6 Delicious Recipes for Family Fun in the Kitchen

Cook up some tasty grub and have a blast doing it together


The best meals are the ones shared together—and that includes the cooking. There’s just something about preparing food as a family that makes it taste better. And of course, it’s an awesome way to hang out with the people you love.

Finding recipes that get everyone involved? That’s the real challenge. If you’re looking for kid-friendly recipes—ones that are also fun to eat—these dishes have you covered.

These 6 delicious recipes are easy for families to make together, and they taste great, too. So grab some groceries, fire up the stove and get ready for some quality time with the fam.

Grilled shrimp tacos

Grilled Shrimp Tacos

Tacos are perfect for getting everyone involved in the kitchen. This grilled shrimp version from dietitian, nutritionist and food blogger Rima Kleiner adds just enough sophistication to capture the taste buds of kids and adults alike. Top them however you like—cheese, avocado, more cheese (why not?). After all, that’s what tacos are all about. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 corn or flour tortillas
  • Salt and pepper
  • Diced avocado or guacamole (for garnish, optional)
  • Cotija or feta cheese (for garnish, optional)
  • Hot sauce (for garnish, optional)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, chili powder and cilantro and mix together.  
  2. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper.
  3. Cover the shrimp and marinate for 15 minutes in the refrigerator (throw out any unused marinade). 
  4. Preheat a grill or grill pan on medium heat.  
  5. Once the grill or grill pan is hot, place the shrimp directly on the grill (you can also use skewers). 
  6. Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until the shrimp are pink and thoroughly cooked.
  7. Warm the tortillas on the grill for 1 minute on each side.
  8. Organize all the ingredients for assembly (shrimp, tortillas, cheese, avocado, sauces)
  9. Let each person put together their own tacos, and then, enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Skillet Cookie

Let’s be honest—peanut butter and jelly is practically a food group. This recipe from professional chef, food writer and cookbook author Tiffany La Forge shakes things up by adding a cookie twist to the classic sandwich. Try serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to really kick things up a notch.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ⅓ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup peanut butter chips
  • ½ cup jam*

*Use whatever kind of jam you like—keep it classic with grape or strawberry, or get adventurous with blueberry-lemon or tart cherry. If the jam is thick, try warming it a few seconds to make it easier to spread. 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and coat a 10" cast iron pan with baking spray or butter.
  2. Combine the softened butter, brown sugar and white sugar in a mixer, and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth, then add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. 
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.
  5. Add half of the flour mixture into the mixer and mix until just combined. Then add the rest of the flour and mix until just combined (don’t overmix).
  6. Fold in the peanut butter chips.
  7. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of the cast iron pan. Remove 2 tablespoons of the jam and set aside for later. Then, spread the rest of the jam evenly on top. Last, spread the remaining half of the batter on top of the jam. 
  8. Place the pan into the oven and bake until the cookie is golden and set, but the center is still soft (about 25 minutes). It will firm as it cools.
  9. Let the cookie cool slightly. Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of jam, and drizzle the jam over the top. Enjoy!

Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes With Crispy Kale

Kale may not be on your kid’s list of favorite foods. But have you tried pairing it with good ol’ meat and potatoes? This meatloaf from Brigaid, a company helping schools reimagine lunchroom menus, will get kids (and adults) eating their greens with no fuss. And it’s an absolute blast to make.   

Ingredients:
For the meatloaf:

  • 4 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 ½ large Spanish onion, finely diced
  • 1 ½  cups barbecue sauce (pick your favorite!)
  • 2 ¼ cups panko bread crumbs
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

For the mashed potatoes:

  • 5 pounds Idaho potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the crispy kale:

  • 2 bunches kale
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

For the meatloaf:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF and place the oven rack in the lower/center position. 
  2. In a large pan, heat the canola oil over medium and add the onions. Cook the onions gently until they caramelize and turn golden. Remove from the heat. 
  3. Combine the panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper and rosemary in a large bowl. 
  4. Add in the eggs, cooked onions and ground beef, and mix until thoroughly combined. 
  5. Coat a pan with cooking spray (or oil) and empty the meat mixture onto the pan. Using your hands, form the meatloaf into a rectangular shape 2-3 inches thick. 
  6. Bake at 325ºF until the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF (use a kitchen thermometer to check). 
  7. Remove the meatloaf and brush it with barbecue sauce. Then return it to the oven. 
  8. Set your oven to broil and cook the meatloaf until the barbecue sauce has caramelized (it takes just a few minutes). 
  9. Take out the meatloaf and cover it loosely with foil. Let it rest for 15 minutes.

For the potatoes: 

  1. Peel the potatoes and chop them into quarters. Place them into a large pot and cover them with cold water.  
  2. Heat the potatoes on high until the water begins to simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook gently until the potatoes are tender (poke them with a fork to test whether they’re done). 
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, combine the milk, buttermilk and olive oil into a pot and heat over low heat. Make sure it doesn’t boil!
  4. Combine the potatoes, heated milk mixture, salt and pepper into a mixer (if you don’t have a mixer, use a large bowl). 
  5. Start whipping the potatoes on low speed, and gradually increase the speed until the potatoes are fluffy and there are no more lumps. (If you don’t have a mixer, use a fork or potato masher to achieve the same result.)  

