Vegetable Quesadilla Learning with Cooking

This recipe for making a vegetable quesadilla with the kids was originally published in July 2015. We updated it in April 2024 with resources on using the quesadilla recipe for developing life skills and executive functioning. The easy quesadilla recipe is a great tool for developing brain skills in the kitchen.

Cooking with the kids in the kitchen is such a wonderful learning opportunity. The sights and smells of new and interesting foods and the textures and tasks of cooking provide children with a rich  experience.  Then there is the awareness of accomplishment. Kids can help to prepare the food that feeds the family.  Kids can learn the steps of cooking a meal from start to finish.  All of this is so supportive to developing executive functioning skills and life skills.

Life skills recipe for OT- an easy vegetable quesadilla recipe

Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe Kids Can Make

This week in our Cooking With Kids A-Z series where we made a recipe for each letter of the alphabet, we are exploring Mushrooms. We made a vegetable quesadilla while learning along the way.

I love to use cooking tasks like the simple veggie quesadilla to support skill development. We’ve previously explained how cooking tasks support fine motor skills. Just like all of the scooping, dicing, and mixing strengthens motor control and coordination, the process of preparing a recipe’s ingredients, using kitchen tools, using safety in the kitchen, washing hands and dishes, and preparing the food are all areas of development for daily life skills.

Cooking is functional and function is cooking! Love that as an OT!

So, when you allow kids to cook and prepare foods, they are gaining so much more than just a snack!

This post is part of our month-long Learning with Free Materials series where we are sharing learning ideas for homeschoolers and school-extension activities using items that are free or mostly free (i.e. CHEAP or you already have in the home), and is part of the 31 Days of Homeschooling Tips as we blog along with other bloggers with learning at home tips and tools.  While the food needed to create this meal is not free, you do need to feed your family.  So, while doing the chore of making dinner, why not learn along the way? Speaking of chores, be sure to check out our resource on age-appropriate chores that kids can help with, because different ages can be involved with various aspects of cooking, even if you think a toddler or preschooler can’t make a quesadilla. They can do different tasks like wash veggies or even help dry and to rinse dishes.

The educational opportunities that go along with cooking are a free lesson in math, process, direction following, listening skills, and safety.

This post contains affiliate links.

Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!
Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!


How can kids learn when cooking?

When cooking with kids, there are so many learning opportunities.  Create a list of steps for the recipe and have your child read as they work.  Children can check off completed steps.  Stress the importance of completing the recipe in order.  Oral and verbal direction following are worked on while kids cook.  Kids can learn about safety while cooking.  Shredding cheese with a grater, using a knife, and cooking at the stove are opportunities for safety lessons. 

Did you know that occupational therapy learn to use cooking tasks as a therapy modality in their education? It’s true! We have entire courses dedicated to activity analysis and often times, cooking tasks play a huge role in those lessons.

We learn to use a simple cooking task to support many areas, from safety and motor skills, to balance, to practically every underlying area that supports function and development of skills.

In fact, executive functioning skills and cooking are pretty much co-existing, so a task like our simple veggie quesadilla is the perfect modality for supporting development. It’s practical and engaging!

When we cook, executive functioning skills are in motion, including cognitive processes such as planning, organization, task initiation, problem-solving, working memory, attention to detail, and self-monitoring. These skills are crucial for daily living and can be developed and enhanced through various activities, including cooking.

We included information on this aspect in each of the steps listed below. We also included information on the life skills components for each step of this recipe. Talk about activity analysis!

Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!
Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!

Easy Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe

First, you’ll want to gather the ingredients for the vegetable quesadilla recipe. Planning and Organization: Before starting a cooking task, the individual needs to plan by gathering all the necessary ingredients and cooking tools. This step requires thinking ahead and organizing the workspace.

Life Skills Application- You can’t cook without ingredients and you can’t complete daily life tasks without your materials! Just as organizing ingredients and tools is crucial for cooking, being able to organize one’s belongings, workspace, or schedule is essential in daily life. This can translate to managing personal items, setting up a workspace for efficiency, or planning a daily agenda.

Life Skill Activity– Ask your kiddos to conduct a safety audit in the kitchen, identifying potential hazards.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tortillas
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • salsa, ranch dressing, or sour cream to dip 

Directions:

  1. We began our Vegetable Quesadilla recipe by shredding a cup of cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese. Put these aside on a plate.
  2. Chop, dice, and slice green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers, onion, and mushrooms.  The nice thing about a vegetable quesadilla is that you can substitute and add any vegetable.  Add in tomatoes, squash, beans, hot peppers, or eggplant…your produce department or garden is the limit!

Attention to Detail: Paying attention to the size and uniformity of the chopped vegetables can enhance focus and attention to detail.

Life Skill Application- Chopping, dicing, and all of the fun of cooking requires fine motor control and concentration, similar to tasks such as writing, typing, or assembling small parts. The precision needed for chopping can improve one’s ability to perform tasks that require attention to detail, like filling out forms or crafting.

Life Skills Activity- Try chopping and cutting with different kitchen tools.

Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!
Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!

3. Next, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan.  Sauté all of the vegetables except the mushrooms. Task Initiation and Self-Monitoring: This means that adjusting the heat to the correct temperature requires self-monitoring for safety. And, the ability to start a task promptly is needed to stay on task.

