We all know that we are eating more at home. There has been less dining out, take-away and delivery. Did you know cooking together teaches kids to be independent and responsible individuals? Hands-on cooking helps children develop confidence, social-emotional skills plus physical and cognitive development.

I have been encouraging my grandchildren to cook and/or assist in food preparation since they were very young, and we were pre-pandemic. They seem to gravitate towards me when I am cooking by sitting on the counter or pulling up a chair beside me.  Casual cooking with my grands face-to-face is the best, but I’ve learned FaceTime has its enjoyable aspects.

Allowing children, whenever possible, to select the food item that you will be preparing is a win-win. You will notice they become more excited to help prepare the food and have pride and ownership. A bonus is that they are often willing to try new ingredients and dishes.

Where do you start? Original and/or family recipes, cookbooks, YouTube, internet, and Pinterest are resources that can fit many interests and eating desires.

My favorite cooking source is Cooking Step by Step published by Penguin Random. This recipe book contains lots of photos and easy instructions. Most of the ingredients can be sourced locally. I love the layout of each page. Ingredients are listed on the top or bottom of the page. It is a perfect book for beginners of any age.

I also like delish by Joanna Saltz & Editors of Delish. The photos of food are very large and enticing. Instructions and methods are easy. In addition, their food videos on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube lead you through food preparation step-by-step. 

kidstar.com A kit is mailed each month for a year. Each kit contains one recipe, “Food Fan Magazine” a quality cooking tool, achievement stickers, a “word stir” family game, shopping list and more.

Small spoons, spatulas and kid-friendly knives make the process of cooking easier for children’s small fingers and hands. I purchased a set of kid-friendly knives for my kitchen and then a set for each family of grands. I like “Star Nylon” Kitchen Knives that cut food, but won’t cut the skin. (Set of 3 knives. $9 Amazon Prime. Free delivery.)

I hope I have inspired you to promote more family cooking with your kids. The family that cooks together is my kind of family!

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Bakers Bread in a Bag 

1 Pkg Yeast (1/4 Ounce)

3 C Flour

1 T Sugar

1 t Salt

2 T Margarine or Butter

1 C Very Warm Water

Self-sealing, zip-type plastic bag (1 gallon size)

Extra Flour if Needed

Measuring Cups

Bread or Loaf Pan

No-Stick Cooking Spray

  1. Put yeast, 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, and salt into the bag.
  2. Add butter and warm water. Press most of the air out of the bag and seal. Press and squeeze the bag with your hands until the dough becomes mixed.
  3. Open bag and add last 1 1/2 cups of flour. Seal the bag again and keep pressing and squeezing until the flour is worked into the dough. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more flour if your dough is very sticky.
  4. Unzip the bag and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. This will let the dough rise.
  5. Spray the pan with no-stick cooking spray. Squeeze the dough down. Then take the dough out of the bag and place it in the pan. Let the dough rest in a pan in a warm, but not hot, place to rise. The dough should double its size before baking. This will take about one hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan to cool.

Eleven-year-old Dexter Hopeman prepares Bread in a Bag with Cyndee via FaceTime.

Quick and Easy French Toast Casserole 

1 Loaf Stale Bread

6 Eggs

1 3/4 C Milk

1/2 C Half and Half or Cream

3/4 C Sugar

2 T Vanilla

1/2 C Flour

1/2 C Brown Sugar, firmly packed

1 t Cinnamon

1/2 t Salt

1/2 C Butter, Cubed

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Tear the bread into chunks and place them into the greased pan.
  3. Mix together the eggs, milk, half and half or cream, sugar, and vanilla and pour the mixture evenly over the bread.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and mix until the batter comes somewhat together. Sprinkle the flour/sugar mixture evenly over the top of the bread mixture.
  5. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until golden brown. Store any leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered.

Serve with syrup or blueberry sauce.

Jolie Proctor, age 5, wears her jammies and bunny slippers as she begins preparing French Toast Casserole.

Big Brother, six-year old Kellen Proctor helps his sister to prepare French Toast Casserole for Sunday morning brunch.

OMG Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 C Butter, ROOM TEMPERATURE

1 C White Sugar

1 1/2 C Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

4 1/2 C Flour

1 t Baking Soda

1 t Salt

1 T Corn Starch

1/2 C Mini-Chocolate Chips

1 C Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1 C Milk Chocolate Chips

2 C Dark Chocolate Morsels

2 C Chocolate Chip Chunks

  1. In a mixer combine butter, sugars, and eggs and until just combined. Do not over mix!
  2. Slowly add flour, baking soda, salt and corn starch to butter mixture until incorporated. Do not over mix!
  3. Add the chocolate to the dough mixture until just combined. Do not over mix!
  4. I always make a "test" cookie, baking only one cookie and adding a little flour to the dough if it's are too loose/runny. Generously over pack a 1 Cup measuring cup with cookie dough and turn over on the center of a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat in each corner of the baking sheet leaving an even space around each cookie so they have room to spread. Gently press down the cookie with your fingers, repressing the loose chocolate into the cookie.
  5. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet till completely cool. This is very important as the cookie will fall apart if you remove from the pan and it's still warm. Placed cooled cookies on a wire rack and let cool for a minimum of 2 hours before placing in a 12"x5" cello bag. Tie with ribbon or twine. Enclose a message for a personal touch.

OMG Chocolate Chip Cookies are a family favorite. Ruby Williams is only 4 years old and is learning how to measure ingredients!

COOKIES: Bite-Size Life Lessons was given to the school library as a memorial gift in honor of a teacher that had worked at Harris-Lake Park Elementary. At the time, the book was unknown to me, but it very quickly became one of my favorites. As a connoisseur of cookie dough I latched onto the shared activity of making and eating cookies as author Amy Krouse Rosenthal promoted such concepts as respect, trustworthiness, patience, politeness, loyalty, etc. With one definition per page the book begins: “COOPERATE means, How about you add the chips while I stir?” and continues to the ending with: “WISE means, I used to think I knew everything about cookies, but now I realize I know about one teeny chip’s worth.” Doesn’t this make you want to purchase the book, stir up a batch of cookies, and bestow them to a special person/family?