For the crispy kale:

  1. Remove the kale leaves from the stems. Try to keep the kale leaves as large as possible.  
  2. In a mixing bowl, use your hands to toss the kale in canola oil. Season with salt.
  3. Transfer the kale leaves to a baking sheet and lay out in one even layer. No leaves should overlap. 
  4. Bake at 275ºF until crispy but not brown. It should take about 10 minutes.
     

Photo credit: Jen Bragan

Cannoli French Toast

Who doesn’t love French toast? It’s dessert disguised as breakfast! This recipe from Philadelphia’s Cafe Lift puts an Italian spin on the syrupy classic with a scrumptious addition of cannoli filling. It’s a fun way to spend a lazy morning together in the kitchen. 

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 2 cups ricotta
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the French toast:

  • 8 slices brioche or any sweet bread (sliced thick)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ cup sugar (the finer, the better, but not powdered). 
  • 8 big tablespoons butter
  • 2 bananas
  • Chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup pistachios, toasted (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Combine the ricotta, ¼ cup powdered sugar, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whisk together until combined and smooth (you can do this up to 3 days ahead). 
  2. Combine the eggs, milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Whisk together until smooth (if there’s some cinnamon floating on top, that’s OK). 
  3. Heat a pan on medium-high heat. Add a nice pad of butter (a touch more than a tablespoon), and swirl until the butter stops bubbling and starts to brown. Turn the heat to medium. 
  4. Dip the bread into the egg mixture (make sure it soaks in plenty of the liquid). 
  5. Cook each slice for 1 minute on each side. Be sure not to crowd the pan with too many slices at once!
  6. Repeat the process for every slice—make sure you add the butter each time—until every slice is cooked.
  7. To assemble, put one slice of bread on a plate followed by a scoop of the ricotta filling. Cut the bananas in half long ways and then in half again. Place them on top of the filling and sprinkle with the chocolate chips (and pistachios if desired). Place a second slice of bread on top and drizzle with maple syrup. 

Photo credit: Lisa Frizzle

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce wraps are a staple of Thai cuisine, and for good reason—they’re absolutely delicious. This version from Raddish, a subscription-based cooking club for kids, is a great way to introduce some new flavors the whole family will love.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 cup shredded carrots 
  • 1 large head butter lettuce, torn into large leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce 

Directions:

  1. Smash and peel the garlic. Mince and add to a small bowl.
  2. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and lime juice to the garlic. Mix together and set aside for later. 
  3. Heat the canola oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the ground chicken and stir, breaking it into smaller pieces. 
  4. Cook the chicken until it’s no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Add in the sauce and cook for 2 minutes. 
  5. Mince the cilantro so that you have ⅓ cup. Stir it into the chicken. 
  6. Add 1-2 tablespoons chicken to each butter lettuce leaf. Top with shredded carrots, and enjoy!

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

If you’ve never had a homemade cinnamon roll—now’s the time. There’s nothing better than pulling apart those swirls and licking the glaze from your fingers. This recipe from Dessert First, a concierge bakery based in Castro Valley, California, is easy to throw together, and kids will love getting their hands messy in all that cinnamon goodness.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 cup warmed milk 
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour

For the filling:

  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter

For the glaze:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened 
  • ¾ cups butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Dissolve the yeast into the warm milk, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. While the yeast is sitting, combine the sugar, salt, eggs and flour into a mixer. Mix until just combined. 
  4. Pour in the milk/yeast mixture. Using a dough hook attachment, mix well until the dough forms a ball and is not sticky to the touch. 
  5. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 30-45 minutes. 
  6. While the dough rises, combine the 6 tablespoons butter and the brown sugar and cinnamon into a bowl and mix well. Set aside for later. 
  7. Cut the dough in half and form each into an 8"x11" shape (about the size of a sheet of paper). Spread half the cinnamon mixture evenly onto each dough layer. 
  8. Tightly roll the dough, starting from the long end, to form a long cylinder. Cut each roll into 12 even pieces about 2 inches wide. 
  9. Place each piece into a greased pan (two 9" pie pans or one 13"x9" pan). Lightly cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes. 
  10. Remove the plastic and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate each pan after about 15 minutes.
  11. While the cinnamon rolls bake, combine the cream cheese and ¾ butter into the mixer, and whip with the paddle attachment until smooth. 
  12. Keep the mixer on, and add the sifted powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until it’s all incorporated. Then, add the vanilla and milk slowly until it’s combined. 
  13. Let the cinnamon rolls cool. Once cool, spread the icing over the top of the cinnamon rolls, and enjoy!

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