many of today’s kids have a strong appreciation for how food is made and a desire to try some of the recipes and techniques they’ve seen on TV. Jacob’s favorite food show is Cake Boss and both boys enjoy helping bake (especially when they get to help make crepes and smother them in Nutella).

Here are seven tips for introducing kids to the joys of cooking, provided courtesy of the team at Chef Works, a leading provider of culinary apparel for professionals and home cooks alike.

Start Them Young

Like most things you want to teach your kids, the earlier you can get them started, the better. While obviously you’re not going to let a toddler handle a knife or cook at the stove, there are plenty of tasks that aren’t dangerous that will get them excited about food. Give your kindergartener a bowl of green beans to snap, or let your kids dump flour into the mixing bowl when making bread. Kids from almost any age can help measure, rinse, stir, or clean.

Start Simple

When you first teach your kids to cook, you can overwhelm them with complicated recipes and techniques. Instead, try easy snacks and recipes that require very little, but turn out impressive. Simple dips, fruit salads, or easy pizzas are all things that won’t burn out your kids, and that they’ll love to eat when the time comes.   The younger your kids are, the shorter their attention span, so you need to make sure that whatever you’re doing is hands on, and produces results fast. It will make them extra excited to get in the kitchen next time, especially if they end up getting a treat at the end.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Mess

Kids love messes, and while you may not like cleaning up, it can make cooking all the more fun. Let kids roll out pie dough, stir batters, and smash tomatoes with their hands. Just make sure you teach them how to clean up after each session as well.

Get Kids Their Own Gear

Little hands require little things so consider purchasing a set of kitchen tools that are child sized. Chef Works also sells a variety of gear for kids, so you can get your kids their own aprons or jackets. It will teach them about cleanliness, and maybe even encourage them to be a professional chef someday.

Let Them Be in Charge

After a few lessons in the kitchen, let kids that are old enough take over the planning, prep, and even some of the cooking. Kids will be excited to know that a meal that they came up with on their own is eaten and enjoyed by the family. Of course, you can help them if they request it, or aren’t old enough to do everything on their own, but it’s an amazing sense of accomplishment when they do as much as they can on their own. 

Take Them Shopping

Instead of dreading taking your kids shopping, embrace it. Walk them through the produce department, and talk about different fruits and vegetables and their nutritional benefits. Let them touch, smell, and feel the difference between different types of fruits, and teach them about different meats and cheeses. Skip the junk food aisles to limit begging, but instead teach your kids the value of real, wholesome food.

Farmer’s markets are another great way to get kids excited about different foods, and you’ll have a blast watching your kids’ excitement as they learn how different foods are grown and produced. It can teach them to appreciate good quality food that fuels their bodies instead of just satiating them.

Make it a Family Thing

Parenting experts will tell you that eating a meal around the dinner table is important, and it is. You can make it even more special by making the cooking process a family affair as well. Assign each family member a task based on age and ability, and get in the habit of coming together each night to make a meal that is worthy of the best restaurants. You’ll accomplish two things by doing this: First, you’ll be building good habits and spending quality time with your family, and second, you’ll take the pressure off of one person to do all of the work of meal planning and prep. It’s truly a win-win for everyone involved.

This last tip is so true. Some of the best childhood memories I have are those made in the kitchen and around the dinner table! What other tips would you suggest?

 

10 New Cookie Recipes To Try

#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Intel. This could include the Intel Corporation providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is bake cookies with my family. I tend to make the same cookies year after year but this year I wanted to make some new varieties. I headed to Pinterest to see what I could find and wanted to share 10 of my favorites with you all! One of these will be in the oven on Christmas Eve but I’m still deciding on which one I want to bake.

