Children love to play pretend cooking. That’s why mini kitchens and faux cooking sets are pretty popular toys. I’m pretty sure you did some “cooking” with your makeshift stoves and toy pots. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, children should be encouraged to appreciate and learn how to cook early in their lives. Hopefully, your kids know their way around the kitchen by now.
This is pretty important nowadays. Parents are overwhelmed with work, bills, chores, and the coronavirus pandemic hanging over our heads. And now the children have to go to school in this horrific situation. Understandably, many families are having a difficult time adjusting to the new normal.
Parents need every help they can get. If the kids take over the kitchen every now and then, that would be great. They can prepare their own breakfast and even make lunch for everyone. This is not a form of child abuse, mind you.
While most parents would love to take care of everything before the kids head to school, the truth is that some just don’t have the time to do so. Besides, teaching your children to make meals themselves is a valuable skill that makes you even better parents.
Don’t be afraid to let the kids take over the kitchen. You truly deserve a break from your kitchen duties. There’s no doubt about that. But the fact that September 13 is National Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day is another good reason for you to relinquish the reins even if for at least a day.
Of course, you can guide your children if necessary. If the kids are too young, they may need help turning the oven on or slicing some of the ingredients. The important thing here is to celebrate National Kids take Over The Kitchen Day as a family and to make the most out of this rather dire global situation.
Chicken and Bacon Roll-Ups
There will be days when everyone wakes up late. This may mean skipped breakfasts or unmade lunch. Surely that will be a stressful start to the day. Avoid this nuisance by preparing what you need for lunch the night before. Take Chicken and Bacon Roll-Ups by Taste of Home, for example. This recipe requires a filling that you can prepare the night prior and keep in the refrigerator overnight.
- 1 can chunk white chicken, drained
- 4 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
- 8 ounces spreadable garden vegetable cream cheese
- 1 cup salsa
- 6 8-inch flour tortillas
Combine chicken, bacon, cream cheese, and 1/2 cup of the salsa. Place your tortillas on a plate or baking sheet. Spread the salsa mixture over the tortillas then roll each one tightly. Cut the tortillas into 1-inch slices so they’re easier to eat. Give them a kid-friendly knife to use so you don’t have to worry about any missing fingers.
The rolls will need to be refrigerated once you get to work. Since it’s unlikely that the school have refrigerators in each class, you can keep your children’s lunch from turning by placing a cold pack in their lunch boxes. A frozen juice box will also work.
Sloppy Joe Sliders
Kids are known as messy eaters. That is fun and terrifying at the same time. Just the thought of cleaning up after you and the kids enjoy Sloppy Joe Sliders (recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen) is quite terrifying indeed. But if the kids made them, that’s at least one chore off your hands. Plus, watching them making and then eating their sliders is definitely fun. Keep in mind that anything with sloppy joe in its name may not be a good idea for a school lunch. You should probably have this at home when you celebrate the holiday.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup corn kernels
- 1/2 cup baby carrots (crinkle-cut)
- 8 pieces potato slider buns or potato dinner rolls
- 1 cup thinly shredded red cabbage
- 1/4 cup dill pickle chips
- Kosher salt to taste
First, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat then add the ground beef. If your kids are too young, you can turn the stove on for them. They should eventually learn how to use the stove as they keep learning and practicing their cooking skills.
Cook and stir regularly for 4 minutes or until the meat turns brown. Add the chilli powder and 1 teaspoon of salt then cook for two more minutes or until the ground beef is cooked through. Drain the excess liquid leaving about 2 tablespoons of it.
Lower the heat then add ketchup, sugar, vinegar and 1/2 cup water. Let it simmer for around 8 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add the corn and carrots then partially cover. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes or until tender.
Prepare the sliders by scooping some of the meaty sauce onto the lower half of the bun. Add the shredded cabbage and a piece of pickle chip. Cover with the top bun then serve and enjoy.
White Castle-Style Sliders
A less messy and more traditional version of a slider, the White Castle-Style Sliders takes inspiration from the popular burger that Harold and Kumar just had to have. Your children may not be familiar with this crazy duo so might as well teach them how to make White Castle-Style Sliders, another recipe from Food Network Kitchen.
- 10 ounces ground beef chuck (80% lean)
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 8 thin dill pickle chips
- 8 slider buns
Place the chopped onion in a bowl then fill it with 1/2 cup water. Set aside for half an hour. In a food processor, puree the ground beef along with 2 teaspoons water, onion powder, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a bit of pepper. Make sure you teach your children how to use the food processor properly before letting them handle it themselves.
On a piece of parchment paper, draw a 6 x 12 inch rectangle. Flip it over so the pencil mark won’t touch the food. Press the pureed beef onto the rectangle then cover with a new piece of parchment paper. Flatten the beef further until it fills the rectangle.
Remove the top parchment paper then score the beef into eight square patties. Each one should measure around 3 square inches. Grab a chopstick then poke the meat. Create holes on each corner and one in the center. Place the beef onto a baking sheet by sliding it off the remaining parchment paper. Cover the meat and baking pan with plastic wrap. Place inside the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.
