10 Tried and True Suggestions to Make Cooking with Kids Fun…. (For Everyone!)

The kitchen is a terrific place to bond with children. Whether you’re planning to rustle up breakfast, or decorating cookies, you can create memories that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 super suggestions for making cooking with the kids fun for everyone!

Safety First– Kids need to understand the importance of safety. Teach young children to stay away from the hot stove, sharp knives, and other kitchen dangers. Every child loves to pour the milk and add the flour, so take a couple extra seconds to turn off the mixer and let them! Even better, do the mixing by hand when you can! That leads right into….

Cootie Protection– Good hygiene is an essential kitchen lesson to teach your kids. Make sure they understand the importance of washing their hands often, sneezing away from food, and to use clean dish cloths and cutting surfaces to avoid cross contamination. If you do it they will too!

The Simpler the Better– Kids love to dig in with both hands. Choose recipes that are easy, hand formed cookies are a fun start that keeps them involved.

Dont Watch the Clock– If the recipe says it takes 20 minutes to prepare count on 40 with kids in the kitchen. Plan accordingly and keep it fun. You and your child will have a much more enjoyable experience if you are not in a hurry, and the extra time is well spent when you consider those priceless memories and life skills!

Relax and have fun– There WILL BE funny shaped cakes, maybe a few egg shells in the batter. Take it all to heart and give praise often, even if it’s not perfect. This is a great time to share your own memories or even a baking secret. Shhhhhh!

Its Not Just About Cooking – The kitchen makes a fantastic classroom for kids. Learning to read and follow written directions is a very important lesson. Take advantage of showing them how fractions work in a recipe, how many minutes are in an hour when baking a cake, or the science in making a souffle rise, the educational opportunities are endless.

How to Answer Why? We all know thats a childs favorite question. Even if they don’t ask it you can provide all kinds of useful information. Explain why you need yeast in the bread, how baking soda works in cakes and cookies, and the differences between similar items like granulated sugar and confectioners sugar. Give them an opportunity to see, touch, and smell all the ingredients you are using in the recipe.

Food Safety – It’s important to teach kids how to care for food. Make kids aware of the bacteria that can live in food if not treated properly. Remind them that hot food should be kept hot (over 140 F) and cold food cold (under 40 F).

It’s OK to Use a Mix- The attention span of small children can be short to say the least. Using a mix can take less time, leave less room for error, and create less of a mess. Yes, this is one of those times where less can be more! Keep mixes handy for when time is of the essence. So what if its not made from scratch it was still time well spent!

Clean Up – Teach children that cleaning up is all part of the process. Do it as you go to keep a safe and sanitary cooking area. Remind them that no good chef leaves the kitchen until its clean.

Perfectly pumpkiny pastries

It’s officially fall. While that means your kids are settled in their school schedule again and leaves will change, it also means gourds are all around. There are pumpkins at the grocery store, blow up play structures being set up around the area for satellite patches and farms on the coast all boasting beautiful gourds in various colors.

Even coffee and beer in San Mateo County get a hint of pumpkin this time of year, so why not add a little fall spice to a breakfast treat? We’re not going healthy this week, but it will be a delightful splurge—pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Courtesy of Goodlifeeats.com, this recipe does take some time. We’re spending an evening doing most of the work so breakfast will be freshly made—and baked!—in the morning.

Start by stirring 1 package of dry yeast into ¼ cup warm water to soften. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup warm milk, 1 large beaten egg, ¾ cup pumpkin puree – which can be fresh or canned, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger and a ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom to the yeast mixture and beat vigorously for two minutes. Slowly add in flour, a little at a time, until you have dough that’s thick enough to knead.

Turn dough out on a floured surface. Knead, feel free to add flour if needed, until your dough is smooth and elastic.

Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn it once to coat the ball with oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise until doubled, which should be an hour.

Take a moment before making the filling to learn about the cinnamon roll. Sweden has a national Cinnamon Bun Day—It’s coming up on Oct. 4, by the way—because that’s where the first one was made. In Sweden, unlike here, the cinnamon roll is less sweet and heavy. Instead, the dough contains a hint of cardamom, a ginger-like spice, baked in muffin wrappers for a delicate treat.

If you’re giving the original a try, ask for kanelbulle, which literally means cinnamon bun.

Cinnamon rolls are one of those things that can be changed from person to person or by country. America has a version known as Philadelphia-style, which date back to the 18th century and contains honey, sugar, cinnamon and raisins.

While the dough is still rising, start making the filling.

Once you restart, combine 2/3 cup white sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of each allspice and ginger, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon of cloves in a small bowl then set aside.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16×12 rectangle. Spread softened butter, about one stick, over the dough then sprinkle the sugar mixture. Roll the dough into a log. It should stretch to about 20 inches long as you roll it. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 15 pieces. It can help to rinse your blade in hot water first, wiping it in between slices.

Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. Or, you could allow the dough to rise overnight and bake in the morning, your call.

When it’s time to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls until they’re brown around the edges and begin to turn golden brown across the center, about 20 to 30 minutes.

While baking, it’s time to make the delicious frosting topping. Add 4 ounces of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter softened, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ¾ teaspoon of lemon juice into a small food processor. Blend until smooth. Then add 2 to 3 cups of powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, blending in between, until well mixed. In this instance, less might be more.

Frost rolls while warm and eat IMMEDIATELY. Really, who would be able to wait anyway?