14 Cooking Projects to Tackle with Your Kids Over the Holiday Break

When it comes to giving kids confidence, skills and warm memories in the kitchen, these recipes are a great place to start.
By: Foodlets
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GiadaDeLaurentiis_BakedMacaroniAndCheeseCupcakes_H

Chef Name: Giada De Laurentiis Full Recipe Name: Baked Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes Talent Recipe: Giada De Laurentiis’ Baked Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes, as seen on Giada at Home FNK Recipe: Project: Foodnetwork.com, Back to School/Sandwich Central/Dinner and a Movie/Sides Show Name: Giada at Home Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

I’m the mom of four small kids, and one of my goals (other than enjoying an empty dishwasher for more than three seconds at any time) is to inspire them to cook when they get to be adults. That means giving them confidence, skills and warm memories of doing it as kids. These recipes are a great place to start.

Giada De Laurentiis’ take on classic mac and cheese is so kid-friendly that it’s almost impossible for the little guys to resist.

Kids can: fill muffin cups with mac and cheese mixture.

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With only a handful of ingredients (and none of them being sugar), this is a simple recipe that tastes delicious on everything from toast to waffles — and perfumes your entire home in the process.

Kids can: toss apple slices into the slow cooker or add spices.

I love cooking the Barefoot Contessa’s recipes with my kids, because she’s so masterful at adding flavor — and these lemon chicken breasts are no exception. What a skill to have!

Kids can: pour the warm liquid into a baking pan and pat the chicken with a paper towel.

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These protein-packed muffins come together in minutes using the food processor. What could be easier than that?

Kids can: add ingredients and operate the on/off switch.

A staple in my husband’s home growing up, these rich and gooey treats require only four ingredients to transform the humble apple into your family’s new favorite dessert.

Kids can: fill the apples.

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Another technique I’d love my kids to master is roasting vegetables. It works for almost anything, from green beans to cauliflower to these sweet potato fries (and when I say “it works,” I mean kids love it). Just add olive oil, salt and a very hot oven.

Kids can: use their hands to mix the sweet potatoes with oil and salt, right on a baking sheet with no need to dirty a separate bowl.

Photo by: Marshall Troy ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Marshall Troy, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

A meal like this one from Ree Drummond, with lots of steps and several ingredients, is actually perfect for small hands to help with. Plus, the results are so satisfying that my kids can’t help but claim their bragging rights at the table.

Kids can: peel the carrots and deglaze the pan.

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It doesn’t get much simpler than pouring a bag of frozen broccoli into a pot with sauteed onion, celery, carrots and chicken stock. I love simple recipes like this one for boosting kids’ confidence and giving broccoli resisters another chance at falling in love. Bonus: built-in veggie.

Kids can: cut open the bag of broccoli and hold the immersion blender.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

This classic meatloaf recipe from Ina Garten is so forgiving it’s practically foolproof, which makes it the perfect dish to cook with kids.

Kids can: do anything from adding ingredients to mashing everything together and forming the meatloaf with their hands, depending on how hands-y your kids like to get with raw meat.

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The beauty of these not-too-sweet cookies is that they can be baked off, stored in the freezer and glazed just moments before you’d like to enjoy them anytime.

Kids can: drop the dough onto cookie sheets and apply the glaze

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My kids can’t resist getting their hands on this sticky, delicious dough. These treats are full of good-for-you ingredients and surprisingly filling, and we often make a batch on weekends.

Kids can: roll the balls.

Ree Drummond's Sloppy Joes As Seen On Food Network's The Pioneer Woman

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Tara Donne, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Another high-impact result, Ree's take on sloppy joes is easy to whip up, with tons of flavor, and since it's homemade, you'll skip all the extra salt and preservatives that come in the canned version.

Kids can: brown the beef and stir in the ingredients.

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This was one of the first recipes my mother-in-law taught our kids to make. With two separate phases (and numerous potential fillings), this dish lets you divvy up the jobs between siblings.

Kids can: press the dough into mini-muffin pans and fill.

FN_Sweet-Saltines

FN_Sweet-Saltines

Photo by: Marshall Troy ©2012,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Marshall Troy, 2012,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Trisha Yearwood’s chocolate treat is so simple to make that you’ll never believe how rich and decadent it tastes.

Kids can: layer the crackers and spread the chocolate on top.

Charity Curley Mathews blogs at Foodlets.com about food, parenting and simple recipes full of fresh ingredients — always kid-tested, always easy enough for busy families.

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