Rainy days are perfect for hanging out in the kitchen and it's even more fun when you invite a friend to join the cooking party. Cookies or muffins are always a hit but don't forget about fun, savory cooking projects too. Making your own sushi, wrapping dumplings, whipping up a classic cheese fondue, or baking up some empanadas give kids a chance to learn new cooking skills, express their own creativity and take a trip around the world without leaving home.
Easy Peasy Dumplings
Store-bought dumpling wrappers from the supermarket make homemade dumplings a snap. Make the filling ahead (we like this easy recipe) and then have the kids help with beating the egg, brushing the egg wash to seal the dumplings, and folding the dumplings into little triangles. Dumplings make a fantastic kitchen play date because they are low on ingredients, high on child involvement and disappear ridiculously fast!
Use empanada dough rounds, puff pastry, or pie crust dough available at the supermarket and then let your imagination run wild. These little pocket pies are perfect for little hands and you can make them sweet or savory depending on your mood. Try a traditional Argentinean beef filling, or grab a bag of frozen corn for another easy and traditional vegetarian filling, Empanadas Humitas. You can even just set out some little bowls of shredded rotisserie chicken, cheese, spinach, ham, and olives and let the kids come up with their own creations. Save some dough for dessert because you don't want to miss the chance to dig into some caramelized banana and chocolate empanadas.
Sushi is a great hands-on rainy day project for kids of any age. The prep is as easy as cooking up some sushi rice, tracking down some nori (roasted seaweed sheets available in many supermarkets), and gathering a few fillings. Stick with traditional maki roll fillings (julienned vegetables like cucumber, avocado and carrot), or tuck in things you may have on hand like deli turkey, scrambled eggs, or smoked salmon. Smaller kids will need a little extra help with rolling their sushi, but they can select and arrange their sushi fillings or try their hand at the easier hand roll. Bigger kids can do the whole project from start to finish. And once you've made a few sushi rolls, you can have some fun assembling a bento with fun extras like fruit, Japanese rice crackers, edamame or a small sweet treat. If you've never made sushi, these quick videos are a handy reference: how to make sushi rolls, hand rolls.
Rainy days seem especially perfect for melting cheese and bread. Turn the usual grilled cheese sandwich inside out with a kid-friendly fondue party. Your local cheese shop will have ideas for good melting cheeses, and you can invite your little chefs to help with the sampling and selecting some. With adult supervision, kids can help grate cheese, rub the fondue pot with garlic, and stir the cheese as it melts and everyone will have fun dipping and eating way too much cheese.
No-Cook Cheese Plate Play Date
For a no cook kitchen playdate for cheese lovers, get creative by making fancy cheese plates. Kids will love the chance to select their own cheeses, crackers, nuts, fresh and dried fruit to make a one of a kind cheese plate creation that doubles as a tasty lunch or snack.
Stacie Dong and Simran Singh are San Francisco moms with a passion for cooking, eating and exploring the world through food. On their blog, A Little Yumminess, they share recipes from around the world, favorite foodie destinations and ideas for bringing up adventurous eaters. In addition they teach kids' classes and camps throughout the year and are also available for private workshops and events. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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