Hey guys! I’m so excited to share that I’m starting a new series that focuses on cooking with kids! The series will include tips, tricks, personal stories and products that I love to use that make it more enjoyable and fun for everyone.
A little background
I grew up in a home in which my mom was a maven in the kitchen. While others had take out or frozen meals, we always had home-cooked and wholesome meals on the table. I never had a huge interest in cooking while growing up (but sure loved eating), but some of that was likely because I always had delicious meals ready at my fingertips due to my moms cooking. Fast-forward to college and I was on my own and stuck with dorm food. Bleh! Once I finally had my own apartment, my inner chef came out. Since those early days, I’ve explored and fine-tuned my own cooking to my preferred tastes. I’ve always been the type to take a recipe as a mere suggestion and put my own tweaks on it. As my family has grown, so has my love for food. Cooking for family and friends is my love language. There’s nothing I love more than putting a yummy meal on the table for them to enjoy.
As my son has grown older, his interest in cooking has peaked and I absolutely want to foster that interest and nurture it. At 3, he is at the age where he can really start to be more involved in the kitchen safely and I am hoping to share our journey with my readers. Cooking is such a basic skill that everyone needs, yet often it isn’t touched on in schools. Many families are so busy and constantly on the go, that home cooked meals are becoming less common. I’d like to help families bridge that gap, by providing easy recipes to prepare that everyone can help with.
Let the series begin!
To start the series, I’m sharing a simple recipe for Carrot Cake Cupcakes (with cream cheese frosting) and cooking session I recently had with my son. He loves baking, as do I, and when I saw the new Pillsbury Filled Pastry Bags in our local Meijer I knew that we had to buy some (especially since they have cream cheese frosting…our favorite!). I love that they are pre-filled as that saves me so much headache and makes it super easy for kiddos to help frost.
I abhor using regular pastry bags because I absolutely hate having to fill them with frosting because it’s so messy and time consuming so these new pastry bags are a huge winner in my book! The star tip allows for all different types of decorating too. My son loved being able to go wild and squeeze to his little hearts delight as he decorated his cupcakes.
Right now you can pick them up at Meijer and save $1 on any Pillsbury Filled Pastry Bag with mPerks digital coupon. Definitely stock up for all the fall and holiday baking on the horizon.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
These cupcakes are delicious, easy to make and the add-in options make it so fun! These cupcakes have a fabulous texture thats perfectly in between spongy and firm. The cream cheese frosting complements the tasty carrot cake while the toasted coconut flakes add a great light crunchy texture and flavor.
I love sharing recipes that incorporates veggies in desserts, especially when little ones join me in the kitchen.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 2/3 cup oil
- 2 eggs beaten
- cream cheese frosting
Optional add ins (add any 2)
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup nuts walnuts or pecans preferred
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips white or chocolate
- 1/2 cup crushed pineapple juice well drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease cupcake pan or use cupcake liners (I prefer liners as I feel that the cupcakes brown more evenly).
In large bowl, mix eggs, oil and shredded carrots well. In another bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together.
Slowly mix the dry ingredients into your wet ingredients. Do not over stir. Fold in optional add ins.
Bake for 20-24 minutes until cupcakes are golden brown. Let cool for 30 minutes prior to frosting. Frost, decorate (sprinkles, toasted coconut, nuts, etc.) and enjoy!
When it comes to cooking with kids, there are a few tidbits that need to kept in mind to ensure that everyone had a fun, safe and productive time:
It Will Be Messier
Try to keep your inner Type A in check as this is something that I struggle with. I’m a pretty clean cook, so the mess can drive me a bit batty at times. Don your favorite aprons and let the flour fly!
Have Them Involved in All Steps
Let them peruse through cook books with you and choose what recipes to make (age and skill appropriate, of course). I love letting my son scrub all the veggies or having him tear lettuce for salads. After the meal is made, have them help with clean-up tasks as well. If they want to help with a meal, but the kitchen is already packed, sitting them at the counter or kitchen table with a menial task (shucking corn, tearing lettuce leaves, etc.) can keep them involved while allowing you to work at a faster pace.
It Will Take Longer
Don’t plan on whipping food together quickly because it likely isn’t going to happen. My son loves being involved in every single step and really yearns for the independence to do things himself. Have your children help with measuring (teaches math skills), mixing and pouring (great for gross motor skills), decorating (frosting and sprinkles) and the clean up process (teaches responsibility and also cause/effect).
Let Them Do It Themselves (With Guidance)
I have learned to let go and let my son take the lead a bit more and it has made a world of difference in his confidence and enthusiasm in the kitchen. As much as I’m itching to hop in and show him the way, the best way for them to truly learn is to do it himself. You may be surprised at just how capable they are! My son loves using measuring spoons and cups and we always use it as a math lesson too.
Keep Age in Mind
Each child is different and there are different skills that will be more easily mastered and safe at different ages. Use personal judgement as to what tasks you deem are suitable for your child based on their age and skills.
Do you cook with your kiddos? What are your shortcuts and tips to make it fun and family friendly?