Life Skill Application- When you cook, you have to keep an eye on the stove or there can be huge safety issues! Starting and then monitoring the sautéing process supports life skills tasks like beginning a laundry cycle and checking on it periodically. It teaches us to start tasks independently and monitor their progress, adjusting as needed.

4. After 2-3 minutes, add the mushrooms to the pan.  Continue cooking until soft. Teach the kids about safety with the oven at this point!

5. Warm a Quesadilla Maker and place a tortilla on the bottom.  

6. Spread out the cooked vegetables over the tortilla.  Working Memory: Remembering the order of ingredients and where they are placed on the tortilla engages working memory.

Life Skill Application- Placing ingredients on the tortilla in a specific order involves understanding sequences and spatial relationships, and this is a skill we use day in and day out! Think about life skill tasks like organizing a drawer or planning how to pack a suitcase efficiently.

Life Skills Activity- Manage a small budget for a project or a shopping list, making sure to stay within the set limits.

7. Sprinkle cheese all over the vegetables and layer a second tortilla on top of the cheese.  Close the lid to the quesadilla maker and allow it to cook until the light changes, indicating done-ness (about 4-5 minutes).  Problem-Solving: Deciding when to check on the quesadilla in the quesadilla maker uses problem solving. If you are cooking in a pan on the stove top, you’ll need to flip the quesadilla at this point. This ensures it is cooked evenly without burning involves problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Life Skill Application- Cooking each side for the right amount of time requires time management, similar to allocating time for different tasks throughout the day. Adjusting the heat if the quesadilla is cooking too quickly or too slowly involves problem-solving, which is applicable in situations like adjusting plans when an unexpected event changes the day’s schedule.

Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!

8. Slice the quesadillas along the section lines using a pizza wheel.  Goal Achievement: Completing the cooking process and serving the quesadilla provides a tangible result, reinforcing the concept of following through to achieve a goal.

Life Skill Application- Cutting and serving food is a huge life skill! This is one that you will use several times a day.

Life Skills Activity- Prepare the food and ask the kiddos to focus on the layout and organization of the content to make it appealing.

Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!

Serve with salsa, sour cream, or ranch to dip.

Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!
Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!
Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!
Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!
Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and two kinds of cheese, a great dish for kids to eat and make in the kitchen.  Cooking with kids is a great learning opportunity in so many areas!

With a vegetable quesadilla, children get the opportunity to try new vegetables that might be new to them.  The hand-held finished dish is a fun one to eat.  

Dipping the quesadilla slices into ranch, salsa, or sour cream may encourage your child to try this recipe and new tastes.  Have fun experimenting with vegetable combinations!

 
 
 

Here are more recipes that kids can make to support skill development:

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Shirley Temple Popsicles Recipe

Shirley Temple popsicle

Today’s Shirley Temple popsicle recipe is a cool treat for summer, but also a great way to get kids busy in the kitchen cooking and developing skills. We’ve shared a ton of cooking with kids recipes, and this 7up popsicle recipe is even better because its an alerting sensory food that can be a great sensory tool for this time of year.

Shirley temple popsicles are a sensory food. Use lemon lime popsicle treats to wake up the mouth!

Shirley Temple Recipe

  I wanted to share a sweet treat with you  today that my kids ( and the neighborhood kids) love. Who doesn’t love Shirley Temples? These are in popsicle form and are oh so good. I hope you enjoy!   

When I was a little girl, there was a seafood restaurant in the town we lived in called Neptune’s Galley. I have no idea if that restaurant is still in business or not, but I remember it vividly. There was a huge statue of Neptune on the roof of the building and it was dark and nautical on the inside. I have to admit, I do not remember the food that was served there.

I remember first being introduced to Shirley Temple’s!

At the time, my favorite movie just happened to be Shirley Temple in The Little Princess. And my daddy knew that and ordered me a Shirley Temple to drink…and the rest is history.

I think I requested that drink at every restaurant  we ate in for the next five years after that!

In case you didn’t know, a Shirley temple drink is a kids’ drink that has 7up, Sprite, or other cool and refreshing fizzy drink. You add a touch of cherry, and maybe another fruit juice, and you’ve got yourself a kid-friendly drink that is a huge hit.

Therapy Benefits to Make these Popsicles

Not only are these popsicles a fun treat, there are also benefits to getting kids involved in the actual preparation process.

Pour and Scooping Activity- The best thing about making a Shirley temple drink with kids is that it’s an easy recipe. There are only a few ingredients, but children can pour and scoop the food items, working on so many fine motor skills. By pouring and scooping the ingredients, you address bilateral coordination, crossing midline, eye-hand coordination, strength, graded motor control, motor planning, and much more.

Fine Motor Skills- We’ve covered the benefits of fine motor development during cooking in the past, and this is a great starter recipe to try with kids…they get a huge reward in the end- a refreshing Shirly Temple popsicle!

Executive Functioning Skills– Another benefit to making this Shirley Temple recipe is to add executive functioning skills while following the directions to prepare the recipe.

Shirley temple popsicle on a plate

Shirley Temple Popsicles Recipe

Cold, bubbly Sprite, grenadine and a cherry on top. Oh, how I loved getting that pink-tinted drink brought to me. I felt so grown up!

Flash forward 20 years. My boys and I were at Red Robin and I introduced them to Red Robin’s Shirley Temples.

Ummm, they were not impressed. I guess it is a girl thing. They ended up with root beer floats. But I was determined to get them to like them!

