One of my favorite things to do with  my daughter is to cook. Every now and then I like to brush up on my culinary skills and cook a good  meal with my 8-year-old assistant chef.  My daughter and I have been cooking kid friendly dishes together since before I can remember.  It allows us to spend quality time together and bond while preparing a full meal or a special treat for dessert.  I always try to find healthy recipes for her and I to cook together .

Not only does cooking together allow us to strengthen our father/daughter connection, it also helps her to learn an essential life skill. Eventually she is going to grow up and live on her own.  When that time comes for her to go out and be on her own I want her to know how to prepare a meal.  Knowing her way around a kitchen is something that she will grow to appreciate as she grows older.

While we are in the kitchen we converse about whatever she wants.  It’s a good way for us to build a bridge of communication.  She asks me questions, I answer. I asks her questions, she answers.  We talk about school and anything else going on in her life. The kitchen is the perfect place to  bond with your child, and  have  fun at the same time! As your child gets older you wil see how them mature in the kitchen.  Before you know it, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy some fine cuisine courtesy of your own private lil’ chef.

Here are a few fun and healthy recipes that you can try out with your kids.

Pizza Shells

Ingredients

  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) box jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 (6 ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 (6 ounce) package of sliced mini pepperoni

Directions

  1. Place crushed tomatoes, canola oil, oregano, basil, and sugar into a large saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook the sauce, stirring frequently, until the flavors have blended, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water, and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the shell pasta, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the shells are cooked but still firm, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
  4. Mix the mushrooms, green pepper, and onion in a bowl. To stuff the shells, spoon about 1 teaspoon of tomato sauce into a shell; sprinkle with the mushroom, green pepper, and onion mixture. Top the shell with about 1 tablespoon of Monterey Jack cheese. Repeat for remaining shells and filling, and place the stuffed shells into a 9×13-inch baking dish side by side and touching. Place several slices of mini pepperoni on each shell. Pour the remaining tomato sauce gently around the shells.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted and browned and the pepperoni slices are crisp, about 30 minutes.

Chip Chicken Lollipops

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups crushed potato chips
  • lollipop sticks from a craft or party store

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.
  2. Crush potato chips onto a plate. In a large bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Dip the chicken cubes into the egg mixture, then coat well with potato chips. Spread the nuggets onto the baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn nuggets over, and bake for 10 minutes more, until golden brown. Remove baking sheet from oven, and insert a lollipop stick into each nugget.

Curried Turkey Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 pounds ground turkey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
  • 12 taco shells, warmed
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sour cream and additional salsa, optional

Directions

  • In a large skillet, cook turkey and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the beans, salsa, taco seasoning and curry powder; heat through. Stir in 1 cup cheese.
  • Spoon into taco shells. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; top with lettuce. Serve with sour cream and salsa if desire

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti

Directions

  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a bowl, combine Parmesan, parsley, garlic, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add beef and breadcrumbs; mix gently. Form into 16 balls.
  2. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add meatballs, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. Drain, and return to pot; add meatballs and sauce, and toss gently. Serve with Parmesan.

Mini Turkey Burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 slices white sandwich bread (about 1 ounce each)
  • 1 pound (93 percent lean) ground turkey
  • 2 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 small onion, coarsely grated
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 party-size rolls
  • Lettuce, sliced tomatoes, ketchup, and mustard, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. In a food processor, pulse bread until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a medium bowl; add turkey, cheese, and onion. Season with salt and pepper, and mix gently just until combined. Form twelve 2-inch patties (about 3 tablespoons each).
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook patties until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Serve on rolls with lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, and mustard, if desired.

Sloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 hamburger buns, split and toasted

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add ground beef to skillet. Cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Stir tomato sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce into beef mixture in skillet. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Season the mixture with more salt and pepper, as desired. Spoon onto buns, and serve immediately.

Corn-Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Tenders

Ingredients

  • 10 corn tortillas, roughly torn
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 12 chicken tenders (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Directions

  1. In a food processor, pulse tortillas until mixture resembles coarse meal. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a medium bowl. Put flour on a plate and pour buttermilk into a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Coat in buttermilk, letting excess drip off, then dredge in tortilla crumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Transfer to large platter or baking sheet.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium. In two batches, cook chicken until cooked through and crust is golden, about 12 minutes, flipping once. Transfer to paper towels or a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet to drain. In a small bowl, stir together mustard and honey until well combined. Serve chicken tenders with dip.