Did you know that cooking with your kids is one of the best ways to help their cognitive development? Aside from being a fun process that ends in tasty dishes, cooking with children is also a fantastic way to help your budding junior chefs develop necessary academic, cognitive and motor skills. Cooking with children is also a great way to instil healthy eating habits and expand their palette to new, interesting and healthy ingredients that they may not otherwise have a chance to experience.
If you’re looking to whip some tasty dishes up with your little ones, this is the article for you. Today, we present to you 5 recipes for junior chefs that not only taste good but also look good. From pancakes to pasta salads, you’ll have to read on to find out more!
1. Cheese and Bacon Muffins
- 150g cubed pancetta or lardons
- 200 g plain flour
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 100 ml of vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 200 ml whole or semi-skimmed milk
- 125 g grated cheddar cheese
- 5 spring onions, finely sliced
- A few sprigs rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 170°C and place 6 large paper liners into a muffin tin. Make sure junior chefs have grown up help when using the oven.
- To make the muffin batter first cook the pancetta or lardons over medium heat in a non-stick frying pan until crisp and brown. You can choose to do this step prior to making the muffins if you want to keep the kids away from the stove.
- Tip the bacon onto a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside to cool. Place the flour, salt and baking powder into the bowl of a stand mixer (you can get one for cheap at a KitchenAid sale) fitted with the whisk attachment and mix together for a few minutes or until combined.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, egg and milk, then add the bacon, cheese and spring onions, briefly mixing together.
- Pour this mixture into the bowl of the mixer and mix together on a slow speed until just fully combined. Only use a slow speed as if you mix the batter too fast or for too long the muffins will be tough.
- Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cases and top with a few sprigs of rosemary then bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
2. Milo Drop Balls
- 250 g Arnott’s Milk Arrowroot biscuits
- 4 tbsp Milo
- 400 g sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup desiccated coconut, to coat
- Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper. Place coconut into a flat bowl.
- Place biscuits and Milo in a food processor and mix until crumbs are fine.
- Add condensed milk and mix well.
- Use wet hands and roll into small balls. Coat with coconut.
- Refrigerate until firm and then serve!
3. Baked Macaroni
- 300g macaroni
- 100g brown mushrooms, sliced
- 70g butter
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 3 cups milk
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 200g low-fat ricotta
- 100g baby spinach
- 1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
- Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain and cover. Fry mushrooms in a little of the butter until golden. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 180°c. Grease 4 x 1 cup ovenproof dishes.
- Melt remaining butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir over low heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually add milk, stirring until smooth.
- Return to the heat and stir for 5 minutes until thickened. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Stir in egg, ricotta, spinach, mushrooms and cooked pasta. Spoon into dishes. Place on a baking tray, sprinkle with tasty cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
4. Chicken Fried Rice
- 200g chicken breast fillets, thinly sliced by an adult
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 3 spring onions, white and green parts separated, finely sliced
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup broccoli florets, cut into 2cm pieces
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok over high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add garlic and white part of the onion to pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add carrot, peas and broccoli and cook, stirring, for a further 5 minutes or until softened.
- Return chicken to the pan. Add rice, soy sauce and sesame oil, then cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until rice is warmed through. Add spinach and stir to combine.
- Spoon in rice, top with green part of onion, then serve.
- Change up the vegetables if your child has other favourites, such as swapping out the peas for corn, or the broccoli for cauliflower.
5. Easy Chocolate Cake
- 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
- 125g butter, chopped
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 free-range eggs
- 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
- 60g butter
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 3/4 cup icing sugar mixture
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 180°c/160°c fan-forced. Grease a 20cm (6cm deep) round cake pan. Line base and side with baking paper.
- Combine sugar, butter, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and 1 cup water in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, ensuring mixture does not boil over. Remove pan from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
- Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add eggs and stir until well combined.
- Add flour and, using a wooden spoon, stir until well combined.
- Pour into the cake pan, then bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Stand cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer onto a wire rack to cool.
- To make the frosting, combine butter, caster sugar and 2 tbsp water in a small saucepan, then stir over a medium heat for 4 minutes, without boiling, or until sugar dissolves.
- Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a small bowl. Gradually stir cocoa mixture into butter mixture until combined.
- Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until frosting thickens. Beat with a wooden spoon until spreadable.
- Place cake on a plate. Spread with frosting and serve.
We hope that these 5 recipes have inspired you and your budding junior chefs to experiment with different types of cuisines, textures and flavours. Bon Appetit! What did your little junior chefs prefer out of the list?