5 Kid-Friendly Recipes Your Family Will Remember This Thanksgiving
Can you believe that Thanksgiving is in a couple of days? When someone told me last week that Thanksgiving was in a week, I felt like I had been shaken out of a dream. Already!?! And yet, here we are.
Thanksgiving is the time of year that I get ready to open my home up to family and friends (i.e. clear the dining room table of all of my cooking class paraphernalia!). While the dining room table is a daily preoccupation of mine, I rarely ponder the status of my silverware. But come November I start noticing it a bit more. This is also the time that I have to bring out the polish to bring back the shine to my Nana’s silverware. So, cut to last year around this time... I noticed a distinct emptiness in the space in our cutlery drawer where the soup spoons should be.
Armed with the "can-do" holiday spirit and the desire to have implements for my family and friends to eat soup with, I went to my local Pier One Imports.
I bought 6 beautiful soup spoons and I am more than a bit unhappily puzzled that we only have 2 now. Really? Where did they go? I did notice an increase in butter knives, but I’ll have to ponder that mystery another time. This is the one time a year our family actually sits down in one place for a meal, and I’ll try to monitor the spoons better this year! Snort!
I don’t know about you, but 2018 has really gone by way too quickly. September through December is always a blur. (Cue the sighing and time-weary grandpa lamenting that time goes by before you know it....)
For me--I’ve been blessed to see my best girl grow a bit more each day (she actually aged five years in one weekend when we allowed her to get hair extensions!), I’ve expanded my cooking workshops and I’ve been able to connect more with the community through local events at malls and festivals throughout the Greater New York City area. And most importantly, I have had the pleasure of introducing new flavors, new cultures and new food to my cooking students.
Sadly, this has also meant that I’ve been a little neglectful of this blog. I’m sure that you had plenty else to do in my absence, and I hope you have been able to enjoy some of the posts here on the blog and on Instagram (www.instagram.com/cookingwithkidsNY) and I also hope you came to hang out with us at our local events around town!
For this year’s Thanksgiving feast, I’ve decided to infuse some of my flavors of my favorite recipes from my kids’ cooking classes into our dinner. And why not? We are a multicultural family that loves all people. We enjoy incorporating new traditions into our celebration--so why not show our gratitude to the world through food and celebration! (Best way ever, in my opinion!)
Of course all of these recipes I’m sharing with you are super kid-helper-friendly. I think when cooking dinners--whether big or small--it’s important to get our kids next to us in the kitchen. This is our opportunity to bond and share special moments with our children because before you know it, they’ll be off to college and living their lives!
Read This: No Kid Is Too Young To Be A Kitchen Helper
Ok, I’m getting super sentimental here! Let me wipe off my keyboard from the tears and let’s press on, shall we?
My intention for this post is not about doing away with old traditional recipes. It’s about adding some new flavor and life into our homes. We want our children to grow--let’s do it by expanding their food palate (my favorite way!).
Easy Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce Your Kids Will Love
Cranberry sauce is a staple on the Thanksgiving table. It makes the turkey just that much better! While some people would never host Thanksgiving Dinner without a slow-simmered homemade cranberry sauce, others might pop open a can. But seriously, no judgement here...we had an...ahem...cylindrical-shaped cranberry sauce growing up!
If you’re ready to take a break from tradition--there are some variations of cranberry sauce that might really make kids take a spoonful--especially if they are part of the cooking process. Remember that when we let kids cook with us, their enthusiasm is itself delicious and no longer are they on the lookout for...for green particles, mushy parts and different ingredients touching each other. Why? Because they helped cook!
Here’s one you might like - super easy and fun. I have a food writer friend who even puts in a bit of bourbon in hers! But only for the adults (wink!).
You may also like to add your cranberries to this unexpected side dish: Pumpkin Cranberry Wontons! Imagine your teeth sinking into the crunchy bite of a wonton but instead of tasting meat or veggies, your taste buds are met with the sweetness of a creamy pumpkin cranberry mixture!
Here’s the recipe!
Remember that kids love to measure, mix and mash. So why not let them have at it? I always suggest that kitchen tasks be designated “kid tasks” and “mommy/adult tasks.” This way, the kids know that there are some things they can help with and there are other things that aren’t for them.
With this dish, kids can help:
Wash and dry cranberries
Measure pumpkin, cranberries and sugar.
Open cream cheese packages
Cut cranberries using the Pampered Chef Chopper.
Add spoonfuls of filling into wonton skins.
Brush and seal wontons with egg wash. These brushes are fun and the kids love them. Also very helpful for BBQ’s!
Add the Taste of a Kenyan Harvest to your Thanksgiving Corn
Now we all know the story of how Native Americans brought corn to the first Thanksgiving Feast. And corn is so crunchy, so tasty and so delicious...and it’s also tried and true.
Let’s try something new! Have you heard of an East African dish called Githeri?
It’s a traditional Kenyan dish made of corn, beans and tomatoes. Mixed together in a big pot, and then slow cooked to a richness with some coconut cream and broth and even the kids will ask for more. (Note: this is exactly what happened when we made this dish in class!)