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Eggnog Cookies from Cooking Classy

Pecan Snowballs from Southern Bite

No-Bake Peppermint Bark Cookies from The Suburban Soapbox

Strawberry Pinch Cookies from Eating on a Dime

Melting Snowmen Cookies from Better Homes and Gardens

Pecan Pie Cookies from Spend With Pennies

Hot Cocoa Cookies from Glorious Treats

Ultimate Grasshopper Cookies from Your Cup of Cake

Mocha Crinkle Cookies from Cake Whiz

I love being able to bring my tablet into the kitchen and follow recipe directions on it. I used to have to print out the recipe or write it down but now I can skip that step. Some websites even provide quick video tutorials and I can watch them while following the step by step directions as I watch. I like the crisp, clear images and the videos load really fast on my tablet all because of the Intel processor that’s inside of it. In fact, Intel Tablets have 1.9x better web performance than other tablets which means I can spend less time searching the web and more time baking this holiday season!

My Festive Kitchen {Target Gift Card Giveaway}

Target is my favorite store so I’m excited to be working with them on this sponsored holiday post and giveaway.

I can never seem to get out of Target without a cart full of goodies, so when I saw the holiday kitchen and entertaining aisles I knew I was in trouble. This is our first Christmas in our new home so it was the perfect time to add some seasonal items to our kitchen. Everything was so adorable and many of the things would be perfect for making my home festive while entertaining family and friends this month.

One thing my family likes to do is get together to decorate cookies. We bake sugar cookies and then let the kids decorate them however they’d like to with frosting, candies and sprinkles. Normally the toppings are in plain bowls but I love these Threshold stoneware bowls. Though they are red and white I can use them year round since they aren’t too Christmasy.

We also like to make peanut butter kiss cookies. The kids unwrap the hershey kisses for me. It’s their favorite job because they get to sneak a few candies while mommy isn’t looking. Target has lots of cookie plates. I picked up a couple along with a cookie jar since we always have dozens of Christmas cookies during the holidays.

Another thing I made for holiday guests this year is a mini hot cocoa bar. I put hot cocoa mix in a big glass jar, marshmallows in a mason jar, and then set mugs out. I used a large gift tag and red ribbon to add a little holiday cheer to the setup.

I love how much more festive my kitchen looks now! I think it is so welcoming and I can’t wait for family to come on Christmas day to celebrate with presents, cookies and mugs of hot cocoa!

How can Target help you celebrate the holidays? Tell me what you pick up from my favorite store to make your Christmas, Chanukah or New Years celebrations brighter for a chance to win a gift card!

One reader who comments with their answer below will win a $75 Target gift card. You can earn an extra entry for sharing this post on social media (just leave a second comment with the link).

This giveaway ends December 31, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident and 21 or older to win.

Baking Christmas Cookies With Betty Crocker {Prize Pack Giveaway}

Thanks to Betty Crocker for sponsoring this post and giveaway.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is baking Christmas cookies. I still remember all the fun I had in the kitchen when I was growing up and love reminiscing as I bake cookies with my own boys. When I was younger my favorite cookies to make were sugar cookies, corn flake wreaths, and peanut butter chocolate balls. Now that my kids are helping bake they generally are in charge of picking which cookies get made and their choices are chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies (with lots of frosting and sprinkles!)

This year Betty Crocker sent us some baking supplies and my boys were excited to see their two favorite cookie mixes in the box. Luke decided he wanted to make the chocolate chip cookies and then use the frosting and icing to decorate them. He enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with daddy for some father/son bonding time :)

Betty Crocker wants to encourage you to spend some time in the kitchen with your loved ones this holiday as well! They have created a “kid’s corner” on their website and shared the top 10 cookies for kids. Each recipe also has a short how-to video as well. Tweet your cookie creations with the hashtag #GetYourBettyOn to share them with the folks over at Betty Crocker!

GIVEAWAY:

One person will win a Betty Crocker prize pack that consists of:

  • Kitchen tablet stand
  • Betty Crocker™ Mixing Spoon
  • Betty Crocker™ Oven Mitt
  • “Get Your Betty On” Apron
  • Gingerbread Cookie Cutter
  • Betty Crocker™ Sugar Cookie Mix
  • Betty Crocker™ Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
  • Betty Crocker™ Whipped Vanilla Frosting
  • Betty Crocker™ Holiday Recipe Booklet 2014 – feat. The Top 10 Cookie Decorating Ideas of 2014

HOW TO ENTER:

Comment below with your favorite Christmas cookie

For an extra entry, share this giveaway on a social network and leave the link in the comments

Giveaway ends December 15, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to enter.