So last week I set out to make Shirley Temple Popsicles.

At first I tried with just Sprite and maraschino juice. Eh. Then I added cherries to the mix. Still not right. So, after a few trial and errors, I added fresh orange juice, sprite, cherries and cherry juice. Perfect. And the boys ate them all.

So here is to nostalgia. And Shirley Temple!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Sprite or 7-Up soda
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice ( it took about 3 medium oranges to get the juice I needed)
  • Grenadine (I find this in the aisle with the margarita mix, etc)
  • Maraschino cherries

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing cup, combine the soda and the orange juice. Set aside.
  2. Fill popsicle molds with maraschino cherries. (Mine were smaller molds, so I used 3 cherries in each mold.)
  3. Add about a teaspoon of grenadine to each mold. (You could use the cherry juice in the bottle of cherries, if there is enough, in place of the grenadine)
  4. Add the soda and orange juice mixture to each mold, about 2/3 full. Don’t fill to the to the top of the molds. It will expand after freezing.
  5. Place tops on popsicle molds and freeze.

Sensory Food

This popsicle recipe is a great sensory food, because of the alerting factor the cool ice pop offers to the mouth. We talked a lot about the benefits of sucking and alerting or calming properties of cool and warmth on this website in the past.

In fact, our post on using a sports bottle as a self-regulation tool shares information on the sensory receptors in the mouth and jaw. It is these receptors that register the cool, alerting temperature of a popsicle.

The cold temperature alerts, or “wakes up” the mouth. This can be a great sensory strategy to use for achieving attention or focus. It can help to regulate a child’s sensory needs when they are feeling lethargic or overly run-down.

Not to mention that during the hot summer months, a cold popsicle is the perfect treat!

However, there’s more to it than that. Sucking on a popsicle engages proprioceptive input through the muscles and joints in the mouth and jaw. Essentially, the popsicle is a strategy to offer heavy work through the mouth. So, a popsicle can actually be calming, too. It really depends on the child as well as the situation.

Think about a hot and humid summer day. A popsicle and a moment of chill-out time can help a child to calm down, re-group, and regulate their senses.

As an added benefit, a popsicle can be a great tool to use in oral motor exercises.

Lemon Lime Popsicle

Important to note about this recipe is that you can use Sprite or other pop or soda that contains lemon lime flavoring as one of the main ingredients.

The lemon-lime flavor is very alerting, as they are citrus foods. This flavoring in the popsicle “wakes up” and alerts the taste buds and acts as sensory input.

One tip: If you are concerned with the sugar intake, or want to find a lower sugar version, consider using low calorie lemon lime drink or 7-UP ten as an alternative to the lemon lime popsicle treat.

So? What do you think? Let us know if you make Shirley Temple popsicles and use them to develop skills!

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Juicy Greek Turkey Burger Recipe

I wanted to update this old Greek turkey burger recipe because it’s one of our favorite recipes that kids can help to make some of the steps. As an occupational therapist, I definitely love cooking with kids because of the developmental benefits. Plus, when kids are involved in making dinner, even more complex recipes like cooking this Greek turkey burger, they get a sense of autonomy and independence that they can carry over to other life skills.

This is a great cooking life skills recipe because it has different levels of tasks:

Our Greek Turkey Burger recipe has chopping, stirring, slicing, cooking the burger, spreading the ingredients. You can see how different steps require different levels of motor skill as well as safety and cognition. You could alter this recipe depending on the level and age of the kids who are helping you make it!

Greek Turkey Burger Recipe

Is there anything that says “Summer” more than a burger hot off the grill? Burgers, sun, and good times with friends and family are what summer is all about.  When families go to Fourth of July picnics or grill out, it is fun to make delicious foods that help to celebrate summer.  This Greek Turkey Burger recipe is a great addition to your summer grilling, and uses fresh ingredients.  

 
 
Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues

 

Greek Turkey Burger Recipe

 
I love a good burger.  There is no denying that.  It’s my go-to meal when I need to get dinner on the table in a hurry.  One of my favorite ways to add variety to burgers is by trying new combinations of toppings and mixed-in ingredients.  These turkey burgers were a new spin on the classic hamburger and they were a huge hit in our house.  (One that we’ll be making again very soon!) 
 
 
It’s a Greek-style turkey burger with a juicy cucumber sauce topping and basil and tomato feta that is mixed right into the ground turkey.  
 
Anytime cheese is mixed into the burger meat, it’s a win in my book! The flavored feta adds a nice pop of taste, but what really makes this turkey burger flavorful is the cucumber sauce.  It’s an easy sauce to whip up. (So easy in fact, that my two year old helped me make it!).
 
 
Anytime a shopping trip is made easier when there are four kids aged 8 and under in tow, it makes this mama smile.  When we hit the grocery store, I usually have all four attached in some variety to the shopping cart so it can be a bit of a spectacle to see us troop through the produce aisles. 
Fresh veggies go well on a Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues
This recipe is nice because it has a healthy addition of extra veggies. 
 

Ingredients for Greek Turkey Burger

Gather your ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup yogurt (you can also replace the yogurt with a ranch dressing)
  • 1/4 cup peeled and minced cucumber
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup crumbled basil and tomato feta cheese, divided
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 onion rolls
 
It’s a place where you can save time and money while getting fresh ingredients to help you celebrate summer!

Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues
 

yogurt sauce for turkey burgers

The yogurt sauce for the Greek Turkey Burger is the main flavor ingredient. The sauce uses:

  • 1/2 cup yogurt (you can also replace the yogurt with a ranch dressing)
  • 1/4 cup peeled and minced cucumber
 
Cucumber ranch sauce to go with this Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues
 
To make the yogurt sauce for the turkey burgers, you’ll need to:
  1. Chop the cucumber into small pieces.
  2. Mix the ranch dressing and chopped cucumber in a bowl and place to the side.

 
Cucumber ranch sauce to go with this Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues
 


My two year old helped me mix up the cucumber sauce.  We love cooking together. Cooking with kids is such a great way to add learning into the kitchen as they read and follow recipes, problem solve, motor plan, and build executive functioning skills.  I think that getting the kids involved in making the foods that they eat really encourages them to try new things like these turkey burgers.  

When kids scoop and stir with real ingredients, it develops the visual motor skills that they use in everyday tasks. It’s great to offer a task like this one to young kids because they can really get involved in making dinner. They are a huge help!
 

Prepare the turkey burger

Next, you’ll prepare the turkey burger. 

  1. Combine the ground turkey with 1/2 cup feta cheese and the black paper. Shape the ground turkey into 4 oz. patties and flatten them slightly.
 
 
Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues
 

2. Grill or broil the turkey burgers, using direct medium heat for 6-8 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Get that feta cheese ready. We used a feta mixed with crumbled basil and tomato.

3. Meanwhile, heat the onion rolls only until they are warm. For each burger, spread 2 tablespoons of the cucumber and yogurt sauce onto each roll. Place the burgers on the rolls and top each burger with 1 tbsp of feta.

4. Add slivered onions and lettuce. 

Enjoy!


Fresh veggies go well on a Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues
 

This recipe has many tasks that require precision and fine motor control. You can have older kids slice the onions and chop the cucumbers. We covered how cooking improves fine motor skills in a previous post.
 

Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues
 



 
Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues
 
 
Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues

Greek Turkey Burger Recipe, perfect for summer cooking and barbecues


Let us know if you try this Greek Turkey Burger at your summer picnics this year. What are your favorite Fourth of July foods?

 

 

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Avocado Black Bean Lettuce Wrap with Orange Zest

My kids are hungry all the time.  So, when we made this Avocado Black Bean and Orange Zest Lettuce wrap, and they were actually full for more than an hour, I was a happy mama.  We made this easy lunch recipe using a fun ingredient: Orange zest.  It is part of our Cooking with Kids A-Z series and Z is for Zest!


It’s hard to believe that we’ve cooked our way through the alphabet while cooking with new ingredients and exposing my kids to new foods.  We’ve come up with new favorites, like our Carrot Veggie Puffs and have tasted and shared some old family recipes, like our Apple Dumpling recipe.  We’ve made bread dough, snacks, and main meals.  It has been a fun year of cooking and I’m excited for the next phase of this project.  For now, try cooking your way through the alphabet with great recipes from A-Z!

Avocado Black Bean Lettuce Wrap with Orange Zest. This recipe is so easy and filling that kids can make it and it fills them up! You dont even need dressing with the orange zest! It's healthy and low-calorie.

Avocado Black Bean Lettuce Wrap with Orange Zest



This post contains affiliate links.


This recipe is so easy to through together.  It’s one that we’ve made before, with different versions.  Today, we added orange zest, and the result was crisp and tasty.  My kids called the zest our secret ingredient!


For this recipe you’ll need a few ingredients:
Iceburg Lettuce (or any large-leaf lettuce)
Black Beans
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Avocado, diced
Zest of 1/2 orange


Avocado Black Bean Lettuce Wrap with Orange Zest. This recipe is so easy and filling that kids can make it and it fills them up! You dont even need dressing with the orange zest! It's healthy and low-calorie.

Pull apart a few large leaves from the outside of the head of lettuce.  Place the lettuce leaf on a plate until ready to build your wraps.

Avocado Black Bean Lettuce Wrap with Orange Zest. This recipe is so easy and filling that kids can make it and it fills them up! You dont even need dressing with the orange zest! It's healthy and low-calorie.

Prepare the black beans, and place them in a dish.  Chop the tomatoes.  Kids can do this with a child safety knife.  Peel and slice the avocado.  Once sliced, avocados are a great food for young chefs.  It’s soft enough for easily slicing.  Add the tomatoes and avocados to the bowl.  Zest the rind of 1/2 orange.  My preschooler loves zesting oranges and remembered the last time we did this task (and we don’t often zest oranges!)  We used our standing box grater
to zest the orange, and this worked well for my 4 year old.  She could stabilize the grater with her non-dominant hand while zesting the orange with her dominant hand.  
Older kids could use a classic zester.

Avocado Black Bean Lettuce Wrap with Orange Zest. This recipe is so easy and filling that kids can make it and it fills them up! You dont even need dressing with the orange zest! It's healthy and low-calorie.

Now it’s time to build your lettuce wraps.  Load up the lettuce leaves with as much or any combination of the avocado, black beans, and tomatoes.  Sprinkle the orange zest on top.  We found that with the citrus-y touch of the zest, we didn’t need any dressing at all in our wraps.  What a filling and low calorie dish this is!

