Cooking for kids: 5 easy and tasty meals

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Kids can be fussy eaters. Are you running out of ideas what to cook for them? Have a go at these easy but super tasty recipes from our Recipemama!

A passion for cooking has kept me fulfilled for many years now. Then I had kids, and I cooked with the same passion but my critics were sometimes way harsh.
Noodles again? Nooooooo.”
What’s this green stuff?
I don’t eat brown things.
But for the most part they tend to eat what I whip up. Here are some simple recipes, both savoury and sweet, which work well with them and I hope for your kids too. 

Yummy homemade granola

Great for a snack combined with yoghurt or for breakfast in a bowl of cold milk.

  • 3 cups oats (I use rolled oats)
  • 1 cup flaked/slivered almonds
  • ⅓ cup macadamia/ pecan / walnuts roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice (or a mix of ground nutmeg and cinnamon)
  • ⅓ cup honey

Preheat oven to 130C

What to do in 3 easy steps:

  1. Mix together oats, nuts, mixed spice and honey in a bowl.
  2. Spread on a baking tray and bake for 30mins until golden and toasted.
  3. Once cooled, add in ½ cup raisins or cranberries and sunflower/pumpkin seeds (optional).

Top Tips:

I use McCormick’s Mixed Spice, which you can get from any grocer. You could also add in 1 tbsp melted butter in the mix before popping into oven. I tend to skip this.

Moroccan seasoned grilled chicken

Roast chicken with just ONE seasoning.

  • Chicken drumsticks ( any pieces really or I have done a whole chicken as well)
  • MasterFoods Moroccan Seasoning

Preheat oven to 230C

What to do in 3 easy steps:

  1. Remove the chicken from the fridge 20 minutes before grilling. Rinse and pat dry.
  2. Rub a moderate amount of the Moroccan seasoning on the chicken. It will appear like a dry rub. No need for additional salt and pepper.
  3. Put chicken in oven skin side up. The high heat will crisp up the skin. After 20 mins reduce temperature to 200C and continue to cook for another 20 mins. Flip over and let cook for another 5-10 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced.

Top Tips:

  • If doing a whole chicken, best to butterfly the chicken.
  • With a sharp knife make slits on the drumstick pieces, to allow the seasoning to infuse the chicken.
  • Start with a high heat then lower the temperature.
  • Have these with a side of pesto pasta.

Quick teriyaki salmon

Using a store bought sauce, this dish takes less than 5 minutes to prep.

  • 2 salmon fillets 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (helps reduce the fishy salmon smell if any)
  • 3 tbsp store bought teriyaki sauce ( I usually opt for the Kikkoman brand)
  • 1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 200C.

What to do in 2 easy steps:

  1. In a small saucepan mix together teriyaki sauce, lemon juice and water over medium heat. Let mixture boil and remove from heat.
  2. Place salmon in baking dish, then pour teriyaki sauce over salmon, lifting the fillets up so the sauce runs under. Bake for 12 -15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Top Tips:

  • Serve the teriyaki salmon warm with some rice and veggies.
  • Scoop up some of the sauce and drizzle over the rice.
  • If you have sesame seeds, sprinkle some on top of the salmon.

Easy homemade pesto

A bright green sauce for kids to eat? Really? Yes. Freezes well too.

  • 1 pack sweet basil or 1 ½ cups. Discard stems; just use leaves.
  • ¼ cup pine nuts toasted for just 5 minutes in the oven at 150C. I don’t preheat the oven. So literally chuck and remove after 5 mins. Let cool.
  • 60g or ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 small garlic cloves. Key word is small as the garlic can be overpowering.
  • 75ml good quality olive oil (I tend to use less about 65ml or 70ml)

What to do in 2 easy steps:

  1. Place the pine nuts, basil leaves, garlic and cheese in a food processor and process till finely chopped. 
  2. While the processor is running, gradually add the olive oil in a thin steady stream until well combined. Add a pinch of salt at the end and mix.

Top Tips:

  • Wash and dry the basil leaves in a salad spinner.
  • Be sure to toast the pine nuts first. Pine nuts are pricey. I’ve heard that pumpkin seeds, almonds or walnuts make good substitutes, but have yet to try them.
  • Use it to make pesto pasta, as a sandwich spread with Emmental or Cheddar cheese in between, as a replacement for pizza sauce or spread it on some grilled chicken or fish.

Moist chocolate cupcakes

This will be a definite hit with both adults and kids!

  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 90g all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 170g butter – removed from fridge 20 mins before
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs – also removed from fridge prior to using
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (120ml) sour cream

Preheat oven to 180C. Line standard 12 cup muffin pan with liners.

What to do in 4 easy steps:

  1. Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar for about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one is added. Add in vanilla extract and mix. With beater on low speed, add in flour mixture and sour cream – alternating between the two.
  3. Pour batter in muffin liners, filling each until ¾ full.  
  4. Bake for 20-25 mins until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. I bake mine for 20 mins. Cool in pan for 5 mins and transfer to wire rack.

Top Tips:

  • Do NOT skip the sour cream; that is the magic ingredient here.
  • There is no need to ice or frost these babies as they are super delish on their own.
  • Use good quality cocoa powder.
  • Every household oven differs in temperature settings. If you find these cupcakes didn’t fare well initially, try lowering the temperature to 175C and cook slightly longer.

Dinner time drama with young kids is as normal in your household as it is in mine… Together let’s find recipes that work and keep them in our rotation list!

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