Easy Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

(Disclosure: This post is sponsored by McCormick. All thoughts are my own.)

The boys and I had so much fun making ornaments today. I found a McCormick recipe for a cinnamon dough that only used two ingredients- applesauce and cinnamon. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

I thought the recipe on the McCormick website didn’t seem like a lot of dough so I doubled the applesauce and cinnamon. I found that their recipe would have made plenty of dough for about a dozen ornaments so I’m sharing the recipe as it is on their site.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 200°F. Mix applesauce and cinnamon in small bowl until a smooth ball of dough is formed. (You may need to use your hands to incorporate all of the cinnamon.) 
  • Using about 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll dough to 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap. Peel off top sheet of plastic wrap. Cut dough into desired shapes with 2- to 3-inch cookie cutters. Make a hole at top of ornament with drinking straw or skewer. Place ornaments on baking sheet. (Note from me: Make sure it’s a non-stick cookie sheet!)
  • Bake 2 1/2 hours. Cool ornaments on wire rack. (Or, to dry ornaments at room temperature, carefully place them on wire rack. Let stand 1 to 2 days or until thoroughly dry, turning occasionally.).
  • Insert ribbon through holes and tie to hang. Decorate with opaque paint markers, found in arts and crafts stores, if desired.
The boys love seeing their ornaments on their little tree and I loved spending time with them making something we can keep for years to come.

How To Make Perfect Sugar Cookies

With baking season in full-swing I wanted to share these 9 tips from Country Woman magazine to help you make the perfect sugar cookie. I’ll be baking with the boys tomorrow so these tips came just in time!

1.    Don’t Be Too Touchy: Use a light touch when handling the dough. Over-handling will result in tough cookies.

2.    Stay Cool: Refrigerate the dough before rolling for easier handling.

3.    Avoid Sticky Situations: Prevent sticking by lightly dusting with flour both the rolling pin and work surface. Be careful—working     too much extra flour into the dough will make the cookies tough.

4.    Start Small: Roll out a portion of the dough at a time; keep remaining dough in the fridge so it stays easy to work with.

5.    Create An Even Playing Field: Roll from the center to the edge, keeping a uniform thickness. Check thickness with a ruler. Uneven dough means cookies will bake unevenly, and thinner cookies may burn before thicker ones are done.

6.    Get a Clean Cut: Dip your cutter in flour or use nonstick cooking spray to keep dough from sticking to the cookie cutter.

7.    Take Out the Tools: Keep cutouts intact before and after baking by transferring them to and from the baking sheet with a large    metal spatula or pancake turner that supports the entire cutout.

8.    Keep it Simple: Limit designs and colors when decorating. Too many colors and shapes can be overwhelming.

9.    Leave Them Out to Dry: Let decorated cookies dry overnight before packaging them for gift giving or freezing.

Dessert Designer Book & Baking Giveaway

(Disclosure: I received a copy of the book and a baking set but all thoughts are my own.)

One thing the boys and I love to do together is bake delicious treats {and then eat them of course}. A book came out in February called Dessert Designer that is perfect for families like ours. The Author, Dana Meachen Rau, shows children and parents how to go beyond just baking and focus on the really fun part- the decorating! I loved flipping through the book and seeing all of the creative designs and the best part is that most of them looked fairly easy to put together.

Look at this cute design from the book:

 Aren’t those so creative? I am so in love with how many cute ideas are in this book and I think the boys are going to love decorating cupcakes to actually look like something {as opposed to just dumping half a bottle of sprinkles on a frosted cupcake}!

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a copy of the book, a set of nesting bowls, and a spatula.

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do.}

1) Tell me what animal you’d like to decorate on a cupcake

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Like Capstone Young Readers on Facebook

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Subscribe to this blog via email (look in upper right corner)

Giveaway ends April 14, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents ages 18 and older only. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.

