Tag: Cooking With Children

Cooking with children is a great way to help them to develop a healthy relationship with food. When they’re young they don’t have to be involved from start to finish – just the fun messy bits that they’ll enjoy! This recipe for lentil and beef meatballs with pasta is a healthy one pan meal that the kids can help make, and that the whole family can enjoy. Give it a go!

lentil and beef meatballs with orzo pasta


400g can green lentils, drained
400g good quality beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
400g chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
400g small pasta shapes, like orzo or macaroni
30g Parmesan or other hard cheese
(Optional) fresh parsley to serve


Start by chopping all of the vegetables before making your meatballs.

In a bowl add the mince, lentils, mixed herbs and season. Then squash and combine the mixture (get the kids involved! They can’t break it!) until it become smoother. You want to really work the mixture to mash it all together so that the meatballs don’t break apart when cooking.

Form meatballs the size of a ping pong ball and add to a large high sided cold casserole pan. Once they have all been shaped, put the pan onto a medium high heat, and brown the meatballs on 2/3 sides. You may need to cook them in batches. Don’t move them too quickly!

When they have coloured nicely remove from the pan to a plate, turn the heat down to medium and add the veggies. Gently sweat off for 4-6 mins, then add the tomato puree. Add the chopped toms, rinse out the can and fill with hot water and add to the mixture. Stir in the pasta and then add the meatballs back in.

Simmer with the lid on gently for 12-15 mins or until the orzo is cooked ( you can top up with water if needed).

Serve with a generous grating of cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

young child making meatballs for dinner

Schools may be back, but with the darkening evenings and limits on gatherings still in place, and so many options for entertaining kids still off-limits, plenty of parents are still in need of activities to keep their little ones entertained.

Luckily, autumn is baking season (every season should be baking season really, but autumn particularly so thanks to bake off and our patisserie masterclass course), and getting your children involved in the kitchen is a lovely way to spend time together and start to develop some important life skills. This recipe for gingerbread people is an easy win because of the options for cutting out different shapes and decorating the biscuits after baking, even if that last stage can get a bit messy. But isn’t that half the fun? (It’s certainly more fun than the cleaning up!)

child cutting out gingerbread people from dough


  • 175g dark muscovado sugar
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 100g butter
  • 400g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg


  • Place a saucepan over a medium heat and melt the butter, then add the syrup and sugar and stir until melted. Little people can help with this if you have a step for them to stand on, but supervise them the whole time. Bring to a gentle boil for a couple of minutes, then take off the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Get a large bowl and tip in all of the dry ingredients, then make a well in the middle. Beat the egg in a cup and pour into the well, followed by the cooled butter and syrup mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon, then once it has pulled together into a dough, knead it in the bowl. This can get difficult for younger children as the dough forms, so you may need to take over. You can add a bit more flour if the dough is too loose, but don’t worry about it being overly soft.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film or place the ball of dough in an old plastic bread bag or similar, and place in the fridge for about an hour.
  • Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6
  • Take the dough out of the fridge and leave it for ten minutes or so to warm up a bit so that it is soft enough to roll out.
  • Dust your work surface with flour and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until 5-8mm thick – no thicker than a pencil. Use a cutter to cut out your gingerbread people (or any other shapes – Christmas trees if you’re doing this recipe later in the year, perhaps?), nesting the shapes close together to get as many biscuits out of your rolled dough as possible. Then bundle up the scraps and offcuts of dough, roll into a ball and roll out again so that you can cut out more biscuits. Repeat until you’ve used all of your dough.
  • Place your gingerbread people (or shapes) on baking trays lined with baking paper, being sure to leave some space between each biscuit so that they don’t merge together as they puff up in the oven. This recipe will easily make enough to fill two baking trays.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. If you have two trays in the oven then swap them around half way through.
  • Take the trays from the oven and set aside to cool, then transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool completely, especially if decorating.
  • If you have any icing sugar or ready-made cake decorating icing (the little squirty tubes) then you or your small person can decorate the gingerbread, and you can also use it to stick on small sweets or chocolates for eyes or buttons, then leave it to set.

*When Christmas comes around, you can use this recipe to create six flat panels of gingerbread (two rectangular wall panels, two gable ends and two roof panels) and stick them together icing as mortar to make a gingerbread house. Children can decorate the house, and you can make gingerbread people and trees that they can use to create a wintery scene.

If you are staying at home and have children, then you will no doubt be looking for ways to keep them entertained and occupied, even if they are school age and being set work by their teachers.  Cooking with children is a wonderful way to spend time with them and teaches valuable life skills, and simple baking using store cupboard staples is a great way to start.  And, if they’re young enough to make a game out of cleaning the kitchen afterwards, then all the better!

These oat and raisin cookies are easy to make and the method is quick enough that it should keep short attention spans engaged.  Including resting the dough in the fridge for half an hour and cooking time, you’ll have a batch of cookies within an hour.  You can swap out the raisins for other dried fruit such as cranberries, or a mix of dried fruit, or even chocolate chips if you like.

oat and raisin cookies


  • 125g  plain flour
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g rolled oats (porridge oats)
  • 150g raisins


  • Preheat your oven to 180 (fan)
  • Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and whisk together, then set aside.
  • In another bowl (or in a food mixer with a paddle attachment), cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar for 1-2 minutes with an electric mixer or with a wooden spoon and some elbow grease.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until fully combined.
  • Add in the flour mix and combine, then mix in the oats and raisins.
  • Cover the dough and put it in the fridge for half an hour.  This will make sure they turn out nice and thick.
  • Line two large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  • Take the dough out of the freezer and divide it in two, then divide those two pieces into two, and continue until you have 16 small lumps of cookie dough.  Roll them into balls and gently squash in your hand to make a nice thick cookie.
  • Place them on the baking trays, leaving a bit of space between each cookie as they’ll spread a little.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookie is set and the edges are starting to turn golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
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