Now that you've got your kids working most of the kitchen – they've learned some about using a knife and have started to get used to the stove – it's time to introduce the oven.
Ovens can be scary things. I know they scared me as a kid. You open up that oven door and WHOOSH out comes a wave of hot air. Get hit with that and you know you're in trouble! It's all you can do, as a little kid, to screw up your courage enough to step back close enough to the oven to close the door, let alone put anything in it. With a little encouragement, and plenty of supervision, the oven doesn't have to be so scary. In fact, maybe we should start with the broiler.
Open Face Toasted Cheese Sandwiches
Now, I know we've covered the stove version of the grilled cheese sandwich. This one you make under the broiler. I remember these well from my own childhood. I didn't know the grilled version existed until I got into college. This was the way it was done in my Mother's kitchen. To be honest, it's easier to make than the grilled version.
Toast about eight slices of good bread in the toaster. Spread mayonnaise or salad dressing (I like canola mayonnaise) and some good deli mustard (Western Family horseradish mustard is an excellent choice) on one side of each slice. Cover with a slice of Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, or some other hearty cheese. Place the assembled toast slices on a large baking sheet and pop them under the broiler until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before serving.
By the way, these make a great accompaniment to tomato soup.
Pita Bread Pizza
My own kids love to make these in the microwave with just regular bread, but I think this way is better. It also looks more like a regular pizza and the bread doesn't gooey.
Spread marinara sauce on a round pita. Canned sauce will do just fine. Add your favorite toppings, plus some grated cheese. Pop them under the broiler until bubbly and nicely browned. Cut into slices just like a larger pizza.
Wondering what to do with that leftover meatloaf, lunch meats, sausage, chopped veggies, or what have you? Let your kids clean out the refrigerator by putting the leftovers on their pizzas.
Stuffed Cornbread Muffins
We're going to cheat with this recipe. Instead of going through the process of making great cornbread from scratch, were going to let the kids do it with commercial corn bread/muffin mix. Follow the directions on the package to make the batter. Fill the wells of a muffin pan about 1/3 of the way with batter. Drop in a rounded teaspoon of whatever filling you want, and cover with the remaining batter. Cook according to the package directions.
For the filling you can try all kinds of things. Slices of hot dog, grated cheese, chopped veggies, you name it. Your kids will probably go for teaspoons of their favorite jam. You'll want to let them after you taste it.
The point of all this is, of course, to get the kids having fun and developing good life skills at the same time. (Are you finally sensing the theme for this month?) Just emphasize the “fun” part and let them figure out the “developing skills” part when they grow up.