Wonderworld Toys Bakery Set Giveaway {Shake, Rattle and Roll Event}

Check out my giveaway below and then don’t forget to enter to win the Shake, Rattle, & Roll Grand Prize sponsored by Tommee Tippee! You will have the chance to win a Closer to Nature Audio Baby Monitor valued at $149.99! Visit Formula Mom to Enter the Shake, Rattle, & Roll Grand Prize Giveaway!!

MY GIVEAWAY:

‘My Bakery Set’ by Wonderworld Toys {$40 ARV}

This eco-friendly, wooden set is not only adorable but was a big hit with my boys. It kept them busy for over an hour, which is normally something only cars and trains can do. What I loved most about the set was that it wasn’t just a box of play food. The “food” actually came in multiple pieces with a set of picture directions of how to make the two recipes. I thought the strawberry and orange garnishes that were included were a nice touch. It amazed me to watch my little two and three year olds pretending to cook just like mommy and daddy do and it was cute to watch them pretend to read the directions and put the desserts together step by step as the recipe showed.

Look what my boys “baked” me for breakfast :)

I thought the quality of the bowl and the utensils were very good. The only thing that I would have changed would have been to make the container, box, and recipe sheet out of heavier paper or even laminated paper. While the paper items didn’t rip the first couple times this toy has been played with, I am afraid that it may soon. Other than that we absolutely love this set and would recommend it to any parent or grandparent who has a little baker of their own :)

Another cool thing that Wonderworld Toys does is that they plant two trees for every one tree that they use. They have planted over 60,000 trees so far!

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you want to win this bakery set for

2) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) Like Wonderworld Toys on Facebook

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Follow @WonderworldToys on Twitter

6) Share this giveaway on a social network

7) Enter another one of my giveaways {found here}

Giveaway ends June 5, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US only.

(Disclosure: I received a bakery set to review but all thoughts are my own.)

(Disclaimer: Formula Mom, Tales From the Nursery, and the Shake, Rattle, & Roll bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that fail to fulfill their prizes.)

Find more infant, toddler and child giveaways at the link below!

Pillsbury Baking Mixes Review {And Contest Info}

 

REVIEW

Pillsbury sent our family a sampling of their new cakes, cookies, and brownie mixes. I was excited to see Perfectly Pumpkin cookies because I love pumpkin flavored desserts. The Mocha Fudge brownies also sounded delicious because it mixes two of my favorites (coffee and chocolate)! Jacob, my three year old, chose his favorite which of course were the Funfetti cookies because they had sprinkles and were chocolate (wonder where he got the love of chocolate from?!).

Jacob helped Daddy make the Chocolate Funfetti cookies. Daddy measured all the ingredients and Jacob did the mixing. I loved watching him try to get the egg with the spoon because the yolk kept moving. Jacob loved the way the batter smelled and kept sniffing it. His favorite part, though, was eating the cookies! Lucas ate a few, too. They liked picking the sprinkles off the cookie and gobbled them up.

I can’t wait to try the other mixes that we were sent. The only thing I like more than eating the treats is how our house smells while they are baking :)

CONTEST

From September 21 through November 30, 2011, fans of Pillsbury baking mixes, frostings and flours can visit www.pillsburybaking.com to enter the Pillsbury People Celebrate More Photo Contest. Fans are asked to submit a photo capturing an everyday family celebration, plus a brief description (200 words or less) describing the moment and how the family experience made them feel. Ten finalist photos and captions will be chosen and posted on www.pillsburybaking.com for a nationwide online vote to help decide the winner beginning in January 2012. The winner will also be invited to the ultimate hometown celebration for the Pillsbury Doughboy’s birthday this spring.