Avocado Black Bean Lettuce Wrap with Orange Zest. This recipe is so easy and filling that kids can make it and it fills them up! You dont even need dressing with the orange zest! It's healthy and low-calorie.
Avocado Black Bean Lettuce Wrap with Orange Zest. This recipe is so easy and filling that kids can make it and it fills them up! You dont even need dressing with the orange zest! It's healthy and low-calorie.

Stop by and see what the other bloggers on the Cooking With Kids A-Z team have cooked up with Zest:

Orange Cookies from Still Playing School
Fat Rascals Recipe from Mum in the Mad House



Try a few of our other cooking with kids recipes:

 Overnight Egg Strata Recipe   Strawberry Whole Wheat Pancakes  Fruit Pizza Recipe  Honey Peanut Butter Crispy Treats
E is for EggsOvernight Egg Strata Recipe | F is for FlourStrawberry Whole Wheat Pancakes
G is for GrapesFruit Pizza Recipe | H is for HoneyPeanut Butter Honey Squares
Avocado Black Bean Lettuce Wrap with Orange Zest. This recipe is so easy and filling that kids can make it and it fills them up! You dont even need dressing with the orange zest! It's healthy and low-calorie.
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Want to cook healthy foods for your family?  Grab Yum! Deliciously Healthy Meals for Kids, a cookbook for busy families that want healthy meal ideas. 

Healthy recipes for kids

Leftover Spaghetti Cup Nests Recipe

If you are like me, your kids gobble up spaghetti.  And really, they chow down on pasta of any kind.  I always have pasta in the cupboards ready to go for quick dinners or leftover in the fridge.  Today, I’ve got a fun and creative appetizer or main dish idea that will use up leftover spaghetti.  This recipe is part of our Cooking With Kids A-Z series and S is for Spaghetti.  It’s hard to believe we’ve already cooked our way up to letter “S”, but it sure has been a tasty series! 


These Spaghetti Cups are miniature nests and perfect for kids and adults.  I was going for a crunchy pasta nest to hold sauce and meatballs, but ended up with a chewy pasta cup that (still held sauce) but was also a fun way to eat our pasta leftovers!  

Spaghetti Cups Recipe Cooking with Kids recipe that kids will love! Load these spaghetti cups with vegetables for a creative snack, appetizer, or main dish that uses leftover pasta or cooked spaghetti.  This is a unique and fresh muffin tin recipe for families that can be filled with your kids' tastes!

Spaghetti Cup Nests Recipe

To make these pasta cups, we used leftover spaghetti noodles, but you can quickly cook up a batch of pasta.  If you do cook spaghetti noodles for this dish, you’ll want them to be cool to the touch.  So, if you are cooking pasta specifically for this dish, cook the noodles, rinse with water, and let the pasta cool.  You’ll then be ready for making the spaghetti nests. 


I’m including affiliate links in this post.


Ingredients to make Spaghetti Noodle Nests:


1 1/2 cups cooked spaghetti
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp milk


You can add a Tablespoon of sauce for added flavor and “chewiness”, too.


Prepare the muffin tin by first spraying it with non-stick spray.  In a bowl, mix the spaghetti, egg yolk, and milk.  Stir to combine.  Using a fork, drop a small amount in the bottom of each muffin tin section.  You’ll want to fill them about half way full.  Using your hands, spread the spaghetti up the sides and make a small well in each cup.  Kids will love getting their hands messy!  Squishing the spaghetti is such a sensory experience and a fun way to create an edible product through sensory exploration. 


Spaghetti Cups Recipe Cooking with Kids recipe that kids will love! Load these spaghetti cups with vegetables for a creative snack, appetizer, or main dish that uses leftover pasta or cooked spaghetti.  This is a unique and fresh muffin tin recipe for families that can be filled with your kids' tastes!

Heat the oven to 35 degrees and bake for 20 minutes.  You want the noodles to brown slightly on the edges.  Keep an eye on the noodles towards the end of the 20 minutes to avoid burning.


Spaghetti Cups Recipe Cooking with Kids recipe that kids will love! Load these spaghetti cups with vegetables for a creative snack, appetizer, or main dish that uses leftover pasta or cooked spaghetti.  This is a unique and fresh muffin tin recipe for families that can be filled with your kids' tastes!

Using a fork, pop the noodle cups from the muffin tins and place onto a plate. 

Spaghetti Cups Recipe Cooking with Kids recipe that kids will love! Load these spaghetti cups with vegetables for a creative snack, appetizer, or main dish that uses leftover pasta or cooked spaghetti.  This is a unique and fresh muffin tin recipe for families that can be filled with your kids' tastes!

Now is the fun part!  You can fill these little spaghetti nests with anything you might top your typical spaghetti with!  We used canned seasoned tomatoes, but you could add a meatball and tomato sauce, chicken, cooked vegetables, or seafood.  Get creative and enjoy!


Spaghetti Cups Recipe Cooking with Kids recipe that kids will love! Load these spaghetti cups with vegetables for a creative snack, appetizer, or main dish that uses leftover pasta or cooked spaghetti.  This is a unique and fresh muffin tin recipe for families that can be filled with your kids' tastes!

And, as your kiddos are gobbling up this pasta, just smile and know they are loaded with veggies!


