family fun

Fun Recipes: How To Host a Family Cooking Party

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February is Bake for Family Fun Month and what better way to spend a cold afternoon than baking a bunch of goodies together with the kids? It's a great way to introduce your kids to the basics of cooking, and they feel more proud that they helped create what they eat. So let's all get together for some family cooking party fun!

Depending on the age of your child, there is plenty they can help with, as the recipes below show. For preschool kids, guide them through the measurements and they can watch from a distance as you put the baking in the oven. For older kids, narrate through the details, such as, "... and it has to go on the middle rack so the warm air reaches all over the pan" or "make sure you don't sift it too much, or the cake will be too dry." Younger kids just love the experience of seeing ingredients turn into yummy food. Older kids will be more curious as to why certain foods have to be made certain ways.

Kids love to feel like they are a part of things and if you can include them in this seemingly everyday task, it can not only lead to a fun tradition but also get them interested in healthy home cooking from an early age. So get out matching aprons and play some of your kids' favorite music in the background for a bit of dancing during the preparation. This is a party that may be functional but will turn the task of cooking into something truly special. Let's begin!

Sugar Cookie Recipe

As an adult you know that sugar cookies are one of the easiest things to bake. Even if you don't have a true baker inside of you, this is easy enough to put together. This type of cookie makes for an excellent dessert to prepare with the kids. What child doesn't love a good cookie?

Start with a simple sugar cookie recipe or if you really aren't that talented in the baking department or are short on time, get a pre-mixed variety. Either way you want to put together the usual flour, sugar, baking soda, eggs, and oil. The kids will love mixing everything together.

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extra

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, have your child stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Together, roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Half the fun is decorating your sugar cookies and that's where the party activity comes into play. Be sure to prepare and bake these early on so that they have time to cool while you tend to the other dishes.

Put out different colored and flavored frosting such as vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and rainbow chip. Have handy some sprinkles, M&M's, cinnamon candies, little hearts, and some colored sugar decorations. Let the kids use their imagination and don't limit them on how they can decorate these tasty treats.

Have a competition to see who can come up with the best design, the most "glitter", or the funniest cookie face. You will capture some laughs and love how great it is to prepare and decorate these delectable goodies!

Turkey and Bean Soup Recipe

There's nothing that offers more comfort and warmth on a cold winter day like a pot of soup. A good choice is a chicken soup or minestrone with fresh vegetables.

Let your child help you to peel carrots or potatoes, pour in the broth, and measure out the noodles. You can just use a simple chicken broth as the base and then add in some favorites like diced tomatoes and potatoes, chopped green beans, zucchini, and perhaps some broccoli. Let them help you to select and throw in the right seasonings and let the soup cook.

Here's a great turkey and bean soup recipe. Mix together:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Boxes of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 Package of Ground Turkey, Browned
  • 1 Can of Cannellini Beans, Drained
  • 1/2 Package of Spinach, Washed and Sautéed
  • 1/2 Acorn Squash, Cooked with Seeds Removed
  • Blend of Mixed Veggies (zucchini, carrots, potatoes, green beans)
  • 1 Cup of Macaroni

Directions:

  1. Start with the chicken broth and gradually add all the ingredients, in the order listed. Cook until soft.

Cooking with Colors – Red Cooking Day

You can never go wrong when you cook with a color theme. Announce that today will be "red cooking day" and then go to work creating culinary dishes to match the color and the theme.

  • Dessert — First, put together some strawberry muffins using a baking mix as the core. Then take turns putting in chopped fresh strawberries, baking soda, oil, eggs, and milk. Set aside and cool.
  • Dinner — Prepare a favorite like spaghetti with some tasty tomato sauce. Do they have this all the time? Sure, but when they get to help you prepare it then it really makes for a fun party and a great way of bonding. Have them help you to pick which vegetables that you put into the tomato sauce, even if it's the jarred variety. For an extra special party dish have them help you make some simple but extraordinary meatballs. Mix in a bit of diced tomatoes to give it something extra and to pay tribute to the color theme of the day.
  • Salad — Try a fresh cherry tomato and mozzarella salad, but let your child make the ingredients into happy faces. On a bed of lettuce sprinkle some basil for the smile, the fresh tomatoes for the eyes, and a cute little mozzarella ball for the nose. (We did this for my youngest daughter's Elmo birthday party last year, my eldest and I making salads in the likeness of his face.)

You can't go wrong if you mix up a simple recipe that also happens to be fun to create together. That's what a cooking party is all about—making something truly delicious together as a family but having a lot of fun doing it together!

Have the kids help in the kitchen! What yummy recipes will you be sharing with your children this month?

Top photo courtesy of Flickr.

Chris Molnar does most of the cooking in his family, so much that his wife bought him a 350 watt stand mixer one Christmas. His specialty is chicken paprikash, a Hungarian specialty that everybody loves (even his 2 year old, who right now will only eat chocolate chip cookies, rice, spaghetti and Cheez Whiz sandwiches.) Chris works at home and is editor of a themed party site for kids.

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Chris's eldest daughter (5) knows that the word "Hawaii" equals a fun, sunny destination, even if she's not quite sure where it is. With the hot weather this summer and a couple tiki torches haunting his garage from last year, it's definitely time for another luau party. You can visit Chris on his Facebook page - drop by and say aloha!

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