New Pillsbury Baking Products

Also, just in time for baking season, Pillsbury has a selection of delicious new baking products:

·         Mocha Fudge and Dark Chocolate Pillsbury Brownie Mixes

·         Pillsbury Cookie Mixes in Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Funfetti and Sugar Cookie  

·         Sugar-Free Moist Supreme® Cake Mix in Classic Yellow and Devil’s Food

·         Sugar-Free Brownie Mix in Chocolate Fudge and Milk Chocolate

·         Pillsbury Sugar Free Creamy Supreme® Frosting in Chocolate Fudge and Vanilla

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(Disclosure: I received products from Pillsbury to review but all thoughts are my own.)

Spooktacular Cake Pops

I love to bake but I don’t do it very often. I kept hearing people talk about making cake pops but they always seemed too time consuming and difficult to make. Looking through the September 2011 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal I came upon an article entitled, “Bake Sale Treats”, and it shared a recipe for cake pops that made it seem easier than I had thought it would be. I decided to make them with the help of Sinisa and two little taste testers, Jacob and Lucas.

I headed to Michaels to get the supplies I needed to make cake pops. To see more about my shopping trip to Michaels and all the Fall items I bought click here.

Ingredients to make cake pops:

-Boxed Cake Mix

-Container of Frosting

-Candy Melts

-Sprinkles

Optional: cute basket, styrofoam pieces, and crinkled paper to display the cake pops.

Directions to make the cake pops:

Follow the directions on the cake box mix and make the cake like you normally would (without the frosting)

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Let the cake cool completely. Once it is cool, crumble it in your hands or using a food processor.

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Add a container of frosting and mix well until you have a dough like consistency.

***

Roll mixture into 1-inch ball and freeze for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes take them out of the freezer. Dip the lollipop sticks in melted candy melts and stick in the middle of the balls. Stick them back in the freezer for another 20 minutes.

***

After 20 minutes take them out of the freezer and dip them into a bowl of melted candy melts.

***

Dip the cake pops in sprinkles and let the candy coating harden before eating.

I think I did a good job for my first try making these but here are a few tips I learned from the process:

1) Don’t add too much frosting. One container is enough. I promise. I added a little extra from a second container because it didn’t seem like they had enough frosting and discovered that I added too much.

2) Make sure you melt the candy melts properly and make sure the bowl isn’t too shallow. I couldn’t easily dip the cake pop in the bowl and didn’t have the candy melted enough so the outside coating of my cake pops is too thick.

3) Once you dip the cake pops in the candy melts and add the sprinkles try to let the candy melt harden on them while they stand up. If you put it back on your cookie sheet upside down the sprinkles sink into the top and they don’t look right.

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By the way, Ladies’ Home Journal is hosting a Personal Essay Contest. Here is more information about the contest: “For the first-ever LHJ Personal Essay Contest, we’re looking for first-person narratives of personal growth — a term you can interpret as broadly as you like. Whether you choose to write about a life lesson you learned the hard way or a challenge you managed (or perhaps failed) to meet, no topic is off-limits. And you could win $3,000 and have your essay published in LHJ. Essays will be judged chiefly on their emotional power, their originality, and the quality of their prose.” To learn more you can read about it here.

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(Disclosure: This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #CBias. All opinions are my own.)

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Villeroy & Boch Review

With Easter coming up I couldn’t wait to share these beautiful baking dishes from Villeroy & Boch with you. They are perfect for sharing a dish at Easter dinner!

I had a chance to review the Lasagne Dish from the Ceramicplus French Garden line. The thing I love most about these dishes is that Villeroy & Boch uses Ceramicplus which is exclusive to their company and makes these easy to clean. Not only that but they are all dishwasher and microwave safe which is a huge plus (I hate hand washing dishes)!

Villeroy & Boch has been around since 1748 and also offers a Gift and Bridal Registry. They also guarantee that they will never run out of a pattern or particular style. Their pattern availability pledge states that “in the event that your pattern is discontinued at some future date, we will notify you up to 12 months in advance”. This assures that you will never be left with an incomplete set of dishes.

(Disclosure: I received a piece from Villeroy & Boch to review but all thoughts are my own.)

This post has been linked up to Things I Love Thursdays at The Diaper Diaries.