Spaghetti Cups Recipe Cooking with Kids recipe that kids will love! Load these spaghetti cups with vegetables for a creative snack, appetizer, or main dish that uses leftover pasta or cooked spaghetti.  This is a unique and fresh muffin tin recipe for families that can be filled with your kids' tastes!
Stop by and see what the other Cooking With Kids bloggers have created using Spaghetti:
Spaghetti Bake Recipe from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Quick Mid-Week Spaghetti Supper from Rainy Day Mum
Hairy Hot Dogs from Mum in the Mad House
Peanut Sesame Noodles Recipe from Still Playing School



Spaghetti Cups Recipe Cooking with Kids recipe that kids will love! Load these spaghetti cups with vegetables for a creative snack, appetizer, or main dish that uses leftover pasta or cooked spaghetti.  This is a unique and fresh muffin tin recipe for families that can be filled with your kids' tastes!
Love it?  Share it on Facebook with your friends!

Love cooking alongside your kiddos?  Make some of our favorite Cooking With Kids recipes:


Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe   Honey Nut Popcorn  Antipasto Skewers
M is for MushroomsVeggie Quesadilla Recipe | N is for NutsHoney Roasted Nuts Popcorn | O is for OlivesAntipasto Skewer Kabobs | P is for Peppers: Asian Chicken

Want to cook healthy foods for your family?  Grab Yum! Deliciously Healthy Meals for Kids, a cookbook for busy families that want healthy meal ideas. 

Healthy recipes for kids

Easy Vegetable Rice Recipe Kids will Eat

Our Cooking With Kids series has been such a hit, both on the blog in in our home.  My daughter and I have created quality time together as we cook our way through the alphabet.  We’ve love trying new foods and sharing them with you and your families!  Today we’re sharing a go-to and easy recipe for any weeknight dinner.  This Easy Vegetable Rice dish is perfect as a side dish for families when you want to get some extra veggies into the kids.  The colorful rice dish can be a meal in itself, if you add your favorite meat. We made this dish together when a cousin was over for some playtime.  The two cousins had a blast in the kitchen and we got to eat the vegetable rice for dinner, making it a real treat to serve up food that we cooked together.  

Easy Vegetable rice recipe. This is an easy side dish or main meal if you add a protein.  Kids love this and can help with cooking in this easy cooking with kids recipe.

Easy Vegetable rice recipe. This is an easy side dish or main meal if you add a protein.  Kids love this and can help with cooking in this easy cooking with kids recipe.


Easy Vegetable Rice Recipe (for a main dish or side!)

(This post contains affiliate links.)
Start with 3-4 cups of cooked rice.  We used leftover rice, which we always seem to have when we eat any kind of dish with rice.  Save that leftover rice!  It’s totally yummy the next day. 

 (I cook my leftover rice in a saucepan with a layer of water at the bottom.  Stir occasionally and then when it’s started simmering, give it a good stir and cover with a lid.  Leftover rice has now become no-knows-it’s-leftover-rice!)

Back to our veggie dish.  Grab up any vegetables you’ve got on hand.  Frozen peas? Check.  Baby carrots? Yep. Peppers of any and all color? Yes please.  Other vegetables that make a great addition to this recipe: broccoli, cauliflower, onions, beans, cabbage, kale, spinach, celery, brussel sprouts, swiss chard, kidney beans, black beans, any beans…you get the picture.  
We made our vegetable rice dish with cooked onions, red and green peppers, peas, and carrots.  

Start by dicing the onion and sauteing in a small amount of olive oil.  You will need to cook any of the “tougher” veggies like broccoli or brussel sprouts.  While the onions are cooking, get the kids busy with chopping and dicing.  

Easy Vegetable rice recipe. This is an easy side dish or main meal if you add a protein.  Kids love this and can help with cooking in this easy cooking with kids recipe.

These two cousins used kid-friendly knifes
to slice and dice peppers.  I’ve found that slicing the peppers into strips and then having the kids chop them into chunks works well with the preschool age.  


Easy Vegetable rice recipe. This is an easy side dish or main meal if you add a protein.  Kids love this and can help with cooking in this easy cooking with kids recipe.

This little one had fun watching all of the cooking action…while enjoying a (large) red pepper snack.  Just kidding.  She only nibbled on the pepper.

Easy Vegetable rice recipe. This is an easy side dish or main meal if you add a protein.  Kids love this and can help with cooking in this easy cooking with kids recipe.

After you’ve got all of your vegetables chopped, add them to the onions.  Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste.  At this point, we added a dash of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon dried parsley.  Allow the vegetables to cook for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the cooked rice and heat for 1-2 minutes.  You want all of the flavors to combine.

Easy Vegetable rice recipe. This is an easy side dish or main meal if you add a protein.  Kids love this and can help with cooking in this easy cooking with kids recipe.
Serve hot as a side dish the whole family will love.  If you want to make this a meal, cut up chicken breasts or strip steak and cook on the side.  Then add to the rice at the end. 

Easy Vegetable rice recipe. This is an easy side dish or main meal if you add a protein.  Kids love this and can help with cooking in this easy cooking with kids recipe.
Enjoy!



Easy Vegetable rice recipe. This is an easy side dish or main meal if you add a protein.  Kids love this and can help with cooking in this easy cooking with kids recipe.

