Let The Kids Cook!

Allowing kids to cook meals is a great confidence-builder for them. Here is one meal for a child to prepare, with recipes.

It seems that children are constantly wanting to emulate things that adults do. Cooking certainly isn't exempt, and there are many things that children can make on their own, or with little supervision. Being able to say they prepared an entire meal for the family will certainly be a self esteem booster as well.

Only the parent will know which tasks a certain child is able to safely perform without a helping hand. Things that would need supervision would be things such as lighting a gas oven, or perhaps some of the cutting preparation depending on the age of the child. They usually are happy with that little bit of help, as long as the actual creation of the dish is theirs alone.

One idea for a complete meal that's very simple to assemble follows with instructions. The menu will be Salad with Homemade Dressing, Yummy Noodle Casserole, Dinner Rolls, and Lemon Bars.

The "chef of the hour" (the child!) will want to make the dessert earlier in the day. For the Lemon Bars, mix 2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of 10xx sugar. Using a fork, mix in 1 cup of softened butter until well blended. Press into a 9 inch by 13 inch cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until it is browned lightly.

In the meantime, prepare the frosting by beating together 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups regular sugar, 2/3 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and 4 eggs. Make sure this is well beaten and pour over the hot baked bars. Bake again at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. While it is still hot, sprinkle some 10xx sugar over the top. That's all there is to the dessert!

When it's time to start dinner, prepare the Yummy Noodle Casserole. This is very simple to assemble. Cook and drain 8 ounces of egg noodles. Also brown 1 pound of ground beef with 1 small chopped onion. When both are finished, mix the browned ground beef, cooked noodles, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, and 1 can cream of tomato soup. Place into baking dish and top with 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

While the casserole is baking, the child will prepare a salad using the family's favorite salad ingredients. The dressing is to be made when the baking casserole has about 15 minutes to go. Place the following into a blender: 2/3 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, 1/3 cup of vinegar, and 1 cup of oil. Mix well and blender and add 1 1/2 teaspoon of celery seed. Let set a few minutes and pour over salad when ready to serve.

Time to serve the meal! Remove the casserole very carefully from the oven. Put dinner rolls out if desired, and the salad. After this meal that the family will rave about, bring out your Lemon Bars.

For younger aspiring chefs, something like a special sandwich and french fries might satisfy their desire to "cook dinner." Show them how to make your favorite tuna, ham, or chicken salad. Have them mix it and scoop it into rolls, adding a slice of cheese. Have the child wrap each sandwich in foil and bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted. It will just take 10 or 15 minutes. They can put french fries on the tray to bake, or may choose to serve potato chips and pickles with the sandwiches.

Whatever simple recipes you can find for children to prepare, be assured that allowing them in the kitchen will be a tremendous confidence-builder.

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