Kids often love husking corn. Some even love de-kerneling corn. But you’ll have to show them how to hold the corn up like a statue and cut with the side of the knife. They’ll not understand why they can’t cut the corn as they might cut a cucumber.
With littles, you might cut the corn cob in half first so they have less surface area to cut. It’s also good fun and excellent fine motor practice for the kids to pinch off the kernels at the top! How about adding another duty to their job as kitchen helper?
Here’s that recipe. I love making it in the Instant Pot, so I can close it and walk away!
With this dish, kids can help:
Chop onions using the Pampered Chef Chopper. Here’s a link!
Peel and “zoom” the garlic using the Chef’N Garlic Zoom. The kids and I think this is awesome!
Grate ginger with this great grater. (Don’t judge me; I adore food puns.)
Peel carrots. These are the peelers we use in class, and I love the grip they have on the handles.
Puree tomatoes with this immersion blender (that also has an attachment for frothing milk…just sayin’ it’s a very helpful gadget! ;) )
Drain beans (you can open the can for them)
Cornbread Who? Cornbread What?
There’s really nothing like a delicious piece of cornbread on the Thanksgiving table. One of my mama friends loves to adds cream of corn to her cornbread mix to make it extra moist. Another mama friend adds jalapeno peppers to give it a little kick! Cornbread is versatile and you may also want to try adding some queso fresco or scallions. If you do add the jalapeños, don’t let your kids touch them because the acid may sting their little fingers or eyes.
I feel very confident in saying that your corn lovers will be happy with this new addition to your table. Red curry is one of those spice mixtures that when I pass around the jar for them to smell, they become momentarily and happily hypnotized from the alluring aroma!! And they ask to smell it again!
These Thai Corn Cakes will be a hit with your kitchen helpers and your resident cornbread lovers. Remember when I told you about kids’ enthusiasm to eat new things when they’ve helped to prepare the recipe? Here it is.
Letting kids help you in the kitchen will be an opportunity to bypass the spirit-deflating questions at the dinner table “what’s this?” and comments like “I don’t eat anything green!” Why? Because they made it! Husking and de-kerneling corn is always a bit hit with younger kids. So is snipping scallions and ripping mint. Don’t cut or snip mind leaves because they’ll discolor. And cutting string beans? Cutting string beans is even more fun than cutting paper! Really! Just try it.
With this dish, kids can help:
Take Your Thanksgiving Potatoes in a New Direction - to India!
Potatoes--whether mashed and smothered in gravy or baked and drenched in butter--are simply delicious.
Aloo Tikki, a small fried potato patty devoured by many in Northern India will surely be a hit at Thanksgiving Dinner--especially if you let your kids handle the prep work. I usually serve them in a bun and make it a burger, but I’m imagining laying those gorgeous little patties on a platter next to some dinner rolls and see what happens! Here’s the recipe!
Leave all the grunt work to the kids with this recipe! Let them cut (you peel them, unless you are very confident with their peeling skills) and mash the potatoes; chop the onions and garlic, cut peppers, grate ginger and handle ALL the measuring. With this recipes, you’ve really only got to handle frying the patties.
With this dish, kids can help:
Cut potatoes (you can peel them unless you are very confident in their peeling skills)
Mash potatoes with this helpful masher.
Cut peppers (with the knives we love)
Chop onions in the Pampered Chef Chopper - here is the link again.
Peel and “zoom” the garlic using the Chef’N Garlic Zoom. (love this because your fingers don’t smell like garlic!)
Grate ginger with this grater - it works really well.
Measure the flours, salt, pepper and bread crumbs. Here’s a link for rice flour.
Pass the Peas Please!
It’s no lie--greens are a staple at Thanksgiving Dinner. Whether you are serving a string bean casserole or rolling and cutting up collard greens, Thanksgiving is not complete without a large serving dish of veggies. But do our kids love eating their veggies? Whomp whomp: not usually.
Petit Pois means small pea in French. But honestly, this recipe is so mighty and pleasing! Here it is.
Once kids finish chopping the onions, measuring the peas, vinegar and mustard and mixing it all together, they’ll feel so empowered by their work that they will proudly boast how they made this dish themselves to every kid and adult at the table!
Ready to Get Cooking a Multicultural Thanksgiving?
Friends, I hope the idea of a multicultural Thanksgiving doesn’t take away from the sentimentality and tradition of this holiday meal for you. After all, if we think of the story of the first Thanksgiving--it was the Pilgrims coming together with Native Americans and creating a great tradition that is still celebrated today.
Read This: 5 Tips for Holiday Cooking with Kids
And finally, if you cook any of these recipes, be sure to share your experiences with me. I’d love to know how your kiddos shaped their patties and wontons; how they made the veggies zippy; and the Thai Corn Cakes zesty.
Comment below or tag us on Instagram at @cookingwithkidsny.
Enjoy your family meal together, friends!