                                                 

      Easy Vegetable rice recipe. This is an easy side dish or main meal if you add a protein.  Kids love this and can help with cooking in this easy cooking with kids recipe.
Looking for more rice recipes?  Try some of these by the Cooking With Kids A-Z blogging team:


Steak Fried Rice from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails


More Cooking with Kids ideas that you will love to make with your family:

Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe   Honey Nut Popcorn  Antipasto Skewers
M is for MushroomsVeggie Quesadilla Recipe | N is for NutsHoney Roasted Nuts Popcorn | O is for OlivesAntipasto Skewer Kabobs | P is for Peppers: Asian Chicken

Want to cook healthy foods for your family?  Grab Yum! Deliciously Healthy Meals for Kids, a cookbook for busy families that want healthy meal ideas. 

Healthy recipes for kids

Quinoa Lettuce Wraps Recipe

Quinoa lettuce wraps
Kids can be hesitant to try new foods.  Foods that look different or are a different texture than what they are used to.  Sometimes, getting the kids active in the cooking process can help ease anxieties about trying that new food sitting on their dinner plate.  
Cooking with Kids is one of our favorite ways to spend time together.  So much learning happens in the kitchen and involving kids in the cooking process is quality time with talking and creating.  We made this Quinoa Lettuce Wrap recipe as part of our Cooking With Kids A-Z series (We’re already up to letter Q!).  You can see all of the recipes here.  Be sure to try this quinoa recipe if your kids are a little hesitant to try the small seed known as quinoa.  It’s packed with protein, has a mild flavor, and is gluten-free.  With the crunch of a leafy lettuce wrap, this Quinoa Recipe is one you want to try!
Quinoa Lettuce Wrap Recipe.  This is a delicious way to eat quinoa and fun for kids.  They will love this kids in the kitchen cooking with kids recipe!  Loaded with vegetables and healthy foods, this quinoa recipe will be a hit at dinner with the family.
 

Quinoa Lettuce Wrap Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. 
 
To make the Quinoa Lettuce Wrap, you’ll need the following ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, dry and cooked according to the package directions
1 carrot, shredded
1 can black beans 
1 tomato, diced
1 head iceberg lettuce or romaine lettuce
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Quinoa Lettuce Wrap Recipe.  This is a delicious way to eat quinoa and fun for kids.  They will love this kids in the kitchen cooking with kids recipe!  Loaded with vegetables and healthy foods, this quinoa recipe will be a hit at dinner with the family.
To make the quinoa, first measure out the dry quinoa and water as indicated on the packaging.  Measuring dry and wet ingredients is a great learning opportunity for kids.  
Amazon affiliate links included:
We love our measuring set for easy measuring with big numbers and clear glass for easily seeing the level of ingredients.
Quinoa Lettuce Wrap Recipe.  This is a delicious way to eat quinoa and fun for kids.  They will love this kids in the kitchen cooking with kids recipe!  Loaded with vegetables and healthy foods, this quinoa recipe will be a hit at dinner with the family.
 
While the quinoa is cooking in the water, show your child how to slice and dice a tomato using a child-friendly knife.  Shred the carrot using a 

vegetable grater(This one is awesome for kids!).  

Show your child how to open the can of beans, being careful with sharp edges of the can. This safety can opener is great for kids. Using a colander, drain the beans and rinse with water.  


Add the tomatoes, carrots, and beans to the quinoa and stir.  Continue to cook for 10 minutes.  Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and stir.  Cover and allow the mixture to sit while you separate the leaves of the lettuce.

Quinoa Lettuce Wrap Recipe.  This is a delicious way to eat quinoa and fun for kids.  They will love this kids in the kitchen cooking with kids recipe!  Loaded with vegetables and healthy foods, this quinoa recipe will be a hit at dinner with the family.
 
Kids can gently remove leaves from the head of lettuce one at a time.  To more easily remove the leaves, cut off the base of the head.  
Show your child how to carefully peel the lettuce leaves from the head and place them on a plate. 
 
Now you can fill the leaves with the quinoa mixture.  Scoop quinoa into the lettuce and add grated Parmesan cheese and salt/pepper to taste. 
 
Carefully wrap the lettuce leaf around the quinoa and enjoy!
Quinoa Lettuce Wrap Recipe.  This is a delicious way to eat quinoa and fun for kids.  They will love this kids in the kitchen cooking with kids recipe!  Loaded with vegetables and healthy foods, this quinoa recipe will be a hit at dinner with the family.
Quinoa Lettuce Wrap Recipe.  This is a delicious way to eat quinoa and fun for kids.  They will love this kids in the kitchen cooking with kids recipe!  Loaded with vegetables and healthy foods, this quinoa recipe will be a hit at dinner with the family.
 
You can also eat the filling right in a bowl.  This is one of our favorite quinoa recipes.  Loaded with veggies and protein, it could be a meal in itself!

Looking for more Cooking With Kids recipes?  Try a few of our most recent culinary fun:

Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe   Honey Nut Popcorn  Antipasto Skewers
M is for MushroomsVeggie Quesadilla Recipe | N is for NutsHoney Roasted Nuts Popcorn | O is for OlivesAntipasto Skewer Kabobs | P is for Peppers: Asian Chicken

Asian Chicken Recipe Kids Love

Today we’re sharing a favorite recipe in our house.  This Asian Chicken is easy to throw together and always a hit with the kids. This week in our Cooking With Kids A-Z series, we’re sharing P for Peppers.  This chicken dish is full of red and green peppers and perfect for filling your family with vegetables!  Cooking with kids is such a fun learning experience and this recipe is no exception.  Chopping, stirring, dicing, and cooking makes this family dinner recipe a great way to learn with your dinner.
Asian Chicken recipe for kids and families, part of the Cooking with Kids A-Z series where kids can cook their way through the alphabet with healthy meal ideas.


