Tips for Kids in the Kitchen
Cooking in the kitchen is probably one of the first intense, hands-on science experiments your kids will encounter. And they don’t have to be very old at all to do it! My two year old LOVES cooking, and with practice we have established a safe routine. Well. usually a safe routine. Never underestimate what a curious toddler can be distracted by in the kitchen. The safest plan is to keep them right next to you and do everything at their speed.
Every child is different and you know your kid best, of course. For example, many parents let their children crack eggs but I’m not mentally prepared to deal with that mess. Instead, I let my son do any and all measurements. If its a teaspoon or Tablespoon, I do the pouring while he holds the utensil and then dumps it in our mixture. He’s also been practicing cutting things with dull knives (usually just butter knives). He is also our Master Mixer and does pretty well stirring food on and off the stove without emptying out the contents of whatever dish the food is in.
While making big meals that have lots of things cooking at once, it’s usually easiest to just give him a butter knife and let him chop at whatever vegetables will be used. Remember, the vegetables don’t actually have to be a certain shape as long as they can be cooked. So it’s okay to let your kid cut them up all “wrong”. (Trust me, I’m writing that reminder for me, not you.)
So here’s one fun feast we cooked recently for our family! The egg rolls were so good that I later let my two year old invite all his friends over to cook up a “Chinese New Year lunch” for them!
Chicken Fried Rice
- 3 cups of rice (brown or jasmine)
- 1/2 boneless/skinless chicken, cut into strips
- 3 Tbsp butter (divided)
- 1 bag frozen peas and carrots, OR 1.5 cups frozen peas and 1.5 cups frozen carrots
- 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
- 1 bunch of green onions (chopped)
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 4 eggs
- 3.5 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat a large skillet or wok and add 1 Tbs of butter to melt.
- Add the chicken with salt and pepper to your liking (I recommend a generous amount) and cook through. This should take about 7 minutes.
- Set the chicken aside and carefully wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
- Add another Tbsp of butter to the pan with the onions, frozen carrots, and peas. If you have steamable/microwavable bags of veggies, then pour them frozen into the pan and cook until they’re tender. If you have separate bags for peas and carrots, then consider saving the excess in a Tupperware for a snack or side later.
- Add the garlic and cook for a minute longer.
- Cook the eggs on the side of the pan, or use a separate pan.
- Put the last Tbsp of butter in the pan and mix in all of the ingredients now (rice, chicken, veggies). Add the green onions and soy sauce at this point.
- Let it sit while the rice “fries” and gets just a little crispy.
- Turn off the heat and add the sesame oil. Serve hot!
Beef and Broccoli Entree
- 1 1/4 lbs stir fry or flank steak (thinly sliced)
- 2 Tbsp oil (divided)
- 1 bag frozen broccoli florets (the more the merrier, I say!)
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat one Tbsp of oil in a pan, adding the frozen broccoli directly to the pan. Cook until tender (5-7 minutes)
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Remove the broccoli from the pan into a covered bowl, and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.
- Add a Tbsp of oil to the pan.
- Make sure the steak strips are separated from one another (especially if pre-cut) before adding them to the pan with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes on each side or until browned through. (I did this in two quick batches.)
- Mix everything together in a large wok or other pan now, including oyster sauce, beef broth, sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce.
- Boil until the sauce begins to thicken (about 5 minutes), or add cornstarch, if needed.
Chicken and Broccoli Slaw Egg Rolls
- 1/2 lb boneless/skinless chicken
- 1 bag of broccoli slaw (I found mine in the produce section at Walmart Supercenter)
- Egg Rolls
- Vegetable Oil
- Cook the chicken with salt and pepper to taste for about 4 minutes on each side and then shred or dice it.
- Heat a Tbsp of vegetable oil in a small pan and cook the broccoli slaw until it is limp. This should take about five minutes.
- Mix the chicken and slaw together. Place a large spoonful of mixture into each eggroll wrapper. Fold the wrapper and rub a little water or oil on the last corner so it sticks closed.
- Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil again in your pan.
- Place 2 or 3 egg rolls at a time in the oil. Let them cook for up to 30 seconds on each side, turning them four times, until the entire egg roll is crispy and golden brown.
- Set the finished egg rolls on a plate with paper towels.
- Serve hot! Enjoy!