As the weeks have turned into months at home, my kids have become regular helpers, and even dinner makers. From basic to advanced skills, they each have their specialty, from baking to bbqing and lots of great dishes in-between. I love having my kids involved. They not only help but learn about cutting, measuring, techniques and cooking times, and about clean up too. I’ve included recipes for all ages levels and palates. From a savory salad, to sweet popcorn and easy no-churn ice cream, there is something for every budding chef.

Kid Friendly Chicken Salad with Crunchy Tortilla Strips and Sesame Dressing

Photo by Taste of Home

Serves 5

I used to order this in every restaurant that had it on the menu. Now we make it at home and my kids like it as much as I do.

  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 package (14 ounces) coleslaw mix or 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (use leftover chicken or chicken from chicken soup)
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 3 clementines, peeled and segmented, or 1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained,optional
  • 3/4 cup wonton strips, terra stix, or tortilla sticks

Sesame Dressing

  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated onion
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, grind them a bit
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons mayonnaise

For the dressing: Mix rice vinegar, oil, sugar, and soy sauce in a bowl.

Add grated onion and ground sesame seeds. Add mayonnaise and mix well.

For the salad: In a large salad bowl mix all vegetables. Add chicken, clementines and wonton strips to the top of the salad. Drizzle dressing over, toss and serve.

No Churn 3 Ingredient Ice Cream

Photo by Sweet Pea

Serves 5

Spoiler alert, this is the easiest creamiest ice cream hack! I first saw it in Martha Stewart magazine but didn't try it for a few years. Now I use it for homemade creamsicles, and add tons of mix-ins. It does work with coconut milk in place of sweetened condensed milk (and pareve whipping cream) for a pareve alternative but this original is sweet and creamy just like slow-churned homemade ice cream.

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond extract, mint extract, or other flavoring, optional)
  • 2 cups heavy cream, cold

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a large bowl. Mix the vanilla extract into the condensed milk.

In an electric mixer, beat the cream until it holds stiff, billowy peaks, about 3 minutes.

Gently mix a scoop of the whipped cream into the condensed milk, then fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk. At first, it will look very lumpy. As you continue to fold, the mixture will smooth out and become soft and silky. Be careful not to deflate the mixture too much or over-mix.

Transfer the ice cream base to a loaf pan lined with parchment paper (I use a 9 x 4 inch pan). Use a spatula to scrape all the ice cream base into your freezer container. Smooth the top, then press a piece of wax paper against the surface to prevent ice crystals from forming.

Freeze for at least six hours, or up to 2 weeks: The ice cream will become more firm the longer you let it freeze. For best texture and flavor, eat within two weeks.

Adding a Mix-in to Your Ice Cream: Lighter mix-ins, like chopped chocolate, can be gently folded into the base before being transferred to the freezer container. For heavier mix-ins, like caramel swirls, fruit mixtures, and candied nuts, transfer half of the prepared ice cream into the freezer container, sprinkle the mix-in over top, and then top with the remaining ice cream. Use a knife to swirl the mix-in into the ice cream.

Birthday Cake Popcorn

Photo by Jackie Alpers

Serves 5

  • 5 cups popped corn
  • 1 (1 1/2 ounce) white chocolate candy bar, broken into small pieces, or 1/2 cup white-colored candy melts (Wilton) or a white baking bar (pareve)
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup rainbow-colored coarse sparkling sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pearl sprinkles

Place popcorn on two large cookie sheets lined with parchment or a baking mat. Heat the white chocolate melts in the microwave for one minute or until melted, stirring halfway though. Stir in the melted butter. Drizzle over the popcorn and mix with a spatula to coat; be careful, it will be very hot. Toss in the salt, sprinkles, and pearl sprinkles. Let cool completely, then break apart any large pieces that are stuck together.

Granola and Yogurt Muffins

Makes 12

Add blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chips or bananas to the batter for even more fun. I’ve encouraged my kids to start the day with eggs, omelettes and healthy waffles. Some days they whip out recipes for cinnamon buns, so I’ve at least moved them into homemade muffins and can control the sugar and oil additives. These are good and a healthier alternative to many muffins.

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or white wheat flour
  • ¾ cup granola (I use a store-bought chunky version)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted (or coconut oil, melted)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the streusel:

  • 1 ⅓ cups granola
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 12 standard-sized muffin cups with paper liners.

Mix together flour, granola, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix sugar, yogurt, butter, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Add flour mixture, and mix just until blended.

Fill each muffin cup with about ½ cup of batter, to about ⅔ full spreading evenly into 12 cups.

For the streusel topping

Combine granola, brown sugar, and butter until combined and crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over muffin batter in pan.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until muffins are set and edges are browned.

Cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then, remove from pans to cool completely.

Strawberry Lemonade

Photo by Sarah Lasry

Serves 5

My friend Sarah Lasry posted this recipe on instagram last week and it’s become an instant favorite for me. Sweet lemonade with frozen mashed strawberries that keep it cool and even sweeter. I love the way she pours the strawberries on top of the lemonade for that “AWWW” effect before it all blends together.

  • 1 bag (12 ounces) strawberries (halfway defrosted - you still want it slightly icy but defrosted enough to blend with small chunks in a delicious purée)
  • 8 cups lemonade (you can make your own or buy your favorite brand)

With a blender purée frozen strawberries until slightly chunky.

Fill your pitcher with lemonade and pour the strawberry purée on top. Mix and drink. Keep cold.