Asian Chicken Recipe for Family Dinner

This post contains affiliate links.


To make Asian Chicken, you’ll need the following ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons honey
1 pound chicken breast, diced
1 large green pepper
1 large red pepper
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2-3 Mandarin oranges, peeled and separated
Edamame, steamed
Rice, enough to feed your family (We make servings for 6).

Asian Chicken recipe for kids and families, part of the Cooking with Kids A-Z series where kids can cook their way through the alphabet with healthy meal ideas.

There are a lot of steps in this recipe, but they are not complicated, and only provide a complex direction following task set for your kids as they cook alongside you.  You can break down the steps of this recipe into one-two step parts to reduce the complexity for younger children.


To begin, warm the olive oil in a saute pan.  Add the chopped garlic and brown slightly by stirring.  Add the chicken and cook on all sides.  Meanwhile, cut the peppers.  To make chopping red and green peppers easier for smaller kids, you can first slice the peppers into strips, Julienne style.  Kids can then easily chop the peppers using a Safety knife.  Have them chop the red and green peppers into large pieces.

Asian Chicken recipe for kids and families, part of the Cooking with Kids A-Z series where kids can cook their way through the alphabet with healthy meal ideas.
Cook the edamame.  To cook, bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add the edamame and cook for a few minutes.  Drain the beans and cool them by rinsing.  Shell the beans by squeezing the pods.  Kids love to pop open edamame shells and separate the beans.  Set aside.

Peel and separate the Mandarin oranges.  Set aside.

Peel and dice the Carrots. I love this Kid-friendly safety vegetable peeler.

Cook the rice.  Set aside.

Once the chicken has browned, add the soy sauce and honey. Stir to coat the chicken and add the red and green peppers, and edamame.  Cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring often.  Remove the lid and add the mandarin oranges.  Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes more. 

Remove from heat and serve over rice.

Asian Chicken recipe for kids and families, part of the Cooking with Kids A-Z series where kids can cook their way through the alphabet with healthy meal ideas.

Asian Chicken recipe for kids and families, part of the Cooking with Kids A-Z series where kids can cook their way through the alphabet with healthy meal ideas.

Pepper Recipes for Kids:

Red Pepper and Green Pepper recipes for kids and families.

Looking for more recipes using peppers?  See what the Cooking With Kids A-Z team has come up with this week using peppers:

Salami and Banana Pepper Stromboli from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Stuffed Peppers from Rainy Day Mum
You will want to follow along on our Cooking With Kids Pinterest board, too:

Our most recent Cooking with Kids recipes:
Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe   Honey Nut Popcorn  Antipasto Skewers
M is for MushroomsVeggie Quesadilla Recipe | N is for NutsHoney Roasted Nuts Popcorn | O is for OlivesAntipasto Skewer Kabobs

Want to cook healthy foods for your family?  Grab Yum! Deliciously Healthy Meals for Kids, a cookbook for busy families that want healthy meal ideas. 

Healthy recipes for kids

Jam and Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip Recipe

We’re back again with our Cooking With Kids A-Z series and today we’re sharing our J is for Jam and Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip recipe.  This dip is an easy one to throw together with the kid chefs in your family.  The mamas will be happy to see their little ones gobbling up the fruit with a healthy fruit dip.  Make this dip when heading to a party or cook out this summer.   This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.
Cooking with Kids: Healthy Jam and Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip recipe


Jam and Greek Yogurt Fruit dip recipe

This recipe is an easy one to mix up.  You’ll need just a few ingredients:
1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup Strawberry Jam
2 teaspoons honey
Cooking with Kids: Healthy Jam and Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip recipe
Kids can measure out the ingredients.  Use a spoon to fill a measuring cup with plain Greek yogurt, and simply scoop the jam and honey with the measuring spoons. (We mixed our jam in by the tablespoon to give all of the kids a chance to mix.)
Cooking with Kids: Healthy Jam and Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip recipe
Combine all of the ingredients and mix together with a wire whisk.  You’ll want to ensure the fruit is completely combined into the yogurt.
Cooking with Kids: Healthy Jam and Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip recipe
Next, pull out your favorite fruit.

Cooking with Kids: Healthy Jam and Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip recipe

Bananas are the perfect fruit for Toddlers to chop.  They can use a butter knife or child’s safety knife to cut the soft fruit.
Cooking with Kids: Healthy Jam and Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip recipe
Dip away at that fruit!  
Cooking with Kids: Healthy Jam and Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip recipe
Stop by to see what the other bloggers in the Cooking with Kids A-Z series have created using Jam:


The Educators’ Spin on It: Orange Strawberry Jam Surprise Muffins
Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Jam and Cream Cheese Bites
Still Playing School: Super Simple Microwave Jam recipe
The Mum in the Mad House: Jam Tarts

Read more Cooking with Kids posts: 
Join our COOKING WITH KIDS Pinterest board for recipes the kids will love!

Want to cook healthy foods for your family?  Grab Yum! Deliciously Healthy Meals for Kids, a cookbook for busy families that want healthy meal ideas. 


Healthy recipes for kids