by Debbie Vale
Some of my fondest childhood memories were made in the kitchen. I loved making homemade noodles with my grandmother, baking with my dad, and putting lasagna together with my mom.
Cooking with your children is fun and teaches valuable lessons. Among these are fractions, measuring, self sufficiency, independence, and following directions. As a teacher, I have watched children’s eyes light up when they get the chance to work in the kitchen and share their endeavors with others.
Before you begin, go over the kitchen rules with your children. Remind them that clean up is a part of this activity. Here are my kitchen rules:
Here are a few tips:
When introducing a new ingredient to children it is helpful to let them smell or taste it first. I always let them smell any spices we will be using and taste any vegetable they wish to try. I like to show them the fresh form of the spice and the dry form . Ask if they think there is a difference in the way they smell.
When the stove or oven is on and there are young children around, I like to put a beach towel in front of the oven and ask the kids to walk around the work space.
When children are working at a table or counter, I always put a kitchen towel on their work space so they can easily clean up when finished.
Children can use knives when they are supervised closely and given instruction and practice. Start by cutting a banana with a butter knife, when that is mastered, move on to sharper knives that they can easily hold in their hands. I have bought regular child sized scissors which I use only for cooking. These are great tools for snipping herbs, or other ingredients.
It helps to organize all of your tools and ingredients before you get started.
Children like to crack eggs, so do this in a separate bowl to avoid getting shells in your mixtures.
It is always fun to have a secret ingredient. See the bottom of this recipe where there is such an ingredient listed.
Have fun, clean up together ( I like to put on music while we are cleaning up), and make happy memories.
Here is an easy recipe to get you started:
1 C chopped zucchini or chopped pepperoni
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil, garlic powder
1/2 C breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups marinara sauce
12 lasagna noodles, cooked for 6 minutes, drained, and rinsed under cold water
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Mixing bowl Box grater
Paper towels Colander
8 inch square baking dish Aluminum foil
Oven mitts Cooking spray (Pam)
- Cook lasagna noodles for 5 - 6 minutes, drain and run under cold water. Set aside. Ask an adult to help cook and drain the noodles.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Wash and dice zucchini
- In a medium-size mixing bowl combine ricotta, Parmesan cheese, zucchini or pepperoni , egg, all spices except oregano and bread crumbs.
- Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a square, 8-inch baking dish.
- Place a cooled lasagna noodle on a cutting board, and scoop some of the filling on top at one end. Roll up the lasagna jelly-roll style and place roll, seam side down, in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
- Spoon the remaining sauce over and top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and oregano.
- Cover with foil that has been sprayed with Pam, and bake for 25 minutes.
- Clean up materials and work area while lasagna rollups are in the oven.
- Ask an adult to help you remove the foil and continue to bake about 15 - 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Have an adult help you remove the pan from the oven.
- to help you remove the foil and continue to bake about 15 - 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Have an adult help you remove the pan from the oven.
- Serve immediately.
* Secret Ingredient - Toast !/4 C of pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat. Watch them or they will burn. When you smell them they are ready. Add to cheese mixture for a little crunch.