Easter recipes and tips for cooking with children

Introducing young chefs to the joys of cooking.

Produced, styled & written by Kara Mickelson, Photographed by Nicole Leone

Unlike today’s grab-and-go society, Jenny Hinyub grew up in a home where everything was made from scratch. Her mom and grandmother cooked and baked every day and involved the kids in everything, including cleanup.

Making candy at home is one of her favorite memories, and she has carried on the cooking tradition with her own kids: Juliana, age 8, and Spenser, age 6.

‘‘It brings us all together on such a personal level,’’ she shares. ‘‘We love to create. It’s very rewarding and tangible.’’

What do her kids love making the most? ‘‘We made ‘glass candy’ this year, and the kids were mesmerized,’’ she says. ‘‘We started with a few simple ingredients, watched the candy thermometer, and we ended up with a sweet treat. The kids were
also involved with my six-month project attempting to make butterscotch budino. Eventually we mastered it, and now it is a favorite!’’

Here are some of Jenny’s tips for cooking with children.

Short & Sweet
Think bursts of creativity. Stay away from preconceived ideas on how the end product should look. Focus on play and offer options to keep kids engaged.

Compromise
Whether it’s crafting cookies or setting the table, there are endless options to meet in the middle. Over-the-top edible decorations may not jive with your sophisticated home decor or personal style, but children will get more out of a free-spirited, playful process.

Skills & Setup
There are always age-appropriate tasks that can be divvied up among the kids. It could be stirring the brownie mix, creating place cards, or adding sprinkles to cookies. As your kids’ skills develop, give them more responsibility.

Pass on Perfectionism
Let go of perfectionism and let kids feel like they are doing it alone. Allowing kids to take over and not doing it for them is when they have the most fun.

Be Realistic & Flexible

Most kids have short attention spans. You may spend hours preparing for a day of activities and realize your kid’s focus diminishes after a few minutes. Create shortcuts by buying pre-made, store-bought mixes.

Keep it Simple
Let the creativity flow and put the emphasis on decorating—-which tends to keep kids engaged. Add new activities, such as decorating the table, folding napkins, and handwriting or stamping name cards.

Cleanup
Break out the disposables to minimize cleanup. Place goodies in trays and use cutting boards as ‘‘workstations,’’ so leftovers are easily swept into the sink or trash. If the project is messy, buy an inexpensive art tarp or drop cloth to cover carpet or the floor and help with cleanup.

 

Cinnamon Roll Chicks & Easter Eggs

Makes approximately 5

1 package large cinnamon rolls with vanilla icing
(found in the refrigerator section)
toothpicks
1 jar store-bought cream cheese frosting or 1 cup homemade food coloring (yellow, orange, assorted)
pretzels or Pocky sticks (found at an Asian market)
small raisins or currants
sliced almonds or assorted nuts
assorted berries
small pieces of dried fruit
orange slices or jellied orange wedges
Remove cinnamon rolls from package.

For chicks (2 to 3 cinnamon rolls): Cut a small end piece of the cinnamon dough strip to create two triangle shapes for the chick wings. Shape each cinnamon roll into a ‘‘chick’’ (pointy top and wider mid and bottom section) and add the two ‘‘wings’’ with a small amount of water to the sides. Secure wings with toothpicks.

For Easter eggs (2 to 3 cinnamon rolls): Shape each cinnamon roll into an egg. Secure end of the dough with water, and fasten with a toothpick.

Place shaped rolls on a parchment-lined sheet tray.

Freeze until set. Bake from frozen, according to package directions, until firm and golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and frost with packaged vanilla icing.

Cool. Carefully remove toothpicks and add colored decorative cream cheese frosting, fruits and nuts. Use the pretzels or Pocky sticks to make chick legs and add a jellied fruit wedge or orange slice for the feet.