Trim the edges then cut the patties along the scored lines. Heat a little oil in a large skillet. Pour the onion and water from the bowl you set aside earlier. Bring the water to a boil then stir in the butter. Place the patties on the skillet and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes or until they lose their pinkish color.
Place the bottom buns on the patties then put the top buns on top to steam them. Cook for two more minutes. The beef should be thoroughly cooked by this time. Add a bit of water if the skillet dries up.
Take out the top buns and set aside. Pick up the individual onions, patty and bottom bun with a spatula in one go. Flip and place on a plate. Top with pickle then cover with the top bun.
Primavera Skillet Pizza
Anyone even kids can make pizza. All you need is to dump the ingredients on a pizza crust and bake it in an oven. That is, if you already have a pizza crust. If you prefer making your own pizza crust from, that will entail a little more work. This Primavera Skillet Pizza from Delish is a good recipe for kids to learn.
- 1 pound pizza dough
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 2 sliced bell peppers
- 1/2 head broccoli, florets removed
- 1/4 thinly sliced small red onion
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- All-purpose flour
While heating your oven to 400°, place your vegetables on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Roast for 18 to 20 minutes or until tender. Remove the baking sheet then turn the oven up to 500°. Brush an oven-proof skillet with olive oil.
Dust flour onto your work surface. Roll out the dough, which should be at room temperature, with your hands. It should be roughly the same the circumference as your skillet. Place the dough on to the skillet and brush it with olive oil.
Add ricotta then sprinkle with mozzarella. Make sure you leave a 1/2″ border for along the ends of the crust. Top it with the roasted vegetables then drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 12 minutes or until crust turns crispy and cheese has melted. Enjoy!
Upside-Down Pepperoni and Cheese Focaccia
If you want a little more pizzazz to your pizza, try making aversion using focaccia. Your kids’ classmates will surely drool over this Upside-Down Pepperoni and Cheese Focaccia also from Food Network Kitchen.
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cups warm water (about 100 degrees F)
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 ounces pepperoni
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 16 ounces grated mozzarella
- Favorite marinara sauce, warmed
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast using a stand mixer. In a measuring cup, mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the warm water. Set the mixer to low. Your kids will need help operating the stand mixer so be sure to be there to show them how.
Carefully pour the water and oil mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients. As the mixer turns for 1 to 2 minutes, the ingredients will eventually turn into a ball. Turn the mixer to medium-high to knead the dough for about 7 minutes or until it’s smooth but not sticky.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, your kids can use their hands. Just do the mixing in a large bowl. After mixing the dry ingredients, make a well in the middle then pour the liquid mixture. Use a wooden spoon to combine the two mixtures and turn them into dough. Use your hands to mold the dough into a ball then knead it on your working surface. Don’t forget to dust the surface and your hands first with flour. This normally takes about 5 minutes. If your kids’ small hands can’t handle the kneading part, you should help them.
Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil then pour 1/3 cup plus a tablespoon of olive oil into a rimmed baking sheet. Make sure you coat it well. Place a layer of pepperonis on the bottom of the pan then add the dried oregano evenly.
Cut the dough in half using your hands. Place one half into the bowl then turn to coat the dough with the olive oil. The other half of the dough goes to the pan with the pepperonis. Use a pastry brush to coat the dough with the oil on the baking sheet.
Grab some plastic wrap and cover both the bowl and the baking sheet. Set aside in a warm place to let the dough rise. This should take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Once done, take the plastic wrap off then carefully press and stretch the dough with your hands. The dough should evenly cover the bottom of the pan. Be careful with the pepperoni. Make sure they stay where they are. Next, spread mozzarella over the dough.
Oil your hands then take out the other piece of dough from the bowl. Carefully stretch the dough and cover the layer of mozzarella in the pan. Pour and spread the oil from the bowl evenly on the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Wait another 1 to 1 1/2 hours for the dough to rise.
Once ready, preheat your oven to 500° F. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The top should turn golden brown while the bread has pulled away from the pan. The oil will be sizzling at this time, too.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the bread cool for several minutes. Once ready, turn the pan over so the bread will fall onto your cutting board. Use a pizza cutter to slice the focaccia into squares then serve with warm marinara sauce.
You might be thinking that this is too much work to make for a school lunch. Well, you may be right. Your kids will be better off making this recipe on days everyone is not too busy. In fact, you should make this on Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day. If there are leftovers, just heat them up in the morning and wrap each slice in aluminum foil before packing them for lunch.
It’s been quite a difficult year so far. We’ve spent months in quarantine for fear of a virus that just won’t leave us alone. Even if most of the world has reopened, it’ll take some time for things to get back to normal if that is even possible. Human beings are a resilient bunch, though. Though many lost their jobs and are struggling right now, there are some who made use of the extra time to learn things such as improving your kitchen skills. Hopefully, you also took the time to teach your children the ins and outs of the kitchen. If you did, they should put their new found skills to good use and make something nice for National Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day. And who knows? Maybe you have the next Junior MasterChef in your hands.
If you have stories about your kids doing kitchen duties, we’d like to hear them. Please share school lunch ideas, too. Let us know in the comment section. Follow Gentleman Pirate Club, too, so you can read up on more recipes and other fun activities you can do with your children.