Whether you are enjoying a large or small family dinner for Thanksgiving, it is the perfect time to involve children in the food preparation. Every day, not just the holidays, is an opportune time to spend with your children in the kitchen. Not only is this opportunity a bonding time for you and your child, but for those picky eaters, being involved and taking some responsibility for what they are about to eat, will help them become more interested in food. Another great way for the children to know cooking in the kitchen is special, consider buying them their own child-size apron. Most craft or specialty kitchen stores carry child-size aprons and having something special to wear gets children excited to help. Oriental Trading Company also has these types of items available to buy online. Children can even decorate their own aprons with iron-on letters or stickers or even fabric paint. A paper chef hat or special stool (available at Target) is another idea to help get children excited about being in the kitchen!
Small and simple tasks can be delegated to children during dinner preparation. Simple tasks, depending on their age could be:
Seasoning the turkey- poultry seasoning, thyme, oregano, salt & pepper
Setting the table with silverware and napkins
Making special place cards or placemats for each place setting
Placing dinner rolls in a pan- crescent rolls are easy!
Measuring dry ingredients
Adding salad ingredients- croutons, grated carrots, or cherry tomatoes
Adding ice cubes to the water glasses
Arranging vegetables on a relish tray
Stirring a cold dip- spinach, dill, or garden herb
If your child is not one to enjoy cooking, he can be in the kitchen with you while you are cooking. Arts and crafts can be conducted at the kitchen table. More fun and easy table decorations include a woven place mat out of a variety of construction paper colors or a collage of leaves and pictures of family members on a laminated sheet. Small pumpkins can be painted and used as place card holders as can a clothespin turkey. On another note, small children can be in the kitchen playing with pots, pans, spatulas, and even Tupperware while mom is cooking all of that good food.
This bonding opportunity is also the perfect time to educate your children about safety in the kitchen as well as food safety. Make sure they understand they should not turn anything on or use tools in the kitchen without adult supervision. Cabinets and drawers should have safety hinges or locks for young children. One cabinet can be left for children to play in that has safe items (i.e., Tupperware, spatulas, cups). Make sure children understand the importance of washing hands before handling food. Help them to understand the importance of wiping down countertops when handling raw foods, such as eggs and chicken.
What's your favorite Thanksgiving recipe or tradition? We would love to hear about it. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!!!
Sweet Potato Casserole (serves 16)
2 ¼ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 cup half & half
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 ½ cup mini marshmallows
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. Chilled butter cut into small pieces
½ cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375°. Place potatoes in a pot & cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook 15-20 minutes until tender but not too soft. Drain and cool slightly. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add half & half, sugar, salt and vanilla. Mash or beat until smooth. Add eggs. Scrape mixture into a 13x9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle top with mini marshmallows. Mix together flour, sugar and salt for topping and cut in butter until mixture has a crumbly texture. Stir in pecans and sprinkle over potato and marshmallow mixture. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
**Sweet potatoes have almost double the fiber of mashed potatoes and more beta-carotene to boost the immune system and build healthy bones.