The Kitchen: Not Just a Place to Cook

If there’s one thing that can tear your youngsters away from their tablets, smartphones or video games, cooking might just be it. Children love working some culinary magic in the kitchen. It gives them a chance to get their hands dirty and, best of all, they can eat the results! Also, you get the chance to spend some quality time with your tots this way, and you can rest assured you’re providing them with some valuable life skills.

There are certain classics that almost all children like to cook, including pizzas, chocolate brownies, and fairy cakes. However, if you’re looking for recipes that are fun and easy to prepare but healthier, reach for your slow cooker. You can use these handy devices to cook nutritious dishes that your youngsters will enjoy creating and eating.

Children and sandwiches go hand in hand. These snacks are perfect for packed lunches and parties. An excellent version to try with your brood is slow-cooked pork. To serve six, you’ll need the following:

  • 2 pounds of pork shoulder
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  •  1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 pinch of salt and pepper
  •  1/2 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of barbecue sauce
  • 6 six sandwich rolls
  • Your own choice of salad ingredients.

To make, place the pork in your slow cooker and rub with the brown sugar, garlic, salt and pepper. Then add the vinegar plus 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours until the meat is tender. Once removed from the cooker, shred the meat and mix in the barbeque sauce. Serve on the rolls along with a salad. Your children will love the sweet, comforting taste.

The Kitchen: Not Just a Place to Cook

For a hearty family meal, few things beat a stew and this beef version is bound to wet your kids’ appetites. For six servings, you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs of beef stew meat cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup of plain flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1.5 cups of beef stock
  • 3 diced potatoes
  • 4 sliced carrots
  • 1 chopped celery stalk.

To prepare, coat the meat in seasoned flour and place in your slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours. The dish works a treat with creamy mash potatoes.

Whichever dishes you decide to create, leave plenty of time and make sure your kids aren’t wearing their best clothes. Children are remarkably adept at decorating themselves with even the most unexpected ingredients! Last but by no means least, remember to have fun. This is as much about the process as the results. 

“Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

What Was I Thinking?

I thought I was being all cool when I decided no more boxed meals for this family, we are going to start eating more home cooked type of meals. I used to cook but that was before I had one child, then I cooked your basic pasta dishes and now I have three children so I just felt boxed meals of some sort were way faster than trying to cut up a bunch of veggies, meat and actually have to pay attention to what’s cooking along with three munchkins.

This past week I went grocery shopping but before I did I wanted to make sure I made a grocery listed based on actual cooking recipes. Since my daughter has a full schedule on Mondays, it means my sons and I do as well. Literally running from school, home for homework then to soccer and then to girl scouts til past dinner time. I decided Monday nights will be my crock pot night for sure along with Wednesdays too when we have a pretty busy evening with soccer.

This week I made a Brandy Beef Stew. I didn’t want to go with the regular beef stew recipe because I am not a big fan of beef stew, at all! I purchased beef stew meat, onions, and potatoes. I diced up onions and potatoes placed them in the bottom of my crock pot, then browned the cut up beef stew meat in vegetable oil and from there added it all together in the crock pot with garlic powder & onion powder. Smelled so yummy! At that point I had to determine what I was going to use for the broth or liquid. I had some steakhouse marinade so I placed that into the crock pot and mixed it up with the onions, potatoes, beef pieces and herbs from there I added some more water to just cover the ingredients in the crock pot.

I let this cook for between 7 and 8 hours in the crock pot. It was really yummy smelling but when I actually served the kids this with breadsticks and broccoli all they did was complain and say icky. This made me feel bad, like I shouldn’t even take the time to cook home cooked, healthier than our normal meals, but I did what any parent would do, I politely responded “you need to at least try it and if you do not eat this then you are going to end up going to bed hungry because this is what is for dinner”. My kids had never heard me say that to them and so what did they do? My children reluctantly finished most of their plates and went to bed full.

How do your kids respond to meals you cook that they are not used to eating?

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