Cooking with the boys has become one of my favorite ways to stay busy indoors. It's been a brutally cold winter, so we have had plenty of time in the kitchen! On a particularly rainy, cold morning last month our play date plans got cancelled at the last minute. Being stuck inside with three little guys sent me scrambling to keep everyone busy.
My mother-in-law and some friends have given the kids a variety of children's cookbooks over the past year, which Gibbs loves. He browses through the books, looks at the photos, and comes up with all sorts of ideas for meals, snacks, and of course, desserts. Some of our favorite kids' cookbooks include Rachael Ray's Cooking Rocks! 30 Minute Meals for Kids; Betty Crocker's Kids Cook!; and Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual.
Since getting kids into the kitchen is not only great entertainment, but also a nice way to introduce the children to new ingredients, meals, and flavors, I decided that I would dedicate this week to a Cooking with Kids Series. I will share a few of the recipes that the boys enjoy helping with (and that they enjoy eating). Hopefully it will inspire you to get your little ones more involved at meal time as well!
On this rainy day, I had all of the ingredients on hand to bake these Maple and Spice Yogurt Muffins, which have been some of the kids' favorites for the past few years. They are wholesome, easy, and tasty -- plus, they make your house smell delicious while they bake. We like to use the mini muffin pans, but you can also make these in standard size muffin cups. Whatever you (and your kids) prefer!
Here they are: my bored, anxious little sous chefs ready for action!
One job that the boys can always handle is putting the muffin cups into the tins. It keeps them busy while I pull out the rest of the ingredients.
The kids also like to use a variety of spoons, spatulas, and measuring cups to mix the ingredients. Sometimes I pre-measure all of the ingredients before we begin in order to keep the process moving along. If there are only a few ingredients in a recipe, however, I will have the boys help with that first step as well. It all depends on the age and attention span of your little ones!
While the big boys sat at the counter and mixed the batter, baby Spence sat right alongside them -- happy as a clam. As long as he's in his bouncy seat and can observe the action, he won't complain!
And then, while the muffins baked for 10 minutes, I sent the boys outside to run around in the rain puddles for a few minutes. Yes, they came inside muddy and drenched, but that fresh air was absolutely necessary for our sanity!
And once they had some dry clothes on, the muffins were cool and ready for snack time (wet hair and all!):
Happy cooking (and eating)! And by the way, these freeze really well. Wrap them tightly, store them in the freezer, and you can pull them out whenever you need a quick breakfast or snack!
Maple and Spice Yogurt Muffins
- ¼ cup soft tub butter or margarine spread
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 6 oz container vanilla yogurt
- ½ cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt
- 1 large egg
- 1 small apple grated
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground clove
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a mini muffin tin (or a regular muffin tin) with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.
- In a large bowl, stir butter, maple syrup, yogurts, egg, and apple, breaking up the butter with a spoon.
- Sprinkle the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, clove, and salt over the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined, being careful not to overmix (batter will be lumpy).
- Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until the tops of the muffins are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 10-15 minutes for mini muffins or 20 minutes for larger muffins).
- Turn the muffins out on a rack to cool.
- Wrap tightly and freeze if you would like to keep these muffins on hand for quick breakfasts or snacks.
Recipe adapted from Jessica Seinfeld's book, Double Delicious!
Want to check out some of our other favorite muffin recipes? Try these:
Monkey Bread Muffins